Posted in Holidays, Kids

Party Time!

Today, I’m sharing the details of the kids’ birthday. Hard to believe it, but the are officially 11.

I’ve always been big on birthdays. I started traditions with them when they were young, and we always look forward to their big day. Last year, when they turned 10, I told them we’d probably start scaling back some of the festivities. For example, most years, we’d have a family party and a friend party. For a stretch of about five years, I always made their cakes. I bought them a birthday t-shirt each year, I always make the food for the party…and the list goes on and on.

Insert a pandemic, and well…all festivities look different now. We still made the most of the day, took advantage of a Friday birthday with beautiful weather, and hosted a few friends to play outside.

I still have zero chill when it comes to birthdays, and the zillion photos I take are my proof. πŸ˜‚

The night before their birthday, I get out my birthday tub with a few decorations. I put those out along with their presents.

Since they were little, I put streamers on doors, so I do that before I go to sleep. I always think I could do the decorating and extra touches in the morning, but with my luck, they’d wake up before I’d get everything set up how I like it.

I always make muffins for their birthday breakfast, and we take this time to open presents and sing happy birthday to each of them. Hayden first…and then Hadley. #birthorder

After breakfast, it was time for online school while I worked. For lunch, they requested Raising Canes. Then, I picked them up each a bundt cake to blow out rather than blow out their candles on the cookie cake.

In the past, I let them each pick out a cookie cake from Great American Cookie, but with less friends at the party and to simplify it a bit, I just chose one cake for them. We picked it up on Thursday and stopped by they party store as well for a few balloons.

Double the 11’s. Double the fun!

I think this is the fourth year I’ve ordered the yard signs. I used a new company this year because they had so many fun options. I think Lawn Letter Kreations did an amazing job! The signs fit their personalities perfectly! And, I felt it was money well spent since their friends got to see the yard too.

Hayden…

Hadley…

turn 11!

I made this birthday banner for their 3rd birthday party. I just keep it in the birthday tub and switch out the age each year. I wasn’t going to put it up, but decided to decorate the sun room a bit in case it was utilized during the party.

Outdoor decorations and food: banner, chalkboard, chips, Capri Sun, and party favors…and hand sanitizer. πŸ˜‰

I got these personalized cups from a local business (Cups on Cochran), filled them with candy, and added a hand sanitizer in the cup too!

The kids played for about an hour and a half, we picked up pizza for the kids and then had cookie cake.

We sang and they blew out their candles on their bundt cake. We actually sang to Hadley twice because she didn’t feel like the boys put in enough effort the first time! πŸ˜‚

Cookie cake tradition continues…

Then, they went back to playing!

With twins, boy/girl twins at that, it’s hard to find something they both want to do for a party, and keep the invite list under control…especially during Covid. The kids are blessed with great friends, and I’m glad it worked out for them to each invite a few to play; the weather couldn’t have been better…especially for November!

This little sign says it all…

11 years of being a mom. 11 years of watching them grow. 11 years of worry and love and all the emotions. What a blessing these 11 years have been.

Once everyone went home, Hayden hugged me and said, “Mom, this was the best birthday ever. You should sit down and have a glass of wine. You deserve it!” Ahh…that kid!

I guess a little outside backyard fun, friends, pizza, and some cake are all you really need. It was a great day. We made the most of this pandemic birthday.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

Posted in Kids

Friday Favorites: The Twins Turn 11

Hello and Happy Friday! I know I always say that when starting these posts, but today is a very special and happy Friday…Today, Hayden and Hadley turn 11! 11 on 11.20.20 πŸ₯³

As always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post. Of course, birthdays are always my favorite. I have zero chill when it comes to celebrating birthdays in this house!

Today, I’m looking back on this year and giving my two faves a little shout out on their special day!

Happy 11th birthday…

…to my two most favorite people in the world!

Last year I shared a post with 10 things I love about each of them…and shared some of my favorite pics of them through the years.

While they don’t read my blog (maybe someday?), I still want to write to them…

Dear Hayden and Hadley,

This year, to celebrate you turning 11, I thought I’d share my 11 favorite pics of each of you this year!

Hayden:

Hayden, you were “Baby A” born at 12:08 p.m, so your trip down memory lane is first…

You love to be outdoors, and look so cute in a stocking cap!

You are a great friend. You cherish having quality friendships over quantity of friendships.

You know how to relax (and your tan seems to last forever!)

You are an adventurous eater, and you can eat your weight in oysters!

You can be pretty serious, but when you smile, it’s the sweetest.

I admire your quiet confidence (& occasional flex after scoring two on the basketball court) πŸ˜‰

You give it your all when you are doing what you love.

You take chances.

You persevere.

You are humble.

And…you like to have fun!

Hayden, being your mom is one of my greatest gifts, and seeing you work through the ups and downs of life makes me proud to be your mom.

Hadley:

Well, you may have been born one minute later at 12:09 p.m., but you’ve been dominating the world ever since!

I love that your inner beauty matches your outer beauty.

Like your brother, you like to have fun!

You love the surf and the sand and time spent with your family.

Your whole life, you’ve gone either 0 or 100. No in between. You rarely sit still, but when you do…

You’re always smiling.

You are graceful and exude positive energy.

You aren’t afraid to try something new.

You never give up.

You are a good, inclusive friend.

You are confident.

And…you are a free spirit.

Hadley, being your mom is one of my greatest gifts. Continue to let your kind heart lead you through life, but your confidence and sass will come in handy too!

Happy Happy birthday!

I love you!

xoxo, Mom

Y’all, babies don’t keep! Being a mom is the hardest yet most rewarding job I’ll ever have. They aren’t perfect, nor am I, but I feel pretty lucky that I get to be on the sidelines of life cheering them on.

Weekly Recap:

And since it’s Friday, I’ll go ahead and share my weekly recap of my posts this week.

Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts too!

Have a great weekend.

Posted in Kids, Life Lately, Trader Joes

Life Lately

Compared to the past couple of months, life has been a little less hectic, and I’m here for it. We’ve gone from having some kind of practice every evening to practice just a couple days a week. We’ve gone from baseball tournaments and cross country meets taking up the weekend to just one basketball game on a Saturday afternoon. Also, with it getting darker earlier, it’s easier to convince my kids to get settled in for the evening.

Even with the slower pace, we’ve still been busy. So, today I’m sharing a bit of our life…lately.

Hayden’s in a 3 on 3 basketball league. Due to Covid, his regular league isn’t having a season (yet?). With this league, the season is shorter, the team is smaller, and they only play half court. That being said, he loves basketball, so I know he’s happy to be back on the court. His team won their first game on Friday evening, and Hayden had six points.

The kids (and Travis) wrapped up the regular cross country season last Saturday with the 5th/6th grade state meet. This was the first time the kids had been in a race with 6th graders, so I think there were a few nerves. It was the hottest day and the hardest course, but both battled to run pretty decent races. Hadley earned a medal, and I know Hayden wished he had placed a little higher, but we were proud of them, of course.

Y’all, I always joke that if you see me running, somebody is probably chasing me! haha…so who am I to judge?! πŸ˜‚Both had an amazing season with ups and downs, PR’s, top 10 (& 1st) place finishes, and lots of miles put on those legs. They had fun with their teammates and supported each other in practices and races which is what it’s all about.

And, I have to give a shout out to Travis. He coaches this team during the busiest months of work for him, and he gives it his all. The kids don’t know how special it is to have this time and these memories with him. I know they’ll look back on these years with fond memories…and will hopefully forget that, according to them, he made them run farther in practice! πŸ˜‚

On the run!

Cousin crew came to cheer the kids on!

We’ve had really beautiful weather, so I’ve been trying to ease back into working out with some walks every other day or so.

The leaves, even the ones on the ground, are so beautiful. I really do love fall!

There’s a beautiful street in Lex that’s known for their ginkgo trees. Facebook is flooded with Lexington peeps checking out the beautiful yellow leaves. For Tuesday’s recess, we decided to visit the “yellow brick road” and go for a little afternoon walk around that neighborhood.

The leaves are just stunning!

It was such a nice way to spend a few minutes on a weekday afternoon!

On Tuesday, Homer also enjoyed the lovely weather and the sunshine.

I’ve been reading Louisiana Lucky, and it’s such a cute read! I should finish it up in the next day or two.

Over the weekend, I finished watching Virgin River. Season 2 comes out November 27th, so I won’t have to wait long to see what Mel and Jack are up to!

I’d heard many people talking about The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, and I decided to give it a try. To be honest, I don’t think I ever would have clicked on this show while just scrolling Netflix, so I’m glad for the recommendation. I’m three episodes in, and I love it so far.

This is a miniseries based off of the novel with the same name. The main character, Beth, is an orphan, and she’s on a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world. She learns how to play from the custodian at the orphanage. Beth is adopted by a couple from Lexington, so there are some Lexington references in the plot. I think the author grew up here? Anyway, I definitely recommend it based on what I’ve seen so far.

And…I’m excited because The Crown is back for Season 4 on November 15th. I was late to The Crown game, but started watching it back in March once life came to a halt! I really enjoy it as well, and can’t wait for this season.

I made a Trader Joe’s run over the weekend, and picked up some of our faves plus a few new foods to try.

  • Chicken nuggets – The kids love these for lunch.
  • Granola bars – I love these for an afternoon snack.
  • Blondie bars– This mix is perfect when you want something sweet. Hadley and her friend made these the other day, so I had to get another box to keep on hand.
  • Black bean burrito– We all love these.
  • White Cheddar shell mac & cheese– Hadley’s fave
  • Turkey and pumpkin mole burrito – This was a new find for me. I thought it was ok.
  • Everything but the Bagel Seasoning– I was running low on my other bottle, and started to panic!
  • Corn dippers – They go great with…
  • Buffalo chicken dip! – I also eat the dip with mini peppers.
  • Blue corn tortilla chips – I picked these up to mix in with our regular tortilla chips when I made sheet pan nachos for dinner on Tuesday night.
  • Chomps – Hayden’s fave!
  • Havarti Dill cheese – My fave! I eat some bites of cheese with…
  • Salami! – I love a snack plate!

I always stock up on our frozen staples when I’m at TJ’s. We eat the…

  • Gnocchi or Mushroom Risotto as a side dish at least once a week.
  • Mexican style roasted corn is usually a side dish when we eat Mexican food for dinner which is probably once a week!

Most Sundays I try to bake something for dessert. Hadley usually helps me, but she was outside playing on Sunday afternoon when I had time to make Shay’s pumpkin cake.

It was soooo good!

We also took some time this week to celebrate the end of cross country season and report cards with great grades on them! So, Hayden got the “You are Special” plate one night, and Hadley got it the next night!

It blows my mind that my kids haven’t stepped foot in a classroom in almost 8 months! I feel blessed that they are certainly persevering during these times. (Real Talk: I’m also glad they aren’t in primary grades where I know they’d need my help 90% of the time!) I’m thankful that they are pretty independent workers, for their awesome teachers, pod instructor and sitters! It really does take a village…especially during a pandemic.

I hope all of you are hanging in there as well! I know, for us, each day is different. Some days are definitely easier and better than others! And..on the “other” days, I just get in my pjs by 5:00 and count the minutes until bedtime…for all of us!

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving Edition!

Take care,

Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Kids

(Flashback) Friday Favorites

Hello and Happy Friday! This week has been so different for me! I’ve had lots of time spent on the mend with napping and Netflix. That being said, Travis has definitely had to wear his Super Dad cape this week! I greatly appreciate all he does for me and for our family to keep us a float while we are a (wo)man down!

The kids still had activities, I still worked from home, friends continued to bring us meals and desserts, and we are just taking one day at a time.

Today, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for their weekly Friday Favorites post.

Today’s Friday Favorites has a Flashback twist. With Halloween around the corner, I thought I’d share the kids’ costumes through the years.

2010:

Lil Pumpkin and chubby skeleton…

2010

2011:

M&M’s…

2011

2012:

Fireman and Princess…

2012

2013:

My favorite costume combo: Batman and Robin! (Being Robin was 100% Hadley’s idea after Hayden said he wanted to be Batman)

2013

2014:

Captain America and Elsa (from Frozen)

2014

2015:

A ninja and a pink Power Ranger…The neighborhood was very safe that year πŸ˜‰

2015

2016:

A bee and Luke Skywalker…

2016

2017:

Super Girl and KC Royals player Mike Moustakas…

2017

2018:

Soccer player and 80’s party girl #omg

2018

2019:

A Ghostbuster and a nerd πŸ˜‚

2019

Last year, our Halloween trick-or-treating was moved due to weather. So, we had a fun dinner at home on Halloween. Andrea had shared about her spooky dinner, and I recreated the fun. I hope to do this again this year.

I thought that would be a fun trip down memory lane! Now, on to some favorites…

Favorite Picture:

After a string of dreary days, the sun finally came out! I went outside to tell Hadley to come in for dinner and saw one of our front yard trees showing off.

now…who is going to rake up all those leaves? πŸ€”

Favorite Clothing Item:

My pjs or comfy clothes on repeat.

Favorite Food:

Again, we’ve been enjoying so many wonderful foods that friends have brought us for dinner. We’ve had soups, lasagna, chicken enchiladas, and a quiche. As well as too many delicious desserts.

Cupcakes made by H&H

Favorite Moment:

When I had my surgery last week, my goal was to rest up and be able to attend the kids’ district championship cross country meet on Wednesday. I’m so glad I was able to attend! The boys and girls teams have come so far, and I’m so proud of Travis for taking on the coaching responsibilities again this year. They’ve had a pretty good season considering the late start due to Covid.

Hadley finished with her best time and highest finish yet with 4th place. Then, Hayden finished again in first. They’ve grown so much as runners in the past year, and again, it’s so awesome to see teammates cheering each other on!

I caught this pic of Hayden right as the race started. He had on his new bright cleats and was chasing the daylight!

On the run…

left: Hadley and her friend leading the pack; top right: Hadley almost to the finish line; bottom right: Hayden at the finish!

Twinsies with their hardware.

Their cousins came to cheer them on πŸ™‚

It was such a beautiful day, and definitely a fun race for all.

Favorite Kid Quote:

This quote goes back to last week. Hadley had her first band class via Zoom for playing flute on the Wednesday of my surgery. That evening, when I Facetimed the kids from the hospital, I asked Hadley how band went, and she told me how the teacher taught her a few notes. I said, “Hadley, I’m so proud of you!” She said, “No, mom, I’m so proud of you.” ❀️She knew I was anxious about my surgery that morning, and that I was so relieved to be on the recovery side of it.

She’s such a sweet girl…when she’s not being sassy πŸ˜‰

Favorite Mom Memes:

This one popped up in my Facebook memories. Thankfully, I haven’t had to cook in over a week! πŸ˜‚

Travis is the real MVP this week getting the kids where they need to go. Technically, I’m not supposed to drive yet, so it’s on him to get them to school pod and activities…as well as other errands.

Weekly Recap:

It was a short blogging week for me, but here are my two other posts from the week:

Y’all, by some miracle we don’t have any real plans this weekend. No sports or other major commitments on the schedule which means I will continue to get some much needed rest.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a great weekend!

Posted in Kids, What's up Wednesday

What’s Up Wednesday

Happy What’s Up Wednesday! On the last Wednesday of the month, Sheaffer and Shay host a link up to share a bit about what’s going on!

I can’t believe tomorrow is October! It’s no secret that I love fall, but October is my favorite month of the year. By October, we are in a school routine (even for an odd year like this one!), the weather is turning cooler, we have fall break, we visit the pumpkin patch, and of course, there’s Halloween!

Before I get too far into dreaming about October, I first need to wrap up September! Here’s what’s happening with us!

WHAT WE ARE EATING THIS WEEK:

I’ve been a slacker…and off my meal planning game…

  • Sunday: Subway sandwiches in between baseball games.
  • Monday: Rotisserie chicken, Trader Joe’s mushroom risotto, and broccoli before the kids’ cross country meet.
  • Tuesday: Shay’s Sloppy Joe’s , Bob Evans mashed potatoes, and salad.
  • Wednesday: leftovers
  • Thursday-Saturday: I had hoped to make my favorite Pumpkin Sausage Penne recipe, but I may push that to next week and wing it for meals the rest of the week.

Hadley earned the Red Plate last night because her teacher called and left me a message about how hard Hadley is working in class as well as how she is being a leader and a good classmate. Makes my mama teacher heart very proud.

Also, this week, we’ve enjoyed treats that the kids made in their pod on Monday. They were put into three baking groups for an apple baking challenge. The three groups made one of the following: mini apple pies, apple turnovers, and apple monkey bread bites.

They had such a great time, and the leftovers have been amazing.

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT:

Last fall break when we went glamping . It was definitely a fun experience.

I’m also reminiscing about this sweet little troop of girls. They started off as Daisies and are now Junior Girl Scouts. They had their first meeting of the year last Friday.

2017

WHAT I’M LOVING:

My new bar stools for my kitchen. We’d had the previous ones since we moved in six years ago, and it was time for an upgrade. I found these at At Home store, and they are two inches taller and more sturdy. Hopefully, we can get five years (or longer!) out of these too!

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:

I feel like a broken record, but yes, our lives revolve around our kids’ activities right now. From cross country to dance to baseball to Girl Scouts…that’s where you’ll find us. I do enjoy watching them do the things that they love even if it means early wake ups on the weekend, later bedtimes (for me!) on a weeknight, and miles on put on my car.

I’ve mentioned before that Hadley’s trying competition team this year. There will be three competitions (hopefully!) in the spring. She was excited to find this sign in our yard on Friday.

Friday evening, the kids had a cross country meet. The hosts of the events we’ve gone to have done such a wonderful job following protocols that then allow these kids to compete. I’ve been very impressed.

Hadley finished in 7th place, and Hayden had his first ever first place finish. We are so proud of both of them, and I love that Travis is coaching them.

Real talk: Trav’s family is a running family. My family is not. I always joke if you see me running, you’d better help me because that means someone is chasing me! πŸ˜‰So, I guess they get their speed and agility from his side!

Friday night Hadley’s Girl Scout troop met for the first time this year. One of their fun activities was roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. It was the perfect evening for an outside meeting.

Saturday and Sunday Hayden had a baseball tournament. He pitched two of the four games over the weekend, and did an amazing job.

This team lost in the championship, but enjoyed their weekend playing ball.

Funny Hayden quote: When we arrived home very late on Sunday night from the championship game, Hayden was excited to see Homer. Homer sniffed Hayden a whole bunch, and Hayden said, “What Homer? Do I smell like a runner-up?” πŸ˜‚

Then, Monday, some of the area schools put together a cross country meet here in town. We haven’t had rain in over two weeks, but Monday’s weather was the real test for these runners. They ran in wind and a light rain with cooler temps. The cooler temps were perfect for running…not so much the wind and rain. But…they persevered. Hadley placed 6th and Hayden had another 1st place finish. This was their first 3K meet of the year. The other two meets have been 1.2 miles.

WHAT I’M DREADING:

This topic always throws me off each month! I never want to sound negative. Sarcastic, yes. Negative, no. πŸ˜‰

We’ve been in such a blessed position with the kids going to a pod to learn two days a week, our sitter comes over one day, and I’m with them the other two days. That being said, we haven’t had much clarification for a timeline to at least start with a hyrbid model, and I was really hoping my kids would be able to at least start going to school, even for just a couple days a week, soon. It sounds like November is our earliest option, but unfortunately, we still need the number of Covid cases to decline.

WHAT I’M WORKING ON:

Basically, I’m just over here trying to get my life together! So, that’s what I’m working on. I’m also hoping to get a blog post together for this week (hopefully tomorrow!) about the books I read in September.

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

I’m excited about having a couple of days off starting tomorrow. It will be nice to relax, unwind…and not set an alarm for a couple of days.

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:

I’m almost finished reading Two Can Keep a Secret which one of my friends recommended.

Lately, I feel like I haven’t had tons of time to read or watch many shows. If I have a few minutes, I like to watch some mindless shows like Real Housewives. I only have a couple episodes left of The Home Edit on Netflix. I’ve loved watching those ladies purge and organize other people’s closets, kitchens, and homes.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

I’ve been listening to random podcasts here and there, but lately, I turned back to Even the Rich podcast. This season focuses on the Chappaquiddick saga with Ted Kennedy.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

Cardigans. On Repeat. I added this Amazon cardigan to my collection recently and love it. It’s so soft and not too heavy.

Also, I’ve continued to wear my Universal Thread cardigans from Target.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:

We are taking a break from all the sports action and kids’ activities. I’m hoping for a few days of relaxation and family time.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:

All things October.

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 Kids, Weekend Top 5

Weekend Top 5

Good morning, and happy Monday, y’all! Sheesh….we had a very busy weekend. I feel like we went non-stop with activities, to-do lists, and a bit of socializing. Since we were so busy, today I’m sharing a few details of our hectic but fun weekend.

Hayden and his team played in a baseball tournament this weekend. He knows most of the boys on his team, but this group hasn’t all played together until this season. Hayden got to pitch Friday night and Sunday morning, and did a great job.

His team made it to the semi-finals, but lost Sunday afternoon. We had beautiful weather all weekend which made baseball watching even better!

photo cred: Hadley

The “Mum Man” came to Trav’s work. He has the best mums and the best prices in town. So, I picked up some for my front porch…which then had me….

going to Trader Joe’s on Saturday morning to get pumpkins for my porch. I’d stopped by my regular pumpkin place on Friday, but that place looked like a pumpkin grave yard. There were hardly any of the whimsical stackable pumpkins or anything else, really.

One of my friends told me she heard there’s a pumpkin shortage which sounds like the saddest thing ever! πŸ˜‰

Trader Joe’s for the win!

The kids had their first cross country meet of the season. Again, the weather was beautiful, and it was the perfect day for racing.

Both kids had a 10 top finishes, the girls and boys teams did awesome overall as well.

The best part of the day was seeing the kids cheer for and run with their teammates to encourage them to finish their races! So very sweet.

Hayden cheering while Hadley (above) runs with and encourages their teammate.

Saturday afternoon, we went to Country Boy Brewery for a few appetizers and a beer with some friends. The patio was the perfect place to sit.

I made my first pumpkin muffins of the season. When I was at Trader Joe’s, I picked up a couple of boxes of their muffin mix. The best thing about pumpkin muffins (or pumpkin bread) is that they can be eaten for breakfast, for a snack, or for dessert!

One more highlight:

Two times this weekend, we sat with neighbors on their patios. On Friday evening, the kids roasted s’mores and celebrated one of the neighbor boy’s birthday while a few of the parents chatted.

Then, Saturday night, we sat together with our neighbors on a different patio. S’mores were again involved and the kids ran around for a bit.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like I’ve needed a weekend to recover from my weekend, but that’s my current status! I’m sure we’ll have a good week…but first…coffee!

Have a great week,

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 πŸ˜‰
  • 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 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? πŸ˜‚ 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 ) πŸ˜‰ 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 (😭), 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 ❀️

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) πŸ˜‰

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! 🀣

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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! ❀️

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

See you back here Thursday.