Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mommy Bento Love

I first saw a photo of a Bento box in a parenting magazine when I was newly pregnant. It made me wish for a  live-in Japanese mother who could pack me an adorable lunch every day. Since that wasn't possible, I splurged and bought myself a Laptop Lunches box. When I was feeling frustrated by gestational diabetes, that lunch box went a long way to making lunch feel fun rather than like a carb-counting chore I had to do in between finger sticks.

And then I had babies. Babies who like to share a chair with me at meals. Babies who like to ask for another spoon, a paper towel, more milk, and on and on and on. In short, before I realized what was happening, I was in the habit of eating random stuff I could fit in between kid requests. A slice of sandwich bread here, a few crackers here, a cookie, the portion of banana I could sneak in before the kids started demanding the rest... as unbalanced and carb-loaded as it sounds here, I promise it was even worse in real life. And largely because I was doing such a bad job with midday eating, I found a little over five pounds over the course of the year. When you're itty bitty like me, five pounds shows. Everywhere and obviously. I'm ready to lose those five pounds.

So I'm back to the Mommy Bento box. Every night when the kids FINALLY go to sleep - even if it's 10:30 (or worse, sigh) - I pack a lunch for all three of us. It's a lot easier to make healthy, balanced choices for all of us when no one is whining or riding on my foot or throwing Legos over the baby gate into the laundry room.

Here's a recent Mommy lunch. I added some beets and balsamic dressing to the salad at lunch time. Beets, goat cheese, and balsamic is one of my absolute favorite winter combinations.

Here's a kid lunch I packed for a picnic recently. (Yogurt in the covered container. And that's puffed corn from Trader Joe's, not popcorn, which is a choking hazard for kids under 5. I have major fear of a popcorn choking.) 

The bento containers I use for the kids' lunches - Easy Lunchboxes. I had my doubts about them before I ordered them, but I love them even more than my Laptop Lunches box. With the silicon muffin cups and spill -resistant smaller containers, they're so versatile. And when we had our picnic recently, I was able to stack one for each of us in a small-ish backpack cooler from Target. So easy.

Bento boxes... because you're worth it.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stained Glass Numerals

A few weeks ago I was thinking that while Linus and Veda were doing great with identifying letters and counting, they could use some work in numeral recognition. We needed something fun that would draw their attention, and making something we could display would be a great way to continue reviewing. My answer? Stained Glass Numerals.

What You'll Need

  • Black construction paper or poster board
  • A white crayon
  • An Exacto-type blade (or scissors, but a cutting blade is easier)
  • A cutting mat (not necessary for those using scissors)
  • Sheets of gift wrap tissue 
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape
How to Make It

NOTE: Only plan on making 1-2 of these per day to maximize attention given to each numeral and to keep interest in the project high.

1. Draw the numerals with the white crayon on the black paper. Be sure to keep the numerals nice and wide.

2. When the kids are taking a nap or otherwise occupied elsewhere, use the cutting blade to cut out freehand shapes in the numerals, being sure to leave enough room between holes for strips of glue. 

3. Tear the tissue paper into manageable pieces with the kids.
4. Apply a thin strip of glue around each hole and let the kids cover the holes with tissue paper pieces. By the way, single color or multiple colors of tissue paper per numeral - it doesn't matter. Either way looks great.


5. Leave the project to dry.
6. When the project is completely dry, cut out the numeral along the white crayon outline, thus also cutting off tissue paper excess.
7. Tape to window.
8. Admire.

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Indoor ABC Egg Hunt

This time of year, I think we're all ready for spring. On warmer days, we've been venturing outside, but on colder days, we're always sorry to be stuck inside. To break up the tired winter routine, we hatched an indoor ABC egg hunt. Our egg hunt was a week ago, and the kids are still talking about how much fun we had. We'll be repeating this one for sure.

What You'll Need

  • A set of letters to fit inside your eggs (We used our Leapfrog refrigerator magnet set, but they were just slightly too large for the eggs. Consequently, we used tape to keep some of our eggs closed, as you see in the photograph below. If you don't have a similar set of letters, you could always write out the letters or print the letters out on paper and then cut them out.)
  • 26 plastic Easter eggs
  • A chalkboard and chalk, a dry erase board and markers, or even a piece of paper large enough to write out all the letters of the alphabet 

How to Play
  1. Check to make sure that you have all of your alphabet magnets, and make a note of any missing letters. (Our X is in pink on the chalkboard because it was missing on the day of our egg hunt. Knowing we didn't have it in the first place kept us from searching endlessly for it.)
  2. Have the kids help you place one letter in each egg. 
  3. Write out the alphabet on your chalkboard/dry erase board/paper. Be sure to use capital letters for early learners and lower case letters for more advanced alphabet learners.

4. Instruct the kids to hide in their bedrooms until you have hidden all of the eggs.
5. Hide the eggs in fairly obvious places around 2-3 rooms.
6. Tell the kids which rooms to look in, and tell them to bring the eggs to you when they find them. (one at a time)
7. When a child brings an egg to you, ask him/her to identify the letter inside the egg. Then ask him/her to find the same letter on the chalkboard.
8. When the child finds the letter on the chalkboard, cross it off. 
9. When all of the letters have been crossed off, you'll know that all of the eggs have been found. 

**One additional tip: I kept clean up to a minimum by putting the eggs and letter magnets back into their respective bags as the kids found them and we crossed them off our board. 
**Oh, and see how I wrote my Z on the chalkboard with the slash? It's an old habit, and I didn't even realize I'd done it until Veda was utterly confused by it. So, yeah, no slashes through Z. 

We hope that you have as much fun with your egg hunt as we did!

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