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.

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 Kids, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk about Twins

Hello! I’m linking up with Erika and Ashley for their monthly Tuesday Talk link up. For Tuesday Talk, the topic is whatever you’d like to chat about. So I thought I’d chat about a topic that I’m asked about often…what it’s like to have twins.

I’m often asked, “What’s it like to have twins?” My response is often, “Well, I don’t know any differently.” It’s not like I had one kid and then twins. We came out of the parenting gate having two at once! I can also definitely say that it’s a blur of blessings.

Do you know what the second most asked question I get about twins is? “Are they identical or fraternal?” This one always shocks me as boy/girl twins would most obviously be fraternal. I just allows reply politely with, “fraternal.”

A little back story…

Since I struggled to get pregnant, we learned very early on that we were having twins because I had multiple appointments with my fertility specialist. I had taken an at home test and it was negative. A couple of weeks later, I took one again, and it was positive. Blood work confirmed I was pregnant, and when the nurse called, she said, “Your numbers are very, very, very good.” I didn’t think much about it….I was just happy to be pregnant. She then scheduled my ultrasound.

We arrived at the doctor the next week only to realize my appointment was for the following week. I guess I was too excited to keep the dates straight! When the doctor entered the room, he said, “Let’s look for twins!” Travis and I both just thought “haha” but as soon as we looked at the screen, I could clearly see two sacs. Since I was only 6 weeks, only “baby A” had a heartbeat. The doctor told us not to worry, and we scheduled the next appointment. Of course, we left in shock, but we were so excited.

At least we had plenty of time to get used to the idea of twins!

We kept everything quiet for a few weeks until my next appointment when both “baby A” and “baby B” had heartbeats. I still saw my fertility doctor for a couple more appointments before he released me to my regular OBGYN.

I saw my OB and a high risk doctor for the rest of the pregnancy. I had an ultrasound at almost every appointment, so we got to see the twins often. At my 14 week appointment, we found out “baby A” was a boy and “baby B” was a girl!

Throughout the pregnancy, there were definitely some ups and downs…sometimes the high risk doctor provided too much info. We had a little scare with Hayden and then Hadley consistently measured smaller than Hayden, but not so much that I really needed bed rest. My water broke at exactly 36 weeks, and they were born on November 20, 2009. Hayden weighed 4 lb 7 oz and Hadley weighed 4 lbs. Hayden came home with us after four days in the hospital. Hadley was in the NICU for 13 days.

I feel like I could write a whole blog post just on leaving the hospital with one baby and having Hadley in the NICU, so I will save all that for a later date. Although I was sad to leave her, I knew she was in great hands, and leaving with just Hayden was also such an overwhelming feeling.

I’m a teacher, and all about the gradual release model of teaching πŸ˜‰The hospital let me leave with one baby, and I brought home the other one about ten days later. We eased into parenting two kids at once!

December 3, 2009. Reunited with Hadley

Life when they were little:

One thing we didn’t prepare for was how small they’d be. I’ve known/have friends and family members who have twins, and just never thought at 36 weeks that mine would be so small. Of course, we had their room ready, clothes washed and put up, bottles ready to go, etc…but no preemie clothes. The hospital, as well as friends and family, helped us with that situation.

My type A/planner personality was a strength during this time. My kids were on a schedule starting the first day. Really, the hospital put them on a schedule, and I didn’t deviate from it by even five minutes. Time to eat, time to sleep, tummy time, etc. When you have two kids at once, you don’t really feel in control. A schedule helped make me feel in control. Also, the kids slept 8 hours at night by 12 weeks, so the schedule really worked out for us and for them.

When they were first home, they were so small, they both slept in our room in a pack-n-play until they slept through the night. Then, they shared a room. We had pretty big bedrooms in our previous home, so they each had a crib but shared a room. They even slept in the same crib until they were six months old. I guess I just hated the thought of separating them. They shared a room until they were 3 1/2 years old.

Maternity leave was hard. I planned on taking off 16 weeks or so, and around week 10, I called Travis on a Friday and said I wanted to go back to school on Monday. He talked me out of it just saying once I go back, I can’t get my sick/maternity leave back….and that it would be better when they slept through the night. I had called him that day at work because Hadley wouldn’t quit crying. He met me at the doctor. When the pediatrician asked what was going on, I simply said, “I need her to be like him.” Hayden was sleeping peacefully in his carrier while Hadley continued to cry. She had colic and acid reflux…thankfully, that passed after a couple of months.

Let’s just say while pushing that double stroller down the Kroger aisle, I received many, “bless your hearts,” from people πŸ˜‰

Similar but different:

My kids have been different from day one. When the NICU nurse handed Hadley over to us, she said that girls tend to be more feisty and self-sufficient. Of course, she had to fend for herself a bit those first few weeks while Hayden was doted on. So, if you ever saw five-year-old Hadley tie Hayden’s cleats in the middle of a soccer field, then you know what I mean!πŸ˜‚

Hayden is quiet, introverted, and inquisitive. He can be a bit inflexible (wonder who he gets that from?) BUT he’s more resilient than he realizes. He’s had to overcome and continues to work on some struggles and obstacles which has shown him, that at his core, he’s tougher than he realizes.

Hayden, like me, eases into social settings and situations. He also takes some time to wake up in the morning and needs to wind down at night. Again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Hadley has always been out-going, inclusive, intuitive, and fearless. She’s exactly the kind of daughter my personality needs. Because I am pretty quiet, she pulls the conversation out of me with her questions or just willingness to chat.

She hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until it’s time for bed. Then, she passes right out for the night until it’s time to start the next day.

Also, of note: Travis and I each have our own mini me. The first thing I noticed about Hayden when the nurse showed him to me was his nose. I said, “Travis! He has your nose.” (which is cute). When people tell me how much Hadley looks like me, I always say, “Well, unfortunately, she acts like me too!” πŸ˜‚

A few FAVE pics…

through the years…

Education:

When they were little, they went to a sitter’s house. So, they were together all day, every day. Hadley would dominate over his personality, and it got to the point where Hayden would defer to her. I’d ask what they had for lunch, and he’d say, “Hadley, you tell mom!”

The year before kindergarten, we put them in preschool two days a week. We thought it would be a good time to see how they would do on their own in separate classes. They thrived. Hayden needed his own space…and so did she! Of course, on the first day of school, she walked in like she owned the place. He was certainly more timid. It all worked out though as they navigated that new world on their own.

All throughout elementary, they’ve been in different classes, per our request. They’ve ended up in the same math group with the same teacher a time or two, and that’s been fine for them.

I’ve learned that I need to let them be who they are, and I need to let them fail and learn.

I’ve had to shift my thinking…just because something comes easily to one, it may not come easily to the other.

And, of course, they hit some of those beginning milestones at different times, so I had to remind myself not to compare them. For example, Hadley talked before Hayden did, but he walked before she did.

They balance each other out perfectly.

It’s nice when it works out that they both excel at something. For example, Hadley was the top 25th runner in the 4th grade girls division for cross country. Hayden was 26th in the boys division at state! There were races where they both even finished in the same place! Also, both won awards for their science fair projects, so there was no rivalry there πŸ˜‰

It’s convenient (for me) to see one school performance, or sign up to help with one time slot of field day to see their grade level.

Interests:

In the beginning, I kept them on the same teams for baseball, basketball, and soccer. This was when they were 4-6 years old or so. Then, it was time for them branch out. She didn’t want to play soccer and tried dance. One year they both did Academic Team at school, and last year, only Hadley did it. She was so excited to stay after school for chorus last year, but he wanted no part in that!

Spring soccer 2013

Of course, it keeps my schedule easier when they are at the same place at the same time, but that’s not fair to them. So they’ve been able to make more choices as the years have gone on.

He loves to read, draw and play sports. She loves to bake, craft, and hang out with friends.

Also, at this age, they have the same friend group but Hadley mostly sticks to playing with her girlfriends and Hayden with his friends. BUT…will you see Hadley mixing it up with the boys even when she’s the only girl? YES!

Will you see Hayden hanging out with Hadley and her friends if he’s on his own? Heck to the NO! πŸ˜‚

Other thoughts:

I don’t dwell on it but I’m cognizant of the fact that I only get one shot at most of these milestones. I always say I was blessed to have two at once, but that does mean only one first day of kindergarten, one fifth grade graduation for the both of them, (and on and on)…

Even though we struggled to get pregnant, I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t get to rock a baby again, so I probably took those little things for granted thinking I’d get to do that again. (Of course, I have friends with one child who are in the same situation with only experiencing milestones once…so I am very grateful to have the both of them getting to experience those things together.)

Whether they know it or not, they have a built in best friend. I joke that I “front loaded” some of my parenting responsibilities at the beginning. Once they were old enough to play together, I actually did get back some of that time for myself to tidy up the house or make a grocery list.

I feel like I just rambled in this post…and I didn’t expect the post to be so wordy! Sorry for that!

The bottom line about having twins is that it’s a blessing I didn’t know that I needed or that I deserved. After struggling to have one…we had two. I’m thankful for that each and every day.

As the parent of twins, I try to carve out time for each of them, I try not to compare them, and I certainly try to let them be their own person with their own interests.

Having twins for kids is certainly special, but like all parents, I’m amazed at how time is literally flying by. Whether you have one kid or four, I’m sure you blink and wonder how they are already starting school, or driving a car, or graduating! Being a parent is certainly a privilege and an honor!

Oh there always is one more question that I get asked…

“Do they fight?” …YES! πŸ˜‰

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

Posted in Kids, Three things

Three Things

Hello! It’s been a minute since I’ve written a Three Things post about what we’ve individually been up to, so I thought I’d give a little update for today’s post.

  1. I’ve mentioned before that Hayden started reading the first Harry Potter book with his teacher this year during her afternoon read loud. Once they finished the first book, she moved on to the second book with anyone who was interested in continuing with the afternoon read aloud. Hayden already had the first book, but then I purchased the second and third books from Amazon for him. He finished the third book very quickly on his own and wanted me to purchase the fourth book. My mom has the entire series, and we will see her soon, so I told him to just wait for her books. I bet he will finish the series this summer at the rate he reads!

2. Baseball is back, baby! Hayden’s excited to be back on the ball field with his teammates again. They have a few games this week, and are getting back in the baseball groove. I love seeing Boo play ball!

3. I know bike sales sky rocketed during quarantine πŸ˜‰ but so did actual bike riding by Hayden! He learned to ride a bike quite a few years ago, but after a bike accident a couple summers ago, he seriously refused to ride a bike…so much so, that we sold his bike in a garage sale. Last summer, he got back into riding his bike (maybe because so many neighborhood kids ride their bikes around?). Once he got tired of borrowing Hadley’s pink bike, we got a hand-me-down bike from a friend. He and Hadley, along with other neighborhood friends, are on the bikes so often which is great!

4. Bonus: I’m not sure if there is anyone more excited about Patrick Mahomes sealing the deal to be a Chief for the next 10 years than Hayden! He’s definitely a #Mahomie

  1. Hadley is all about various hairstyles. She’s mastered the top knot, rocks a side pony tail, and now loves to put her hair up in “space buns.” I know nothing about hairstyles and even less about makeup, so she’s figuring this all out on her own. She’s quite the fashionista (with a side of tomboy!)

2. I’ve always said that Hadley needs a hobby. She doesn’t love to read like Hayden does or when they were little, she wouldn’t sit for hours and build Legos like Hayden would. Sis is always on the move! When people would ask for gift ideas, I’d always say, “I don’t know. Girlfriend still needs a hobby!” When she does find something to do, it usually involves some kind of mess.

Now that she’s old enough to gather supplies and clean up her messes, I let her do what she wants (most of the time.) In the past month, she’s tie dyed a shirt and socks with her friends, made a lava lamp (thanks to You Tube) and, my favorite, she made a lovely hand scrub (made of sugar, coconut oil, and lemon) for the guest bathroom. I am impressed with her creations…and even more impressed when I don’t have to clean up the mess!

3. Hadley has completed a few dance camps at her regular dance studio this summer. While she’s often dancing around the house, it’s been good for her to be with her instructors in person and see her dance friends.

Since sleep away camp was canceled this summer, they refunded our money, but gave the option of sending a “virtual camp box” filled with some activities, a t-shirt, water bottle, journal and more. Hadley’s working on some of the activities here and there.

4. Bonus: Hadley and I have been reading Love Does: for kids together and the kids’ church group has just gotten started meeting (via Zoom) to discuss. It’s such a great book with life lessons tied together with biblical stories and references. The chapters are so short and include pictures which keeps her attention and provides more meaning and opportunity for connection and discussion.

Camp box items
  1. Homer is still ornery and enjoys hanging out in the inflatable pool. His scratching, from his possible grass allergy, has gotten so much better and his little paws are less pink now.

2. Travis celebrated a birthday yesterday! Of course, he’s always busy with work and now baseball as he helps coach Hayden’s team.

3. As for me, I’ve enjoyed being able to blog almost daily. I also spend time keeping the kids busy. I’ve tried to plan an activity (like hiking, going to the zoo, and canoeing) at least once a week; we really are in a good summer groove. I also continue to work a bit this summer as students turn in work to me for credit recovery, so I check my email daily and spend time looking over the submitted work.

Needless to say, summer of 2020 is definitely different, but we continue to enjoy our time as a family while also seeking comfort in some sense of normalcy with baseball, eating out a bit, and seeing friends as we can while remaining socially distant.

See you back here tomorrow for my second ever Day in the Life post.