Thursday, November 13, 2014

Harry Potter and the Bento Blog Hop

We are huge Harry Potter fans here. We have been ever since Brick was tiny!

We first discovered Harry Potter when Brick was four. A friend mentioned that her son liked the books, and hey, did you know they just put out a movie? We bought the first book and read it to Brick and G-man (who was a tiny toddler, barely over a year old at the time) at night before bed.

We were all instantly hooked.

We went out immediately, before even finishing Sorcerer's Stone, and bought Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkahban from the bookstore. We also bought the first movie, which had just been released to DVD. It was an instant hit with all of us, and became a favorite. We blew through all three books in lightning speed, and then impatiently waited for Goblet of Fire to be released in paperback.... then bought it in hardcover, because we couldn't wait to read it!

We pre-ordered Order of the Phoenix so it was delivered fresh to our door the day it was released. I won the coin flip, so I got to read it first. I spent the next three days curled up in bed with Bean (who was brand new, just a few months old), burning through the whole book. Then waited impatiently for the Dude to finish it so I could read it again! Four year old Brick was reading the second book all by himself. Harry Potter was the first book he ever read independently.

When Half-Blood Prince came out, we took Brick, G, and Bean to their first midnight release party. Bean fell asleep on Dude's shoulder and Brick read the last few chapters of the fifth book while in line waiting to buy the sixth. G and I almost missed the unveiling because we had to potty - little fetus Lulu was playing a drum solo on my bladder in anticipation. A couple of months later Brick started first grade and the teacher didn't believe us when we told her that he had already read the entire Harry Potter series on his own.

But the best was when Deathly Hallows came out. We took Brick, G, Bean, and Lulu to a midnight release party in full costume. Lulu wasn't yet 2, and was so charming in her cloak and curls that she was featured on the front page of a local newspaper. Brick and G were old enough to really enjoy the games and fun events at the bookstore leading up to the release, and Bean had been learning to read with the specific goal of reading the series herself. It was a blast, and is still one of our favorite family memories.

We recently started reading the series to Beaker at night before bed, and seeing him fall in love with the characters the way the rest of us did is nothing short of magical.

Bean has been asking for a Harry Potter lunch for some time, and I finally got around to making her one for this hop. She was utterly thrilled (and has put in a request for a lunch from each of the books)!

This lunch is gluten free and also nut/peanut free, and is packed in a Planet Box Rover. Details:

Moaning Myrtle mini Baybel cheese
Baby carrots
Aragog's apple slices
Diary of Tom Riddle gluten free crackers
Gummy basilisk
Turkey and cheese sandwich on Udi's gluten free bread

Tom's giant snake pet is slithering around this tasty sandwich.

The (gluten free) Diary of Tom Marvalo Riddle...

...And a cheesy Moaning Myrtle.

This year Bean and Beaker were even Harry Potter characters for Halloween!

Beaker was an adorable little first year Harry Potter.

And Bean was a lovely third year Hermione Granger, complete with Time Turner necklace!

Now keep going to see what awesome Potter-ness Organized Bites has to share! And of course be sure not to miss the rest of the great posts in the hop!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tiger Power!

One thing I did not really anticipate about having children is that as they get older, they become interested in activities. I was more of an after-school-art-club kind of kid, not into sports. Somehow I have kids who are into sports and clubs and activities though. And that is awesome, it's a lot of fun and they have a blast! But man, is it a lot of work.

This year the two girls joined a cheer team. Between Beaker's soccer and their cheer, we had practicies five nights a week, two or more games every Saturday, plus additional team activities. Two of our kids are also in band and drama club, and the two teens have weekly appointments. It has been a busy few months! All of these mean a lot of packed meals to take on the road.

Bento boxes to the rescue! Easy Lunchboxes are especially great for these busy weeks. We have quite a few sets, so we could pack a few days worth at once and tuck them into the fridge to grab-and-go when needed. They are also sturdy and easy to hold, making them perfect for lunches eaten fast while sitting on bleachers during halftime.

Bean and Lulu cheer for the Tigers, a local football team. They both LOVE cheer. I have to admit to having some reservations at first, but both of them have really blossomed during their time on the team. They are looking forward to starting gymnastics after Christmas, and cheering again next year for the same league. Beaker had a blast with them, too - he attended nearly every practice, learning all of the cheers right along with his sisters. All three kids learned how to do sommersaults, cartwheels, handstands and more from cheer.

Since Beaker's soccer games and Bean and Lulu's cheer games were never in the same place and frequently cut it close on time when they didn't outright conflict (a lot of splitting this season - one parent would go to one sport while the other went to the other sport), a lot of lunches like these were packed over the last few months! Here are two of the lunches I packed up for the girls to take to cheer.

Details for Lulu's lunch:

Orange slices
Crackers with cheese
Carrot halves
Lemon cucumber slices
Turkey sandwich made with the CuteZCute cutter/stamper
Chocolate chip mini cookie
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

Details for Bean's lunch:

Orange slices
Gluten free crackers with Laughing Cow cheese
Carrot halves
Lemon cucumber slices
Gluten free turkey sandwich made with Udi's gluten free bread
Gluten free chocolate chip mini cookie
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

The two lunches are almost entirely the same, different only in that one is gluten free and the other is not. I have found that setting the lunches up assembly line style, keeping the ingredients simple and similar between them, really helps to streamline the process and make lunch packing faster and easier. Of course I adjust for dietary needs, allergies, and food preferences, but I try to keep them pretty simple to avoid wasting large amounts of time. Much more pleasant that way!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

A Day At The Pumpkin Patch

A few days before Halloween, Beaker went on his very first field trip with his kindergarten class. They went to a local pumpkin patch for a day of fun. There was a petting zoo with llamas, goats, chickens, and rabbits; a big hay bale maze and a giant hay bale pyramid to climb on; and they went on a tractor pulled hay ride out to the pumpkin fields where each kindergartener was able to choose a pumpkin to take home. Despite the wet weather, Beaker had a blast. Luckily the rain mostly stopped shortly after we arrived, leaving us with wet, muddy, soggy ground but not much falling from the sky. It worked out pretty nicely, and was mostly dry enough by the end of the morning for Beaker to be able to eat some of his lunch outside, instead of huddled in the car.

For lunch, Beaker has:

A sandwich on a Schar gluten free roll with cheese flowers
A "Jack O' Lantern" clementine
Carrot coins
Gluten free crisp crackers
Candy pumpkins

His lunch is all packed up in an Easy Lunchbox container, which is perfect for picnics. The flat construction makes it easy to hold on your lap outside, and the simple construction means that when the rain picked up again we were able to quickly snap the lid on to keep his meal dry.

Another recent pumkin/Halloween themed lunch that I forgot to post earlier...

This lunch has:

Sandwich made with summer sausage and Udi's gluten free bread
A clementine "pumpkin"
Candy pumpkins
Cheese pieces
Crispy gluten free crackers
Baby carrots
Yogurt dyed green and frozen into skull-and-bones shapes

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Butterfly Tin

Sometimes making a meal special involves just taking tiny steps. Like putting it in a different kind of dish or cutting into fun shapes.

For this summery meal, I put Beaker's lunch into a muffin tin. They're kind of perfect for little kid lunches, actually. The small cups limit portion sizes to amounts exactly right for little bellies, and they naturally keep foods from touching (which is often important to my little guy). It's a low-effort way to put a little extra punch in lunch!

This is a loosely butterfly themed, gluten free muffin tin lunch. On the top row, Beaker has carrot discs in the first cup of the tin, EnerG allergen free pretzel rings and Enjoy Life chocolate chips (tucked into a butterfly shaped silicone cup) in the second, and mini sausages in the third. On the bottom row, he has watermelon balls, butterfly shaped apple slices, and ketchup in a silicone flower cup.

Definitely a Beaker-Approved lunch! His favorite part was the butterfly apple slices. They were pretty easy and fast to make. Just cut an apple into slices and use a mini cookie cutter to pop out the shapes, then brush with a bit of fruit juice to keep them from browning. Works like a charm and makes them just the right size and shape for little hands to hold.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Little Pandas

I am setting a personal goal to post to my blog every day in November. I started the month off with a bang by completely forgetting about that goal this morning! But mid-afternoon still counts!

Fast and easy lunch for Lulu:


Sabra hummus
Cucumber slices
Chocolate chip mini cookies
Ham and cheese rolls
Clementine half
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

And a gluten free version of the same (with no hummus, because she isn't a fan) for Bean:


Ham and cheese rolls
Cheese wedge
Glutino pretzel crisps
Cucumber slices with pepper and sesame seeds
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

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