As I have previously, excruciatingly, thoroughly documented, my children are hollow. Possibly hobbits.They are never NOT HUNGRY. They eat and they eat and they eat. An entire box of cereal can be emptied by the end of breakfast, and apparently fully digested an hour later, which is when they start pestering me about lunch. Can I have a snack? Is dinner ready? What's for dessert?
Last night, after a dinner of fish, sweet potatoes and corn, they finished off all the ice cream in the freezer, and THEN mass-demanded the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches I'd just finished making for their lunchboxes.
Fine. I'll make more. Just don't eat me.
(In other words: If I'm asked to do a sponsored post that involves me getting free food, I'm going to hurl myself at said sponsor and hug their leg while quietly weeping on the floor. Save me! Feed them!)
So let's talk about snacks. So, so many snacks. When Noah was little he liked to ask for "a tiny, tiny snack" while scrunching up his face and pinching his fingers together, supposedly to represent the minuscule tininess of the snack he was requesting. Just a few bread crumbs, is all! One particularly wee raisin! Please, Mother, you cannot deny such a modest and reasonable request!
And then 10 minutes later there'd be an empty box of granola bars on the counter, surrounded by a land-mine-like explosion of shredded wrappers. Tiny, my ass.
Speaking of my ass (NICE SEGUE, SELF!): we don't buy snacks around here with HFCS, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, but that still doesn't mean everything in our pantry could be considered "healthy" or "good for us." Jason and I were definitely a testament to that: We added "no late night snacking" to our health and fitness behavior chart because it was a chronic bad habit of ours. Eat dinner, head to the couch, get bored after an hour and then open a bag of something carb-y and eat the entire stupid thing.
And while my children have the metabolism to inhale late-night peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches with a chocolate cookie chaser, we very obviously do not. Or did not. We've gotten better. We each lost more than 15 pounds over the summer (NICE BRAG, SELF!) thanks to regular working out and drastically improving our eating choices and portion sizes.
So when I was originally asked if I'd consider writing about NatureBox — a monthly subscription service that delivers a big ol' stash of snacks that meet all my ingredient-related twitchiness standards — I figured it would be great for the kids. Fun new things to stave off lunchbox boredom!
Turns out it was pretty great for ME, too, finally getting to indulge in some delicious snacks that fit in with our new eating habits without having to resist the siren call of the Doritos bag at the grocery store. I went to their website picked five snacks to try, which, okay: I'm downplaying the ease of that step because there are well over 100 to choose from and I agggggonized over my choices for days until finally I got yelled at by my nice project manager for taking too long.
You can search and screen for dietary concerns like nuts, gluten, soy, milk, vegan, low-carb and non-GMO, in addition to sorting by sweet or savory. After finally winnowing down my top 50 favorites to five, here's what we got:
Apple pie oat clusters, baked sweet potato cracker sticks, sunshine chips, Sriracha roasted cashews and whole wheat blueberry figgy bars.
Perfect lunch-y sizes. I got about five portions from each bag, as long as I kept them up and away from the children themselves, who would have likely inhaled the entire shipment within minutes, like the cow-feeding raptor scene in Jurassic Park.
Ezra loves anything and everything sweet-potato like (these had a great spice flavor too); Noah loves anything in chewy bar form. The apple pie oat clusters were like if apple pie married some granola and had a cookie for a baby.
And despite being my pickiest eater, Noah has always, ALWAYS loved any type of spicy cashews. These Sriracha ones became his go-to homework snack. Jason and I loved these too — a little sweet and spicy handful of protein.
And then there were these. These I picked just for me. I am a sucker for a good crunchy sweet/savory vegetable chip.
This is me attempting to practice good portion control.
HA HA HA HA HA yeah right. Even Max is judging.
Okay, so I think the bag actually lasted maybe two days. Nobody else got a bite, and I refuse to feel even a little guilty about that. I would drop-kick a bag of Doritos in exchange for another bag of these.
GIVEAWAY TIME YAAAAAAYYYYYYY!
Two randomly chosen commenters will win a free 6-month subscription to NatureBox! Think of all the sunshine chips you will get to eat that I will not! So unfair! Here's how to enter:
2) Come back here and leave a comment telling me which snack you'd like to try. (THE CORRECT ANSWER IS "SUNSHINE CHIPS.")
On September 17th, I will chose two winners using random.org and will absolutely not actually judge you if you chose a snack that is not sunshine chips. I'm sure your choice is delicious too, WHATEVER. Please leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.
Never win anything? Don't even see the point in trying because life is already meaningless and random enough? Want to try NatureBox anyway? Join using this link and get a FREE sample box of their most popular snacks.
(Free trial is available for new and US subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.)
Noah woke up this morning convinced that he and his dad were going to play Transformers together. I'm not sure where the idea that he'd been promised a pre-breakfast playdate came from, since our typical weekday mornings are not exactly padded with a lot of downtime.
It's more like: Alarms go off, feet better be hitting the floor. Pajamas off, clothes on, bodies downstairs. Mom to blearily follow and promptly brew the coffee using the power of muscle memory. And then it's a sea of constant motion and tasks with a wary eye on the clock at all times.
But then this morning, seconds after Jason stepped out of the shower, a heartbreakingly impossible request: "Dad, you wanna play Transformers with me?"
Meanwhile, Ezra was lying on his back in the hallway, buck naked and making floor angels, having apparently gotten distracted by the ceiling light fixture somewhere between "pajamas off" and clothes on."
"Not right now, buddy," Jason told Noah, who of course translated "not right now" into "I'll be there in five minutes." He ran to his room to finish setting the toys (all Jason's handmedowns from the 80s) up for battle, shooing his brothers away because we need to wait for Dad!
Ike still had his pajamas on, completely backwards. A change-up from what I remember from last night. I told him to get dressed.
"Not quite yet!" he replied cheerfully and then climbed into bed with me. He pulled the covers up and proceeded to stroke the sides of my face. "I like you Mommy."
"I'M DRESSED!" Ezra announced at the top of his lungs. "I LOOK HANDSOME! TAKE MY PICTURE!"
"DAAAAD." Noah tried again. "COME PLAAAAY."
Ike responded to a follow-up request (made by me, unintelligibly with my toothbrush in my mouth) to put clothes on by diving under the covers and sticking his butt in the air.
There was no time for any of this nonsense. Jason needed to leave for work, I needed to get the kids and the pets and the library books and the lunches and everything taken care of before school and my workday and seriously, all five of us should have been downstairs already a good 15 minutes ago oh my God get moving.
In the end, breakfast was had by all. Coffee was made. Pets were fed. Transformers playdate rescheduled for this afternoon. Backpacks were packed and everybody made it to school and work on time. I dropped Ike off last, came home, breathed a sigh of relief. I pushed aside a mess of Legos on my desk to make room for my laptop. There's a clock ticking somewhere, a clock I no longer have to worry about for the rest of the day, and I am suddenly overwhelmed by this house and its silent, boring emptiness.
It feels like the other two started school ages ago. Poor Baby Ike was our holdout. His school started today.
After much back and forth and forth and back, I decided to enroll him in the school's full day option. He's not napping at home now that the crib's gone and my new job very much requires me to be working during those precious hours. He'll go to the "nap room" at school after lunch for some quiet/down time (GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, SCHOOL) and I'll pick him up in the afternoon, just before his brothers get home on the bus.
I'm sure he'll be fine. But still. It's a lot of time away from him.
And I won't have anyone to eat lunch with anymore. Boo.
Speaking of lunches, three feels like a hell of a lot of lunches to pack. Good God. Is this life now? Every day? With the feeding and the coordinating?
Here's what we're dealing with:
Ike's school is nut free, Noah and Ezra's is not (unbelievable, but I'm not complaining). Ike's school provides free milk and a morning snack, Noah and Ezra both require beverages AND a separate snack for the classroom since lunch is super early for kindergarten and on the late side for 3rd grade. The school-provided lunch options are apparently unacceptable and neither Noah nor Ezra will even consider buying instead of bringing from home. And then Noah hates getting fruits or vegetables or dinner leftovers, but that's pretty much all Ezra wants, and Ike falls somewhere in the middle on the picky scale, oh my freaking God.
I got a lot of requests for a lunchbox ideas post on Facebook and Instagram, which...sure! Just as long as you're not expecting some adorable painstaking bento box food p0rn bullshit. My kids want PB&Js (or sunbutter&Js) and pasta that comes out of a can. Anything else I can think to pack is a bonus, but the bar is admittedly pretty low. I'll see what I can come up with. We do have some good snack recipes we make in bulk and freeze, and I have a sponsored post coming up that I think (hope) you'll all dig. But I probably scramble around the kitchen for boring basics, boxed snacks and leftovers just like most people.
(Boxes are all from Amazon, since I also saw that question a lot. They ARE pretty great. I love not having to pack a million separate bags/containers for everything. These keep everything nicely separate and non-smushed, and seem easier for the kids to pack back up and NOT LOSE THE FREAKING LIDS. Noah and Ezra get EasyLunchboxes and Ike gets the robot one from Sugarbooger because it matches his Lunch Tote and backpack. Because okay, I'm all "whatever, here's a damn sandwich" about the contents but COME ON THE ROBOTS ARE SO CUTE WHEN THEY'RE ALL MATCHY.)
Anyway, they're all finally off and out in the world, lunchboxes in tow.
And Ike seemed really, really thrilled. Aw, cheer up, buddy. I'll be back for you soon.
(FYI: This is probably the best first day of school photo I've ever taken. I'm framing this shit.)
(Congratulations to readers Sarah and Kathryn for winning the cloth diaper thing! Condolences to me for never coming up with a better name for it than "the cloth diaper thing.")
Yesterday, Ike had his one-on-one visit with his new preschool teacher, who was formerly Ezra's preschool teacher. It went supremely well, as soon as I unhooked him from my legs and left the classroom and he stopped meowing like a cat. Five minutes later he was sitting at a little table, getting his first Official Montessori Lesson and loving it. And acting way, way more civilized than the 3-year-old feral tornado I spent all summer with.
While we were there, everyone at the school wanted to know: How's Ezra? How's kindergarten? Does he like it? How's the transition going?
Here are a bunch of the words I used to answer their questions:
Awesome. Amazing. Yes. Totally. Fantastic. Rock star. Great. Perfect.
Noah's transition to kindergarten was...rough. Even though he'd attended preschool at the public elementary school, he seemed utterly unprepared for the shock of all-day kindergarten. He came home every day his first week exhausted and overwhelmed and would beg me not to send him back. I'd say it took him several months to fully settle into the new routine and even longer to get anywhere close to "enjoying" school.
Ezra, on the other hand, is SUPER MAD at Labor Day. Keepin' him from going to school on Monday, like some punk-ass national holiday all full of itself. It's bullshit, man.
It helped, I think, that he attended his preschool full day last year, so he got used to staying through lunch and the afternoon in a more laid-back environment. But I was still concerned about how the Montessori-to-public-school transition would go — Ezra was so, SO excited about kindergarten all summer and I couldn't help but worry his enthusiasm would collapse under the shock of a more structured day and traditional curriculum.
It's only been a week, but so far, so good. So, so, SO GOOD.
When he comes home, his first and only lament is that he STILL doesn't have any homework. When will he get his homework? He was promised his own homework this year, you know. He and Noah sometimes sit together on the bus, sometimes he sits with another kindergartener, either way it's super special and fun, because he's ON THE BUS. His teacher is nice and makes funny faces and they made their own BOOKS and they worked on COMPUTERS and they eat lunch in a special LUNCH PLACE and it's all just so thrilling and exciting.
(But he would really like some homework.)
Granted, he can be a bit of an unreliable narrator — last night we made dinner together (I chopped up celery and green peppers; he ate the celery and green peppers) and he spun a tale of getting in trouble and being sent to the office. He couldn't seem to come up with the reason he got in trouble, and clearly had no idea what happened when one got in trouble and sent to the office. (SPOILER ALERT: THEY CALL YOUR MOM ON THE PHONE. WHICH NOBODY DID.)
Eventually he told me his teacher took him to the office to show him a picture. A picture of...uh...um...celery. Yes. That's it. He got sent to the office and looked at a picture of celery. And then he went back to his classroom the end.
Suuurrre. Okay. You stay out of trouble there, kid.
I asked him if he'd made any new friends and he said yes. Who are your friends, I asked. What are their names?
He rattled off an impressive list of names and then stalled a bit.
"Everybody. All of them. All of the kids there are my friends."
I decided to shoot a little video yesterday of the boys getting off the school bus.
I now have about six minutes of other people's children getting off the school bus.
Because my children? Were not on the bus.
The bus driver was about to shut the door when he noticed me standing there, my phone still pointing at the exit and a Tina-Belcher-like uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh starting to come out of my mouth.
"Uh oh," he said. "Who are we missing?"
"Noah and Ezra?" I replied, as I continued to pointlessly record this interaction. For posterity. For remembrance of the day I waited over 30 minutes for a bus that did not contain any of my children.
"Yeah," he looked back. "They never got on today."
I finally stopped recording because my phone rang. It was Jason, and then our call was immediately interrupted by the school's number, and then I screwed up both calls and accidentally hung up on everybody. Probably because I was too busy sprinting back to our house with my 30-pound toddler in my arms to interact with a touchscreen properfly.
I knew immediately what had gone wrong with Noah — last year he had a standing appointment with a therapist on Monday afternoons, so I would pick him up at school. He no longer has that appointment and I THOUGHT I'd conveyed that pretty clearly to him yesterday morning — he was to ride the bus home.
And he was ALSO to make sure the bus didn't leave without Ezra. Because I'd completely forgotten to fill out an information card for him, clearly detailing his bus route and stop and our contact numbers, like all Good Kindergarten Parents are supposed to do.
I only remembered about the card when we arrived at the bus stop and I saw five or six other kindergarteners dutifully wearing their information cards around their necks or pinned to their backpacks.
"Oh," I said, before turning to Noah. "Dude, I'm gonna need you to do me a favor today."
Damn fine parenting, all around. What's the worst that could happen?
But alas, this request obviously did not override his old habits and routine, and as I shoved Ike into his car seat and hauled ass back to the school, all I could think about was Ezra's lack of card and whether Noah remembered his little brother and oh God, the worst that could happen probably involved Ezra getting on the wrong bus and/or just being scared and confused and wandering around and/or POSITIVE KINDERGARTEN EXPERIENCE RUINED FOREVER.
I arrived at the school office a pant-y, sweaty mess and was thankfully greeted by BOTH of my children, both of whom were smiling...and wearing stickers labeled with their bus route. The office staff were apologetic — Noah had been beyond adamant that I was picking him up and he needed to stay with his brother, so they listened to him and pulled Ezra off the bus as well, just to be safe.
Ours was far from the only first-day transportation miscommunication/mishap — that office was packed full of children waiting for someone to come claim them. And Ezra was far from being scared or upset — he thought he'd been chosen to attend a special First Day of School Party at the office. He said it was very fun.
They both had great, great first days of school, and couldn't wait to go back today.
"RIDE THE BUS HOME," I hollered at them this morning as they boarded. Noah flashed me a thumbs up. Ezra waved through the window. I guess we'll see.
"That's enough pictures," he informed me after I attempted to get a solo first day shot.
He's been waiting for today his entire life. Kindergarten! Noah's school! New friends! New playgrounds! The school bus! WHY ARE WE STILL STANDING HERE?
They walked hand-in-hand to the bus stop, like mighty giants.
Noah had been feeling pretty anxious about going back to school, until we visited his classroom on Friday during an Open House. The class list revealed a few of his best friends from previous years of school, the class library is stocked with Harry Potter and Bunnicula, and his new teacher is lovely and warm and sweet.
Suddenly this morning couldn't come soon enough.
Ezra probably hugged me two dozen times this morning out of sheer, body-shaking, omg-level excitement, but the minute the bus appeared around the corner he was off like a shark backpack attached to a laser beam.
Ike doesn't start school until next week. He walked back home with us, acutely feeling the sting of being the baby brother.
Cheer up, Ikey. It'll be your turn before you know it. Before I know it.
Our neighbors threw a party this past weekend and I met a mom who lives down the street. A mom with a little boy; a little boy who was running around with trains in both hands and determined to make every other non-train item he encountered (toy cars, carrot sticks, a dog) into choo-choos.
She was very pregnant. I sensed weakness.
"Sooooooooooo have you guys bought any Thomas trains for him yet?"
BAM. DONE. All our trains are belong to you, now. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY TRAINS.
Despite being SO SURE that investing in a bajillion miles of train track was a worthwhile plan because "every kid we have will play with them!", it didn't really work out. Ezra was only mildly interested in them, while Ike could not care less about them. He only wants to play with and watch what his big brothers are currently into, and skipped right over Thomas completely. And so our collection has been sitting in a heap while other toys and clutter piles up around them on the train table, taking up a large chunk of valuable real estate.
My neighbor already has a train table. (Thanks to another neighbor who moved and didn't want to drag it with him, LO DO YOU SENSE A THEME, FUTURE TRAIN-AND-TRAIN-TABLE PURCHASERS OF THE WORLD?) So I needed to do something else with the train table.
And so, dear readers, gentrification came to the Isle of Sodor. A multinational Danish company arrived and resurfaced the whole thing with their patented interlocking brick system.
There are literally four hojillion helpful and beautifully photographed tutorials on how to turn a train table into a Lego table on the Internet. LITERALLY. This post is not one of them. I did this last night in about 30 minutes, after two glasses of wine and in terrible lighting. It was easy, though today I need to dig out the extra glue squooshes from inbetween the Lego plates with a razor blade, since I got increasingly glue-happy as the project went on.
The great train decluttering is just one small part of a larger attempt to Take Back The Basement, since it's woefully underused as a playroom. The kids don't like playing down there without us; we don't like it because it's always a giant mess of a Kid Cave. So we're converting it into a proper family room/guest room. Or really just some kind of room we (and kids/friends) will actually enjoy being in together. A mostly grown-up space, with drastically pared down toys, albeit with a Lego-topped coffee table. I figure it'll give us all something to do when there's nothing good on TV.
I'll have more pictures of the makeover soon, but first I need to re-ice my foot because I decided to weight the still-drying plated down with our barbell set and of course dropped one of them on my damn self. Because nothing I do is complete without injuring myself. Da. Fuq.
Farewell, Drunk Sir Topham Hat! Farewell, Thomas and Percy and Duncan and Thomas' Evil Twin! Farewell to the motherfucking monorail and Ye Old Genetics Plant and our dozen or so Bridges To Nowhere!
(But technically only a "see ya later" to the dead guy floating in the lake. I flipped the top boards over before gluing anything, so it's entirely possible that one day I will get bored/drunk enough to bring back...whatever...that...weird thing was. I'm still not 100% sure either.)
In particular, who wants some free crap for your baby to crap in?
During the great nursery-to-big-kid-room move, I discovered a carefully packaged hoard of newborn cloth diapers. I only vaguely remember boxing it all up, possibly with the intention of giving it away...but more likely I was still hormonal and crazy and was like, NOOOO MY PRESHUS WITTLE TINY DIAPERS ALLLLL MIIIIIINE.
I'm better now. I would like someone else to have and use them.
I also went through the bigger/next-stage diapers and put together a second little diaper collection that should hopefully help someone get started with cloth (or continue with cloth).
So, here's what's what.
I have two diaper packages to give away, #1 and #2. I will describe them below. (In excruciating detail, because CLOTH DIAPERS MAKE ME SO TALKY.) Please leave a comment and specify which package you want. If you want both, please specify a FIRST CHOICE. I will use the random number widget thingie to select two winners.
The first commenter chosen will get their first choice. The second commenter will get either their first or second choice, depending on what's left for grabs. If the second commenter only wants the package the first person claimed, I will go back and select a third commenter and so on and so forth.
I will be happy to ship these anywhere, and can include laundry/care instructions if you need them. If you have a PayPal account and can kick some dollars towards the shipping cost, I would very much appreciate it — BUT if that's a hardship for you, please don't worry about it. If you're local, we can probably arrange for an in-person hand-off/pick-up.
(Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by absolutely no one, other than My Own Ass.)
One dozen NEWBORN unbleached prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers (discontinued green edge; similar to the current yellow edge)
Two PREEMIE organic prefolds (I think they are Bummis but am not totally sure)
Three NEWBORN fitted diapers, handmade by the much-missed Rebel Baby Co., cotton/velour with sewn-in insert
10 SMALL/SIZE ONE fitted diapers from Rebel Baby Co. Please note that these are missing the snap-in inserts. I continued to use the inserts after Ike outgrew these, and they were pretty shot by the time we were done with diapers. You could use just about any insert/doubler style with these, or find a similar diaper-maker on Etsy to make you replacements. (The "originals" were long enough to fold over three times, with one standard diapering snap.)
Four SMALL fleece covers, from a now-closed Etsy shop
One SMALL wool cover, also from a defunct Etsy shop
And for fun: A cute cloth diaper/wipes bag in a Day of the Dead pattern. Just cuz.
Despite a little blue here and there, most of these diapers are pretty gender neutral. There's that blue fleece cover and a couple cars/dinosuar patterns but I dunno. I'm a girl and I think cars and dinosaurs are pretty dope.
Everything in this box is in good to excellent condition. If you notice any discoloring (they've been packed away for awhile), wash the diapers with Charlie's Soap or Rockin Green and let them dry in the sun.
Six MEDIUM (mix of white and unbleached) prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers
One ONE-SIZE fitted diaper from yet-another-closed-Etsy shop, with a snap-in insert
Six ONE-SIZE Flip diaper covers, hook-and-loop closure
Two ONE-SIZE bumGenius pocket diapers, hook-and-loop closure (no microfiber inserts; we used prefolds)
Two MEDIUM Bummis swim diapers
And for fun: I'll toss in four pairs of BabyLegs and the Columbia diaper bag/backpack w/ changing pad. Just cuz.
Again, there's a blue Flip cover but everything else is gender neutral. I only chose diapers and covers that were in SUPER excellent condition for this package. Blah blah please wash and sun anything that appears discolored blah blah I swear I'm not unloading anything disgusting but we are talking about diapers here.
Soooo...okay. That's all I've got. Comments will remain open for seven days and then I'll pick the winners. Plz to use a valid email address that u check. I can't really control if you comment a million times but I'd prefer if you only enter once, for fairness and shit. (But I know the comment section hiccups sometimes and posts duplicates. I won't like, disqualify you if that happens.)