Meal Plans and Food Waste

Have you guys heard of Super Healthy Kids? They’re pretty awesome. These ladies make food that is healthy and kids enjoy. Well, they do a pre-planned meal plan that we’ve been trying for a review (look for that coming up soon!). I’ve been really enjoying it, but there has been a bit of a learning curve.

A big part of that learning curve has been food waste. It’s always an issue for me when I meal plan, to be honest. When I’m not meal planning, we just eat whatever is there. We make what we have work, so not a ton ends up wasted. When going by a meal plan, I have to be much more conscious of what’s already in the fridge. I also have to work around meals getting skipped because life gets in the way. One day we’re invited to dinner by our parents. Another day we decide we really want to order a pizza. Normal things that I do try to plan for, but some things don’t give me a week forewarning.

So I decided to start holding myself accountable again by showing the internet our food waste. Hopefully this gives me an extra push to get everything used up in the fridge before it goes bad.

This week we have three items. First, the clementines. Three little clementines that got past their prime.

Next item on the list doesn’t have a photo because I forgot. I was pretty upset about these, actually. You see, as part of the meal plan I made muffins last Saturday for breakfast. They were on a bag on the counter, which is generally how I store muffins that I’m not freezing. They never stick around long enough to get moldy, but a combination of not eating these fast enough and the muffins growing a tiny spot of mold sooner than they generally would (they were particularly moist) meant about a half dozen went in the trash.

Lastly, this poor little avocado. I’m the only one in my family that really likes avocados. Thanks to the meal plan, I’m finding out a lot of different ways my family will tolerate them. Still though, I haven’t been using them nearly as fast as I should be by meal plan standards. This is not our first avocado casualty in the recent past.

So there you go! Other than these three things, we’re doing pretty good. We’re on track to use up (hopefully) all our leftovers and all the produce in our fridge is looking good. I did have a few wins this week with substituting items that needed to be used. And of course our bunny does a good job of eating not only the scraps, but also the produce that isn’t completely bad. She got a whole romaine lettuce heart this week! Lucky bunny!

Newsletter – February 2015

Twig playing in the unseasonably warm rain puddle.

Hello Kiddos!

We had a pretty awesome February. It’s been unseasonably warm around here, so we got to spend time outside. Our days were also spent going to the Treehouse Museum, story time, volunteering at Peanut’s school, and just hanging out at home. Life is great.

Peanut, I have a funny story for you. We were out to dinner and you started to complain about your mouth hurting. I kind of brushed it off, but it was a weird spot, so I decided to feel your tooth just to see. Well, that tooth moved and I let out a shriek of surprise that startled you too. You had a loose tooth! I didn’t even know that kids start loosing teeth this early, but a quick Google search told me that you’re a bit late if anything (Google also told me this is unsurprising give that you started getting teeth a bit on the later side). I was so sure that it was nothing and I would “just check to be sure.” Silly mama.

“Gideon is a firefighter but a baby firefighter. I am too.”

You’re also getting better and better at writing things 100% for yourself. You’ve been writing letters for ages, but it’s always been “Mama, how do you spell…?” Your teacher said to encourage “creative spelling” and ever since I told you to start trying to spell things yourself, you’ve found every excuse possible to write things down. I love how you’re always writing me notes. I hope it never stops.

You also finished playing basketball this month. You went around telling everyone you spoke to (you have absolutely no qualms speaking to strangers out in public and everyone you meet thinks you’re awesome when you start chatting with them) how you love playing basketball. You were also pretty devastated that it’s over for the season. About a week after the last game I finally sat you down and explained that it’s not just that I’m mean and won’t let you play, but nobody is playing because the season is over. After that you calmed down a bit. You’re still adamant that you want to play next year though.

Speaking of little miss chatterbox, you came home from school one day this month with phone numbers and a couple of your little friends came home with your number. I had no idea that calling friends on the phone would start this early, but you love it. I’m amazed that you have so much to say to someone that you just saw an hour ago. It’s calmed down a bit since it originally started, but two months later you still ask to call someone on the phone most days. You just gave out your number to a fresh batch of friends too.

Banana, you’re just zooming on with development. This month you started to crawl! It’s not super coordinated yet, but you’re definitely moving forward with purpose. You usually crawl a couple of steps, then stop and get on your belly to see if you can reach what you’re going for yet. If you can’t, the process repeats. I call it lazy crawling. You also decided to pull yourself to stand at virtually the same time as starting to crawl. My goodness. Calm down! And you got your first two teeth this month, both of your bottom front teeth.

It’s really fun watching the sibling dynamic emerge. One of the most interesting things to me thus far has been how Peanut is some sort of pseudo-adult to you. You’ll stay happy if she’s playing with you a good majority of the time. You even fall asleep on her while watching TV (I think you just need something interesting enough to stare at while you drift off). It’s super cute.

Twig, on the topic of siblings, you’ve great with Banana. You finally got him to laugh this month and you just love it. For some reason you weren’t very interested in getting him to laugh before now. You also call him “boy” all the time. “Do you like that, boy?” “Where is boy?” If I ask you what his name is you’ll immediately tell me Gideon, but if you’re talking to or about him it’s always boy.

You’re also making strides with development, though yours is mental. It seems like overnight that you went from knowing a handful of letters to almost every one of them. You even know the sounds of a good majority of them. You know all the letters in your name in mostly the right order, though you mostly insist on just spelling Mere. Can’t blame you there considering that’s what we call you 90% of the time.

You also love going to Peanut’s school to volunteer. You’ve made real friends there who send you home drawings in Peanut’s backpack. You like to pack your own little backpack of things to play with a books to look at and you think recess is amazing. Your favorite thing is how you get to participate in the art whenever they’re doing a project. You think that Peanut’s teacher is pretty amazing too. You’re gonna love it when you get to start kindergarten.

Love you all!
Mama

Twig’s Winnie the Pooh Birthday Party

Winnie the Pooh (2011) is probably my favorite kids movie. It absolutely baffles me that so many people haven’t seen it. Seriously, my husband and I enjoyed it more than the kids the first time we watched it. Luckily, Twig shares our love of Winnie the Pooh. Really, she loves Winnie the Pooh in any form. So, unsurprisingly, she wanted to have a Winnie the Pooh 3rd birthday party. And since that movie is clearly the best incarnation of Winnie the Pooh, I stuck with that movie for the theme. I’ll try to give as many links as I can for the ideas I used, but just in case I miss any (and for some ideas I didn’t end up using), here’s my Pinterest Board.

First, the invitations. I loved this idea of the honey pot, but I don’t have a special paper cutting machine and program like this lady does. So I just hand-traced a honey pot onto a piece of printer paper and used that as a stencil for tracing it onto some pretty scrapbook paper I picked up at the craft store. Twig’s favorite color is purple, so obviously we needed purple honey pots! Then I used a yellow marker to color some white letters and traced out some honey drippings onto yellow scrapbook paper. I used Disney, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger fonts on the actual invitation part as if the big announcer voice (Disney font) was talking with the two characters chiming in their own comments.

 

Next the decorations. My amazing brother made us another banner, which I get to share with you guys again! Isn’t he great?! Here’s the link.

Didn’t realize until halfway through the party that I put the T and H up opposite.

I also drew a Backson (following along as Owl draws it in the movie) on the chalkboard. I’m seriously amazed at how much better I’m getting with drawing as I practice. Guess being a mom has given me the right motivation to learn to draw!

And I made signs with things from the movie too, making sure they were to spec by pausing the movie.

I also put up various other signs and what not that are not pictured. Links for those found here, here, and here. And I set up all our Winnie the Pooh books around the house (we have a lot!).

Now the activities! When the guests arrived, they colored. We used pots (little ceramic ones from the dollar store) to hold the crayons. They colored free coloring pages from the internet (some of which found on my Pinterest board, some I didn’t ever get around to adding it, just googled to find them).

Then we found Eeyore’s Tail (like they do in the movie). The whole scavenger hunt thing at Peanut’s Tangled party was a huge hit. Honestly I think I’ll do it every year. Kids just love hearing the silly clues (I just make a four line little rhyme that tells them where the next hiding spot is and center it around the birthday child) and figuring out where they are hidden. Peanut finger knit Eeyore’s tail.

Then we did a beehive pinata. I used a balloon to make the pinata and then decorated it to look like a beehive. I used black pom poms and wrapped them with yellow pipe cleaners to look like bees, then hot glued them on. The kids had a ton of fun with this one!

Lastly, we played Bounce Like Tigger. My original idea was a hopping contest (see who can hop the furthest), but then I realized that my mother-in-law bought a bunch of these blue bouncing balls. It turned out she had just enough for the amount of guests that were coming! So I turned on the Winnie the Pooh soundtrack and let them bounce away!

Last, but not least, the food!

I made little signs like these using pots (again from the dollar store), tissue paper, and popsicle sticks. I let Peanut write all the words so they’d look like Christopher Robin wrote them. Spelling is all hers too (though I had her re-do some of them because it was a bit too confusing).

Eeyore’s Sticks (Pretzel Sticks)

 

Hunny Candy (recipe here) “DO NOT CHEW” (turned out not quite hard enough, I think I should have let it get a bit hotter when making it)

Hunny Ham Sandwiches (just regular sandwiches make with honey ham)

Rabbit’s Veggies (with ranch)

Kanga’s Lemonade (recipe here)

Honey Cupcakes (cupcake recipe here, but I decided to use a this honey buttercream frosting instead)

And that’s it! Twig had a ball at her first ever big girl birthday party and I think the guests had a good time too. And I had a fun time planning it! Yay Winnie the Pooh!

Newsletter – January 2015

At Bear Lake on your birthday.

Hello My Children!

We’re still playing newsletter catch up here (so close!) and on to January. It was a surprisingly warm winter this year, so we spent plenty of time outdoors. We also spent a lot of time watching Studio Ghibli movies as a family. You both love My Neighbor Totoro. Really, you’ve loved all the ones we’ve watched. And of course, we celebrated Twig’s third birthday!

Twig, you had your first ever birthday party this month and you chose Winnie the Pooh as the theme. You loved being able to invite your own friends and being the center of it all. I had a blast planning it for you and everyone had a wonderful time. We got you some Calico Critters for your birthday because you love playing pretend with little toys. You really enjoy playing with them. On your birthday itself you were sick, so we took a long drive to Bear Lake as a way to celebrate without spreading disease. We had a lot of fun and you girls gathered tons of tiny shells.

You’re also learning more letters by the day. I wasn’t even aware that you knew any, then you suddenly started picking them up rapid fire. You love reading and especially love to read Press Here. It’s a silly book where you press the dots (and do other things to them) and it makes it look like you’re effecting the dots. You ask me to read it to you almost every night.

You also love drawing with your sister. Both of you have been drawing pictures from these videos on YouTube. I’m surprised at how well you both can draw. Twig, you made a daddy long legs that actually looked like a daddy long legs! And Dea, you can already draw just as well as I can most of the time. It’s awesome watching you two expand your artistic abilities.

Peanut, you are obsessed with black widows. Really it all started this fall. It was a warm fall also, which apparently caused a bit of a black widow issue in our area. We ended up finding about half a dozen throughout our property (thank goodness never in the house!). Ever since, you’ve decided you love black widow spiders. You brought a book home from the library at school that told you all about them. We checked out books at our library. We watched videos online. You just think they’re amazing.

Taking a bath in the sink when Oma and Opa watched you.

Banana, you are putting in a valiant effort to crawl. You’re trying really hard to get up on all fours and you can even do it if you get your butt wedged up against something. You can tell you’re so satisfied with yourself when you get up too.

You’re also very loud, just like Twig was. You love to just yell and yell, even when you’re happy. Something that’s different though is your pitch. From pretty much day one, you’ve been really high pitched! And when you get happy you’re literally squealing in delight. It’s so ridiculously cute. You’re also mad when you’re mad though. You don’t get angry often, but when you do, you sound like a fire alarm. We tried to leave you with Oma and Opa for the first time so mommy and daddy could go on a date, but we ended up leaving half way through The Hobbit because you were so angry. It’s alright though, mama doesn’t mind being with you all the time.

Speaking of you being happy, there’s one song from our music class that you just adore. We call it “Open and Shut Them” though I’m sure there’s a more correct name. Every time you’re upset, we start singing it and you get happy again. It works when you’re in the high chair while I make food, while you’re getting your diaper changed, anything. We start singing and you immediately start smiling.

Love you all!
Mama

Newsletter – December 2014

Hello You Three!

On with the catch up! This time it’s December. Christmas time!

Twig, you’re such a hoot. This month you’ve been obsessed with “beating” everyone at everything. You race to the car when no one knows we were racing. You announce that you won a game, even when you lost. You’re so cute!

You started doing a preschool co-op this month. You’re pretty shy about interacting with the other kids, but tell me you like going. Mostly you stay right next to me, which I’m completely okay with. I think being shy is just part of your personality and you’ll figure out how to interact with time. No reason to push things.

You also revealed and known skill to me this month. I drew 10 smilie faces on a piece of paper and asked you to count them for me, just curious how high you could go. Turns out you can reliably go all the way up to 10! I figured when I was doing this that I was writing way more than you could do, just to test. Proved me wrong!

Banana, gone are the newborn days. You’re a full fledged baby! You hate it when mama yells (even if it’s just calling someone’s name) and it makes you cry every time. Anyone else could be yelling right next to you though and you could care less. You’re also rolling over from back to front now too and sitting up without any support at all.

Your favorite toys are your caterpillar mirror and your own hands and feet. And you are the most high pitched little baby I’ve ever heard. It’s super cute when you’re happy squealing. Not so cute when you’re mad screaming.

Peanut, you’re still doing great in school and your teacher has nothing but wonderful things to say about you. In the program you do every day at school (since the school is technology based), your teacher says you’re already well into the first grade material. Reading your books from school is falling a little out of vogue for you, but your teacher said that’s completely normal and not to pressure you.

You made a Frosty the Snowman from playdough.

You just love your new baby brother. Sometimes too much! You recently decided that you should pick him up, which luckily hasn’t led to any dropping, but quite a few conversations with mama have sprung from it. Just about needing to ask first and not doing things like carrying brother up and down the stairs. He’s already a third your weight for goodness sake! You also love reading to him when he’s in his swing to keep him happy. Really, you love to do anything to make him happy.

Love you all!
Mama

Newsletter – November 2014

Playing board games with mama while Twig naps.

Hello Children!

We’re playing catch up with newsletters still and today we’re on to the month of November!

Peanut, your brain seems to be making leaps and bounds lately. You keep astounding me with things I wasn’t aware you could even come close to doing. This month, it’s finger spelling. I’ve known for a long time that you know the whole alphabet in ASL, but I had no idea that this so easily translated to spelling. You’re just starting to really spell words and one day, out of the blue, you started finger spelling them too. You can sound out words as I finger spell them too. I’m amazed.

You also like to spend time teaching letters to Twig. You sat down and wrote on your calendar a different letter to teach her every week day, then a number. You haven’t remembered to work on it every day, but when you do you two have a lot of fun with it.

You’ve also been working hard trying to make Banana laugh ever since he started to do it. This month it finally paid off. It’s already so clear how much he loves his big sisters.

Twig, you want so badly to be like your sister. Lately you keep telling me you want to read like her and you’ll actually sit down and “read” books. You even get mad if I interrupt you while you’re reading me a book.

You’re also loving working on your letters. Like I said earlier, you’ve been working on them with your sister. You like working on them with me too. You recognize the letter M and point out that your name starts with M. You’re staring to catch on to more though.

Banana, I forgot how quickly babies grow! In just a few months you’ve started showing your own little personality. You’re fascinated with your sisters and love sitting in the high chair watching them. You also have started really holding onto toys. Which, of course, means they’re going right in your mouth.

That’s all I have for this month! Love you all!
Mama