Posted in Meals and Recipes, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom: Quick Family Dinners

Hello! How was your weekend? We had a great one with my dad visiting for few days, Hayden’s baseball tournament, some pool time, and an early Father’s Day (and my brother’s birthday) celebration.

Today, I’m co-hosting with these ladies for our Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is Quick Family Dinners.

I try to meal prep and make my grocery list for pick up most weekends. I like to have a plan for the week ahead. With the kids being pretty busy most evenings, almost anything I make is quick.

I turn to one of my favorite cookbooks a lot for meals all year long:

Some of my favorite recipes from Shay’s Simmers cookbook that I turn to quite often are:

The best “cooking hack” is putting chicken in the slow cooker, cover it with water, and then shred when it’s finished cooking to use for meals.

Also, when I thought of this topic, I immediately thought about sharing a few favorites from each season. Here are some pretty quick recipes my family enjoys!

Winter:

Of course, the winter months are perfect for soups and chilis!

Chicken Chili

Spring:

In the spring, we start eating lighter meals.

  • Salmon with roasted Brussel Sprouts or broccoli is a family fave! (I love that our Kroger has salmon that can be baked in the foil packs with spices and herbs that can be added in. The salmon is always flavorful, and the clean up is easy.)
  • Of course, every March I make Corned beef and cabbage & Irish Soda Bread.
Soda bread

Summer:

During the summer months, we grill out, and I typically make one of these side dishes, during the summer months. Fresh fruit is also an easy side dish when the weather is warm. Watermelon is definitely a summer fave!

I found this recipe on Pinterest for a Sushi Roll Bowl a few years ago. I tweaked the recipe a bit, but it’s such a healthy and refreshing meal in the summer.

Fall:

I start making hearty meals / comfort food once the weather cools down in the fall.

One recipe I always look forward to in the fall is Pumpkin Sausage Penne Pasta. I’ve had this recipe for years, and found it in a Kroger coupon pack. It’s so good.

Pumpkin Pasta

I also make Turkey Rice soup with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.

Turkey Rice Soup

Other Ideas:

Other easy dinner ideas all year long include tacos, grilled cheese and tomato soup, and pork loin with a veggie or Trader Joe’s side. Like the salmon, I love the Smithfield pork that is cooked in the bag. It’s such an easy “go to” although I always forget that it takes about 45 minutes in the oven, but the clean up is easy!

Favorite Trader Joe’s Sides:

Y’all know I’m a faithful Trader Joe’s customer. While I love most everything from TJ’s, their side dishes have been my best “mom cooking hack” through the years. They have so many great options, and they are all so delicious.

Here are some of my faves: {all found in the frozen section}

  • Mexican Street Corn
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Gnocchi
Favorite TJ sides

I love to cook, and I would say that most everything I make is a pretty quick and easy dinner! Also, I’m a big fan of leftovers, so if a recipe takes an extra bit of time to make, I always think it’s worth it for leftovers the next day!

Next month’s topic is Home Tour! I can’t wait to see a sneak peek of everyone’s homes!

Thanks so much for reading, and make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts too! I hope you have a great week.

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Not Just a Mom: Concerts

Hello! How was your weekend? We had a great one!

Friday night, the kids played with friends until late evening, and otherwise, we just hung out at home.

Saturday’s weather was gorgeous, so I took a walk before running to the grocery store and going to Hayden’s baseball game. Saturday night, we had dinner as a family to celebrate our niece’s college graduation.

Yesterday, was, of course, Mother’s Day. We all slept in and went to church. I did get my wish…no cooking for me yesterday! We went out for a late lunch, and then I took a nap! I read my book and watched a couple of shows for the rest of the afternoon.

Mother’s Day photo with my two faves:

Brunch was delish…

Now, on to today’s post…

It’s the second Monday of the month, so I’m co-hosting our Not Just a Mom link up with these ladies:

Our topic for today is concerts you’ve been to or what to go to.

Well, don’t hate me, but I’m not much of a concert person. Music is probably the only thing Travis and I really differ in. He’d love to go to more concerts and really enjoys music. Music is just not something that I’m drawn to. When I workout or go for a walk, I listen to a podcast. When I’m in the car, I’m usually on the same channel or two. (Also, let me let you in on a little secret: sometimes, when I’m alone in the car, I don’t even turn on the music. I. like. silence. haha!) You’ll never hear me say, “That’s my jam!” #dopeoplestillsaythat ? πŸ˜‰ When I get in my car after Travis has driven it, the radio is usually blasting!

Anyway, I have been to some concerts through the years, and I always have a good time…and wonder why I don’t make concert going more of a priority.

Here are some concerts through the years…

The teen years…

The very first concert I remember going to was a Billy Joel concert. Actually, it was a rescheduled Billy Joel concert, because the original scheduled date was 1994 when his wife at the time, Christie Brinkley, was in the helicopter crash. I think we ended up seeing him in concert almost an entire year later.

I remember going to see Chicago in concert at an outdoor ampitheater with my mom and her friend when I was in early high school.

I went to a Ricky Martin concert with friends freshman or sophomore year of college.

I never made it to a NKOTB concert, but my fifteen-year-old self always wished that would have happened! I guess when NKOTB reunited a few years ago, even my “in my thirties” year-old self would have loved that too.

First Concert with Travis:

Travis and I went to a David Gray concert in St. Louis in 2002 or 2003. That was the first concert we ever went to together. I still love David Gray. Travis is great about introducing me to various music artists.

Country Music:

The genre I listen to the most is probably country, and have been to a few concerts through the years.

I think the first concert I ever saw with Travis in Lexington was Rascal Flatts. It was many years ago…maybe 2007? Blake Shelton was up and coming, and opened for them.

Travis and I have seen Eric Church twice in concert. The first time was when he was fairly new on the scene. Travis took me to Nashville for my birthday 2014 and surprised me by taking me to the Ryman for a show that had many artists playing a few songs each. Eric Church was one of them and played five or six songs.Then, we saw Church again when he was more established when he came to Rupp in 2015.

2015 with the Chief

We went with friends to see Chris Stapleton at River Bend in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. We all really enjoyed his music, so much so, that the same group of us purchased tickets for his concert in Lexington for last spring. It was then postponed to last month…and now is postponed until next year. I sure hope we can see him again in concert

2017

What are the best concerts you’ve been to? I obviously need to get out more and add some concerts to my list! Hopefully in the next year, the music scene will get back to normal!

Next month, our topic is: Quick Family Dinners. We hope you’ll join us!

Well, I can’t believe it, but this is our last full week of school. Of course, it’s a busy time of the year, so I’m over here just hanging on…but also enjoying this time as well.

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Not Just a Mom: Favorite Family Memories

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

Friday’s weather was lovely, and we met some friends out for dinner. Saturday was such a rainy day! Torrential downpour pushed Hayden’s 3:30 game to 7:30. Sigh…yet another 7:30 game, that didn’t start until 8:00. and wasn’t over until after 10:00! That being said, at least we knew it was delayed while at home rather than start a game to have it rained out/delayed while at the ball park.

Sunday was gloomy and cool, so I made Shay’s Chicken Noodle Soup in the slow cooker, we changed all the sheets in the house, recovered from a late night, and prepped for the upcoming week.

Today, is our monthly Not Just a Mom link up! It’s so much fun co-hosting with these ladies:

Today’s topic is favorite family memories. With this topic, I immediately thought of memories as a kid, but also thought of some favorite memories as a family that I hope my kids always remember.

Favorite Family Memories as a Kid:

We often had Sunday family dinners at my grandparents’ house (my dad’s parents), and I loved running around in my grandma’s backyard, playing on the swing set, seeing cousins, and so much more. We also spent many 4th of July’s there grilling out and watching fireworks.

Another favorite childhood memory was sledding in our front yard. Our house was on top of a big hill which was perfect for sledding. We definitely got snowy weather every winter in Missouri. We didn’t live on a busy street, but my mom or dad would stand across the street to tell us it was safe to sled because once we got going, it was hard to stop! We usually went right into our neighbor’s front yard before stopping!

80’s sledding photo with my brother, my mom, and our dog Maggie

The Plaza lights are a huge Kansas City attraction in the winter months. They are always lit on Thanksgiving evening and stay up until after Christmas. As a kid, we’d always drive through the Plaza to look at the lights and would then often stop at Winsteads for a burger and a shake!

We’ve taken my kids a few times when we visit KC for Thanksgiving. I hope this will be a favorite memory for them just like it was for me.

In my middle and high school years, we’d drive to see the “Magic tree” and drive through “Christmas in the Park” lights.

Here we are this year as a family visiting the Magic Tree that I did too so many years ago.

As a kid, we often visit the Lake of the Ozarks with my mom’s parents. They had a house boat for most of my childhood. We’d fish, swim, play Solitaire (cards!) on the deck of the house boat, walk to the store by the dock to get a Tootsie pop, and so many other fun memories. I remember what a big deal it was to take a bath at the lake…in the lake. My grandpa was so funny and we’d lather up and jump in the lake. He’d say we were clean enough doing it that way!

the lake life as kids

Also, back home in KC, my grandparents belonged to a country club. My brother and I loved going to the pool and getting an ice cream bar when we were finished swmming.

Other favorite family childhood memories included going to World of Fun and Oceans of Fun (KC attractions) with my cousins as well as going on vacations to California, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine and other places.

I definitely had a great childhood filled with wonderful memories which is why I guess I feel like it’s so important to provide opportunities and traditions to create memories for my kids.

Favorite Memories with my Family:

I’ve shared a couple of posts on traditions that certainly serve as great reminders of some of the fun things we do as a family that have provided great memories.

I hope one of my kids’ favorite memories growing up will be that I make them snowman pancakes on our first snow day off of school!

One of my favorite memories to look back on is that we’ve gone to Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park every year that I’ve lived here since 2004. We only missed December of 2009 when the kids were less than a month old, and we were too tired to think about traditions. haha

Baking has provided some fun family memories through the years. I always bake with the kids around Christmastime.

They’ve also learned some of the family favorites by baking cookies with my mom and Gma.

Hadley loves to bake and will bake on her own from time to time!

The kids have gone to Keeneland a few times with Travis which as been so fun for them and have provided great memories for them as kids.

October 2017
ready to go to the races in April 2018

I’d say going to the pumpkin patch is one of my favorite family traditions through the years. I hope the kids feel that it’s a favorite as well.

2019
2020

Family vacations have also provided us with so many wonderful family memories. We love going somewhere different for Spring Break, we usually go to Asheville for Fall Break, and we typically head to the beach for summer vacation. I hope the kids appreciate that we’ve made a point of taking them to new places, but we also love the tradition of a beach vacation as well.

The Biltmore
Ashville,NC
Gaylord Opryland for Spring Break 2021
Isle of Palm, SC 2013
Hilton Head, SC 2018
Siesta Key June 2020
Siesta Key June 2020
Siesta Key June 2020
Grand Canyon 2018
San Diego 2018
San Diego 2018

As I completed this post, I realized that while some of my favorite memories are of family vacations or bigger events and holidays, some of the smaller memories are what have stuck out to me as favorites. What are some of your favorite family memories?

Next month’s topic is all about Concerts!

I hope your week is off to a great start. Thanks so much for reading!

Take care,

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Not Just a Mom: Favorite Phone Apps

Hello! How was your weekend? My mom has been visiting us, the weather was beautiful out, and we only had a few activities. Overall, it was a good one, and now we tackle the first full week back at school for in person learning!

Believe it or not, it’s the second Monday of the month, so I’m co-hosting our fun Not Just a Mom link up with these lovely ladies:

Today’s topic is: Favorite Phone Apps.

I feel like there are two types of people…those who have their apps organized in folders and those who don’t organize them. Which one do you think I am? haha

Folders, of course!

(*Also, yes–the 153 unread emails are of concern to me as well! Some of them are so far back in time that I can’t even scroll to delete them!)

Most Often Used Apps:

These are the apps I tend to use the most often:

~Notes: I have all kinds of notes on my phone: to do lists, gift ideas, books I’ve read and more. I’d be lost without the Notes app.

~WordPress: Of course, this app is so helpful in uploading photos for my posts, and then I type the content on my computer.

~Podcasts: I try to listen to Podcasts when I’m working out or working a little in my classroom.

~Amazon: Amazon…always for the win! They changed the icon recently!

~Venmo: Venmo comes in so handy for paying the sitters or paying friends when needed.

~Instagram: Instagram is definitely my favorite form of social media.

~Kroger: I use the Kroger app every week to place my Click List order. This past month, I’ve tried really hard to place my order on Friday for Saturday pickup. I’ve pretty much always scheduled Sunday pick ups, and this month it’s been so nice to get this task completed leaving more time on Sunday to prep for the week

Apps I Love:

These are some apps I love to use as well:

~Pic Collage: I love using Pic Collage to create collages of photos to add to my blog posts. The app has so many cute backgrounds to choose from, and the photos can be organized in a variety of ways.

~Libby Library: The Libby app makes it easy for me to check out library books for my Kindle.

~My Fitness Pal: I use My Fitness Pal to log my meals each day and count my macros.

~Beach Body On Demand: I’ve only started using this app in November when I started subscribing to Beach Body. The app is perfect for searching for workout programs and previewing workouts. I’ve actually done workouts using the app as opposed to casting them to my television when our internet has been glitchy. There’s definitely no excuse to miss a workout when I can use this app on my phone as a back up plan.

~Water Reminder: I’ve been using this app pretty much daily to track my water. Some days I still fall short of my water intake goal, but this app provides a good visual for me.

~Shutterfly: I upload all my photos from my phone using the Shutterfly app. I’ve been using this app since the kids were born in 2009. I have so many folders and albums with all of my pictures.

~Chick-fil-A: Nothing like a pandemic to force you to order food from your phone! I’m still pretty new to the CFA app, but I love that it saves my recent orders and my points accumulate for an occasional free brownie!

~Shop: The Shop app is a pretty new find for me as well. It’s so nice to have all my online purchases in one spot, and tracking packages is so easy this way. Again, I don’t have to search or scroll to find emails for purchases. All my purchases are in one place.

~Light Room: I’ve used the Light Room app for a couple of years to add filters to some of my photos. I’m not a professional photographer, so this app is so nice to help lighten photos.

One More App:

I’m also getting the hang of using the Goodreads app. I’ve had it for a while, but just this year I’ve decided to put book ideas on it. That being said, I added a ton of books from my “to read” book list that used to be on my phone and now I’ve realized I should probably organized those books onto shelves. So, I will probably do that at some point and have mystery books, auto/bio, beach reads, etc. all organized on one shelf.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Next month’s topic is: Favorite Family Memories. We’d love to have you join us for that link up!

Thanks so much for reading. Make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts on their favorite apps! I hope you have a great week!

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Not Just a Mom

Hello and Happy Monday!

It’s time for our monthly Not Just a Mom link up, and the topic is Healthy Habits and Staying Motivated.

Healthy Habits:

The older I get, the more I understand the importance of *trying* to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

As far as healthy habits are concerned, I feel like it’s important for me to have quiet (alone!) time every morning before the rest of the house gets up and before we start the hustle and bustle of our days. This time is important for me to get my mind right and ease into the day.

Another healthy habit for me is trying to get enough sleep. I’d say I get close to 8 hours sleep every night. I’ve struggled with staying asleep in the past, but I’ve never had issues falling asleep. Before bed, I try to limit screen time, read a book, and Melatonin is the real MVP!

Exercise as been a part of my routine for years. I used to be the type to watch what I eat and workout January-October. Then, I’d let the wheels fall off the bus, give in to the temptation of holidays foods, and regroup in January. About four years ago, I started not letting November and December negate the work I’d done the rest of the year. I give myself grace, but I continue my workout routine and do my best to make good food choices.

To be honest, this past year has been very difficult. From the stress of Covid, quarantining, and my endometriosis issues, I definitely relied on comfort food, didn’t workout as a consistently, kind of let anxiety creep in, and ate my feelings a bit! I feel like I’ve done a really good job regrouping since January, and I’ve been intentional with workouts and making pretty good food choices.

Staying Motivated:

As far as staying motivated goes, I’m a task oriented, Type A, visual person.

I like to start the week off with a plan, and I’m motivated by seeing progress.

Before placing my grocery order, I plan our dinners for the week. Meal planning is essential for me to stay on track. That being said, I don’t necessarily meal prep, but I do keep in mind what foods we have on hand, so that I can make the best choices possible.

I know that I have to be flexible with what time I work out, but I typically factor in two mornings to get up early to get my work out in. Then, I choose a couple of afternoons when I know I will have time to get my work out in and adjust my schedule that way. I know some people do better getting up every morning extra early, but that doesn’t work for me. Also, I’m home by 4:00 most days (during a normal school year), so I know that I’m usually able to get a workout in without issue a couple afternoons a week.

I’m also motivated by down time and rest. I try to accomplish chores, errands, school work, emails, workouts, etc. and then take Sunday as my motivation with a day of rest.

Certain apps help keep me motivated and tie into my Type A/task oriented personality. Just seeing my calories and macros as well as my water intake, keeps me going to make good choices.

Lately, I’ve been focusing more on tracking my food and calories, but I also check out my macros. Most days, even when I think I haven’t made all the best choices, my macros are close to perfect. (50% carbs, 20% protein, 30% fat) (*I know this seems like a lot of work, but it becomes second nature pretty quickly, and I definitely see results when I track what I eat.)

I’ve been using this water app since December, and it’s been helping me reach my water intake goal most days.

In November, I purchased Beachbody On Demand and have been working out at home. Even before Covid, I only went to the gym a couple days a week. I’ve used Beachbody workouts in the past, but this is the first time I’m using the On Demand option to use at home while working out. Since November, I’ve completed 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and I’ve now moved on to Muscle Burns Fat.

Knowing that I only have to go to my basement, and these workouts take about 30 minutes motivates me to stay on track.

I’ve used strategies from Amanda Nighbert’s Lean program for years. I’ve been carb cycling and intermittent fasting pretty consistently for four years. Back in November, she shared this chart, and I printed it out to write my monthly goals.

My February goals are:

  • workout
  • drink water
  • intermittent fast
  • log food in My Fitness Pal app
  • have a protein shake most days for lunch or snack
  • Eat low carb on Tuesdays

Lastly, is anyone else motivated by cute workout wear?

I’m more picky about my workout leggings than workout tops because I wear them for more than working out. I basically live in workout leggings/tights when not in regular clothes or pajamas! Also, the perfect length for me is 7/8. I only own a couple of pairs of capri length leggings. 7/8 is where it’s at for me!

If I’m wearing something I’m comfortable in, I’m more likely to workout.

Cute story: A couple of months ago, Travis called me and told me he’d picked me up a gift. Well, I came home and saw he’d been to Fabletics, and purchased me a couple of pairs of workout tights. He went on and on, and said the selling point was that they had side pockets. He thought this was a new feature! πŸ˜† ! So sweet! I guess he hasn’t seen my other five pairs of leggings with pockets. He’s very proud of the fact he’s a Fabletics VIP member!

I have this same pair of Fabletics leggings in teal, navy, and blue.

Recently, I purchased these leggings from Amazon…and they are legit. They come in a variety of colors….and have side pockets πŸ˜‰

I know it’s silly but what made me buy them besides the fact that they are high-waisted is that I loved the angled bottom inseam. That feature is just a little “extra” that elevates these leggings.

I cringe at the terms “buttery soft” and “dupe,” but these are so good, and I don’t know any other way to describe them. I only have one pair of Lulu leggings, and these, to me, are comparable.

Memes:

To wrap up on a funny note…

These workout memes made me laugh, so I thought I’d share.

I’m forever a work in progress over here, but I’ve been very focused lately on getting back on track with making good food choices (minus Girl Scout cookies, y’all!), and exercising daily since recovering from my surgery in October.

Let me know any tips and tricks you have for staying motivated and making healthy choices!

Next month’s topic is Favorite Phone Apps. Well, I know two of those already: the water and My Fitness Pal apps. Those two apps keep me motivated!

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

Take care,

{this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

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Not Just a Mom

Hello and happy Monday. I’m so excited for today’s post! It’s the first Not Just a Mom link up of 2021, and I get to be a co-host with these lovely ladies:

Today’s topic is “getting cozy and small comforts.” Cozy is my love language. I love nothing more than being snuggled under a blanket or wearing an over-sized sweatshirt to feel cozy and comforted.

I think the reason that fall and winter are my favorite seasons is because the temperatures are cooler, leggings and sweaters are a clothing staple, and an overcast cold day is the perfect excuse to lounge around, read, and sip on some coffee..

Well, I’ve already touched on a few things that are cozy, small comforts for me, but here are the details.

Cozy/Comforts:

First of all, I just like being at home. I’m the most comfortable at home, and I like to make my house feel like home. I also love when everyone is home. It doesn’t mean we are all together doing something (that is nice though!), it just means all my people are accounted for, I have nothing to worry about, and I just feel settled.

I start every morning with a cup(s) of coffee! Whether it’s 25 degrees out or 75 degrees, I feel comforted by the warmth of a cup of coffee.

Saturday provided the perfect cozy morning with cloudy skies and cold temps. I lit a candle, got a blanket and finished a book on my Kindle.

We use our fireplace quite a bit in the winter, and I love that it’s double sided, so we can feel the warmth at our kitchen table and in the living room. A fire definitely provides comfort and coziness during the winter.

I love an over-sized sweater, and I shared this Amazon one a couple times last week. It’s perfect because you can dress it up or down, and I’ve worn it with workout tights, leggings, and skinny jeans with booties.

Seriously, cozy could be my middle name πŸ˜‰ What are your “must haves” for cozy comforts?

Next month’s topic is “Healthy Habits and Staying Motivated.” I’m glad I looked at this topic in advance, so I can try use it as incentive to continue working out and eating healthy! 11 days into the new year, and I’m off to a pretty good start.

Grab this graphic, link back to one or all of us, and share your Not Just a Mom post!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great week!

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Not Just a Mom: Special Holiday Traditions

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Compared to last weekend, we had a relatively low-key couple of days. The kids had a cross country meet on Saturday, but Sunday I pretty much stayed in my pajamas all day. Travis was kind enough to pick up our grocery order while I did things around the house…including purging the kids’ closets! We only do this a couple times a year, but I dread it so much! I’m glad to have that checked off my list.

We are counting down this five day week and ready for a couple weeks off! Breaks is right around the corner.

Today, I’m linking up with Lauren (and others!) for their Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is Special Holiday Traditions.

I grew up with some holiday traditions like seeing the Plaza lights in KC, ice skating at Crown Center, picking out an ornament at Hallmark, baking cookies, seeing Christmas lights, and more!

So, needless to say, I have now made quite a few traditions for my kids to celebrate the holiday.

Here are some of our family traditions:

Santa:

We take the kids to see Santa every year. When they were little, we didn’t take them. Once they were two to five years old or so, they’d see Santa at my school Christmas party or Trav’s work party.

Then, in 2016, we started getting a real tree, and see the perfect Santa while doing so. Our club also hosts a Cookies with Santa party, so we attend that most years. Lastly, one of our friends has hosted a Santa at her house every other year, so the kids have had plenty of opportunities to share with Santa what they hope to receive for Christmas.

2020 Santa Visit:

Santa visits through the years…

Elf on the Shelf:

Our elf, Red, has visited us since 2012. I’m not sure how many more years he will visit, but he’s always fun to have around.

Bake Cookies:

We always receive lots of cookies from my mom. When those are gone, we bake some cookies to get use through the second half of December πŸ˜‰

This year, my mom visited, and had quite the crew to help with our traditional family cookies.

Cooking baking through the years…

I will say my kids are at a great age (and have been for a couple years) where they are big help in the baking process.

Southern Lights:

I grew up going to the Plaza lights as well as driving through park lights, so Travis and I have continued that tradition through the years. Even when we were dating, we drove through lights in KC or Columbia. Once I moved to Kentucky, we started going through the Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park.

We’ve realized through the years to go on a Monday or Tuesday night early in the season when it’s less crowded. Also, they have indoor activities, but my kids still have no clue about the inside activities. haha

Angel Tree:

We always choose a family from the Angel Tree to buy gifts for in early December. This used to be something I would just do, but the past few years, I’ve found it to be important to take the kids along with us to choose the gifts. I feel like my kids are pretty aware of others’ needs, but having them participate in the act of buying for those in need is something that I obviously hope they remember all year long and not just around the holidays.

PJs and Gifts:

I always give the kids Christmas pajamas as one of their birthday gifts in November. When they kids were probably three, we started taking them to pick out a gift for each other. I remember when they were little, we’d barely make it to the car before they’d tell each other what they picked out. haha

We usually let them open it on Christmas Eve before going to bed. It’s always fun to see what they pick out for each other. They know each other pretty well. πŸ˜‰

Gingerbread House:

One of our traditions has been decorating gingerbread houses. Some years, the elf brings one and other years I will get one for them to decorate. The elf usually hot glues the house together for them to find in the morning and then we’ll decorate it in the evening.

The past couple years, they’ve each had a house to decorate, and it’s a fun activity…as long as the house doesn’t collapse!

Decorating through the years…

The kids decorated their houses on Saturday night. Again, it’s fun to be a part of that process, but it’s nice they are old enough to decorate on their own. Unfortunately, Hayden’s house imploded and then one of the walls fell on the floor and broke. So, he just decorated the roof while eating bites of gingerbread as Hadley finished up her house.

Hayden ended up decorating the gingerbread man and tree that came with one of the kids.

When I took the pic of Hayden’s roof, he made this face (bottom right) to demonstrate how he felt about the house collapsing!

For once, we couldn’t blame Homer for the destruction, but he sure was tempted by the icing and the treats!

So those are some of our special holiday traditions. While the holidays are such a hectic time, I’m glad we have these traditions, so that we can spend time together as a family even during the busyness of the season.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions??

2021 link up:

I’m excited to join the Not Just a Mom link up starting in January 2021! I joked with the ladies that I felt like I was invited to the cool kids’ table at lunch! haha. I’ve very excited to join this link up. If you are a blogger, make sure you join us on the second Monday of the month too!

Here are the 2021 topics:

That’s a wrap on our special holiday traditions! I know this holiday season looks different for everyone, and while, at times, that makes be feel anxious and even sometimes sad, I’m trying to focus on the things I can control like some of these traditions. Christmas cookies help ease the anxiety as well!

I hope you had a great weekend! Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts!

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Holidays, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom: Shop the Holidays

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I feel like our weekends lately have been lopsided with a very busy Saturday followed by a more relaxed Sunday.

The kids had state cross country meet on Saturday which took up most of the day. Sunday, per usual, we did laundry, I picked up groceries, and we kind of regrouped for the week ahead.

Travis is super busy with work right now, so he gave me back his Super Dad cape πŸ˜‰ Seriously, when I think back to scheduling my surgery, we got so lucky with the October 14th date. It gave me just enough time to get back to my normal routine before he got busy with work. I’m still needing a daily nap and do feel worn out some days, but I’m glad to be back in a pretty normal groove.

Today, I’m linking up with Lauren, Ashley, (and others!) for their Not Just a Mom series. Today’s topic is: shop the holidays.

This meme always cracks me up.

November and December are always slammed for us with sports and school, the kids’ birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the other fun activities and traditions that come with those holidays. That being said, I know things will look differently this year for all of those things.

To be honest, it all can be too much. Having to give ideas for birthday and Christmas to so many relatives in such a short amount of time can stress me out a bit. Even when I figure it all out, I still have to have ideas to the kids from us and from Santa.

Through the years, we’ve pared down who we purchase gifts for at Christmas, but, again, it’s still a lot to organize when adding holiday stress and birthday stuff too.

This is the point of the post where I’m asking for advice. πŸ˜‚

I do know it’s a blessing to have family near and far, traditions to continue, and we still see the joy of the holidays through our kids’ eyes…so I usually just take it day by day and list by list.

Birthday

I know the kids’ birthday isn’t an actual holiday, but it’s first on my list right now with it being in just a couple of weeks. For their birthday, I really do try to stick with the idea of “want, need, wear, read.” This might sound crazy, but I don’t really ask them what they want for their birthday…at some point they’ve probably shared what they “want,” and I just fill in the blanks for the other gifts.

We always get them a book and Christmas pjs; they probably end up with 5-6 gifts each when it’s all said and done because I pick up an extra thing or two along the way.

10th birthday breakfast

I also like the idea of giving the kids an “experience” when possible. When they were little, we bought tickets to Sesame Street Live. In the second grade, Hadley was begging to get her ears pierced, so that was one of her gifts which was so fun for her! The past couple of years, I purchased tickets to our favorite cookie decorating class for Hadley and me which is always fun.

Christmas

Trav and I usually just focus on the kids at this point. I typically buy what I want when I want it throughout the year…Travis is shaking his head “uh huh” as he reads this. πŸ˜‚ …so I never feel like I “need” anything. That being said, we usually end up having the kids pick out something that’s from them to us…and Travis never follows the rules and usually gets me something I’d never expect.

For example, his brother took the kids’ pictures a couple of years ago, and he surprised me with a couple framed faves. Of course, this brought tears to my eyes! He is a thoughtful gift giver.

We purchase family gifts for my mom, dad, grandma, and Trav’s mom. We also purchase gifts for my brother’s kids. Since it’s just the four grand kids on my side, and they are still little, it’s fun to get them a gift or two.

Our elf, Red, visits and always leaves the “want, need, wear, read” paper. I found this online years ago, have it saved, and just print it each year. I do love this tradition because it does give ideas that I can pass on to grandparents. Red takes the paper to the North Pole the next night after they’ve filled it out.

Of course, they also share ideas with Santa when we visit him. I’m not sure if that will happen this year. At our house, Santa’s gifts are unwrapped and left near the fireplace or tree.

When I was a kid, stockings were always my favorite to open, and I think my kids feel the same way. That’s probably where I end up going overboard. πŸ˜† I just pick up little things here and there: Chapstick, socks, underwear, nail polish, scrunchies, shaving cream, a card game, candy and more is what my crew typically finds in their stockings.

Christmas 2019 gift exchange

I also love our tradition where the kids choose a gift for each other that’s from them. It’s always fun to see what they pick out and give to each other. We usually let them open it the night before Santa comes.

One year I tried to buy all of the gifts in November, but I wasn’t 100% successful in that endeavor! I do at least like to start making a list in November and get organized.

I try to support local small businesses as much as possible as well as shops on Etsy. Target is typically is my “go to” place for the kids, and Amazon has certainly eased the shopping stress the past couple of years.

I will say and they’ve started to ask questions about the elf and Santa. Hadley’s the inquisitive one and Hayden still seems to believe. Of course, I cling to their innocence, but know that they are at the natural age to start wondering. To be honest, in second grade, they had tons of questions, and I really thought that was going to be the last year. I’m thankful all of that subsided, and we’ve had a few more Christmases of pure innocence.

So that’s how I shop the holidays. What about you?

Next month’s topic is special holiday traditions.

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts! I hope you have a great week.

Posted in Not Just a Mom, Projects

Not Just a Mom: Getting Crafty

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We were able to make it to the pumpkin patch on Friday which always makes my fall loving heart happy. Sunshine, apple cider donuts, and pumpkins kicked our weekend off right. I plan on sharing more about that tomorrow!

We spent Saturday morning at the kids’ cross country meet, and then we were going to head straight to Hayden’s baseball tournament, but got word as we arrived at the cross country meet that the baseball tournament had been canceled due to rain. All of the sudden, this mama had her entire weekend back! Hadley placed 6th in her race, and Hayden had another 1st place finish! Their team is so fun to watch and both the boys and girls teams earned top 5 finishes at the meet!

Once we got back to Lex, we decided to have brunch at Winchells which is one of our favorite places. Then, the rest of the weekend was pretty relaxing. With overcast and/or rainy skies for Saturday and Sunday, we just hung out, did chores around the house, took a nap or two and just recharged. I did catch most of the replay of my MIZZOU Tigers beating LSU and then the CATS won as well. Weekends like these don’t happen very often, so I was happy to have this extra time. Hayden talked Travis into 9 holes of golf Sunday afternoon once it quit raining so steadily. I prepped dinner and got organized for the week.

Now, on to the topic of today’s post…

Today, I’m joining Lauren, Ashley, and others for their Not Just a Mom series. This month’s focus is on “getting crafty.”

I do love a craft or a quick project. Now, I don’t seem to have as much time as I used to, but I do like to pin on Pinterest, plan a craft for a party decoration, or update an outdated piece of furniture with paint!

Here are some of my favorite crafts through the years…

Birthday Banner:

I made this banner for the kids right before their 3rd birthday. I cut out the triangles and circles on card stock, printed the letters, and glued them on. Then, I clipped each each triangle to string with clothes pins. I’ve used this banner every birthday since, and just change out the age for the birthday.

Through the years…

Last year, I told them I was ok with quitting the birthday shirt tradition (Hadley would probably play along until she’s 50 and Hayden was over it a couple of years agoπŸ˜‰) and that I could even part with the banner tradition if necessary. I just wanted to respect them and not cling tight to all the traditions I started when they were younger if they didn’t want all the hype #wheredidmybabiesgo

Both said they want the banner tradition to continue…So, maybe I will hang it next month when they turn 11. (How is that possible?!)

Birthday Party Decoration:

For their 3rd birthday party, I hot glued these buttons on a thick cardboard 3 that I purchased at Michael’s. Then, I hung it from the front door as a decoration for when guests arrived at the party. Super simple, colorful and fun.

Hadley’s Room:

When the kids were about 3 1/2, we gave them each their own room. I knew we’d prbably move that next year, so I didn’t want to paint. We got vinyl stickers with their names, and I added a few homemade decorations.

The hoops with fabric is one of my favorite ideas. So easy, inexpensive, and cute.

I painted Hadley’s bedside table white, and stapled tutu fabric around the sides. See, I’m all about the cute and easy craft and project!

I also made the kids each a canvas with a quote. I just bought the canvases at Michael’s, put vinyl letters on, painted over the letters, and then when the paint dried, I peeled the letters off. I mean I probably won’t open an Etsy shop for the signs, but I thought they were cute for a kid’s room and a quick project.

Hayden’s Room:

Travis and I completed Hayden’s magnet board when we moved into our current house. Travis had this wooden pane that he’d picked up years ago, and then I bought a piece of metal at Home Depot (or Lowes) that we cut down and then stapled to the back of the frame. Then, we hung it on one of the walls in his room.

This is Hayden’s quote canvas that I made when I made Hadley’s. The quote is from Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird (one of my favorite books!) #Englishteachernerd πŸ™‚ and I thought it fit perfectly for Hayden because he’s always been on the smaller side (probably more average sized now) but inquisitive and pretty studious. The canvas still hangs in his room now.

Kitchen Projects:

I had seen this valance idea on Pinterest, and tried it out on the window in our kitchen. All you need is fabric and hot glue. Yep. Hot glue. I did this project in about an hour…and always thought I’d replace it, but five years later, the valance still hangs in the window.

This wasn’t a huge project, but I love it because it has a piece of the original house in it. Travis found the window at Lexington Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Then, the “shutters” are part of a swinging cafe doors that used to hang in the entry way from the hall to the kitchen area in our house. The previous owners took them down, and we found them in the garage. So, we cut them in half, painted them, and hung them next to the window on the wall.

Chalk Paint:

A few summers ago, I was brave enough for my first chalk paint project. I painted our entry way table with chalk paint and antiquing wax.

A few months later, I painted our tv stand (that we now use in the sun room) with chalk paint and another glaze.

Then, I used the Limewash Glaze on an antique side table.

Lastly, one of my first quarantine projects was that I used the same Limewash Glaze on this table in our basement.

Here are the posts I wrote about my chalk paint projects and you can see the befores and afters:

Missouri/Kentucky Craft:

I made this Missouri/Kentucky burlap piece for the gallery wall in our former home. I included it in the gallery wall in our kitchen in this house. My former house was mostly reds and greens, so I chose the red color for the paint. I printed out the two states and laid them flat on a piece of burlap. I simply painted over them and then removed the cut outs to reveal the burlap. Then, I just put the finished burlap piece in a frame.

It’s a sweet nod to where I’m from and where Travis is from (and, of course, where we currently live)

Sometimes I’m not sure of the difference between a craft and a project. I guess projects may have more steps and take longer…so this post is probably a good mix of crafts and projects πŸ˜„Do you consider yourself to be crafty?

Next month’s topic is Shop the Holidays. It’s crazy to think we’ll soon being thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas! (And my kids turn 11 next month…time sure does fly!)

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

Have a great week,

Posted in Not Just a Mom, Self-care

Not Just a Mom: Skin Care Routine

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? The weather definitely felt like fall this weekend, and I’m not mad about it. We had a busy Saturday followed by a lazy and rainy Sunday.

It’s the second Monday of the month, so I’m linking up with Lauren, Ashley, and others for their Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is about skincare routine. I’d say I skated through my 20’s and didn’t do much for skincare. I’ve shared before, but I don’t think I even started taking my makeup off before bed until I turned 30 or so.

Through the years, I’ve started to use products for my skin that have become part of my routine. I’ve used Rodan + Fields and have a couple friends who sell Mary Kay, so I’ve used some of those products as well. The products and routine for today’s post are my pretty regular schedule, but I do supplement with R+F and MK at times.

Morning Routine:

  • I wash my face every morning with some kind of face wash. Recently, I discovered the Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel by Neutrogena, and I really love it.
  • Then, I use a cotton round to apply toner. I love the rose petal toner by Thayers, and I usually order it off Amazon.
  • Now, I’m not married to L’Oreal, but I use their day and night creams when not using R+F or MK. For the price point and convenience of purchasing at grocery and drug stores, it’s a good option for me to use daily.
  • I’ve recently started using the L’Oreal eye cream, and it’s helped with puffiness and dark circles under my eyes. #mamaisforevertired

Nighttime Routine:

  • I usually wash my face in the shower, and then use makeup removing wipes to get off any additional makeup I may have left on my face.
  • I again use a cotton round to apply facial toner.
  • Then, I sue the L’Oreal eye cream and night time moisturizer when not using other products.

Face Masks:

For the past few years, I’ve incorporated face masks into my weekly routine.

  • I love the Mary Kay Timewise Moisture Renewing Gel Mask, and I use it twice a week or so.
  • Another MK fave is the Deep Cleansing Charcoal Mask. It’s usually my Sunday morning face mask.
  • A few times a month, I will use the egg white mask by Skinfood. It’s a pore-refining cleanser, and helps my skin feel clean and fresh after use.

Other Items:

I mentioned recently that I’ve started using a jade roller in the morning. I keep this one in the fridge, and roll it on my face most mornings to help with puffiness and sinus pain.

Also, every other week or so, I try to use my steamer for a facial. My mom gave me this one for Christmas last year, and it’s been perfect to use at home.

I also do my best to drink water, and I always wear SPF…lesson learned from my younger years. I often where a hat when out in the sun, and try to find a chair with an umbrella at the pool!

Monthly Medspa:

Lastly, the best money I spend on myself is my monthly facial at a local medspa. I’ve been going for monthly facials for about four years. My club package includes one of the following each month: microdemabrasion, chemical peel, express facial, or dermaplane.

Each month, I usually double up and do two treatments (like a dermaplane and facial) or one treatment and an eye brow wax. Dermaplane has officially become my favorite treatment…#girlshaveyourface

I so look forward to my monthly appointments, and trust my esthetician Lauren with whatever she thinks I need each month. After each appointment, I always ask her, “Do I look 35 again?” πŸ˜‚I’m not over here trying to be 22…just trying to keep my 40 year old face looking fresh. Those monthly appointments feel like part luxury, part therapy, and part necessity. Sometimes I feel guilty with that monthly splurge, but I also know how important it is to keep your skin healthy…and I’m just trying to age gracefully πŸ˜‰

So that’s just a bit of my of my skincare routine. What do you do for your daily, weekly, monthly routines? Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts!

Next month’s topics is: getting crafty!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great week!