Packing their own lunch

In a brand new decision this year, A decided that he wanted to make his own lunch. J quickly joined in and also declared that he wanted to make his own lunch. Inspired by Mix and Match Mama’s post on this awhile back, I decided to let the boys give it a try. I say give it a try, because I wanted to make sure they understood that if they made it, they were also going to put away everything they got out to make it, that they cleaned up any messes, and they didn’t turn it into a crazy role playing game that involved yelling (if you’re thinking…how can your kids turn making lunch into a game….oh they can. They Mary Poppins’ stuff to the extreme here. Here’s a little bit more about what I did!

First, I made sure things were easily accessible:

One spot for, yogurt, cheese sticks, apple sauce packs, lunchables, etc. I also cut the grapes into smaller bunches, made small bags of carrot sticks, and then got the celery bags that are individual sticks.

Then, I made a guide list for them:

It’s not fancy. There is no pretty design, or written on special paper, I just made a list. They have to get one thing from each group, and then I check it at the end.  Then they zip it up and put it in the fridge. In the morning I slip in an ice pack, and write on their napkins (they’ve had a note from me everyday on their napkin since preschool. My Mom did that, too!). They were so proud that they made it all by themselves!

 

This is definitely a routine! We are headed back to school this week, I can hardly believe it. And no, the five Fritos were not for J’s lunch, ha! I also set out their back to school surprises:

 

New books for them to read in car line (Magic Tree House for J and The Van Gogh Deception for A), new socks, and Musee bath balm, because who doesn’t need a nice calming bath after a busy first day of school?! Happy back to school, friends!

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Cooking with kids

As the boys are getting older they have become more interested in learning how to cook and bake different things. While, I love that they are interested and want to help, I’ve been working through the challenge of them “helping” and me keeping my sanity in the process. I have always used cooking as a bit of personal therapy/calm down at the end of the day. It’s where B and I discuss our days, prep stuff together, etc. When the boys were little they would happily help me prep a few items, hand me spices, mix things, but now they want to do it all. So, I’ve worked on a few things as they are older that have made a big difference, and thought I would share.

First, helping clean up as you go. I have found cooking/baking is so necessary for J. He is a go go go kiddo and this has really helped him to learn he has to slow down. You can’t whisk as hard as possible or turn the mixer on high without making a mess. However, who cares about making a mess if you don’t have to clean it up? I’m a clean as you go baker. When we get done with a bowl, a spoon, whatever it is, it gets rinsed and goes in the dishwasher. This has helped immensely in the boys not running in to help and then leaving when they get bored and leaving me with the mess.

Second, follow the steps. Reading a recipe is a method and can be a bit of a learning curve. We will go through the recipe together and I have them help me collect the ingredients we need, so they not only know what we are using but also where it is stored.

Third, walk away when necessary. Obviously you should be standing there when they are doing tasks that need supervision, but I try to let them be independent, so I’m not over instructing and correcting them. For example, when J was scooping cookie dough, I showed him how and then I worked on cleaning up the flour from the sink. I was there if he had a question, but not right there telling him it was too much or too little.

For this particular baking session we made Picky Palate’s Jack Jack Cookie Num Nums. We altered the recipe just a tad, using milk chocolate chips because we couldn’t find chunks, and using a regular muffin tin. We lowered the baking time to between 10-15 minutes to adjust for all this and they turned out excellent!

I also made only half the batter and then refrigerated the other half to make next week (I would say this method would make about 24 total cookies:

You are supposed to eat them warm, so for any leftover cookies, we just popped them one the microwave for about 15-20 seconds to warm it up.

 

These are my new favorite way to make (and eat!) chocolate chip cookies:

 

 

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Currently reading…summer edition

A bit of what we’ve been reading this summer….

We are all about the series this summer! And a Crisis Communication Textbook. Ha! Along with the boys’ reads and my work read, here are some of the other books I’ve read from May-July.

About the Night

A story about star crossed lovers, who are forever changed by the divide of Jerusalem. It is sad in parts, but so wonderfully written and insightful. You’ll remember it long after you read it.

Park Avenue Summer

Perfect for summer, this story is historical fiction of sorts, featuring an up and coming photographer and the editor who changed the entire direction of the original Cosmopolitan magazine.

The Murmur of Bees

This by far one of my favorite reads of the year. I don’t want to give anything away, but essentially it is about a baby who is found and taken in by a family, and his journey with and apart from them. It’s a story about the strong ties of family and overcoming adversity.

Cat Among the Pigeons

My most current Agatha Christie read. It is a mystery (obviously) surrounding a school setting, with a murderous hunt for treasure.

A Piece of the World

Another historical fiction based on Andrew Wyeth’s inspiration for the painting Christina’s World, this was a very interesting read. So much so that I now have the Museum of Modern Art on my list to go see the painting in person.

Maisie Dobbs

This has been on my list for awhile. I’m a fan of Forever 35 podcast, and one of the hosts has talked about this series being her favorite, and they interviewed the author. It is kind of along the lines of Agatha Christie, but it has a much more personal connection to the investigator. It is also set in a very specific time period (right after World War I), and the author does a lovely job of intertwining the effects of the war with the mystery.

A has read every Percy Jackson book, and is re-reading the ones discussing Greek mythology:

Mythology was one of my favorite classes in high school and college, so we’ve had lots of fun discussions about the different myths!

J’s series of the summer has been Harry Potter. We are only letting him read books 1-3 for now, but this is the first time (and he loves to read) that he is reading everywhere we go. In the car, waiting at the pool, first thing when he gets up in the morning:

He’s been asking to watch The Chamber of Secrets all week, so this past weekend we watched it:

He was so excited! His favorite characters right now are Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall. And Harry Potter, of course. We are still debating if he can watch the third movie, but he’s already planning to go back and read the first three again.

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This and That

This is my new Summer tea towel that I picked up online on sale from Anthropologie (it’s the cutest):

This is our redwood that we planted in the ground this fall and it is flourishing!

This is J playing catcher in his last game of the season:

He has grown so much in his playing ability this year! By the end of the season he was hitting at every at bat, and got multiple runs! Most importantly he loved playing and is excited about next season.

This is the boys with their fresh haircuts that they got at our local barbershop. They look handsome and are ready for summer vacation now!

After their haircuts we headed over to the food trucks that are set-up in our downtown during the weekends for May-August, A most enjoyed the milkshake for dessert:

Then on Saturday I ran to Costco with my sister and got one of my favorite stress free dinners:

Chicken alfredo pasta, French bread, and frozen corn. Sooooo simple, and the boys eat it up!

This is the adorable eagle J made at school:

And finally, this is J entering into the toothless club! He lost his first tooth this weekend:

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Summer learning routine

Every summer since the boys started in school, I have a plan to avoid the “summer slump”. The boys are so used to this that they have even started setting their own goals for the summer! A’s major goal is to read, read, read. J wants to learn to tie his shoes (we’ve attempted this several times without success), write correctly with his pencil (more on that in a minute), and learn his math facts fast! Here are a few more of our summer learning plans.

First, back to J’s writing. I noticed about a year ago that J tended to hold his pencil oddly. We tried several things to help him, and figured as he continued to write it would begin to work itself out. However, it hasn’t, and so we really need to get him back on track so he doesn’t get behind in the classroom. My Mom gave me a pencil grip corrector and a writing tablet and we are slowly beginning the process of helping him re-learn how to hold his pencil to write. I’m very thankful that he is super pumped about this because it is not an easy process.

Second, is finally nailing down shoe tying for BOTH kids. I really feel like I knew how to do this in kindergarten, but good gracious it’s been difficult to teach them. J really wants to learn, and A could really care less, but they are both going to learn because their shoes for fall will be lace-ups. In part because they stay on their feet better (if they are tied). J desperately wants shoes like these:

So that’s one of our end goals for the summer.

Third, J has the goal of nailing down his math facts (addition and subtraction), and I want him to be able to do it without using his fingers to count. We already have addition and subtraction cards like these:

But I also have plans to get this fun little math matching game:

While I’m working on math facts with J, A will be working through some Khan Academy math programs.

Now that we’ve covered J (and some A) goals, here are a few of my learning goals for the summer! First up, I’m planning to sign up for a free two months of Skillshare and take this class with the boys:

The boys love drawing, and so I thought it would be fun to test our hand at some drawings and watercolors.

Second, A is all about math and storytelling write now so we have plans for this Pixar in a Box series on just that idea.

And third, a brand new Magic Treehouse Book on Benjamin Franklin comes out in July. So I’ve got a book club lesson plan for the boys:

And that’s it! The boys have two weeks of swim lessons, a week of FCA camp, and we’ve got a beach vacation as well, so in between all of that we are going to sleep in, go to the pool, catch up on all the reading, and eat all the popsicles! If you want to check out last year’s learning plan it’s here.

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This and That

This is my Target order haul from the past week:

Since it’s been a pain-ish to get to Target right now, I’ve been adding things to my cart throughout the week and then I order it all at the beginning of the next week. I also may need to stop following so many blogs that I keep discovering new things to try.

J is reading Sarah, Plain, and Tall out loud with his reading group at school and at home to me:

This was one of my favorite books when I was his age, so I love that he’s reading it and that I get to hear it all over again!

My Mom had baby chicks hatch in her classroom this past week, and J really loved them so:

This kiddo has a heart for animals!

On Friday we braved the rain to pick up new baseball equipment for J, and for the boys to spend their Christmas and birthday money at Target:

These are the newest Elite Trainer Pokémon boxes. They were excited about them, I was excited there were two boxes!

This is the salmon sheet pan supper that is so, so easy:

Salmon, asparagus, lemon. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook at 400 degrees until done (about 12-15 minutes).

And finally, this podcast got me intrigued by A Color Story App, which I promptly downloaded and have had fun trying out!

My first in-app purchase was At Home and I love it! It creates amazing filters that look natural, but just a tad brighter, truer, better. I definitely recommend it! Have a great Monday!

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Camp-out cooking and leaf crafting

At A’s den meeting this week, he learned about first aid, safety, and how to grill a hamburger/hot dog, which are three important things!

 

 

He was very excited to eat the hamburger he made all by himself, and he even tried it with an onion on it!

While he and B were hiking and cooking, J and I worked on a leaf craft project at home. This is a super easy project that requires minimal items, all you need is a hammer, watercolor (or other heavy weight) paper, paper towels, and freshly fallen leaves.

You want leaves that have some pigment left in them because it will transfer color better to the paper. All you do is arrange your leaves on the paper…

And then cover them with paper towels, and hammer (carefully, with adult supervision) all over the leaves…

And the imprint of the leaves will transfer onto the paper!

Super simple, and a great weekend afternoon craft!

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Operation Christmas Child

I always feel like this day is the start of holiday season, as crazy of a day as it typically is. For the past several years my Mom, sister, and I load up all five kids and head to Target on Saturday to go shopping for Operation Christmas Child. It is usually slightly chaotic and the kids may have been trying to load almost life-sized stuffed animals into the shopping cart at one point, but it is a great way to teach them about helping others.

Here is an idea of what we typically pick out (go here for a full list of what you can and cannot pack):

 

We typically get:

– A stuffed animal

– Socks

– A bar of soap and holder

– Colored pencils and pencil sharpener

– Toothbrush

– Fun bandaids

– Uno Card Game

– Fidget spinner

– Small plastic animals

– Notepad

National collection week is this week! You can go here to find a collection spot in your area.

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Current favorite art supplies

The boys go through cycles of art interest. Sometimes they are doing many projects, writing books, drawing pictures, etc. and then other times things are in a bit of a holding pattern. I keep quite a few supplies on hand, so the boys have items whenever they decide they need to draw, color, or write a story. I thought I’d share some of our current favorite supplies:

My on going struggle is where to store everything so they can easily get to it, but it’s not sitting out all the time. I typically store it all in our kitchen hutch, but my dream is to have an area of the house where all of this can be out and they can leave projects out while they work on them.

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Ladybug craft

I have to share this cute craft and story idea that J came up with for my niece. He decided to make ladybug paper plates and worked very hard on an example. My personal favorite part was the hidden smiley face on the underside of the paper plate! I really think J is going to end up being an imagineer at Disney or Pixar. He starts about every other sentence with “hey mommy, what do you think if….” and then he’ll end it with something like “if butterflies had wheels so they could both drive and fly.” And that will follow with a ten minute discussion of how he could actually make that happen. To support or paper plate ladybugs we watched The Grouchy Ladybug:

And a quick video on how ladybugs fold their wings:

And a lengthier one that they started getting bored about why ladybugs are called ladybugs:

And then we made our paper plate ladybugs:

 

 

 

All you need is two paper plates per kid, some construction paper, glue, scissors, and crayons. You just put the wings in between the plates and glue the plates together. Then color one side like the ladybug, and the inside is the ladybugs hidden face! So fun! If you want even more craft ideas for ladybugs, the boys and I did a ladybug activity day three years ago. You can find it here! Happy ladybug learning!

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