Favorite Things Week – VPK School Lunch #2

For tomorrow’s lunch, I had my big boy choose what he wanted, make it, and pack it himself.

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For his second-to-last school lunch, he chose a ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich. I told him he could do it however he wanted. He wanted the top piece of bread to be upside down, and he wanted to cut it into thirds. He’s neat. He also packed pretzel sticks, red grapes, and a teeny piece of that outrageously yummy (and easy) chocolate cake with fun sprinkles, that I made earlier in the week.

Happy Wednesday!

Kristin

Favorite Things Week – VPK School Lunch (and Chocolate Cake!)

This is my big boy’s last week of VPK. Sniff. I don’t know where the time has gone. I literally only blinked, and his entirely VPK year has come and gone. To help him celebrate his last three days of school, I decided to pack some of his favorite things.

For tomorrow:

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I packed a PB&J. This kid loves his PB&J’s. I also packed corn (his favorite vegetable), a yogurt squeeze (he always wants one), and a teeny slice of super sprinkled homemade chocolate cake for dessert.

Speaking of chocolate cake…

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…oh, yes boy.

Today was my last Mommy church group meeting for this school year, and I made a one-bowl frosted chocolate cake to take with me. I made sure to save some for my boys. They always ask me to save them special treats when I make them for get-togethers.

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I’ve used this recipe a dozen times before. It’s very quick to throw together. I almost always have the ingredients, as well.

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Who could resist such an easy recipe?

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It’s fudgy, not-too-rich, chocolatey, and super moist.

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I covered it with a ton of fun sprinkles.

Do it.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

recipe adapted from: Six Sister’s Stuff

2 C AP flour
2 C sugar
1/2 C baking cocoa (I used 1/4 C of dark chocolate cocoa, 1/4 C regular)
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C vegetable or canola oil
1 C buttermilk (you can easily make your own with milk and vinegar)
2 eggs
1 C hot water

Frosting:

1/2 C butter, softened
1/4 C milk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
3 T cocoa powder (I used a mix of dark and regular, again)
3 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ pan.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix in the oil, buttermilk, and eggs. Pour in the water and mix well. It will be runny and that is okay.

Pour batter into pan. Bake for 33-38 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Mine was done at 35 minutes.

Once completely cooled, frost.

To make frosting, mix all the ingredients together. Add more powdered sugar or milk, as needed.

I hope you enjoy it!

Kristin

Circus Week – Horse VPK School Lunch

Tomorrow is Bigs’ last circus day. It’s been such a fun week for them. They got their faces painted, they played carnival games, won carnival prizes, and did lots of learning games.

To finish out the week, I went with a horsey lunch. Again, I was thinking about “Water for Elephants”. It’s sort of my go-to circus movie. Well, that and Britney Spears’ “Circus”. You know.

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I made a horse shaped PB&J. The poor thing looks like another My Little Pony. I just can’t seem to get a real horse look. Neigh. The grand horsey is standing atop his bread crusty hay. I also packed pretzels, fruit salad (grapes, blackberries, and raspberries), and an organic yogurt squeeze for dessert.

Happy Weekend!

Kristin

Homemade Vegetable Tomato Sauce

Today has not been an easy day, y’all. It’s been what many of you refer to as, “one of those” days. You know the type. Where one kid throws a heavy shoe at you while you’re driving (um, child, please, I don’t know where you learned that! and why is your shoe so heavy?), where your other child gives you the attitude of a teenager, and where you don’t know what on earth to make for dinner… and it’s dinner time.

Despite all of that, I actually put together a meal that everyone ate tonight. While there were no quiet moments where everyone was peacefully eating, at least they all ate. And my five year old said it was the best spaghetti he’d ever eaten and that he wanted it for lunch tomorrow and then again the next day. High praise from a picky eater.

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I never thought I’d be the parent that hid vegetables in food that I serve my children. And for my youngest, I am that parent. But for my oldest, I have to be more inconspicuous. He’ll spot a “green thing” from a mile away. And, then, it’s tainted. Unedible. “Gross”.

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So here’s my great recipe with lots of hidden vegetables for your eagle-eyed children to enjoy…

Homemade Vegetable Tomato Sauce

Serves: 4 people, with second helpings and leftovers

2 large bell peppers (I used one red and one green), cut into large pieces

1/4 large white onion, cut into large pieces

handful of cherry tomatoes (I used about 7)

1 6oz can of tomato paste

12oz tomato sauce (I use Flora Organic Strained Tomatoes)

Fresh garlic

S&P to taste

Ground meat (I used chicken. Turkey, beef, or sausage would be delicious.)

Pasta (I used 1lb of Trader Joe’s brown rice GF spaghetti noodles)

In a food processor, whiz together the bell peppers, onion, and cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile, brown your meat in a frying pan. Once cooked all the way through (and drained, if needed), add your liquified vegetable mixture. Pour in the tomato sauce and tomato paste. You might need to whisk it a bit to make sure the paste breaks down. Add the garlic and S&P. Let it simmer while your noodles are cooking. Once your noodles are done, drain and return to pot. Add the meat and tomato sauce.

Buon appetito!

Kristin

Circus Week – “Magic Bunny” VPK School Lunch

I feel like circuses have magic shows. Do they? Like, with a magician in a tux, pulling a rabbit out of a top hat?

I might be stretching it a little. I only have so many circus-themed cutters.

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I made a magical bunny shaped PB&J and added details for his ears (very instrumental to his magic show), eye, ad nose. I also packed a few banana chips, a few TJ’s organic PB sandwich crackers, two dried dates, an aprium, colby jack cheese, a Tim Tam (thank you Australia!!!), and a homemade granola bar.

And for my Smalls:

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I packed half a PB&J, trail mix, an aprium, TJ’s PB crackers, colby jack cheese, and a cotton candy Oreo. He’s got a granola bar for snack.

I made the granola bars for Teacher Appreciation Week a few weeks back. They were delicious!! I thought I’d make them again for my own family.

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They were super easy to put together…

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…and had ingredients I both had on hand and could pronounce.

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AND they are easy to individually package and freeze!

http://happymoneysaver.com/no-bake-homemade-chewy-granola-bars/

A hint – if you are out of honey, as this recipe requires a LOT, you can use corn syrup as a sub. I don’t love using that, but I do keep it on hand for some recipes.

Do it!

Kristin

Circus Week – Elephant VPK School Lunch

For tomorrow’s lunch, I thought I’d go for an elephant theme. And then I started thinking about the movie, “Water for Elephants” and I got really sad. But it had a good ending. So I’m less sad.

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I made an elephant shaped PB&J sandwich. I also packed an aprium (those things are SO good!!), some pretzels, watermelon, two iced animal crackers, a few chocolate animal crackers, and an organic yogurt sqeeze.

Kristin

Circus Week – Lion VPK School Lunch

The countdown to the end of school is here! My big boy has 7 more school days left! This second-to-last-week’s theme is…drumroll……CIRCUS!!!

I think I like the idea of a circus. I don’t remember ever having been to one, although I might have, as a child. I think it would be exciting, what with all the corndogs and cotton candy. I’m not so sure about the animals though. I don’t know enough about their treatment and training to feel comfortable about the way they enjoy their life in the circus.

I like the circus and carnival theme a lot, however. I even used it for my Bigs’ 4th birthday party.

https://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/the-carnival-came-to-town/

So, for Bigs’ lunch tomorrow:

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I went with the lion! I made a lion-shaped PB&J, and used some gold spray and Food Writers to add details. I also packed a beautiful, sweet, fuzzy aprium (a cross between an apricot and a plum), raspberries, blackberries, seasoned corn, a few pretzels, and some iced animal crackers for dessert.

Come one, come all!

Kristin

Mother’s Day, Part II: World’s Okay-est Mom

Worlds Okayest Mom

Mamas, you are enough. Let that sink in for a bit. You. Are. Enough. And you are loved. I know you don’t hear that often enough. I know you don’t feel that often enough. I’m not sure I do. “They” always say that motherhood is a thankless job. On the surface, that’s seemingly true. You know. Unless you teach your child to say “thank you” (which we all try) and they actually, literally do say that at every turn, you aren’t going to be getting enough thanks for the time and effort you put into your child.

But alas, Motherhood is indeed a thank-filled, love-filled job.

With Motherhood, and life at this stage, it’s about the little things, the little triumphs.

Every day that comes and goes without bloodshed, I consider a triumph. Every day that comes and goes without WWIII tantrums, broken bones, or human kid poop in my yard, I consider a triumph. When I successfully feed my kids dinner, and help them get their homework done, it’s a triumph. My days are not filled with gourmet meals, Southern Living-esque family and bedrooms,or  pristine kids (try as I might, with my ever-present stain stick). My days are filled with two very dirty, loud, rambunctious boys. Boys who sound like water buffalo, running in my also very dirty house.

But…

Every time they wrap their sweaty arms around me and press their red, sweaty cheeks against mine, and squeeze me in a quick snuggle, I feel their thanks. Their love.

Every time my oldest son tells me that he loves me “to the moon”, I feel his thanks. His love.

Every time I am met with happy grins after playing in the park, I feel their thanks. Their love.

Every time my youngest son burrows his sweet curly head in my neck, I feel his thanks. His love.

Sometimes, it isn’t about the verbal “thank yous”, but more about the ways your children show you their thanks with their uninhibited and genuine emotions.

Happiest Mother’s Day, World’s Okay-est Moms!

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” – Proverbs 31:29

Kristin

Mother’s Day, Part I: For the Mothers in their Hearts

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Just in case you didn’t know. If you didn’t, then you haven’t seen the rows and rows of flowery, pink, and sometimes sparkly cards lining every store you go into. You haven’t seen the chocolate boxes, the teddy bears, the sale racks of clothing someone thinks a mother somewhere would like to wear.

This is a day where many of you church-goers get to stand up with pride, after your Pastor encourages applause. This is a day where you get pampered, gifted, dined, and perhaps wined.

But for some, this is a day that serves as a fresh, constant reminder for a want, and an absence, for children, or for a loss. A day which brings a heaviness.

For the Mothers in their Hearts that have struggled, who have wrestled with the despair, the unfairness, the questioning of God’s plan for your life – you are not forgotten. You are not alone. You are as important, on this day, and every day.

For the Mothers who have had losses, in any stage – you are not forgotten. You are not alone. You are important, on this day, and every day.

For the Mothers who wait patiently for their adoptive children to be born and to be paired with them – you are not forgotten. You are not alone. You are important, on this day, and every day.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Thinking of you. Praying with you.

-Kristin

This Week’s Lunches

What a busy, busy week I’ve had! Here is what I packed each day:

Tuesday:

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I make two little PB&J’s on toasts. I also packed pretzels, blueberries, mandarin orange slices, seasoned corn and a homemade chocolate chip sprinkle cookie.

Wednesday:

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I made a PB&J on a hot dog bun. I also packed red grapes, pretzels, strawberries, and a homemade chocolate chip sprinkle cookie.

Thursday was my last Helper Parent day in my Bigs’ class. When he goes to Kindergarten next year, his school doesn’t utilize the Helper Parent system. I will SO miss spending the school day with him. I look forward to starting all over with my Smalls next year! I had to pack three lunches for today:

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Smalls got PB&J on a flat bread, broccoli with ranch for dipping, trail mix, and a homemade chocolate chip sprinkle cookie. For myself, I made a salad, packed ranch for dressing, a little piece of flatbread, two dates, and an apple. And for my Bigs, I packed a PB&J on a flat bread, red grapes, dried ginger, dates, strawberries, and a cookie.

And lastly, for tomorrow, Friday:

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We had pizza tonight for dinner, so I packed a piece for Bigs. I also packed goldfish (cheeseburger flavor – so weird!), strawberries, grapes, and half of a chocolate chip cookie bar.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Kristin