Posted in School, Traditions

Not Just a Mom: Back to School Freedom

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Ours was actually pretty laid back with only a baseball game on Saturday. We started our weekend early on Friday by going for a family hike (more about that tomorrow!). Saturday afternoon, Hayden had a baseball game, and Saturday night we had a patio get together with neighbors. Sunday had me soaking in my final day of summer.

Speaking of which, today is my first day of school as far as teacher responsibilities go. For now, I’m working from home as much as I can until we get in a groove with the kids once they start back virtually.

I’m linking up with Lauren, Ashley, and others for their Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is “Back to School Freedom.”

Well, I don’t usually gain any freedom when school starts back as I swap my two kids for about 150 high schoolers πŸ˜‰

This year, those two kids are starting the 5th grade virtually as I work mostly from home as well. So, understand these pandemic circumstances I don’t think I will have much freedom.

That being said, since we are talking about back to school, I thought I’d share a few more in-depth details about our traditional Back to School Breakfast on the first day of school.

I’ve mentioned this tradition a couple times recently, and I know it may seem like a lot of work, but I wanted to take a minute to share the methods behind my madness, and that really the cute breakfast set up only takes a few minutes.

Back 2 School Breakfast 2019 (4th grade)

Decorations:

Hayden’s breakfast place setting:

Hadley’s breakfast place setting:

I have a couple of these chalkboards from Hobby Lobby that I use for their first day of school photos.

The kids have had these clipboards since preschool, so I use one to display the Back to School Breakfast sign which is glued on to wide lined writing paper. We had pads of that paper when the kids were learning to write.

I have this basket as a decoration on our built ins, so I just borrow it and add a few apples for decoration. I put the muffins on a cake plate for decoration but also for them to grab and eat before getting ready.

Specifics on a few decorations:

A: Years ago, I printed the Back to School Breakfast page from Pinterest. (And, as I mentioned above, I just glued it on a piece of wide lined paper.)

B: I purchased the paper apples from Amazon. There are quite a few in the pack, so I just use one each year to write their grade.

C: I also got the This School Year Will Be the Best! book from Amazon years ago. When the kids were little, we’d read it together the evening of the first day of school.

D: Again, another Amazon purchase with the red and white checkered napkins. There are many in the pack, and I just fold one in half to sit on their plate each year.

E: The best pencils around. Dixon Ticonderoga! I just keep this same pack of pencils to use as a decoration in a mason jar for the breakfast.

F: I think last year was the first year I started using a folder and sticky note for a placemat after getting that idea from Andrea (which is where I also got the Back to School Breakfast idea. She does a “brinner” the night before school starts.) I had the sticky notes on hand and picked up the folders while back to school supply shopping with the kids.

G: The black plates and colorful cups I picked up a Target a couple of years ago.

Food:

My kids like these Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffins. I make them occasionally, and when I do, I usually make two packs and freeze some.

So, I make these the night before and serve with strawberries and yogurt. So, nothing fancy, but different than their typical waffle or cereal bar.

Goodies:

I’ve lucked out the past couple of years with these cute cookies from Maddie’s Cookie Co. here in Lexington. The mini cookies are perfect for a decoration on their placemat, and the perfect lunch or after school treat.

Amazon always comes in clutch with a book with the kids’ grade. This year, I found Tales of the Fifth-Grade Knight for Hayden, and President of the Whole Fifth Grade for Hadley.

Then, everything goes in this storage tub until the next school year! I truly am able to decorate in ten minutes because I just store everything in this tub.

So, those are just a few details of our traditional Back to School Breakfast. Do you have any back to school traditions? I shared how we prep for back to school in a post last week.

Enjoy these last few days of summer! I know we’ll make the best of this school year no matter if it’s in person, virtually, or a hybrid schedule.

Also, moms of little ones…don’t blink. I clearly remember taking this first day of kindergarten picture five years ago. (and wiping away tears as I dropped them off in their classrooms.) 😭

Now, my kids are on their last year of elementary school. How is that even possible?

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts and link up next month to talk about your skin care and make up routine.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a great week.

Posted in Me, School

Enneagram Backpack

Hey hey! We made it to Friday. I guess it’s technically my last Friday of summer before my teacher responsibilities start on Monday! I’m hoping to have a fun day with the kids today leading into a pretty relaxed weekend (with one baseball game).

So, back in the fall, I took an Enneagram test because I’d heard so many people talking about it. I posted a bit about my results and thoughts about the test in an About Me post in September.

I’m a 5w6. Type 5 means that I’m an “Investigator” and I have some 6, “Loyalist,” tendencies. I don’t live or die by these descriptors, but when I see something about Enneagram references, specifically with 5’s and 6’s, I usually like, “Yep. That’s me!”

Recently, I started following @cathartic_word on Instagram. Erin is an artist and her graphics are fun and beautiful! She creates various ones specific to Enneagram types focused on ideas like, “Road Trip Essentials,” “Step Inside My Mind,” and “Enneagram Colors.”

Recently, I saw her “What’s in My Backpack” series, and thought , with school starting soon, it would be fun to look at 5w6 graphics. They are pretty spot on for what would be in my backpack!

Type 5:

graphic c/o @cathartic_word July 9, 2020
  • Headphones (noise canceling) :I don’t know that I need noise canceling headphones, but I do like quiet when I work. Headphones are perfect for drowning out extra noise.
  • Notebooks: I heart notebooks. I can’t ever have too many. I tend to use one notebook (or colored pad of paper) for meetings, another notebook for lesson plan ideas, etc.
  • Books (old and new): Give me all the books! Y’all I know I love to read. I also love to re-read some books and even mark them up with pen and pencil or dog ear pages!
  • Laptop: I need my laptop for all the things.
  • Phone (for research): Can’t leave home without my phone. And, I do use it to look up many things as well!

Type 6:

graphic c/o @cathartic_word June 8, 2020
  • Water bottle: I have been working on drinking more water πŸ˜‰ I do prefer to have a refillable bottle to use for my daily water intake.
  • Planner: I must have my planner. Always. I have my lesson plan book (with dates, meetings, appointments) as well as my desk calendar and my calendar on my phone to keep me organized.
  • Travel mug (or 7!): If I’m leaving the house in the morning (for school, early game, workout class), I always have a travel coffee mug.
  • Phone charger: I’m the type of person who panics if my phone battery is less than 70% πŸ˜‰ So, a phone charger always comes in handy.
  • Snacks: I often have snacks on hand for myself and the kids. You just never know when you’ll need something to tide you over until the next meal!

Weekly Recap:

That’s a wrap on this week!

Go check out Erin and @cathartic_word on Instagram! What would go in your backpack for your Enneagram type?

Have a great weekend!

Posted in School, Traditions

My Back to School Prep

Well, it’s August which means it’s definitely time to start thinking about heading back to school. Of course, 2020 “back to school” looks so different for everyone this year. To be honest, in times of uncertainty, I cling to routine and traditions which is what this post is all about.

Also of random note…Today is my 200th blog post, and Tuesday was my one year anniversary of my very first Show Me and Sweet Tea blog post. Time sure flies! So did the summer! πŸ˜‰

I saw this on an Instagram story and LOL’d πŸ˜‰

And this one…#truth

As a teacher and as a parent, I have routines and traditions for myself as I prepare to start a new school year. I also have the same for my kids as they start a new year too.

As a Teacher, I…

  • Buy a cute lesson plan book and Paper Mate felt tip markers. I’m pretty loyal with my Blue Sky Planners that I usually buy, but I bought this one from Amazon this year to try. I always purchase new colorful pens to write down dates and tasks.
  • Write down important dates. In my planner, I always take some time to write down dates that we don’t have school, meeting times, and kids’ activities. I always feel overwhelmed at the start of the new school year, but having everything written down helps easy that anxiety.
  • Complete small tasks each day. I will be the first to admit that once the calendar turns to August 1st, I kind of panic. August 1st means summer is almost over and school is close to starting. So, to make myself feel better, I try to tackle a small school task or two as I can per day. So, one day I write down the dates in my lesson plan book. Another day, I might update my syllabus and go make copies. On a different day, I may set up all my Google Classroom and Remind text codes. Crossing those small tasks off starting early August makes me feel like I have a huge chunk of my day left to enjoy time with my kids, go to a movie, or hang out at the pool.
  • Finish my professional development hours. Teachers in my district have to have 24 professional development hours each year. Every summer, I knock those hours out before starting the school year. That’s usually pretty easy, as we typically have a 6 hour district day to focus on curriculum, a 6 hour English department day in August as well as a 6 hour school professional development day a couple days before school starts. Typically, I get the other 6 hours by going to a technology conference that the district usually hosts in June. This summer was different, but I was able to do the tech conference online, we will still have our school PD, and I completed a technology requirement for Canvas that’s 6 hours. So, the past week or so, I’ve been crossing off an hour at a time with online PD hosted my our media center specialist. Anyway, the point is that I don’t want time to catch up with me getting those hours and put off doing something I have more time to complete in the summer.
  • Get prepared for first week, so I can leave school ASAP. After setting up my classroom, I always plan the first three days of school, make all the copies, make sure technology links work, etc. The first couple weeks of school are so exhausting, and I’m always anxious to hear about my kids’ first few days as well. So, I like to be as prepared as possible in order to leave as soon as I can after school to get home.

This year’s planner and new pens! They make my teacher heart happy.

My classroom:

I make my classroom a comfortable place to be, so that I want to be there as well as the students. It’s warm, inviting, organized, and tidy.

This was my classroom last year before I moved down the hall. It was all set up for homeroom on the first day of school 2019.

2020. Right? πŸ˜‚

As a Parent, I…

  • Start back to school tasks a couple weeks before going back to school. Tasks like getting hair cuts, finishing summer reading, ordering backpacks, and getting school supplies always creep up on us if I don’t start crossing them off the list around the beginning of August.
  • Look at the Summer Fun list with a couple of weeks left of summer. The kids and I look to see what we haven’t incorporated into our summer yet and plan a few more fun activities. By early August, trips are usually completed or we don’t have any more time, but we’ll squeeze in a movie or an ice cream date.
  • Take the kids back to school shopping for supplies. I take my kids, each with their list, to Walmart to get their school supplies. I find that this gets them excited about school starting. They usually cross items off as they find them, and they each choose their own color folders, notebooks, pencil boxes, etc. Then, if we can’t find something, I still have time to order on Amazon.
  • Have a positive attitude. This is mostly a reminder for myself ;), but I find if I’m excited about school, the kids are too.
  • Start adjusting bedtime/wake up time. During the school year, we’re pretty firm with the bed time, but it tends to get pushed back in the summer. Starting the beginning of August, I start making the kids come in from playing outside earlier than in the summer. Then, I try to get them into bed a little earlier each week. Also, as much as I love that my kids sleep in past 9 am, I start waking them at 9:00, 8:45, 8:30 and so on leading up to the start of school.
  • Plan our back to school breakfast. I have all the breakfast decorations in a box, so that’s easy to get everything situated when they go to bed. I just make sure to bake the muffins and buy extra fruit, etc. for a special breakfast. Starting the second day of school, I’m usually throwing a Poptart at them while they make their beds πŸ˜‰
  • Plan a fun activity for after school. The past few years we’ve lucked out with no practices or anything on the first day of school. So, we’ve made a point to hang out at the pool, eat dinner out, or go get ice cream as a way to be together and hear all about the first day!
Back to school haircuts and supplies, 2017

Our Back to School Breakfast is always something to look forward to. Next year, middle school starts later, so I may move to a Back to School Brinner the night before!

2019

I’ve already said that I can’t believe it’s the last year of elementary for my kids, but I also can’t believe that I will be starting my 19th year of teaching! Crazy!

Soak in these last days of summer before we head back to school in 2020 style!

Posted in Books and Shows, Currently, School

Currently…

Hello! How is your week going? This week has been filled with activities (baseball games and dance classes) as well as many hours of learning for me (online professional development). In some ways, it feels like life is kind of normal again. BUT…I know that it’s not. We are living in far from normal circumstances, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. For me, some days, that can feel overwhelming. That being said, I know the day will come where I don’t have to remind the kids to bring a mask or stress about what school will look like.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written a Currently post, so I thought I would do so again. These posts are a way to share what’s going on, but are also a way to to share a little bit of what’s on my heart or in my mind.

I’m Currently…

Marveling:

I’m marveling at the fact that yesterday was my blogiversary! I posted my first ever blog post on August 4, 2019. This week, I will write my 200th blog post. Writing three days a week was pretty manageable for me, but since April, I’ve been writing a post almost five days a week…Once we get back to school, I may have to scale back again, but while I can find time in the day, I’d love to write as much as possible.

In my first post, I mentioned wanting to start a blog as a way to do something for myself and have a creative outlet to share about family, recipes, books, and more. Show Me and Sweet Tea as provided me with just that…and so much more.

I’ve “met” so many people along the way. I’ve read a few blogs (Mix and Match Mama, A Little Bit of Everything, Momfessionals, Bev Cooks and more) for a few years. BUT…interacting with other bloggers, finding new blogs to follow, and reading comments on my posts from readers has been so rewarding for me.

I don’t get all caught up in the stats of my site, but WordPress makes it easy to take a peek at site activity.

  • This is my 199th post that I’ve written.
  • This year, I’ve had 12,400 visitors and 27,800 views on my site.
  • My most read post had 694 views.

My mind is just blown by those numbers. Again, I don’t get too caught up in the numbers game as there are people who have thousands of views every single day, but again, it’s just gratifying to be a part of this blogging community.

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Planning:

I’m currently thinking about and planning our back to school breakfast. I started this tradition a few years ago, and even though we start from home, virtually, on August 26th, I will still make that first morning back special for the kids.

I always luck out and find books on Amazon with the kids’ grade (5th) in the title.

Last year’s books were Fourth Grade Rats and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

This year, I found Tales of a Fifth-Grade Knight for Hayden and President of the Whole Fifth Grade for Hadley!

Reminiscing:

I’m reminiscing about the kids when they started kindergarten. How in the world will they be in the 5th grade already? That means next year is middle school. Start praying for me now, y’all.

This pic popped up in my Facebook memories…Hadley with the crossbody purse and Hadyen’s toothless grin…⚾️

I clearly remember taking them into their school, having them meet their teachers, and praying that they’d remember how to count to 20 and spell their name, so I wasn’t a total failure as a parent who is an educator πŸ˜‰ Now, flash forward to today when I had to watch a You Tube video to help them with their math in their summer workbook.

Watching:

I’m watching Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi. Travis found this show, and I’m hooked. I love food and learning about other cultures and cuisine. Padma explores food and culture across the United States. It’s on Hulu and most episodes are 30-40 minutes long. I’ve seen the first few episodes which focused Mexican food in El Paso, hot dogs and German food in Milwaukee, Indian cuisine in New York, the Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina, Chinese food in San Francisco, and Persian food in Los Angeles.

Every episode is so informative, interesting, and inspiring.

Ordering:

I’m ordering baseball and dance photos. I don’t always order the photos, but I’m realizing how big my kids are getting, and I loved the pics. With that combo, it was hard to say no to placing a picture order!

Laughing:

I’m laughing at this meme that I saw on Instagram. I have a “note” on my phone where I keep a daily schedule and “to do” lists. It’s become really easy for me to move some of my least favorite “to do” items to the next day!

Trying:

I tried something new at Sonic last week. I always get a Cherry Limeade or (diet version) at Sonic. This time, I had them add in Nerds candy because Hayden and Hadley get that option in their Sonic slushies. Y’all! It tasted SO good!

Snuggling:

We are all snuggling with Homer any chance we get. I know Homer loves having us home so much!

Reading:

I’m currently reading Maid. I’ve had this book on my list for a while, and I finally started it. In Stephanie Land’s memoir, she shares about being homeless, a single mom, and working to do whatever it takes to provide for herself and her daughter. This book explores poverty in America and shines a light on the inequities of working, middle, and upper class societies.

I’m about halfway through with the book, and it’s an interesting and eye-opening read so far.

Praying:

I’ve been (worrying and) praying about the start of the school year. At this time, our district is starting with virtual learning on August 26th. Usually, our first day of school would be a week from today. Teachers will start back August 10th and prepare for the start of the year.

I’ve had to let go of some of the things I took for granted like walking my kids to school on the first day which is what we’ve done every first day of school since kindergarten. This is my kids’ last year of elementary school, and it saddens me that this year will look so different for them. Kids are resilient, but honestly, they shouldn’t have to be.

Last year, I realized all the fun privileges the intermediate grade level students receive like being in chorus, on academic team, and so much more. My kids are going to miss out on some of those opportunities, not to mention simple pleasures like lunch and recess with their friends. It hurts my heart just thinking about it.

Parents are having to make decisions about school that they never thought they’d have to make. Classmates that Hayden and Hadley have had for five years may be educated virtually when we go back to face to face instruction. Some friends may enroll in private school for this year. It’s heartbreaking to me that elementary school will look so differently for them compared to what they’ve experienced in previous years.

And, of course, there’s the weight, worry, and burden that teachers carry thinking about their students and preparing for the school year with so many unknown factors.

I’m always positive when talking about the upcoming school year with my kids, but some days it is hard to put a smile on my face, answer all their questions, or wipe away a tear when they are sad or frustrated.

That being said, I’m trying to keep this in mind moving forward…

So, that’s a bit of what’s been currently going on. As always, thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Amazon

August Amazon Lately

Hello! I’m linking up with Tanya for her monthly Prime Purchases link up.

As always, Amazon Prime is almost too convenient. That being said, I’ve always appreciated this option, but I certainly appreciate it more during these times as I try to limit the places I go to during this COVID life, so I typically search Amazon first for purchases.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve purchased this month.

At the end of June’s Amazon post, I said I had made one more June purchase, but it was a gift for Trav’s birthday. Anyway, I will pick up where I left off with the gift…It was a this Sipworks Coffee Tumbler. I feel like we have a lot of drinkware, but he was taking his coffee to work in some of my teacher/mom travel mugs, so I thought I’d get him one of his own.

Once we started to get out and about a bit more, I was tired of having to hold masks when we didn’t need them. I decided to order these neck gaiters for the kids to see if they’d like them. They do! For example, when Hayden had his ortho appointment, it was easy for him to just pull it up and down when needed. I’ve actually ordered a couple more, so we have extras. There are tons of color and design options as well as a two pack or four pack options.

Ice cream and neck gaiters. Very 2020.

I picked up this Monopoly Deal card game before our recent trip to Kansas City. Andrea had shared about it, and I thought it would be perfect for us to play and easy to throw in my purse for packing. It takes a few rounds to get the hang of it, but we do enjoy playing it.

I’ve shared these Amazon pjs in a Friday Favorites post, but I thought I’d share them again in this post. They are perfect for summer. They are lightweight and comfy. There are many color options, but I purchased the galaxy pattern.

Hadley’s been wanting some white Birkenstock like sandals. I told her I’d buy her some real Birkenstocks when her feet quit growing πŸ˜‰ Anyway, Target has had a pair all summer, but they are never in our store and for some reason, her size isn’t available for shipping. I’m not sure why I didn’t search Amazon sooner, but these are super cute and have been perfect for her. She’s between a 7-8 (Women’s!) depending on the shoe. The 7.5 fit her perfectly with some room to spare.

While I was ordering her sandals, I went ahead and purchased these sandals for myself. I’d been wanting a pair of slides that could get wet or dirty and just something quick and easy to throw on. I did order my regular size 9, but they barely fit. I ordered the 10, and they arrived a few days later and fit perfectly.

There are tons of color options and some with cute patterns as well!

I’ve seen a few influencers share the next two jewelry items. I feel like I wear the same jewelry over and over. I love bracelets, and they are one accessory I change up when getting ready. These are great to wear in the summer as they are waterproof and just a fun accessory.

I loved these colorful bracelets, and I knew Hadley would wear the necklaces. I could have just gotten the bracelets for a little bit less of money, but thought it was a good deal for both the bracelets and necklaces.

I’ve purchased my school lesson plan book from Amazon the past few years. This year, I did buy a different planner than I usually. This one is hardback with a different layout than I am used to. I do like it, and I always feel better about the school year when I get all the dates and preps in the planner.

I also usually get myself a new set of Paper Mate felt tip markers to use in my planner. Dates and meeting notes look better in color!

I usually go to Ulta for my favorite OPI nail polishes, but Amazon has a competitive price and convenient delivery, of course. Bubble Bath is my favorite OPI color.

My last purchase of the month was a bit random. I was moving my spoon rest from the sink to the drying rack and broke it. Hadley and I were out running errands, so I checked out TJ Maxx (first time I’d been there since at least mid-March), but the store was pretty sparse.

When I looked on Amazon, this mason jar one was one of the first “spoon rest” options to pop up. I thought it was so cute, the perfect color, and fits the vibe of my kitchen.

It arrived the other day and is perfect.

Y’all, I think I purchased more than I usually do in a month from Amazon, so I may need to reel in my Amazon spending for August. #Iwilltryanyway

September 1st is the next Prime Purchases link up. What have you been Priming lately?

Thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken

Hello and Happy Monday!

I’m always looking for recipes that make enough for dinner for two nights. A bonus factor is if I can use my slow cooker to help have dinner ready whenever we are.

I made this Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken last week for my family, and it’s a recipe I’ve had for years. I’ve seen versions of it and have even tweaked what I add through the years.

This recipe is served over rice, but it’s also a great low carb option over cauliflower rice or even just on its own with lettuce, cheese and salsa as toppings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb bag of frozen chicken breasts or chicken tenders
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of Rotel
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 packet of Ranch seasoning
  • Rice

Instructions:

  • Put the chicken in the slow cooker.
  • Then add black beans, corn, Rotel, taco and Ranch seasonings.
  • Then, I cube the cream cheese and spread the dollops around on top of the other ingredients.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Then, turn off the slow cooker and let everything sit for 30-45 minutes. (I don’t always do this step!)
Ready to slow cook!
  • Flake the chicken using two fork.
  • Serve over cooked rice.
  • Top with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa, and any other desired toppings!
  • Enjoy!
Delish!

This is a recipe that is two nights of dinner for us. Sometimes, we put it on top of tortilla chips for nachos rather than on the rice. This is a easy, hearty, and pretty healthy recipe!

I hope you have a great week!

Posted in Books and Shows

July: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! I read three books this month, so I thought I’d share a bit about each one. I loved all three books. I’m almost finished with a fourth book, but I will have to save it for next month!

Our Little Lies:

Our Little Lies was such a good thriller to read. Marianne seems to have the perfect life. She lives in a beautiful home, has three kids, and her husband, Simon, is a surgeon. There are references to Marianne’s past as the plot continues. Marianne becomes obsessed with finding out the truth behind Simon’s relationship with his colleague Caroline.

This was a quick read as the plot moved quickly, and the ending was one that all came together in a way which was unexpected as I read the book.

Ugly Love:

I’m a huge fan on Colleen Hoover books and Ugly Love did not disappoint. Ugly Love may end up as one of my favorite reads of 2020.

The theme of “ugly love” certainly applies to relationships, love and life in this book. Miles is a pilot and in a relationship was his friend’s sister, Tate. This book is definitely “R rated” due to the nature of their relationship. Miles has two rules for Tate:

  • Never ask about the past.
  • Don’t expect a future.

Of course, at times, those rules are hard to follow. Their relationship has highs and lows and there’s a dance of push and pull as they navigate their relationship. “Life and love and people can be so perfect and beautiful. Then it’s not. It’s so ugly.”

My heart broke for both Miles and Tate at different times throughout the story.

Other favorite quotes from the story are:

“…that God gives us the ugliness so we don’t take the beautiful things in life for granted.”

“It’s the beautiful moments like these that make up for the ugly love.”

Feels Like Falling:

I’ve shared about the Peachtree Bluff series by Kristy Woodson Harvey that I enjoyed very much.

Feels Like Falling was similar to those books with the picturesque setting and strong female cast. Gray and Diana are the main female leads, but Gray’s sister, Quinn, and friend, Marcy, also add to the bond that these women have.

Gray and Diana help each other through trying times while Diana lives in Gray’s guest house. Gray is going through a divorce and Diana has ended a long term relationship. Both women are very different, but grow as friends who lean on and support each other throughout the book. As Gray said, “She’d made me feel like I had somebody again, like I had a person to count on no matter what to turn to with anything…and now I knew I could trust her.”

I really loved the ending with each woman growing as they needed to but also growing closer in their friendship.

A favorite quote from the book:

And I realized that sometimes when you’re speeding through thin air, the brakes worn out and the engine shot, maybe it feels like you’re falling. But, in reality, that’s when you’re learning to fly.”

I hope one of these books is one you can add to your list! What have you been reading lately?

Weekly Recap:

Happy Reading!

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings

Hey! Hey! I’m linking up with Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings post all about Summer Vacations & Staycations.

Top 5 Items to Pack:

  • Well, I can’t leave home without my Kindle or a book, so that’s the first thing that popped into my mind!
  • Workout bands. I try to at least workout a couple times while on vacation whether it’s a walk or using my workout bands.
  • Sunglasses. I need to have a pair or two on hand.
  • Face wash, Toner, Moisturizer. I try to keep up some kind of skin care routine even if I don’t do all the steps every morning and night while on vacation.
  • A hat. I always have a ball cap on hand or a beach hat if that’s where we are headed.

One more “must have”…

  • Melatonin – especially if I can’t pack my weighted blanket πŸ˜‚
Pic from my Let’s Look (at what’s in your carry on bag.)

Packing Cubes. Yes or No?

Yes! Packing cubes are life changing for packing. I’ve been using these for a couple of years and love them. I use them to keep my items organized, but I also use them for the kids…especially if they share a suitcase. Besides helping with organization, they do condense what fits in the suitcase. I actually need to buy a few more as I only have two colors and I’d like to have a third for each person to have their own color. Trav is on his own when it comes to packing πŸ˜‰

Warm or Cold Destinations?

I’d probably have to say warm destinations, but that’s because most of our vacations are beach vacations. That being said, I love to visit the mountains in Asheville…especially in the fall when the weather is cooler.

Isle of Palm, SC

Favorite Vacation Destination of All Time:

San Diego/Del Mar is my favorite place to visit.

Lake Tahoe is a solid runner up!

Staycation Tips:

  • Learn to love where you live.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Hike at a park you usually wouldn’t go to.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go for ice cream before dinner (which is something we sometimes do on vacation)

The kids and I visited McConnell Springs Park this summer which was a first for us.

Camping, Glamping, or Uh No?

Travis and I went camping in 2002. He was testing our relationship πŸ˜‚

Last fall, we went glamping in Asheville with our friends. Overall, we had a great time…but I still prefer a cabin in the woods with a cozy fire…and tv…and cell service! πŸ˜‰

How Many States Have You Been To?

I did a quick count, and I actually think I’ve been to 22 states? Of course, some I’m counting like Missouri where I’m from and Kansas where I visit family. One family vacation when I was in high school, we knocked out three states for one vacation: Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Also, places like Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee are near Kentucky and we’ve visited for both day and overnight trips. We’ve been to California a few times, and then places like Florida and South Carolina many times.

Still…22 states blows my mind. Also, while we love the beach and going to places we know, I’m glad that we are purposeful with planning other trips for the kids like our Grand Canyon/AZ/California trip. We try to plan a spring break trip to visit somewhere new…It doesn’t always work out that way, but we try!

Have You Ever Traveled By RV?

I have not, but definitely think it could be a fun way to travel and see many parts of the United States.

Most Random Place You Have Been To?

This one stumps me…I can’t think of anything off the top of my head…

I keep asking myself, “Have I been to an alligator farm?” or “Have I seen the world’s biggest ball of paint?”

and those answers are “no” and “ball of paint is in Indiana.”

I need to branch out more, I guess!

Check out the highlighted tourist attraction in your state with the link below. πŸ˜‚

First Place to Travel to After Pandemic?

If I could hop in a plane and go anywhere at any time, it would be southern California. That being said, we were supposed to spend Spring Break 2020 in New York City with the kids, so that’s where I’d head first whenever it’s safe to travel and sight see.

Vacations are always fun to think about…and I actually love a good staycation too.

Thanks so much for reading! Don’t forget to check out Holly’s post as well as other bloggers’ posts who linked up as well.

See you back here tomorrow for What I’ve Been Reading: July.

Posted in What's up Wednesday

What’s Up Wednesday

Y,all! My mind is blown. How in the world is July almost over?

I do feel like July flew by and now all eyes are on back to school…whatever that may look like!

Since it’s the last Wednesday of the month, I’m linking up with Sheaffer and Shay for this month’s What’s Up Wednesday post.

WHAT WE’RE EATING THIS WEEK:

  • Sunday: I made Bev’s Meatloaf in Tomato Sauce. It’s easy, hearty, and so delish! I paired that with Trader Joe’s Mushroom Risotto and watermelon.
  • Monday: Leftover meatloaf and bagged Ceasar salad.
  • Tuesday: Trader Joe’s carnitas with salsa verde. (I mentioned in my Trader Joe’s post that I put the carnitas and salsa in the slow cooker for a few hours for a delicious dinner. I eat the carnitas with a salad, or we do nachos or tacos). Trader Joe’s Street corn will be our side dish.
  • Wednesday: We will have carnitas leftovers and fruit for dinner.
  • Thursday: I’m making one of my favorite summer pastas. The Pinterest link doesn’t work anymore, but it’s as simple as cooking the pasta and then drizzling it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mixing it with the other ingredients. For a side, we’ll have roasted broccoli.
  • Friday and Saturday: Like most weekends, we’ll do carry out for dinner. #mamadontcookontheweekends

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT:

My Memory Lane post yesterday had me reminiscing about when I was a kid. It’s crazy to look at pics of me at the age my kids are now and wonder what they’ll think and remember about their childhood.

WHAT I’M LOVING:

I’m loving Hayden’s new glasses. He’s been wearing these as well as his sports goggles. He looks like such a big kid!

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:

We’ve been checking appointments off our list (ortho, dental, vision and more).

The kids have been playing outside quite a bit as well as beating the summer heat at home.

Hayden has baseball a few days a week, and Hadley’s been taking dance workshop classes.

We’ve also been checking things off our “Summer Fun” list one thing at a time.

WHAT I’M DREADING:

I don’t know if “dread” is the word, but I am disappointed that we aren’t starting school in a normal fashion this year. I just hate it for my students who need to be at school and, of course, I hate it for my own kids. It’s the last year of elementary school for them as they will be 5th graders this year.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think they’d start their last first day of elementary school online. As a teacher and as a parent, I completely understand the decision. I just can’t believe we’ve been out of the school building for almost 5 months. I’m disappointed that our COVID numbers continue to rise, and we appear to be in a worse situation than when this all began.

Of course, I will have a good attitude about it though because I firmly believe that the kids are looking at us, as parents, and will respond accordingly. Hadley is bummed that this is how school is starting. Hayden seems pretty indifferent about it all. So, even within my own household, I have to choose my words carefully and react in a way that will be best for my kids.

I saw this recently on social media, and it certainly rings true.

WHAT I’M WORKING ON:

I’m working on getting organized for the school year. I buy a new lesson plan book every year. I always feel better once I get all the dates and my preps written in it. I always buy new colorful pens to brighten up the pages. I do love a planner and pens!

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

Hadley starts back to her dance classes next week. They are going to use August to brush up on their recital routines and then have an in studio dance recital before starting the new semester of dance in September.

Hadley had dance recital pics yesterday. I always underestimate how long it takes to get a girl in tights, her hair up in a bun, and some blush on her cheeks! And…Hadley’s better at the hair and makeup part than I could ever be!

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:

I love the show The Rookie on ABC, I’m a big fan of Nathan Fillion. I’d fallen behind with watching it, so I’ve been getting caught up on it. I just have one more episode of the season left to watch.

Hayden and I started watching Alone on Netflix. This is apparently the sixth season, but I’m not sure how to see the other seasons. Ten contestants are placed in the Arctic wilderness to see if they can survive 100 days (I think?) and win $500,000. Each person films themselves, hunts the land for food, makes their own shelter, etc. Let me just go ahead and say that I would last 1/2 a day. πŸ˜‰ I don’t even think I could make coffee over a fire…and, I guess I’d first need to know how to start a fire!

I just finished reading Feels Like Falling and then started The Family Upstairs. I’m working on my What I’ve Been Reading (in July) post for Friday.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

I usually only listen to podcasts when I walk, and I haven’t been walking as much lately. I still love Landyn’s podcast when I am out for a walk.

Also, as I type this post, I’m hearing silence! Both kids are outside playing πŸ™‚

WHAT I’M WEARING:

I’ve been loving my new sandals from Amazon. I’m sure before summer is over, I will get another pair in another color!

When we went to Walmart last week to pick up Hayden’s glasses, I saw these workout shorts. I’d been on the hunt for a black pair, and these have been a perfect fit. They are the Avia brand. I can’t seem to find them online, but they were only $12 in the store and remind me of Athleta or Lulu shorts. They do have a built in biker short which I didn’t realize until I got home, but I actually like that detail.

I also didn’t immediately find the exact workout tank I bought, but I bought one in coral and one in gray. They have a split hem and cover your bum if wearing leggings. The tanks were only $6.96 each. My tanks seem similar to these.

I’m also a sucker for pajama shorts! I’ve purchased a few mix and match Secret Treasures pajamas over the past couple of years from Walmart. I picked up this pair of shorts to add to my collection.

My Shop Style Your Senses bracelets arrived recently, and I’ve been wearing them on the regular.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:

We don’t have too much planned. I’m sure we will lay low at home in between Hayden’s baseball games.

#30 up to bat!
My favorite pitcher!

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:

No matter what school looks like when we start, I will certainly treat my kids to our traditional Back to School breakfast.

Thanks so much for reading. Don’t forget to check out Sheaffer and Shay’s posts too!

I hope you are having a great week.

Posted in Family, Me

Memory Lane…

When we were in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago, my Gma was cleaning out her pics and had given some to my mom to sort through and keep what she wanted. Then, it was my turn to choose some pics to keep. I brought home about 25 pics, but thought I’d share a few faves.

On my Shutterfly app, I have various albums, and one of them is for old pics. I chose a couple of those to sprinkle in as well.

My kids get the biggest kick out of seeing these older pics. I do what I can to entertain them πŸ˜‰

Me:

I shared these two pics last week in my Friday Favorites post. I think the banana one is a fave pic of me for my Gma.

I’m assuming this is a pic of me around Christmastime. My love for Madeline ran deep. I carried that doll everywhere.

Listen. If you didn’t have your 5th birthday party at Show Biz Pizza, were you even a kid of the 80’s?

I clearly remember this Esprit shirt, how much I loved it, and how cool I felt in it. Also, let’s talk about the 80’s edition camcorder my mom is holding.

Brother & Sister:

There’s a three and a half year age difference between my brother and me. I used to pick on him, hit him, and pull his hair. I hated in the summer when he’d get a buzz cut to keep cool, and I could no longer get a good grip on his hair.

My parents always used to warn me that one day he’d be bigger than me…but I couldn’t really comprehend that as I figured I’d always be older than him. That being said, thankfully we started getting along once he did grow taller, bigger, and stronger than me!

My grandparents had a houseboat on the Lake of the Ozarks for most of my childhood. I have lots of great memories from the lake.

Pic on the left: we caught a fish!; Top right: I’m sure someone told us our face would freeze like that…and we were up for the challenge; Bottom right: tummy time..for the both of us, apparently.

Pic on the left: I’m guessing this is an Olan Mills photo from around 1984; Top right: tricycle fun at my grandparents’ house (and my brother with his binky!); Bottom right: Trip to DC in 2004. My mom had just retired and cashed in her sick days. She wanted to take a trip with my brother and me. I voted for the beach. I was outvoted, and we met up in DC.

Grandparents: ❀️

I had really wonderful grandparents. I’m blessed to still have my Gma, and it’s been an ever greater blessing that Hayden and Hadley have great memories with her too!

We spent lots of time on the swing set at my grandparents’ house.

My grandpa was lots of fun! and yes-I’m sporting a perm.

I spent lots of time at my dad’s parents’ house too. Most mornings they’d drop me off there, and my grandma (Lulu) would take me to school. They had a fun backyard with swings, a garden, and in the summer, a little pool for us to splash around in. We’d often have Sunday family dinners there too with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Also, my grandpa worked for Pepsi, and they had a Pepsi pop machine out in their breezeway which was a dream come true for the grand kids. Lulu passed away when I was in the third grade, and my grandpa passed away when I was in the seventh grade. I’m very thankful to have great memories of them.

I would often spend sick days at my Gma’s house. My mom’s school was close to their house, and my mom would drop me off there if I needed to stay home. I remember watching I Love Lucy while eating cinnamon sugar toast and scrambled eggs on the couch during those sick days.

My grandpa was very funny. He’d always tell jokes and tickle us. We’d go to their country club and swim or hit golf balls. He always said, “I always knew I’d marry the right woman. I just didn’t know her first name would be always.” haha. He had tons of jokes like that. He passed away in 2004 right after I got engaged and right before my move to Kentucky. I’m very thankful he was able to meet Travis! Of course, I wish my three grandparents could have met Hayden and Hadley…what a gift that would have been.

Pic on left: Swinging with Lulu; Top right: Gma driving a boat at the lake; Bottom right: Grandpa was a Tigers fan…really, he was a fan of anything we did.

Other Faves:

Lake time with mom, my brother, and my Gma.

The house I grew up in had a huge front yard hill that was perfect for those Midwest winters. We’d sled down the hill, across the street, and into the neighbor’s yard.

Top pic: Sledding with my mom, brother, and dog Maggie.

Bottom pic: Classic leaving the hospital pic….my mom carrying my brother, my dad with his bell bottoms and pipe (probably telling me to get in the car!), and me with my boy haircut and Madeline doll.

This is probably Christmas 2002 or 2003. Whatever year it was, I think it was Trav’s first Christmas with my family. We always do Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and Christmas evening with my mom’s side of the family. This pic is at my Gma’s house.

So, that’s a little trip down memory lane. I guess I get my love for taking pics honestly which is obviously easier to do in 2020 with an iPhone in my hand all of the time.

Time sure does fly by!

I hope you have a great day! See you back here tomorrow for this month’s What’s Up Wednesday post. (Also, how is July almost over?!?)