Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Murphy, You Are Not Nice!

Dear Murphy,

Really?  REALLY?

OK, I know you think you're all funny and stuff, but really?

Was it necessary to make our van break down this week?

We're kinda busy, and in case you haven't noticed, we have a heck of a lot of people to cart around.

So it's sorta inconvenient.

Not to mention incredibly rude.

And how did you know we had just paid our van off THIS WEEK?

We paid it off a whole year in advance.  We thought we had tricked you.

We should have had a whole year before you tried to strike.

But you were one step ahead.

I hate you.  Really.

It seems sorta cruel to wait until two days AFTER our last payment clears to throw a monkey wrench in, literally.

So don't be surprised if your name is taken in vain a lot right now.

You are not our favorite.

Don't take it personally.

Well, actually, DO.  Because you are not nice and I don't like you.


Monday, August 30, 2010

BabyCenter 'Ain't Got Nothin' On Me!

I received some great comments on my recent post, Imagine.  One in particular was so great in fact, that it inspired a whole new post.  It was left by the lovely Lana at Mommies Lost Her Mind.  If you've never been to her blog, be sure to go check her out and leave some love.  Lana was one of my very first ever bloggy friends and I love reading about what's going on in her life with 3 princesses of her own!

Anyway, Lana left this comment for me:

"Ha!  I totally agree.  What I find to be funny is that when my kids were babies and toddlers I was always getting these helpful little parenting emails.  Now that I could probably actually use them?  Nada."

I used to get those "Your Baby This Week/Month/Year" emails from too.  Well Lana, I thought I'd take it upon myself to draft up a little "Parenting Email Update" style, for those of us delving into the world of non-babies.  I hope this is what you were looking for (wink! wink!).

Congratulations!  Your child is now 8 years old!

How they're growing:  faster than humanly possible.  You might consider stocking up in cheap flip flops because they won't be able to wear shoes longer than 6 months at most.  But don't expect this trend in growth to be reflected in their eating habits.  Although they will constantly complain about being hungry, they will be very particular about the food that they eat and will make dinnertime your worst nightmare because you failed to once again serve macaroni and cheese (for the 5th time that week).

What they're learning:  how to master the eye roll and smart aleck response.  They will begin to amaze you with their ability to appear to hear what you're asking them to do and yet completely and utterly ignore said request.  They are old enough at this point to completely understand cause and effect but the good old fashioned time out rarely works anymore and only until you threaten to take away their ipod or DS will they actually take you seriously.

What they're feeling:  God only knows!  Welcome to the tumultuous times of the pre-pre-teen.  Hormones are raging and often when you ask "what's wrong" you will be answered with a very helpful "I don't know!".  Triggers can range from traumatic (failing a test) to completely not a big deal (sister got to wear a dress and I didn't).  Be prepared to be completely clueless in how to navigate these waters because what worked last time won't work this time.  Just sayin'.  The good news?  You've got about 10 more years to master coping techniques!

How your life is changing:  buckle up and hang on for the ride.  Love, love, love on them.  Allow yourself the freedom to mourn the loss of your baby and revel in the young person standing before you.  Laugh with them, cry with them, hold them when they need to be held.  No longer a baby, not yet an adult.  You are still mama.  And always will be.

*remember each child develops at their own rate.  Some lucky mamas get to experience all this sooner than others!

My friends, if you were to draft a "parenting email update", what would it say?


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Shout-Outs!

I know, I'm so boring this weekend! First a Friday Flashback and now Saturday Shout-Outs!  What's next, Sunday Skip?  Possibly...  ha!  Bear with me, I'm still at my childbirth educator's workshop, but I plan to be back next week with all sorts of interesting and fun things to share.  In the meantime, check out a couple of my favorite posts from some of my favorite people who happen to also be fabulous bloggers:

The Upperclassmen by Mama at The Elmo Wallpaper
Oh how Mama perfectly articulates so much of what I'm feeling right now!  I may still have a (half) baby at home, but those days are quickly racing by and I'm finding myself wishing for my freshman year.

Forgiveness by Jess at Chirp and Buzz and Roar
You won't see much new from Jess these days as she is taking a blogging break, but this post by her has been engrained in my head since I first read it and it's definitely worth a look.

And before you run away, please go visit one of the newest bloggers I've run across and am already in love with (really, her blog makes wanna be crunchy heart go pitter pat):  

My friends, do you have a favorite post or a new blog you've discovered that you'd like to share?  


Friday, August 27, 2010

Flashback Friday: An Imbalanced Family

*I'm off to a childbirth educator's workshop this weekend, so to make life easier for me, here's another Flashback Friday!  This post was written a year and a half ago, right before the birth of my fourth baby girl.  I hope you enjoy!*

An Imbalanced Family
*originally posted January 2, 2009*

I do alot of reading online, various articles, message boards, blogs, etc.  I don't really enjoy watching the news, so I learn alot about what's going on in the world by reading the opinions and thoughts of people who enjoy it more than I.  I also find reading the thoughts of complete strangers interesting because often my sphere of interaction is rather small and one-sided, meaning the people I spend the most time with in real life have similar views and thought processes as myself.  So, reading online allows me to investigate other viewpoints and beliefs and really stretches me to think about things outside of my own box.

That being said, I ran across an interesting concept today that had never occurred to me before.  And to be honest, it initially rubbed me the wrong way.  I was reading a thread on a message board about opinions on high-tech gender selection.  Basically, choosing the sex of your baby by using science and technology, ie.  MicroSort.  I'll tread lightly on my own thoughts about MicroSort and the like.  In general I'm an "in moderation" type of person and I'm incredibly grateful for advances in science that even make such a thing a possibility.  It wasn't the fact that this sort of technology is available that rubbed me the wrong way.  It was the suggestion by some of the posters on the thread that did.  The thought held by some of them that MicroSort might be necessary in order to correct a gender "imbalance" in the family.

I'm sure I'm internalizing these comments too much, but indulge me for a moment.  At first glance I suppose that our family would be considered "imbalanced".  In a mere 6 weeks it will be 5 to 1 in favor of estrogen.  Our pink/red laundry still outweighs all other colors handsdown.  Even though we have a bin full of matchbox cars and a race and go speedway, they get passed over more often than not in favor of Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony and Barbie.  And yet, I look at my family and I see not imbalance, but perfection - exactly what was intended to be.

I realize that it is probably difficult for me to have an unbiased opinion about this "imbalanced family" concept given the status of my own family.  It just bothers me to think that someone might look at us walking through the mall or eating at a restaurant and actually pity hubby and I for having an "imbalance", as if it's a disease or something.  And perhaps it's just semantics.  Maybe if a different choice of words was used, it might not sting quite as much.  Imbalance suggests imperfection, no?  But by the same token, I hate to think that there are people in this world that may feel their own families are "imbalanced" because they only have girls, or only have boys, or maybe have some of each but not equal parts.  I can totally understand wishing to experience pink or blue and totally sympathize with those that feel somehow incomplete if they for whatever reason are not able to.  But to suggest that a family is somehow imbalanced or imperfect simply because of the gender makeup of the children bothers me.  And I suppose this is the point where my own views and beliefs come into play.  I don't know why hubby and I are the parents of (almost) 4 girls and no boys, but I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is how it was meant to be.  That for whatever reason we were chosen to be the leaders of this Planet Pink.  And in my (maybe not so humble) opinion we're doing the best we can at it.  

Would it have been interesting and exciting to add a little blue to this planet?  Sure thing.  But I would suggest that balance is NOT what blue would have brought to our family dynamic at this point!  

My friends, how do you feel about family "balance"?  Is it really about gender, or do other factors contribute to family dynamics?  Can you be a balanced family without equal parts?  Or does there need to be so-called "balance" at all?


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


When you imagined being a mama, what thoughts commanded your attention?

How adorable you'd look pregnant?  How you were going to get that baby out?  Whether or not you should splurge on the gorgeous crib bedding with all the matching nursery accessories?

Yeah.  Me too.

When you imagined being a mama, what visions floated in your mind?

The too cute for words layette at Gymboree?  Scenes of quiet evenings at home, just you and the hubs with the babe sleeping peacefully nearby?  The nursery with that gorgeous crib bedding and all the matching accessories?

Yeah.  Me too.

When you imagined being a mama, did your imagination take you past babyhood?

Yeah.  Me neither.

Countless books I read, websites I perused, conversations I had - all centered around being mama to a baby.  Ask me how many books I've read about being mama to a non-baby.

Big Fat Zero.

As if I have time now.  Now, when I could really use advice about how to help Princess #1 navigate her increasingly hormonal reactions.  Now, when I would like to hear about how other mamas handle it when they catch their little ones telling little white lies.  Now, when I feel more than ever that the decisions I make and the paths I choose have the greatest affect on their formative young minds.  Talk about pressure!

I wish I had thought to imagine being mama to children.

Not that I'd have any more of a clue now, but maybe I would have been just a bit more prepared.  Or less caught off guard.  Or something.

At least my crib bedding was gorgeous.

Dear friends, did your imagination take you past diapers?  Or did you stop at the crib bedding like me?


Monday, August 23, 2010

And That's That.

I expected to be more sentimental.  More sad.  More torn between the sweetness of independence and the bitterness of the same.

I expected to be more something.

But instead, I'm just at peace.

It was time I suppose.  Eighteen months past the day of her birth, we had well surpassed the final days of her sisters.

And she was ready.  Our moments were brief, occurring only at bedtime and lasting a mere minute or two.

So grown up she is, able to soothe herself to sleep in the comfort of her own bed.  She desires that solitude.  It feels weird to not be needed in that way any longer.

An act I identified with for five years collectively.  Something that defined me, that placed me within a group - for you either do or you don't.  And I did.

For five years.

And now I no longer.  And I expected those final moments to bring more emotion.  For you don't do anything for five years without developing some sort of opinion about it.  Love it or hate it, the end is an end and there's no going back.

But it was just time.

I look at her now and realize my days of being mama to a baby are quickly transforming into days of being mama to a toddler.  We are racing toward that transition at a break neck speed.  And for the first time ever, there's no baby waiting in the wings to take that place.

I suppose I feel more sadness and sentimentality over that fact than anything else.

And perhaps that's the way it should be.  It's not the end of the act that's bittersweet, it's what that end represents for our family and for me.

It's the closing of a chapter.  And like any good book, I'm eager to begin the next.  Yet I linger with a sense of wistfulness over the pages I've just finished.  Because although I will remember them with crisp clarity, it will never be the same as reading them for the first time.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Flashback Friday: I Don't Know How You Do It

I Don't Know How You Do It
*originally posted Sept. 9, 2009*

There is this sweet lady we run into regularly, and it never fails that when we engage her in conversation she inevitably will make the statement: "I don't know how you do it!". I "think" she means it as a compliment, like I'm accomplishing something spectacular... I'm never really sure how to answer her so I usually laugh it off with a "I don't know either!". I laugh it off, but inside I'm frantically taking stock: Is my shirt on inside out? Did I remember to brush my teeth? Did I forget to put eyeliner on BOTH eyes? Can she see I'm actually just barely holding on by my fingertips? I mean, I get it. One look at me and my 4 princesses out and about and I'd probably have the same thoughts about me!

But the truth is, I think I DO know how I do it. I mean, not specifically, but overall - yeah. I know how. I do it because it's LIFE. It's my life. It's not like I can wake up in the morning and tell princess #2 who is climbing in my side of the bed at 6 am begging for breakfast that I'm sorry, I'm not doing it today. She'll have to ask someone else (and oh how at times I've dreamt that I could!). I don't know anything different. Most days, being mommy to 4 princesses isn't overwhelming to me because it's what I DO, And I really don't feel like I'm doing anything spectacular as I nuke 15 chicken nuggets for dinner or change a dozen diapers in a day. The fact that we run from one activity to the next on a daily basis is tiring, yes, but still... normal somehow. It almost makes me feel uncomfortable to be regarded as doing something remarkable. I mean really, how remarkable can cleaning dried boogers off a dirty face be?

So then I have to stop and force myself to really take a look at what's going on in our home. Past the chicken nuggets, diapers and boogers. Past what I see day in and day out, and to what people from the outside looking in see. I think it's so easy for me to get caught up in the small, mundane details that make up my life, that I often fail to see the big picture. And I end up selling myself short. Because where I see normalcy, others see extraordinary. Not everyone gets the privilege of raising 4 princesses. Sometimes I need to take a step back and recognize the incredible gift we've been given, and see how truly remarkable that is.

PS - if you do happen to notice me wearing my shirt inside out, please let me know. I may be doing something extraordinary, but I AM still the mommy to 4 princesses. Alot can happen to my brain cells between getting out of bed and getting dressed!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Chronic Lane Changer

Yes, you in the black Toyota Prius with temporary tags.

What's the deal?  Where's the fire?

Do you have an issue with there being another vehicle in front of you?  Because let me clue you in on a little secret:  There will always be another vehicle in front of you.  You can't win.

I know it's a pain to get stuck behind someone going 2 mph less than you.  I get it.

But exercise some patience.  There's no need to recklessly fling yourself into the next lane.

Because I know you didn't check your rearview mirror.

You might have been blessed with the invincible gene, but my family wasn't.  My babies are in the car.  You don't want to meet Mama Bear.  Trust me.

I'd appreciate it if in the future you exercise just a bit more caution when sharing the road with others.  Particularly on days when driving conditions are adverse (such as today).  There's just no need to jump from lane to lane like you're play hopscotch.

It just makes me laugh at you later when we're stopped side by side at the same red light.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just Some Updates

I'm not sure quite how it's possible, but my sweet, exuberant, lively Princess #3 is off to preschool.  I always weird myself out by comparing where we were when her older sisters were that age.  Just a mere 2 years ago Princess #2 was in her spot, and now she's a big bad Kindergartener.  Sigh.  You know this means in just two more years I'll have all 4 princesses in school.  I wonder then if I'll finally be all sentimental about school starting?  Don't hate me, but right now I feel nothing but absolute joy at the thought of the start of a new school year.  Oh that sounds horrible, doesn't it?

I've been filling my time with, well, alot of nothing right now.  Princess #4 is EATING up the only child thing.  She's in that stage where she's not exactly happy to have to share her mama with anyone.  And she lets us know, alot- in the form of high pitched, glass breaking screeches.  Sigh.  So I'm happy to indulge her as an only child for a few hours everyday, in the hopes of breaking that nasty little habit.

I'm trucking along in my journey to reach my dream.  I have stacks of textbooks to dig through, position papers to digest and workshops to attend.  It's still scary.   Very scary.  But, exhilarating at the same time.  Now if only I could find decent chunks of times to devote to it every day... I know I know.  I just said I was doing alot of nothing, but you know what that really means: laundry, dishes, general clutter control... somehow the hours just slip away.  And I've quickly discovered that I can't pull my old college trick and just wait until the Princesses are in bed to study late into the night.  If I sit down on the couch and attempt to open a book, no matter how interesting, instant snooze-ville.  Occupational hazard of being a mom I guess.

Along similar lines, the story of Princess #4's birth is being featured at today.  If you didn't get a chance to read it when I guest posted at Ingenue Mom, head over and check it out!  It was the catalyst for me finally pushing myself toward becoming a childbirth educator and doula.

And this wraps up a completely boring and dry post.  Sorry, I guess the coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet. Have a fabulous day and I promise to be more interesting tomorrow!

My friends, what are you up to today?  Has school started yet?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The End of an Era

No Billy, curls don't make it cuter
There are a few things that babies can pull off that adults just can't.  Not that they don't try, but really, they shouldn't.

Pot Bellies, for one.  There is nothing more stinkin' adorable than a little nekkid babe running around the house with their little pot belly hanging out.  But please, I don't want to see anyone else try it.

Michelin Tire Rolls.  Nothing says "mama feeds me good" than a roly poly babe.  And oh how simply irresistible those rolls are.  It's like they're just crying out to be squeezed.  But on an adult, well, I'll let them squeeze their own rolls.

And finally, The Mullet.  I have no idea why the God of the universe could not have created hair growth patterns to NOT default to a mullet.  But unfortunately, at least for my babes, a baby mullet was unavoidable.  Growing slower on top than in the back resulted in all four of my princesses sporting the questionable look and for a time, it was acceptable.   Unlike it's adult counterpart which is not ever an OK hairstyle to attempt.  It's just not.  Even Billy Ray and John Stamos eventually got rid of theirs.

Princess #4 sporting the Billy Ray look
I'll never forget the first time I realized it wasn't cute anymore.  Princess #1 was about 18 months old and we had just taken her to Chuck E Cheese for the first time (this was before I realized what a God-forsaken place it really is) with a little friend of hers.  We had been letting her hair grow because, you know, little girls are supposed to have long hair.  The mullet wasn't even on my radar, and suddenly there it was, staring back at me from a picture of that night, like a beacon that was shining it's light on the glaring reality: THIS DOES NOT LOOK CUTE ANYMORE!

We remedied the situation immediately and cut Princess #1's hair into a little bob.  We later followed suit with the other princesses.   The timing was different for each one, depending on how quickly their hair grew.  But the fact remained that each one of them was stricken with The Mullet and at some point it became not cute.

And so, last night we ended an era.  The era of Baby Mullet Eradication.  It started in March, 2004 and was completed in August, 2010.  It wasn't easy (you try running after a moving target with a pair of scissors).  But it was necessary.  And now, thanks to the deft work of the hubs, Princess #4 is now mullet-less, and our work here is done.  Billy Ray would be proud.

The Mullet-less Bob


Monday, August 16, 2010

Now Casting - Role of Mom

So, the princesses are really big into make believe right now.  The 3 older ones can spend hours involved in intricate and complex stories, each contributing their own slant on the story and directing the others in lines and delivery.  It's sorta fun to overhear their drama, usually involving a prince, some magical power of some sort and... a dead mom.

Yes, a dead mom.

It's giving me a complex.  I mean, it's all fun and games until you hear, "and this will be the prince and he will come and you be the princess and the mom's dead", said so matter of factly.  Seriously.  No love lost?  No mourning for the one that feeds you and clothes you and gave you LIFE after HOURS of hard labor and pushing you out via a small hole in a very delicate area?  Come on now.  Show SOME respect.

I suppose I can't totally blame them.  I mean, look at what they have to go on.  Let's take a look at Disney, shall we?

Ariel - no mom
Belle - no mom
Jasmine - no mom
Pocahontas - no mom
Sleeping Beauty - she has a mom, but I don't think she counts, considering SB is raised by fairies.
Snow White and Cinderella - ok they have step-moms, but neither of them exactly invoke the warm fuzzies.

It's no wonder the mom is tossed aside.  One would think I could garner at least a small cameo.  I'm working on it.  I've polished off my resume and am working on my audition skills.  Until then, I'm trying to not take it personally.  Unless, you know, they kill the mom off several times in one day.  Even I can only take so much.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

I'm Melting! And Other Saturday Ramblings

That's right my friends.
You've read that right.
107 miserable degrees Fahrenheit
(or 42 miserable degrees for our Celsius friends)

What I failed to do was catch a picture of my car thermostat when it registered 110 degrees yesterday.  

In other (non melting) news:

Did ya notice my cool new subscribe by email box? 
It's in the top left (uh, I think left.  If you're looking at your computer screen, your left.  Right?)
So, if you want to keep up with The Planet Pink via your email,
put your address in that handy dandy little box and hit Subscribe!
I promise not to clog your inbox.  Pinky promise. 
(which is super serious, so you know I'm telling the truth).

Finally, a little shout out on this scorching Saturday:

Have you guys read TV's Take?  I adore TV for a number of reasons.  First of all, she makes me think.  She likes to ask thought provoking questions, which for a mama like me (who's more often than not consumed by thoughts of whether or not it's time to send Princess #3 to the potty - and that's a whole 'nother exasperating post), is refreshing and stimulating.  Secondly, she's mastered the skill of brevity, obviously something I quite verbosely lack.  And finally, she bestowed upon me the Foxy Mama Award this week.  And although I think that's hilarious, she hasn't met me in real life, so we'll just let her keep thinking I'm foxy, alright?  ;-)  So, go give her some bloggy love this weekend, 'kay?

And that's all folks!  
Have a fabulous (air conditioned) weekend!


Friday, August 13, 2010

5 Steps to a Saner Me

1.  Wake up before the kids do.  Sigh.  This is a hard one (and the Hubs is probably laughing as he reads this).  I love my sleep.  And I'm a night owl, so waking up before the kids is, um, a wee bit torturous.  They are up consistently at 7am.  And it's almost getting easier to sleep past that because they are getting old enough to occupy themselves for awhile.  But I've noticed that when I'm up before them, and give myself an hour or two to enjoy my coffee, shower and just be, I'm a much happier mama and much more likely to be able to handle whatever they dish out for me that day.  When I neglect to do this (which is more often than not these days), I always feel like I spend the whole day playing catch up.  And I don't like that feeling.  I don't do well with feeling out of control.

2.  Do as much as I can the night before.  In conjunction with #1, it really irritates me if I make the effort to get up early, only to have to spend that time doing things necessary to get us all out the door.  Even with getting our morning routine down to a science, it really throws off the momentum to have to stop and make lunches x2 or to argue about what Princess #2 is going to wear to school.  It's just extra stress I don't need to be dealing with that early in the morning.  So the night before I try to get the lunches made, backpacks packed and clothes laid out for my school-going princesses (again, somewhat laughable, as school has been in session all of one day.  But this is my ideal, work with me).  I also try to run the dishwasher, vacuum and pick up clutter.  It's just a much more pleasant start to my morning if I'm not waking up (at an already established un-Godly hour) and immediately tripping over toys.

3.  Devote at least an hour before bed to the Hubs.  It sounds sort of trite, to have to actually schedule to spend time together.  But let's face it, in the season we're in, with 4 children and jobs and other realities of adulthood (grocery shopping anyone?) pulling us in opposite directions, that's what we sometimes have to do.  And I'll admit that far too often we sit by each other on the couch, tapping away on our computer and iPhone.  And while that's ok sometimes, I know that connecting with my spouse requires more than proximity (what?!  You mean we actually have to talk?!).  I know I am a much more secure person and happy with my life when my relationship with the Hubs is connected and engaged.  And yes, that means actually talking. (haha)

4.  Coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  You think I'm kidding.  I'm not.

5.  Spending time with my princesses.  One would think that a necessity to staying sane would be to carve out as much time alone as possible.  And while I think a certain amount of me-time is warranted (see #1), I've stumbled upon a discovery that has changed how I feel about my day to day.  When I take the time to play with the princesses, to read to them, to talk with them about their day, to paint their nails or play a game with them - they are much less needy.  It's sort of one of those cycles:  a kid needs attention, doesn't get the attention they want, so they act out and demand attention.  Which stresses mom out because she's just ontheedge and needs some time to herself.  So she pushes back, insisting kid do something on his own for awhile, which just pushes kid to demand more attention.  Now, I am by no means perfect at this, and I'm somewhat embarrassed it's taken me 8 years to figure it out, but if I just take the time to invest in my childrens' interests for a little while each day, they feel more secure, confident I'll be there when they need me, and thus, demand less of me.  Obviously the brilliant byproduct of this is not that I get more time to myself, but that I actually get to know my children and enjoy spending time with them and actually want to spend more time with them.  It's a win-win.

My friends, do you have some tips and tricks that help keep you sane?  I'd love to hear what works for you!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time

Does it make me a bad mom if I completely identify with this commercial?

I hope not, because I do.  Oh so very much.  It's been a loooooong summer.  I could pretend and say that I'm eager for the princesses to return to school so they can continue to enrich their lives with education.  But actually I'm just relieved to have a break from the incessant whining about being bored and having nothing "special" to do (what the heck constitutes "special" anyway?)

Last year I was all Martha Stewart and did this for the princesses on their first day of school:

This year?  Uh yeah, notsomuch.  Cake for breakfast is highly overrated anyway.  And those suckers were hard to make!!  I think the princesses are ok with commemorating the start of a new school year with cereal.  That's what I did every year and I turned out fine (NO comments from the peanut gallery!). Do I lose my Supermom status now?

In any case, we are ready for another great year!
Look out 2nd grade and Kindergarten.  Here we come!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No Need For Lunchtime Panic: Guest Post by Another Lunch

So, Jamie didn't read my letter, but my friend Melissa did!  And who is Melissa?  She is none other than the author of the fabulous blog Another Lunch.  If anyone has suggestions on how to survive making lunches for kids, it's her.  And I'm thrilled to announce that in response to my freak out, she's here sharing her tips today!  I hope you enjoy her ideas as much as I do!

It was three years ago that my oldest child began Kindergarten. And like any mama about to scoot her baby into the scary world beyond the nest, I had a lot of concerns. Besides my fears of "Will he make nice friends?", "Will he get lost finding the bathroom?", "Will he be teased for having airplanes on his underwear?" was the worry "what am I going to pack for his lunch?!!".

Cue the bento box.

Bento box?

What's a bento box, you ask?

Well, I'm so glad you asked!

Simply defined, "bento" is a Japanese term for a lunch in a box. A bento box is generally comprised of a variety of foods, packed compactly, and in a single container. Think "Lunchables", but without all the excess packaging, preservatives and sodium. ;-)

Another positive aspect of bento-making is that the food is presented in an appealing way. For making bentos fun and kid-friendly, some ideas are:

* cutting the food into easy-to-eat bite sized pieces.
* using tools such as cute food picks to spear food and/or using cookie cutters to cut food into fun shapes.
* providing an assortment of foods: smaller portions of each, but with more variety overall.

Because a picture really is worth a thousand words...
Noah's Ark L&L
"Noah's Ark bento lunch"
This is a simple bento lunch. It contains pickles, raspberries, cereal bar, homemade granola bite, wheat crackers and cheddar cheese.
pizza pocket bento
"pizza pocket bento"
This bento box holds a homemade pizza pocket, organic baby carrots, pretzels, grapes, homemade granola bite, and fishy crackers.
here fishy, fishy, fishy
"somethin' fishy is going on"
This bento box lunch is fish themed with a sandwich, fishy crackers, hard boiled egg, clementine orange segments and kiwi fruit.

To make lunch preparation run as smoothly as possible during the morning hurry-up-and-get-ready-before-you-miss-the-bus mayhem I get a quick "game plan" in mind the night before and get some quick prep work done before I go to bed.

* I decide on a bento box and set it on the counter, ready to fill.
* I decide on which fruit I'll pack, unearth it from the crisper and wash it so it's ready to chop/peel/spear/whatever in the morning.
* Crackers? Cereal bar? Granola bar? If it's non-perishable I put it beside the bento box on the counter too.
* Any cute shapes either get cut the night before (and stored in a covered container in the fridge) or, at the very least, I'll have the cutters laying out ready to cutesie up some cheese in a flash.

Doing some simple prep work the night before allows me to breeze right though lunch assembly in the morning. While the kids eat their breakfast I am filling bento boxes and getting their lunchboxes all ready to go.

A real benefit of packing bentos for kids is that their whole meal is presented to them at once, not unlike how they are used to eating on a plate. A noisy lunch room full of kids can be a little, um, distracting (to say the least!). The less "obstructions" between the child and their food helps ensure more of it will be eaten. There are no baggies to unzip, bags to pop open or lids to peel off in a bento box. Everything is just right there, ready to eat. The *cute* factor can also draw a child's attention back to their own food, rather than to the chaos that ensues in a cafeteria!

More than anything, a bento is simply a box full of yummy food to fill a hungry tummy. No trash left behind, bentos are a waste-free lunch choice that is healthier for the planet too. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Letter to The Naked Chef

Oh dear Jamie, how I do love you.

First, your cooking show was called The Naked Chef.  What's not to love?

Second, you have that ridiculously adorable British accent.

Third, you are passionately committed to changing the way people eat food.

And I love that.

But you have totally messed everything up.

Your show, The Food Revolution?  Loved it.  Ate it up, literally.  Completely made me want to throw out all the crap in my pantry and fridge and start all over.

And I did, sort of.

But now, reality is upon me.  In THREE DAYS:


Jamie, I've got 4 littles at home.  2 will require a lunch while at school, 5 days a week.  My third will require a lunch at school a handful of days each month.

I used to boldly declare that I couldn't wait until I could just send all the princesses through the cafeteria line so I'd never have to make lunch again.

Your show has cured me of that (did anyone else see that chicken nugget segment?  ~shudder~).

But now what?

See what I mean?  You've messed everything up.

I fear I've just committed myself to a 9 month sentence of being chained to the kitchen (as if I'm not in there enough already).

I'm totally panicking at the thought of having to make fun and filling meals that can be packed into lunch boxes every day.

Help me Jamie!! 

(and please don't hate me if by December we're back to cafeteria food.  We'll just skip chicken nugget day.)


Saturday, August 7, 2010

You're Closer To God in the Mountains

So, a couple of weeks ago we went on vacation to Colorado.  God's country.  
No, not Texas.

We spent 13 looooong hours in the van getting there.  We're crazy like that.

You start doing goofy things after 13 hours in a van

We hung out in Denver with our best friends and their kids.  6 kids total.  That was, um, exciting.

The kiddie crew minus Princess #4

We ate at a restaurant together where Princess #1 actually WON the claw game.  A big blue bear!  I didn't think anyone won those things.

3 year olds kind of rock

We did "Colorado-y" things like sitting outside on the patio after dark in hoodies and sipping coffee.

My dear friend A and I trying to decide if we can do the 80's again.  We voted no.

We did that in the morning too.

Bad to the bone.

We went to feed the giraffes at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.

The princesses were equal parts fascinated and grossed out.  Me too.

And mostly we just enjoyed being together.

Vacations are good for the soul.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Flashback Friday: That Nagging Feeling

That Nagging Feeling
*originally posted April 2008*

Well, I should have known.   After having several days pass by with nothing interesting to blog about, I should have known that a doozy was coming.  If only I had been prepared...

I ventured to the mall today with all 3 princesses in tow.  Hubby was working and I was sick and tired of being stuck in the house, so I thought, why not?  Before heading out we did the usual routine:  First we changed out of the mismatched shorts and tees from our "crap clothes" drawer and into something better suited to "going out" (which, if you know me, you know our "going out" clothes hang from wooden hangers in the closet and are reserved for, well, going out.  Today's choice:  Matilda Jane.  Seriously, if you have a princess at home, you MUST indulge.).  Secondly, hair was combed and fastened in twists and pony tails and whatnot.  And finally, princess #1 and #2 sat on the couch and listened to me give my speech about turning on listening ears and obeying and the promise of fresh store-bought cookies and pretzels if the above two expectations were met.  And with that, we headed out to the van, with a freshly changed princess #3, stocked diaperbag and 2 stuffed animals.

The outing started out well.  We made our first stop at the Apple store to play on the kids computers.  We met up with hubby while he was on his lunch break and toured the Disney store (which we miraculously made out of alive without purchasing a single Princess-laden item!).  After hubby returned to work, I decided it was time to reward the Princesses (and myself) by stopping off at Mrs. Fields for cookies.  Against my better judgment, I allowed Princess #1 and #2 to get the M&M sugar cookie with the huge HOT PINK icing princess crown.  10 minutes later Princess #1 had finished her cookie and Princess #2 had quite (UN)appetizingly licked the entire crown off her cookie leaving a soggy mess.  Yum.  With the soggy leftovers deposited in the trash, the Princesses and I continued on to Gymboree where I labored for way too long over whether or not it was necessary to purchase all 3 Princesses something just so they could match (the Gymboree vortex I tell you), and instead settled on a single romper for Princess #3 that was half paid for by a store credit and coupon.  So far, so good. 

At this point, a nagging feeling began to pound in my sub-conscious.  There was something I was forgetting.  But of course, this is not at all uncommon and usually is nothing serious.  So, we continued on.  This time to ride the elevator up to the second level where the food court was waiting for us.  By this point it was near dinner time so we stopped off for Auntie Anne's pretzels (I SWEAR, I normally do make my children eat healthy meals... but sometimes I like to treat them too).  Those were polished off in no time.  By this point Princess #3 was beginning to get rather antsy in her stroller and was no longer interested in doing anything with the bites of pretzel I was giving her other than tossing them onto the mall floor.  I took that as a cue that it was time to get moving.  

As we're strolling along, I make a last minute decision to stop in The Gap (note to self: last minute stops are NEVER a good idea).  There were a few things I had seen online that I wanted to check out in person and although it's never fun to shop for myself with all the kids along for the ride, I thought I'd just make a quick stop.  HA!  The Princesses were beginning to get a little rowdy....  most easily blamed on the sugar high from the cookies I let them eat.  I instructed them to stand in front of a mirror to amuse themselves while I sifted through a rack of tank tops.  And that's when IT happened.  IT.  The very thing that had been nagging me.  The one thing that I SHOULD have thought of.  Before we even left the house.  Before I let the Princesses share a drink with me.  Before I ignored the nagging feeling and walked into The Gap.  

Pee.  All down Princess #2's beautiful Matilda Jane leggings.  Into her shoes.  All over the pristine Gap wood floors.  And we're not talking a *little* bit of pee.  We're talking a PUDDLE.  An "oh dear God make it stop" puddle.  A "mommy hasn't made you sit on the potty to try to go for at least 3 hours" puddle.  For a moment, I froze.  I mean really, nothing can prepare you for a fiasco like this.  In a matter of nano-seconds, Princess #1, who is beginning to develop self-consciousness, shrieked and covered her eyes and hid under a rack of clothing.  Princess #3 thought it would be the prime opportunity to declare her dissatisfaction with being belted into the stroller and began to scream at the top of her lungs.  And Princess #2, standing in a puddle of pee, began to well up with tears.  

At some point, mommy-mode kicked in.  I grabbed the nearest employee I saw and hissed to her that we had had an accident.  Her eyes got huge as she surveyed the mess and left to get some supplies to clean it up.  I stood there for what felt like an eternity while waiting for her to return, all the while saying to Princess #2, "This is not good.  Why did you not tell me?  This is not good!"  The poor (no doubt childless) employee returned finally with an arsenal of paper towels, disinfectant and rubber gloves.  At that point I REALLY was just ready for the floor to open up and swallow me.  I stripped Princess #2 of her leggings (thankfully she had a skirt on as well - there's a reason behind layering people!) and shoes and stuffed them into a Gap bag.  We somehow managed to get the mess cleaned up and I made a quick stop at Baby Gap and purchased a pair of flip flops and a package of clearanced panties in Princess #2's size and got her changed.

I have no idea how we made it out of the mall.  It's all such a blur.  One of those profound mommy moments when you realize how TRULY important it is to listen to those nagging feelings.... I KNEW there must have been a reason I came thisclose to buying the Princesses some panties at Gymboree earlier that day.   I will say that this little outing has cured me of the need to go to the mall anytime soon.  And I'm not sure I'll ever be able to walk into The Gap again...  And you better believe I will never ever let Princess #2 walk out of the house without sitting on the potty first.  Lessons learned.

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