Sunday, September 14, 2014

Zevia - the Smarter Soda!

When we went dye-free a little over two years ago, soda was one of the first things that had to go. Most of them contain not only artificial petroleum-derived dyes, but also artificial flavors. Zevia was one of the first "safe" alternatives I found. Having Zevia available to bring to parties and such really helped my then-preschooler not feel left out.

[I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet(SM) program, May Media 
Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meets(SM) blogger, 
agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily 
reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.]
My kids LOVE getting to have soda again. Well. They love getting soda at all, actually! But it's nice that they aren't limited to the lemon-lime varieties, which are the only ones to be found at the movies or restaurants and such without artificial colors and flavors or caffeine. I loved grape, strawberry, and orange sodas growing up. They were one of my favorite treats (along with Hostess, but since we had to save up to buy our own treats in our household, I was more likely to get soda at a restaurant (we got to pick soda or dessert when eating out) than save up for anything more expensive than a candy bar at the grocery store...)

Lemon-Lime Twist is Big Sister's favorite, probably because, like I said, lemon lime is pretty much the only soda she's known for a while. I love the other fruity flavors. I have a very sensitive palate, and can taste any sugar alternative, whether it's natural like Stevia, or artificial. Fruit flavors tends to mask that really well though. Little Sis doesn't have a preference for "toda" flavors. If it's in a can or we tell her it's soda, she is all over it! And Hubby is a cola and root beer drinker. Zevia has enough flavor varieties, we are all covered!
Zevia is the original naturally sweetened, zero calorie soda with no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. (Great for people who need to avoid sugar!) This tasty treat comes in 15 familiar flavors including Cola, Black Cherry, Cream Soda, Grapefruit Citrus and Ginger Ale. Consider it the smarter soda go-to for you and your family. Zero calories, naturally sweetened, and delicious; Zevia is the soda trifecta of awesomeness.
Zevia Zero Calorie Soda is sweetened naturally with a unique blend of high purity Stevia (grown right here in the US!) and Monk Fruit.

•  Zevia comes in 15 different flavors, including Ginger Root Beer, Strawberry, Cherry Cola, and many more.
•  This soda contains no calories, and no HFCS, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. Great for diabetics!
•  No artificial colors or flavors.
•  Kosher, Vegan, and Gluten-Free!
•  The retail price for a 6-pack of Zevia ranges from $3.99 to $5.99.

Take the #ZeviaStyle Challenge!
Zevia wants to celebrate your unique voice by discovering what makes you an original! They’re hosting a style challenge designed to highlight your calling card, whether that’s kitchen wizardry, a killer fashion sense, or just being an all-around super mom (or dad!) Simply post your original style pics to Instagram (@zevialife) or twitter (@zevia), tag Zevia and #ZeviaStyle and you’re done! Don’t forget to include #ZeviaStyle in your posts to be sure your unique voice is heard! Need inspiration? Check out their #ZeviaStyle boards on Pinterest, and be sure to follow Zevia on Facebook!
We don't drink soda at home much, except for the occasional ice cream float. But I like to bring a few cans to parties and barbecues and such, so my girls have something safe that they can enjoy. With Zevia, I don't have to feel guilty letting them have a whole can AND dessert too!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preschool Picnic at the Park

Little Sis and I go to a co-op preschool which runs mid-September until mid-May. At the end of their school year, they have an all-school picnic potluck. Since I can't be sure there would be safe options for us, I packed lunches! Nut-free, since a girl in our class has serious peanut and tree-nut allergies.

5/20/14 - E liked running around on the playground and climbing on the park equipment. It's been so fun watching her confidence and independence blossom!

{Nut-Free} PB Cracker Stackers for E
Organic apples, grapes, carrots; Glutino crackers and pretzel chips, Sunbutter
The toddler doesn't mind broken crackers, so she usually gets stuck with them. Gluten-free crackers and such don't hold up well during shipping... I gave her a little spoon to use to spread the Sunbutter on her crackers or just straight into her gob.

Leftovers for Mama
Hummus, organic sweet peppers, leftover veggie tart
I made this amazing spring veggie tart for dinner the night before and wrapped it in parchment paper overnight to try and prevent it from getting soggy. Worked! Nom!

Big Sis got her own PB Cracker Stackers lunch, but for some reason ate almost none of it at school that day. So the girls shared the rest as an after-school snack!

On our way out, they let us have one of the balloons from the picnic. I had one thrilled little girl!

Tools of the Trade

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School with KiDecals Personalized Labels!

A few years ago I made the mistake of not labelling everything that went to school, and Z got her coat swapped for one that wasn't hers! Doh! Last year there were at least 3 other kids on the playground with the same lunch bag as ours, but luckily no one in her classroom had it, so there were no mistaken lunchy mishaps. This year I'm not taking any chances! Apparently the coats and lunch bags I like at Costco are outrageously popular!

[Disclaimer: KiDecals sent me a code for a free set of personalized labels.]

Since I have a lot of different items needing labels, and I'm too cheap to buy different ones for clothes versus lunchboxes versus shoes, I went with ones from KiDecals! They're all dishwasher safe as well as washer and dryer safe! Wahoo! Plus they have loads of vibrant and fun designs. Last year we got these Princess ones, which are great for inside shoe heels, jacket labels, and on the bottoms of bento boxes.

But this year I wanted some smaller less-roundy ones, so Z and I chose Ombre Chevron, which comes in two sizes of rectangles.
I just love these colors together! In the past I've opted to just use our last name and my cell phone number, so E wouldn't always be stuck with Big Sister's name on everything for the rest of her life. But this time I chose Z's whole name with my phone number. Our last name is fairly common, so for something lost at school, it would be hard to find the owner without having to call me. And I hate talking to random people on the phone. Plus, while we might swap bento boxes around, Z is the only one who uses her lunch bag and water bottle. And she destroys her shoes. No risk of hand-me-downs there! So I figured for those things, at least, we could use special extra-personalized labels!

Last year Z went to a private school for a half-day of Kindergarten, and then the public school for the other half. It was a lot of work for me, but she had been thriving at the private school for preschool, and I wanted an easier transition for her to the all-day public school. We tried our best, but she kept having more and more behavioral issues and anxiety at the public school, until it eventually spread to hating both schools. So this year, I found a Montessori private school that goes up through 8th grade. She tried a few weeks of Summer camp there and blossomed again. It was amazing. So excited to see what this year has in store for us!
Our "school supply" list for the 1st through 3rd grade classes is... lunch. Plus a coat each day whether I think she'll need it or not, and boots that stay at school. And optional snack. Easy peasy! And definitely label-worthy items!

Due to the popularity of this lunch bag last year, I made sure to put one of our KiDecals inside on the tag. Turns out I made the right call. She says there are five other kids with the same bag!

I send the same container each day for her water (and wash it on weekends,) so labelled the bottom. I like this one since it rarely leaks, and I'd hate to lose it!

We had the option of sending a coat each day or leaving one at school, so I opted for both. We just got the girls these fun Hello Kitty rain coats at Costco, and were apparently not the only ones! I saw three others at pick-up! So I'm glad I put her KiDecal inside, since this one will be living on her hook at school. I'm not always good at not losing her sweatshirts and jackets...

All set for our first day of First Grade! Well, except for the boots. It's a long story.

Get 15% off your order when you sign up for the KiDecals e-newsletter or "like" KiDecals on Facebook!
And don't forget to check out their keyboard decals! I love the Trekkie ones!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kid-Friendly School Lunch Ideas!

{Nut-Free} PBJ-On-a-Stick
Z's Lunch: GF Sunbutter-Jelly sandwich, MOMables GF Apple-Plum Cobbler; organic apricot, green beans, carrots
5/13/14 - Cutting a sandwich into bites and stacking them on a fun cupcake skewer is a quick and easy way to turn a boring old sandwich into something fun! Emphasis on quick and easy! Whee!

[This post contains affiliate links.]

E's Lunch: GF Sunbutter-Jelly sandwich, organic carrots and strawberries
Same thing for Little Sis on a Yum skewer. If you don't mind some extra cutting and filling-spreading, this is a great use for larger bread scraps if you save them from making shaped sandwiches.

Green Mac-N-(Not)Cheese
Leftover GF macaroni w/squash and pea sauce, basil, dried seaweed, organic apples
5/14/14 - I make a dairy-free "cheese" sauce from pureed squash and nutritional yeast (among other things,) and added some powdered pea baby food to the mix, which made it greenish. Z doesn't mind cold macaroni, so I just heated it a bit before packing to soften it. I packed it in a gingerbread girl silicone baking mold, and added a leaf of homegrown basil just for fun!

Chips and Dip
5/14/14 - There wasn't enough macaroni left for E, so she got organic whole grain corn tortilla chips and a Sabra hummus cup (we get them in a huge pack at Costco and I freeze them to last longer.)

DIY {Sunbutter} Cracker Stackers
Sunbutter, Van's Perfect 10 GF crackers, Glutino pretzel chips; organic carrots, green beans, grapes, apples
5/20/14 - Z likes the build-your-own lunch types, so I sent her with a Mini Dipper full of Sunbutter and crackers for a DIY MOMables PB Cracker Stackers!

We got the spoon by trading in a bunch of game tickets (probably won by Hubby) at Chuck E Cheese. Having my kiddo pick that over some other useless trinket was a proud Mama moment for me... I've got a little bentoseusse in the making!

Tools of the Trade