Rushed mornings can sometimes (okay, often) mean school baon is leftovers from last night's dinner or, unfortunately, not-so-healthy-but-quick-to-prepare supermarket food. You hope your kids won't think you neglected them so just to be sure, you quickly leave a post-it note with a loving message. Hopefully, your kid won't ignore it.
That was the hope of Canadian-born Filipina Jenn Aguilar who loved preparing school lunch for her sons Kale, 14, and Konnor, 12. She initially left simple notes in their brown paper bags, but then a light bulb idea came to her to make sure they saw and read her messages.
Jenn decided to use each of her boys' lunch bags as canvass for simple sketches that eventually evolved into puns and finally into full-color lunch bags—and she has not stopped since. "This is my love language to my kids, to let them know that I love them. This is why I do it every day," Jenn tells us via e-mail.
At first, Jenn says her boys, who, by the way, loves Filipino food such as kare-kare, sinigang and their lolo's okoy, were a bit embarrassed. But after a while, she says, the boys eventually looked forward to seeing what lunch she prepared and her “punny” message, which Jenn says she mostly thinks of herself. Her kids may be reluctant to admit it, but we're certain her little drawings have never failed to put a smile on their faces, come lunchtime. We know we did! Look!
How does she so it? Planning is key, Jenn stresses. "I typically prep lunches on Sunday night, pre-portioning all the fruits, snacks, and other items ahead of time. The bags are [also] always done the night before, so that [the puns] are current with events in our lives," she says. The bags usually boasts of doodles and puns that have references to things her kids love such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel superheroes, DC characters, and the like.
Jenn also aims for variety, and she says the Internet has been so helpful for her in her search for suggestions for meals. "It's important to find a balance between healthy, within budget and delicious. I always ask for feedback. My kids will tell me what they liked what they didn't like. I always adjust," she says.
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The mom-of-two, who aspires to be an expert in wines, says the spotlight the world has given to her little project came as a surprise--and she's humbled by it. Jenn says, "To do something intended for my kids and to know that it has made people smile and appreciate what I do is a reward that was rather unexpected. The support and kind words from friends, strangers and family has truly touched my heart."
Jenn's parents hails from Baliuag, Bulacan and Quezon City. Their town in Airdie, Alberta, Canada has a strong Filipino community and has many restaurants and events that help her nuture in her son's their Filipno heritage. She hopes to come back and visit her family here and to share the beauty of the Philippines with her sons.