back to school, back to lunches 

I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to back-to-school season — I love it. By mid-August, school supplies were purchased and labeled, backpacks were on hooks by the door and I started asking my menfolk if they were excited for the first day of school (to which I received mixed replies — the big one: meh, kinda. the wee one: YAY! the teacher: hell no.)

In an effort to be prepared, I stocked our lunch basket in the pantry with the essentials so, at least for the first couple of weeks, the lunch packing situation can be fairly self serve.

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I got two small plastic bins for the fridge as well to keep things like baggies of carrot sticks, yogurt tubes and cheese strings organized.

I’ve got to put my thinking cap on because “snack lunch” (as we call a mishmash of items from various corners of the Canada Food Guide triangle) won’t fly forever and they’ll need more stick-to-your-ribs options.

Last year, I got a couple great containers that have a freezer container on the bottom with another container screwed on the top and a spoon in the lid. It allowed me to pack cereal and milk for big brother for his lunches, which was a huge hit. It became a once-a-week staple. It wasn’t until (and please don’t call the elementary school police on me!) June when I realized that because we don’t drink dairy milk in our house, I had been accidentally sending NUTS (almond milk) to school with him. Yikes. So we’ll have to get a soy or coconut variety for this year. Thank goodness we weren’t the cause of someone’s reaction!

The whole thing is really like childbirth. Before it starts, you’re pretty excited and optimistic. Then it starts and it’s not so bad, totally tolerable. Then it really gets going and it becomes the worst. pain. on. earth. And then it’s over and you’re relieved and happy. A few months pass and you forget how bad the pain really was. Until September comes again. So, I’m still in that happy, glow-y phase. Ask me how my lunch contractions are feeling come second semester.

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the charcoal toothpaste test

So, have you heard of this whole charcoal toothpaste thing? It first popped up for me on Facebook when a friend tried it and posted results. I was intrigued. I’ve asked my dental hygienist about teeth whitening before and she suggested trying over-the-counter white strips over the dental-office process, but I didn’t get around to trying it (also too cheap to spend $30 – maybe they’re cheaper these days?).

My teeth aren’t terribly discoloured, but I do consume a considerable amount of coffee. A work friend opts to drink her coffee through a straw to protect her teeth, but it’s just not the same.

I happened upon a little pot of the charcoal powder at Winners a few months ago and decided to finally give it a try in advance of a friend’s wedding.

Before:

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During:

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After:

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Here are the pics stitched together:

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I see a difference after one use, which I’m pleased about. I’ve only done it once so far, so next time I’m going to try it daily for a week and track the before and after. Regardless, I’d highly recommend this to anyone who’s looking to shine up the pearly whites before a special occasion or important event.

parenting for dummies*

Want to play a game? Can you identify the three key steps/rules for conduct in the bathroom and at the kitchen table in our house? Since the wee one is only starting primary and hasn’t yet started to read, I employed my stellar drawing skills for this life lesson. And yes, I refer to this chart on a very regular basis.

*I’m not sure if the title of this post suggests that they’re the dummies or I’m the dummy. Probably both.

tbt: are you ready?

This is a post I wrote as we prepared for the big one to go off to school. Now, in what feels like a blink, we’re about to do the same for the wee one.

IMG_3246To my almost five year old as he prepares for his first day of big-kid school,

I could open with a cliché about how time has flown by. How it seems like only yesterday that you were taking your first steps. All of that is true, of course, but the passage of time is obvious. What isn’t so inherent is the mixed bag of emotions that come with this new stage in your life. Our life.

At your primary orientation, I’ll admit that I was a bit teary-eyed, though not because I was sad, but because I’m excited. I’m almost giddy with anticipation about the memories you’ll make, the wealth of knowledge you’ll absorb and the experiences you’ll have over the next 12-plus years that will help shape who you will become. (Because I’m sure you’re not actually going to be the Hulk when you grow up).

I’ll take a picture of you on the first day, sporting your specially selected blue, green and orange school bag. I’ll see you onto the bus and follow behind as you make your way to school for the first time. And I’ll come to your classroom and give you a high five instead of the emotional farewell I might be tempted to make.

I love that when I ask you what makes you feel excited about school, your reply is always “I can’t wait to meet all of my new friends!” I can’t wait either. I hope you pick ones that will treat you with as much joy and enthusiasm as you will bring to the playground. Share your confidence, kindness and humour with everyone you meet, and always be yourself.

I hope that we’ve prepared you well for this new stage. You can write your name and recite our phone number. You can count to 100 and pride yourself in carefully colouring inside the lines.

Over the years, we have answered your millions of toddler and preschooler questions to the best of our abilities and now look forward to hearing all about what you’ll learn in a classroom with a teacher and a couple dozen other curious minds.

But what about all of the questions I still have?

When I’m not there to give you a knowing glance, will you remember your manners?

Will you be shy or will you be as engaging, bright and funny as I know you to be?

Will you eat your sandwich before your dessert?

Will you confide in us when something worries you or someone bullies you?

Did we prepare you enough?

Are you ready?

Am I ready?

This article originally appeared in Family Matters. For more family related content shared on a daily basis, click here.

on the wagon

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For clarification, I’m not sure I’ve ever weighed just 128.2 lbs.

 

I weighed myself yesterday. It’s my new start weight. I could tell you what it is, but I won’t. I’m definitely more of a how-do-my-pants-fit kind of person when it comes to weight and not so fixated on the number, but it’s heavier than I’ve ever been (aside from when I was pregnant, and that doesn’t count). It’s actually 23.8 lbs. heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight (which happened to be the same number both times). After Isaac, I lost a little, then gained a lot. It’s time to get back on the proverbial wagon.

And what better time? I just spent 10 days eating and drinking non-stop during my vacation, and it was oh so good, but now it’s time (long overdue, actually) to get back into a better routine.

During the summer, when I’m not on lunch-packing duty, it’s easy to be lazy and default to buying lunch, which is inevitably something calorie-laden. I don’t have breakfast as regularly either because I’m not in my get-everyone-fed-and-out-the-door mode, so that plays a role in my eating for the rest of the day. It’s summer, so I tend to justify more casual eating and drinking at odd hours. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Part of me feels inclined to just wait and align my new leaf with the return of the new school year, but I know I can’t put it off. I’m guilty of being the type of person who loves a fresh start on a Monday. Meh, can’t start dieting on a Thursday; might as well wait until the start of a new week. Oh, can’t start dieting this week; I’m on vacation next week. I’ve already eaten one “bad” meal today so the rest of the day is a write-off anyway. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

I’ve eaten great all day, I can justify a treat. I ran at lunch so I can get away with some extra calories. I work hard and I’m tired so I deserve takeout. Oh, the excuses! I seem to have a mental excuse for just about everything. I’m my own worst enemy.

I love food. I can’t diet that away. I just need to start making better, more balanced choices and enjoy more reasonable portions. Calories in, calories out. I know how simple it is; I just need to be accountable.

So I’ll start here, writing about it weekly with a few key areas of focus:

  • Nutrition: Out with the junk and in with the healthy, whole foods. I need to focus on creating a more balanced vegetarian diet that includes more protein, B12 and iron. Part of this will also be visiting my GP for updated blood work.
  • Activity: I really need to be accountable to just myself on this one. While I love the accountability of exercising with others, but I really want to get into a routine in which I’m exercising for me. I’m going to try walking while listening to podcasts, yoga before bed and creating the ideal circumstances to make exercise a habit.
  • Overall health: I need to drink more water, reduce stress, go to bed earlier, limit caffeine and alcohol, find my zen … all of it. A big part of this for me are routines. Be in bed with the lights out by a certain time, keep my water bottle with me at all times, take breaks from my desk during the day. It’s not hard; it’s just a matter of conscious participation.