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.

Posted in Friday Favorites, Homer, Kids

Friday Favorites

Hey! Hey! We made it to Friday. As always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites.

Favorite Moment:

Travis and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this week. We don’t usually do gifts but instead exchange cards and go out to dinner whenever we have an available sitter.

I don’t know why, but from the beginning, Travis has always written my name in bubble letters on my cards. It’s so sweet and something I like forward to. (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing πŸ˜‰ Anyway, he brought home my card and a cookie cake. Our family loves cookie cakes and usually pick one up for birthdays and other special occasions.

Sweet treat that almost looks too good to eat πŸ˜‰

Which leads me to my….

Least Favorite Moment:

Homer ATE THE COOKIE CAKE!!!

Y’all, he is SO bad. (Thank goodness he’s cute)

Because I have no willpower when it comes to a cookie cake, we’d each had a small slice of cake before dinner on Thursday. The cake was covered on the counter and pushed back on the counter. After dinner, we were outside and Hadley came out to tell me about the cake. I cried.

  1. because I love cookie cake
  2. because I was afraid Homer was going to puke all over the house all night long.
He ate 80% of the cake

We put him in his kennel. He tried to deny he did it, but icing on his nose was proof!

Favorite Activity:

I’m trying to incorporate at least one activity each week for the kids and I to do. I checked our forecast and Wednesday called for pretty mild temps with a high of 80 degrees.

I checked the Cincinnati Zoo’s website for details. Of course, they have new guidelines and the indoor exhibits were closed, but I knew we could at least wander around and check out the animals. The zoo actually had times with a specific number of tickets to be sold for various arrival times. I purchased tickets for the 12:30-1:00 arrival time. Of course, once you are in the zoo, I believe that you can stay as long as you’d like, but at least the arrival of guests is scattered. Also, I knew 2-2.5 hours would be all we’d need to look at the animals.

Cinci is about a 1.5 hour drive, so we left around 10:30, made a stop at Chick-Fil-A for lunch to eat in the car, and drove up to Cinci.

The weather was beautiful and we really were able to keep our distance and see most of what we would have wanted to see.

We’ve been to this zoo a few times. The last time was last year for the kids’ 3rd grade field trip. It was such a fun experience and lots of parents went, so the classes could be divided into small groups of kids. It was easier navigating this time with just my two kids πŸ˜‰

Ready to explore

We started off by seeing the Galapagos tortoises, the Red Pandas, and the Gibbons.

We made a pit stop at the Dippin Dots truck before finding the elephants. The elephants are always my fave!

Then we went to see the giraffes (another of my faves!), and the kids loved seeing the African Painted dogs (I don’t remember seeing them last time), the lions, the bald eagle and hippos.

Last stop was to see the flamingos.

Overall, we had a great day, and I was glad we made the trip up there.

Another favorite activity was dinner out with Travis last night at one of our favorite places: Carson’s Food and Drink.

Favorite Food:

Well, my favorite food should have been the cookie cake…#Imstillbitter

but…the grilled Oscar style salmon for my dinner last night was amazing πŸ˜„

And then we stopped by a new (to us) place for a nightcap.

The Kentucky Native Cafe didn’t disappoint with the atmosphere…

or the wine…πŸ˜‰ #roseallday

*both restaurants did amazing jobs with social distancing signs, masking wearing, and tables spread out.

Favorite Pic:

Earlier in the week when I thought Homer was still cute ;), I was looking for him and found him on top of ALL the pillows on my bed.

Favorite Kid Quote:

At dinner the other night, we were having cheeseburgers for dinner and somehow Kobe beef was brought up. Hayden asked if it was somehow connected to Kobe Bryant and we said no. Hadley then said, β€œPeople assume Taylor Swift made that one cheese.” I said, β€œYou mean Swiss cheese?” πŸ˜‚ and we all laughed. Travis asked her if she really thought it was called Swift cheese, and she said, β€œMaybe…. Maybe not.” πŸ˜‚

During the same dinner, Hayden, who has been eating mostly soft foods because of his spacers for his braces said, β€œWow. I ate that whole meal with just my front teeth!” Way to problem solve, kid! πŸ˜‰

Favorite Mom Meme:

My hashtag for Hadley often is #sassysincedayone. Also, when people say how much she looks like me, I always say, “Unfortunately, for all involved, she acts like me too!”

Bonus: Flashback Friday

In June 2013, the kids each got their own rooms at our old house. They used to share one very sizable bedroom, and then we put them each into smaller bedrooms. That night, they hugged each other good night and said, β€œSee ya later!” ❀️ Such a sweet Facebook memory.

Weekly Recap:

Here are my posts from this week!

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you have a great weekend.

Posted in Family, Kids

Summer Fun List

Hello and happy Tuesday!

Real talk: I’ve realized Monday is my least favorite day of the week…even in the summer. Mondays mean to do lists, grocery pick up, laundry, and more! During the school year, those are usually Sunday chores! Now, I just bump that business to Monday! I’m very happy to move on to Tuesday.

Anyway, before the summer slips away, I thought I’d have the kids write down some things they want to do this summer. Hadley’s list is on the left, Hayden’s on the right (more real talk: he was kind of grumpy when he made his list), and family items in the middle. A few of the items we’ve accomplished already, but I wanted to have a list for our entire summer.

Hadley:

  • Learn a new Tik Tok dance (Thankfully, this isn’t a family activity πŸ˜‰
  • Tie Dye
  • Bake
  • Go to Bob Evans restaurant (She loves the microwave mashed potatoes I buy—she wants to see if they taste the same at the restaurant!)
  • Dance workshops
  • And more!

Hayden:

  • Teach Homer tricks
  • Take golf lessons
  • Baseball
  • Draw
  • Play outside
  • Take Hadley to camp for a week (I hate to burst his bubble, but camp has been cancelled!)
  • And more!

Family:

  • Vacation
  • Pick strawberries (maybe Travis can join us next time!)
  • Go visit family in KC
  • Go to the zoo
  • Kayak
  • Drive in movie
  • And more!

Our summer looks a bit different with less pool time this year, but we hope to make the most of it and plan some other activities.

The kids have even started a little dog walking business. They walked their first two clients yesterday.

I don’t know that anything too fun is happening today. Hayden will have to update his list because this morning he is, in fact, getting his phase 2 braces. Poor guy! Good news for him (and Hadley) is maybe we can stop for a root beer float at A&W after his appointment!

Take care,

Posted in Home Updates, Kids

Transformation Tuesday: Kids’ Bedrooms

Well, this is the last stop (for now) for my Home Updates series. To be honest, I feel like I’m ending this tour in a slightly underwhelming way, but I still thought I’d share.

Also, real talk: sometimes my kids’ rooms make me cringe! They tend to be full of clutter which drives me crazy, but I like to keep it real over here…and I make all of the rest of the house look “my kind of pretty,” so they should have their space.

Even though the kids aren’t babies anymore, they still tend to have lots of stuff…so I try to provide them with as many organizational options as possible to keep Legos, baseball cards, art supplies, hair ties (Why does Hadley have 100 scrunchies?!), etc. Also, I’ve given up…they’ve cluttered their walls with whatever the want, and I’m just going to have to deal with it πŸ˜‰ Anyway, here’s a peek at their spaces.

Before:

These are the only pics I found on the listing photos, and I think both of these photos are of Hayden’s current bedroom.

Summer of 2015, after we’d lived here a few months, the kids spent the night at their grandma’s house, and Travis and I painted both of their bedrooms in about 24 hours. So, this is a pic of his freshly painted bedroom in June 2015. He’s had this bedding for years! The other side of that quilt has cars on it, and we bought it when each kid moved into their own room when they were three. I’d say we’ve gotten plenty of use out of that quilt. We bought the plaid comforter after painting the bedroom.

Hayden’s bedroom now! All the sports signs a boy could ever want! haha

We bought the hat rack from Pottery Barn Teen, and it’s been perfect for his wall and keeping everything organized.

I made this canvas for Hayden we he got his own room in our former house. It’s from one of my favorite scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird. When Dill first meets Jem and Scout, he says, “I’m little but I’m old.” Dill had such a cute little personality that I thought the quote was perfect for Hayden.

This magnetic frame was a little DIY that Travis and I completed together. Well, I found the frame years ago, and then we finally purchased a piece of sheet metal and nailed it to the back. Then, it became a place for Hayden to use magnets to hang photos and his drawings.

I don’t have any before pictures of Hadley’s room, but here’s her freshly painted room in June 2015. Since then, she’s gotten a new bedspread and new bedside table. Her bedroom furniture was the furniture my parents bought me when I was in the seventh grade. When the kids got their own rooms in our former house, we painted the bed, the desk, and then dresser white. Honestly, that was before I knew about chalk paint, so that project was definitely a labor of love. I bet if I’d used chalk paint, it would have taken half of the time.

Here’s her current room. Hadley’s not super girly, so I love that she chose a light lavender for her paint color, and I found the hanging poms for her window at Hobby Lobby. The wooden monogram came from an Etsy shop, and I painted it white. We found her side table at Ikea.

My grandma gave me two wooden chairs that are many many years old, and Hadley uses one at her desk.

I love the “Girl Boss” sign that Hadley found while we were at Home Goods one day. Also, this summer, she really wanted a little plant for her room, so I picked her up a succulent at Trader Joe’s since they are hard to kill! πŸ˜‰

I love the artwork on her wall. She painted the unicorn at a painting class we took. I found the pineapple at Hobby Lobby, and have a “thing” for pineapples as they are an expression of “Welcome” in a home. Lastly, I found the “In a field of roses, she is a wildflower” print on Etsy and then bought the frame. If that doesn’t sum up Hadley, then I don’t know what does!

So, that’s a little look at the kids’ bedrooms! We obviously didn’t have to do much in those rooms besides fresh paint, our own decor, and some updated blinds. I had a little control with their spaces, but wanted to give them the freedom to make choices…and then I just shut the doors when I can’t take the clutter!

Hallway Bathroom

The last major space for us to update is the smallest space in our house….the hall bath. I’m not sure when that will happen, but thought I’d go ahead and share those pictures.

Our current setup. I at least tried to make it cute πŸ˜‰ This is the kids’ bathroom and what guests use if we have people over. First world problems, but the space is so small that it’s a recipe for a daily fight while the kids get ready in the morning.

Thanks for following along on this Home Update series I put together. We’ve worked hard making our house feel like home. We just keep checking off projects one at a time.

Here are my other Home Update posts:

Have a great day!