Food insecurity. Something that has really really hit home for me this week while my family is enjoying a vacation in Hawaii is the sheer insanity of food pricing. Yes, Hawaii is made up of 8 islands (7 are inhabited) and everything that isn’t grown here needs to be shipped in, hence the costs. But what I have learned, while dying inside at the $10/lb of strawberries and $13 for 6/pk of bagels, is that less nutritious foods (doritos, diet coke, etc) aren’t expensive. Want to know why? Because the big name players in the snack food industry subsidize the costs of getting their products to places like Hawaii, since their profits are astronomical elsewhere. And it’s not just Hawaii. The Canadian North (territories and Iqualuit) experiences the same thing. Did you know that almost 20% of children live in food insecure households? And that number close to doubles when it is a family of colour? And the number rises further if it is a single mother of colour? And the number rises again if the parent(s) is LGBTQ+? So, it’s one thing for me to sit here and “balk” at food pricing (look at the white girl complaining while vacationing, hi pot it’s the black kettle calling) but it’s another thing entirely when huge sections of my own country (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, almost every single Native Reserve) experience the same insanity and it’s not a beachfront vacation. I’ve seen sooooo many people on social media rip mothers (embarrassingly enough, myself too many moons ago) for the “junky” bento box inclusions. Guess what folks? Consistent 👏 access 👏 to 👏 healthy 👏 food 👏 is👏 a 👏 privilege 👏 not 👏 everyone 👏 has. Food insecurity is not knowing how or when or if another meal is coming, never mind it being balanced and nutritionally sound. Food insecurity is taking your last 8 bucks and doing your best with what you’ve got. And when you’ve got a few mouths to feed and bills to pay and you still gotta navigate the judgemental bitches on social media…. Anyways. Healthy food is expensive (and I swear to GOD if a Karen comes in and says it isn’t because she finds everything super cheap in her metropolitan area, I’m gonna snap) and literally everyone wants their child to thrive. Fed is best.
We don’t have a home phone. Not many people do, these days. But I have been thinking about what we would do if something happened to me and I became incapacitated while I was alone with the girls. Would they know how to get help? So, I thought it was time we had a good discussion about 911. About the instances we may need to call. About how to unlock mommy’s phone and call 911. About how to Facetime daddy and grandma on their iPads if they need a grown-up and mommy is sick. I give them the run down and begin quizzing them. “Okay, what if mommy is sleeping and you can’t wake me up?”, I asked them. “Call 911 for the emergency helpers”, my 5yo proudly says. “Good work”, I tell her. “Now what if I fall and I have a majorly big owie but I can still talk?” “Call Daddy and Grams on my iPad and bring you your phone!”, my 5yo states. My youngest nods along with this decision. “Smart choice, girls”, I tell them. “Last one. What if mommy falls down the stairs and isn’t talking?” “GO TO THE PANTRY AND EAT SNACKS!!!”, my toddler happily yells. Cool. Happy Sunday. 🔴 This Bento: Yumbox Original in Blue Fish
I was reading the girls a bedtime story tonight (naturally one that had 8650 pages) and I accidentally and with malicious intent skipped a few pages in the middle. After reading for another minute or two, my 5yo says “mommy you missed some pages!”. I told her that I hadn’t (rookie move). She insisted I had. I said “how do you know? You can’t even read!” – and she looks at me deadass in the eyes and says “well obviously neither can you because this story makes no sense”. Shots fired. I am not okay. I am raising a tiny version of myself and I need help. 🔴 This Bento: Yumbox Original in Blue Fish
Muffin tin Monday! One of my biggest “food hang up” pet peeves is the notion that humans need 3 large plated meals a day. At the table. Breakfast foods, lunch foods, dinner foods. Do you want to know who decided pancakes were a breakfast food and pasta was a dinner food? MARKETING PROFESSIONALS. They told us what to do and we did it. We have subscribed to the notion of rigid food concepts for far too long. When we’re able to let go of our pre-concieved notions around food and eating, the world opens up a little bit. One of my favourite lunch at home hacks for kids? Muffin tin grazing platters. These can be used for any meal of the day, really. If your “picky” child struggles with a plated meal, refuses your offerings, and you just generally struggle with meal time – consider this option. Sometimes food is much less about what is being offered and moreso about how it’s offered. I like to include 6-8 healthy foods I know they love, and the remaining ones I hope they’ll try. Even if they don’t eat them, exposure is still important. I use muffin liners simply to control mess. Offering one large tin to both my kids encourages them to share and it’s 50% less cleaning (win/win). Try a 6-well muffin tin for solo kids (including complex carbs, fruits, veggies, proteins, etc – any meal can be deconstructed this way). Pictured here: pistachios, mini breton crackers, blueberries, dried yogurt melts, cucumbers, raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips, cashews, kiwi, strawberries, carrots, gummy bears, dried mango pieces.
It doesn’t even need to be snacks! Offer deconstructed tacos or chicken ceaser salad in muffin tins to make food a bit more fun and a bit less intimidating to children who don’t like to try new things. The possibilities are endless!
It’s a little overwhelming, isn’t it? The holiday season? It feels (at least to me) like consumerism has taken on a life of its own these days and threatens to topple anyone who isn’t steadfast in their resolve to not give in to Keeping Up With The Jones’. I’m over here just trying to keep it simple with my kids so every Christmas season we do a book advent for them.
48 books about Christmas, the holiday season, giving, love, charity, generosity, and family. Lovingly hand-wrapped for our little ladies, one each, for every day of Advent. We hope to encourage their love of stories and reading – and to show them that sitting with loved ones (or themselves) and reading a great book is maybe what it’s all about. To foster the excitement of waking up and seeing what story the day has for them – which really, is a decent metaphor for life itself. I’m always excited to see the look on their faces when they get to open a new (to them) book every day – stories collected from family and friends, thrift shops, and a few new special picks.
Money saving tip: check your local Free Little Libraries for holiday books, ask on local Facebook groups, and check Value Village (since they always offer buy 4 kids books get 1 free – and they’re only $2-$3 each). I switch a few out every year to keep up with their interests and ages – for example, I swapped out most of the baby board books this year, and added some Paw Patrol and Wild Kratts to appeal to the girls’ current interests.
Mom Hack: After Christmas, pack up the advent books and stash them away for next season. The kids won’t remember them next year, and they stay in great condition because they’re only enjoyed in December. Better yet, trade advent books amongst friends with similar traditions – get a bunch of new (to your family) books for free!
Chocolates get eaten and tiny toys get lost, but the memories we hope to create with our girls of laying together and laughing and snuggling into stories will last a lifetime. It’s not always perfect but it’s perfect for us. And that’s all I can hope for.
“Words, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” J.K. Rowling
Why aren’t more people talking about the fresh hell that is moving with small children?
Long story short, our previous home (expected to take 4-5 months to sell due to a slow market) sold in 3 weeks and our new build wasn’t going to be ready for 5 months – so we sold sold/donated all of our “got this at a thrift shop for 4 bucks because we were poor university students” stuff, and packed everything else into storage and moved in with my inlaws. They have a small guest house on their property that they’ve graciously let us conduct our gypsy shenanigans in since.
Now we are 2 days away from not being homeless anymore and it is crunch time. I was trying to pack up some toys today and my 2.5 year old found a toy, covered in a thin film of filth and smelling like neglect, that hasn’t been touched in 80 years, and decided it was The Toy. The one that has to go to the potty with her. The one that has to sit beside her dinner plate. The one she takes to bed. This toy is embarrassing, and it is now her favourite. Cool. All the influencer blogs about moving said to just authoritatively talk to your kids about the importance of de-cluttering before you ditch their old toys but I am started to wonder if they were talking about human kids or fake kids because mine have taken de-cluttering as a blood oath challenge to protect what is rightfully theirs.
Then we have my almost 5 year old who is less concerned about her toys and way more concerned about the big picture. “Do the toilets work in the new house? Will it be warm? Can we bring all our clothes and blankets? Will the fridges have food in them? How will I get to school? Are we ever going to see Grandma and Grandpa again?” – she’s been inside our new house many times (that is 15 mins away from her grandparents) and yet still seems to think we’re moving away to start fresh in 1960’s Soviet Russia.
Then there’s me, wandering around looking for boxes, asking no one in particular if these are moving boxes for ants because they need to be at least 3x bigger, while my husband looks for imaginary tools to do imaginary things with – and our children just yell for more snacks. There are so many fruit snack wrappers in my garbage can right now I think I made an FBI watch list or something.
Thank GOD Past Rachel was smart enough to spring for movers to assist us (and enlist Grams to take the girls all day) because I am approximately 1 snack request away from an accident with a lighter and some extreme hold hairspray (to my stuff, not my kids – don’t call CFS on me).
I cannot be the only one in this boat – does moving with kids always suck this bad?
There is a 10 year photo challenge circulating – one in which you share photos 10 years apart to see how you’ve aged. I could post photos of me 10 years ago and me today, but I won’t. It’s not because I am chubbier now, it’s not because my hair is sprinkled with grey streaks, it’s not because I have the kinds of dark circles under my eyes that 2 kids in 2 years brings. It’s not because I only wear leggings now, it’s not because I just don’t have the time or energy for the biweekly mani/pedi I grew accustomed to in my 20’s. It’s not because I have a bit of a double chin that cheekily reminds me how damn much I love chocolate after 7pm. And most importantly, it’s NOT because I’m embarrassed that I HAVE aged 10 years.
It’s because photos are 2 dimensional. They show you nothing except the state of your physical shell. And what all these photos don’t show is how much your mental state can change in 10 years. 10 years ago, I’d venture to guess I was at my mentally unhealthiest state. The end of a long term relationship sent me into a toxic rollercoaster of crash diets, crippling insecurity, damaging romantic flings, and a general feeling of worthlessness. Was I pretty? Yeah. Did I turn heads? Sure. Was I healthy on the inside? NO.
And now? For the first time in a long time I can truly express how emotionally strong I feel. My insecurities shrink by the day, as I am acutely aware of how my projection can affect my daughters. I wake up happy and healthy, next to a man who sees my stretch marks as remnants of how hard my body worked to grow our kids and not evidence that I let myself go. I love myself. I am finally seeing all the cool fucking things I have to offer as a woman/wife/mother/friend and I refuse to waste even one more second on anyone who doesn’t agree.
So yeah, I’ve aged. I don’t look as asethetically pleasing (as dictated by our broken society) as I did when I was 23 years old. But I am the healthiest and happiest (physically and emotionally) that I have ever been, and that doesn’t translate well to photographs. I have never been more excited to have aged 10 years emotionally.
So I won’t join this challenge – and before you look at someone’s perfectly curated photo set and wish you still “looked that good” – take a step back and evaluate your physical being on a bigger scale. Because comparing your real life to someone’s highlight reel with no understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes is silly. This is me. Chubby and stretched marked and sleep deprived and fucking HAPPY.
This morning I was just minding my own business, eating my breakfast, trying to encourage my kids to eat a bit quicker than the elderly sloth pace they’re accustomed to, when my 4.5 year old says she’s got something to show me. I tell her to eat her cereal before we’re late for an appointment, but she’s insistent. She whispers, “Mama, wanna see my testicles?” – Naturally, I choke to death on my cheerios and burst a blood vessel in my eye coughing. “Your WHAT?”, I asked her suspiciously. “Look – my testicles”, she says, putting the top of her hand under her chin and wiggling her fingers at me. “I’m an octopus”, she says with a smile.
SUPER grateful she tested that cool trick out on me first before we encountered an unsuspecting male out in public today to witness this.
Let’s talk authenticity for a hot minute. I was approached recently by a pretty large company, wanting to work together. They would pay me (in actual cash dollars) and in return I would promote and use their product in my photos. Only problem? I don’t like their product. I’ve used it. Wasn’t a fan. So….I turned it down. I’m not exactly raking in the dough with my Instagram hobby but I still turned it down. And that’s because I vowed that I will NEVER trade authenticity for approval. I think the most valuable thing I have is your trust in me and I don’t take that lightly. From day 1, I promised to only share things with you (especially ones I’ll profit from) that I truly like/use/believe in. And even further, I would always focus on small, local, handmade shops because I believe quality goods are a dying breed. It’s important to me to know where my belongings come from if I can help it. I really do choose all my sponsors and partnerships and collaborators mindfully – making sure that I believe in the maker and their products so you will too. Would it be easy to partner with every company that asks (and there are a lot), and in turn maybe make a living wage myself? LOL sure. There are tons of super successful IG influencers that do that daily and I respect their hustle immensely. It is just not me or my jam. I don’t want to trade money and likes and followers and exposure and social media growth for my authenticity. If people don’t trust me, believe in my word, than I have nothing. I started this account 9 months ago – never dreaming that my hustle would net me the success I’ve had – and I don’t take it for granted. I’m not tooting my own horn here, I’m really just trying to convey how important I feel it is to be myself in a world where everyone is trying to be like someone else ❤ This Bento – Yumbox Original in Bijoux Purple (lunch for me!)
2 mini cucumbers, halved & scooped out
french baguette slices
tuna salad topped with Everything But The Bagel seasoning
raspberries, blackberries, mandarin orange segments, and dried apricots
On a scale of coma to Tom Cruise Couch Yelling, how awake are you when your daughter climbs into bed with you at 1:45am, wiggles her little spoon into your big spoon, gently starts stroking your cheek, and then quietly asks you, “Mommy, when our house burns down, can we buy a farm?”
Answer: Sonic the Hedgehog on speed, awake.
This Bento: Little Lunch Box Co Bento 5
carrots & cucumbers
peanut butter and blackberry sandwich (mom hack: if you’re watching your sugar intake, use fresh blueberries/blackberries/raspberries/strawberries in place of jam in sandwiches – the bit of sugar already in PB and other nut/seed butters softens the tart berries and tastes just as delicious).
apples & plums
hummus with Everything But The Bagel seasoning from Trader Joes