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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lunches Packed with Love

Three nights a week I have to pack lunches for the boys. I order them hot lunches Monday and Tuesday, but send them our own food for the remainder of the week. It's not one of my favorite tasks. I don't have a particularly inspired list of lunch options for them, despite the fact that I always read the "think outside the sandwich in the lunchbox" articles that appear in magazines and on the web, especially during back to school season. But many of those would be better suited to older children who could assemble foods on their own. Things like fruit kebobs and whatnot.

Then there are the rules and the fact that the teachers see the lunches, which makes me feel like they probably judge. You can't send peanut butter (this is annoying since I could probably send Robby a PB sandwich every day without fuss). You can't send cookies; I'm not entirely sure what the teachers define as "healthy" -- fruit juices are not allowed, but those fruit chewy snacks are. Cookies aren't allowed, but I've sent chocolate chip mini muffins with no problems. Since I'm too unsure and don't want anyone thinking I don't send a good "square" meal, I stick to fruits, cheese and crackers, and pretzels or goldfish.

Usual lunch options:
  • turkey sandwich
  • leftovers (usually a rice or pasta with veggies and chicken)
  • chicken nuggets
  • leftover pizza slices (this is a recent addition that Robby has especially liked)
  • mac and cheese (cold)
  • sometimes a cream cheese and strawberry slices sandwich or a regular cheese sandwich
accompanied by any of the following alone or in combination, depending what's on hand:
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • blueberries
  • sliced apples
  • bananas
  • pre-packed pineapple bits
  • pretzels
  • goldfish
  • mini muffins
  • yogurt drinks
  • cheese and crackers
  • cheez it crackers
  • watermelon
  • corn
  • broccoli
  • zucchini

As much as I usually dread making lunch -- especially if I already had to make dinner -- when I do it, I usually experience a small sense of satisfaction, like I really have packed a little bit of love for them. I carefully wash all the fruit, then slice it. Grapes are a choking hazard so I slice them in half for Robby and in quarters for Joey. I cut off the tops and core strawberries, then slice into thin slices or quarters. Sometimes I do a little trick so the thin slices look like hearts. I have been known to cut slices of cheese with tiny cookie cutters into animal or alphabet shapes and sandwiches into a star shape. Occasionally I draw hearts or write Robby's name on the napkins or send a leftover party theme napkin in their box. Then everything goes into the fridge organized so Bob can tell who gets what.

When I make this kind of lunch, which surprisingly is the norm, I do feel like I did it right. Like I would actually deserve a few "good-Mom points." And I look forward to them eating what I have prepared for them with love.

Someday I'll figure out how to start incorporating all those great magazine lunch ideas with soups and breadsticks or smiley face sandwiches the kids make or salads they shake in a tube, but for now, I think I have something that works.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Birthday Moments

Favorite moment during Joey's birthday celebrations: at the family party Saturday night when we started to sing Happy Birthday to him. Beth sat Robby down in the chair with Joey, and Joey looked back, saw it was Robby, and smiled a huge smile and even leaned in to Robby a little. Then went back to his serious face looking at the cake. But there was this great flash of smile at his big brother where it was so obvious that he liked having Robby there with him. Love when they are showing their brotherly love.

The minute we finished singing and clapping, Joey would yell, "Cut it Mommy!" pointing at the cake. Waste no time getting to the cake that one. (We did this at school on Aug. 14, at home on Aug. 14, then twice the next day at the parties.)

This is the face of someone who is loving his birthday cake:
Afterall, when we'd ask him what kind of party did he want, he'd say, "Cake!" There you are little man, 4 cake/singing sessions in all -- 24 store-bought cupcakes, a small ice cream cake, 48 home-baked cupcakes, a large ice cream cake printed with Brown Bear, and 1 home-baked bear cake.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today I...

  1. Am marveling at the fact that Joey will turn 2 on Friday. Looking at a pic from his party last year, I can't believe how quickly a year has passed and how much Joey has grown up.
  2. Had a "dude" that needed a "wife" (Joey-speak for "food" that needed a "knife").
  3. Enjoyed a lunch break at work with my friend Danielle (as we usually do).
  4. Finally launched a project at work that I have procrastinating on because it's not one of my favorites. (A bi-weekly publication for posting in the restrooms -- yeah, not exactly what I thought I'd be writing when I dreamed of being a writer some day, and not exactly something I \ see myself bringing in my portfolio for a job interview either.)
  5. Watched the boys play in the tent together, then move on to the play food and then end with the Lego pirates. I spent a lot of time gathering tiny Lego pieces off the floor and trying to put pieces back in place.
  6. Went grocery shopping, mostly for lunch stuff and some things to get us through till the party on Saturday. I bought sandwich bread and then forgot the deli turkey, which was my main item in my plan for the kids' lunches. Isn't that usually the way?
  7. Still have to do the shopping for the party food and the favors.
  8. Watched Robby enjoy the movie Peter Pan. At the end, he was acting out the sword fight between Peter and Captain Hook with his sword and enthusiastically striking his sword against our bedroom wall in his imaginary battle. He usually pretends to be Captain Hook. Can't wait to see Robby at Disney with Peter and Hook!
Overall, just an ordinary day, but nonetheless special.