School lunches ~ Round up and giveaway

The time has arrived. In a few short weeks, all three of my kids will be in school. I will have 6 hours to myself during the week!?!?! While I have been anxiously awaiting this (I haven’t been alone in over 5 years) and plan to start making lists of what I will accomplish, the thought of it also makes me want to throw up.  The thought of driving home in a car by myself: will I cry? will I cheer? I think it will be a small transition period for me, but then I will love the time! I have had my hand in so many things that I can barely fit in the time to do – writing running articles, my photography business and tutoring.  I become so stressed trying to keep it all together! I’m hoping this time will really help!

At the same time, my oldest will be going to Kindergarten, AND staying for lunch everyday.  I was so torn on this decision to lose lunches with him everyday. He will be going to school everyday for the next 18 years :( but the program was so good that it was the best option educationally. Someone wrote a quote that I came across something like “Don’t worry about how clean your house is, keep the dishes in the sink and play with your kids. Spend time with your kids. You’ll blink and they will be starting kindergarten.” GULP.  How did those last 5 1/2 years go by so quickly? The first one really hurts! And what’s worse is that #2 is just one year behind – it sneaks up on me!  

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Time really flies. And I hope that I spent it well in their eyes.  I honestly wish phones and computers did not exist.  The end of this summer has been getting me and I’m trying to keep it together to end on a good note!
Computers/phones are such time sucks, but where most of my business responsibilities are too! If only I lived in the 50s…

“Your kids may not remember what you said or did, but how you made them feel.”

Inspirational quotes always help me to center myself, be present and take a step back and try to enjoy the moment.

Here is one that had my tearing up the other day from Little Family Fun:

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Goodness! I definitely wish I could stay centered and happy with this in mind all the time! 

Well, with September around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about school lunches. Day…after day…after day. Yikes! Here are some of my favorite websites, items and recipes for school lunches.

100 days of real food. Great ideas for variety and real food.  (picture credit from 100 days website)

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Weelicious banana chocolate chip muffins – and the website in general. Great ideas for snacks & meals

Granola bars – a staple recipe  – you can easily sub butter for the PB for allergies

Alternate to this – Clif Z bars!

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Whole Foods bread! – tastes like it came from a bakery. I load up on this and freeze it!

Sunflower seed butter (allergy free!)   – I add more and more coconut oil to this in order to get it to the best consistency! Love this stuff.  Add jelly for sandwich of choice or serve alone!

Easy Lunchboxes. Tried and true. I’ve been using these for three years!

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Easy Lunchboxes dipping container – for smaller snacks or lots of pieces

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Cupcake liners – for small snacks like craisins, or a muffin

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Sandwich cutters

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More ideas – check out my pinterest board.  

Your turn – what are your favorite foods to include in packed lunches? Favorite items, favorite recipes? Favorite lunchbox?
I realize I’m going to have to get more creative this year!


One winner from the US only will win a 3-pack of the sandwich cutters!  Enter below! Good luck, and thanks for reading!
a Rafflecopter giveaway





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My lil runner!




I had a recruit this past weekend, my 4-year old :) After I went on my run, I came back and took her back out for about a mile. She did great and was so enthusiastic. We did it again 2 days later on and off 2 miles. She loved it! And so did I :) 










I also took these pictures while at the beach of my little. She is a noticer ~ stop and smell the roses.  On our run, she stopped when she saw a pretty dandelion to pick it and blow it. I love the bottom picture. She was taking it all in.









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Clif products to check out for summer and fall!

Happy Friday!

Something for everyone today over at Lil Runner :)  I was sent some samples from CLIF to share with you. All opinions are my own.


First up, Clif SHOT. Have you tried CLIF SHOT Electrolyte Hydration and Protein Recovery Drink Mixes?

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The CLIF SHOT Electrolyte Hydration Drink Mix is for during activity and made with 90% organic ingredients. Containing sodium and other electrolytes, it contains good carbs to aid in replenishing and keeping you going while running.  The flavors are fruity with orange mango,lemon lime-ade and cranberry razz.  These contain 20g carbs and 80 calories.

The CLIF SHOT Protein Recovery Drink Mix is meant to be taken immediately after activity to help your body to recover quicker.  This contains 70% organic ingredients that were selected carefully to aid in recovery.  I tried the chocolate. These come in Orange Mango and Chocolate. I would love to see Vanilla, but I thought the Chocolate had good taste. I would want to see a vegan plant based protein since that is the direction that I’m going in, instead of whey protein and milk protein concentrate in this mix. It contains 160 calories and 10g protein.


Want to win one? Like “CLIF Bar” on Facebook and leave a comment with the flavor that most appeals to you in the comments for a chance to win a drink package!

Next up, for the kiddos!  Ready for some lunch box action?

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School is quickly approaching. And while I love to make things like granola bars to put in the lunches, if I’m in a pinch, I usually have Clif Z-bars on hand to grab for a quick healthy lunch option. Paired with fruit and some nuts, and maybe a cheese stick, and you’ve got lunch!

Introducing the new CLIF kid Zbar PROTEIN!  The lunch box hero!! Made with organic whole grains just like the Z bars, they contain 5g of protein, which helps keeps us full. The Zbars are also a good source of fiber, iron, zinc and vitamin D.  I tried each flavor, and my favorite was the peanut butter chocolate. Yum! Each bar is dipped in chocolate. I love the chocolate coating as a chocoholic,  but for traveling in warmer temperatures, it melts and becomes super messy. Keep them cold if you’re going to be in warmer weather.  The bars tasted like chocolate coated granola bars. Yum! A big hit with my crew! Stay tuned for a back to school giveaway on Lil Runner including some Zbar Protein bars!  Do feel free to leave a comment with the most enticing flavor :)

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And last, for my local friends, check out THE JUICE for some fresh smoothies. Ready for a back to school detox?  Check out some witty drink names and delicious healthy drinks! Stay tuned for an interview with the boss!  In the meantime, follow The Juice Philly on Instagram and Facebook!  Pictures courtesy of The Juice Philly.

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And last but not least, check out  to share your Moment from June through December.  Post a moment that you’d like to share on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #MeetTheMoment and CLIF is donating $1 to an environmental non-profit for each Moment posted . Use @Clifbar (Twitter) or @Clifbarcompany (Instagram).

Here’s our moment today – picking Zinnias at a local farm

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#meetthemoment @clifbarcompany


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Weekend away & Wedding Countdown

Last weekend was my first weekend away ALONE from the kids. It was my sister’s bachelorette party.  It was glorious. What was I waiting for?  My sister is almost 5 years younger than me and is super fun (I’m SO not).  I was pretty anxious about leaving for 2 nights which was my original plan, being able to hang and stay up late and survive.  Instead I ended up doing one night but almost the whole weekend.  When I came home, I wished I did 3 nights!!

It was last year, August 10th when the big moment happened – the proposal. The night before, we went to dinner.
The night of the engagement, we went out to celebrate, a bunch of her friends came out too!  In September, I went up for a dress shopping expedition.

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The shower was in June:

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big sis, little sis, with big sis, little sis.


and some pictures from the weekend!

I felt the need to take a picture of my feet being still. Notice I was on single digits in the book. I didn’t get any further, but still, it was so nice!  A fun weekend in celebration of my super fun sister :) whom I wish I could be more like!   I was in withdrawal all week from that alone time that I was able to have!

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this picture cracks me up because of the looks on our faces :)

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To my sister, I admire your carefree, no worries personality & ability to laugh at everything!
Now, off to work on my speech for September!  And detox to get ready to fit into my dress!
Any tips on Maid of Honor speeches?

My sister had a pretty awesome ending for my speech:
May your children have blue eyes and blond hair, the sign of a true Italian” :

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Should I say brown eyes and brown hair?? :)



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Review of Block Island Organics Mineral Sunscreen

Block Island Organics is a new mineral suncare for adults and children with the motto, “Play Smart. Play Safe. Non-Toxic Suncare.”  Block Island is 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and celebrates being outdoors.

After having babies, my concerns turned towards eating foods that are not processed and avoiding pesticides, and avoiding chemical products.  It has made me more aware of products for myself as I seek out products that are safe for my kids to use.

I was sent a sample to try of the SPF 15 for myself and Baby SPF 30 and the views expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this post.  The products are non-toxic mineral based, non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben free, phthalate free, nano particle free, artificial fragrance free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, made in the USA and highly rated by the Environmental Working Group.
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How did it work? The sunscreen has the same consistency as standard sunscreen, but you need much less of it to be effective.  You also just need one layer.  It rubs on thick and spreads out, and you will notice right away that it does not rub in anything like normal sunscreen. It does leave a white residue on the skin, which enables you to see where you’ve applied it, and it stays on all day.  The formula is non-greasy and fast driving, and if you rub it in immediately, it soaks in a little bit better. I have definitely noticed in the non-toxic products that they do not rub in as well, which is the trade off if you don’t want chemicals, so I’m fine with it.
Here’s that residue after a run:
Want to try it out?  Use the code “natalie” to get 20% your purchase! (through August 4th). Orders over $50 ship free!

You can follow Block Island Organics on Twitter and Facebook.




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And here’s what I love about summer…

So now you know why parents count the days until “back to school.” But,  there is always so much to be thankful for, even if it’s disguised in my little one wanting to be held all the time.

Here’s what I love about summer:

No schedule means no rushing out of the house.  This is my absolute favorite thing about summer. I can make fun breakfasts, and we can eat them on the deck. The kids can play in the driveway at 7:30 in the morning and enjoy the summer air. Walks and bike rides in the early mornings.

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Making ice cream and popsicles. We’ve had fun with exploring ice cream flavors this summer. My favorites were Caramel and Old Fashioned Chocolate!

An attempt at a veggie garden…

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waiting for some zucchini!


Those days where you can leave the windows open. Doesn’t your day just start off with everything right with beautiful weather?

Fun field trips. There are so many kid friendly places around here that we have visited this summer.

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And of course, the beach! We’ve had one long weekend there and we are hoping for one more! Sandy toes!

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Summer birthdays. Happy 4th birthday to my sweet Kara!

I found out Kara Goucher (who she is named after) has a birthday on 7/10, my Kara’s is 7/15,
and was born the same year as me which is so fun!

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What’s your favorite thing about summer?


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Wait…is it September yet?

Oh hey!!  Where you’ve been????  You ask.

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this sums it up…

I read this post yesterday over at Sisters to Sons and felt like I wrote it myself. I totally cracked up!  My favorite part was the part about going back to work, because I email my husband the same thing at least once a week and thought I was crazy and ridiculous until I read her post.

Anyway, this summer has been crazy! Somewhere along the way, the kids’ “sacred” nap time which I build my schedule around every day has turned into a sh*tshow around here ever since returning from California.  The 3rd child, 2 years old, is so full of energy, started this trend. Not napping.  She fights sleep so she is so sleep deprived that she falls asleep in the car anytime around noon, which means her nap time is in the car. There’s no nap after that for her.  Which means by 5 o’clock (wait who am I kidding, 3 o’clock) I’m going insane! It’s summer! so I have the kids all day everyday, and I’m starting to understand why all the students that I used to teach were sent to camp for weeks and weeks in the summer. I never understood it. I do now!

My days look like this: 

If I don’t get up and out to workout super early, I’m getting a tap by 6:45 by my oldest that it’s time to wake up and go downstairs. And it’s not just a tap but a whine that comes along with it. “I want to go downstairssssss. I have noooottthinnggg to do. Can I play a gammeee on the iPadddd?”  Or I walk in the door and need to shower and am greeted with the whining.  So even though when I’m going to bed I’m thinking “I’m going to be a better mom tomorrow and have more patience,” by 7am I already suck.  The second the youngest is up,  “I want my Babba” is what I hear over and over again.  And my now 4-year old who does not like to eat dinner is ravenous the second she wakes up.  The first thing they want to do is eat.

The players:

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On the left, Oldest Child. 5 years old. Has severe oldest child syndrome. Needs to win every game he plays,  go first at everything and is a HUGE instigator to both sisters.

In the middle, Middle Child.  I have spent the 4 years of her life (Happy 4th Birthday, Kara!) making sure she doesn’t have middle child syndrome because I don’t want her to move away when she is grown up.  Puts everyone else first, always shares…but if she is sleep deprived or hungry, she’s a monster (so am I!)

On the right, the Baby of the Family. 2 years old. Determined. Strong willed. Wants what she wants and will only do everything on her watch.

Back to our morning…

“What are my options?” asks my 4-year old?  So I rattle off the usual – cereal, waffles, yogurt. “I don’t wannnnttt thatttt!!”

So I have to pull the  “Some children have nothing. Be happy that you have food to eat!”
I’m already getting irritated.  Back in the late winter or spring, I created days of the week. Each child has 2 days where they get to sit in the middle, make choices and do things first. Could this have created even more chaos?? “It’s Myyyyyyy DAYYYYY!!”  And then the touching each other’s chair, which turns into hitting each other and fighting. It’s not even 8am yet, is it?

The other day I had to take them all to a doctor’s appointment for my son. I was appalled. They were taking off their shoes, ripping the paper on the exam table, and when the doctor was trying to go over things with me, they were fighting to the point where I couldn’t hear or focus anything he was saying.

Which resulted in this text to my husband.  (Have you found the gun emoticon? My friend showed me where it was in the Emoji keyboard this past weekend. Life changing.  It makes me laugh and smile just sending it.)


Oh and then the male doctor of course went through the, “Aren’t kids GREAT? It’s so good to have kids. If you don’t have kids, who will take care of you when you’re older?”  and as I’m walking out “Take lots of pictures. It goes so fast.”  I was running out of there scolding my kids for their behavior. So that was 9:30am and I was thinking that I could take care of myself when I’m old.

Off to do errands with the kids. Which is always a good time, complaining about walking, fighting over who gets to sit, wanting to touch everything and buy everything in the store.  “Can we get THIS?  you NEVER let us get ANYTHING!”

Nap-time/quiet time (2-3pm) comes and no one is tired, and there’s no way the 2-year old is napping. She doesn’t stay in her room at nap time or bed time anymore. Keep your kids in their cribs until they are 5. Really. It will save you a lot of time and headaches.  For quiet time, praise the Lord! They stay upstairs but are in and out of each other’s rooms.  The 2-year old is still like a one-year old who finds everything you don’t want her to get into – I have to keep an eye on her at all times. She is also teamed up on by the other 2 and constantly crying and screaming NOOOO!! and wanting me to hold her. Good times!

That day, and every other day this week so far ….no one naps, and by dinner time, nothing is right with the world for the girls. And don’t you love when you get the text from your husband that he’s JUST LEAVING when you were hoping he’d be home in about 15 minutes? YEAHHHH…as I’m trying to feed them dinner that they don’t want to eat….again.

So my “quiet” time has been taken. I think that the third child switched my life upside down! By letting her do things that I wouldn’t normally let the others do that were not harmful but still not good things to do, she became a monster!  Oh, did you want to take out every piece of tupperware and dump it onto the floor? How about the bag of cereal? You want to walk around with it and eat out of it?  You want to see if you can open the vitamin jar? Sure. If that gives me 5 minutes, you’ve got it.   And now we have a monster.  Is it crazy that I’m even thinking about having one more?  Life is already chaos anyway. #crazymom #lostmymind

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Thanks for the craft for the 4-year old mom. I could totally handle that one. #worstbirthdaypresentever.  Background – breakfast that’s been sitting there for 10 hours, a coffee pod with a straw in it (Lindsay), beers that my husband drinks to get through the night, all the craft mess and a ton of clean dishes that will sit there for a few more days.

And you would think with no nap, it would be 7:30 and we’d have a quiet house. Nope! The sun is still out, so at bedtime, even after napping, they come out of their room 100 times.  Did you realize that more than one child makes everything exponential? Your food bills, buying things for them (not one beach bucket, but 3!), shoes, and coming out of their room at night. Times 3.

And while I’ve been soaking them up and love them dearly, I’ve also been calling them profanities in my head. :)
And that’s where I’ve been. So how’s your summer?















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