Posted in Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Hello and Happy Friday! We’ve almost made it through our first full week of distance learning, and so far, so good. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again that I’ve been so impressed by my kids’ teachers. They’ve made it an awesome start to the school year. Also, my kids have really been enjoying the tutor’s house as well, so it’s just been a better than expected start for this school year.

Now, “real learning” will start soon, so I know the kids will have more questions and possibly need more assistance once the rigor is kicked up a notch, but I feel like a solid foundation as been laid!

Also, this week, we’ve had extra downtime in the evening which I think has helped, and we’ve gotten back on track with bedtimes, so that’s made it feel more like “back to school.”

Anyway, as always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for some of our Friday Favorites. I hope you’ve had a great week!

Favorite Activities:

Hadley’s taking a few volleyball clinics this month, and the first one was on Sunday. She had fun getting back on the court.

Trav is coaching the kids’ school’s cross country team this year. Due to COVID restrictions, they will have to make some adjustments to how many kids can participate, take temperatures before practices and meets, wearing masks until practice begins, etc. I’m just excited for the kids (and Trav!) that they will be able to run again this season.

I stopped by the first practice, and the yellow flowers were so pretty that I convinced the kids to let me take their pic….only to then realize Hayden was wearing his neck gaiter as a headband ๐Ÿ˜‚ Oh well, they are silly, and the flowers are pretty!

And, no pic, but Hayden got in a round of golf on Sunday with Trav and a friend, so he was excited about that.

Favorite Moment:

I meant to share this last week, but we had a sweet moment with the custodian at the kids’ school.

Last week, we took a “recess” break and met some friends at the school. Their main custodian came outside (wearing a mask), and smiled when he saw all the kids playing.

The moms chatted with him for a bit, and then he said he was going to bring the kids some bottled water which they, of course, appreciated. Then, as it was time to go, he was telling them all goodbye, and said to the moms, “Just because we aren’t in school, they are still our kids.” It was such a sweet thing for him to say; I have a feeling that school is too quiet for him right now!

Favorite Food:

Three words for you: Sheet. Pan. Nachos.

Why has it taken me this long to throw some chips on a sheet pan, add taco meat, toppings and bake for a few minutes? I made these Monday night, and they were a hit. I served them with Trader Joe’s Mexican Style Roasted Corn. Easy and delish.

Other Faves:

I love getting pics of the kids from the tutor during the day. It’s fun to see them working and playing! The group pics are often hilarious and a bright spot in the day.

Our niece, who is in grad school, started a business making headbands with a friend. We purchased a few for Hadley, and she loves them. So far, she’s been rotating the camo and cheetah print depending on her outfit ๐Ÿ˜Š

Check out Em and Hayls Headbands on Facebook.

She tied the headband in the back.

Hadley took this selfie…so cute! (and definitely shows her personality!)

Headband tied with the knot up top.

Of course, when Homer is chill and not destroying property, he is our fave ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sweet face.

Well, it’s Derby week around here. Derby week is usually filled with festivities, and Travis and I typically go to Oaks. It’s such a bummer that Oaks and Derby are being run in September and with no fans…but I understand the restrictions that have been put into place.

I had to put up a couple Derby decorations to mark the occasion.

By next week, I will probably hang up my pumpkin door hanger! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Trader Joeโ€™s Faves:

I made a Trader Joe’s run, and picked up some of our faves.

  • Dill Pickle Hummus (that I usually eat with TJ Thin Mini Crackers) or veggies.
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip (that I usually eat with TJ Corn Chips) or veggies.
  • Tzatziki Cucumber Dip which is perfect with veggies or TJ gyros.
  • Sweet Potato Chips
  • Salami
  • Molasses Cookies (So good that Homer even ate six of them right out of the box a few months ago) #baddog
  • Pita Bite Crackers (perfect for any of the dips or the cheese and salami)
  • Chocolate Covered Marshmallows (So good!)
  • Havarti Cheese with dill (my fave!)

I picked up a few of our other staples like frozen risotto, gnocchi, Mexican style roasted corn, chips and a few other odds and ends.

Trader Joe’s never disappoints!

Favorite Kid Quote:

Hayden and I were watching a close KC Royals baseball game where the bases were loaded (for the other team). Hayden said, โ€œI canโ€™t watch this!โ€ And took off his glasses ๐ŸคฃHe’s basically blind without the glasses, and I couldn’t stop laughing!

Favorite Mom Meme:

Team Forever Exhausted over here!

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

As always, I love to share Facebook memories, and I love these pics from 2011.

Listen, I can’t remember what I wore yesterday, but I actually remember taking these pics. I had just returned home from a consignment sale that was hosted by Bluegrass Parents of Twins and Multiples Club. I tried a few of the clothes on the kids (and this was probably the last time Hayden wore jeans!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hadley with the book and sassy face was par for the course back then. Hayden, holding Trav’s phone, and giving me the sweet smile is forever a fave pic!

Then, their first day of preschool popped up the other day. They had the best sitter when they were little, but the year before kindergarten, I signed them up for preschool two days a week (and they went to the sitter the other three days).

This was a great trial run for kindergarten, and we put them in separate classes which proved to be a wise choice…and set the tone for elementary school. Hayden needed to rip off the” Hadley doing everything for him and speaking for him” Band-Aid! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I remember Hadley being so excited and Hayden being very hesitant, which, again, shows the differences in their personalities.

I’m not sure where Hayden’s backpack and lunchbox are, but I love this pic.

Weekly Recap:

I hope everyone has a great three day weekend! Thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Kids, School

Distance Learning Routine

Well, we’ve been doing distance learning for one week now. We are not pros at this, but we’ve been implementing a few tips/tricks/routines over the past week to get us in back to school mode.

Last week, was a lot of “get to know you” activities with their teachers and classmates. They also had Zooms and videos with their specials teachers about supplies they’ll need and tours of classrooms. I was really impressed with all that the teachers planned to keep the kids engaged. Their virtual classrooms are impressive with links to Zoom, the schedule, the 5th grade website and more. Also, my kids were in small groups via breakout groups and teachers incorporated mini breaks throughout the day which became the perfect time to grab a snack, gather supplies, or quickly fill me on what they needed to do next.

This week, they’ve been taking pre-assessments for math and reading while also beginning regular coursework with their teachers.

And, so far, juggling between the tutor’s house and the days they work at our house has been going very smoothly.

Hayden working on a class assignment.
Hadley, hard at work, while Homer supervises.

Distance Learning Routine:

  • Technically, the kids need to wake up a little earlier on days they go to the tutor’s house, but I’ve been keeping bedtime and wake up time consistent no matter which day it is. For the at home days, they are just a little less rushed or have more time for morning work or to complete a household chore ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • During the regular school year and even summer, I have them get dressed, make their bed, and brush their teeth. Even if I know it’s a lazy day in the summer (or on the weekend), or an at home learning day, I still think it’s important for them to get out of their pajamas and get the bed made.
  • I have them log on about 30 minutes before they are supposed to just so I can see what’s due for the day. That way at the end of the day, I can ask them if they’ve turned in “x, y, and z.”
  • I also have them make sure they have their supplies ready for the day. The Chomebooks are in their rooms with their other supplies, but we keep all the textbooks on a shelf in the hall closet. So, I have them grab what they need to start the day.
  • Since they are on their computers quite a bit, I try to limit technology during the day. So when they have a bigger break, I may let them watch a show while eating lunch, but no Xbox, Ipod, Ipad, etc. during that time. Their break in the middle of the day is time for lunch, recess, and then typing or reading. So, I make sure they understand how to use that time: relax/take a break, eat, play outside, type/read.
  • I try to have a couple of snacks out for them to grab when they need them. I had thought about packing a lunch even for “at home” days, so they wouldn’t need to interrupt me for help with that, but we haven’t done that yet. I either have had a natural break from work to make their lunch, or they are pretty self-sufficient with making lunch. Hadley will even make soup or Spaghetti O’s on the stove for them!
  • They know they don’t have to always stay in their rooms while working! I do like that their desks in their rooms are “home base” for supplies, and they start their morning in their rooms for morning meeting and specials. Then, they usually bring their computer to the kitchen table for typing or Hayden sat on the couch with his computer for the end of the day meeting. I don’t want them to feel confined to their rooms, and they’ve done a good job being quiet if the other is still working.
  • While their teachers follow the same schedule, sometimes one class may finish before the other. Also, I didn’t want Homer being loud and barking while they are on their Zooms. So, we put Homer in the kennel during their main work time in the morning and afternoon. Homer likes his kennel, and when life is normal, he’s used to being there during the day.
  • Lastly, and I’ve only done this one time so far, but when they logged off for the day last Friday, I had them tidy up their work spaces. They made sure their Chromebooks were plugged in, put away supplies in their baskets and cart, stacked their books up to put in the closet, and pushed in the desk chair…similar to what they would do if they were in school.

We are far from having distance learning/virtual school mastered, but so far this routine has been good for us. Also, I’m so happy with our decision to send them to the tutor two days a week. It’s good for all of us that they have that option, and they’ve been enjoying their time there too.

How’s school going for your kids (and you!) so far this year? I’d love any more tips and tricks to add to our routine.

Happy learning!

Posted in Amazon

September Amazon Lately

Happy September 1st! I feel like the month of August flew by….and now I’m ready for September and for it to feel like fall!

I’m linking up with Tanya today for her monthly Prime Purchases post.

Well, the theme of this month’s Prime Purchases appears to be: Back to School, Books & Beauty!

Back to School:

Hadley needed a new backpack, and both kids needed updated headphones. Then, since the kids will take their lunch a couple days a week to the tutor’s house, I picked up a pack of lunchbox notes! Both the backpack and headphones (gray for Hayden and gold for Hadley) come in a variety of color options.

lunchbox notes // headphones // backpack

I started using this brand of desk calendar a few years ago, and love it for my desk at school.

desk calendar

I shared in a previous post about our back to school (virtual!) plans. I thought it would benefit Hayden to have a desk in his room. After reading Amanda’s post, I found a similar 39 inch desk for Hayden, but now I can’t even find it on Amazon. I also purchased the organizer for his desk and the baskets for both Hayden and Hadley’s at home school supplies.

desk organizer // 55 inch desk // colorful baskets

Books:

I’m a big fan of the library, so I don’t buy books very often. That being said, the wait list at the library for 28 Summers and The Giver of the Stars is forever long. I mentioned in yesterday’s post, that 28 Summers seems to be the book of the summer, and I didn’t want to miss out! #fomo I’ve heard great things about The Giver of the Stars, so I went ahead and purchased it too, but haven’t gotten to reading it just yet.

The kids are reading The Indian in the Cupboard at their tutor’s house, so I picked them each up a copy of the book.

28 Summers // The Indian in the Cupboard // The Giver of the Stars

Beauty:

My sinuses are forever acting up typically due to allergies. Also, I tend to wake up with puffy under eyes. My new morning routine while reading emails and scrolling social media, is to use the cool, straight from the fridge, jade roller under my eyes, on my forehead, and on my sinuses. I’ve even rolled it on my temples and on the back of my neck to help alleviate a headache recently!

And…I’ve been using the Seche Vite base and top coat for over a year. They are both essential to making my at home manicures last. The bottles last quite awhile, but my bottles were running low, so I ordered a new set recently.

jade roller // Seche Vite base and top coat polish

So that’s a peek at my Amazon orders for the month of August. After ordering all the back to school stuff, I said to Hadley, “I’m finished ordering from Amazon for a while…” Then, when my books and other few orders started arriving, she said, “Mom, I thought you were finished with Amazon!” I never should have uttered those words! #cantquitamazon #amazonistherealMVP

October 6th is the next Amazon link up. Make sure to check out Tanya’s post! What have you been priming lately?

Thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Books and Shows

August: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

I started the weekend Friday afternoon with “closing my eyes for a few minutes,” to waking up from a 2.5 hour nap! There’s no tired like teacher tired at the beginning of the school year! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We had a much needed slow Saturday, but Sunday was filled with the usual of cleaning the house, and picking up the groceries. Travis and Hayden got in a round of golf, and Hadley had volleyball. Now we’re ready to start our first full week of school!

For today’s post, I’m sharing the books I read in August!

Unfortunately, I feel like I haven’t had as much time to read lately, but I did read three books this month. I thought I’d only read two…but remembered I finished The Family Upstairs right after last month’s post.

I rarely read a book I don’t like. I get so many book ideas from reading other blogs and keep an ongoing list. It’s pretty rare for me to choose a random book to read (and, obviously, I’m not hanging out in books stores or libraries right now). So, I just keep checking books off my list as I can.

The three books I read this month were all so different. I liked one and loved the other two. One blew my mind. One opened my eyes and my heart. One pulled me in and tugged at my heartstrings.

This month, I read: The Family Upstairs, Maid, and 28 Summers.

The Family Upstairs:

The Family Upstairs was crrrraaaazzzy! I actually described it to someone as twisted. Twisted as in twists and turns in the plot but twisted in regards to some of the things the characters did. My mind was blown, and I often caught myself reading with my mouth open because I couldn’t believe the words on the page.

On her 25th birthday, Libby Jones is ready to find out her real identity. When she was just a baby, the police found her at home in her crib, and there were three dead bodies dressed in black downstairs next to a note. So, Libby is adopted and goes on about her life until she’s able to find out more answers after her 25th birthday.

From Goodreads: “The canโ€™t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.”

Tread lightly while reading this book! It keeps you on your toes.

Maid:

I like to think of myself as an empathetic and sympathetic person. I try to consider all walks of life, be mindful of what others have going on, and keep enough perspective in my own life to know that some of my daily problems pale in comparison to those who are single parents or in a lower socioeconomic class. I mean, I see it every day with my own students who have divorced parents, a parent that lost a job, students working two jobs themselves or helping raise younger siblings. I definitely keep those factors in mind while working with my students and extending them grace when needed.

In Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid, she tells the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. This book explores poverty in America, shows what it’s like to be a single mom, as well as provide insight into what government assistance looks like.

Land lived in a homeless shelter; her daughter learns to walk there. She eventually moved into to assisted housing and then a studio apartment for herself and her daughter. While working as a maid, she applies for programs and assistance, uses her resources, saves her money, works when she’s sick, suffers at the hands of abuse, and continues to strive for a better life for herself and her daughter.

The light she sheds on government assistance programs was eye-opening. She had to be careful not to make too much money, for example, or she would lose the loan that paid for her daughter’s daycare. When she would wander the grocery store to find the right brand of food in order to use her WIC checks, I could feel her stress as she retold those stories.

She says, “Even though I really needed it, I stopped using WIC checks for milk, cheese, eggs, and peanut butter–I never seemed to get the right size, brand, or color of eggs, and correct type of juice, or the specific number of ounces of cereal anyway. Each coupon had such specific requirements in what it could be used for, and I held my breath when the cashier rang them up.”

She even applied for loans for college and continued to chip away and her credit hours toward earning a degree while working and caring for her daughter. “My only real hope was school: an education would be my token to freedom.”

Her resilience and grit amazed me from page one. She remained positive and kept the goal in mind of a better life for herself and her daughter.

โ€œWhen a person is too deep in systematic poverty, there is no upward trajectory. Life is a struggle and nothing else. But for me, many of my decisions came from an assumption that things would, eventually start to improve.โ€

This book had been on my reading list for a while. While on a walk a couple of months ago, I saw the book in one of our neighborhood libraries. When I read this book, I marked it up. I couldnโ€™t help myself from underlining quotes and putting a โญ๏ธ next to ideas that were impactful and inspiring…like this one:

โ€œI was never out for anyoneโ€™s sympathy. Besides, they couldnโ€™t know unless they felt the weight of poverty themselves. The desperation of pushing through because it was the only option.โ€

I think this book may end up as a top read for me in 2020.

28 Summers:

I saw so many people talking about this book, and I love Elin Hilderbrand books, so I actually purchased this book. It takes a lot for me to buy a book, but the library wait was very long! Also, the Kindle version was just about the same price, so I went ahead and ordered the hardback version.

This book definitely seems to be the book of the summer, and I didn’t want to miss out! #fomo

28 Summers is based of the idea from the movie, Same Time, Next Year. Mallory and Jake met in Nantucket in the summer of 1993. After their Labor Day weekend together, they vow to meet every Labor Day weekend without any communication throughout the rest of the year.

Of course, the whole “same time, next year” mentality would be a big “no no” in real life, but I was all about this book in the fictional “same time, next year” sense. The characters were charming and complex, things happened each year that made you wonder if Mallory and Jake would keep their Labor Day visit, and life gets complicated!

I loved that each summer chapter started with a recap of what was really going on in that year. For example: “What were we talking about in 2020? Covid, Kobe Bryant, Zoom, TikTok…, What were we talking about in 1995? the Macarena, Windows ’95, O.J. Simpson, found innocent by a jury of his peers…, What were we talking about in 2003? space shuttle Columbia, the Atkins Diet, Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War, pumpkin-spice latte, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.” Those examples at the beginning of each summer were such a good reference point and actually kind of hooked the reader into making a connection to their own life during those years.

In the movie, Doris says,โ€ I knew…that no matter what the price, I was willing to pay it.โ€ Jake and Mallory lived that quote to the fullest, and I was in tears at the end. #shocker #imasofty.

28 Summers will most likely be another top read for me this year.

I really enjoyed this month’s books so much, and I hope one (or more!) will be of interest to you. What have you been reading lately?

Happy Reading!

Posted in Friday Favorites, Kids, School, Traditions

Friday Favorites: Back to School Edition and Other Faves!

Hello and Happy Friday!! I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post!

Can my first favorite just be surviving this week? ๐Ÿ˜‚ Seriously, it was a doozy filled with school, activities, and more. That being said, I’m very glad that we are back on some kind of schedule. So far, we’ve had one learning day at the tutor’s house and one learning day at home (with me!). The kids really do have a handle on the technology, and thankfully haven’t needed much help. Their teachers are doing such an amazing job, and I know they are putting in long hours to help their students feel welcome and to make their lessons engaging.

We have a pretty free weekend, and I think we all need it to recharge and relax.

For today’s post, I’m sharing some of our favorite back to school traditions as well as some other faves from the week.

Favorite Traditions:

First Day of School: 5th Grade Pics

I shared more about this in yesterday’s post, but we always take a back to school picture (or two) with the chalkboard!

We also take a picture in front of their school sign. We did that again this year as I couldn’t let Covid ruin my five year tradition!

Wednesday was a day at the tutor’s house, and she had a sign for them to hold up for a picture. It’s the 2020 version of my back to school chalkboard!

Back to School Breakfast:

Every year, I have a Back to School Breakfast for the kids. I’ve been reading Andrea’s blog for years, and loved her Back to School Brinner idea, but tweaked it for breakfast. I may move to the Brinner idea next year when the kids start middle school.

ready for the first day of school
breakfast is served…
Hayden’s place setting
Hadley’s place setting

The kids seem to enjoy this tradition, and I do too! I feel like traditions like these get us all excited to start back to school.

Books:

For the breakfast, I typically give both the kids a new book. Amazon always comes through with books with their grade in the title!

My big 5th graders!

Cookies:

I started getting the kids these sweet little cookies a couple of years ago. I’ve purchased and taken cookie classes with Maddie of Maddie’s Cookie Co., and her cookies are amazing. I’m always so impressed with her designs, and the cookies are delish!

This year, I got Hayden and Hadley the mini cookies (hoping they will share with mom and dad ) ๐Ÿ˜‰ as well as the backpack cookie with their name.

I even picked up a sweet treat for their tutor. An apple cookie with her name on it.

Flashback Friday:

I don’t know why I do this to myself (๐Ÿ˜ญ), but it is fun to look back at the first day of school through the years.

Kindergarten:

1st grade:

2nd grade:

I think this is my favorite back to school photo of them โค๏ธ

3rd grade:

4th grade:

4th

Other Faves:

Other favorites from the week:

Hadley’s dance studio used the month of August to make up for April and May classes. They brushed up on their recital routines in preparation for Wednesday night’s recital.

Their routines (Hadley had hip hop, jazz, ballet, and tap) were videoed, and we will receive a DVD. I hate that we didn’t get to see the performance in person, but I know the DVD will be fun to watch and a 2020 keepsake!

Hadley’s hip hop performance was first, so I snapped a few photos before we headed to the studio.

Then, she had ballet, and then tap and jazz.

It’s always difficult to choose which professional photos I want printed, but I settled on these two to share with family:

I love watching Hayden play baseball. To be honest, we are just lucky to have (finally) had a season. He grew so much as a player and a pitcher this season. He also loves playing short or first, and it’s been so fun to watch his team play. At times, he’s too hard on himself, but I hope that translates into just wanting to continue to be a better player.

His team finished second in the standings for the regular season and then unfortunately lost in the semi-final round of the tournament in a close 3-1 game. There’s nothing worse than little baseball boys bummed after a loss, but Hayden did his part, and I reminded him to celebrate the successes they had as a team this season!

Ready to throw a strikeout!
Up to bat!

For Sunday’s first round game, Hadley wore Hayden’s jersey from last year. He rolled his eyes when he saw her, but I hope he knows she’s his biggest fan (when she pays attention to the game) ๐Ÿ˜‰

As with the dance pictures, it was hard for me to choose which of the two professional photos to get copies of, so I purchased both! ๐Ÿคฃ

The red plate is another favorite tradition in our house. Since school started this week and dance and baseball wrapped up, the kids each had the plate for a meal on Thursday to celebrate their hard work and successes during this past dance and baseball season as well as getting the hang of the 5th grade!

Thursday lunch
Thursday dinner

Favorite Kid Quote:

I finished the third season of Selling Sunset on Sunday, and Hayden caught the tail end of the final episode of Christine’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful and over the top. Hayden said, “That’s a wedding? If I was getting married, I would just have it at a church with food.” Boo lives a simple life.

Favorite Sweet Treat:

I made a quick trip to the grocery store yesterday and saw “break and bake” Pillsbury Oreo cookies. So, I made those for Hayden and Hadley as they wrapped up their second day of virtual school. They were delish.

Favorite Mom Meme:

I saw this meme a few weeks ago, and ain’t it the truth?!

Friday Funny

I occasionally play Words with Friends, and my dad wins most games we play. I was winning the latest game, and he said he was sending me to my room if I played on the triple letter! haha For the record, I did win that game!

If you made it to the end of this post, thanks so much for reading! Lots of favorites this week.

What are some of your favorites from the week?

Weekly Recap:

I hope you have a great weekend! See you back here on Monday.

Take care,

Posted in Kids, School

First Day of School: 5th Grade Pics and Interview

Well, we did it! We all made it through the first day of school!

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, we are starting back virtually, and we decided for the kids to go to a tutor (our friend who is former elementary education teacher) two days a week. Well, the first day of school was a tutor day! So, the kids were up around 7:00, ate their Back to School Breakfast, got dressed and then let me take their traditional first day of school pictures.

As I snapped the first day of school photos, I couldn’t help but think:

Time sure has flown by….and here they are on their last first day of elementary school:

We still shopped for back to school outfits. Hadley was adamant about a denim skirt and the shirt (both from Target) was perfect for the first day of school.

I thought Hayden would wear one of his new Vineyard Vines t-shirts, but instead he busted out the new VV polo…looking sharp on his first day.

We did pit-stop at the school for a picture in front of their school sign. We’ve done that every year for five years, and no way was I going to let that tradition slide ๐Ÿ˜‰

We went to the tutor’s house Monday night, and she has everything set up so sweetly. You definitely get the elementary school vibe as soon as you step foot in her basement.

Monday night at the tutor’s house.

When we arrived yesterday, she had a cute sign for the kids to use for a photo, and then took a group photo.

Hadley and one of her besties had the same Target shirt on!

Throughout the day, the tutor sent some photos. I love this thought as the students came down the stairs.

There’s no escaping the group of girls in this pod. Hayden’s the only 5th grade boy, but there are a couple younger boys to play with when they aren’t learning!

Seeing these photos brought me such peace throughout the day. I’ve been anxious about starting the year, but I know, from these photos, my kids are well taken care of two days a week, and I’ll bring up the rear on educating them them other few days ๐Ÿ˜‚

As I got ready for the day, I found Homer on my bed…I think he was wondering where the kids went. He’s had us around for 5 1/2 months (I can’t even believe it’s been that long!)

Then, I went to school. I almost worked from home, but realized I’ve had a first day of school…in a classroom…for 35 years. I didn’t want to stop that streak!

It was odd being at school with very few staff members, empty parking lots, and quiet halls. I hope a we are all back together soon.

Last week, I decided to do a back to school interview with the kids. Here’s what they had to say:

Back to School Interview:

Hayden’s Thoughts:

  • This year, I’m excited about: talking to my friends and seeing them when I can.
  • By the end of the year, I want to: be better at math.
  • My favorite subject is: Reading
  • I love learning about: Social Studies
  • I am great at: PE class
  • My favorite school cafeteria food is: nacho
  • If I was the principal for the day, I would:take a day off
  • When I grow up, I want to be: a golfer, an umpire, or a commentator
  • The best thing about school is: recess
  • My first day of school was: weird but ok

Hadley’s Thoughts:

  • This year, I’m excited about: having one of the best teachers, and to learn at my friend’s house (pod/tutor)
  • By the end of the year, I want to: have to gotten better at math
  • My favorite subject is: grammar
  • I love learning about: different people’s countries and cultures
  • I am great at: spelling
  • My favorite school cafeteria food is: chili with noodles
  • If I was the principal for the day, I would: would give extra recess to everyone
  • When I grow up, I want to be: an elementary teacher (1st or 4th grade)
  • The best thing about school is: getting to see my friends and having a partner
  • My first day of school was: amazing and interesting

We wrapped up the day with a dance recital (performances were taped in class, but I still had to get Hadley ready with hair, makeup, and getting her costumes organized), and a tournament semi-final baseball game!

Today, I will be home with the kids working while they learn! Wish us luck ๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted in Kids, School

Virtual Start to the School Year

We got the word about a month ago that our district would start the school year virtually. I was (and still am) bummed that my kids are starting their last year of elementary school without being in the classroom.

That being said, I completely understand why this decision was made. Our COVID numbers continue to be high, and with a district as large as ours, there are too many factors that are difficult to control. Also, at least with an all virtual model, teachers aren’t having to instruct students who are both at home and at school. I’m hoping it’s a somewhat smooth start to the year as teachers and students are accustomed to online learning from the spring.

The district has reevaluation dates about every six weeks to make decisions for the school year. So, we are learning virtually until at least the beginning of October.

Teachers are encouraged to come to school when they can while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing guidelines to teach from their classrooms.

Thankfully, one of our friends is a former elementary school teacher, and started a pod of intermediate grade students. The pod is mostly 5th graders with a few 3rd and 4th grades as well. My kids are going to go to her two days a week, and my sitter will hang with them one afternoon a week, so I can at least go to school 2.5 days a week. I’m happy with this plan, and I feel like it will be good for all of us to get back in a routine and out of the house a bit. Also, when we do get back into the school building, I think this new routine will ease us easier into that transition.

In the spring, the kids had a morning Zoom class meeting and then time to work on their classwork via Google Classroom. This year, the district had all elementary, middle, and high schools come up with a detailed daily schedule. So, at the elementary level, they will be busy all day. There’s a morning meeting, time for student choice, math, specials, literacy, keyboarding/handwriting, DEAR (drop everything and read), science, social studies, and a closing meeting. Again, I appreciated the more relaxed schedule in the spring as we were trying to figure everything out, but this more structured schedule is more like a normal school day, and I think we will all appreciate that!

Once I saw the detailed schedule, I knew they kids each probably really needed their own work spaces rather than the kitchen table. Hadley already has a desk, so I figured Hayden needed one. He told me he didn’t want one, but after reading Amanda’s post, I loved the desk she had for her son. I laughed at her comment that desks in August are as hard to find has toilet paper was in March! So funny and proving to be true. ๐Ÿ˜‚

The exact colored one she purchased wasn’t available, but there was one left of the 39 inch desk with the white top (which now I can’t even find on Amazon). I went ahead and purchased it. Hayden was actually excited when it arrived. He purged an entire bookshelf that we then moved to the basement in order to make room for his new desk.

He was pretty excited after getting everything organized.

Again, from Amazon, I bought him this desk sorter to hold pencils, scissors and more.

My friend went to Ikea recently, and I asked her to pick up two of these white carts. I have a utility cart from Ikea that I love, but it was out of stock. When I saw these white carts on wheels, I thought they’d be perfect for the kids to store their school supplies. Ikea never disappoints, and I’m very impressed with these carts. They were easy to put together and roll effortlessly. This way the kids can roll them to the kitchen or office if they want to change up their work from home view ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then, I purchased these colorful baskets to organize markers, pencils, dry erase markers, and more. When they arrived, I was pleasantly surprised that they fit in the top rack!

Hadley has a hand me down desk (that I painted white years ago) from my bedroom set from when I was a kid. So, we just reorganized her space as sometimes the desk is a “catch all” area, so she will have room for her laptop and space to work.

Both kids picked out the desk lamps during our Walmart school supply trip a couple weeks ago.

Also, her desk chair (and Hayden’s) are from my first ever kitchen table. When I moved into my first apartment, my Gma bought me a table and chairs from Pier 1. #rippier1 We sold the table years ago, but still had a couple of the chairs. They are comfy, but I wasn’t sure about sitting in them for hours, so I purchased seat cushions for the kids. The two pack of cushions worked out perfectly.

We spent last Thursday getting the kids logged on to their new Google Classrooms, and they also viewed the videos from the teachers about themselves with tours of the classrooms.

Star student ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been “in my feelings” a bit about the start of this school year, but I’m trying to embrace this continued extra time with them. And, I can’t believe as a teacher I’m able to work from home. Teaching is just one of those professions where that’s not really a normal option. Since I am a homebody, I’ve enjoyed working from home, but I’ve also liked being in my classroom off and on the past couple of weeks.

I think this new routine at the tutor’s house combined with working from home will make for a good start to the school year.

I pray they see their classrooms this year. Whatever this year ends up looking like, I know we’ll all try to make the most of it.

Y’all, tomorrow’s the big day. We’ll still have the back to school breakfast, take the first day of school pics, and I will pack a note in their lunchboxes (since the first day is a day at the tutor’s house) wishing them a great start to 5th grade! โค๏ธ

Speaking of which, I think Iโ€™m going to take a day off from blogging. Thereโ€™s always so much to do the day before school starts as well as the day of!

See you back here Thursday.

Posted in Kids, Meals and Recipes, Weekend Top 5

Monday Meals: Chicken Tortilla Chip Casserole and Weekend Wrap Up

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

Friday afternoon, I had a hair appointment (hallelujah!), and Hadley came too for a trim. While we were gone, the guys played a round of golf.

Then, on Saturday, I got my traditional back to school pedicure. Again, Hadley joined me! #spoilt

Saturday evening we got together on a neighbor’s back porch for a drink with a few neighbors which was so nice!

Sunday, Hayden’s team won their first tournament game which was exciting.

Of course, I also continued my Selling Sunset binge and was productive with school work, grocery shopping, and other chores.

Overall, it was a busy, fun, and productive weekend.

Now, on to the recipe I wanted to share…

I was digging through my recipe box last week, and found a recipe that my whole family loves, but I hadn’t made it in a while. It’s an easy Mexican chicken casserole dish, and we got two dinners out of it + a small portion for lunch.

I found this recipe a few years ago in a local magazine here in Lexington. This recipe is by July Yeager of The Southern Lady Cooks.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 cups chicken, cooked and chopped. (I put 3 large chicken breasts in the slow cooker, covered them with water, and cooked on high for 5 hours and then shredded it.)
  • 1 c. green onion, chopped (can use regular onion)
  • 1 c. green pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tblsp. oil
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can cream of celery soup
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3-4 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese, or any cheese of your choice

Instructions:

  • Cook the green pepper and onion in oil in a large skillet.
  • Add the tomatoes, celery soup, chicken soup, green chiles, chili powder, garlic powder, pepper, salt and cumin to the skillet.
  • Mix well with a spoon and simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Add a layer of crushed tortilla chips to a 9″x13″ baking dish.
  • Add a layer of chicken and cover with half the soup mixture from your skillet.
  • Sprinkle on 1 cup of the shredded cheese.
  • Add another layer of chips, chicken, and the rest of the soup mixture.
  • Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove and add remaining cup of cheese.
  • Return to oven for about 5 minutes or long enough to melt the cheese on top of the casserole dish.
  • Enjoy!
  • (makes 10-12 servings)
into the oven

Dinner time! I served this with Trader Joe’s Mexican Style Roasted Corn.

This is definitely a recipe I will add back into our dinner rotation.

Now, I’m off for another day of professional development. Two more days until school starts!

Have a great week.

Posted in Family, Friday Favorites, School

Friday Favorites

Hey, hey! We made it to Friday. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this week has about done me in. Juggling my school life, the kids (and their activities), multiple appointments (doctor, ortho, etc) and more, I’m just drained. It always takes a couple of weeks to get into the “back to school groove,” and, at this point, I’m the only one actually back to school! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

I’m happy to see the weekend, and I hope to recharge a bit before Monday.

As always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post.

Favorite Pic:

Haydenโ€™s baseball season will be over in the next couple of weeks. I love that Travis helps coach his team. Iโ€™m not sure Hayden knows how lucky he is to have a dad who wants to be involved as well as help him grow as a player. This pic is priceless to me. โค๏ธ (and, yes–they do bump heads sometimes like most father/son relationships…but I tell them to keep it on the field. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Favorite Kid Quote:

Hadley asked Alexa to set a timer for 2:45. Alexa said, โ€œA timer is set for 14:25.โ€ Hadley looked at me and said, โ€œSheโ€™s talking Army time.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜‚

Favorite Show:

Iโ€™m late to the Selling Sunset hype. Iโ€™m almost ashamed to admit it, but Iโ€™ve watched two seasons since last Thursday. I love this show. Just enough drama and friendship…plus they show (& sell) amazing homes!

Favorite Book:

Unfortunately, I havenโ€™t had as much time to read lately, but Iโ€™m loving 28 Summers. Hopefully I will get it read in time to chat about it in my August book post.

Back to School Favorites:

Last Friday, we decided to get school supplies and back to school clothes. I always take the kids to pick out their supplies. It gets them excited about the school year, and it’s always funny to see Hayden pick things out in five minutes while Hadley spends seven minutes picking out the cutest folder.

Then, we headed across the street to Vineyard Vines. Hayden is pretty low maintenance with clothes, but he likes Vineyard Vines t-shirts and polos. I was going to take him anyway, but VV was having 50% off for teachers and students, so I let him pick out an extra shirt!

I took Hadley to Target this week where she picked out a couple of shirts and a jean skirt to wear on the first day.

I told Travis it was his turn to partake in the Back to School “fun”….so he took them for new shoes on Sunday. They were gone a couple of hours, Hadley called me twice and sent me 15 text messages from Trav’s phone. haha!! Hayden is apparently a high maintenance shoe shopper!

This year, the kids’ school had a drive thru “Meet the Teacher,” so we drove through, picked up supplies, and chatted with their teachers. I am bummed this is how they are starting their last year of elementary school, but the school is definitely making these events as special as possible.

Then, last night, they had a Zoom Open House where they were able to meet all the 5th grade teachers and chat with classmates.

There were a couple of treats in the bag…but mostly textbooks! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Another favorite for me (and probably only me) this week has been getting organized. Hayden’s desk arrived, and Hadley already has a desk. My neighbor went to Ikea a couple of weeks ago, and I asked her to pick me up two of these rolling carts. They are perfect for holding their supplies for school, and can easily be rolled to the kitchen or office if the kids prefer to work there.

Favorite Purchase:

There’s a Bath and Body Works by Vineyard Vines, so after that shopping, we stopped in Bath and Body. I knew their three wick candles were on sale, so I picked up a fall scented one. It’s making me so happy!

Favorite Family Fun :

Cousin Wyatt turned 6 on Wednesday, and we got together for his birthday. For his party, he had a huge inflatable water slide. The kids had tons of fun and were worn out.

Happy Birthday, Wyatt!

I got them to pause for three seconds for a picture!

Hayden meant to wear his sports goggles, but insisted on keeping his regular glasses on while going down the water slide. Later, my brother sent me this pic saying Hayden looked like Squints from Sandlot. I’ve thought that since Hayden picked out those glasses, but it was funny to see the pic for comparison.

and here the cute cousins are in 2015 for Wyatt’s first birthday party. Time flies!

Favorite Food:

Last weekend, I made Andrea’s Peanut Butter Pretzel No Bake Bars. Hadley helped me make them; they were so delicious! They provided us dessert for a few nights.

Favorite Mom Meme:

Guilty as charged!

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

Hadleyโ€™s prepping for her dance recital. Her studio is going to video the routines next week while everyone is in costume and “dance ready.” This is Hadley at her first ballet class in 2015. So sweet!

2015

I love when this 2012 pic of Hayden pops up in my Facebook memories…PJ shirt, undies, shoes and a shovel. #pinchycheekcute He was helping dad in the backyard!

Weekly Recap:

Now, if you need me, I will be trying to keep my head above water and counting down the minutes to the weekend!

Thanks so much for reading!

Posted in Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts

Hello! Real talk over here…this week is kicking my tail. I’m feeling a bit spread thin which, in turn, makes me feel overwhelmed. I honestly didn’t have the time to write this post, but when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I try to control what I can…which means I’ve organized my kids’ desk/work spaces, purged the office cabinet, and written (and re-written) my “to do” lists on sticky notes for each day.

The reason I went ahead and found time to write this post is because another form of comfort for me is journaling. It’s also something I don’t do very often anymore. And…I’ve realized, I guess my blog is now my journal ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, I thought I’d take a second to pause, take a breath, and reflect on…

7 things that make me happy

  1. My morning cup of coffee: It’s nice to start my day with the routine of a cup of coffee. It’s a great way to wake up and warm up.
  2. Quiet time: I get my quiet/me time in while the family is still sleeping. Starting next week, I will probably need to go back to getting up around 6 (rather than 6:45) to have time to myself before waking the kids. The time to myself is honestly a treat to me before starting the hustle and bustle of the day. I don’t feel like my mind is set and ready for the day if I don’t get a little “me” time.
  3. Homer: As with our previous pups, he knows when I need a little extra love. Homer snuggles are the best. I let him in on my morning quiet time ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. Amazon: Seriously, Amazon has been saving my sanity for quite some time…Just in the past week, I’ve purchased a desk for Hayden and a few school supplies and organizational containers for the kids. Amazon saved me the time, energy, and stress of having to go to multiple stores looking for those items.
  5. Sonic Cherry Limeade: So refreshing on a hot summer day!
  6. Books: Some days I have more time to read than others, but I try to find a few minutes each day. I’ve been failing at that this week. I started the book 28 Summers, and it’s sooo good. I just wish I could find more time right now to sit and read.
  7. Impromptu visits with friends: Obviously with all that’s going on and living in a socially distant world, there haven’t been as many social outings as usual. But…just last week I had a work meeting with a couple of work friends, and had a great time! Then, earlier this week, I stopped my neighbor’s house to tell Hadley I was home, and ended up chatting with two of my neighbors (who are, of course, my friends) which also included a glass of wine! My “to do” list is a mile long, but I didn’t realize how much I needed to catch up and just relax for an hour.

**(Bonus: #8…of course, I my kids and husband are included on this list as well…but I was just trying to remind myself of the smaller things in life that bring me joy!) ๐Ÿ™‚

One last thought…

I’ve seen this post a time or two on social media, and again this week.

As kids transition back into school buildings for the first time since March, start a new school, or receive instruction virtually, I thought this was a good reminder to discuss with our own kids about having sympathy and empathy for their classmates.

Times are tough…and unprecedented.

You never know what a child has experienced while at home for so long.

It’s difficult and nerve-wracking to be the new student.

Kids may be worried about their next meal or getting the proper school supplies.

Even kids who are loved and taken care of struggle with a different routine and life changes which I know from personal experience with my own children.

I always tell my kids, “Do your best, be kind, and be a leader.” (& have fun ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s kind of my life motto for them (whether they like it or not). ๐Ÿ˜‰ It applies to school, sports, friendships and more.

Thanks so much for reading and take care,