Planet Box Lunch Box Review

Hooray for the three day weekend!  I usually post our weekend reading, but I don't know how we'll get much reading done!  Tomorrow we have a Girl Scout parade, I must get my lines down for Caesar, I need to see two plays in their last or only weekend, the girls have a play date set up...

If we get to do our bedtime reading, then it's still My Father's Dragon and On the Banks of Plum Creek.  Big Sis has to start reading 20 minutes a day for 20 days each month, as part of school.  We decided that she reads well enough on her own, so instead of counting our books together, we'll set a timer and she'll do some independent reading.  Some friends gifted us with their daughter's old copies of one of the Rainbow Fairies series.  We may try those first.

One of the things I won't be doing this weekend is packing lunches, a chore I used to detest.  When Big Sis started kindergarten last year, our family made the decision to pack healthy cold lunches for her to take to school.  We let her pick out a new lunchbox, a sandwich and snack keeper that came with cold packs that fit in the lids, a new water bottle.  The problem is time.  She seems to have very little time to eat, and a lot of food was being wasted.  Her water bottle was difficult for her to open.  She had trouble getting the lids on and off the containers.  By the end of the year, our healthy, creative lunches had become far less creative, and while pretty healthy, very repetitive.  I hoped things would change in first grade, but the first week of school went by and lunch was still half-eaten (if we were lucky).

I began scouring the internet for new ideas.  I made a Pinterest board (props to Melissa for inspiring me with hers).  I figured out what she seemed to eat best.  And finally, I made it to this website, one I first visited a few years ago.

I first discovered Planet Box via a Facebook link by family music artist Elizabeth Mitchell.  In fact, if you check the links on her website, you'll find a listing under products, as it is her sister who created Planet Box.  It always seemed like an awesome idea, but these are very expensive lunch boxes.  I don't spend this much money on clothes for the girls, let alone a lunch box!  But I found myself telling the hubby about them, and he asked to see the website.  We watched the videos together, and what we loved best was this:  all you have to do is flip open the box, and your food is there.  There are a couple of small stainless containers for wetter foods or dressings or dips, but all you do is pull off the lids - you don't screw or unscrew them like a jar lid.

And the boxes are plain stainless boxes, with a carrying case.  They come with cute magnets that we could change out later, if we wanted.  We could reuse all the cold packs from last year.  We could call it an "investment lunch box."  After all, what's to stop her from using it all through high school?

We made the splurge.  And....?

She's eating lunch!

She says it's so much easier to dig into her meal, because all she has to do is open one box, maybe pop a little lid off or two, and eat!  I've been photographing the meals in the mornings, in order to compare the contents to what is left when she comes home.  There might be a few leftovers here and there, but for the most part, lunch is being consumed!

The little kawaii sandwiches in the last picture come via my other goofy splurge.

Oooo!  Japanese instructions!
The skewer idea has been especially successful.  She loves to eat her little salads on sticks.

She still comes home hungry, but now it's just because of a long day, not because she hasn't eaten a decent meal since breakfast.  We are very happy with our investment lunch box.  Perhaps we'll invest in a second one for Little Sis next year.  The hubby admits to wanting one of the bigger boxes for himself, too.

Merry Labor Day Weekend!  I'll leave you with a little Elizabeth Mitchell, a song from our favorite CD You Are My Little Bird.  

Warning: Next Week Will Be Circus & Carnival Crazy

We're one week away from Big Sis's 7th birthday (GULP!), and one week and two days away from her party.

Big Sis parties are big.

Big Sis is very popular and loves to be creative.  Mommy likes to be creative, too, and we tend to bring out the best - some would say worst - in each other.

This is a child who picks out a birthday party theme the day after that year's party ends.  We have had one year to plan a backyard circus/carnival birthday party.  It was almost a year ago that I discovered my beloved Pinterest, and one of my first boards was called Carnival and Circus and Sideshow Love.  I have since lifted all the party-related items from that board to one devoted especially to planning Big Sis's party.

It's been a bit hectic around here.  My play, a Shakespeare-in-the-park production of Julius Caesar, opens the same weekend.  She's in a parade this weekend with her Daisy Scout troop.  We still have a house and backyard to clean up, a few game-related things to make, and we must figure out what we're wearing.  (Yes, there will be costumes.  We are gluttons for punishment.)  

Next week, I plan to feature some our favorite circus- or carnival-related books, movies, cartoons, etc.  I need to be reminded of why I was so excited when she chose her theme.

Would you like to see our last couple of Big Sis parties?

Last year was all about owls.  (Little Sis has now decided she is "all owled out.")  We began the year by purchasing bunk beds and getting this bedding, and in September we threw an owl party.  I attempted this "cake," seen below in all its messiness.  I can bake, but I'm a wretched decorator.  Lucky for me, my friend Wendi now bakes out of her home, and she is an artist.

Actually, those cupcakes look worse than I remember.  Cake wreck!

Two years ago was our first big theme party, Alice in Wonderland.  That one was a blast.

The whole family got into the crafty aspect of this party.  The hubby made the cool foam and stick signposts.

We made paper bag and headband Mad Hatter hats, and several awesome grown-ups came dressed up, including Fairy Godmother Katie and her family.

So our circus party plans to be Big Sis's last hurrah.  We're doing the destination party thing next year - she promised.  Here's hoping we keep our sanity between now and next Saturday!

Storytime Crafts

I was looking at some pictures from one year ago - getting misty-eyed at first day of kindergarten and preschool pictures, I'll admit - and noticed I had some fun pictures of crafts we made for storytime at my old bookstore gig.

I thought I'd share a couple of favorites.  August 2011 was apparently a creative month for me.  

We usually made example crafts at home on Friday evenings.  These pictures are of sample books we made for a book-themed storytime, in which I read How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills and Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Keith Bendis.  I highly recommend both books, by the way.

These were super-simple to make.  I cut up some old magazine boxes, used a pointy-ish object (a ballpoint pen) to punch holes in the cardboard, then cut some card stock to fit the cardboard pieces.  A hole punch worked fine for the card stock.  I wound up making one more dummy, which was simplified quite a bit - we wound up using yarn, stickers, markers, and buttons to decorate our books at the store.  

As you can see, Big Sis's book was ready for publication!

We read Caps for Sale and Circus Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina at another storytime.  This was one of my all-time favorite crafts.  We made our own hats!  The idea came from several different websites.  It's a popular paper plate (and bowl) craft.  My girls had very fancy hats by the time they were through.

Just take a paper plate.  Cut out the center.  Now glue a paper bowl, upside-down, on top.  Attach some elastic and voila!

The butterfly fans were left over from a Mother's Day craft, I believe.  There were a few left in the supply box, and the girls decided they went well with their hats.

Every year, Big Sis's elementary school does a hat parade.  The children have to make their own hat, with help from their families, fitting that year's theme.  I had a few cut-up plates left, so Big Sis's hat was already begun!  

I've also noticed this hat style is popular for Madeline storytimes and parties.  It does look a bit like her hat, doesn't it?

We need to start making the hat for this year's hat parade soon.  The theme is "What will I be when I grow up?"  Big Sis is leaning toward becoming a teacher or librarian (or school librarian!), although she hasn't ruled out entomologist quite yet.  

I think we're going to paint a paper sack this year, with the bottom turned up for the brim.  I'll post pictures when it's done.  

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Pre-K Begins!

The Fancy Nancy backpack was Big Sis's first backpack, purchased for her first year of preschool, in fall 2009.  She used it for pre-K, then last year it became Little Sis's.  It's such a great preschool backpack, very lightweight but big enough to hold large art projects.

Next year, both girls will be in school all day, five days a week.  But that's next year.

So, it's too early to be sad, right?

About to head into her new classroom...

Further evidence of bigness:  the car seat has been converted to a booster.  I should have done this a couple months ago, but her height got away from us.

And?  "It was good."  

And now for a celebratory meal at our favorite bookstore/cafe.

This isn't her first year of preschool, and she still goes three days a week, morning only.  But here's a few more favorite school-related book titles:

 David Goes To School by David Shannon.  Blue Sky Press, 1999.

This post is for Little Sis, so I had to choose a David Shannon book.  When she wasn't even two, she became enamored of David Smells!, a Diaper David board book from the library.  I think she identified with David.  She is my "No" baby.  In this book, little David heads to school and is constantly being corrected by the teacher.

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.  Viking, 2009.

Another school-related title from a successful picture book series.  I have to say, in my bookselling days, my Llama Llama storytimes were very popular.  In this book, our little llama friend goes to school for the first time.  Big Sis chose this book as a gift for her kindergarten teacher last year.  She thought it was a "good book for kids who are new to school."  Smart girl.

And what did Little Sis's pre-K teacher read to her class on the first day?  Old familiar favorites.  

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle.  Henry Holt & Co., 1992.

If You Take A Mouse To School by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond.  HarperCollins, 2002.

Ah, books.  Our family's ultimate comfort food.  

Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Fisher Price School Days Play Desk

The magnets!  The little cards!  The chalk that wouldn't clean off!

I was an early reader.  For that, I credit my parents for reading scores of books to me, Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and my Fisher Price School Days Play Desk.

Alas, I know not what became of mine.  As with so many things, I forgot all mine until I saw one again years later.  I think it was on Etsy.

This one is in great shape.  It's missing a few magnets.  Oh, well.

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