Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meeting BentOnBetterLunches - A Bento Road Trip!

After finding out that fellow bento blogger Candy Girl from BentOnBetterLunches and I live somewhat near each other, and getting to know each other better in a not-so-secret "secret" Facebook group for bento bloggers and bento-ers (Bento Bloggers and Friends - ask me how to join!) we've been talking about getting together. Plus we had bento gear for each other, since the Daiso near me has different stuff than the one she's gone to in Canada. And why pay $5-$10 shipping when I could blow $20-$40 in gas instead?
Since Hubby was getting a half-day at work one Friday when the company hosted an afternoon family picnic for Seattle's Seafair, he offered to take Z with him. Um. SOLD! So I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to visit; Baby E and I could make the slightly-over-two-hour trek on our own. Sure, why not? It's not like taking my 13-year-old car with a broken oil gauge, an oil leak, and some mysterious screechy noise related to the front driver-side wheel on a long road trip could possibly be a bad plan!

For my long trip, I knew I'd get hungry along the way, so I packed myself a sit-down-lunch as well as a large finger-food-y snack.
One For the Road
Baby broccoli, snow and sugar snap peas, green beans;
Pink Dip, Trader Joe's Parmesan Garlic and Herb Pita Chips
I had also made smoothies the night before, to use up the raspberries that were smooshy and starting to go bad. So I slapped a Cool Cap and a Cool Straw onto my plastic Ball Freezer Jar and had my breakfast on the go!
Road Trip food, locked and loaded!

I drove past outlet malls, cities, towns, farms, gorgeous views and lots of great photo ops. I only made two stops though. One at a Starbucks, to get some coffee. I hadn't ordered caffeinated coffee in over five years. But driving lulls me to sleep, and between me and Baby E, *I* wasn't the one allowed to nap on the drive!
My other stop was for gas, since apparently I had stood at the pump like a zombie the day before and only added a few gallons, instead of filling up. Which is odd, since I always click the thing to lock it and read my book while I wait.
Err. I mean three stops. I wouldn't point my camera phone at the window and wildly snap pics while driving. That would be irresponsible...
Outside a Naval Air Force Base near their house. 
When I got there, no one answered the door for a while, so I had to knock again. Hmm... Then I saw a little Sproutlet run past. And then Sailor Boy came to answer the door. Phew! They hadn't taken just one look at me and snuck out the back!

The kids climbed all over Baby in her car seat carrier so I had to rescue her were eager to get to know us. I learned their real names through a process much like a language immersion program. Candy Girl had thought I was much further out still, so was taking a shower when I arrived, so I was on my own. Sailor Boy was still there, but we didn't know each other, and were both pretty uncomfortable. I don't like meeting new people (in person. Fake people on the internets is okay!) And I hate going to strangers' houses. But Candy Girl had threatened offered to come visit at my house, which was even worse, since my house looks like an episode of Hoarders. Without the flattened dead cats. I do a head count every few days to make sure we don't lose one under a pile of stuff...

But something about the whole situation... maybe having gotten to know Candy Girl so well online. Or the kids mowing me down with their enthusiasm, so I didn't have time to fidget and feel weird. Or maybe I was just so weary from lack of sleep that I didn't let my social issues take over. Whatever it was, I ended up walking to their bathroom whenever I felt like it, let them ply me with drinks ["Iced tea. It's really good. 95% caffeine-free. That means it has 5% caffeine." Thanks Pickle!] and let them feed me like I belonged there. (All normally anxiety-trigger items, since I hate being treated like a guest, and feeling like the host is waiting on me like a servant. And I'm terrified I'll do something embarrassing in someone else's bathroom.)
[I can't for the life of me figure out where Little Z gets her asocial behavior issues from... It's a mystery...]

The oldest boy, Beanstalk, spent most of our visit off somewhere playing some new video games he'd gotten for his birthday. Pickle was all over the place, he was so excited. And the girls stuck to us like burrs. Well. To Baby E. They argued over who got to sit next to her. Who got to hold her next (I finally had to put a stop to that, as E was getting burnt out fast.) And who got to hand her a toy next. She was treated like visiting royalty, and I felt like a rock star. It was awesome. My own daughter doesn't make me feel that valued!
Baby E, Sprout, and Bella
Since I got started later than I'd hoped (so right on time! Harhar!) I hadn't had time to eat my lunch on the way. So we sat down and ate with the kids.
Salad w/raspberries, carrots, blueberries, and raisins.
Apricot, dark chocolate PB cups, 1/2 PB-honey sandwich
I made a point of including a rainbow in my lunch, in honor of Candy Girl's Rainbow Connection linky parties. (Red raspberries; Orange/Yellow carrots, apricot, raisins; Green lettuce; Blue/Purple blueberries and raisins.)

The girls kept asking me what was in my lunch. And as I ate the apricot, they asked about the pit. And would it grow into a tree? Etc etc. So I made sure not to slobber all over it and saved it for them at the end. 
Birdie, who apparently dislikes dark chocolate, was very interested in my Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and insisted that she did not hate dark chocolate. So I said if her mom was willing to cut them up so everyone who wanted to try them could have some, that I'd save them for sharing.
After lunch, since everyone was clustered around me anyways, we took a photo op! Then they divvied up my peanut butter cups. Since the boys weren't around, we cut them into four halves, so I got some, at least!

Late afternoon we took a "Mama Break" and went shopping on the Navy Base with Baby E for a while. The younger girls were in tears when we left, insisting that they wanted to come with us, even though they apparently never want to go normally.
We may have looked at some Hello Kitty stuff...
But we were looking forward to some Girls Time and really got to chat and get to know each other better. And I love shopping. Win! Even if I don't actually get to buy anything, since you need a military ID. Oh well.

While Candy Girl made dinner for herself and me (Sailor Boy and the Sproutlets had eaten while we were out,) Birdie and Sprout entertained Baby E. Pickle and I did Mad Libs with Bella.

Candy Girl fed me a cheese quesadilla (with something inside... it had a tasty zing to it, but wasn't spicy. It was great!) and a salad before I left, and served it on one of her fancy new plates that I helped talk her into buying. If you are on a budget, I am not the girl to take shopping with you! But since she blogs about food, she neeeeeeeded some nice plates to showcase food on, right? [If you look carefully, you'll notice my dinner is practically the same colors as her blog background. Turquoise plate, green lettuce, red tomatoes, and orange cheese. Coincidence? I think not!] Incidentally, she had the exact same brand of Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing that I use! It's my favorite!

While I ate, she offered to sniff the baby's head hold Baby E. She and Birdie sang songs to her while I ate. It was beautiful. I rarely get to eat with both hands, much less without someone grabbing at my fork or my face. Err. I mean the singing was beautiful too.

For whatever reason, Baby E really took to Sprout. Maybe it was Sprout's persistence in always trying to hold, touch, or be near the baby. Or maybe she just reminded her of her own Big Sis (who also is constantly trying to hold, touch, or be near the baby. Hmm...)
Although she also loved when Pickle read her his dinosaur book. He did a great job; not only did he read the whole thing to her, but he remembered to show her the pictures on every page. Her own Big Sis doesn't even do that! She was enrapt the entire time, and was drawn in by his enthusiasm and attention.

We had a great visit, and I was sorely tempted to find an excuse to drive back up the next day too...

*Other than the EasyLunchboxes and planes photos, all pictures were taken by Candy Girl, and are used here with permission. Swiper no swiping!


  1. What a fun visit!!! I love seeing all the pics and hearing about all of the good times :D I'm glad you two got to get together!

  2. You got a pic of the jets on sticks! Great post, I loved reading about our day from your perspective :) <3 Thank you!

  3. this was so fun to read! You're a great writer! I'm glad you 2 got together - wish I could do that sometime : )


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