Thursday, May 28, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Oh my goodness, sorry I have been MIA all week. Because I have to work all weekend for a big event at work, I've been playing at being a stay at home mom all week. I have to tell you that I really loved it. Lucas and I had lazy mornings, great adventures and we got lots of chores and errands done. I made a healthy dinner every night. It really was great. It did put a kink in my blogging, though. Sorry!

Last weekend we were invited to a couple of neighborhood parties for Memorial Day weekend. The one on Saturday was a crab feast and I didn't know what side I could take to go with crabs so decided on taking a dessert instead. In about an hour I whipped up these even-more-delicious-than-they-look (and they sure do look delicious, don't they?) homemade ice cream sandwiches. They were a huge hit!

I decided I'd feature them as my Favorite Things Friday so you, too, can be a rock star at your next picnic!

This past weekend, I used my new favorite cookie recipe, Low Fat but Delicious Oatmeal Cookies by Super Healthy Kids. (When I make these for regular cookie eating and not ice cream sandwiches, I add all kinds of goodies like dried cranberries and/or dried blueberries and/or slivered almonds. Yum!!) You can use practically any cookie recipe for the base, though. Chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies would be delicious, too.

If, like me, you are making these all at once and at the last minute, put your cookies in the freezer for a few minutes after they cool a bit out of the oven. You want to make sure they are completely cooled down or the ice cream will melt all over you!

Okay, so make your cookies and cool them completely. Next, prepare your baggies or wraps. I used aluminum foil and so prepared a stack of 12 strips just a bit wider than the cookie. Next, get out your ice cream. You need to work fast here. Place one cookie down on the foil, scoop a bit of ice cream (you really don't need too much!) and top with a cookie. Wrap tightly and begin the process again. After you've made about 4 or 5, put them in the freezer. If your ice cream starts to melt, you may need to put it back in the freezer and take a 10-15 minute break before starting another batch. They key is to work quickly and be ready to take a break if/when the ice cream begins to melt. If you try to scoop melting ice cream onto the cookies the top cookie will slide off and, well, trust me, it is just a big huge mess. Better to just take a break at that point!

I hope this explanation didn't scare you off. It really is incredibly easy to make these awesome homemade ice cream sandwiches and everyone will be totally impressed!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lotion Overload

I realized this weekend that my post-shower moisturizing routine is totally out of control. I am currently using FOUR different moisturizers each and every day.

Immediately out of the shower, I apply Dove Energy Glow to my legs. Trust me, this is truly a public service I am performing. I'd hate to blind young children with my naturally white legs. I started this on the first hot day this spring and am slowly building up a bit of color on my legs. I like that the subtle nature of this product means that I don't have to be super-careful about application and don't end up with crazy streaks like the self tanners I've used in the past.

image via

Next, I apply Seaweed Mattifying Moisture Lotion with SPF to my face and neck. I absolutely love the Seaweed line from the Body Shop and use the cleanser and exfoliator as well. This is my daily base SPF for my face but if I go to the park or am otherwise outside for more than a half hour, I add a 30+ SPF to my face and neck.

image from

Next, I apply a stronger SPF to my arms. Just a few weeks into summer and they are already quite freckly and reddish, at least from my shirt sleeve down.

image from

Finally, I apply a regular moisturizer to the front and back of my torso.

image from

These are the brands currently in my bathroom. I often swap out the Aveeno for the CVS or Target brands and have also used the Olay and Aveeno versions of the tanning lotion. I guess of this entire bunch the only brand I am truly loyal to is the Body Shop Seaweed line for my face.

Sure is a good thing I'm fairly low maintenance with my make-up and hair!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Sweet & Sour Dressing

When my mom was undergoing cancer about treatments two years ago, her friends were a great support. In addition to many other things, they brought meals several nights a week for months. Lucas and I visited often during those months and so reaped the benefit of some great home cooked meals. One night a friend brought the most delicious salad dressing I have ever had. I immediately e-mailed to thank her and--of course!--request the recipe. I've been making it about every other month since then--Abel and I can't get enough of it! And, now, my dear readers, I am sharing it with you for this week's edition of Favorite Things Friday. Enjoy!

Sweet & Sour Salad Dressing

1/2 C sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/3 C cider vinegar
1/2 C finely chopped onion (I've used sweet onion and red onion before and love both)
1 C canola oil (I've also used olive oil)
2 tsp celery seed (in the spice aisle)

Mix together and then make sure to shake well each time.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yes, Lightning McQueen does need our prayers

Getting Lucas to stay in bed after we say good night and go downstairs is a constant struggle. Almost every night he thinks of something that requires our immediate attention and he gets out of bed, stands at the top of the stairs and yells down to us. We handle this by not acknowledging his request but going to the bottom of the stairs and firmly telling him good night, time to go to bed. Generally he complies and trots back to bed.

A few nights ago, however, we had the following exchange:

Lucas: Mama, Mama, Maaaa-maaaa
Smiling Mama: Good night, Lucas. Time to go to bed.
Lucas: Mama, Mama. I have something to tell you.
Smiling Mama: Good night, Lucas. Time to go to bed.
Lucas: But, Mama. Mama. Mama. We didn't say prayers.

How can I deny this request? He was right, it was late and I had cut some corners on the bedtime routine. I went up, he crawled into bed and we said prayers. They went something like this:

Smiling Mama: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Lucas: God Bless Lightning McQueen. God Bless Speed Racer. God bless Georgie.* God Bless...who else Mama?

Needless to say, I was happy to take it from there!

*Curious George

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Losing College Savings

This year marks 10 years since my husband and I graduated from college and we're both still paying off our student loans. For various reasons, neither of our families had saved money for our college educations. Although our parents contributed as much as they were able while we were in school, we both worked and took out hefty loans as well. Now, don't get me wrong, we don't begrudge our college loans one bit. My husband went to a huge state university and I went to a small private college and we both feel we had the best possible undergraduate experience.

But after our son was born, we wanted to start saving for his future education. For his first birthday and Christmas (only three days apart!) we bought him one gift and opened a 529 plan. We've been contributing a modest sum monthly and have encouraged our relatives to make gifts there as well.

Our fund has been open for 2.5 years and its total value is now 24% less than our total contributions. That's not 24% less than the fund's peak earnings or our contributions + returns, that's almost a quarter percent less than the actual cash we have contributed. I can't help but think that we would have been better off stuffing our cash under the mattress for the past two and a half years.

Read more over at DC Metro Moms.

Losing College Savings

This year marks 10 years since my husband and I graduated from college and we're both still paying off our student loans. For various reasons, neither of our families had saved money for our college educations. Although our parents contributed as much as they were able while we were in school, we both worked and took out hefty loans as well. Now, don't get me wrong, we don't begrudge our college loans one bit. My husband went to a huge state university and I went to a small private college and we both feel we had the best possible undergraduate experience.

But after our son was born, we wanted to start saving for his future education. For his first birthday and Christmas (only three days apart!) we bought him one gift and opened a 529 plan. We've been contributing a modest sum monthly and have encouraged our relatives to make gifts there as well.

Our fund has been open for 2.5 years and its total value is now 24% less than our total contributions. That's not 24% less than the fund's peak earnings or our contributions + returns, that's almost a quarter percent less than the actual cash we have contributed. I can't help but think that we would have been better off stuffing our cash under the mattress for the past two and a half years.

And so when I heard on NPR on Monday about the problems with Alabama's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program (PACT), I could understand how they were feeling. Now, to be clear, we are investing Maryland's college savings plan which is essentially an IRA. And both my husband and I knew that this investment came with risk. Quite frankly, we couldn't afford the monthly contributions required to actually pre-purchase college tuition at today's prices. But these folks in Alabama did believe they were buying into a guaranteed product. And now that is at risk. NPR also reports that Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia and Washington are also reporting shortfalls with their 529 plans.

I've said many times that I sure am grateful that this economic crisis has come at a time when we're so far from retirement. And, now, I'm glad we have a solid 14 more years before Lucas is ready for college. We'll keep putting money into our 529. Because the share price is down, we're now buying almost three times as many shares than we were buying two years ago with the same monthly contribution. My bet is on those shares going up over the next 14 years.

But, even if they do, I'm certain Lucas will have to work his way through college and take on some loans just like his parents did. And I don't think that's such a bad thing.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. When Aimee Olivo isn't listening to NPR she is blogging about life at Smiling Mama and about family-friendly activities in Prince George's County, MD and the DC-metro area at Out by Ten.

Karen Putz said...
My oldest is just two years away from college and our funds for him are now at the same level as we started out with ten years ago. Very frustrating to see the money with no growth at this point...

Sue @ Laundry for Six said...
I can't help but think that this downturn is going to have SOME effect on the cost of college. Private schools from preschools to high schools are hurting for students in many regions after this year's enrollment. It HAS to effect colleges too.

We have four 529s, and I honestly haven't looked at their balances recently. I'm kinda wishing I had done a pre-paid tuition plan instead - at least for some of them.

Shawn Cohen said...
For my degree, I engaged in some credit by exam options that greatly cut the cost of my degree. By taking CLEP and DSST exams, I only paid $80 for recognized exams worth between 3 and 12 credits.

I didn't sacrifice quality for that section of my degree since studies have shown that credit by exam produces the same or better results among students.

Whatever college or university your kids will attend will have credit by exam options. Talk to them beforehand and save yourself a lot of money!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Paper towel dilemma

I know that the title of this post really drew you in. I thought of calling it "paper towel emergency" to really get your attention. But, that would have been disingenuous as I don't have an emergency on my hands but I do have a true dilemma. And, dear readers, I am confident that you can help me out.

I've blogged before about the various ways we are trying to be more green at home. And, really, so far it has been easy. Reusable shopping bags? Check. Green cleaning supplies? Check. I even told you about how we have stopped using paper napkins and paper towels. (Abel has finally stopped adding paper towels to the grocery list and Lucas knows exactly where to go to get a new cloth napkin when he needs one. He, Lucas, that is, does occasionally try to use the table cloth as a napkin which I really can't blame him for as we do have some matching sets!)

But, here's the thing: there are some times when I really, really need a paper towel!

First, to microwave bacon. I always layer a few paper towels, bacon and a few more paper towels on a plate in the microwave. Works great. How do I do this without paper towels? I mean, we don't eat a lot of bacon, but I did recently make Surburban Bliss's recipe for spaghetti carbonara (totally delish!) and needed some bacon. I was reluctant to use rags for the layering so broke out a few of my fancy paper napkins--you know, decorative cocktail napkins--which I simply can't resist buying on clearance at Target. They worked okay. Definitely not as good as paper towels and besides who wants to waste nice napkins--even clearance priced ones--on bacon grease?

Second, to keep herbs. Rachel Ray taught me that the best way to keep herbs fresh in the fridge is to wash them, pat dry, wrap in a paper towel and store in a zip lock. But, my definition of being green means no paper towels and no zip lock bags. What am I to do?

The only solution I can think of is to keep one roll of paper towels high up in my cabinets to use for occasional and specific purposes like these. Are there other options I'm not thinking of?

Have you run into any dilemmas like these as you try to be more green?

Monday, May 18, 2009

More than just a mini van mom

Fact: I am a mom.
Fact: I drive a mini-van.
Fact: I was a choir and band geek in high school.
Fact: NPR is #1 on my radio buttons.


Fact: When Lucas and I dance it out at home, most of the time we aren't rocking to a kids' album, but rather to the wide array of hip hop on our ipod.

Fact: WPGC is #2 on my radio buttons. (Mini van radio buttons, thankyouverymuch.)

Fact: I couldn't have been more proud when Lucas jumped off his chair to jam to Pump It Saturday night at the UniverSoul Circus.

Fact: Abel, Lucas and I agree: the UniverSoul Circus is the best circus we've ever been to in our lives! (Okay, okay, it is the first and only circus any of us have ever been to, but still: it was awesome!)

Fact: You can read all about it--and enter to win 4 tickets to this Wednesday's show--over at Out by Ten.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Knock Out Roses

After spending the first few years in our house focusing on the inside, we finally got serious about landscaping the outside last spring and summer. The front of our house looks terrific and Abel gets all the credit. For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I'm featuring our rose bush which was a gift for my birthday last year. Our yellow Knock Out rose bush is currently blooming, in what is sure to be only the first bloom of the summer.

A new breed of rose, the Knock Outs are supposed to be low maintenance and resistant to disease. In just one year, this bush has almost doubled in size. We didn't have to deadhead or prune or spray or anything and it looks amazing. I couldn't be more happy with it. If you are looking for an easy and beautiful edition to your landscape this year, I'd strongly recommend a Knock Out rose bush!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The office that I go to 3 days a week is in a building that was built in the 1890s. It was built in 3 stages and is hundreds of thousands of square feet. Not a day goes by that I don't marvel at the wonderful and amazing details of this place. The bathroom stalls are marble with doors of solid oak. Just one slab of that marble would make the most lovely counter top in my kitchen. There is a diamond-in-the-rough claw foot tub in one of the two bathrooms close to my office and a shower (you guessed it: marble stall!) in the other.

My own quite large office has 12 foot ceilings (at some point a horrible drop ceiling was added, bringing the actual height down several feet from the original 15!), a huge window and a closet. I marvel at the beautiful banisters and wooden handrails as I walk up the 3 flights of stairs each day (which, I suspect would be the equivalent of about 5 flights in a modern building with lower ceilings per floor!). Our fax machine stands on the most amazing old filing cabinet/card catalog/who knows what. My oak desk is huge, not necessarily ergonomically outfitted for a computer, but it has the coolest drawers--the top right one is only 2 inches deep! I also snagged a beautiful glass front curio in which I house personal photos and professional books. Oh how I long to sneak that baby home one evening!

Now, it isn't all antique beauty. When they added that drop ceiling they also plastered over the transom on my door, leaving a very odd-looking cut-off wooden door frame. I am lucky to have a window unit for air conditioning but the un-air-conditioned stairwells and hallways get awfully stuffy in July and August. Not to mention that, in winter, the heat comes from a very clanky radiator which is controlled in the basement and, I swear, kept going by mouse power! I choose to take the stairs partly for the exercise but also because the one (1!) elevator in the building is notoriously slow and often gets stuck--with and without passengers!--at or between floors.

In my first job out of college, I worked out of the carriage house behind the wonderful old Capitol Hill townhouse where my boss, her husband and 3 cats lived. We had full access to the kitchen and often had our staff meetings at the dining room table or on the back patio (always with a bottle of wine if it was 5pm or later!).

I wonder how I'll cope if I ever work in a traditional high rise office building or even--gasp!--a cubicle!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Weekend wrap-up

This weekend we drove up to my parents' house for a mini family reunion and to walk in a Breast Cancer 5K in honor of my mom's successful battle with the disease. Here's a snapshot of the not-so-large and crazily-overcrowded house:

10 adults. 4 kids. 1 dog.
4 bedrooms.
2 bathrooms.
4 beds. 1 couch. 1 crib. 2 pack 'n plays. 2 air mattresses. 1 rug (the dog!).

The adults went to bed way too late and the kids woke everyone up way too early. Much beer was consumed and much food was eaten. A grand time was had by all.

Lucas adored the dog--a mastiff/lab mix who joined us courtesy of my cousin's boyfriend. I generally appreciate animals best from afar, but this weekend actually made me consider the fact that we might someday have to get Lucas a pet. (Notice there are still many qualifiers in that sentence!) At one point, Lucas was under the table with Hank and whispering in his ear: "I love you, Hank. You're my best friend." It was freaking adorable. He also truly enjoyed playing with his second cousins (or is that first cousins once removed?), including 5yo Benjamin whose name he was saying in his dreams!

I had some great quality time with some of my favorite cousins--something we truly don't get enough of these days now that we have families and are spread far apart.

The only bummer is that Lucas's allergies were horrible. We were in two Fridays ago with wheezing and an ear infection and the doctor warned us that things would get worse when the rain stopped. Boy, did they ever. The poor guy was such a wreck. We went back to the doctor yesterday morning and Lucas is now on a pretty heavy regime of nebulizer, allergy medicine, nose spray and eye drops. Whew! The worst part is that the doctor suggested keeping him indoors as much as possible--a true challenge for a kid who would be outside all day if we let him.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grace in Small Things, My Mom Edition

1. Her macaroni and cheese. Which I hated as a child but she promised would one day be the meal I request when I come home from college. Indeed, it was!

2. The few times I've been really sick, when my mom put aside anything and everything of her own, to arrive on our doorstep (or the hospital) in less than 3 hours (including a 2 hour drive!).

3. The intense love Lucas has for his grammy.

4. Abel's knowledge of how much my mom's opinion influences me. He's secretly (or not-so-secretly) lobbied her at times when he wanted to change my mind.

5. The comfort of unconditional love and support.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Mini Water Bottles

I gave up bottled water ages ago. We had plenty of miscellaneous bottles around that I used. But, after I learned about the dangers of BPA, I threw out all of those and purchased a Sigg water bottle (which I loved) until it was confiscated on my way in to the Democratic National Convention last summer. I didn't buy another Sigg because, at the convention, we were given totally awesome BPA-free Denver 2008 water bottles which I carried with great pride. But, the thing is, my Sigg and that Denver bottle? They were huge. And heavy.

I mean, really, did I need to carry around 32oz of water at all times?

Absolutely not!

For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you Life is Good mini water bottles. My new pink daisy bottle has put a smile on my face all week!

I snagged this little cutie earlier this week when Lucas and I jaunted over to National Harbor and stopped in the Life is Good store. Right away I spotted the 16oz mini water bottles. They are made by Nalgene, are BPA free, sell for just $10 each and are freaking adorable. The size is just right to fit in my purse (yes, I'm a mom and carry a big bag!) and even when filled with water, they aren't too heavy.

I love my pink daisy and Lucas got his very own cool guy bottle. Hmmm...I guess that means I'm going to end up carrying 32 oz. anyway!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One year ago

One year ago today, a doctor called me at 6am (which we didn't hear) and then again 8am to tell me to go to the emergency room immediately.

Where should I go?

The nearest emergency room.

And so I went. Not to the closest one, I'll admit. But to the one that my primary care doctors were affiliated with, the one where a friend works, the one that I knew exactly how long it would take us to get to in rush hour traffic.

And the ER docs and residents and med students were intrigued. I've only seen a few episodes of House, but I felt like I was on it. A huge mystery. Group after group of doctors and students stopped by to see the petechiae covering my torso, to hear my story, to ask me questions. My diagnosis of ITP, or low platelets, occurs in approximately 2 out of 100,000 adults so I was a good learning opportunity.

A normal person has about 150,ooo-300,000 platelets (per million) and I had 3,000. They were worried about internal bleeding and I had a headache. Late in the evening, after about 12 hours in the ER, I had a CT scan. And after that, they started talking about cancer.

As in they weren't certain, but would be pretty surprised if it wasn't.


I went on some pretty heavy meds. My platelets had to get up so I wouldn't bleed out in surgery--the lymphectomy and bone marrow biopsy which would stage my cancer.

Several nights in the hospital. More meds. My veins couldn't take it. It was so painful.

The surgery. More pain but at least this time I had morphine.

Abel and my parents were my rocks.

I desperately missed Lucas.

Pathology came back: no cancer. None. Nothing.

A miracle?

I went home.

Spent the summer on steroids; being tested for all sorts of other conditions; getting infusions in the chemo lab where I felt guilty every time I walked in with my full head of hair. Guilty and relieved at the same time. Because that wasn't me.

I think now, now when my last blood test showed my platelets at 240,000 (normal!), now I am finally dealing with the emotional implications of those days in the hospital. Those days when I felt certain that I'd be bald for my friend's wedding. When I composted my "I have cancer" post in my head. When I resolved to fight like hell for Lucas's sake.

It seems like so long ago. And I know everything is fine. Will be fine.

But, still. It could have been me. And that is a lot to deal with.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Stuff!

Photo shamelessly stolen from Banana Blueberry

Photo shamelessly stolen from Passion and Art

Last night I attended a fantastic party with the DC Metro Moms at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill. I swear, this group of awesome ladies could get together in a paper bag and we'd have a blast! Even so, I'm appreciative of Devra and Sarah for getting Chef Spike and Quaker on board so that we could gorge fill ourselves with good great stuff like burgers, fries, milkshakes, beer and then take home some whole grains for breakfast to help make us feel better about the indulgences of the previous night!

It was fantastic to catch up live and in person with some of the great bloggers I already knew: Nicole from Banana Blueberry, Kim from Passion and Art, Leticia from Tech Savvy Mama, Jessica from A Parent in Silver Spring, Diana from Caffeinated, Justice Fergie from Just Fergie, Sue from My Party of Six, Jodi from Jodifur, KC from Where's My Cape, Sandie from Urban Mama and probably a few more that have slipped my mind!

It was also wonderful to meet some of the ladies I've been faithfully reading like Stimey of Stimeyland and Amy of Teachmama and a brand new DC Metro Mom, J.J. of Caffeine and a Prayer, along with many more!

They say blogging is all about community and I can tell you: this is one community of awesome ladies! If you don't have time to read these ladies individually, please add DC Metro Moms to your blog reader--you won't be disappointed!

Oh, and if you haven't been to Good Stuff Eatery yet, go check it out. Seriously. I think it is a very good thing that I no longer work just a few blocks away from this fantastic addition to the Capitol Hill dining scene--I'm afraid I'd be there just a little too often!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

He answered my ad

After college the majority of my friends left DC for grad school or jobs elsewhere. I stayed to pursue my dream of working in politics. I was lucky enough to have several job offers (my mantra to college students is intern! intern! intern!) and commenced on the challenging hunt for a decent and affordable place to live. I found an affordable room in a 5 person group house on Capitol Hill. It really was great. Sure, the basement flooded and the kitchen was filthy (before I moved in!) and my house mates left something to be desired. But, there was a great patio and a little fireplace in my room. I felt safe, was close to a park and--most importantly--I adored living on Capitol Hill.

I moved in at the end of May. Two house mates decided to move out in January and by then--of course!--I had taken control of several aspects of the house (such as getting bills paid on time to avoid late fees!) so it was natural that I took control of the process of finding two new house mates.

This was before Craigslist (can you imagine? I didn't have a computer or a cell phone either!) and the place to find house mates was the Washington City Paper. If I recall correctly, the ads posted on-line on Wednesday and in print on Saturday. I placed the ad and by Wednesday night had at least 50 messages on my voicemail! Since we had such a great response, I decided that I wouldn't call anyone back who lived out of town (so as to save on the long distance charges!) or anyone who I determined didn't sound polite on the phone! We set a date for an open house and I called people back to invite them to stop by.

For some unknown reason, I broke my no-long-distance rule for one person, a name I had never heard of (other than the Old Testament, of course) who must have sounded polite in his message. I called him in Ohio to tell him about the open house. I left a message with someone. That person relayed the message and the polite-out-of-towner just happened to be in DC that coming weekend looking for an apartment and stopped by our open house.

Of all the dozens of people who trooped through our house that day, faces blurring together, names (something I'm not good at remembering anyway) later unable to be recalled, one of the guys stood out: Abel from Ohio. I was completely captivated by him. Not in a romantic way at all, but in that I thought he would be a blast to hang out with. I wanted to be his friend. I was lobbying hard for him.

But, the only other house mate interested in this process, couldn't remember him! So, we called to see if he could come back over. He was booked except for a few hours that night. I already had plans so very nervously--that other house mate was a total dork and I was certain he'd scare this guy away!--sent my house mate to meet him for a drink at a nearby bar. It worked and the other house mate agreed to give one of the rooms to Abel. (The other went to a girl who took the biggest room, paid the most rent and then essentially moved in with her boyfriend, continuing to pay her share but rarely to be seen again!)

Abel moved in on January 6 (or, 5th as he claims!). It was a Friday night but I stuck around under the pretense of helping him move in. (In reality, I had nothing else to do that night!) The next night we all went out to dinner and to a club. The next day I drove Abel to Target where I very clearly remember him asking me if I had a boyfriend.

Over the next few weeks, I began to look forward to nothing more than coming home to eat dinner with, go out for a drink with, or simply hang out with my new friend. I had never had so much fun in my life, just being with someone else.

Then one day we kissed.

Then one day he cooked me an amazing meal.

Then one day he proposed.

And, today? Today, I still have more fun with him than anyone else.

I'm so glad you answered my ad, Babe. Happy Anniversary!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Laptop Lunches

For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you laptop lunches: bento ware for every where.

For about 2.5 years, three nights a week I would think to myself, "time to make the lunches" with great dread. Making my own lunch was one thing, but figuring out what to pack for Lucas felt like such a grind. I tend to get into food jags anyway and I could never be 100% sure which foods Lucas would happily accept or reject at daycare so got into major ruts of packing him the same things every day. Then the containers would get lost (the permanent market inevitably would wash off) or I'd end up throwing in the prepackaged applesauce or mixed fruit and feel bad about the waste. I would intermittently worry that there was lead in his lunch bag or BPA in his plastic without really doing anything about it.

Really, it shouldn't be that difficult to pack a kid a lunch!

But, that all changed earlier this year after I discovered this bento box system from Laptop Lunches via Z Recommends. I splurged on the $37.99 price tag and purchased the laptop lunch system for Lucas.

Here's how they describe their products:

Laptop Lunches are American-style bento boxes designed to help families pack nutritious, environment-friendly lunches for school, work, and travel. Our sustainable lunch containers--which come with a book of healthy lunch ideas and lunchmaking recipes--are reusable, recyclable, and dishwasher safe. Our lunchboxes, recently featured in both Parents and O Magazine, do not contain phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), or lead.

Now, I'm not going to try to tell you that I jump for joy when it's time to make lunch these days, but I will tell you that I enjoy it much more than I used to now that we have this great little bento system! Not only are the containers the perfect size for Lucas's portions, they serve as a great guide for me in determining what to pack.

I always make sure to include a fruit, a veggie, a protein and something whole grain. Yesterday Lucas got strawberries in one of the large containers (he's a strawberry fiend!), broccoli in a smaller container, Annie's cheddar bunnies in a smaller container and a peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread in the other large container.


There is also a very small container that we use for ketchup or other dipping sauce, as needed. He also loves the little water bottle. I've only ever filled it with water and I don't even think it has occurred to him that it could be filled with juice! Because each of the containers has its place, our day care provider or I immediately notice if something is missing so it can be found and put back into place.

I realize the school year is quickly coming to a close, but if you dread the lunch-making grind as much as I used to, I encourage you to check out Laptop Lunches!