Tuesday, August 9, 2011

That time of year again

Summer completely blew by us.  (I'm sure you could tell from the lack of activity on this blog.)  It has been hot.  Incredibly hot.  The offspring has attended day camp (taking tons of field trips - we didn't have that many fun things going on in day camp when I was a kid), Music and Arts Week, vacation Bible school, Tae Kwon Do camp, and his absolute favorite - Camp Grandparent.  (Camp Grandparent = a week with each set of Grands and the 24/7 motto: What would you like now?  There are benefits to being the only grandchild for both families.)

Now, (thankfully) it is time to get back into the school routine!  The offspring really couldn't wait for school to start.  He misses it.  Heck, he LOVES school.  (The genes are strong in this family.)  He has plowed through a veritable ton of books during the summer in the mist of all his activities.

I thought I would share a few favorite back-to-school items.  All of these items have stood the test of time in our household.

This backpack has been going strong for 2+ yrs and doesn't show signs of stopping.  The only small problem we have experienced happened when the school stuck a sticker on the back and the adhesive pulled some of the reflective strip off.

The offspring carries his lunch to school every single day.  We have completely random food allergies in our household.  While I could go on and on about the nutritional state of school lunches offered in the US, moral of the story - the one vegetable the offspring is absolutely allergic to is on heavy rotation in the school lunch menu plan.  Epi-pens are maintained at school and the offspring takes his lunch.  His lunch box is in GREAT shape.  He uses it everyday of school and off and on throughout the summer.  It is literally showing NO signs of wear.  I used a Sharpie to label it with his name and address on the inside.  The labeling is still highly legible after years of cleaning.

My husband and I have become champs at packing a lunch box.  The offspring makes his selections each evening during dinner and we take care of corralling it all as we clean the kitchen.  We have a little shelf on the refrigerator door only used for lunch box staging.  For 2+ years, we have used the same containers, water bottles (place it in a ziplock bag for those times with the kiddos doesn't get it closed **quite** enough), and ice packs (place in a ziplock bag in case it springs a leak).

The offspring insists on yogurt and cheese everyday.  We freeze yogurt tubes and they are thawed by lunch.  We also figured out to include a pair of safety scissors in the outside pocket of the lunch box for days when the pull tab doesn't work as expected on the yogurt tube.  (This was particularly important when all the front teeth were missing.)  Our favorite brands of yogurt tubes (lower sugar content) are Trader Joe's Squishers, Squeezers, Tuberz, and Simply Gogurt.  Some of the most requested snacks are:  Z bars, fruit twists (which are apparently now called "Z Fruit Ropes" - both Zbars and Z Fruit Ropes can be purchased at Sams Club in the nutritional supplement section at a much cheaper price than mainstream stores), and freeze dried fruit.

Each day, the offspring gets a small dessert with lunch.  I try to keep a variety of brownies or other bar cookies on hand.  I bake a 9x13 dish and after it has cooled, cut them into small squares, place in a gallon ziplock freezer bag and freeze.  We will pull one out the night before, package it, and place in on the lunch box shelf in the refrigerator.  The offspring loves having a variety of homemade treats as a surprise each day.  It is the small things that can make a huge impact on a person's life.  Don't forget it.

(The Blond Brownie recipe from here has been a HUGE hit.  I blended bittersweet and milk chocolate chips.)

There has been a lot going on in the kitchen and on the needles.  I promise to update soon.

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