My Three Kid Circus

This may be as crazy as it gets… but we're lovin' it!

Back to School 2012-13! September 6, 2012

Filed under: Bento — Sarah @ 1:17 pm

(My apologies to any of you who follow me and received posts of just these pictures.  The new iPhone app doesn’t seem to have a very pretty way to upload pics from my phone, urg!)

It’s the start of a new school year!  Yay!  I’m in the categories of moms who likes sending her kids to school.  Of course I love them, and I even miss them a little on most some days, but we all do better with the structure and routine of school.  This is the last year all of my kids will be at the same school.  Somehow, I have a 5th grader – at Back to School Night, she commented, “When I was in 1st grade, my (5th grade) reading buddy seemed so tall.”  And now she is the big 5th grade reading buddy, on patrol, and headed off to her first multi-night overnight camp with her class in just a few weeks.  Not sure where time has gone, but here we are.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been busy freezing muffins this week.  Here are this week’s lunches:

First Day of School:

Contents – Apple bites, cantaloupe, corn dog muffin, banana chip muffin and Hershey kiss

Details – As I told my friend, their dessert is actually the  healthiest part of their lunch, since these muffins are whole grain (oats), packed with protein (egg and greek yogurt) and rely mostly on the bananas for sweetness.

Verdict – Both my big kids forgot their lunch boxes at school yesterday, so I can’t tell what they ate, but no one complained of icky food or lunches that were way too big or way to small.  My youngest eats an early lunch at 11:10, and my oldest a late lunch at 12:50, so it’ll be interesting to see how lunch sizes need to be modified over the year.

Day #2:

Contents – Leftover hotdog, carrots, grapes, goldfish and a mini chocolate muffin

Details – Not what I was planning for lunch today, but when I opened up the fridge this morning, I saw that my hubby had cleaned up the kitchen last night and we had 3 leftover hotdogs.  Perfect-o!  Sometimes I put ketchup on the dogs for the kids, but I forgot that detail today, plus I suspect that makes a bit of a mess…

Verdict – Kids were complaining that the dogs were wrinkly this morning, so we will see if they get eaten or not!

On my to-do list: 

I need a new divided container – squee!  Because my daughter’s lunch is so late, her teacher is recommending that they bring a large and healthy snack.  Not a bad ideas since she ate almost non-stop this summer.  For her, that often means fruit and crackers so I need to find something to keep the crackers dry 🙂

Hope you have all gotten your kids off to a great start of school!


Back To School Eve September 4, 2012

Filed under: Recipe — Sarah @ 3:04 pm

My friend sent me this article about competitive school lunch packing.  It’s a funny read, but it’s also true!  I had to chuckle because I have been baking like mad the last two days, trying to get slightly ahead of the game.  I suppose, that by the end of the month we’ll be back to boring old lunches.  Here’s what’s in my fridge/freezer to start the school year off:

Pizza Puff Muffins

Corn Dog Muffins (my own making of Alber’s corn muffins with slices of hot dog)

Triple Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

A dozen hard boiled eggs

Watermelon slices…oh wait, my kids demolished that at lunch today!

Cut up cantaloupe

Carrots, Cucumber, apples, grapes, kiwi, hummus, deli turkey and all that regular kind of stuff.

What’s in your fridge?


The Power of Good Book July 2, 2012

Filed under: School Work — Sarah @ 5:55 pm

I love the power of a good book.  One that can’t be put down, one that makes you stay up late or get up early.  But what I love even more is that my kids have discovered this too.

My kids do “summer school,” as they are terming it this year.  We opted for an hour a day, and that hour could be divided between reading, math review, writing assignments, piano practice or checking out the iPad/computer for different education games.  They can choose how to spend it, so long as they put good faith effort into all subject areas.  Some weeks they may have specific tasks that need to be accomplished, but for the most part, the goal is for them to learn to manage their time while keeping their brains active.  Of course, there are some guidelines, but with such a short summer, I’m choosing my battles.

So, it was much to my delight this morning, that my older and independent readers found an entire hour ticked away before they even ate breakfast.  Both of them engrossed in a good book: one, anxious to know how it ended, and the other plowing through a re-read of the much beloved Harry Potter series.  Even my little guy begged to read one more Little Bear story to me last night.

(And bless my kids, despite reading for an hour this morning (and then several more hours this afternoon from my daughter), they both went beyond an hour to accomplish their less favored work.  Gotta love them.)


Mom, Can You Make a Special Lunch? June 26, 2012

Filed under: Bento — Sarah @ 10:10 pm

Since it was the second to last day of school, they requested a special lunch.  Apparently, that means no sandwiches.  Which is all they would eat this spring, but whatever.  Good thing I didn’t have anything for sandwiches today so they were easy to please:

Yikes, that’s an even worse that usual picture.  Sorry about that.  We were REALLY late this morning.  Anyhow, mini ravioli with leftover spaghetti sauce in the thermos, frozen corn in the small container, applesauce pouch and Chicago popcorn.

Here’s a question for all you Chicagoans:  Is this a real thing?  Cheese and caramel corn mixed?  It’s the newest Costco addiction in our household.  Man that’s some good stuff.


Still Packing Lunches… June 25, 2012

Filed under: Bento — Sarah @ 10:17 pm

My kids are still in school.  Yes, I realize that next week is the 4th of July.  I think we might be the only kids in the entire freakin’ country that are still going to school.  Until Wednesday.  That’s two more lunches I still have to make.  Can we say D.O.N.E. with making lunches this year?

I’ve had a busy spring.  Baseball season kind of sucks the life out of me.  I’ve barely been getting my kids out the door on time and I pretty much never have time to take pictures of their lunches.  But, for you diehards, here are a few of the lunches they’ve enjoyed this spring:

If I remember correctly, it seemed that the best part of this lunch was the layered finger jello.  I’ll have a whole different post on this pretty bit.  My kids were so excited, until we all realized that the finger jello melted just enough to make a big mess of EVERYTHING.  My words of advice about jello:  homemade jello doesn’t seem to stand-up so well in the lunchbox.  Even when I’ve made jello cups in their own container, they seem to melt past a point of being edible.  Finger jello in its own container may be okay, but even that, I’m not going to give a thumbs up.  And yes, I pack it over ice.  They must put extra chemicals in the store bought jello cups to help keep them solid.  I don’t even want to know.

The rest of the lunch was standard fare:  pear bites, carrot sticks and a turkey and cheese sandwich made on a leftover dinner roll.  All of it covered in jello juice.  Yuck.

Leftover biscuits make a good lunch supplement, but these particular biscuits don’t do sandwiches so well because they are crumbly the day after.  Slices of ham, carrot or celery sticks depending on the kid, apple slices and skewered grapes.  Thin Mints for a treat.  Now that’s what my kids call a good lunch!

My littlest loves hard-boiled eggs.  My older kids tend to eat the entire egg if I slice it.  If I send it whole, they just eat the white.  Go figure.  In addition to the sliced egg, I sent a side of hummus and lots of hummus-friendly-dipping food:  pita chips, carrots, apples and celery.

This is just the fruits and veggie portion of this lunch, but doesn’t yellow just make you happy?  Pineapple, carrots and green yellow string beans.  It’s like a box-full of sunshine.  This accompanied a thermos of leftover dinner.

Half a meat and cheese sandwich.  Apple bites, cucumbers and the rest of the beans.  Love my little round containers for the mishmash of leftover Easter candy.

Half a salami and cheddar sandwich.  My daughter also requested hummus on hers.  Strange, but it’s not mine, so who am I to say?  Cherries, apple bites and pretzels.  My kids said the pretzels tasted weird.  Who knew butter (flavored pretzels) could taste weird.  Clearly not my kids.

Two more lunches…who’s counting?


Cupcake Craze June 12, 2012

Filed under: Birthday Parties,Celebrations — Sarah @ 1:11 pm

I have decided to join the cupcake craze.  If you know me, you know I’ve resisited cupcakes for a long time.  I’ve found them to be tedious with barely satisfactory results.  And messy, both for me as the baker and as the cleaner-upper-after the kids make a crumbly disaster of them.

But, I think I’ve become a convert.  I think I’m a little hooked.  I’ve gotten rid of the tedious and am reducing the messy, atleast on the baker’s end.  I can only do so much about kids.

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up:

I was first inspired by this blog.  She talks all about different frosting techniques and the various decorating tips you need to achieve different looks.  I haven’t tried any of her frostings, nor have I tried all of the different decorating tips, but I did find her video tutorial to be very helpful.  The basic gist is to use a jumbo tip.  Different looks are achived by either starting in the center of your cupcake and circling out, or starting at the outer edge of your cupcake and circling in.  Anyhow, watch it.  Be amazed at how easily you too can have fabulous looking cupcakes.

So decorating tips took care of my first issue with cupcakes:  tedious frosting with a spatula.  Of course, a spatula gives you a nice smooth top if that is the look you are trying to achieve.  And, decorating tips do use a lot more frosting, so be prepared for that.  But really, don’t 9/10 kids just lick the frosting and leave the cupcake anyhow?

My next issue:  spooning batter makes a mess.  Here’s an easy fix for that one.  If you’re not already, use cupcake liners.  Much cuter and way easier to remove the cupcakes from the pan.  Pour your batter into a ziplock bag, seal it, and snip the corner.  Squirt.  Much cleaner and much, much faster than spooning batter into each cupcake well.  I found that a quart size bag is easy to manage and holds enough batter for approximately 20-22 cupcakes.  Personally, I like to fill my liners just shy of 2/3.  They rise to just above the top of the liner when they bake, which gives you a nice surface to decorate.

Another trick that I learned in the video tutorial above was to stand my decorating bags into a tall glass to make it easier to load the frosting.  This tip works well for loading batter into the ziplock bag.

I’ve also found that displaying cupcakes closely together (like I did in the picture above) hides mistakes.  Speaking of mistakes, if when frosting, you goof, scrape it off and start over.  Much easier to do on a cupcake than a big ‘ol sheet cake!

And finally, to cute-ify those now-fabulous looking cupcakes: sprinkles and picks.  How easy is that?  My son’s baseball cupcakes (above) had picks made from “action shots” of each of the boys.  One of the moms took a picture of each boy, cut around the player and glued the picture onto a straw.  Other pick ideas…check out your local dollar store, umbrellas, little army people or other plastic figures that match a party theme, stickers and stamps on circles of paper.  The ideas are endless,  just have fun!

Oh, and one last thing I did last time I made cupcakes…instead of doing a full batch of big cupcakes, I used some of the batter to make mini cupcakes using my mini-muffin pan.  When it came time to decorate, I used my same jumbo tip (Wilton 1M) and did one squirt of frosting in the middle of the cupcake.  They turned out super cute and were a nice compromise for parents who only wanted a bite, and for kids who tried to negotiate two cupcakes!

Now that I’m well on my way to becoming a cupcake convert, what other tips do you have for me?


Airplane Baby Shower May 29, 2012

Filed under: Celebrations — Sarah @ 10:05 pm
Tags: ,

It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted a baby shower.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I’ve even hosted one before last week.  There aren’t too many new babies gracing my days any more, so when a good friend of mine announced her pregnancy, there was definitely a lot of excitement!  And I have to say, this was one of my most favorite parties I’ve ever hosted.

For starters, there were no screaming kids.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Really though,  this was just a brunch for all of the mamas.  All the big kids were in school, and it was such a treat to be able to enjoy adult conversation and an uninterrupted meal.

Second, the shower was simply at my house.  So many people offered to bring food to share and another mom and I had been looking for an excuse to craft together, so she helped me with all of the decorations.  This “village” mentality is so important.  Together, we can do so much more.  I can’t tell you how much happiness it brings me to know that I have these sort of friends.

We chose the theme of the shower to match this little baby’s new nursery…light blues and airplanes.  I chose red as an accent color, just because it looked good.

Here’s a peek at some of the festivities:

A clothesline of sweet baby clothes.  My friend and I purchased the clothes at the local consignment store so we could stay on budget.  She made all of the little airplane clothespins.  Wish I had a close up as they were so stinkin’ cute!  To make them, she spray painted a regular clothes pin in baby blue and popsicle sticks in red (both a regular length and the shorter length).  Assemble, and it’s pure cuteness.

The drink table.  This table was draped in blue bed sheet…and my daughter’s American Girl picnic blanket.  A bit of subway art, a teddy bear holding an airplane and again, cuteness!  We took this picture before the punch arrived, but my friend made a yummy blend of sherbet and 7-Up.  Can’t go wrong with the classics!  Speaking of classics, see those little juice glasses?  I think they’re from the 50’s…my grandma gave them to me in their original packaging and every time I use them, I think of her.  They’re nothing special when you glance at them, but to me, they’re the “good stuff,” since they came from my grandma.

The food.  A wonderfully collective effort.  The table was draped in a light blue plastic table cloth…and then re-draped with a smaller classic red checked tablecloth.  We had a couple of salads (green and pasta), a fruit platter, tea sandwiches and croissants.  My friend was so tickled that I brought out the good china, but better excuse to use the good stuff than a new life?

And last but not least, dessert.  Another checked table cloth overlaid with a baby blanket.  See that diaper cake back there?  I take absolutely no credit for that one.  Another crafty friend made that.  Isn’t it the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?  She also brought red velvet cupcakes, and I whipped up a batch of lemon cupcakes.

The final touch were all of the banners my crafty friend and I made.  I don’t know why we didn’t get any pictures of those.  Lots of shades blue with splashes of red tied onto twine.  Actually, the final touch was that the weather was perfect.  One of the first really warm days we have had and I was able to move the whole shower outside.

What a great day of celebrating new life!

6/1 – Edit

My friend sent me some more pictures so you could see the darling banners.  Enjoy!



A closer up of the diaper cake and clothespin airplanes