The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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Think Outside the Box

Sandra Tsing Loh has some Back to School advice.

It's Back to School season!  For two months.  The LAUSD already started back in mid-August, and the UC system won't get going until October.  Jeez.  My email inbox is flooded with Back to School tips for parents - God knows how I've gotten onto these lists - I get everything from Tips to Combat Internet Bullying to Building Self-Esteem in Girls to, well, here's a perennial favorite: "The 7 secrets of highly successful... school lunches!"

And I quote:

"Do you dread opening your child's lunch box at the end of the day?  All that hard work, only to find soggy, half-eaten sandwiches, limp and faded carrot sticks, battered yellow apple slices."  Apparently, you're in a "lunch-time rut."

If this rings a bell, gentle listener, here are some tips.  Why don't you skip those costly brown paper bags - ?  Brown paper bags?  Who's the audience here?  Anyway!  Consider instead a colorful mini-cooler, plastic lunch bag, or well... The adorable phrase "bento box" is very big, in today's progressive lunch community.  There are notions about turning last night's chicken into curry chicken salad, with raisins, on whole wheat pitas - About dolling up last night's noodles with peanut butter - hey hey!  For kind of a Thai thing!  And, instead of using tortillas, using something called GemWraps -

GemWraps, since you ask, are a nonfat low-carb vegan "wrap" made of tomato paste - 10 calories a sheet - I have to confess I jumped into my car for a 40-minute excursion trying to find GemWraps - Which it turns out you can only buy on Amazon or, oddly, at Neiman Marcus.

But, if you can't drive to Beverly Hills, no worries!  "Consider cutting a sandwich with a cookie cutter or using fun-shaped pasta in pasta salads and soups!" Or: "Make lunches a little more fun by packing a cheerful note or interesting newspaper clipping."  Freshest tip of all?  "Write a secret message on a banana peel using a toothpick; at first it will be hard to see, but by lunchtime the note will be darkened and easy to read."

Nice - and I'll tell you what the secret message is.  Four words:

"Are you on crack?"

I hear a lot from moms 45 and up who are entering menopause.  One anecdote - and I've taken out the expletives: "My sister, who lost her you-know-what with her nagging kids while trying to cook dinner, threw chicken parts and flour all over the kitchen before she ran outside to her car, burned rubber backing out of the driveway, and screamed out the window for us all to go you-know-what ourselves as she sped off."

The not so secret message: Make your own damn bento box and enjoy.