The busy mom's guide to school lunch 2016

Packing school lunches is one of the things we dread most about back to school season. Don't get us wrong, we have plenty to look forward to (like grocery shopping alone!) but our kid's lunches seem to go from creative to schlepping the scraps in less time than it takes a toddler to inhale a Gogurt packet. (Approx. 15 seconds, if your kids are anything like ours)

Hence, we hope this guide to school lunch can save the day and keep the mundane from creeping in for at least another month or two! Read on for a lunch box buying guide for any age, followed by a roundup of our favorite non-sandwich meal ideas.

1. For your older kids who appreciate a little irony. (No, they won't be getting French fries in their from-home lunch anytime soon!) $7.99 at Target.
2. A clip-in Bento to keep our slightly-OCD selves in pure merriment. $7.92, Amazon.
3. A cute lunch box that's out of this world. $12.59 at Target.
4. We love the external bottle holder on this one. $22 at Land of Nod.
5. Perfect for any age and can hold a ton. $12.80, Amazon.
6. Skip Hop has an adorable selection perfect for the pre-schoolers. $14.99, Amazon.
7. Eco-friendly and comes in bulk. The best of both worlds. $13.95, Amazon.
8. The Cadillac of Bento boxes, with endless ways to fill each cute little nook! $55 at Planet Box.

8. Fondue

1. String cheese
2. Apple sauce packets
3. Babybel cheese
4. Trail mix packets
5. Clementines
6. Grapes
7. Raisins
8. Dried mangoes
9. Turkey or ham roll-ups
10. Cashews
11. Skinny Pop popcorn
12. Clif Z-bars for kids
13. Homemade granola
14. Chobani yogurt
15. Baked chickpeas
16. Carrot sticks and Ranch dip
17. Cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
18. Hardboiled eggs
19. Apple slices and peanut butter
20. Homemade protein bites

5 Cute back to school traditions for your family

No doubt about it, August is in full swing! We're mixed with feelings of sorrow about glorious summer days ending and joy at getting back to a routine.

Though time feels like it's racing at warp speed as we squeeze in a few more trips and get the kids ready for school, we can't help but get excited about planning some new back to school family traditions. Check out the list below for inspiration running the gamut from simple and fun to all-out Pinterest Mom perfection.

1. Back to school feast. Recalling Stephanie Nielson's annual "back to school feast" idea gave us the inspiration for this post, so we figured it had to be listed first. Stephanie prepares a dinner, presents a family theme for the year and gives her kids homemade crowns and small gifts to send them into the new school year. The whole shebang is absolutely swoon-worthy and darling!

2. The backpack fairy. Parents magazine offered up the idea of "the backpack fairy" to get your kids excited for their first day of school. Kids put their backpack at the foot of the bed when they go to sleep the night before school, and they awake to it full of fun surprises like a lunch treat, new item of clothing, backpack accessory or extra fun school supplies.

3. Bedroom door decorations. Although this idea was originally for a holiday or birthday, we love the idea of decorating your kids' bedroom doors to really pump them up first thing in the morning. It's an easy and fun way to boost their confidence!

4. Back to school interviews. Back to school photos are definitely nothing new, but we love the idea of making the moment even more meaningful by including a chalkboard of answers from your child's "back to school interview." Make the chalkboard with chalkboard paint and chalkboard pens, then wipe clean and save it for next year!

5. Back to school bash party. Poca Cosa blog wins the creativity award for her "back to school bash" idea. If you really want to go all out, check her post to see how she created an entire party filled with school subject-themed activities, cafeteria-themed food and more. So adorable!

Mighty Hero Max

                                               Meet our handsome Mighty Hero Max!

On February 20, 2016 Max went to Primary Children's Hospital because of persistent vomiting and headaches. The MRI revealed that our perfectly healthy 4 1/2 year old boy was anything but healthy and had a golf ball size brain tumor. The tumor was removed the next day in surgery. Max was diagnosed with High Risk Medulloblastoma Cancer. High Risk because the tumor had spread in his brain as well as down his spine

 Max was in the hospital for 14 days & now faces 9 months of intense radiation and chemotherapy. Without treatment Maxs life expectancy would be 6-12 months. Max also has to participate in Physical & Occupational therapy to help his body recover from the surgery. 

After being home for only about a week we had to take him back to the ER (March 14, 2016) bc of vomiting & headaches again & found out he got meningitis from the surgery & also contracted RSV while at the hospital. Max had a permanent shunt implanted in his head during this stay & was released this second time on March 28, 2016 making it another 14 day stay in the hospital. During the 6 weeks of Radiation treatments, Max contracted C-Diff from the multiple antibiotics given to him in the hospital for the meningitis. Because of this Max lost a lot of weight which resulted in him needing a feeding tube. Radiation caused multiple burns all over his upper body. The last of the 31 treatments of Radiation was on Friday, May 13th. On June 7th/8th 2016 was the next MRI & Lumbar Puncture to see how the cancer was looking. Luckily those scans came back really good showing that the cancer has decreased a lot. Also on June 8th he had another surgery to insert a G-Tube to help with feeding him since he kept vomiting up the NG-Tube. Our first of six inpatient chemo treatments was on June 29th.

Radiation was super difficult but Chemo is a whole other difficult. For two full weeks he would randomly vomit which was hard on him but this also resulted in him not being able to get much nutrition. Besides the vomiting there has been a lot of headaches & stomach aches that we can't figure out how to make go away. Next round of chemo (number 2 of 6) is scheduled for August 10th, 2016. Please keep Max in your prayers, thank you!

Every penny of your donations will go to Max and his family. Click here to donate  Any amount is appreciated. Max you are so brave and strong. You have a army behind you fighting! All our love and prayers are with you daily. You got this! Stay strong! We love you!

The most popular names of 2016 so far

Photo Source
Back in January we posted about the most popular baby names last year...and it was our most viewed blog post to date! Clearly, you guys love obsessing over baby names as much as we do. (We line up serious name contenders as if we are going to have 20 kids...tomorrow!)

Hence, we decided it was time to revisit the topic halfway through the year, finding out the most popular baby names of 2016 so far. We also added in links to some other fun articles that popped up in our research. Because you can never have too much baby name inspiration! Read on for the deets.

According to Nameberry, there are a few names that have had a serious spike in the past six months. These names have been the most visited individual name pages on their site so far this year:

Photo Source
As usual, Biblical names have a strong presence on the boys naming front, with Ezra topping the list this time around. Jude and Jasper got the boot from last year's top 10 and were replaced with Levi and Wyatt.

The ever-popular Olivia overtook Charlotte for the No. 1 spot this year, along with a slew of new, long A-names like Arabella, Aurora, Amelia and Adeline.

If the top 10 names wasn't enough to satisfy you, The Huffington Post came out with an extended list for 2016 so far....100 glorious baby names for each gender!

We also came across a list of names that have seen the biggest percentage increase in popularity this summer. Some of them are hard to believe...but hey, pop culture makes people do crazy things. Apparently we'll be seeing some baby girl Thomasins and Leires popping up here soon, along with some Star Wars-inspired baby boys named Kylo.

Baby nurseries we love

If there's anything we love as much as baby names, it's buying baby clothes, toys, books and decor. Whether there's a baby on the way or not, nurseries are so fun to plan, shop for, or just pin on Pinterest.

Hence, we've rounded up our favorite nurseries in girl, boy and gender neutral styles. Which one is your favorite?

1. We love the wildflower wallpaper and woodsy theme to this baby girl nursery!

2. This boys nursery is cute without being overly childish. We love the minimalist animal wallpaper and easy access to toys and books.

3. Gray, white and wood makes for a perfect gender neutral nursery that will grow along with your sweet little boy or girl!
4. The tree wallpaper and blush pink makes for a girls nursery that has a unique feminine touch.

5. This bohemian/modern room is so stylish, we'd like to move in ourselves! The bright white walls and light accessories make for a bright space perfect for hanging out with your little bundle all day.

6. The ultimate feminine style, this girls' nursery is luxurious, pretty and fresh.

7. Another girls nursery that is the ultimate feminine style, this sweet room is the perfect pairing of blush pink and mint green.

8. This boys nursery stands out with an accent wall and modern lamp. The plants bring life and a pop of color to the neutral space.

7 Ideas for a ridiculously easy Pokemon party

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the Pokemon mania of the early aughts is revived once more. Pokemon Go is sure to get your kids ages two to 22 asking for a Pokemon-themed birthday party this summer. And because we know you're all busy mommas, we've rounded up the easiest of easy ideas, most of which require a pen, glue, printer or a little cash.

1. Modern party invites
Pokemon invites can get tacky fast, but these modern invites are pretty — and you don't even have to make them yourself. Buy here.

2. Pikachu cups

Okay, even if you're not an artist, we think you can pull this one off: grab some yellow cups at Party City and pull out the Sharpies to make a handful of super cute Pikachu cups. 

3. "Charmanderin" oranges

This mom is clever, punny and gives us something easy to copy. We love her! Charmanderin oranges are about as simple as it gets...and will trick kids into eating healthy snacks, even at a party.

4. Trainer bags

Heck, you don't even have to fill the bags with anything and the kids will go crazy for them. Our easiest version includes grabbing some tote bags in the Target dollar section and gluing on a felt red ball.

5. Pokemon party favor bags

White lunch bag, red construction tape, a few Pokemon cards...done!

 6. Pokemon display table

So this may look like it requires some effort, but if you take a closer look, you'll see that this table is mainly a cheap table cloth, blown up balloons and some printed out Pokemon characters. We can handle that.

7. Pin the tail on the Pikachu

If you're in the mood for organized games at your kid's party (we usually aren't!), try this simple Pikachu print out. Google a Pikachu image and have it printed as an engineer print at your local Fedex.

Mighty Hero Meg

Meet our beautiful July Mighty Hero Meg. 
Below is Meg's story written by her Mom Lisa. 

Our tough Meg, better known as Megatronstrong was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on February 25th 2015.  When Meg began presenting weird bruising, wasn’t eating well, and this child, who we used to so lovingly call “fart in a skillet” because she never stopped moving, was too tired to finish PE, we knew something wasn’t right.  We took her to our favorite family PA and two days later we received the dreaded phone call. Leukemia.

We were rushed to Primary Children’s Hospital where her 2 ½ years of treatments began and we’ve been living, eating, breathing cancer ever since.

In the first 6 months of treatments we traveled to Salt Lake City from Idaho over 20 times. Meg knew what she had to do to win this battle and never fought going for treatments. Once when leaving the hospital she even said, “For some reason, I just can’t stop smiling.”  Because the first two phases of treatment did not produce the results that her doctors were expecting (low enough percentage of cancer cells left in Meg’s body) she was moved from a standard risk patient to a very high risk patient and therefore, last summer, all of Meg’s chemo had to be done as an in-patient stay at the hospital.  Even though she spent more than 20 days cumulatively of her summer in the hospital Meg’s good spirits rarely waned. She kept her spirits up through her long hospital stays by writing her own lyrics to popular songs. She’s written a total of about 10!



This summer we feel so thankful to be in the spot that we are. Meg is currently in maintenance phase of treatment. Her hair is growing back (and is darling!), she got to attend a week at cancer camp, spends lots of time swimming, playing with friends and for the most part is just living the life of a “normal” 9 year old girl!

 She does take oral chemo every day, has chemo at the hospital and at the oncologist’s office once a month and does a round of steroids each month. Even though the oral chemo makes Meg feel a little whoozy every day, you’d never know it. She keeps on keeping on and being the incredible MEGATRONSTRONG!

We look forward, with hearts full of hope, for late June/early July 2017 when Meg will be completely done with treatment! Until then, we will continue to feel blessed for having this amazing strength, named Meg, in our lives, and for the love and generosity of those around us. We have been abundantly blessed by loved ones and strangers alike. We have learned time and time again that even amid heartache and trial there is beauty to be found.


To donate to Meg click here. Every penny of your donation will go directly to Meg and her family. Meg you are a inspiration to us all. That smile you have lights up the room. All our love and prayers are with you. You are so BRAVE and so strong. #megtronstong