Back to School Lunch Ideas with Free Printable Lunchbox Notes

I was asked by Caruseleto participatein the #SimplyNice campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

Back to school mean back to packing lunches and snacks. If you are anything like me, you are always trying to find things the kids will eat or ways to make lunchtime fun so that the kids will eat. And not only eat but eat well. This is the hard part, especially because most families are very busy and on the go. But I have found some things to start off this school year’s lunch packing off in a great way! Recently in Walgreens I found Nice!® products.

Nice!® products are conveniently available at Walgreens, making stocking up a snap. Plus, Nice!® foods taste great, feature better-for-you ingredients, and have transparent nutrition labelingon the front of every package, so you can feel good about buying delicious snacks from a brand you can trust! 

I let my kids go through the store and pick the items they wanted in their lunches. They only eat what tastes good to them, so they have to be the ones to choose. Luckily, I know that Nice! foods deliver uncompromised quality and taste and offer a range of healthier products that nourish the body, and delicious treats that elevate the spirits.

Nice! foods are conveniently labeled across the top of every package with nutritional information, so it is easy to see what is included in their products and also how many calories per serving. Nice! offers balanced food and beverages that tastes great and with ingredients you can feel good about. Nice! has no PHO’s, no trans fats and striving to use real ingredients and reducing artificial ingredients, they even offer organic varieties. And did I mention FOR LESS? Nice! foods are easy on your grocery budget…and even discounted with Walgreens store promotions.

We left Walgreens with a cart full of Nice! snacks such as yogurt covered pretzels, nut and trail mix, sea salt popcorn, veggie chips, beef jerky, cheese sticks, apple sauces and waters. There was so much to choose from and the kids were excited to have all this yummy food for their school lunches and snacks.

When it comes to lunch packing, I have a system down to make life easier and SAVE TIME. I make all the kid’s sandwiches at the beginning of the week and put them in individual baggies. That means I only have to make sandwiched once a week. Woo who!!! Then, i take all the snacks and sides and put them in baskets, so that the are easily accessible for the kids. Each day, they make their own lunches by grabbing one of the sandwiches I made and adding all the snacks they like to their lunches. When they are done, I double check what they packed and send them on their way.

Also, to add a little bit of fun to my kids lunchtime, I created these fun little printable lunch notes with cheesy jokes on them. Lunchtime is not their favorite time of the day…they’d rather be playing a recess than eating. So I am hoping these jokes give them something to look forward to, and the new Nice!® snack entice them to get their tummies full to feel them through their busy day.

I have included the link to these free printable lunchbox notes here for your own personal use. Just download and print!

I wish all you parents a happy Back-to-School season and happy lunch packing. I know so many parents who dread this part of back to school. Hopefully with this inspiration and some Nice!@ products, lunch packing will be a bit easier.

Orange County Summer Bucket List and Free Printable

Orange County Summer Bucket ListOrange County is truly unique. our weather is beautiful, we have great beaches, lots of fun family-friendly amenities to enjoy in our communities, and did i mention the beaches…oh yeah, i did! well, i often get asked what are my favorite activities to enjoy with kids in Orange County, so i decided to put together an Orange County Summer Bucket List of things to do with the kids during the summer, so that you can experience OC like i do. the list includes a bunch of freebie activities, some cheap or moderately priced activities, and just a couple more pricey activities. this way you can budget out your summer accordingly and not break the bank. i have even included this FREE PRINTABLE so you can enjoy this bucket list as much as us!

Orange County Summer Bucket List

 Click Here to Download the Orange County Summer Bucketlist Free Printable

feel free to swap out any activities that don’t look like they will work for your family. here are my TOP PICKS!

Orange County Summer Bucket List

1. Go to the Beach – we have tons of beaches that are great for families. my top picks are Corona Del Mar, Newport Pier and Balboa Beaches. these all have restrooms near the sand, and close parking. i also love Victoria Beach because of the unique castle tower and cement pools, Treasure Island Beach, and Crystal Cove (all in Laguna)…although the walks are a bit of a hassle. Or if you want to go to the tide pools, here is a list of family-friendly tide pools in Orange County.

2. Ride the Balboa Ferry and Visit the Balboa Fun Zone – we love the Balboa Fun Zone. i love to take the kids across to the island on the ferry and go to the little park or walk along the beach. the ferry is very cheap, and if you pack a picnic, it can be a very inexpensive day. back on the boardwalk there are fun things to do like the ferris wheel or arcade, and there is a candy store where you give the kids a couple dollars to get a few pieces of candy.

3. Go to Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach – this is a tradition of ours every year. the Tom Sawyer Rafts are so much fun. i dread the day when my kids are too old to go. Kids are $4 and adults are free. You can get more information about Adventure Playground here.

4. Go to a Concert in the Park – check out this list of over 100 outdoor concerts in the park or beach to find a concert near you.

5. Visit a Splash Pad – there are lots of great splash pads in Orange County. My favorite is the splash pad at Crown Valley Community Park, but you can find some more on my list of 101 Things to Do With Kids in Orange County.

6. Go to Adventure Playground in Irvine – this is an awesome park where kids can play to their hearts content. there are giant legos to build with, play structures, water fun, games, books, dirt, mud, and so much more. if your kids like to get dirty, they can, if they don’t, you can definitely play without getting too messy. you can read more about Adventure Playground here.

7. Experience Ghost Town Alive! – happening Knott’s Berry Farm. at this is the best interactive fun you can get at an amusement park. the Ghost Town characters help you solve mystery, play games, tell stories, and give you tasks all over Calico. you can dress up or just follow along. it’s definitely one of my favorites at Knott’s. you can read about it here.

8. Go to a Movie in the Park or Beach – grab some beach chairs, a blanket, a picnic and some movie snacks and head to one of these OC Movies in the Park for and evening under the stars.

9. Go to Zoomars – this little petting zoo is located in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano. you can feed the guinea pigs and animals fresh veggies, ride a train, play in the corn pit or ride a pony. check it out here.

10. Get a Box of Popsicles at Deelite Distribution – this is the best popsicle wholesaler in Orange County. you can get all the fancy ice cream treat you find at your local ice cream truck, except for better prices so that you can stock your freezer. don’t forget to bring cash.  read about Deelite Distribution here.

11. Go to Irvine Regional Park – Ride the train or go to the OC Zoo. there is a lake where you can rent a paddle boat or trails to rent out bikes and surreys. make sure to check out the Irvine Park Railroad website for some fun deals.

12. Get an Ice Cream Treat from a Local OC Hotspot – there are so many places to get a magical, awesome ice cream treat. here is a list of great OC treat places to help you find one.

13. Go to Discovery Cube OC – we love visiting the Cube all summer long. there are lots of exhibits to explore, and the cooking classes are the best. highly recommend getting an annual pass for the family. and right now there is a dinosaur exhibit. get more information here.

14. Go to Crystal Cove and Get a Shake from the Shake Shack – Crystal Cove is a great beach for the whole family. read about it here, and make sure to top it off with a milkshake from the Ruby’s Shake Shack!

15. Visit the Oso Creek Fairy Trail – this is my new favorite here in the OC. there are over 30 fairy houses to find on the family-friendly trail. read about it here.

16. Go to Knott’s Soak City – Orange County’s biggest water park. located across from Knott’s, there are lots of water slides, a wave pool, kiddie area and lazy river. you can read about it here.

17. Go Swimming – this will be an easy one to cross off the list. summer is all about swimming.

18. Go Bowling for Free – there are two programs that let your kids bowl free or almost free all summer. check them out here and here.

19. Go to Marina Park in Newport – if you have little kids, Marina Park is a great park to let them swim in the ocean or play on the playground. there is a sandy area with a bay to enjoy and the restrooms and parking are close. read about it here.

20. Go Indoor Rock Climbing – Sender One has some great indoor rock climbing courses. try your hand at the big kid/adult course, or take the family and kids to Sender City! read about it here.

21. Sign-up for the Summer Reading Program at the Local Library – did you know that most of the local library have games and prizes included in their summer reading programs? our gave out coupons for free kids meals at one of our favorite restaurants. its a great way to get out of the house and encourage those kids to read!

22. Visit Pacific Marine Mammal Center – you can read about it here.

23. Have a Beach Bonfire – one of my best memories as a child is roasting hotdogs and marshmallows on sticks over a bonfire at Corona Del Mar beach. the ocean breeze blowing cool air as we warmed up against the hot blazing fire. here is a great list of all the places you can have a bonfire in Orange County and some great tips too!

22. Go to the OC Fair – the fair begins in the middle of July and goes through the middle of August. it has all sorts of things to do….everything fair related you can think of. it’s a tradition of so many OC families. you can check it out here. make sure to look for the deals and specials to save some moola.

now that you have checked out my Orange County Summer Bucket List, you can print out your own bucket list. just print the FREE PRINTABLE below. then, put it into an 8 x 10″ frame. have the kids check off the activities as you finish them…see how many you can complete before summer’s end. if you don’t prefer one of the activities, just swap it out. ENJOY!!!!

 Click Here to Download the Orange County Summer Bucketlist Free Printable

Get Your Little Elves a ScholarShare 529 Account plus a FREE Printable Elf Bank

This post is sponsored by ScholarShare 529.

this year, we are doing the “Elf Thing” with the kids. it’s been so much fun creating different scenes and hiding “Link the Elf” around the house each night. i wanted our elf to not only make the holidays fun and full of Christmas cheer, but i also wanted him to remind the kids of the reason for the season, and also ways to live life in a happy productive way. so tonight, our elf will be showing up at the bank holding a ScholarShare 529 gift card!

“why?” you ask. because we love our ScholarShare 529 accounts over here. and it’s a good reminder that we need to keep up the good work and add funds to our accounts.

so i made this fun little bank on the computer, printed it out, and glued it to a cereal box. isn’t it cute!

last year, i wrote about how the gift of Scholarshare would make an awesome holiday gift. well, this year is no different! i love having a ScholarShare 529 account for each of my kiddies because i know that each time i fund some money to my kids accounts, i am making it easier and easier to pay for their college educations in the future. it’s a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan that’s helping families and individuals plan for the cost of higher education. a plan that offers measurable tax benefits to support parents in saving for their child’s college education. it’s available to any citizen or tax payer. and just about anyone can help contribute including Grandparents, other family members and friends. PLUS there’s exciting news….

ScholarShare 529 $50 Target Gift Card Offer!

on December 7th and 8th, 2017, those who open a new ScholarShare 529 college savings account with an initial $50 contribution and set up of an Automatic Contribution Plan of $25 or more for 6 months, will receive a $50 Target gift card!!!!

so not only do you get piece of mind that you are saving for your child’s future, you also get an awesome bonus that will help you get that holiday shopping done! so head over to the ScholarShare 529 Website, and sign up. it’s very easy and can be done in the comfort of your own home.

here are some of the benefits of a ScholarShare 529 college savings account:

  • 100% Tax-Free Growth – your savings grows free of federal and state taxes, which can result in up to 25% more money.
  • Low Cost – ScholarShare 529 Portfolios charge less than half the national average for 529 plans.**
  • Go Anywhere – a ScholarShare 529 savings can be used at any accredited school in the US.
  • Investment Choice – there are a variety of professionally managed portfolios to fit your life situation, risk tolerance, and college savings goals.

PLUS get a $50 gift card if you sign up December 7th or 8th!!!!research shows that children are 7x more likely to go to college if they have a savings account of any amount. i have FOUR kids who will most likely be attend college. this though can be VERY overwhelming….that’s going to be A LOT of money. but i have found that saving money for college doesn’t have to be painful at all. we’ve created ScholarShare 529 saving plans for each of them, and i’ve been saving in small realistic steps that will result in saving big in the end. by simply giving up a fountain soda once a week or eating at home instead of going out once a month…i’ve been able to put money away for all my kids’ college.

and good news! i am linking the FREE Printable Elf Bank here, so you can make one for your own elf.

it includes everything here. use the gray background included on the printable to wrap the sides of the cereal box.

let others help you save for college this holiday season…

with the help of family and friends during the holidays, on birthdays and special occasions throughout the year, you can work together on getting your kids ScholarShare 529 accounts funded. it’s also super easy for others to buy Scholarshare gift cards for your children, they are even sold at Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us. the gift of education is a gift of love !!!!

don’t forgot about the $50 Target Gift Card Program this December 7th and 8th, 2017!!!!  it’s a great little bonus that will help your holiday shopping this year. time is short, soon our kids will be saying goodbye to us and heading into the grown-up world of college and careers. as parents, we love to give our kids the best, an not have them worry about the struggles of funding school and having to pay off huge student debt loans. one day they will look back and thank you for what you have done for them!

 FREE Printable Elf Bank HERE

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

Christmas CHEER Checklist FREE Printable

it’s December 1st!!!! the beginning of my favorite month of the year. i love the colors, the decorations, the sights, the smells and feeling of the season. i love it so much that i started decorating the house two weeks ago. to celebrate my favorite month of the year, i partnered with 1-800-flowers.com, to bring you my Christmas CHEER Checklist!!!!

i thought it would be a fun to create a Christmas CHEER Checklist in case you needed some ideas on how to get into the holiday spirit. these are the traditions i do with my family each year. i love them all so much.

Number 1 on my list is – add a fresh holiday arrangement to my home. i LOVE fresh flowers, they always make me happy and even help me de-stress. something that is very prevalent during the holidays. 1-800-flowers.com sent a beautiful fresh floral arrangement in colors of the season. it arrived at my doorstep arranged perfectly and even more beautiful than i was expecting from a delivery service.  the Natural Elegance by Southern Living arrangement by 1-800-flowers.com put a gigantic smile on my face. isn’t it beautiful?!!!!


i am so happy with the flower arrangement, that i plan to have a few more delivered throughout the month. i’m also going to have one delivered for my Christmas Dinner tablescape. with a few candles, some pinecones, pretty plates and napkins, my table will be ready to go with the flower arrangement as my centerpiece.

the rest of the Christmas CHEER Checklist is just as great – especially for helping to plan out the holiday month. each item will help you  add a special feeling of Christmas CHEER. sit down on December 1st, plan your calendar out, and gather the items that you need to make your home full of Christmas Cheer.  i can tell this year is going to be an extra special one….the yummy scents are already wafting through the air, and we have a new little one to share our joy with. hope that you enjoy the upcoming season as much a we will.

Click here for a the FREE Printable Christmas CHEER Checklist.

Christmas Countdown Calendar and Happy December!!!! hope theses ideas get you in the holiday mood.

If you like this post, you probably will love these Christmas posts:

Christmas Countdown Calendar Free Printable

{Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. 1-800-flowers.com sent me this beautiful arrangement at no cost. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

 

Why Fit In When You Were Born to Stand Out Printable


when i was a young mom, just learning how to navigate motherhood with my oldest sons, a wise woman told me something similar to this quote “Why Fit In When You Were Born to Stand Out.” i had been struggling with figuring out his personality, his abilities and whether or not my child was…i guess what you would say a “normal” kid. she told me…”don’t worry about that, the world needs a variety of people or life would be boring….he will do great things.”

this weekend, i took my boys to see the new hit movie “Wonder” with Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay. it was fantastic. we cried, laughed and gushed with all the emotions. it was the perfect way to start this holiday season. the storyline was great and the acting was perfect. it put a great perspective on life, and how others feel. our family personally deals with being bullied with one of our children, the effects are hard and heartbreaking. you can feel lost and helpless with nowhere to go. my wish would be for everyone to see this movie and hopefully get a perspective on the effects of it. and also see that there is greatness and special gifts within everyone….so treat them kindly. just as the wise woman once told me…the world “needs a variety of people or life would be boring.”

“Why Fit In When You Were Born to Stand Out”  happened to be one of the quotes in the movie, and i’ve always loved it and instilled it in my kids. i thought it would be nice thong it up in our home, so i created this 8 x 10″ printable that can easily fit into a frame i already own. you are welcome to use it too!

click here for the free 8 x 10″ printable

i highly recommend taking your children to see “Wonder.” it’s great for all ages, my seven year old even enjoyed it. i hope that by seeing this movie, my kids will always….always and forever…treat other kindly. that they will “choose kind”. what an awesome world that wold be.

#ChooseKind