Friday, September 19, 2014

School Lunches and THE BEST reusable napkins!

School lunches… Definitely a hot topic around our household! Whether or not you send your kid to school for hot lunch, homeschool and make lunches there or brown-bag it, we all want to provide our children with healthy, delicious and satisfying lunches all through the year.  It's so important that children get a well-balanced lunch that will fuel them and give them energy for the rest of the day.  I have no doubt that you've seen countless articles about how to incorporate new ideas into lunches to keep it fresh and new. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day!  I feel like there is more of an awareness now about food and nutrition and so many of us are looking to provide our children with the best possible meals throughout their day.
I thought it would be fun to share some of our recent school lunches and talk a little more about some options for those of you who are still looking for a little bit of inspiration. I completely understand how hectic mornings can be. Sometimes it's just easiest to send your children with something that you know they will eat, and old standby sometimes the best option when you know your child has a favorite!  For my children, they love having new and different lunches every day. Of course there are repeats but they definitely enjoy having some new options and thrive on variety!

As a general rule, I try to make sure that I'm incorporating a fruit and a couple of veggies in every lunch I pack.  Even if your kid isn't a huge veggie eater, there are so many great options out there to not only include veggies into recipes but also even some convenience food like squeezable applesauce and organic crackers that that incorporate veggies right into the mix.  Still, I think it's so important to start as early as you can by introducing fruits and veggies and consistently offering them as soon as they're eating.  I would encourage you to offer fruits and veggies in their lunches every day. If they are hungry enough they will at least try them. I've also found that little containers of yogurt dip or hummus work wonders. Kids love to dip!
Here are a few examples of lunches that I have sent my kids to school with lately. My girls love salads so often times I opt to send them with a salad and a bit of chicken on the side. I think they enjoy having all the components and making their own.  I've also included some pita chips, strawberries and an apple.  I also include a reusable napkin which are eco friendly, adorable and easy!  I've used different options over the years but these from Fiber & Thread are hands down THE BEST reusable napkins I've used.  They wash well and aren't fading.  They are also durable and stain resistant!  Be sure to LIKE Fiber & Thread on Facebook here.  They are fulfilling custom orders now and this page will keep you updated when the Etsy shop launches!  Did I mention these make AMAZING holiday gifts and that they recently launched dinner napkins? Stay tuned later this Fall when I do a dedicated feature on Fiber & Thread

The next lunch is a simple hummus wrap filled with veggies, dried peas and Newmans Own Organics pretzels, strawberries and an apple.
In general, I offer my girls similar lunches on a daily basis. I just makes things easier. The sides in particular are usually the same. I used to break it down and specifically give them each item that they wanted but it just got insane!  I do, however, I feel like if I ask them what they would like for their main opponent it gives them a feeling of choice and they will have something to anticipate when they're ready to sit down and eat.  I am fortunate that my kids have healthy appetites and are eager to eat healthy foods.

Here is an example of the snacks that I send them in with. Again, I always incorporate a fruit or veggie and a lot of times I make a homemade item. This week we have pumpkin muffins and sliced mango.  Sometimes my girls are lighter eaters in the morning and the snack helps fuel them. I opt for homemade muffins they are free of preservatives. The added vitamins in the pumpkin adds to the "power "of this snack.  Did you know pumpkin is a Vitamin A superstar? The girls love them!

What kind of snacks and lunches do you send your kids with to school?  Always looking for ideas and inspiration, feel free to share! Making lunches can be tedious but it doesn't have to be!  For those times when you are in a rush and are looking for a shortcut, be sure to check out Applegate's HALF TIME kits! In fact if you head over here you can enter to win your very own lunch kit!

Have a wonderful Friday friends!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Applegate HALF TIME™ Feature and Giveaway!

True story…It takes me a ridiculous amount of time to unpack my kids backpacks and repack them for the next day.  I mean, a ridiculous amount of time. Back in the day, each kid would get a bologna and cheese sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, maybe a bag of chips and an apple. That was before the days of these super fancy Moms (I most certainly am NOT fancy - but wish I was!) who get up at the crack of dawn to roll fresh salads and sushi for their kids lunches. I'm not saying I'm sending my kids with fresh sushi, but I would say sometimes the madness of packing a lunch to meet each of my daughters needs get a little ridiculous.  Of course I want to offer them healthy, delicious foods that they will enjoy but it can get extremely time-consuming to stamp out heart shaped sandwiches and star shaped fruit salads every day of the week.  Is anyone with me here?  
If you are feeling like you could use a break every once in a while, APPLEGATE HALF TIME™ has you covered! The first NATIONALLY available natural and organic lunch kit!  That's BIG NEWS! Applegate's HALF TIME™ lunch kit recently came out onto our market and partners with some wonderful companies to offer an easy, healthy and delicious lunch kit for your kids. They are for three varieties that include healthy options that put your child in the driver seat. HALF TIME™ includes Applegate natural meats and cheeses (which have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and are antibiotic- and hormone-free), Annie’s Homegrown crackers and snacks, and Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers.
Finally! An option when you just don't have a lot of time on your hands! These kits will allow your kids to make different combos and they are all kids size so easy, portable and yummy!   This option is a lunch you can feel good about offering your children.

I'm happy to report that Applegate is offering one lucky Barefoot by the Sea reader their very own halftime lunch kit which includes all three varieties! Also included is a reusable lunch bag that your child can decorate, pack of markers, valuable Applegate coupons and a coloring book! I think you'll agree that this is a prize that's just as valuable for your kids as it will be for you :-). To enter, simply fill out the rafflecopter form below (please be patient, it may take a minute for the form to load.)  Can't wait?  Click here and snag a coupon for your very own HALF TIME™ here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

Enjoy the ride

With three weeks under our belt, it's safe to say we are finally getting into the rhythm of the school routine.  Our mornings start early, mine starts even earlier, at 4:45 AM. I learned quickly that the best way to help the girls adjust would be if I was prepared and organized every single day. It's just so much more helpful if we have outfits ready, lunches made and backpacks ready to go. I leave the house with Riley every morning by 6:40 AM. She is groggy and tired but it has been nice to have a few minutes first thing alone with her. These days everyone is so busy that we seldom get solo time with the kids.  It's nice to have the earliest moments of my day spent with her.  After dropping Riley off, I had back home to get Sydney dressed and ready for her day. She is quite fast in the morning and knows that if she can get dressed quickly, she'll have a few extra moments to play with the puppy, her kitties or look through some books. We leave the house for her at 8 AM. The different start times as well as the earlier mornings have been our biggest adjustment.
The hours in between feel like a whirlwind. Working from home I have my time filled with different assignments. It feels good to be contributing to the family but I can honestly say there are never enough hours in the day!  I'm back on the road again at 1:45 PM headed to pick up Riley from school followed by Sydney after.  I can honestly say I get excited to each and every day when they greet me with their smiling faces even though Riley has more of a sense of dread depending on the amount of homework she's been assigned for the evening.  After school the girls get some playtime outside if the weather cooperates and then we start our evening routine of homework, dinner, reading and relaxation.

Reflecting on the past couple of weeks, it's my opinion that the homework lighter after the kids have been in school all day long. One things that appeal to me about homeschooling is that you can really get into a rhythm based on your own child's schedule. There may be days where they're flying in math concepts so your day is more math heavy, other days may be more science-based and outside. Those are the things that we don't always get an opportunity to focus on since we are in a public school system. On one hand, my children have access to a state of the art music room and are learning from the musicians themselves and they absolutely love their art program and are lucky to have the opportunity to learn from such talented artists.  Still, there are days when I just wish we had more time to break, more time to explore and more time for them not to feel any pressure.
When I say "pressure" I feel it's starting to build more for my fifth-grader. She's determined to make the honor roll, this will be the first year or she's actually receiving grades and she studies hard to ensure she's doing the absolute best she can.  I just don't want that pressure to build more than necessary at the age of 10.  Because of that, as a parent, I think the pressure is on ME a little more to ensure she is taking the time to be a kid, to get outside and play, and to have plenty of time exploring her surroundings.  I think that philosophy is the one we're going with this year and like everything, it may take a bit before we get into that mindset.

I've seen my fair share of mothers over this past week and through the years that literally drag their children from school to the next activity, to the next game, to the next social commitment. You have to do what works for you and you have to know your child, and determine what is best for them.  I think it's so important to talk to your children, to ask them what they want to do and at the same time know their limits and boundaries. Know that they don't need to commit to every social engagement possible and know that just because they don't participate in something this year doesn't mean they will never have that opportunity again. There is so much stress on children these days and I think it's been building over the past few years. We owe it to our children to guide them and help them say no from time to time. They deserve to just be kids, to experience the outdoors and the seasons. They deserve to spend hours outside (or in) simply playing if that is what makes him happy!
So for now, the journey continues. It seems like as soon as we overcome one obstacle, we are faced with a new challenge.  I just want to ensure my children are enjoying the ride as much as they possibly can. They deserve that and as a parent, I feel that it is my responsibility to ensure that happens.

I hope you are all off to a great week!


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