Friday, August 28, 2015

First Week of Lunches for 4th Grade

School is back in session and it is time to start making lunches EVERY day. Boogs is in 4th Grade this year. He gave me his blessing to continue making "cute" lunches for him "as long as they are not too flowery". The lunches I make for Boogs are usually Story Themed Lunches inspired by what we are reading.

The Kissing Hand By Audrey Penn
I make a special lunch inspired by this book on every first day of school - kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th grade. You can read the details about this lunch in my other post HERE.

For the past several years, Grandmaman (my mother-in-law) has been giving Boogs a subscription to National Geographic Kids Magazine as a Christmas present. Boogs loves checking the mail and finding his new magazine in the mailbox every month. I think it is a wonderful source of non-fiction reading for him. We used the August issue of Nat Geo Kids to inspire the rest of our lunches this week.
On the second day of school, Boogs handed me this page of his Nat Geo Kids Magazine and challenged me to make a lunch featuring the two porcupines in this comic. He said, "I think it will be a challenge for you to make this lunch happen." Well, yes, it was a challenge and I absolutely failed at making it look anything like the picture. The mini-sandwiches are supposed to be porcupines. Boogs was not sure a pretzel stick represented a prickly cactus very well. We laughed about it and he ate it for lunch, so I still count this lunch as a success. In the ELB lunchbox: strawberries, carrots with a container of hummus, trail mix, Pringles, pretzel stick cactus, and two ham & cheese porcupine sandwiches.
I love making these panda bear sandwiches, I think they are adorable. They are sooooo easy to make using the CuteZcute sandwich cutter set.  Ten minutes and this lunch was in the lunch bag. In the Laptop Lunchbox: pb&j panda sandwiches, Goldfish crackers, blackberries, pineapple, salad, and Babybel cheese.
Boogs thought this would be a great hotel to stay at for a night or two. The dog has the sleeping quarters and the fire hydrant is actually a porta potty. In the ELB lunchbox: bean & cheese quesadilla dog and fire hydrant, peptitas grass, hot dog ground, kiwi, blueberries, and salad.
Boogs really likes cats. He asked me to make a lunch based on this cat winning a boxing match with this dog. Well, I overslept that morning and barely had time to get ready for school/work. So I only put the cat in the lunch. The CuteZcute sandwich cutter came in handy this morning to make a super fast cat sandwich. I told Boogs the cheese and the Pirate's Booty were doggy footprints so technically I did include the dog in this lunch. In the ELB lunchbox: ham & cheese CuteZcute cat sandwich, cheese paw print, Pirate's Booty dog paw prints, sesame sticks, pineapple, strawberry boxing gloves, and salad.

My ELB ( and Laptop Lunchbox ( are my go-to lunchboxes. I love the three perfect sized compartments of the ELBs and the colorful boxes of my Laptop Lunchbox.

This post is linked to: What Kids Eat Wednesday. 

Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see more book inspired lunches, click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post or go to My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Last Day of Summer

I am back tracking a little bit to our last day of summer, 8/23. (School started three days ago.) Boogs spent the week before school started at my mom's house so I could work all week. He got to go visit museums, go swimming at the YMCA, go to the Blue Hole Regional Park, and other things. He had a great time but said he was a little bit homesick.

We decided to spend the last day of summer on a family outing to Main Event Entertainment for bowling, mini-golf, rock climbing, and laser tag. They offer special Summer Funpass tickets that let you do all of those things as many times as you want from 9 to 4.

We had a good time bowling. I remain the undisputed bowling champion of our family. :-) The lighting was very dark, I did not get any good pics.
Next, we went to the laser tag area. There were about 20 people waiting to play. Several times in the past, it was just the three of us in the laser tag arena. This was the first time we played on teams or with a crowd. It was fun. We were on the red team. I was the top point earner for the red team. Sadly, my score was half of the score of the top point earner on the blue team. The red team lost by a lot of points but it was still fun.
 Daddy, no fair shooting your own team members!
The mini-golf course was so dark that it was difficult to see the holes. The entire course is lit by black lights and there is glow in the dark paint on the walls and in the hole. My flash had to be bright to get this picture. Boogs told me I almost blinded him with the flash.
We spent an hour at the rock climbing wall. Boogs is a little monkey. He scaled the wall with ease. Me, not so much. The little toe I broke in May is still not completely healed. I attempted to climb the wall twice before I had to quit. It was fun watching Boogs and Daddy climb.
Boogs climbed up in several different spots and kept ringing the bells at the top of the wall.
 Daddy was a great climber, too.
Boogs and Daddy had to be very careful with their foot and hand placement to make it over this angled wall.
Boogs told me this is the only time he is going to turn and smile for the camera. It was a little bit scary up there.
 We also played a few video games before we left.
Main Event was a good place to spend a few hours on our last day of summer. It was too hot to be outside. We made it home in the middle of the afternoon. I spent the rest of the day cooking meals for my freezer in preparation for the school/work week.

Monday, August 24, 2015

First Day of 4th Grade

I can't believe my baby boy is a big 4th Grader! This year, I am a three-quarter-time teacher instead of a half-time teacher. Boogs had to switch elementary schools because I am no longer able to drive him to his school and then make it to my school on time. Boogs is not thrilled about being at a new school without his friends or having to leave the house earlier in the mornings. It was still dark outside when I took his 1st day of school picture.
As is our tradition on the first day of school, I made Boogs a special lunch based on The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
In the book, Chester's mother places a kiss on Chester's palm to help him remember his mother's love throughout his school night. Because Boogs is also starting a new school year, this year's lunch focused a little bit more on the new friends Chester Racoon would make at school (bunny crackers).
In the Laptop Lunchbox: Zbar tree trunk with okra chip canopy, teacher owl pick on tree branch, almond butter & honey mini-Chester sandwich, friendly bunny crackers, 4th grade marshmallow, salami & cheese heart, blackberries, strawberry hearts, salad with a red pepper heart, and friendly ladybug & bee picks.

Here is a collage of our previous year's first day of school Kissing Hand lunches:

On our drive to school, I asked Boogs how I could help make his day better. His response, "You can turn the car around and take me to my old school." Sorry, that is not a possibility. After school, he told me he had a pretty good day.

We have another first day of school tradition - going to the book store to pick out a new book. Boogs has complete choice on what book he wants. Look what he chose this year. Sigh. Captain Underpants. At least he is reading.
While we were at the book store, Boogs found these cool looking Minion goggle glasses. He is thinking that maybe he might want to be a Minion for Halloween. I want the year to slow down and Boogs wants it to speed up.
The picture I took this morning on the front porch in the dark was not very good. I had Boogs pose for one more picture on the front porch after school. He looks so different when he is completely awake. 
I am looking forward to Boogs becoming more comfortable at his new school. It was kind of nice to sneak a peek at him during the day.

This post is linked to: What Kids Eat Wednesday. 
Be sure to check out the wonderful sites I link to on my sidebar! If you want to see more book inspired lunches, click on the "lunches" label at the end of this post or go to My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summer Is Coming To An End

We have been home from our big road trip for about two weeks. Boogs and I have packed a lot of fun and a lot of relaxing time into our last two weeks together of summer.
Boogs has spent the last two weeks at diving camp. He LOVES diving camp! This is his 4th year to attend this camp. He says that an hour a day is not nearly long enough. His low diving board dive has really improved this year.
 Boogs has loads of fun playing around on the high dive.
Sometimes he does a little dance, sometimes he takes a crazy leap off the board...
and sometimes he goes in pencil straight with his feet first.
Boogs tried something new this year - a real head-first dive off the 12 ft. high diving board. My heart beat a bit faster every time he did this. This boy is a fish and has no fear of water or the high dive.
A couple of days after diving camp started, Boogs got to play with Z & E at the park. The park added several new pieces of play equipment this year. The kids liked this unusual swing on a zipline.
During the past two weeks, we have kept ourselves busy hanging out with the J-Boys while their mom was at work, playing with the kids in the neighborhood, swimming at the neighborhood pool several times, meeting friends for lunch, cooking, going to dentist appointments, setting up my new classroom, fishing, spending an afternoon at the Apple store to replace my broken phone (which caused me to lose all of the pictures on my phone), reading new books, doing a little writing and morning work, and chilling out in front of the TV.
Last weekend, Boogs and Daddy watched a Gordon Ramsey video on how to make a perfect cast iron skillet steak. Then Daddy set Boogs lose in the kitchen to prepare our dinner. Yum! Boogs made steak, shrimp, microwave baked potatoes, and salad. He is becoming very good at making what he and Daddy call "man food".
This weekend, Boogs and Daddy had a no-girls-allowed outing with a friend to go dirt bike riding. I had Boogs pose for a picture just before they left so that I would have a clear memory of what he looked like before his biking accident. You know, I was being extra supportive and all. You can see by Boogs' expression that he knew I was giving him a hard time.
 Daddy's friend gave Boogs very good directions on how to control the dirt bike.
According to Daddy, Boogs loved it and was a natural at riding the dirt bike. Boogs told me he was singing I Will Survive while he was riding.

I have to go back to work on Monday (8/17) so Boogs is going to spend the week at my mom's house. Then he will have one more free weekend before he goes to school as a great big 4th grader. Neither one of us is ready for that.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Happy Bento! Lunches On the Go

I love cute lunches!  For the past several years, I have enjoyed looking at the wonderful edible creations Anna Adden has posted on her blog - Becoming A Bentoholic. I recently received a copy of her first book, Happy Bento! Lunches on the Go. This book packs a lot of information in a little 6-inch by 6-inch book. Anna has included photos, supplies, ingredients, and directions for making 50 different Bento style lunches. The book also includes information about Bento tools and places to shop for supplies and lunch boxes.
Boogs, my son, looked through the book and asked if I would copy some of the lunches. He folded down the corner on the pages of the lunches he wanted me to make. The first lunch he wanted was the Blast Off lunch featuring a peanut butter and apple sandwich. I don't have a rocket cookie cutter so I looked through all of my small cookie cutters and decided to use a bear shaped cookie cutter. I usually make story themed lunches for Boogs, so I turned Anna's Blast Off lunch into a Goldilocks and the Three Bears lunch.
In the ELB lunchbox: cheese stick Goldilocks, 3 Bears pb & apple sandwiches, Pringles, and salad.
Boogs really likes Mario Bros games so of course he asked me to re-create Anna's Super Mario Bros lunch.  I made a few food substitutions when I made the lunch.
This lunch was a breeze to make because of the clear and easy to follow directions for the piranha plant and mushrooms.
In the Laptop Lunchbox: hot dog, tomato piranha plant, grapes, golden coin dried apricots, broccoli underneath PLAY crackers, cheese stick & tomato mushrooms with peppercorn eyes, cheese stars with poppy seed eyes, and baby carrots.
Boogs and I have really enjoyed looking at all of the cute lunches in Happy Bento! Lunches on the go. We are looking forward to re-creating many of the other lunches featured in the book. You can purchase your own copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Books & Things, and Powell's. You could also try your luck at winning a copy from Bent On Better Lunches giveaway until August 20th.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Road Trip 2015 Part 6 - To Balmorhea

We left Pikes Peak around 3 pm. Without stops, it would be a ten hour drive from Pikes Peak, Colorado to Balmorhea, Texas. That was way to far for us to considering driving that late in the day. D & I searched for state parks in New Mexico to camp for the night. We wanted to head away from the Pikes Peak area because of predicted storms. We joked that the storms were following us south. Look at the right edge of that sheet of rain. Luckily we only got rained on for a portion of our drive.

We ended up driving until we arrived at Brantley Lake State Park in New Mexico. We stayed there last year and the kids really liked it. It was pitch black by the time we left the main road. There is a three mile drive into the park after you leave the main road. Hundreds of rabbits, actually about 50, kept running across the road and dodging my car tires. All of the boys were sleeping but D and I managed to wake them up by laughing so loudly.
A rabbit darted across the road and bumped into a rabbit on the other side of the road. The second rabbit jumped about four feet straight up into the air. It was hilarious. Maybe we found it so funny because we were so tired by that point in our trip. Here we are setting up the tent in the dark, AGAIN!
We threw the boys in the tent and went to sleep. The next morning, the sun was shining and it was warm. Yay! I took a little sunrise walk and a shower while everyone else was still sleeping.
 One of our little rabbit friends.
The boys played at the playground while we loaded up the car. Brantley Lake State Park has a very nice playground. When we went to find the boys, they were soaked. Instead of playing at the playground, they were playing in the water fountain.
We threw dry clothes at the boys and loaded into the car for a relatively short drive to Texas. What a wonderful place to be! We finally made it back to Texas.
Everyone was excited about getting to Balmorhea State Park. The boys loved it on our trip last year. Apparently, they have a new policy this year. Balmorhea is letting walk-ins into the park. They used to only let as many people in as there were spaces for the cars to park. It was horribly crowded. When we went in to register, the Park Ranger said they capped off entry at 2000 people. WHAT!?! That is crazy. There aren't any life guards at the pool and only 8 Park Rangers on staff. Last year, there were about 120 people in the entire place. The pool area was ridiculous. We started calling other state parks within a two hour drive to see if we could find somewhere else to camp. The camping area was not even full. So we decided to stay. We told the boys we would go swim at 4:30. The pool closed at 6:00. We figured a lot people would already start leaving by 4:30. Then, at  4 pm, the rain Gods helped us out. A huge rainstorm blew in with thunder and lightning. Everyone had to clear out of the pool. The Day-Use people left, it stopped raining, and we practically had the pool to ourselves at 4:30. Yes! We swam for a little over an hour. Even J4 (4-yr-old) went off the 12 ft. high dive.
We went back to our campsite, played a bit, had dinner, and made s'mores.
We took an evening walk down to the creek that flows through the park. The boys decided to try hand-fishing. A few of them caught some very small fish. It was a fantastic way to spend the evening.
As the sun began to set, the sky looked amazing. It was such a peaceful evening.
The storm earlier in the day had brought the temperatures down into the 80s. We had a good night's sleep.
When we woke up in the morning, we packed up camp, went to take a few pictures, and spent a couple of hours at the spring-fed swimming pool swimming with the fish.

We had the boys line-up in front of the park sign in same order as last year.
Look how much they have grown. Here is last year's picture.
D made road trip shirts for the boys. We had them pose with them at the end of the pool before they could go swimming.
The shirts showed the big stopping places on our trip. Everyone got to pick out their own color.
We stayed at the pool for about two hours before hitting the road to head home. The drive home seemed to take forever. We ended up calling 911 twice on our way home. There was a spreading wild fire on the side of highway I-10. We called 911 to report it. They told us it had already been called in. About five miles farther down the road, there was another wild fire, it was much larger than the first one. We wanted to make sure they were aware of both fires so we called in again. The 911 operator told us that crews were on the way and there were already 5 wild fires reported in a 15 mile stretch of I-10. She told us someone had been driving with a chain hanging down. The chain caused sparks that set the grass on fire in several different places along the highway. It was kind of scary. We were happy to leave that behind.
We made it home around 6 pm. This road trip was a wonderful adventure. I hope Boogs remembers it for the rest of his life. I clearly remember the camping trips I took when I was his age.

Here is a fairly accurate map of our trip. According to my car's odometer we traveled 3968 miles.
Thanks D for another fantastic and memorable trip with you and your boys. I thought I would leave you a few reminders of the trip:
*best trip ever
*worst trip ever
*parenting level expert - suck it
*nope, nope, nope
*5 finger camping
*hospital barf bags
*tissue please
*snack please
*popsicle penguin huddle
*cruise control rocks
*invisible white horses
*the great broccoli mystery
and last but not least
*it's for the kids

I can't wait to figure out where we are going next year so we can start planning!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall