Lunchtime success!

  I am really proud of my planning and research of recipes for my daughters kindergarten lunches. Although I had a lot of things to get done, I am glad i was able to get the Tupperware and groceries needed to make the ideas I found off pinterest and recipes.com. I can now say I followed through on my own plans, rather than spitting out ideas and never bothering there after. Its very easy to do that!

  I was able to get the silicone cups for her lunches as well as a thermos and containers she can open herself (thankgod I thought of that). I love how her lunches look all sectioned out. I have been trying to make smaller portions with bigger selection to help watch her diet and nutrition. Of course I have to pack fun snacks but I like to add a variety of fruits and veggies to her diet. Kids are so darn picky and she’s getting to the age where other kids influence her thought on her once favorite things. (We all know what that’s like).

  I have been sneaky and creative by getting her to eat foods with hidden veggies. It actually works. We are pretty plain eaters. I do not like to put syrup, dressings or heavy cream on or in anything. We eat plain waffles with fruit or plain pancakes because I put peanutbutter or chocolate chips inside. We also do not use ketchup or mustard ever. (Gasp). We don’t add much salt or pepper to things.

  I’m kind of boring in the condiment department. But I do love adding a few ingredients to everything. I love almonds, honey and vanilla extract. I also love cinnamon and nutmeg. I add those things to many common recipes to add variety. I am excited because I tried out a new mini muffin recipe that is really good so far. Introducing the newest flavor combo:

   Chocolate chip squash muffins!

1 Gerber baby food squash container.
1 mix of Betty crocker muffins
1/2 cup water (just add a tad less water)
1 teaspoon honey
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

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I thought about adding some other types of vegetable puree but squash seemed like a good experimental flavor. You can use a whole grain or oatmeal muffin mix as well. Also, honey is just a favorite of ours and it makes it sweet enough to hide the veggie flavor. I couldn’t get my daughter away from the batter.

  

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   I am excited to try more veggie muffins this week. I have decided to use paper cups and then freeze four or six at a time in Tupperware. I originally tried zip lock which was stupid because they stick together. By freezing it, I can defrost small amounts and stick one or two in her lunch box to add some variety.

  

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  So far I am creative and on a roll! She loved her lunch today and helped me pack tomorrows! Ideas are always welcome so please post to me if you have awesome recipe suggestions!

       

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Yum!

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“All by myself”

 
  We finally have made it to September. My daughter seems so excited for kindergarten. I have been shopping for what I can to prepare for kindergarten. I was so excited to receive my silicone baking cups in the mail finally!!! I cannot wait to use them for organizing her school lunches.

   Today we picked up some more finger foods and snacks for her lunches. I also found some pretty cute Tupperware. This is what my life comes to. I am excited about lunch containers. Its a new chapter in her life so I want
everything to be perfect.
   

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I am trying out new recipes for my daughter to add in new food groups she isn’t used to. I also need to amp up my diet which now consists of anything I can get at campus or junk. No breakfast. And cookies. I am horrible during the semester. I snack way too much and end up not feeling 100%. I need to focus on eating the right types of food. Also, I need to live off water. I am a maniac when searching for beverages because nothing seems to be natural anymore. I hear so much about GMOs and added dietary chemicals. I search for 100% juice or it goes back on the shelf.
  
   So far this past week I have labeled books, prepared her backpack, and tried to encourage her as much as possible. I am dealing with my own stresses but trying not to let it show. I have trouble hiding my feelings from my daughter. She is the only one who can see right through me. She knows all my weaknesses and fears. She knows my happy face. My angry face. She will even walk into time out because she knows my “I have had it up to here” face. You all must know what I mean!

  What is bothering me is that her going to kindergarten is a big marker of independence for us both. I am starting to decide what career I want. The clock is ticking. I have to come up with answers. I need to get a plan that is fail proof. I have no where to live after I graduate. I have to find an apartment, find a steady job and get a car. I have to make sure its in the area so my daughter can stay in her district. I need to do it all by myself. The lesson of the week has been that phrase exactly. What I am most afraid and eager of is having to and needing to do this all alone.

  I have been in a serious and committed relationship for three years with a man who is not the father of my child but the only person she knows most besides me. He met her when she was only two. She is nearly six now. We are both college aged and busy with our own paths. We have made it through so many things that I feel like we are almost invincible. We thought long and hard about some major decisions and decided to follow our own hearts but in different directions. No, not a breakup. Physically. As in latitude, longitude. He is going to go to Africa to serve and help people. I am going to finish my college degree and find the career of my dreams. With all of our friends all rushing to be married or pregnant, we have been very different. We have stayed committed and happy without rushing to be more than just our ages. It has made us happy and closer than ever to follow through on our own life plans. Something I learned a long time ago was that giving up your dreams for any guy is not love. Its settling. And abandoning your own passions. I’ve done it before. And I got a daughter out of it. I am so thankful for that. But now is my time to get it right.

   I had to say good luck and see you later to my best friend, my only real love last night. He will leave tomorrow evening on a days journey to Africa. I am so blessed to have him in my life and to have his family. We are so in love and in sync with each other. I never really felt loved by anyone like I do with him. Though we both cried and had a hard time parting, we feel joy at the great experience we are giving each other. To be able to grow and follow our own paths. When both of us are done in a few semesters, we can then be reunited and see where our five year relationship. We have plans for the future together but first we need more than ever to complete our own goals. He is my hero and I admire him so much. For all that he does for others. He constantly puts others well being before his own. He is active in church and also a well adjusted guy. He has been the best thing to ever happen to my daughter. She is so excite for him to go to Africa and see zebras. She tells everyone about him nonstop. I never thought I would find someone to whole heartedly accept myself and my daughter, for all that we are.

   I can honestly say I have loved him fro. The start. (Really, I said I love you the first week). I dated a lot after my ex, even though Bella was a baby. She never met any of the guys really. Unless I was friends with guys I did not want her to be raised meeting all different guys. Still, I was only seventeen with a baby. I did want to date. I went through a whole lot of frogs and didn’t feel right with any. I felt like I could just skip being emotional to avoid being hurt or abandoned again. Love was not for me. Until I met him. Now some friends ask me If I’m open to dating while he is away. Its not on the table. When you know, you just know.

 

I have had a lot of obstacles but I finally know what I want in my life. I know who I want to be. Who I am. And who I want to spend my life with. I am thankful and happy for the friends i have. For the memories I am making with my daughter. I can actually say I am at peace with my life. All because I am not afraid to do things by myself. To accomplish my goals and make my own dreams come true. Like I deserve.

Love is having your heart walk whole outside of your body. For me, half beats strong in Africa and the other half is cuddled up on my lap. I finally found my home.

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Lunch art – healthy and adorable

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   As part of my countdown to kindergarten, I have been tirelessly researching lunch ideas for my five year old. Knowing she isn’t very fond of vegetables or meats unless they are craftily mixed into meals, I have found the best solutions online. Pinterest has come to my rescue again. I feel if anything like I have a digital spouse. I can find anything on pinterest. House ideas, DIY projects, affordable solutions and my favorite- recipes!!
   One awesome thing I discovered was multiple ideas on how to create snack drawers! By bagging and sealing many snacks ahead of time, I could just grab something each day for my child’s lunch box. Why is that so simple and yet I never thought of it? Thank you digital spouse. Simply purchase a dollar store (dollar tree is our favorite) container bin in a cool color and label it with an index card as “snacks” if your super crafty like me! Sure we can identify the bucket by looking at it. But what about your little kindergartener who is very observant and very obsessed with opening the fridge? Its educational.
   Next, get some super cheap and awesome zip lock bags (Target makes bright colored ones) and a sharpie. If you feel up to it, do what I do and stock your kitchen junk drawer (come on, we all have one) with post its, tape, index cards, markers and cute stickers. The dollar store has all that stuff so you wont be spending a lot and you will spruce up the lunches with labels. Your learning child can get used to the items along with their words.
    Make sure you get a variety of snacks for them. Kids go through so many fazes with food. One week they love strawberries. The next week they think they are the scum of the earth. Get some dips like cottage cheese, peanut butter and even wowbutter (made with sunflower seed oil). Its great to provide dips when packing celery, cheese sticks, pretzels, biscuits, fruits chopped and finger foods. Raisins are great but can get boring too. Try some dried fruit or craisins to mix it up a bit.
    My daughter loves grilled cheese and quesadillas so I have looked up things I can add to them. I loved the idea of grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Also. Adding spinach and mozzarella cheese fried on bread. I have slipped many vegetables into wraps and quesadillas. Sour cream or home made dressings on the side are good for kids who love to dip.
   

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  Wrap roll ups seem like the best invention in the world. I have wrapped up spreads, pbj, deli meats and veggies for her then cut it like sushi. One thing I saw was rolling up pbj in wheat wraps and freezing them. You can thaw it anytime or pack it frozen so it’ll be thawed by the time lunch comes around at school.
   

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On the subject of frozen foods, i saw these fruit cups on a woman’s blog and fell in love. My child hates applesauce by itself. I want to buy frozen fruit bag varieties and sort them into each cup. Then every cup is covered and froze again. Pack it in a small ziplock container to be thawed by lunch time. It keeps fruit fresh and saves you money since fruit won’t go bad so fast if frozen!!
    My last favorite that I will be trying are the muffin recipes I have been finding. Any can be googled but a good suggestion of mine is weelicious and allrecipes.com. I have both mini muffin and regular sized tins which I use at least once a week. We use paper cups to avoid having to spray butter ( I end up inhaling it and feeling gross). The recipes call for ingredients like baby food, meat, spaghetti and even bacon!
One fun idea is to make mini corn muffins with chopped hotdog slices in each muffin. Another recipe was for delicious zucchini and cheddar muffins. Many required just flour, baking soda, chopped fruits and baby food puree. How cool and useful huh?
   

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Well I am way too busy to sit around all day during the semesters and cook/bake for my little one. I am not a stay at home mom and am the only bread winner. So I have decided to make efficient grocery lists based on these recipes. I also use small accordion recipe folders for ideas and coupons. You don’t have to tackle it all at once. Spread ideas out and see what items are on sale during each season. I also think that setting an hour on the weekend to prepare this stuff and then freeze it is awesome!!! If you lay out a chunk of time on the weekend, you van pack lunches super fast during the week. I know this weekend I’ll be hitting up dollar tree and trader joes for most of the ingredients and supplies. So worth it in the end. I also am ordering rubber cupcake baking cups on amazon( sets of 12 for less than $15.00) which are reusable for baking and great for dividing foods in a container.

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Well that’s it for now! Can’t wait to post when I try it all out!!!!

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