October 29, 2014

23 Fun Ways to Get Your Kiddo Involved in Packing Their School Lunch

little girl pouring tea with apron

Dude. Are you guys so sick of packing school lunches? I’m not sure why but that is the one task that really chaps my hide. It just happens so often – how can you people need to eat again ALREADY? – and I never know what to pack and we’re usually running late so my children get things like whole avocados and blocks of cheese. I can’t even imagine you poor, poor mothers who have to get it ready the night before and have to do it every day. I am awarding you sainthood in my mind.

So, my goal is to get my kids making their own lunches today (or in my one year old’s case, maybe tomorrow). I firmly believe the best way to get people to do things is to make it fun so here are a bunch of easy ideas to make the whole lunch packing time interesting enough your kids will be begging to help out. Or at the very least leave their mama alone long enough to put my feet up, drink a glass of Champagne, and let Ryan Gosling work his massage magic on my shoulders.

Ideas for Making Packing School Lunches Fun:

1. Dress them for the task. You wouldn’t dare play Tinkerbell while wearing a Ariel costume so I can hardly imagine the horror of cooking without an apron. Don’t play with fire.

2. Let them pick out fun napkins that you include in their lunch every day (this is going to be a big surprise, but Alice picked PRINCESSES. So weird, right?).

3. Pick a letter of the day and only include food which includes said letter (apple, avocado, sandwich, animal cookies, etc).

4. Let them buy school lunch a set number of days per week or month. I still remember the excitement I’d feel when our school would release the menu for the month; I’d study it with a care normally reserved for my sticker collection to determine which days I’d be purchasing my lunch (it almost always involved corn dogs and probably still would).

5. Write a story together through their daily napkin. Write a sentence or two a day that ends with a question (eg. The rabbit had to run into the hole to hide from the balloon. Why was he scared?) – you can incorporate their answer into the next day’s napkin.

6. Designate a hat that signifies it’s time to pack lunches. Any type works – an In-N-Out burger hat, a chef’s one, or, most likely if it’s our house, wait for it, a princess crown.

7. Feel like you’re always trying to come up with lunch ideas? Let them check off what they want for today’s lunch using this adorable printable from Tip Junkie.

8. Put them in charge. Make a rule that during lunch packing time they get to run the show and tell you what to do (not at all like the rest of your life).

9. Play restaurant. Download a server order form and take their order, then pass it along to the kitchen where you can “fill” it together.

10. One of my greatest joys during my elementary school days was my Garfield lunch box. Every time I looked at it I would laugh at his obvious hilarity. There’s something to be said for letting your kid pick out their own lunchbox, even if it’s (surprise!) princesses again.

11. Put a brain teaser in their lunch with the answer due by the end of the day.

12. Ask them to think about their teacher and what kind of treat they might like. Make it together and then pack enough for the two of them to share.

13. Make lunch a bit more fancy with a daily, personalized menu. Have them fill it in to practice their writing skills.

14. Watch Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Time to Make the Donuts” commercial together and use “Time to Make the Lunches” as your code for heading into the kitchen to start packing.

15. Toothpicks are highly underrated. Have them pick out and add decorative toothpicks to their food, which everyone knows will make it taste even better.

16. Let them make your lunch. One day a week let them make your lunch while you make theirs (it might make sense to do it on a day you’re already planning to go out to lunch as I’m thinking my kids would go heavy on the goldfish crackers).

17. Include a lunchtime survey in their lunchbox to get a sense of how their day is going; talk about it when they get home.

18. Turn on some cooking music. I highly recommend this little song you may have heard of called “Let It Go.” Once I turn that on I can pretty much get my daughter to do anything as long as I’m calling her “Elsa.”

19. Give them a knife! Put your kids in charge of cutting up their own fruit or making their own sandwich with a “real” table knife (obviously, make sure they’re correctly supervised). The extra responsibility may make them more inclined to help out more often.

20. Use lunch-packing time as their time – let them ask you any questions they want, talk in funny voices, stand on one foot the entire time – anything that might make them laugh or open up conversation.

21. Pack a mini-lunch with only small things – mini bagels, little quiches, individual cheeses, Cheerio sandwiches, little hot dogs… You get the idea.

22. Timing is everything. Do it right before bedtime and you better believe you’re going to have all kinds of help…#stalltactic

23. Make a wipable lunch bag they can use to write up that day’s menu or reminders for the afternoon ahead.

Need more ideas for making lunches fun?

 12 Ways Your Kindergartner Can Help Pack Their Lunch (like host a cooking party with your mom friends)

Ways to Make Their School Lunches Fun (like secret messages that appear on bananas, oh yeah)

October 27, 2014

Mom-Approved: Floral Topshop Jumpsuit, Ready for Date Night

There is a very good chance you are sick to death of my driveling on about jumpsuits. Believe me, I totally understand (as do my husband, sister, best friend, and anyone who’s come within 50 feet of me this past year). If that’s the case, may I interest you in some winged sandals? Or perhaps direct you towards a last-minute Halloween costume that will bring down the house? 

When I was in Denver I had, what I thought was, a brilliant idea. My sister is a photographer so I thought – ding! ding! – why don’t I have her take some of my outfit photos? I mean, why not, right? I’ll tell you why not. Because this crowd is a bossy bunch.

First, please notice the adorableness of my jumpsuit. Ready for date night, for sure. And those heels? Total rock star. Oh, and the sister in the window because she’s so nosy she can’t stay back for the three seconds it takes to take the photo? Let’s just say Kate Moss never had to work in these conditions.

jumpsuit-floral-gold-heels-mom-fashion

So then I wanted to show you all how this jumpsuit/heel combo is so easy to wear you can even drag around a car seat (because, this is the sort of thing moms want to know, am I right?). They told me I was making weird faces.

mom-dragging-car-seat-jumpsuit-heels

Fine. Let’s get some shots of just my shoes. There was so much negotiation going on we ended up with 37 different shoe shots and no agreement. I either looked like I was “going hiking”, was “too ballerina” (first time for everything), or looked “too symmetrical” (because my feet were, I don’t know, next to each other?).  These are “pigeon-toed” but I’ve gotta show you something. gold-heels-flower-jumpsuit-fashion

The one thing we could all agree on was the bracelets all rocked, mainly because they’re hoping I’ll leave them to one of them in my will.bracelet-layers-hanging-cool-floral

I know some of you have rockin’ date nights and might end up dancing on a bar or rolling around on your bear skin rug or, at very least, pretending to be sexy on your neighbor’s driveway so I felt it was important to show you this jumpsuit will persevere in any condition. They warned me not to fall over and hurt myself.

jumpsuit-heels-kicking-feet-up

These people don’t know me at all.

mom-falling-jumpsuit-heels

Linkage:

Awesome jumpsuit that is STILL $30!!!: Top Shop // Best gold heels on the planet: Rebels Yola // Spiky bracelet: C Wonder c/o my dearest Cathleya // other bracelets: vintage // sisters: irreplaceable, even though they can be a pain in the rear

Photos by my favorite sister (today): Jessica Swift Photography

Want more jumpsuits? Of course you do!

Same Floral Jumpsuit, but Casual with a Long Cardigan

The Perfect “Heading to a Meeting” Jumpsuit

October 24, 2014

17 (Fairly) Easy, DIY Halloween Costumes That Will Win the Halloween Parade

It is a testament to how exhausted I’ve been these past few years that our Halloween costumes have been LAME. Normally, Chris and I are nuts for Halloween; one of the reasons I fell in love with the man is because I suggested throwing a Halloween party where we had to dress up as something that started with the letter “P” and he spent a full week putting together his porn star costume (I’d share it here, but it was so good it’d probably burn up the Internets).

But then pregnancy and newborns hit and while I managed to put together this chicken costume for Alice’s first Halloween, other than that it was a pretty slapdash, last minute affair.

baby Halloween costume chicken with kitchen gloves

But, babies, I’m back. We have big plans for our costume this year (which I’ll be sharing next week). We decided to hop on the Family Costume train, although I have mixed feelings about it, mainly because I want to dress Bennett up like the old man in Up and this is the year to do it.

baby up grandpa balloons halloween costume

But, if I’m being realistic, he wouldn’t keep the glasses on and the walker would last two minutes tops, so then he’s just dressed like last year’s family photo.

Before we get to into this, can I just get on my soap box for a sec? You guys, if you don’t have time or are overwhelmed this year, take the pressure off. Don’t worry about doing a big ole family thing or dressing yourself up – in the words of a woman I’ve come to know quite well, let it go. I promise there will be another year you have more bandwidth. Or you won’t and that’s fine too. Whatever, right?

If you really want to do the family thing, but are short on time, Design Mom had a great idea where they all did a Classic Halloween with a witch, Mrs. Frankenstein, zombie, etc. Or loosen the parameters a bit and build everyone’s costume around one letter like our P party, or people that are dead, or people you wouldn’t want to meet on the street, or characters in films…

Now, onto our costume round-up. I tried to only pick costumes where the majority of the items could be found in your closet or for a few bucks at Goodwill, and that wouldn’t take a ton of time.

15 Halloween Costumes that are Pretty Easy to Make and Will Rock the Halloween Parade

Alice in Wonderland in house Halloween costume

Alice in Wonderland in a house costume: Okay, I totally lied. This costume would take you forever to make and you’d probably have to buy an Alice dress, but can you put a price on winning “Best Costume” at the Halloween parade? I think we all know the answer to that one.

mary poppins baby halloween costume

Baby Mary Poppins costume: I believe the cuteness barometer (and my heart) just exploded.

anna wintour little girl Halloween costume

 Anna Wintour costume: She will have no idea who she is, but years later she will thank you for that haircut and the coolest little girl costume around.

the birds DIY Halloween costume

 The Birds Halloween costume: This is just too clever. Plus, it cost $6 and took her 10 minutes to make, which is pretty much livin’ the dream as far as Halloween costumes go.

ups guy toddler Halloween costume

USP guy costume: I feel like if I put Bennett in this costume he wouldn’t be able to tear himself away from the mirror, he’d be so in awe of the fact he’d morphed into the “Most Interesting Man in the World” (next to the recycling man, of course).

clark kent as superman halloween costume

Clark Kent/Superman costume: So you know when your kid wants to wear his Superman shirt for the fifth time this week, but it’s all stained and smelly and you really don’t want to send him out into the world looking like you never do laundry, but you also really don’t have time to deal with a huge meltdown. TA-DA! Problem solved. Oh, and it’s a cute Halloween costume too.

dinosaur costume handmade DIY

DIY dinosaur costume: This costume fits none of the criteria – it would take a ton of time, patience, and creativity to make – but sometimes a gal just needs to dream…

shark attack family costume for Halloween

Surfer attacked by sharks costume: OMG. Can I please take all of them home with me now?

publishers clearing house costume idea

Publisher’s Clearing House costume: Not only is this hilarious, but it has the added bonus that after Halloween you’d have a gigantic check lying around the house. It’s the costume that keeps giving.

silent film stars halloween costume

Silent Film Stars costume: I need more Halloween events to attend this year, you guys. Preferably last minute so I can throw this costume together and everyone can be floored at how creative I am in a pinch.

deer trophy halloween costume diy

Deer Trophy costume: Don’t tell anyone, but next year I want to use this idea and dress us all up as different animals because this is AWESOME. Plus, the make-up is awesome and so pretty; it’d be weird if I wore it around in regular life, right?

bandit couples Halloween costime

Bank Robber costume: This costume just stole my heart. See what I did there? See??? Okay, I’ll stop.

glitternglue-instagram-diy-halloween

Instagram Costume: I am a blogger so, of course, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this one. Plus, think of all the creative photos that could take place as the night wore on…

DIY pineapple costume easy Halloween

Pineapple Costume: This is the perfect “I’m meeting my husband’s boss and don’t want to be too weird but also want to show I have Halloween spirit” costume. It’s adorable and super-quick to throw together as long as you have a yellow dress.

man walking through hurricane halloween costume

Man in Windstorm costume: I’m a sucker for costumes that require acting. Can you imagine the dramatics involved in trying to hold a conversation with someone who is walking through a hurricane? Not annoying at all.

What am I missing? And Happy HALLLLOOOOOWEEEEEN.

October 22, 2014

What I’ve Been Reading: Long Flight Edition, Plus a Special Bonus

This summer I unexpectedly ended up flying to London and back sans kids, which meant one thing: MINI-VACATION! Sixteen hours to myself, forced to sit in one place without internet and an endless supply of Kit Kats and Coke? I haven’t felt that pampered since the days I thought 8am was an early morning.

There was no way I was going to waste my time doing something as mundane as sleeping. Instead I watched the movie Chef (decent for an airplane movie), five episodes of Orange is the New Black, plus read The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty (which was delightful and I can’t recommend enough but was on my Kindle so will have to be reviewed at another time), and these three books. Sure I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence for the first two days of the trip, but totally WORTH IT.

I have to be honest, it was awhile back (and a couple of time zones ago), but I remember liking all three books a lot and thinking I really need to write a blog post on them (hence the photo) so stick with me while I do my best (I’ve lent them all out so I don’t have them for easy reference).

books-girl-boss-interestings-rosie-project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: 

This book was a total surprise. Honestly, I only bought it because I needed something to read on the flight home and it was on sale for $3, but I ended up loving it.

It’s about a guy who has Aspergers and decides he wants to get married so goes about it in the only way he knows how – very methodically and scientifically. It sounds kind of silly and chick-lit-y, but it actually had a lot of depth and gave me a completely new perspective on Aspergers; Simsion artfully portrays Aspergers as simply a different way of approaching the world (and often a way that makes a lot more sense). I’ve thought about it several times since when my kids were going bonkers and stopped to think, “How can I see this from their perspective?”, which, to me, is the hallmark of a meaningful book (plus, it’s really funny).

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer:

I can’t decide if this was the perfect book to read as I’m turning 40 or the worst. Basically, The Interestings are a group of friends who meet at a summer art camp and become lifetime friends (for the most part). The book chronicles their lives as they navigate fame, success, marriage and unmet expectations. It’s highly readable and the characters are so well-developed I can still picture several of them in  my mind, plus there are some twisty moments to keep it all moving along nicely, but now that I’m writing about I think it may have brought on a panic attack so read it at your own will if you’re approaching a big birthday (so it was probably the worst).

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso: 

I’d been so looking forward to reading #GirlBoss – Sophia Amoruso is an Internet superstar, an all-around bad ass woman, and we have the same affinity for bangs so there was a lot of hype in my brain to live up to. And the book was…fine. There are some interesting parts – I loved all the juicy, behind-the-scenes insight into her early days; she’s incredibly inspiring and obviously a woman who knows how to work hard; her business savvy is beyond belief and, I imagine, for a young girl this could become a kind of tome. For me, as an old lady, I’ve heard most of the advice and while I always appreciate (and need) the reiteration, I think Start is a better, more hands-on business book, one that really made me want to get up and get working, whereas this was a fun, dishy read.

tana-french-secret-place-book

As good as any of these books may be, none of them can compare to the darling of my book club in my mind, The Secret Place by Tana French.

First, know I am over the moon about Ms. French (yes, she makes me want to go all New York Times on her even though if I met her in person I’d be way more UsWeekly) and, second, there is nothing I love more than a good whodunit. This is a page turner to be sure, but it’s deeper than that. She reminds us what it’s like to navigate the complex world of teenage years and how tender our friendships and selves can be at that age. The end was incredibly satisfying, but also left me feeling melancholy for those days when laying around with your friends all day was more than enough. Plus, her writing is, as always, spot on (I believe I’ve mentioned her use of semi-colons and the level of passion they inspire in me), and I realize that none of this is probably making you want to go out and get the book (melancholy! teenagers! grammar!), but just ignore this entire review and do it anyway.

And now I’m a little bit stuck. I’m thinking about reading Lena Dunham’s book? Any other suggestions?

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