Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

One of my challenges is how to get the kids to eat their packed lunch. . . 

I’ve tried doing bento.  I’ve used cookie cutters and other methods of cutting veggies into shapes, trying to make the kid snacks fun and appetizing. 

And I just get so frustrated when the lunch box comes home with uneaten food which gets wasted!  

  • An apple with only a few bites in it, or a cut-up apple which has turned brown and never even touched!  
  • Cheese sticks and yogurt warm and unopened. 
  • Sandwiches squished and old by the end of the day. 
  • Fruit which is no longer cold and firm (and of course they don’t like the mushy strawberries or blueberries.)  
  • A plastic baggie filled with crackers or pretzels which have gotten crushed and broken.  (They like the whole ones the best.)   

I could go on and on.   WHAT IS A MOM TO DO?!!

I’m always trying to find new solutions and creative ways to get them to eat relatively healthy food at school.   It’s a never-ending challenge.   I think I do a good job packing a variety of colorful food choices–items which they normally eat at home.  

BUT, I think the key is that the food needs to get to the cafeteria in the same condition it was in when I packed the lunch!  Chances are better that lunch will get eaten if I add a cold pack and try to use containers which will keep the food from getting damaged.   But backpacks and lunch bags get tossed on the playground, stepped on in the classroom, squished into the desk, and so on.  

Here’s my latest find: Diamond brand Multi-Purpose MINI CUPS.  They are those teeny tiny containers that you put ketchup in at FIVE GUYS or what you put the salsa into at MOE’S.  And now you can buy these 2 oz. containers to have at home! 

So far the kids are loving them. 

I’ve done grapes, berries, fish crackers, raisins, and cheese cubes. 

I also put baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and cucumber smiles in a baggie with ranch dip in one of these mini cups. 

They are small enough that you don’t really need much, and it provides variety for the kids.  These small portions are just perfect for their little bellies. 

Now, I realize that it’s not good for the environment and it’s more garbage, but it’s working for our family at the moment. 

How do you get your kids to eat a balanced lunch at school?

Daddy was away on a business trip and this is the artwork he came home to: two adorable monster guys and a sweet bird (penguin?)

Isn’t this guy awesome?!

So so cute!


And the bird.


I am so in love with my little artist.

The kids were having a ball the week before Valentines Day playing with their animal friends and making cozy couch homes. 

 I see vehicles, weapons, a shark and a key in the boy’s fort.



I see pillows, teddy bears, unicorns, and puppies in the girl’s fort. 


I  just love their creative play.

Our new favorite car activity is the Crayola® Dry-Erase Activity Center!  It’s durable, inexpensive, and a wonderful educational and creative tool for the kids!  

There are four markers and an eraser which fit tightly into the holder.  There are also 10 different templates (2 sides of 5 sturdy sheets) for the children to practice the alphabet, numbers, writing, drawing, story boards, and games such as tic-tac-toe.) 

Product Description: “Whether you’re at home or on the go, this activity center is great for learning. Interchangeable templates help children write, draw, count or just play different games. It’s fun for everyone! Recommended for ages 4 and up.”

■Dry-erase activity center
■4 low-odor dry-erase markers
■1 eraser
■5 double-sided activity templates
■Ideas and instruction sheet

There is currently a sale going on at the online Crayola store for $5 off your order of at least $25.  Get one of these boards a couple of packs of extra dry-erase markers and you’ve got a great gift for your preschooler or elementary school student! 

The discount code is: FIVEOFF25

You’ve got a month to take advantage as it expires on January 31, 2012. 

They also offer free shipping on all orders of at least $75.  Go ahead and preorder five birthday party gifts with this great deal!  Your child is bound to be invited to at least 5 birthdays this school year and this is a great unisex gift! 

Our kids LOVE this!

Last year I made turkey cookie treats for our daughter to take to school for their Thanksgiving feast.  I looked up several different versions online and then created my own, based on:

  • what I had on hand
  • portability
  • time, &
  • convenience.  

They also had to be nut-free because of kids with allergies in her class, so I couldn’t use the peanutbutter cups.

They aren’t as cute as those made with the candycorn tail feather fan, but I didn’t want them to fall apart enroute to school.  I think these turned out great!

Here’s what we used:

  1. Mini Pretzels
  2. JUMBO Marshmallows
  3. Candy corn
  4. Dare Maple cookies
  5. Melting chocolate


First, cut the marshmallows into quarters (you’ll probably only need to cut them in half if you use regular large sized marshmallows.)  

Next, stick a toothpick into the domed part for dipping. 

I melt the chocolate in the microwave in a small glass pyrex measuring cup.   Dip the marshmallow and use a spoon to get chocolate on the top (Sorry this picture was taken at the end of the project!)










Then, place the chocolate “body” onto the “tail” (maple sandwich cookie) while the chocolate is still wet. 

Quickly place a mini pretzel onto the flat side of the marshmallow and cookie, so that the rounded “feet” stick out in front.  It’s important to do this while the chocolate is still wet so that it sticks.  

Take the toothpick out carefully (I used a fork to keep the body steady.) 


Finally, place the candy corn “head” on top, right over the toothpick hole!  The white tip “beak” should stick out a bit.  

We used the candycorn with the brown base (on sale right after Halloween), but the traditional yellow version would be cute too!   I should have added eyes, but at that point I was DONE!!

Growing up in Italy, our mom always served pastina in brodo.  As a matter of fact, I still have my “recipe”.

Pastina in brodo recipe

 We now make it for our kids, but I don’t really measure.  
I add about 1 1/2 inches of water to my 4 quart soup pot  (approximately 6 cups) and heat until boiling.
Add two Vegetarian Bouillon cubes.  (Mom used the tiny cubes of chicken flavored bouillon but we like Knorr extra large cubes in this home.)
Add a few scoops of pastina pellets (Acini di pepe).   After adding the pasta turn down to lowest heat and cook until pastina is done, around 10 minutes.
Typically I buy Barilla brand pastas for my family, and they do make Pastina, but it’s star shaped. 
For this soup, I prefer what I grew up on which is the teeny tiny balls.  
You can find these from such brands as Ronzoni, Prince, Delallo, De Cecco, DaVinci and other Italian brands.   Look for Acini di pepe pasta or sometimes misspelled as Acine de pepe.  
Serve with parmesan cheese
If you want to be really authentic, put one wedge of The Laughing Cow creamy swiss cheese in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup over the soft cheese.  That’s how we liked it as toddlers, and how our daughter eats it in our home.   
I did a quick websearch and found this authentic recipe.  Grazie Barbara!
Here’s her translation into English. 

The kids were busy this weekend making forest fairies.  They turned out so cute!   

After feeding chipmunks with unsalted peanuts, we got an idea. 

The kids collected wooden toothpicks and then gathered a huge assortment of treasures from the woods:

pinecones of various sizes



sticks & twigs



The girls assembled the forest fairies, and attached the peanuts to the flower petal skirts with toothpicks. 

Petunia flowers and hosta flowers made good and sweet-smelling skirts. 

We also made shawls out of leaves and ferns. 

Besides the peanuts, black eyed susan flower middles made good heads. 

The boys helped make the house, which consisted of twig walls, fortified by pinecones, a hosta leaf roof, leaf beds, and flower trees outside.

It turned out fabulous!