5 Healthy & Fun Snackboxes

5 Healthy & Fun Snackboxes

At the start of the school year, I was a bit intimidated by the need to pack a snack in addition to a lunchbox.  It took me a little bit of time to get in the groove, but now I think I’ve got it down.  Check out some fun and easy snackboxes I’ve packed:


Simple.  Cheese cubes and grapes.  Arrange in a pattern and it looks great and is a nice little snack that is also very portable.


Leftover sushi, apple slices, hard boiled egg.  Yes.  She brought leftover (cucumber) sushi to school.  She loved it!


We made homemade apple sauce after going apple picking in the fall.  I included some in this Planetbox Shuttle, along with a bento scrap muffin and grapes.


Cheese and crackers with applesauce.  Nuff Said.


This cute and happy sandwich box was the perfect snackbox to hold some strawberries, a granola bar, and a cheese stick.

Easiest of all, I sometimes have my 1st grader pack her own snack!  This helps when I am in a rush and know I will over-complicate the process!  She loves helping and it can save me a few minutes.    What are your favorite snacks to pack for your kids?



A Christmas Flan Recipe

A Christmas Flan Recipe

Most families I know put out milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Not my family.  No, that would be far too normal.  Instead, we leave Santa a Christmas flan.


This tradition started a couple of years ago, when we were eating at a local Mexican restaurant around the holidays and Santa walked in to pick up his dinner.  Girlie spotted him immediately and ran over to him and dragged him back to our table.  His food wasn’t ready yet, so he sat for a while and explained that he had parked his reindeer on the roof while he ran in to pick up his fajitas to-go.  Later that night, Girlie (then 5 years old) informed us that we’ve been doing it wrong all this time… Santa doesn’t want cookies… he likes Mexican food and since we always get a flan at that restaurant, he must also desire a Christmas flan.

The recipe I’ve been using came from my good friend, Elsa, and I have made some small changes to make it our own.


1 cup White Sugar

12 oz Whipping Cream

14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 Whole Eggs and 3 Egg Yolks

1 tsp Vanilla

1 Pinch of Cinnamon

Cranberries or Crushed Candy Canes for garnish


Preheat oven to 350. Put a deep pan in the oven, at least half full with water.

First, get a pan and 1 cup of sugar. In a medium saucepan, melt sugar until liquefied and golden in color. Use medium-low heat. This will seem painfully slow at first, but once the sugar starts looking “wet” it speeds up quite a bit. Keep a close eye on it and keep stirring until it is completely melted.

photo 2

Carefully pour the syrup into the bottom of a 9 inch round glass baking dish, turning the dish to evenly coat the sides. The syrup will harden immediately when you remove from heat, so you need to work fast. We usually make a large flan (for the family dinner)  and a small flan (to leave with santa) using this recipe. The smaller flan is basically ramekin-sized.

photo 3

Using a mixer or  blender, combine the whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and cinnamon. Blend or whip until very smooth. Add the milk mixture to the bowl with the hardened syrup and then cover with foil.

photo 4

Place the glass bowl in the hot water bath you’ve made in the oven and bake for 60 minutes.

photo 5

When it is cooled down, slide a knife around the edges and very carefully release the flan on to a plate.  Cool until ready to serve. Add some cranberries or crushed candy canes for festive garnish.  I am sure Santa will be impressed!  He always licks the plate clean at our house!

Christmas Flan!

Try it! Maybe you’ll find a new tradition!  Oh, and to add some more family traditions (3 years running on each of these), the vanilla I use is the homemade kind from this method I found on pinterest, and the cranberries are leftover from my favorite cranberry mojito recipe.

What unusual holiday traditions does your family like to repeat every year?  Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!


Some VERY old Halloween Lunches!

Some VERY old Halloween Lunches!

Well, it has been an entire month since I posted.  It has actually been a month since I’ve even managed to back up my iPhone photos, even though I have so many lunches photographed and edited and ready to post.  I’ll blame my hectic job schedule, with the late nights and too much travel, but the honest truth is, if posting is important to me, I just have to make it happen.  I am on break on one such late night call right now and am squeezing this in!  Halloween and Fall are easy targets in my cache of photos, so here you go… drumroll please….here are many, but not all, of the Halloween and fall lunches I have made in the last several weeks!

Halloween Easy Lunchbox - RachelsRandom.com

First up is a Halloween lunch with some fun goodies from home.  The main course is tortilla pinwheels with whole wheat tortilla and low-fat cheese. They are skewered on picks… I especially like the one that looks like a nail!  She also has a little cup of homemade pumpkin seeds and a monster claw I made in the large compartment. The monster claw is a pretzel stick stuck in a candy mold… these things were a bit tedious to make, but were a big hit with the kids.  She also has grapes and some jello.

Bat Sandwich Planetbox - RachelsRandom.com

This awesome bat sandwich made Little Dude’s day.  He has a cheese sandwich with little bat cheese cutouts, grapes, apples, jello, pumpkin seeds, and a monster claw.

Jack-o-lantern EasyLunchbox - RachelsRandom.com

This jack-o-lantern cheese sandwich was served with carrots, red bell pepper, low-fat ranch dip, plums, blueberries, and apple cobbler that my friend made.

Fall Laptop Lunch - RachelsRandom.com

This Laptop Lunches bento has fall-shaped cheese and crackers, berries, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and jello with Halloween sprinkles.

Bat Car Bento - RachelsRandom.com

Little Dude picked out this lunch himself and helped a bunch with the prep.  He has a bat car with cheese cutouts, grapes, strawberries, and pineapple.  This lunch is served in his Spider-Man bento.

Jack-o-Lantern Bynto - RachelsRandom.com

Yet another Jack-o-lantern sandwich… this time with bat cheese.  Can’t you see the creative juices flowing? :)  I also packed pirate booty and apple slices.

Cheese & Crackers Fall Shapes Bynto - RachelsRandom.com

Here is another fall-shapes cheese and crackers lunch.  Girlie also has cucumber, yellow bell pepper, plum, pear, and some graham cracker cookies.

Fall Planetbox Shuttle -RachelsRandom.com

This is a fall snack box that I packed for the first day of fall… yeah, 2 months ago.  It is in a PlanetBox Shuttle and has ants on a log, waffle pretzels, FALL letter cookies, and a cheese stick.

Maple Cookie Snackbox - RachelsRandom.com

This snack box has cheese, pears, grapes, and a maple creme cookie.  YUM!

So, I hope you enjoyed my long and long-overdue post!  I swear I am still packing lunches and snacks for the kids every day (except when I am away, of course) and even photographing them.   It is the last few steps that have been escaping me.  Please wish me lunch wrapping up this project so I can get some sanity back, and in exchange, I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgivukkah!

These are the products used in this post:

4 Bentos in our New ECOLunchbox

4 Bentos in our New ECOLunchbox

I won an ECOLunchbox from Ladybug Lunches at the start of summer.  Now that school is back in gear, we’ve been using this lunchbox a lot!  I love the shape of it and the size seems to be “just right” for both of my kids.   At first glance, this lunchbox seemed way too small, but once I began using it, I saw that this really is the ideal portion size for them (they are currently 4 and 7 years old).  Check out 4 ECOLunchboxes I’ve packed in the last couple of weeks.

ECOLunchbox CuteZCute Pig Sandwich - RachelsRandom.com

This CuteZCute pig sandwich is surrounded by Pirate Booty.  The upper tray features applesauce in the small container, a cheese stick, a maple-cream cookie, and a couple of waffle pretzels.  You can tell this is a Friday lunch, because I’d run out of fresh fruits and veggies!  I always end up scrounging in the cupboards until the weekend rolls around and I can do my shopping again!

ECOLunchbox Puppy Love Sandwich - RachelsRandom.com

This lunch from today is a better example!  Girlie had a tofurky and cheese sandwich, made on homemade bread.  I used a heart cutter and topped the heart with a leftover cut-out from Little Dude’s sandwich.  The sandwich is surrounded with carrot sticks that were fresh from our garden.   The upper compartment has homemade applesauce (we went to the apple orchard over the weekend), strawberries, and grapes.  It just goes to show the variety of lunches… they’re not always perfectly nutritious, but I do the best that I can with what I have!

ECOLunchbox Puzzle Sandwich - RachelsRandom.com

Above is a puzzle PB&J sandwich, packed with cheese cubes and teddy grahams in the bottom compartment.  The “upstairs” has applesauce and fresh pineapple.

ECOLunchbox Tortilla Pinwheels - RachelsRandom.com

Finally, this lunch has tortilla & cheese roll-ups with pirate booty and trail-mix in the downstairs and yogurt, apple, and plum upstairs.  YUM!

I love the variety of ways I can use this lunchbox and I really like using a stainless steel container.  After having used the ECOLunchbox a few times for each kid, I can tell you that the only negative feedback I’d give is that it is tough to open!  Neither kid can get it open on their own, but it is easy to get help… just raise your hand! It isn’t enough of a drawback to keep them from requesting it or me from using it.

I have a huge backlog of lunch photos to share, but not a lot of time to get them edited and typed up.  I am going to try to get to these (and some giveaways) soon!  In the meantime, work is keeping me VERY busy and well-traveled.  I’m about to take off for Europe again – this time to Netherlands and Germany.  We’ll see if I can dig up any interesting bento gear while I’m out and about.  You know I can’t resist!

Products used in this post:

This lunch is linked at:
Bento LunchBentos on the Bayou

Our week in Bento!

Our week in Bento!

This was a busy week for us and I think it is amazing that I ended up making FIFTEEN bento meals this week!  Yeah, with Little Dude’s 5 lunches, Girlie’s 5 AM Snackboxes, and Girlie’s 5 lunches, that’s a lot of packing!  I think I should try to simplify the AM snack, but I just haven’t figured that one out yet…I’m new… give me time! :)  Here are some of the highlights from this week and the end of last week…

Teddy Bear Train Lunch - RachelsRandom.com

I got Little Dude off to a good start on Monday with this Teddy Bear Train sandwich!  Mondays are always a little hard and even at 4, he wants a little more weekend instead of being hustled out of bed and off to school.  Sometimes showing him his lunchbox helps him get excited to get out of bed and get moving.  This one definitely got his attention and it was very simple to make!  I used a Lunch Punch to cut the train.  I used cheese for the tracks.  Mini gingerbread & creme cookies are the wheels and a Teddy Graham is the conductor.  He also has strawberries and grapes.

Yogurt Laptop Lunch - RachelsRandom.comAdorable Snack Bento - RachelsRandom.com

Girlie had a Greek yogurt & Banana Laptop Lunch with carrots, bell pepper, and grapes.  I included a container of granola for her to pour into the yogurt and I spelled out REN with cookies to reminder about all the fun we had at the Renaissance Festival over the past weekend. Her snack included nectarine, white cheddar, and teddy grahams, all tucked in these cute little fruit & veggie silicon cups!  This new snack box is sandwich-sized and comes with an ice-pack that attaches to the bottom. I got it at Five Below and we both love it!

Cheese & Cracker Laptop Lunch - RachelsRandom.comLittle Dude's Laptop LunchLOVE Laptop Lunch - RachelsRandom.com

Little Dude packed a Cheese & Crackers Laptop Lunch with a car-shaped hard-boiled egg, strawberries, and applesauce.  The little piggy is a baran (food divider) that I just placed on top for fun! He loves packing this lunch box by himself. Having individual containers helps him feel in control of “what goes where.”  He wanted to take a picture with the one he packed on Wednesday of this week… he was so proud of his selections! I packed a Laptop Lunch for Girlie with latakes & applesauce, strawberries & blueberries, a hard-boiled egg & carrots, and letter cookies to spell LOVE.

Castle & Scroll Planetbox - RachelsRandom.comColorful CuteZCute Planetbox - RachelsRandom.com

Girlie had a PlanetBox lunch with a castle sandwich, raisins, nectarine, edamame, chocolate rocks, and a Chobani Champions yogurt tube.  She ate everything except for the raisins… I forgot she doesn’t like those… ooops!  The paper at the top is a little love note scroll I made her and taped shut with a puppy sticker.  I later learned she auctioned the sticker off at lunch… she’s a funny one.  Oh, and this lunch has the new PlanetBox magnets I got her… unicorns!  Sooooo cute!    The other PlanetBox lunch had a CuteZCute frog sandwich (Tofurky & Cheese that day) with carrots, strawberries, grapes, a mini cookie, and a Chobani Champions tube.

Acorn Fall Lunch - RachelsRandom.comAcorn Letter A Lunch - RachelsRandom.com

I spotted this ridiculously cute acorn lunch idea in my newsfeed this week and wasted no time in trying to replicate it!  Girlie got a fall-themed lunch with the last of those mini-cookies and some craisins in a leaf cup.  She also had carrots, bell pepper, grapes, and a gold leaf-ring.  Dude had an “A” themed lunch because his Pre-K class is doing a letter of the week now and I thought it would be fun to reinforce through lunches!  Yes, I’m a nerd.   He has an acorn, apple sauce, A cookies, and grapes with an airplane pick and cheese, which I can’t even come up with some A thing to say about. Oh well!

Totally Lame Pirate Lunch - RachelsRandom.com

This sad little lunch made Little Dude really happy.  It was Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday, a holiday we hold dear to our hearts in my family, and I just could not get it together to make a decent pirate lunch.  This is so lame, but all I could throw together in honor of the pirates is a half-eaten bag of pirate booty (he ate the first half – not me!), tortilla pinwheels skewered on swords, and some grapes.   If you want to see a fantastic pirate lunch, start with BentOnBetterLunches and go through both of my bento-friends’ blog hops… amazing!

Cheese and Crackers Snack Shuttle - RachelsRandom.comApple & PB Snack - RachelsRandom.com

We’ve been breaking in our new PlanetBox Shuttle for AM snack.  Girlie had cheese and crackers with half a banana and mini cookies one day and a protein bar, apple slices, and some peanut butter protein dip yesterday.

Snack Bento 567 - RachelsRandom.com

This snack bento was counting down the days until Girlie’s birthday next week! I can’t believe my baby is about to turn 7 soon!  She had apples, number cookies, pretzels, and cheese.

Ice Cream Social Snack - RachelsRandom.com

And this is today’s snack.  She has grapes, cheese strips, pretzels, and little ice-cream shaped cheeses!  We are going to her school’s ice-cream social after school today and I thought this would give her a smile!

This is a lot of bento and not a lot of blogging! It seems like we’ve been just too busy all the time for me to get much writing in. Please feel free to chime in with any time-saving hints, particularly for snack-time.

The following products were used in this post:

This lunch is linked at:
Bento LunchBentos on the Bayou

I can’t stop [shopping]!

I can’t stop [shopping]!

I need help!  I have a problem.  I can’t stop buying bento stuff!  I have cabinets full of it and yet, more and more makes it way there all the time, especially in the Back to School weeks.  Here is a glimpse at some of my newest acquisitions to at least prove that they are being well used!

Spider-Man Bento - RachelsRandom.com

I could not even attempt to resist this adorable Spider-Man bento that I found at Target last weekend!  It has a great Spidey cover and comes with utensils.  Irresistable, I tell you!  I packed him “pizza bites” with strawberries and grapes.  I also included a yogurt cup in his lunch bag.  He was very excited about this one!

New Hello Kitty Bento - RachelsRandom.com

And then, I could not have Girlie feeling any bento neglect, and she needed some cute snack boxes now that I pack a morning snack for 1st grade, so I grabbed this adorable Hello Kitty bento box at Bento USA. This snack has a babybel cheese, strawberries, grapes, and a homemade cookie.

Cereal Bento - RachelsRandom.com

Little Dude got to test out this awesome new cereal container.  The bottom cup has freezer gel on the outside and you put the entire cup in the freezer the night before.  In the morning, you fill the cup with milk, screw the next compartment on top, fill that with cereal, and then attach the lid, which comes with an adorable collapsible spoon. I found these at Five Below.  He LOVED this and Girlie is excited to try hers too.  Dude is 4 and said that he needed a teacher to help him “twist it off” for him and he promises that he did not make a mess.  He had a side bento box (also from Five Below) that had a hard boiled egg, apples, and grapes.

Cheese & Crackers Lunchbots - RachelsRandom.com

Girlie is first to try the new lunchbots quad that I scored on zulily. I also used some of the new silicon cups I purchased from Bento USA. This lunchbox looked much smaller than I had expected at first, but it actually holds a lot of food! Girlie said she was literally putting the last bite of food in her mouth as the end of lunch bell rang, so it was just the right amount.  She had crackers and cheese, a carrot from our garden, cucumber spears, white peach, grapes, strawberries, and a small cup of trail mix.  I also tucked a little note behind the crackers and she really loved finding that as a surprise.

AM Snack - RachelsRandom.com

This round container is part of a Hello Kitty 4 piece bento set that we’ve had for a while, but the star silicon cup and leaf cup are both new!  This was a morning snack bento of hard boiled egg, grapes, strawberries, and a few chocolate teddy grahams.

PlanetBox Snack - RachelsRandom.com

OK… so I am off the hook on the PlanetBox shuttle above!  I won it in a video contest and did not actually shop for it myself!  Thank goodness.  I used the large container that comes with the rover to pack some yogurt with strawberries and I packed granola around the big dipper container.  She also got some white peach slices.  I hope this was enough of a morning snack to tide her over… I’m still experimenting!

Puzzle PlanetBox - RachelsRandom.com

This is Girlie’s Planetbox Rover from last year.  She still uses it, but I bought new magnets for it, so Little Dude might like using it too. I got him a bigger lunch bag that can fit the Planetbox inside with a drink.  I like that I can have one lunchbox and personalize it with magnets to match whichever kid is packing it on a given day.  I also got Little Dude some cute new Monsters Incorporated flatware.  I packed those for him along with his reusable napkin in the top compartment.  The other compartments have a PB&J puzzle sandwich, strawberries, a little dipper of yogurt, peaches, and some teddy grahams.

I hate to admit this, but there are some picks and a few more silicon cups (in fruit and veggie shapes) that are not shown here. I also got one more snack box for Girlie.  I need to stop.  Now.  It is already out of control, but then again, it is my hobby, and it is so much fun, and it benefits the kids, right?!?!  Please help me justify my insanity!

I hope everyone is having a good back-to-school transition too!  What new supplies have you picked up recently?

I used the following items in this post:

This post is linked at:
Bento LunchBentos on the Bayou

Racing off to Pre-K! And the first day of first grade!

Racing off to Pre-K! And the first day of first grade!

Celebrate!  Back to School has finally arrived!

Racing off to Pre-K - RachelsRandom.com

I decided to start Little Dude off with a race car lunch. He was very excited to see me packing lunch and was eager to show his lunchbox to his friends.  He has a PB&J sandwich on top of some chocolate rocks and I spelled out PRE-K in alphabet cookies and cheese.  He also has pretzels and cheese cubes with strawberries.  His lunchbox came back empty – as always.

First Grade CuteZCute - RachelsRandom.comEmpty Planetbox!

Girlie’s special request for her first lunch of first grade was “anything, as long as it includes a panda sandwich.” She has a sun butter and jam CuteZCute panda with blueberries, carrots, ranch dip, strawberries, chocolate rocks, and a Chobani Champions yogurt tube.  Girlie is always very appreciative of my lunches, but she usually has a lot of leftovers because she spends much more time chatting than eating at lunchtime.  You can imagine my surprise when her Planetbox came home EMPTY yesterday!  She said she was starving at lunch and just tore right in!  I am interested to see if this is a trend that continues!

First Grade Snack Bento - RachelsRandom.com

Her first grade also asks for a morning snack, so I guess I’ll be starting a new hobby of snack bentos! Yesterday’s snack was cheese cubes with waffle pretzels and blueberries.   This was barely touched… I guess that helps to explain why she was so hungry at lunchtime!  I’ll be on the lookout for bento snack ideas too, if you want to add your favorite snack-sized bento in the comments!

Both kids came home very happy with their first day.  They both have fantastic teachers and even though neither kid knew anyone in their new class, they both made friends quickly and were excited about the new year.  How were your kids’ first days?

Products I used in this post:

This lunch is linked at:
Bento LunchFollowing In My ShoesBentos on the Bayou

A Week of Camp Lunches

A Week of Camp Lunches

Are your kids back to school already?  We’ve still got another whole week to go! However, I was able to get my bento fix this week because my kids were in a new camp that does not provide lunches.   I had fun making some special lunches for them and I especially enjoyed seeing Little Dude’s face light up when he saw his lunch bag again.  I love making him smile at lunch!

Cheese and Crackers Bynto - RachelsRandom.com

We kicked off the week with a Goodbyn Bynto of cheese and crackers.  Little Dude was still talking about the little cheese stars after camp and wanted some with his dinner, too!   I also gave him strawberries, veggie sticks, and a car-shaped hard boiled egg.

Cheese Hoagie Bento - RachelsRandomc.om

Girlie had an Easy Lunchbox with leftover cheese hoagie sections. She also has strawberries and celery. Hoagies are a Philadelphia specialty and Girlie frequently requests this for dinner. One hoagie often lasts her for 2 meals.

Lock and Lock Puzzle Bento and Snack - RachelsRandom.com

Camp requires snacks in addition to lunch and it seemed like these meals were eaten fairly close together.   I packed Little Dude 2 Lock & Lock Bentos on Wednesday.  The snack bento had a cereal bar, a banana, and a juice box.  The lunch was sunbutter & jam puzzle sandwich, waffle pretzels, apple slices, babybel cheese, and a fish-shaped hard-boiled egg.

Field Trip Disposable Bento - RachelsRandomc.om

Girlie had the excitement of a field trip on Wednesday. The big kids went ice skating!  She needed a disposable lunch, so I packed her bento in an empty strawberries container.  She had a sunbutter & jam heart sandwich, veggie sticks (under the fruit and cheese), and cupcake liners full of cherries, banana, and babybel cheese.

Cheese Pinwheel Bento - RachelsRandom.com

Thursday lunch was tortilla and cheese pinwheels, with cheese shapes that Girlie cut out herself. She also had carrots, a bear hard-boiled egg, blue berries, and… the cotton candy grapes!  Have you tried these?  They are just too weird for me, but the kids are nuts for them.  I need to do some research to understand how these things came to be, because I am a little scared! In the meantime, they are rapidly consumed here!

Airplane Bento - RachelsRandom.com

This last lunch celebrates an upcoming airplane trip!  This is a cheese sandwich, made with the airplane Lunch Punch.  The kids have blueberries, the cotton candy grapes, and fresh tomato from our garden!

We are looking forward to having more and more garden product in the lunches when school starts!

These products were used in this post:

All 4 CuteZCute animals in one post!

All 4 CuteZCute animals in one post!

We have a very large collection of sandwich cutters, but the most popular one is the CuteZCute, because it is so versatile and well… cute!

Here are 4 CuteZCute lunches that feature each of the animals included in the box.  If you’re going to buy one new thing for back to school, this is the one I’d most recommend!

CuteZCute Panda EasyLunchbox - RachelsRandom.com


This panda was surrounded by carrots and sugar snap peas.  Girlie said she pretended the carrots were bamboo shoots!  She also had strawberries and yogurt.   This is definitely an easy lunchbox, but has a lot of color to it, protein, and tons of vitamins!

Frog CuteZCute Planetbox - RachelsRandom.com

This frog sandwich is part of a very basic and quick-packing PlanetBox.  I packed a cheese sandwich, carrots, celery, apples, pistachios, a Chobani Champions yogurt tube, and a little dipper of ranch for dipping veggies in.  The CuteZCute makes the entire lunch cute, while only actually expending a few seconds to add the frog details.

CuteZCute Pig Bento - RachelsRandom.Com

This is a lunch that I packed for Little Dude, who is much fussier about eating veggies.  He loves the pig best of the CuteZCute cutters and we both think it makes us think of Angry Bird pigs.  He has a PB&J with pirate booty, a babybel cheese circle, a car-shaped hard boiled egg, strawberries, and grapes.

CuteZCute Cat Planetbox - RachelsRandom.com

This cat’s ear got a little mangled, but I am sure it tasted fine! Girlie got a cheese sandwich with green grapes, mini bell peppers, strawberries, a Chobani Champions yogurt tube, and a small slice of gouda!

What is your favorite tool for making lunches?  There are so many fun ideas out there!

I used these products in my post:

This lunch is linked at:
Bento LunchBentos on the Bayou

Summertime Update!

Summertime Update!

Wow.  I am seeing all this back-to-school activity online and realized I have not posted anything on this blog since school ended for us in June!  We are still 3 weeks out from school starting in our district, but I wanted to get back in the habit of posting and I still have a backlog of lunches to show you from the end of last year.  I’ll get started on those this week, but for now I’ll just offer up some fun highlights of our summer:



Summer camp kicked off on a rainy day, but the kids were excited anyway and loved dressing up for “sports jersey day.”


IMG_3440 The Pool finally opened and Little Dude fell in love with swimming and snorkeling!


Girlie won the “lucky sandwich” at camp! She also won a camp-wide Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament, Color War, and the Senior Camp After Dark Contest. She had an awesome summer!


We spent a lot of time in the nail salon!


My brother and his wife and their baby moved to PA! It is so great to have them close to us again!


We took up gardening! This is an early shot of our garden beds… they are now growing out of control, despite my attempts to prune back new growth!



They ate lots and lots of ice cream!



She got her ears pierced while I was away on business!!! My baby girl!!!!


I traveled a bunch this summer! I was in Atlanta twice and I also got to go to Madrid for 11 days for work! This is the symbol of the city of Madrid.


We crashed a rooftop party in Madrid and I got this great picture as the sun was going down.


I’ve been working hard on my diet and exercise routines. I tried to keep that up while I was away by booking a running tour of Madrid… at 5am, so I could get to work on time after. 12K and then a 12 hour work day. Awesome.


So yeah, I am working on my diet, but I might’ve eating just a little bit of paella in Spain!


The garden is producing some awesome tomatoes!!!


After living here for 2 years, we finally managed to do some sight-seeing in Philadelphia! We visited Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell last weekend.


I studied for and passed the Salesforce Certified Developer Exam! I now have 3 Salesforce Certifications, but this one make me feel like a real geek now! I am very proud of where my career is taking me and I love how much I am learning all the time!

Definitely a busy summer!  We’re in our last week of the kids’ main summer camp and then have a week of a different camp when this one ends.  We’ve got some end-of summer travel planned and then we are back to school the day after Labor Day.  I am very excited to get back to our school year routine and I’m more than a little nervous about my daughter starting first grade!!!  Little Dude will have a teacher that I love, but most of his friends are in a different class.  I know I have back-to-school shopping to do, but I haven’t received any lists or even any word at all from the public school my daughter is attending for the first time.  It is a little overwhelming as a first-timer, but I am ready to dive in.

When do your kids start school?  Do you have any strategies on managing back-to-school shopping?  I really don’t want to have to make 10 stops to get what we need.  I wonder if I’ll have time to do it all online? Wish me luck!