*The items featured in this post were given to me in exchange for a review. The opinion expressed is 100% mine.*
When it comes to back to school, we’re half and half at our house right now. Gav is back in school as of Monday, big first grader, and Ro is in full on prep mode. It’s so strange that I will have two kids in school Tuesday through Thursday come September. Not too sure what I’m going to do with myself but I’m thinking it will involve quite a few lattes and a manicure or two. Anyway, one of the biggest things for me is making sure the boys have a balanced lunch. I’m trying to teach them healthy habits and we’ve got an awesome tool from Stuck On You to help out.
These bento boxes make lunches super easy and balanced, easy for mom and yummy for the kiddos. I love the sectioned insert and there’s plenty of space to put enough in to keep my hungry hippos full. I think my favorite part of the insert is the center circle because I’m always scrounging for a small container for dips and they get tossed around in the lunch box. This space is perfect for hummus, ranch, or even the occasional treat if I’m feeling fancy.
What’s so fun about Stuck On You bentos is the personalization. Stuck on You is the original and best personalized labeling company so they have a great selection to choose from. I love the designs I picked for the boys. I mean, look at that super hero bunny! Honestly, I want one for myself and you know it would have a unicorn on it. I usually dread getting lunches ready because I never know what I’m going to put in there from day to day. However, these bentos have made me excited to plan out some healthy options for the growing boys.
What are some of your kids’ favorite healthy lunch options?
You can see one of my other favorite products from Stuck On You, their name labels, in THIS POST.
In addition to the summer bucket list that I created for the boys and our family, I also created one that was specific to things I’d like to do myself. Certain things on this list include getting a mani/pedi, buying a floppy hat, and doing a large scale DIY. I’ve checked off two of those already! Another on this list was to redo our family emergency binder. I had found a printable one on Pinterest years ago and decided that it was something that was a good idea to have but found that I hardly used any of the pages. Time for a makeover!
Now that we are in our first full week of June (and finally getting better weather here in GA!), it feels like summer has really begun. I love that the job I have lends itself to lots vacay time for the summer. I get to spend more time with my boys, my mom who’s a school teacher, and my bestie! During the yea, I’m a bit more limited on the clock with my shop/chalkboards/teaching dance classes so it’s a very welcome change. I have plans y’all and I really want to check everything off our list!
Here’s our list…
Shoot Fireworks + Light Sparklers
Visit the Aquarium
Have a Cookout
Have Picnics at the Lake
Visit the Splash Pad
Visit the Beach
Build a Sandcastle
Go on Nature Walks
Paint Our Nature Finds
Got to the Farmer’s Market
Make “Dirt + Worm” Cups
Have a Water Balloon Fight
Make Fresh Lemonade
Make a Half Birthday Cake for Gav (yes…we love to celebrate half birthdays!)
Play with a Sprinkler in the Lawn
Make Ice Cream in a Bag
Meet Ms. Black at the Library (This is something that Gav’s amazing kindergarten teacher is offering to keep up their reading in the summer.)
Go for a Bowling Date with Gav
Scrapbook the Summer (I’ve REALLY let me memory keeping go since having Roman. Ok…even before that! So I want to get back into it.)
Play with Bubbles and Chalk in the Driveway
Splash in Puddles
Want to make one for your family? Just print this one out and fill it up with fun times!
I often get asked how I take such cute pictures of my boys. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t work every time but I wanted to share some tips on what I do with my boys to get some of the images I do. You don’t need a fancy camera, you don’t even need the latest iPhone (I have a 6s guys. Would I love to have that portrait mode though? You betcha!). Photoshop is great and all, but it’s not necessary. All you need is your current phone, a couple (FREE) apps, and a dash of patience. All the pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone 6s.
Over the past few weeks (months, years…) I’ve seen a steady increase in the lack of compassion and respect in the younger generation. Dear fellow grown ups of the world, we need to HAVE TO do better. Whether it’s the need for stronger discipline, more love, or whatever, something needs to be done now. What I have seen lacking in the values of today’s kids, is exactly what I want to teach my children. I want to teach them how to be good humans.
There’s a huge difference from when I was a kid to now. Or maybe I was in my own bubble which is a huge possibility. I know I wasn’t a perfect kid, none of us are/were. I know there were times when I wanted to give up or felt unmotivated, times when I let the sass fly and times I was ungrateful. But I was taught, disciplined, put in my place, whatever you want to call it. And this is what I intend to do with my boys.
Becoming a parent completely throws a perfectionist for a loop. I use the term “perfectionist parent” in the sense of someone who has always been a perfectionist and has become a parent. I do not mean it in the sense that I expect to be the end all/be all in parenting or that my children must be perfect little robots. I’ve remarked in past posts about my OCD/perfectionist tendencies but, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at realizing that pretty much no one cares about certain things as much as I do. I’ve also learned to let some things go. This, however, does not mean that I don’t still get irritated,itchy, or anxious from time to time. I’m not perfect (GASP!) but my brain certainly tries to be. There are 4 areas I’ve found that are my “triggers” or things that make me get all hot and tight chested. If you’re a perfectionist parent like myself, I know you’ll totally understand!
Well…I did the unthinkable. I sent an evite for Gavin’s birthday party this past weekend.
Ok, ok. I kid. (No really, please don’t think I’m THIS dramatic.)
But, as one of “those” moms, those “Pinterest” moms, I enjoy doing all the bells and whistles for birthdays. Yes, I ACTUALLY ENJOY doing all the crazy labels and renaming food and decor and anything else I can do for a theme. Yes, I realize that it’s mainly just for me and my children will have no recollection of said party. It’s just who I am. However, as kids get older and my house continues to stay the same size, there’s less and less space to have the parties at the house. This means jumpy places and specialty parties and those places cost the money that I would normally spend.
Hey strangers! this holiday season has been pretty hectic for me but all in a good way. I’ve been doing shows for the first time with my shop and I’ve been busier than ever with orders, which is amazing but stressful. So, if you’ve wondered where in the world I’ve been, that’s it. I’ve been elbow deep in snowman ornaments, house drawings, and canvases. My hope for the new year is to continue the momentum as well as keep a balance here. More on that in my coming new year post! On to the holiday goodness!
I love traditions, especially ones that involve food. My mom started this gingerbread house one three years ago and each year I think we get a little better. I think… While its super fun each year, I’m looking forward to when little Ro can join in which will more than likely be next year. We just weren’t ready to let the two year old (who seriously needed a nap) loose on the candy and icing. So, without further ado, here are some pictures of our third attempt at gingerbread house engineering.
Last week I shared about what the Daniel fast is and why I’m doing it. If you’d like to catch up on that, you can check it out HERE. One of my biggest challenges has been just figuring out what to eat.
I’m not a picky eater by any stretch of the imagination so I’m game to eat any and all vegetables but I just don’t know what to do with them. My knowledge is basically salad and microwave steamable packages. Also, since this fast has specific food guidelines, I’m not accustom to using replacement ingredients such as tofu, dates, etc. Having a book, The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, has been a huge help.
I tried salads at first but the dressing that I made didn’t really do much for me. I tried making things I used to eat but that were compliant with the food list and they were, well, they were terrible. So here are my list of favorite foods that actually taste great and I have on a regular bases.
Smoothies – Smoothies are life savers. With two small kids, these are quick, easy, and even they will drink one. I can pack a ton of spinach in them and not even taste it with the fruit. Adding in a nut based milk add great protein and calories. (Click on “Smoothies” to find a ton of great ideas!)
Snickerdoodle Smoothie – This is a recipe from The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast. I was skeptical at first but it said snickerdoodle so I had to try it. It’s flippin’ amazing!
The ingredient list is almond milk, silken tofu, date honey, frozen banana, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Date Honey – This is also from the same book as the snickerdoodle smoothie and is included in that recipe. What’s great about it is that it has two ingredients. Dates and cinnamon. It’s a bit time consuming to make but not labor intensive.
Oatmeal Bowl – These are great for days when you may have to go a little longer in between meals. A 1/2 cup if oats and 1 cup of water (try using almond milk for a creamier texture) in the microwave for 2 minutes (give or take depending on your microwave wattage) makes an easy and filling base for tons of toppings. I usually use the date honey to sweeten it, a scoop of natural peanut butter for protein, an extra dash of cinnamon, and some fruit on top.
Easy to Pack Snacks – Sometimes you just need a munch on something and that can be hard to do when just about every option out there has added sugar. (This fast has seriously made question what the heck is going on in the food industry!) Your best bet to be successful is to be prepared. Prepackaged nuts are great and full of protein. We bought a huge box from Costco and all that is in them are the dry roasted nuts and sea salt.
Another great snack I love are That’s It bars. I first came across these at a Starbucks but now they are sold in more stores. All they are is fruit…That’s It! (Get it?!) They taste great and can help satisfy a sweet craving in a pinch.
Do you have some favorite plant-based recipes? I’d love to try them!
So last week I started my very first Daniel fast. What’s a Daniel fast? To make a long story short, it’s a spiritual fast that requires you to lean more into prayer and into your relationship with God through self discipline. I can’t have meat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and sweeteners. I like to think of it as a vegan whole 30. Want the long story? Click HERE for a more in-depth explanation and more if you’re interested in doing one yourself.
Why am I doing it?
Typically, someone starts a Daniel fast when a big decision needs to be prayed about, there is something specific you need to pray through, etc. For me, I read about fasting for your children in my book for small group and knew that was something I needed to do. Gav made a big change on Monday (which is why I started when I did) when he transferred to his new elementary school.
This past year has been a weird one for Gav and me and I knew that it was going to take some hard prayer to cut through this season.
What was the week like?
Let’s just say that I picked a doozy of a week to start a fast. This first week was packed with stress, temptation, and plenty of opportunities to just say “forget it”! On Monday, one of the parents at the dance studio brought in these absolutely delicious pumpkin loafs with brown butter icing in these perfect little ceramic loaf pans. There was one that I could have taken home. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! My inner basic chick was screaming but I left it.
Tuesday was met with a family emergency complete with an unexpected surgery. Running around, helping, making phone calls, and carrying a 30 pound toddler on my back while doing it was actually a great distraction from the fact that all I wanted to do was pull into a drive thru and grab some edible feelings. Tuesday was also Halloween. Don’t worry, I have a stash for when my 21 days is up.
Wednesday through Friday weren’t that bad and the book I ordered (same as the Daniel fast resource I linked above) came in and I was excited to explore new recipes.
Saturday was our church’s first women’s prayer gathering which was nothing short of amazing. However, it was at 7 AM, I woke up at 5:30, and some caffeine would have been nice.
By the time Sunday came around, I was feeling a bit more confident and ready for the next week. I have a few more choices now that I have new recipes and I’m getting pretty creative.
Let’s get real…What’s it like without coffee?
I won’t lie to you. I got to day 3 and legitimately would have done anything for a cup of coffee. And as much coffee as I drink for my size, it’s safe to say that my body probably craves it. Luckily I already take medicine on and off for headaches so I just went ahead and preempted any withdrawal I might have. I was also just plain tired. Not quite that first trimester of pregnancy tired (mamas, you know what I’m talking about!) but still just trying to scrape whatever I could from my energy reserves. The tiredness did subside a bit but I still really love my coffee.
What have I noticed?
I’ve definitely started to redirect myself to prayer when I start thinking about food and the restrictiveness. Oddly enough, I’ve become calmer, less quick to anger. I feel better and I’m less bloated (maybe TMI but it’s true).
Most importantly, I’ve seen a change in my relationship with Gav. Already there’s been more patience, there’s more attachment and closeness. I know that Ro becoming a VERY active toddler means that Gavin has received less attention. He has been told more times that I can count that he’s the big brother and he has to set the example, or that Ro is just two he doesn’t understand, or I’m simply just attending to more of Ro’s needs because he can’t do as much for himself yet. I understand that Gavin may be feeling less and that is so not what I want for my sweet boy. I’ve made it a point to tell him that he was wonderfully made by God and that he is special because of that. We are reconnecting and it’s made my mama heart so happy.