Healthy Lunches, Party of Four

The following post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. Thanks. Blue Diamond!
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As mentioned in Monday's post, packing lunches is my absolute least favorite thing to do in the world. Maybe because it's my last "mom duty" of the day and I ALWAYS put it off until it's like 11:59 and I'm half asleep in the fetal position under a chair I have just swept under (also last minute) and I'm like, "ohhhhhhh. I have to make lunches now."

And then I make lunches.

Which, once I get going, I kind of enjoy. A TINY bit. It's like a puzzle of nutrition. Tetris with whole foods. Last year I posted THIS about packing lunches for Archer and Fable and although we still eat similarly, I wanted to map out a typical night in the life of packing for four people----which I am about to do as soon as I finish this post.

Which I am about to do as soon as I finish this post. And then tomorrow night I will do it again. And the next night. And the next. And the next. (I also have the twins sleep in their clothes and make sure that Archer and Fable lay their clothes out the night before. Mornings are CHAOS but I have managed to get everyone to school on time all by myself, these last ten days and I am very proud of that action. Because it is not an easy task, I'll tell you what.)

Anyway, lunches...
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Let's start with the littles.

Bo and Revi must have THE SAME EXACT things in their lunch boxes or else chaos ensues. I have to literally count the berries or else "BO GOT MORE THAN ME" and "REVI HAD AN EXTRA RASPBERRY!"

I try to give them something different every day as a main course. For example, this was the menu last week:
"Baby guys"
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This is a meal that Revi named and it's now what we call anything involving lentils. I buy them pre-made at Trader Joes (see above) and mix them up with quinoa, olive oil and a little seasoning.
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For those who would rather buy pre-made quinoa, you can find these at Whole Foods. One bowl = three "baby guys" salads for my girls. 
photo 4 (97) Revi's Bento box from yesterday's lunch. Bo's looked exactly the same. 

Healthy Crackers and Hummus
photo 5 (78)
A few scoops of hummus and some crackers totally works as a main course.

Spinach Bolani
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I wrote about Bolani in last year's lunch post and it is still a weekly staple in my kids' diet. (Mine, too). 

Raviolis/Bowtie Pasta


I make a giant pot once a week and pack them in all four kids' lunch as a main course every now and again. 

Hard boiled eggs.

Revi won't eat yolks so I just give her the whites. With a side of almonds, of course. Archer and Bo will eat the whole eggs. (Fable will not eat eggs of any kind ever.)

Which brings me to sides...

Sides always include almonds (and I'm not just saying that because this post is sponsored by almonds. My kids have always lived on them and so have I). I carry them around in my bag in case anyone is hungry, kids, friends, strangers. I find almond packs under my pillow sometimes (Revi) and in my shoes... I keep them in my car... it's hysterical. I am so down with almonds.

Every lunch also includes fresh fruit (berries, typically, or apples or the occasional peach) and fresh veggies--cucumbers and carrots are go-tos because they're easy to pack and easy to eat, but I also pack edamame, sugar snap peas and cooked broccoli.
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And then there's the "snack" which is (99% of time) organic string cheese and a handful of crackers. The pecan almond crackers are literally the best crackers that exist, and again, I'm not just saying that because this is sponsored by Blue Diamond. I love them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. The kids do, too. 
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For the big kids, I pack similarly to the twins, except Archer and Fable's main course is typically a sandwich. Archer is currently on a Turkey Sandwich + Garlic Mint Cheese Spread + mixed greens kick which I will post photos of now:
photo 4 (98)  photo 1
(On the weekends, Archer eats sardines for lunch like it's his job but we learned the hard way that they were not appropriate to bring to school.)
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Bo + Archer's fave.

Archer only eats strawberries, blackberries and raspberries for fruit so that is what he has every. single day. Fable will eat any fruit under the sun so I mix hers up with apples, peaches, blueberries and the occasional plum. Fable is pretty into boring sandwiches at the moment ie. yogurt cheese and bread with no hummus or anything that

Other extras include:

- artichoke hearts (the only other veggie Archer will eat besides cucumbers)
- goat yogurt from the farmer's market.
- Seaweed snack
- More almonds
- Almonds
- And almonds.
- Almonds.
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What a typical lunch looks like for Archer & Fable. Includes snack. 
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And now I will close my computer and make all of these lunches I just wrote about. What about you guys? What do you pack in your kids' lunches? High five.

EDITED TO ADD: I use Goodbyn Bento Boxes and Rubbermaid Lunch Blox. (Both pictured above!)


GGC
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210/100

"You're what I love the most...



... hero, won't you come down



... before we say goodnight."



(Goodnight.)

***

music by:

Pure Bathing Culture
Sylvan Esso
Sweet Sweet Moon

GGC

Fifteen Things: A Back to School Survival Guide (and Giveaway!)

The following post is sponsored by The Honest Company who have so many amazing new products my head is spinning.  Go, Honest. 
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Earlier this week I wrote about back to school favorites. Today's post is about our household's back-to-school necessities. As in, NEW YEAR, NEW COLDS... NEW HEADLICE OUTBREAK, NEW HEALTHY CHILDREN GOING TO SCHOOL TIME CENTRAL.

1. Wet Wipes (Travel size for backpacks)

The only time we ever used antibacterial gel was when the twins were in the NICU and then afterwards for their first few weeks at home. Other than that, we adhere to the ten second rule up in here and that goes for pretty much everything. That said, I believe in good old fashioned hand-washing and keeping wet-wipes on my person at all times. And in my kids' backpacks. Bo and Revi's cubbies are full of the non-travel size wipe boxes, because potty training is in the works, which brings me to...

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I feel like one of you guys recommended that this was the way to go over training pant diapers? (You were totally right. Bo and Revi didn't respect training pant diapers. They treated them just like diaper diapers.) Anyway, these are awesome. Highly recommended for those of you in the process of potty training.

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I have written about our battles with lice in the past and I will likely write about it again because fighting its comeback is a part of our daily lives. Lice it is RAMPANT at our schools and we have dealt with it now three times. And it would have been MORE times if we weren't working preventatively to fight it. I use this spray as well as the shampoo and conditioner. I also comb my kids hair out (with this brush) during shampoos just to make sure.


This is one of my favorite Honest products because it works INCREDIBLY well and lasts forever. My kids wear white to school and my girls draw all over each other's clothes so this my BFF.


Now that Fable's hair is as long as mine, this is an every morning lifesaver for us. Fable can spray it in herself before brushes and she "gets to smell like cupcakes" which is awesome. She also gets to comb out those tangles on her own so that I don't have to do hair battles before school. (Sometimes.)


I'm pretty lax about sunscreen during the school year but I like to pack the kids sunscreen sticks for super hot days. "Nose and shoulders, please!" I say. (I have no idea if they're actually applying it but I like that they are, or at the very least appreciating that I trust them to apply it themselves.)

7. Bento Boxes

I've been using 78789798 pieces of tupperware in my kids' lunches since always but this year we're all BENTO. BENTO makes lunch-making tolerable I have found. (Kind of. Making four lunches every night before bed is actually my LEAST favorite thing to do as a parent, maybe. But now it's... less awful... ish?)

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These might be the cutest lunch boxes ever. I had no idea Honest was making lunch boxes until I sat down to write this post. SO good. 


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Bo will eat everything but she is the only one who will. Archer eats very few green veggies (lettuce in his sandwiches, cucumbers and artichoke hearts are it) so vitamins have always been a daily requirement in our home. These are great. And they don't look like candy which I appreciate. (We also have the Kid's immunity boost (Like Wellness formula for kids) and the Baby and Toddler probiotics.

10. Extra Sweater

Even when it's 90 degrees outside I always make sure there's a sweater in a backpack or cubby because sometimes it's freezing indoors and I'm a mom.

"Don't forget to wear a sweater" I say.

"Ugh. Mom I'M NEVER COLD!"

Fine. But I still want them to know that it's there just in case. It's there for you if you need it. Just like me.

Which brings me to...

11. A Token of Love (for those who need one) 
TOKENS
Over the summer, Fable started to get very clingy at camp, so I let her pick out one (or two if it was a REALLY clingy morning) bracelets to take off of my wrist to wear to camp and return to me at pick-up. I also let her wear a few drops of my essential oils perfume on her wrist so she could smell me if she felt sad. (I did this with Revi, too, when the twins started preschool, except Revi lost my bracelet forever. Whoops.)


This one's for the adults. I only recently started using (and swearing by) Neti and I'm here to tell you it's the best. For those of you with sinus issues, here's your guy.

13. Plenty of water

I am militant about hydration. It's dry as a bone here in Los Angeles and sometimes they forget to drink water. Large (stainless steel, if possible) water bottles are a MUST in all backpacks at all times.

14. Change of clothes JUST IN CASE.

Not just for accidents but bad spills, torn seams... you never know, right? A change of clothes shoved in the bottom of their backpacks won't hurt. And, perhaps, in the future it might even help.

15. Love Notes 

This one might be the most important of all. My mom used to hide love notes in my lunchbox and backpack and even though I was, like, "MOM YOU'RE EMBARRASSING ME, UGH" sometimes they were just what I needed. Not everyday, mind you, but once every couple of weeks, finding a note from my mom, even if it just said a simple "I love you," kind of meant everything. And so. I am passing it on.

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Honest is giving away FOUR Back to School Survival Kits valued at $145 each. Kit includes:

- Lunch Box 
- Travel wipes
- Swim Diapers
- Honest Stain Remover
- Honest Conditioning Detangler 
- Honest Sunscreen Stick
- Honest Multivitamin 
- Honest Immunity Boost
- Baby/Toddler Multi Powder

To win? Tell me some of your back-to-school survival items? I'll pick all four winners at random next Monday, August 25th. Good luck and Happy Back to School! 


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$10 off $40 minimum purchase using the code GGCBack2School (valid for US and Canadian residents; first-time orders only; one per customer). This coupon expires August ​3​1st, 2014.

GGC
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Celebrating "However You Feed Your Baby is Awesome Week" Every Week

feedingtwins Bottle feeding Bo and Revi, 2012

I'm at that point in my blogging career where I feel like I have written about absolutely everything sixteen times at least. Because I have. And when Hal and I talk about work I always say the same thing about wanting to write about X but feeling like I can't write about X because I already wrote about X.

And then Hal's like, "Uh... that was four years ago. You can totally write about X again. And again. And again."

And then we argue about what is appropriate to write about because we are both writers except in his work you can tell the same story 7877289791827 times in 78791872891723 different ways and people will keep coming back because that's kind of the point. 

That said, this week on Mom.me I wrote about National Nourishing Your Baby is Awesome Week and how it should be EVERY WEEK and that there should be absolutely no shame in nourishing your baby, whether by breast, bottle or both. 

And this isn't the first time I've written about breastfeeding or formula feeding or breastfeeding or formula.

Every loving parent deserves a support group. Even the ones who do it differently. NO ONE, man or woman, should feel shamed feeding his/her baby on a park bench on a Sunday afternoon—whether by bottle, breast or both.

Location has a lot to do with the stigmas on both sides but here in LA, formula is the F word, and when I was nursing Fable in public, I never felt anything other than applauded. Meanwhile, when the formula came out the comments almost immediately followed. 

So, in my experience, and the experience of many of you, feeding formula is something we feel ashamed of. And that sucks. Please don't feel that way. YOU ARE AWESOME. 

I didn't write about my personal breastfeeding experience in the post because I was hoping to hear from you guys but then I realized after it was pub'd that I should have shared my experiences (for those who are fairly new here and haven't been following along since the beginning) and/or, because, in Hal's words, "You can write about the same topics over and over when they are still topical."

So, here are my breastfeeding stories:

I had two breast reductions--my first at 18 and second at 20.  (Apparently I wasn't finished developing yet.)  So I...

- Pumped with Archer at first/tried to nurse/failed to nurse/ couldn't get a latch, had very little milk supply and after supplementing and feeding him pumped breast milk for six weeks, gave up and fed him formula. (Young moms in big cities feeding their babies formula = judgement city.)

- Nursed Fable for thirteen months while also supplementing with formula, suffering several bouts of mastitis. I worked my ass off to feed her as much breast milk as I could muster, took herbs, did the whole nine. I also co-slept with her that entire time so when she woke up to nurse, I could stick my boob in her mouth and we would all fall back asleep. 

- Pumped for two weeks while Bo and Revi were in the NICU and after they came home, threw in the towel because the time it took to pump vs the % of breastmilk they were actually receiving from those sessions (about one ounce each) was not worth it in my opinion. (I also put them to sleep on their bellies and not for one moment felt I was doing anything unnatural and/or dangerous.) 

There is so much information out there. 

But there is even more inside of YOUR head and YOUR heart and YOUR instincts as a mother. I don't have any advice to give anyone who is navigating new parenthood except for ONE THING and it has been the ONLY THING that has been my constant these last ten years:

IT IS MY RIGHT TO CHOOSE.

And I am so grateful that I GET to make that choice. And that YOU get to make your choice and that we all feel differently about the choices we must make for ourselves and our families. There is nothing I respect more in this world than CHOICE.

I tell my children EVERY DAY to ASK THEMSELVES what they think and how they feel before I tell them anything... because looking to themselves first is what it means to lead. Even if they are the only ones who follow.

Ten summers ago, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. I chose. And then my son was born and I chose again and I chose this and I chose that and I chose this and that and this. (With Hal's help, obviously. We have always been in this together, even before we were actually together.) 

I chose to let myself NOT get hung up on certain things and every day I choose to do the same thing -- to make choices that work for me and my family. And because of that, parenthood has been profoundly empowering for me. 

And THAT has made me the pro-choiciest pro choice-er that exists. 

Because KNOWING that I made THIS CHOICE to be a mother when I did has been the most empowering experience for me. THAT RIGHT TO CHOOSE has influenced my every parenting choice since. 

And now I will choose to end this post. 

In other words, every single one of us has a story and a reason and a love for their child that cannot be quantified and should NEVER FOR ANY REASON be compared. 

Let's choose to respect each other's stories. If, for no other reason than to set an example for our kids to do the same. 
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Nursing Fable, 2008

You can read the rest of the column, here and as always feel free to comment/email for more topics you would like to discuss. 
GGC

The Power of Post-its (A Repost in support of Shot @ Life.)

Last year I was privileged to be involved in The Shot @ Life Blogust campaign. This year, the folks at Shot @ Life gave past Blogust alumni permission to repost our posts from previous years and collect comments once again to donate as vaccines for this incredible cause. (Every time you comment on or share a Blogust post, Walgreens will donate a vaccine to a child in need.) As the daughter of a Polio survivor (my mother) and a privileged mother of four vaccinated children, I believe in this cause and all that it represents. Check out the Blogust 2014 Calendar for more information on the incredible community of writers donating their stories this month. (The following post was originally published August 1st, 2013.)
Red fish, blue fish
My kids all walked at different ages, which isn't surprising because they're all different people, but it was surprising to me because Archer was all I knew before Fable...and Archer and Fable were all I knew before Bo and Revi...and before that, all I knew was myself from reading the baby book my mom made for me when I was a babe that is currently falling apart and full of old baby hair and a faded hospital bracelet and cards from my parents' old neighbors.

That's the beauty of being given the task of looking backwards when you don't have the memories for yourself. Here it is, my beginning, of which I know nothing about except that I was there. I was here in this picture and I was there in that house and this hair was once attached to me and now it's... old hair. In an envelope.

Which I appreciate. Because it's the part of my timeline I don't remember.

***

I don't remember my first birthday and my kids won't remember their first birthdays either, but I will remember those moments for them--the milestones, like post-it notes sticking out of the books I keep and store for them as my mother did for me and hers and hers and hers... until they take over and keep their own journals, online, offline, on the backs of their hands in permanent ink... 

Last week I spent an afternoon on the phone with my Nana discussing how fortunate she is to still have her memory. How lucky all of us are to be able to look backwards because age has a tendency to take that away from us. The eraser gets too close to our blackboards and then, POOF, it's gone.

"When you are old like me you will find that looking back is what gives you the most joy," she told me.  "Revisiting all of those memories, writing them all down. Knowing they're there and you can visit them..."
boandrevrpainting
I don't understand but I kind of do. I take my mind for granted. I take my ability to think and remember, to sit down with an old journal and summon the ghosts of summers past.

My Nana's boyfriend was recently diagnosed with Alzeimer's. She writes him letters about the days they spend together so that he can relive them in place of the memory gone missing and it has become an integral part of their relationship. Like the love letters we used to write and pass in class. The ones we thought meant the world. The ones we have saved in our parents' garages and read to remember. Those were as much our milestones as anything.

The first kiss and the first love and the first time you had to hide the hickey from your parents.

Remember me. Remember this. Remember us.

And if you can't, I will.

And in case I don't, I'll write it down. 

I have been writing it all down since I was eight years old, for better and for worse, and when I pulled out an old journal from 8th grade, I was taken aback by my complete lack of sense but also all of these moments I had forgotten. Moments that had a profound effect on who I am now. Milestones.
IMG_8163 Bo's first steps, 11 months
IMG_1090 Revi started walking just before her first birthday. Archer didn't walk until he was seventeen monthsFable, too. 

Blogs started out as journals. And for the last eight years, this has been mine--where I come to tell my story and share the moments my mother put down in my baby book. This is where I announce good news and bad news, record first steps and words, go back to remember, cringe slightly, and then move forward with the knowledge that worrying is kind of futile, actually. 

I was told, even before Bo and Revi were born that the first year of twin parenting was going to be excruciatingly difficult, but when I look back on that first year, all I see is hope.

The first cries and the first smile and the first steps = hope. The first time Bo found her wave...


I was in the kitchen when Bo stood up and walked to me from the hallway. I was in the dining room when Revi stood up and did the same. 

That's what memories do. That's what looking back does.

Don't look backeveryone says.

But how lucky are we that we can. How fortunate that we have the tools to remind ourselves of the time they... and the time we...  and how we all... and it felt like...

Push forward, look back, push forward, look back.

This is their dance. And watching them dance is part of ours. 

***

During Shot@Life’s Blogust, 31 bloggers, one each day in August, are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on this post and the 30 other posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 60,000 vaccines). A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! Stay connected with Shot@Life at www.shotatlife.org, join the campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. And hop on over to Globetrotting Mama to comment on Heather's amazing post today benefiting Blogust. 

"As we made our way through the crowds back to our waiting cab, adrenaline racing, I realized that the thrill was as much about what we had seen as it was about the fact that we had faced what the world had told us was something to fear and found it to be as safe as a baseball game outing at home...  The world is a funny place with its general ideas of people and places. As if one news story or even a dozen could ever do justice to the complexities of countries in conflict." 

GGC