Back to School Lunches by Kate Brightbill

Lunch food c/o  Whole Foods . It's our favorite place to shop for nutritious ingredients to keep our family healthfully fed, and their  website  is FULL of gorgeous and healthy recipes for the family.

Lunch food c/o Whole Foods. It's our favorite place to shop for nutritious ingredients to keep our family healthfully fed, and their website is FULL of gorgeous and healthy recipes for the family.

When Sophie started kindergarten last year, the whole lunch-packing thing was pretty daunting. She found out quickly that her SF restaurant palate did not approve of purchasing school lunches, and apart from "pancake with sausage day," she requested home packed lunches every.single.day. 

Apparently I was NOT alone in my reluctance to pack homemade lunches... I recently found out that 90% of parents surveyed would rather help with carpool or homework than pack lunches. What? Yes, I know. It can be a brutal morning routine... and yet...

Is packing a lunch so bad?

By the end of last year, (apart from the dragging myself out of bed every morning factor), I was secretly enjoying the lunch packing. I'm not going to lie- It took awhile (like the entirety of last fall, haha!) to get Sophie to approve of the my lunches -- "mommy, I was kind of hungry when I was done with my lunch. Can you add more tomorrow?" // "mommy, I had too much lunch and I had to sit for SO LONG to finish. Can you make it smaller?" // "mommy I love cheese, but not that kind in my lunchbox. I prefer the other kind..." // "My apple hurt my loose tooth!" // Kids are way too honest sometimes. 

One day, it clicked. I was doing lunches wrong. Enough of the large sandwiches and whole fruit (apple, oranges, etc) ...I changed my formula, and started loving the packing process. It totally appealed to my childhood self to create meals in this new way... but more importantly- Sophie LOVED the changes, and was coming home happy with her lunches-- finally!

Here's what I realized: variety is huge for a kid. Chopping things to small sizes is almost always nicer for them. Small bites of good food, and having color and brightness involved are extra perks. My kiddos- thankfully- adore their fruit and veggies, so I include at least two per day in a small compartment. Sugary sweets aren't totally off-limits, but they're not recommended by the schools. That said, I like to include something for Sophie that is a nutritious sweet (her current favorite are these rasberry fig bars that check all the right boxes). Rolling lunch meat and adding a fun animal pick to secure them is a big win. The right crackers or a cheese stick can be added to round out the lunch, and we're all set!! 

Today, and probably monthly throughout the school year, I will share a few lunch ideas with you. It's something I love, it's something I'm given feedback on daily (thanks Soph!), and it's an area I really do enjoy these days.

Here are just three meals from our week that are incredibly simple to prep, and would generally be well-received by the little ones: 

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Day 2:

  • Salami rolled and secured with a pick.
  • Crackers! These are brown rice crackers and I love them, but full disclosure: Sophie prefers wheat thins as her standard cracker. To each their own!
  • Celery sticks! I often add hummus on the side of carrots or celery, but it definitely makes for more messes in the lunchbox.
  • Rasberries. 
  • Rasberry fig bar.

 

 

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Day 1:

  • Tiny triangle turkey sandwich with one roll of extra turkey meat, secured with a food pick.
  • Nectarine, cut.
  • Snap Pea Crisps (I always stock these! They're a favorite around here)
  • Raisins-- WF sells a big box that lasts much longer than those tiny ones.
  • Greek strawberry yogurt with a couple berries (for things that should be chilled, sticking them in the freezer for about 30 minutes before school can keep them cool until lunch!). OR these cute ice packs are great!

 

School Lunch

 

Day 3: (more of a traditional lunch, which is great once or twice a week to add variety)

  • Ham sandwich (for school, I keep sandwiches to meat, cheese, and mayo or mustard. Lettuce and tomato make the bread soggy by lunch, so it's best to skip!)
  • Rasberries... I stock at least one berry in bulk for the week because they're a favorite lunch staple, and I switch between blueberries, rasberries, and strawberries weekly.
  • Terra Veggie Chips with Sea Salt. 

Whole Foods spoiled us with some fantastic snacks for us to try, and the CUTEST snack containers. They're collaborating with PBS kids to create adorable backpacks, lunch containers, lunch bags, and pencil box that are all made responsibly with the bright colors and patterns that kids adore. I let my girls pick their favorites and they were giggling with excitement to show their daddy when he got home. 

ALSO- they give great lunch ideas and recipes for kid-friendly meals for the family on their website.... it's definitely worth checking out if you're in a food funk. :) How did I never know this existed?? It's full of amazing options. 

Happy new school year!! Hope this helps the back-to-school process! 

xoxo

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Post is not sponsored. Whole Foods provided products and food for our family to enjoy... all opinions are my own. x

Currently Loving: Hanna Andersson by Kate Brightbill

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Last night, I was thrilled to co-host the pre-opening event for Hanna Andersson in Corte Madera. The store is GORGEOUS, from the outside to every tiny detail inside. I definitely shouldn't have expected any different, considering their beautiful website. ;) The new store is having the BEST weekend deals, so if you're a local, GO! Snag some goods for the kids or the home!! 

Hanna is one of those brands that is really loved by the whole family (I'll show you in a few weeks how our baby boy is going to be loving his Hanna! Eeee, so excited!). The fabrics are soft and wash PERFECTLY. Hanna stands behind their products and allow lifetime returns because they guarantee good quality for every piece. With so many brands opting for 30 day strict return policies, this in itself is a breath of fresh air.

My budget was happy that I didn't bring the girls-- they literally would have wanted everything in the girls' section! Plenty of kitty and fox prints that they would fall in love with, cozy and practical pieces that have that extra special something to make them appealing for kids too (like a great neutral cargo jacket for school, made extra special with stars and a pink patch! SO cute!). I could not step away from the accessories sections: knee highs with dots and stripes! crocheted necklaces, or shiny heart necklaces (like my friend picked up for her daughter-- doesn't get much cuter!). Their sweaters and colors are brilliant- everything a kid could want for their fall wardrobes. 

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If you're not local, you can still shop your heart out-- online! I found my favorites for my kiddos (BELOW) -- soooo much cuteness, so much quality, and not too serious... Just like childhood products should be!! 

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ABC Print | Pink Beanie | Dot Knee-highs

SweaterKitty Purse | Beanie

Striped Knee-highsClogs | Backpack

And one more picture of this kiddo that I absolutely adore... she sampled both of her dotty socks in one day because she's four, and making wardrobe changes is the story of our life, ha!:

Happy Friday!! xoxox

F O U R by Kate Brightbill

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Ohhh my Maggie girl. This one is for you. 

You went to sleep the night before your birthday with a huge beaming smile. "Tomorrow is my BIRTHDAY!!!," you squealed as we kissed you goodnight. You woke and said "Mommy! Is I'm three?" even though you KNOW you turned four while you slept. ;)

Three was epic. I cannot imagine a more compliant, joyous, vibrant three-year-old in the whole world. You made my days so full of sweet and sparkle. You talk from the moment you wake to the moment you are sleeping-- no words spared. On the bus, you sing, you ask questions, you notice what everyone is wearing, and you sometimes tell them that you really like it. You see pets and want to know if it's a girl or a boy, and you want to see if their collar is pink. 

You asked me before almost every one of my ten ultrasounds if maybe this doctor will tell you that our baby is a girl. You also made wishes with coins into water fountains that you would have a baby sister. You eventually came to grips with your big sister being your only sister, and you have reminded me with a glint in your eye about how when Sophie knew she was getting a baby sister, she was so excited to meet her, and "then- mommy- then it was ME! Her baby sister was baby Maggie!" You've embraced that, and you've embraced that you're getting a baby brother, and you are thrilled-- you just adore babies.

You love the book Green Eggs and Ham. Your sister has learned to read it to you and you cuddle together and listen while she tells the funny story about the cranky guy who did not like the green eggs and ham because "he never even tried it." You "read" it on your own as well, and it's one of the best things ever to hear in your voice. Your other favorite book is a kitty puppet book, and you can meow all the words.

Sophie got stocked with school supplies for her new year, and you know with all your heart what you will want a year from now: kitty backpack, kitty lunchbox, kitty water bottle... future cat lady, we call you. One day, we had the ipad on origami tutorials, and somehow you found cat videos on youTube. HA! Resourceful 3-year-old. 

You have a flair for acting. You love dressing up. You love sparkle, and your new word is "dazzle." Your little pony is named Rainbow Dazzle Sparkle, or maybe I've transposed the words. Almost all your other stuffies are named Shilah or Rosie, which I'd imagine may get confusing, but you think those are the two most beautiful names of all. 

For your family birthday party, we had pasta- your favorite, and you and daddy collaborated to create a "how well do you know Maggie" questionnaire. Sophie and I won! I'm logging them below for your future reference:

  1. What is Maggie's favorite color? Pink!
  2. What is Maggie's favorite stuffy? Monster! (she's had this neon pink octopus fondly named Monster since she was about 6m old, and never sleeps without her!)
  3. What is Maggie's favorite ice cream? Strawberry. Because it's pink.
  4. Who is Maggie's favorite princess? Sleeping Beauty.
  5. What is Maggie's favorite sports team? WARRIORS (Steph!)
  6. What is Maggie's favorite thing to play? Legos! (duplos, if we're being technical here)
  7. What is Maggie afraid of? Monsters (ironically, since her best stuffy is called Monster, ha!)

ALL of these answers change weekly- except maybe your favorite sports team, so it was basically who talked to you most recently about your favorites. ;) 

We lovvvvvve you, our big kid! Our lives are SO bright with you and that smile of yours! 

Maggie's other birthdays: ONE || TWO || THREE

(one of the best things about blogging is having all of these in one place! :)

Squash and Bay Clubs by Kate Brightbill

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School starts on Monday, but we are savoring our last few days and remembering our summer fun!! One of Sophie's favorite weeks of the summer was her SQUASH CAMP at the ever-so beautiful SF Bay Club. She started the week barely able to throw her "magic ball" against the wall properly, and only hitting the return once, and by the end of the week, she could actually play a match with her squash coach Charlie! Since camp, she has been tossing a ping pong ball against our walls and use a ping pong paddle to return it -- not effective, but it's a valiant effort to keep the skills she acquired! (she tries to find walls without pictures, but since I've finally finished my gallery walls, it's a little trickier, haha!) We need to get this girl some real squash supplies. ;)

I actually took VIDEO during squash camp! I'm such a picture person that I hardly ever switch the lever to take video, but when your firstborn is in her first sports camp, you want the in-action video proof of the improvements she made! I'm so used to seeing princess Sophie, and fashion Sophie, and creative Sophie, but now we have Sporty Sophie too. I love sporty Sophie! 

SO. Here you have it... our video chronicling Bay Club squash camp! Enjoy!!

ALSO! They have academic year classes for those of you who want to start getting your kids involved in sports regularly! HIGHLY recommend!

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Coach Charlie!! 

Coach Charlie!! 

* Post 2 of 2 in collaboration with Bay Clubs. We received complimentary camp and services from the Bay Club in exchange for writing about our experience. Post is NOT sponsored. ALL opinions are my own. The Bay Club is amazing, and I am recommending it to friends in real life as well as to you!

How We Wear: Tea Collection by Kate Brightbill

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School starts in less than two weeks. I said it, so it's real. I've already gotten teary about it. I'm so so grateful I have my Maggie still home with me one more year, but I'm also super bummed about Sophie being gone so many hours every day! Summer has just been TOO GOOD to us. 

In light of the new school year,  we've been chatting around here about what we'd really like to learn this year. We talk about what classes and extracurriculars the girls most enjoy, what they'd like to learn around home, and what how they'd like to grow this year.

Sophie is passionate about swimming, and she'd like to try soccer, but most of all, she'd like to be able to read better by herself. Maggie still enjoys ballet, LOVES cooking and baking, and is a true artist, but when she narrowed her passion to one specific thing, it's that she would like to learn how to write letters. After hearing this, I realized the reality is that school is coming in a very timely fashion after all. After all the fun and sun the girls have enjoyed all summer, they really want to get some academia going, and I don't actually blame them. I spent hours of my childhood reading and writing this that and the other, and I'm proud of their passion for the same. 

Tea Collection has a campaign going to remind us to ask our children about what they're passionate about learning this year. I absolutely adore the global worldview the Tea brand has, and that they believe so strongly in cultivating an appreciation in children to learn about other cultures.

My personal goal this year is to teach my children more about caring for others- in our own city, and around the world. I want them to be children who give to others and try to impact lives for the better in any way they can- even if it's simply filling a backpack with school supplies for a child who cannot afford them, as we recently did... it felt like a small place to start, and I'm not quite sure that the girls quite comprehended why we were packing the bag, but I'm hoping that the more we work together to do these little projects that are for others, the more they begin to see that they can make a difference too. 

I love to show our support for brands that give back regularly, and truly care about world needs, so I put together some of our favorite pieces from the Tea Back to School Collection. Be sure to check their website when you're shopping for your kiddos this year... their pieces all stand the test of time, and are some of our favorite clothing in the closet!

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Maggie: Dress || Leggings || Shoes .

Sophie: Jacket || Shirt || Skirt || Boots .

Baby: Pajamas || Cozy Outfit || Booties

Be sure to post your kids' Tea looks with the hastag #TeaAdventurer on Instagram! xoxo

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*Clothing c/o Tea Collection. One of our all-time favorite brands for every reason. Affiliate links included in post.

Maternity Wardrobe by Kate Brightbill

I mentioned the other day how I have been rotating FOUR outfits, and it's really an accurate number... there are slight variations, but let me tell you- All I've really needed this go-round is the basics!! I think I was over-thinking maternity wardrobes the last two pregnancies, and trying really hard to feel like normal when nothing about me actually feels normal. 

SO, when I was grasping at straws to find a wardrobe that worked, and growing bigger and bigger by the day, I think I would have appreciated some cost-effective options, so I'm offering my little tips to anyone who may be in the same boat.

This is my MAIN outfit variation, and the most versatile and most cost effective of all!... Here we go: THE BLACK DRESS. 

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Nothing here is maternity-- it helps to use what you can from your closet before going and spending money on all new items you may not really need.

The black dress is the stretchiest material, and has grown as I've grown. Now that I'm in my third trimester, I do need to grab the next size up, but it still basically works! The dress is Zara and thankfully, they've carried it through at its beautiful $20 price tag to the fall collection, so they're still totally accessible. If you're into buying in bulk, it also comes in navy, grey, and thin stripes, so you can stock right up. 

Now for the rest (from left):

-- look 1

  • Grey Sweater: I love most grey sweaters, but this one particularly looks just the right amount of thin and slouchy to keep you sufficiently cool in the summer and sufficiently warm early fall. I'd definitely wear it open, and it'll carry right through to post-pregnancy days.
  • Long layered necklaces: My favorite for slightly dressing up a day look.
  • Low brown boots: Comfy but stylin' and can carry that extra weight, no problem. 

-- look 2

  • Stud Earrings- I'm really into large earrings, but I also kind of love the simplicity of a basic gold stud. It goes well with pattern, and the overall look stays perfectly casual. 
  • Flannel Shirt- I stocked up on flannel shirts the last couple years, and when I was pregnant, it felt a shame to retire them for the full year, so I've paired them with my black dress regularly. Gives a fresh, casual look to the basic framework, and really allows me to mix up the color combos without spending extra.
  • Leather Roman Sandal- any strappy flat sandal will do, really. Mine are actually black, sold out, but similar, and they're perfect for warm summer days. Black or brown will pair easily with the dress. 

-- look 3

  • Denim- My go-to is a chambray button down, but I feel the same about the chambray and denim jackets... one or the other is such a go-to! Pre-pregnancy sizes will generally work throughout, because they're generally roomy. ;)
  • Gold Tassel Earrings: Gold earrings are my thing, and I feel they're extra essential when I'm pregnant, to add an extra effort to my day-to-day looks. This particular pair works best with an evening look, but a matte oversized gold earring is great for daytime.
  • CrissCross Frida Sandal: These shoes might be a bit much while pregnant, but I have a similar pair that's no longer available (and with a slightly shorter heel), and they're my go-to on dressy occasions. The chunky wood heel supports me far better than any stiletto would, and as long as I don't keep them on too long, I can get around easily for things like that call for fancy but don't require too much walking (weddings or date nights). I actually have this heel on a navy and black and brown pair (2/3 purchased pre-pregnancy), so clearly I have a thing for thick wood heels.

 

So there you have it! A mini maternity easy everyday wardrobe idea for anyone in the market for that sort of thing!

xoxo