Act of frustration turned act of love

As the school year approached I was faced with another decision to make about how the kids were getting their lunches to school. You would think that this would be an easy decision – you go to the store, you buy a lunch box, they pack lunches, they go to school. It seems pretty easy, in theory. There was one looming problem. The lunch boxes available. There was no safety concern really. This was a quality concern.
Over the years the lunch boxes have gotten to be lower and lower in quality and the prices have not gotten lower to reflect the reduction in this quality. I still have lunch boxes in reserve that Andrew used in Kindergarten and First Grade that we use as the “back up” lunch boxes. That would be the lunch box you get if you forget your lunch box at school or heaven forbid you lose your lunch box. Actually, I have a primary colored one that is the “in case you lose” your lunch box “back up” option. The boys much prefer the out of date Bob the Builder lunch box over the brightly colored red, yellow, and blue one. I am not entirely sure what is up with that but somehow Bob the Builder is cooler than the primary colors. *shrug* 
At any rate, over the years, the lunch boxes seem to hold up less and less. I have come to two likely conclusions: (1) Kyle and Lance have been much rougher on their lunch boxes (especially Lance) or (2) the lunch boxes are just much poorer quality than they were just a few short years ago. While I will believe that Lance is much rougher than Kyle and especially Andrew to some degree, I do not believe that he is any more rough and rambunctious than any other 8 year old boy. He is just as full of energy as any other boy his age. That leads me to believe that the lunch boxes are just not made the same way they were a few years ago and thus they are not holding up as well as they used to. 
A couple of years ago I had to return 2 lunch boxes within 6 weeks of buying them because the zippers broke on both of them. That is not very good odds. Fortunately, for the replacement lunch box I got Kyle, it has held up nicely. For Lance, however, it has been an endless stream of lunch boxes that have found themselves with broken zippers, handles, or just riddled with holes in the seams. It is quite frustrating because the price of the lunch box starts to add up.
So this year out of frustration I decided that I was going to try and make him a lunch box because I was not finding a lunch box that was made any more sturdily than the ones we had tried the previous year. He needed a new lunch box. He was going to need to take his lunch to school. Somehow, I do not think that a brown paper bag solution was going to work for him. A large zippered plastic bag was not going to be much better. He was going to need something that was going to take a “beating” and just keep holding on to his lunch so to speak. It was going to have to be just as tough as him.
Most importantly, it was going to have to be green. If it was covered in frogs all the better…
Here is the finished product – made to fit what he would normally pack in his lunch with room to spare. It is not entirely green on the outside, but it was green enough and I had this frog fabric already. I actually found this frog print last year at Christmas time. It was the last of what was on the bolt and I knew if I did not get it then I would just kick myself later. I actually bought it because it would awesome in a quilt for my green and frog loving little boy. I just have not gotten around to making that quilt yet. I bought the last of the stuff on the bolt, needless to say. Fortunately, this lunch box experiment did not use all of it up and there is still plenty to add to a quilt. The best of both worlds all because I knew I should buy that fabric right then for that great price. I am actually very glad I got it now although at the time I was a little worried because it was not entirely green and most of the quilt fabrics I had picked out at the time were entirely green. 
Here is the flap of the lunch box open and you can see the double handles. That is actually a buckle on the handles. He wanted to be able to latch it to his backpack if he had too much in his backpack. That seemed reasonable to me. He made the comment that on all the other lunch boxes he had the buckles were all in the wrong place and it always hung to one side or the other. Interestingly enough, Kyle made the same complaint. I am not sure if the placement of this buckle will help with this, but by putting the buckle in the middle of the handle and by spreading out the load across two handles it should help. Of course the buckle in the middle of the handle(s) caused its own interesting problem so I put the paddled handle wrap around it to pad that. 

The inside is entirely green for the most part. I did have a little accent of the outer fabric inside. On the left side you can see a little strap in there. That is the strap that goes around the water bottle to hold it upright. It just uses velcro so nothing fancy. As you can probably see, it is shiny on the inside. The inside is fully lined with clear vinyl to keep it clean and to prevent any spills from running through and getting all over inside his backpack. The entire lunch box is lined with an insulating material which will help keep the temperature cool inside.

This was an experience to put together. I learned a lot in the process. I can honestly tell you that I am not sure I would put one together like this again. Would I do it again? Yes, hands down. It was just not easy by any stretch of the imagination. The end result, however, paid off. It looks nice and it is sturdy. I got exactly what I wanted and what Lance wanted. Now that I have done it, I know what not to do and can make changes for the next time so that it should be easier.

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