Archive | August, 2013

Easy School Lunch Ideas That Your Kids Will Actually Eat

29 Aug

It’s that time of year again, when your house is barraged with the routine that comes with going back to school.  One of those routines is religiously packing a lunch for your darling little ones and hoping that they actually eat what you send to school.

 girls with brown bag lunches

Scouring Pinterest (I just LOVE that site), I found that the trend for school lunches seems to be lunches that are de-constructed.  It seems that breaking apart the meal into little compartments allows the most flexibility with your menu of choices. 

 Pinterest school lunches

Ziplock or Rubbermaid reusable containers with dividers provide the ‘compartments’ you need without ‘breaking the bank’.  Remember folks, these are kids we are talking about so fancy expensive containers are just as likely to not make it back home to you as the cheaper containers.  Save yourself the headache…

Ziplock divided containers

The following suggestions are the ones that I thought were the most “fun” for the elementary school set:

Easy School Lunch Ideas from Emmy Mom

Emmy Mom lunches #1 Emmy Mom lunches #2


Project Lunch Box from Family Fresh Cooking

 Project-Lunchbox-lunch suggestion

Lunch Box Idea List from Wendolonia

 Wendolonia Lunch-Box-Idea-List

And probably the most clever idea of all is this DIY Ice Pack to keep your child’s lunch chilled until they get a chance to eat it.  Thanks to My Kitchen Escapades for the idea!  Unfortunately, I could not copy a picture of it to entice you to go o their blog post, so I would ask that you

click here button

to see the picture and read the blog.

Happy Back To School to everyone!  Feel free to comment on this post with any fun ideas you have to make lunches good enough to eat.


Anne-Marie Dunn is the Owner of
We specialize in Baptismal and First Communion Apparel for both boys and girls.


A Man Never Stands As Tall

26 Aug

A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child.

– Knights of Pythagoras

man helping a child offers a full range of Baptismal and First Communion apparel and accessories for boys and girls.

A Guide to Entering Middle School

22 Aug

As my son is getting ready to start seventh grade, I started thinking about back-to-school last year when he was getting ready to enter middle school. Leaving elementary school and moving on to middle school was an adventure that he was very excited to make and luckily he had a great year last year!

mcgee middle school

Although it was very exciting, entering Middle School has a very different feel than elementary school, and there are many differences that the kids need to get used to. Here are a few of the ‘biggies’ that I heard about:



For the first time ever, 6th graders in our town get their own lockers. This meant 2 things: they needed to be able to manipulate a combination lock AND they had to know their schedule for each day (our town uses a 6 day rotating class schedule) and figure out when was the next time they would be able to get back to their lockers to pick up different books. The locker seemed to cause some kids a lot of panic because they were nervous that they wouldn’t be able to open their locker or would forget something for an upcoming class. The teachers were wonderful with this transition for the kids and gave them a lot off leeway for the first two weeks. After that, the kids were basically ‘out of luck’ because they needed to be responsible for having what they needed for class. If their homework was in their locker, they would not be able to go back there during class – they would turn in the homework the next day and it would be marked as ‘late’. Definitely taught responsibility…. and guess what, the kids stepped up.

middle school hallway


Instead of sitting in one classroom for most of the day, the kids changed classrooms (and teachers) every 42 minutes. The biggest adjustment here was having to get to know many teachers personalities and teaching styles. This was great in my opinion because that is life. Some teachers are strict and some are laid back, some grade harder than others. In addition, there are different kids in each class. My son quickly learned who were the studious kids, who were the goof offs and who were the ‘class clowns’.

There are many different projects assigned in middle school, many of which are group projects. Kids will learn that who they pair up with is important. Some kids take advantage of their ‘partners’ and let them do the vast majority of the work. My son got caught in this situation just once.  After he realized that not all kids work the same as he does, he quickly learned that picking the right partner can make the difference in getting to share the workload, or having to do the project by himself and having someone else get the same grade as he did for all of his hard work.

sewing class


Beyond changing classes, the variety of classes the kids get to experience is much greater. For the first time our sixth graders get to take a half year of a language, health class, family & consumer science (shop class & sewing), and keyboarding. This added variety in the day gives the kids more exposure to what high school might be like.  In addition, he was exposed to many more children from town since the ‘specials’ classes were not ‘leveled’ like his core academic classes.



In our town, lunch in the cafeteria is managed in ‘waves’. The cafeteria is much bigger, with better selections of food than there was in elementary school. Problem is, there are many more kids in the cafeteria at the same time so even that time has to be managed.  Again, the teachers were great with the 6th graders at first and would give them extra time to navigate the cafeteria world for the first few weeks. After that, they needed to figure out if it is a better option for them to bring their lunch so they could eat right away, or if they wanted to ‘buy’ lunch and risk having very little time to eat. Don’t worry, kids figure it out and strategically pick the shortest lines. I never heard that a kid didn’t have time to eat!

gym class


For the first time, our kids change their clothes in the locker room for gym. I didn’t hear much about this process from my son, but the teacher did ask that the parents make sure the kids bring in clean clothes every now and again (11 year old boys are content wearing the same gym clothes for WAY TOO long).  In addition he asked that we send our child in to school with some deodorant so they kids could ‘freshen up’ after gym since there are no showers available. We will leave the adventure of showering after gym class for High School!!!

study hall sign

study hall cartoon


Homework / Study Period – Homework!!! Coming from his elementary school where there wasn’t much homework, this was the biggest adjustment in our house. But in reality, even this was adjusted to quickly. Luckily there is a ‘study period’ built into the school day, and he took full advantage of that time to get homework done. He was especially careful to complete homework from the classes that gave homework out of their text books.  The fewer books he had to bring home the better since his backpack was always really heavy – the trapper keeper alone took up most of his backpack!  The more homework he finished in study hall, the less there was to do at home….

school bus

Although it’s a very different atmosphere than elementary school, middle school is a child’s first chance to really be treated more like an adult.  Even though that is a scary thought for some parents, the fact that the teachers treat them more grown up helps them to ACT more grown up.  Embrace the freedom this will give your child and encourage them to do their very best.  If the teachers trust them, it must be because they can handle it.

If you will be sending your child off to Middle School this year, I wish them (and you) the best as your child embarks on this exciting new time in their life!

Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of

Please feel free to visit our website to see our complete selection of Baptismal and First Communion attire for boys and girls.  Feel free to comment on this post or send us an e-mail at to let us know what you think.

Motherhood is not for Wimps!

19 Aug

2013-08-19 motherhood isnt for wimps offers a full range of Baptismal and First Communion apparel and accessories for boys and girls.

A Players Guide to Youth Football

15 Aug

As we are beginning our families 5th season of youth football, and my husband’s second season of being the President of our youth football league, we are getting lots of questions about the equipment needed from parents that are brand new to the sport.  I thought I would ask my son for some of his tips for a new player – and since he is a 12 year old boy with not much to say, I thought I would throw out some tips for the moms and dads out there too.

mouthguardWhat about the mouth guard?

At first it will feel a little funny in your mouth but once you get used to it, it feels like it isn’t even there. You can walk around the house with it in your mouth so you get used to it. Also, when you are in the game make sure you have it in your mouth because then you might get a penalty or they will have to stop the game to tell you to put it in.

Mother’s Note re: Mouth Guards – There is a wide variety of mouth guards out there with a variety of price points. We have always used the Gel Nano Mouthguard made by Shock Doctor (about $20). Make sure you pick one that fits your child’s mouth properly.  If your child has braces, thre are mouth guards especially designed to accommodate them. Make sure you follow all the instructions re: ‘prepping’ the mouth guard for use. This particular mouth guard that we use needs to be boiled and then formed to your child’s mouth.

Most youth mouth guards have a ‘tether’ where you can attach it to the child’s helmet. (Our league REQUIRES an attached mouth guard so be sure you know the rules of your league before you go shopping.) Also, make sure your child knows where they leave their helmet at all times – you certainly don’t want another child grabbing the helmet and putting your child’s mouth guard in their mouth. Yuck!

football cleatsWhat do you think about the cleats?

Football cleats are pretty much like any sneaker but when you are walking on a hard surface make sure you are careful because you could slip. They do help you grip on to the ground when you are lining up for a play and help you ‘push off’ the ground to run once the play starts.
Mother’s Note re: Cleats – Honestly, cleats have always been my husband’s department. What I do know is that football cleats are different than baseball cleats – apparently the different sports require different placement of the cleats on the bottom of the shoe. Our youth football league requires MOLDED cleats which means that the bottom of the shoe is all one piece – the cleats themselves are not removable. By the time the kids are in High School, they can wear removable cleats where they can screw off the ‘cleats’ and screw on new ones (aka they can screw off plastic cleats and screw on metal cleats – ouch!). Make sure you find out what the requirements are before you go shopping – you don’t want to show up to practice after spending money on cleats only to find out they are the wrong kind of shoe!

football helmet pumpRemember when you first got your helmet?

When you first get your helmet it will feel like 100 pounds on your head but if you just wear around your house 5min a day then you will start to get used to it. The helmet has to be tight on your head so it protects you. The helmets we use have to be pumped up with air so it fits your head right. Make sure you only wear your helmet – when your whole team has their helmets on the ground it can get confusing which one is yours. At first it hurts a lot to take off the helmet because it has to come off over your ears. You might need to have a coach take it off for you until you get used to it.
Mother’s Note re: Helmets – I remember when my son first got his helmet.  The helmet and shoulder pads make it really real that they are playing football – so CUTE! The helmet is really heavy for 7 and 8 year olds and at first some of them struggle just to keep their heads up straight. After a few days they get used to the weight. Also, it is difficult to get their helmets off at first and the coaches did have to pull the bottom of the helmet outward as they lift it up off their head to help them get them off. It is easier to get helmets off of a wet head. For some kids, they would actually have to pour water into the helmets to get them off of some kids. This is one piece of equipment that you want to make sure if fitted absolutely properly – this is not something you should try to do yourself.

shoulder padsTell them about wearing shoulder pads-

The shoulder pads might feel funny at first and it might be harder for you to throw the ball but like everything else if you just get used to all your equipment it will feel normal to you.
Mother’s Note re: Shoulder Pads – This is another position that needs to fit properly – they shouldn’t be too big or too small. Shoulder pads are generally secured in the front – our leagues tie in the front with shoelaces – and under the armpit with an elastic strip that comes from the back of the shoulder pad to the front of the shoulder pad. Younger children often need help getting these on and secured properly.NOTE: Put the practice jersey or game jersey on the shoulder pads BEFORE the child puts the shoulder pads on! It is 10x easier to manipulate the jersey onto the pads without the child’s head and arms getting in the way!

girdleWhat about the “Lowers” you have to wear?

These are pads that protect you from the waist down – from your waist to your knees. At first you might feel ‘fat’ wearing these pads because you aren’t used to wearing so many things around your middle, but once you start walking around you get used to them.
Mother’s Note re: the ‘Lowers’ – If you have a ‘girdle’ with separate pads, put the pads in once and wash the girdle with the pads still in it – I would just tie the shoelace at the waistband really tight and throw then right into the wash. As far as the thigh and knee pads that go into the pants, I do take the pads out of the pants for washing. I would Lysol the pads and let them dry while the pants are being washed. To put the pads back into the pants, my nephew told me that the easiest way to do this is to turn the pads inside out so the pockets are exposed. Then you can put your arm through the inside of the pants (from waist to knees), grab the bottom of the knee pad with would hand and pull the pant leg ‘right side out’. I try and share this tip with each parent I talk to since parents really struggle with this.

Game DayWrapping Up –

Although it may seem very intimidating at first to dress your player for football, just remember that all these pieces of equipment are for your child’s protection.  There are a lot of different pieces to deal with, and the big pieces are pretty self explanatory.  The most confusing pieces are the “lowers” and parents, please don’t be shy about asking your child’s coach where each of the pads belong.  In the end, this will make sense as you start to put this ‘jig saw puzzle’ together. Before you know it, you will be an expert and will be the parent helping the next parent to outfit their new little football players!!!

When in Doubt, Choose the Kids…

5 Aug

When in Doubt, Choose the Kids... offers a full range of Baptismal and First Communion apparel and accessories for boys and girls.

Do You Know How to Clean Stuffed Animals?

1 Aug

Most folks know how to clean hard toys, but did you ever pause and wonder what’s the best way to clean stuffed animals (or other plush toys)?

confused look

Before I share some tips, I have a word of warning:

warning sign

Please consider the condition of the plush toy BEFORE you heed any advice I share here.  The tips I have picked up along the way has worked for my sons stuffed animals.  BUT

He didn’t inherit an heirloom teddy bear

heirloom teddy bear

Or one with pretty ribbons, lace  and pearls

teddy bear with ribbons

Or one that had a music box…

Get it?  A musical teddy bear!

Get it? A musical teddy bear!

I wouldn’t want anyone’s favorite stuffed toy to be ruined if it was exposed to a cleaning method that was too harsh for the toy.

Steps to cleaning and sanitizing your child’s plush toys that you have deemed safe:

Step 1:

Check the tags for cleaning instructions.  If they are available, follow them as appropriate.

cleaning instructions

Step 2:

Remove any stuck on food or dirt with a soft brush before beginning the cleaning process.

stuck on food

Step 3:

Put the toy(s) in the freezer for approximately 4 hours to kill any dust mites.

put in freezer

Step 4:

To wash toys in the washing machine, you need to be careful of the agitator on a top loading washer.  You will want to put the toy in a pillow cover with a zipper.  If you don’t have one, you can use a regular pillow case and tie it with a twist tie – or just tie the top of the case into a knot.  Wash the toys in warm water (not hot) in the gentle cycle using the laundry detergent that you wash your child’s clothes in (to try and minimize any allergy risks of using something too harsh for your baby’s skin).  I have a top loader machine at my house, but I heard that front loaders don’t have as much ‘pulling action’ on the toys so you can skip the part about putting the toys in a pillow case cover (or pillow case).

teddy in pillow case

washing machine

Step 5:

Move the pillow case to the dryer.  Depending on how ‘thick’ the toy is, you may need to run it through the dryer twice to be sure it is thoroughly dry.  Any residual dampness in the toy could lead to mold which is NOT what you want your child near…

clothes dryer

Make sure you wash your child’s plush toys as often as is reasonable… depending on their use, every other week should be ok.  If they are dragged around outside regularly, or put in the child’s mouth regularly, every week or more is recommended.

playing with teddy bear

Always wash plush toys regularly during contagious illnesses and again after the illness has left your home.  Clean toys help to keep kids healthy!

kids playing

Do you have any other tips or tricks to keep plush toys clean?  Please share them with us.

Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of which offers a full range of Baptismal and First Communion apparel and accessories for boys and girls.

Please feel free to visit our website or send us an e-mail at to let us know what you think.