End of Kindergarten and end of…

Bunky graduated from kindergarten. I can’t believe it. I feel like we just took this picture of her before the first day, all of us so nervous and excited.

me and Bunky first day K

And then, bam. The year’s over. Here she is in her 1950s inspired graduation outfit: a kinda lame homemade poodle skirt, my shirt, a cute scarf from Target.

Kindergarten graduation, June 23, 2014

Kindergarten graduate, 6-23-2014

Graduation, or any public performance, is really hard on our girl. She has debilitating anxiety about being in front of an audience, which is heartbreaking since she loves singing and dancing. (When she got home, she sang me the entire graduation song, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, which makes me cry every time I hear it since it was also her preK grad song.) But she made it on stage for her graduation, in front of an enormous room of beaming adults. She ducked down, hiding between the rows of kids, but when I gestured to her from the sidelines, she wouldn’t come to me, and I’m really proud of her for that. My tender, sensitive girl. I hope her anxieties lessen over the years.

After grad, my husband escaped, I mean went to work, and I took the kids to a sprinkler playground. On the way back, Little Guy wriggled out of the stroller so he could walk with his big sister. It’s not the best picture, but it captures a little slice of our city life.

siblings walking

Which I’m rather devastated to say, we will be LEAVING in a matter of weeks.

Yes, that’s right, we’re joining the ranks of city deserters and moving out of Brooklyn. I know it’s the right thing for our family – we need more space, inside and out, and city life is funneling away all our funds, but I have to say I’m really struggling with this upcoming change.

My husband will still be commuting to Brooklyn for his job, so in a way he is only half leaving, but I will be living full time in a town where I know not a soul, in a geography that will be entirely new to navigate. To a woman who craves routine and familiarity (even when it has long stopped serving its purpose) this is HUGE.

I’m excited, too, because the area we’re moving to, New Hope, Pennsylvania, feels like it could very well live up to its name, and we already ate some fantastic gluten free pizza in nearby Doylestown, which may be where we end up, but my heart is already aching for Brooklyn.

There will probably be more frogs there, real ones.

There will probably be more frogs there, real ones.

Part of this is just my personality, all my Cancer crab homebody tendencies. I like to hunker down, I prefer the comfort of my comfort zone. It also makes sense because Brooklyn is not simply a place, but my past. It’s where I spent the careless carefree days of my youth, where I met my husband. It’s where I’ve been raising my children.

me and LG playground

Saying goodbye to Brooklyn is, in a way, like saying goodbye to a part of my life, it’s like saying goodbye to a piece of me.

I did some math recently (crazy, I know) and realized I’ve spent over 13 years living in Brooklyn, the same amount of time I spent in my childhood home from the age of 5 to 18 when I left for college. No wonder this impending move feels so significant.

This isn’t the first time we’ve left Brooklyn. A year after Bunky was born we moved in with my dad in New Jersey to regroup. As hard as it was for us to leave back then, we knew that we were coming back. But this time, we’re not.

Goodbye beloved Vanderbilt Playground where all our monkey bar dreams began

Goodbye beloved Vanderbilt Playground where all our monkey bar dreams began…

I’m starting to feel a sense of urgency and panic, as if I somehow have to squeeze in all the  things I haven’t done yet or recently, before we go. I’m feeling guilty, too, for not taking full advantage of living alongside Manhattan, and for neglecting the wonders Brooklyn has to offer beyond my neighborhood.

Concerts in the park with kids, not all it's cracked up to be.

Concerts in the park with kids, not all it’s cracked up to be. But still, I’ll miss you Prospect Park.

I can hear the clock ticking. Time is running out. Our apartment is in contract (holy crap!) and we haven’t yet found a new place to live (cue hyperventilation here). There are so many logistics to work out when it comes to moving a family – finding doctors, registering for school, sniffing out gluten free grocery stores, seeking out playgrounds, pools, parks, and of course, new friends.

[Pausing here to breath inside a paper bag.]

It will all “work out” as my husband and my brain keeps telling me, but I’m person who shrinks with fear at change, who shudders at novelty, to whom the term limbo is not merely a game to avoid at parties, but a place I try never to visit. Yet here I am LIVING INSIDE IT.

Which is probably good for me, right? To venture outside my comfort zone, to be uncomfortable. Because growth hurts. Kids know this, as their bodies expand at alarming rates, but adults often forget. I’m holding on so tightly right now to everything that I think I need, when maybe what I need to do is simply let go, and see what happens.

Last full day of K. Endings are hard on me, but this kid is psyched for school to be over.

Last full day of K. Endings are hard on me, but this kid is psyched for school to be over.

Recently, I read this wonderful post over at The Gift of Writing about how to maintain positive change, and when she referenced her one word for the year, I realized, with great embarrassment, that I completely forgot about my word for 2014, which was open.

As in, opening up. To possibilities, wonder, vulnerability, presence, heartache, joy. And change.

bunky sprinkler

I feel like the message is clear. I need to stop worrying, struggling, fighting with the invisible demons that perch on my shoulder and whisper sly lies in my ear about how this move is a huge mistake, and that we’d better to stay put, not move at all, because staying perfectly still keeps you safe.

bunky riding bike 2013

Which is one of the biggest lies you can tell yourself.

Leaving Brooklyn is an end, but I’ll keep reminding myself that it’s also a beginning.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress/pilgrimage, but if I go dark for a little while this summer you’ll know why. Until then, please share any moving moving stories you have! (No pressure, but happy endings preferred, ha.) 

 

Happy Chinese Gluten New Year

I have about a million things to tell you, but no time to do it. Between getting back on my play date game (which I was never on, apparently) and researching play schools for Little Guy (which he says have to be “blue”), I have had about zero time to update.

Fancy play date picnic.

What snacks look like when I’m on my play date A game. Of course this only happened once.

In my spare time (i.e. LG’s naps) I’m attempting to edit my novel AND take an online real estate course. By the time LG passes out at 10pm (yes, because of the long and vitally important naps) my brain is completely zapped. I’m lucky if I can stay up long enough to watch the last season of Breaking Bad, which I’m woefully behind on (no spoilers please) and gives me nightmares. I kind of wish I never started the show. It’s like a train wreck, and I can’t look away even though I really want to. At least there’s Jesse.

One of the many stretches of the show's imagination.

One of the show’s many far fetched concepts.

Anyway… another thing that kept me and my brain busy recently was Bunky’s first class trip of the year, which happened to be a celebration of Chinese New Year… at a Chinese restaurant. UGH. Sure, they have rice noodles. But most are doused in GLUTEN. I kind of freaked about this for a while. Why do class trips have to be food related? And not just food related, but completely food focused. What about kids with food restrictions, life threatening allergies, celiac? Why not take the kids to a museum or an indoor play space? But no. It had to be Chinese food.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to Lilli and Loo, the only GF chinese I've heard of.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to Lilli and Loo, which apparently has great GF options.

I had planned on making Bunky a similar menu including lo mein, but ended up giving her leftover baked ziti (always better the second day, B says and it’s true), chicken noodle soup, and GF fried rice similar to this recipe. Dessert was Turkey Hill Vanilla (GF – I called ahead and checked online), so at least I didn’t have to worry about that. Or so I thought. More on that in a bit. Here’s a clue:

Ours was not GF, obvs.

Ours was not gluten free, obvs.

Backtracking a bit, when my husband and I first heard about this trip, we were both angry and deflated. Angry about the concept, deflated that our kid might feel left out – again. We debated about not sending her to school that day. We considered giving her a choice. But neither felt right. She’d definitely feel left out if she didn’t go, right? And I don’t want her to think opting out is the automatic response

Food related activities and celebrations will be part of her life forever, and she has to learn how to navigate them, not hide from them. But I realize now how important it is that I don’t hide from them. That I teach her how she can enjoy these events. That they may be challenging at times, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid them.

Homemade brown fried rice is way healthier anyhow.

Homemade fried rice is way healthier anyhow.

And so I worked my butt off to make the trip a success, to help her feel included, amid all the oohs and ahhs over the fragrant egg rolls, fried wontons, shrimp dumplings, lo mein, and fried rice.

Sometimes being GF can feel a little lonesome.

Sometimes being GF can feel a little lonesome.

I used my best British accent when serving her our food, grabbed a soup bowl and spoon before they could gluten-ize it, and kept an eye out for flying crumbs and roving gluten-y fingers. The kids are her table were sweet, and I kept an eye out for their needs as well, but mostly my attention was on Bunky. It paid off. She had fun, I think.

She ate everything I brought, and we donated some extra soup to a friend.

She ate everything I brought, and then we donated some extra soup to a grateful friend.

I feel like I was pretty chill during the whole thing, except for one teensy weensy moment at the very end when the waiters brought out trays of gluten free vanilla ice cream in plastic cups… with gluten fortune cookies on top. I might have said, “Oh shit” but I’m not sure. I leapt out of my seat and asked for a plain ice cream. One waiter tried to pry the cookie off and hand the cup to me, but I said no.

Luckily, I had packed some Lucy’s allergy free cookies in my bag, just in case. So while Bunky waited for her uncontaminated ice cream, she happily munched on a cookie. Then I used the rest of the cookies to make her a gluten free ice cream sandwich. Score.

Lucys-Cookies1

Loving the new Snack and Go combo packs!

She was also thrilled with my stop at the local Hello Kitty store. (Oh holy moly, the store was AWESOME.)

I easily could have bought way, way more.

I easily could have bought way, way more cute stuff.

All in all, it was a success. Not every event will go so seamlessly, but it’s nice that this first one did.

Up next (as in tomorrow) – first sleepover. Say WHAT?!

(Luckily my sweet little homebody will be coming home in the evening. At least that gets me out of figuring out breakfast. Geez.)

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to work on the recipe posts currently simmering in my brain. There’s GF gnocchi (not homemade), one pot dinners, and Risi Bisi, a rice cooker dream.

How do you handle non GF friendly events and outings? Do you bring your own food, eat beforehand, or skip it all together? If your kid has celiac or a gluten intolerance, how do you help him or her feel included?

On the Cusp: One Last Summer Recipe

First, let me just update you about Bunky and kindergarten. If you’ve been following my insanity here, you know I’ve been kind of a mess leading up to the big day. Well, you’ll be happy to know all my worrying was a waste of time (as worrying pretty much always is). Day 1 went well, and though there have been some minor bumps and adjustments, things are pretty awesome. Fingers crossed it continues to be.

First day of school dress.

First day of school dress.

Fall is nearly upon us, at least here in New York. And so is apple picking season, yay!

apple picking 2013

The air is all crispy and so are the leaves. Little Guy is loving how they crunch under his feet. The look on his face when he saw the playground covered with fallen leaves was priceless. And don’t even get me started on what he thinks about pumpkins. I think I have another fall fan here.

little guy pumpkin

Fall is about pumpkins, apples, and let’s not forget about pie. Fall is savory stews and soups and maybe, just maybe, using my five year old crockpot for the first time. Fall is the time for hunkering down, cuddling up, and wearing thick socks inside (especially when you live above your apartment’s parking garage). Fall is about tucking in for winter.

But first, while we hover on the cusp of the seasons, let’s squeeze in one last summer recipe before the pumpkin recipes start rolling in. Let’s be honest, they already are rolling in, because pumpkin recipes rock, but so do ones with tomatoes. Am I right?

tomatoes

This recipe is an old standby for us, and was in our gluten days. The first time I made this GF it was a disaster. The rice pasta was slimy and disgusting. I remember shoveling it into my mouth with a forced smile. No one was fooled. I don’t think I made it again for a year. But that was way back when I didn’t know how to cook GF pasta. Or which kinds to buy. But I do now. We either use Bionaturae or Farabella penne, but pick your own fave.

I don’t have exact measurements because this is the kind of recipe you taste along the way. Some people may like more or less balsamic vinegar, for example, so start with less and add if necessary. The less liquid-y this meal is, the better.

You can also add a couple of cooked chicken breasts cubed, for some animal protein, which my husband likes, but I prefer it without. Your call.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pasta

fresh mozz pasta dinner

This was made with rigatoni out of necessity, but I think penne is better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of GF pasta, we like penne
  • vine ripened tomatoes, 4-6 depending on the size – or whatever tomatoes you find at your local farmer’s market
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, the tastiest you can find
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta NOT according to the directions (ha) but the way you KNOW works. I often cook ours significantly less than the package says. When it doubt, test it after about 6-8 minutes. You don’t want it overcooked. Blecch. Drain water using a colander and run the pasta under cool water to stop it from cooking, and then add a glug or two of olive oil so it doesn’t stick inside the colander. Check out this link and this one for some advice on cooking GF pasta successfully. It is NOT necessarily intuitive.

2. Chop tomatoes into small-ish cubes. You may want to get ride of some if not most of the juicy seeds and innards so your final dish isn’t too soupy. Put into a large bowl.

fresh mozz tomato prep

3. Cube up fresh mozzarella. Try not to eat too much of it while doing so. Add to the bowl.

4. Make sure pasta is cooled (so as not to melt the cheese) and add to bowl as well.

fresh mozz pasta prep 2

5. Now it’s time to make the magic happen. Carefully add a glug or two of balsamic vinegar. Then the olive oil. Mix and taste. Add more of one or both if necessary. The balance of acid and oil is key and particular to your own palate. Trust yourself, here. You can’t go too wrong. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Finally, toss the chopped basil and mix gently.

Dinner is served. Easy and delicious. (As long as you’re not me two years ago gagging down squishy overcooked GF pasta. I shiver just thinking about it.)

Now, before we say farewell to summer, please enjoy my children as sand creatures.

My little mermaid.

My little mermaid.

And her mostly companion. (That’s from Eloise, if you don’t know.)

Mini merman.

My mini merman.

Oh, I will miss summer.

beach family

But here’s hoping fall will be pretty great, too.

Gluten Free Breakfast Goodies and a Dose of Nostalgia

Bunky starts kindergarten on Monday. I’m coming out of denial, finally. Celiac letters have been written, teachers have been contacted (and they got back to me pronto, which is promising). Her outfit – three quarter sleeve purple dress with black stars – has been selected (by her, pretty much the second she saw it at Target). She is ready.

Me, not so much. But that’s okay. I’m kind of realizing that’s how it goes. Times passes, kids grow up, leaving us parents gasping for air. How did time go by so fast? Wasn’t my girl just a baby in my arms (screaming her brains out)? Oh, I hate when cliches are true. It’s annoying.

baby bunky

When Bunky was a baby we took her to the local elementary school for an evening screening of the movie, “Yellow Submarine.” At the time the song was a huge part of our lives since we played it about seventeen (or more) times a day, often on high volume, as it was one of the only things that could stop our colicky infant from shrieking. It didn’t always work, and when it did, it was a temporary fix, but it kept us from going completely insane. I remember sitting in an audience and watching all the children skittering across the wooden floor, dancing, laughing, and talking with their friends. They looked so big. My husband and I glanced at each other over our baby’s downy head and smiled. Our girl would be going to school here, someday. But in the moment that had felt very far away.

Now, here we are.

Summer girl

Since B has celiac, I’m on lunch and snack and holiday and birthday duty all year long. That’s a lot of food planning for a person who is not such an awesome planner. On top of all that, there’s breakfast to consider. I’ve talked about B’s addiction to Cocoa Pebbles (thanks to her dad, also an addict). Not only is it like eating a bowl full of sugar, she’s starving an hour later. Not ideal for any day, but worse for school. She does love chocolate yogurt pops, which are healthy, but not very filling. So what to do? I found two winners that are now in my freezer waiting for launch.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin muffins, modified from this awesome recipe on Cakes n’ Bakes.

gluten free pumpkin chip muffins

Here are my adjustments:

  • I skipped the cream cheese filling and added chocolate chips instead.
  • My flour blend is about 60/40 whole grains (millet and sorghum) to starch (potato and sweet rice) and I added a teaspoon of xanthan gum.
  • I went light on the ginger and nutmeg and added extra cinnamon.
  • Instead of 1 cup of white sugar, I went with 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar.

I plan on posting my modified version soon, once I completely eliminate the white sugar. I may sub all coconut sugar or try some maple syrup. Ideally, I’d like these breakfast muffins to be as healthy as possible, but with enough sweetness so my kid will eat them. It is a waste of time for me to make them uber healthy if she chokes on them. You realize I’m competing with Cocoa Pebbles here. Not easy. But possible, because she LOVES these muffins! I had to hide them in the freezer so they wouldn’t disappear by Monday.

My other breakfast success, a Nicole Hunn recipe for Gluten Free Oatmeal Bars. She calls them an after school boost, but I’m going with before school.

They taste way better than they look.

My changes:

  • Almond butter instead of peanut butter, cause that’s the way I roll
  • Just chocolate chips, no raisins or other healthy dried fruit
  • 6 tablespoons of honey seemed like a lot to me, so I used 4 – plenty sweet

Bunky said she liked them, but we’ll see what happens when I slide one in front of her at breakfast. I also plan on packing small squares of them in her lunch. They are delicious and full of protein and oats, yum.

See these ladies?

felt dolls

Very popular summer craft project around here. Felt pieces glued on cardboard dolls. I draw the hair and dress patterns and Bunky cuts and glues. I will miss making these with B during Little Guy’s nap. But time marches on and school is fast approaching.

Yesterday was the first day it really felt like September. The sky was a crisp blue and the breeze was a perfect blend of cool-warm. We walked to the playground marveling at the perfect temperature while newly fallen leaves crunched beneath our feet. My girl was thrilled to wear one of her new school sweaters and pants.

The kid loves summer, but she is ready for autumn, for apple picking and gluten free donuts, for Halloween and Little Guy’s birthday. She reminds me of my mom, whose favorite season was fall, who lived for the cooler temperatures, fall foliage, and country drives, who loved pumpkin picking and Thanksgiving.

It makes sense that my mind is heavy thinking about my mom right now. It often is, but more so with this kindergarten milestone approaching. If she were alive I would be able to talk to her about releasing my girl into big kid school, we would be able to commiserate as mothers together. I could tell her that I get it now. I could thank her.

But since I can’t, I will hold her close in my heart, thinking of her, imagining her doing the same thing over three decades ago, as I wave goodbye to my daughter on Monday.

Gluten Free (duh) Burrito Bowl

When in doubt, burrito bowl. Seriously. That’s all you need to know in life. Well, about dinner, anyhow. Burrito Bowl is now officially a staple around here. Check out these satisfied customers.

Burrito Bowl eaters

I know something is a hit when Bunky actually asks for it. Like yesterday afternoon, I was doing my usual crying and moaning about what to make for dinner, and I lamely offered up my old standby for emergencies (um, which is every few days): scrambled eggs. This was extra lame since I knew we actually had no eggs. Bunky shot this down immediately and when I thought all hope was lost, she got excited and said, “I know, I know! Let’s have burrito bowl!” And we did. Even though we had no beans (thank goodness for the new deli around the corner), we did have most of the other staples: rice, shredded cheese, tomatoes, greek yogurt (for sour cream), and salsa. Woo hoo, dinner is served!

On a better night, I include strips of chicken breast seasoned with sweet paprika, salt and pepper. On a better night, my rice is fragrant with freshly squeezed lime and chopped cilantro (plain for the kiddos). On a better night, there are gorgeous slices of creamy avocado. No matter, though, because either way it works.

I was inspired by this post on Dinner, A Love Story where the author explains how she fancies it up on weekends (cilantro lime rice, for example) or goes fast and easy on busy week nights. I like those kind of options.

Here is my family’s version of the Burrito Bowl. Check out Little Guy, how cute is he? (Yes, I know I’m biased, but still, seriously.)

burrito bowl close up

Breaking it down, right here.

Chicken – 2-3 boneless breasts filleted by the butcher (or at home, but I so love when the nice butcher guys do the dirty work for me) so they cook fast, or a package of thinly sliced chicken. I like to pour some canola or olive oil in a pan and sprinkle with sweet paprika, salt and pepper, but you could use chili powder if your family allows spice. Cook through, about 4 minutes per side, or until you feel confident you won’t poison your family. (For me, this means hacking into the chicken with a knife a whole bunch of times because I’m paranoid.) Then slice into strips for fun.

Rice – Have I mentioned how much I adore my rice cooker? Seriously, it’s True Love. We had a play date yesterday afternoon while my rice cooker did all the work. (I tried to look up which one I bought two years ago, but couldn’t find it on amazon. For the record it’s a pretty simple Sanyo model and cost about $50). I like to use white or brown Lundberg Basmati, but any favorite rice or GF grain would work here. I have used quick boil in a bag rice, but my husband says it’s not as good. Regardless, when I’m feeling “fancy” I add freshly squeezed lime, chopped cilantro, and salt. Yum.

Beans – I use canned black beans and/or red beans that I heat up in a saucepan with a dash of garlic powder and black pepper. Maybe a splash of olive oil if I’m feeling crazy.

Those are the basics, the rest is based on your family’s preferences (or in my case, picky-nesses).

Yummy Add-ins:

Shredded cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, lime, salsa.

Burrito Bowl ariel view

An ariel view, taken in a rush before being stampeded by starving family members.

I love a sure thing and right now this is it. Here’s hoping it lasts.

T minus 1.5 weeks until Kindergarten starts… I totally should be editing my celiac info letters for school, but I just can’t do it yet. I am SO not ready to dive into the real world, celiac style. I am enjoying our gluten free summer where I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Sigh. Going to have to get into gear next week. Wish me luck!

 

I’m so happy to be part of Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday recipe link-up! Click the badge below for more great GF recipes.

gf friday badge

End of Summer Lament and a Lunch Box Review

flickr photo credit, Eladesor

Such a beautiful lush summertime pic, right? Not Bunky, but looks like it could be.
flickr photo credit, Eladesor

I know it’s not the end of summer yet, but I’m already starting to feel the heaviness of fall as it lumbers closer. The encroaching darkness, the end of summer rot, and I’m not talking about the stench of trash in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Gardens have reached their peak and are starting their inevitable slide down. There’s an overripeness to late summer, almost obscene in its abundance, and yet the edges of flower petals are starting to fray, the first leaves are beginning to fall.

I am a sucker for spring, for beginnings, for budding trees, and the hopeful yellow of daffodils. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer. LOVE it. But, spring wins for me because of its glorious contrast to winter, and because it means summer is coming. I should probably just live in the moment more, but it’s not really my style.

Am I over thinking this or what? But I can’t help myself. I always get a little down as September approaches, a habit from being a kid, and now probably because I have one about to start kindergarden.

She looks ready, right? Right?

She looks ready, right? Right?

I have very mixed feelings about the impending start of school. Part of me is looking forward to a break from Bunky’s endless refrain, often spoken in a whine on repeat, “play with me” and a little excited to have some one on one time with Little Guy, who usually just gets dragged along to big kid playdates, big kid playgrounds. Not that he minds so much… Okay, let’s face facts, it will be way easier having one kid at a time.

But – but (!) when Bunky went off to her brief sojourn to camp last week, I totally teared up. I’m such a sucker, I know. The truth is, this summer has gone by in a flash and wasn’t nearly as challenging as I had feared. Thanks in big part to our wonderful trips to the country house and to my dad’s beachside home, not to mention my husband’s flexible real estate schedule.

I’m just not quite ready to dive into the chaos and exhaustion of school. Scrambling to make lunch and snack every day by 8am, worrying about conflicting nap and pick-up schedules, and dealing with ALL the tiresome but necessary GF food wrangling I will have to manage. But the clock rolls on despite my anxiety, and maybe – here’s hoping – that the school year will prove smoother than I am anticipating. Kinda like summer.

Well, at least there is the whole buying new lunch box accessories to perk me up. Hello, retail therapy! We actually all had fun looking through the Planet Box website and selecting a new case for Bunky’s Rover (red rocket), a fresh set of magnets, and a mini version called the Shuttle for Little Guy. How cute is this?!

alien shuttle

Perhaps you remember my slightly spastic lunch box post back in September? I manically photographed a week’s worth of lunches and described our two new purchases, Planet Box and Laptop Lunches. At the time I didn’t know which product would work best for my family. Both seemed pretty awesome.

The main difference is that Planet Box system is one piece of stainless steel with compartments built in while Laptop Lunches has containers that go inside of a plastic lunch box. Ultra cute carry cases not included.

Our Laptop Lunch box. Totally didn't use those utensils.

Our Laptop Lunch box and case. Totally didn’t use the utensils. Or that napkin.

Below is a pic of the Planet Box Rover. The circular canisters inside are called the Big and Little Dipper. Cute, right? They can be placed inside or outside in the carrying case pockets.

PlanetBox-Rover-Complete-Set-Open-Black-Carry-Bag-Lunchbox-XL_1_large

Here is the Rover in action, Bunky’s Valentine’s Day lunch from last winter. Gotta love a pretty frosted cookie. Fortunately, the kid actually eats her veggies, too. Unfortunately, those are the only veggies she eats. Ha.

valentines day planet box lunch

Check out my cute little pre-K graduate enjoying her Laptop Lunch at home.

graduation day lunch

Ultimately, while we used and liked both products, the Planet Box Rover worked best for us. Laptop Lunches has a great bento system – and both are dishwasher safe (yay!) – but ultimately the plastic one was harder for my kid to open. Which is kind of a deal breaker, especially for kindergarten where B will be eating in a busy cafeteria (gulp) with minimal teacher assistance.

So here we are, three weeks and counting to the first day of school. I can’t believe my baby is starting kindergarten. I mean, I remember when I started kindergarten. Geez, it’s so easy to feel old when you’re a parent. Every milestone reminds you of your own. I suppose it’s probably best for me to concentrate on things like lunch boxes and school letters so I don’t think too hard about how fast my little girl is growing up.