Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Traditions

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving

Hello and Happy Friday! We made it to the weekend. This week has definitely had its share of ups and downs, so needless to say, I’m ready for the weekend.

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

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It also feels like the most overlooked holiday smooshed right in between Halloween and Christmas. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about Thanksgiving from traditions, the food, and more!

My favorite things about Thanksgiving:

The Food:

Thanksgiving food is my favorite food of the entire year. I never really say no to carbs, but definitely not on Thanksgiving. Give me all of the mashed potatoes, rolls, macaroni and cheese and other carbs! I do love the turkey as well. A slice of pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of whipped cream is the perfect way to end the meal.

Fun fact: the only day of the year that I buy the school lunch is the Thursday before Thanksgiving. That’s when our district serves up their version of a Thanksgiving meal. I know the picture isn’t the best, but the food really is good!

The Leftovers, Y’all:

The leftovers are the best part of the meal! I always look forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving lunch when we reheat the turkey, the mashed potatoes, and anything else we have left to eat!

Also, did you see the soup recipe I shared in my Let’s Look post on Wednesday? It’s so good and a great way to use up your leftover turkey!

The Weather and FAll Colors:

The weather and the fall colors of the leaves always make the holiday even better! Whether we are in KC or KY, we tend to luck out with pretty mild weather.

Family:

Itโ€™s always great to see family around the holidays. It makes that time of the year even more special. Some years, we see my family in KC, and other years we see Trav’s family from various parts of Kentucky. This year, we probably won’t see family like we usually do, but hopefully we can get back on track with that tradition next year.

Thanksgiving through the years…
No stress of Gifts:

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving because of food, family, and….no gift giving! It’s nice just to show up, hang out, eat, and not feel overwhelmed with gift buying lists, wrapping, and hauling gifts from house to house (or state to state!)

The Parade:

I’ve always loved the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I remember watching it as a kid, and I always turn it on for my kids now too. I’m not saying I always watched every second of it, but it’s just nice to even have it on in the background while hanging out or cooking.

The Lights:

The Plaza lights in KC are always a must when we visit. On Thanksgiving evening, there is always a ceremony, a countdown, and then the lights are lit! Whether it’s right after Thanksgiving or when we visit at Christmas, we try to see them as a family.

I remember as a kid going with my family to drive through that part of town and look at the lights…followed by a hamburger and shake at Winsteads (another KC fave!)

Giving Thanks:

Of course, I try to give thanks on other days besides Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving does provide a time to pause, reflect, and give thanks for the blessings in my life.

One thing my school does is gratitude feathers. Students fill out the feathers for their teachers thanking them, and then they get put in teacher mailboxes for teachers to receive before Thanksgiving break. I never expect to receive a gratitude feather, but I always love when I do. The sweet messages keep me going during this time of the school year.

2019 gratitude feathers
Elementary Art:

Through the years, I’ve loved seeing what the kids bring home in their backpacks from school. Whether it’s a turkey or a cap with feathers, I always love talking with them about their masterpieces.

I’m sad that this year looks so different for Hayden and Hadley, and this is another example of “what would have been” if they were in school for a regular year. I doubt there will be any Thanksgiving artwork in middle school. #sadface

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday: Turkey Day Edition

Here are some kid and family pics through the years. Thankfully, they don’t fight me much when when I ask them to dress up a bit to see family!

Weekly Recap:

Even with this year looking differently, I continue to be thankful for family, friends, and our health.

What blessings are you counting this year?

Thanks so much for reading, and don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts too!

Have a great weekend,

Posted in Family, Traditions

Pumpkin Patch Recap

Today I’m recapping one of my favorite days of the year…our annual trip to the pumpkin patch.

On Friday, Hayden’s baseball practice was canceled which gave us an afternoon after school off from activities. Travis even got home a bit early, so we were able to leave right when I finished my school day. We go to Evan’s Orchard in Georgetown, and have been going there for four or five years.

I love the mix of activities, pumpkins, photo ops, and apple cider everything ๐Ÿ˜Š

Of course, upon arrival, I headed straight to the pumpkins…

while the kids headed straight to the apple cannon! I don’t remember them having this in the past, but the kids shot ten apples at the various targets (a truck, a ghost, etc), and we were all laughing at the hits and the misses.

I was impressed with how the orchard was set up. The area with most of the pumpkins, the apple cannon, and this corn stalk photo op is an area that typically isn’t used. So, this provided more space for people to spread out all over the orchard.

This cute pic of the kids is very 2020 with the masks around their necks, but I sure do miss the days where they let me dress them in a bright orange jack-o-lantern or boo shirt. At least they still like this tradition of going to pick out our carving pumpkins.

Family photo.

This little swing photo area was also new this year. Hadley couldn’t resist.

All the pumpkins you could ever ask for…

These are the pumpkins they picked for carving:

Mini pumpkins on the way inside the store…

where we also purchased two packs of apple cider donuts.

Hadley and Travis had ice cream as their treat while Hayden and I had apple cider slushies. It was the first time I’d had one, and it was so delish and refreshing.

I also picked up these mini wooden pumpkins to add to my ongoing collection.

We enjoyed our treats while sitting by the big pumpkins.

I swear they look 10 going on 16 in this pic!

Then, Hayden talked us into a bag of kettle corn for the road. We figured “why not?” since we all could share it. A medium bag is plenty big and lasted the rest of the weekend.

This is the second year we didn’t pay for the play area …1. because of lack of time and 2. because of Covid. That’s why I obliged on a few extra treats and pumpkins when it was all said and done.

Again, it was definitely a good outside outing with masks, social distancing, and protocols being followed.

The pumpkin patch and this front porch view are two of my favorite things about this season!

I can’t wait for tomorrowโ€™s Letโ€™s Look link up. It’s all about…pumpkins. My fave! I couldn’t miss out on that!

Happy pumpkin season, y’all!

Posted in Friday Favorites, Kids, School, Traditions

Friday Favorites: Back to School Edition and Other Faves!

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

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

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

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

Favorite Traditions:

First Day of School: 5th Grade Pics

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

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

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

Back to School Breakfast:

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

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

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

Books:

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

My big 5th graders!

Cookies:

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

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

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

Flashback Friday:

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

Kindergarten:

1st grade:

2nd grade:

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

3rd grade:

4th grade:

4th

Other Faves:

Other favorites from the week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to throw a strikeout!
Up to bat!

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

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

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

Thursday lunch
Thursday dinner

Favorite Kid Quote:

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

Favorite Sweet Treat:

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

Favorite Mom Meme:

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

Friday Funny

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

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

What are some of your favorites from the week?

Weekly Recap:

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

Take care,

Posted in School, Traditions

Not Just a Mom: Back to School Freedom

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Ours was actually pretty laid back with only a baseball game on Saturday. We started our weekend early on Friday by going for a family hike (more about that tomorrow!). Saturday afternoon, Hayden had a baseball game, and Saturday night we had a patio get together with neighbors. Sunday had me soaking in my final day of summer.

Speaking of which, today is my first day of school as far as teacher responsibilities go. For now, I’m working from home as much as I can until we get in a groove with the kids once they start back virtually.

I’m linking up with Lauren, Ashley, and others for their Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is “Back to School Freedom.”

Well, I donโ€™t usually gain any freedom when school starts back as I swap my two kids for about 150 high schoolers ๐Ÿ˜‰

This year, those two kids are starting the 5th grade virtually as I work mostly from home as well. So, understand these pandemic circumstances I donโ€™t think I will have much freedom.

That being said, since we are talking about back to school, I thought Iโ€™d share a few more in-depth details about our traditional Back to School Breakfast on the first day of school.

Iโ€™ve mentioned this tradition a couple times recently, and I know it may seem like a lot of work, but I wanted to take a minute to share the methods behind my madness, and that really the cute breakfast set up only takes a few minutes.

Back 2 School Breakfast 2019 (4th grade)

Decorations:

Hayden’s breakfast place setting:

Hadley’s breakfast place setting:

I have a couple of these chalkboards from Hobby Lobby that I use for their first day of school photos.

The kids have had these clipboards since preschool, so I use one to display the Back to School Breakfast sign which is glued on to wide lined writing paper. We had pads of that paper when the kids were learning to write.

I have this basket as a decoration on our built ins, so I just borrow it and add a few apples for decoration. I put the muffins on a cake plate for decoration but also for them to grab and eat before getting ready.

Specifics on a few decorations:

A: Years ago, I printed the Back to School Breakfast page from Pinterest. (And, as I mentioned above, I just glued it on a piece of wide lined paper.)

B: I purchased the paper apples from Amazon. There are quite a few in the pack, so I just use one each year to write their grade.

C: I also got the This School Year Will Be the Best! book from Amazon years ago. When the kids were little, we’d read it together the evening of the first day of school.

D: Again, another Amazon purchase with the red and white checkered napkins. There are many in the pack, and I just fold one in half to sit on their plate each year.

E: The best pencils around. Dixon Ticonderoga! I just keep this same pack of pencils to use as a decoration in a mason jar for the breakfast.

F: I think last year was the first year I started using a folder and sticky note for a placemat after getting that idea from Andrea (which is where I also got the Back to School Breakfast idea. She does a “brinner” the night before school starts.) I had the sticky notes on hand and picked up the folders while back to school supply shopping with the kids.

G: The black plates and colorful cups I picked up a Target a couple of years ago.

Food:

My kids like these Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffins. I make them occasionally, and when I do, I usually make two packs and freeze some.

So, I make these the night before and serve with strawberries and yogurt. So, nothing fancy, but different than their typical waffle or cereal bar.

Goodies:

I’ve lucked out the past couple of years with these cute cookies from Maddie’s Cookie Co. here in Lexington. The mini cookies are perfect for a decoration on their placemat, and the perfect lunch or after school treat.

Amazon always comes in clutch with a book with the kids’ grade. This year, I found Tales of the Fifth-Grade Knight for Hayden, and President of the Whole Fifth Grade for Hadley.

Then, everything goes in this storage tub until the next school year! I truly am able to decorate in ten minutes because I just store everything in this tub.

So, those are just a few details of our traditional Back to School Breakfast. Do you have any back to school traditions? I shared how we prep for back to school in a post last week.

Enjoy these last few days of summer! I know we’ll make the best of this school year no matter if it’s in person, virtually, or a hybrid schedule.

Also, moms of little ones…don’t blink. I clearly remember taking this first day of kindergarten picture five years ago. (and wiping away tears as I dropped them off in their classrooms.) ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Now, my kids are on their last year of elementary school. How is that even possible?

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts and link up next month to talk about your skin care and make up routine.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a great week.

Posted in School, Traditions

My Back to School Prep

Well, it’s August which means it’s definitely time to start thinking about heading back to school. Of course, 2020 “back to school” looks so different for everyone this year. To be honest, in times of uncertainty, I cling to routine and traditions which is what this post is all about.

Also of random note…Today is my 200th blog post, and Tuesday was my one year anniversary of my very first Show Me and Sweet Tea blog post. Time sure flies! So did the summer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I saw this on an Instagram story and LOL’d ๐Ÿ˜‰

And this one…#truth

As a teacher and as a parent, I have routines and traditions for myself as I prepare to start a new school year. I also have the same for my kids as they start a new year too.

As a Teacher, I…

  • Buy a cute lesson plan book and Paper Mate felt tip markers. I’m pretty loyal with my Blue Sky Planners that I usually buy, but I bought this one from Amazon this year to try. I always purchase new colorful pens to write down dates and tasks.
  • Write down important dates. In my planner, I always take some time to write down dates that we don’t have school, meeting times, and kids’ activities. I always feel overwhelmed at the start of the new school year, but having everything written down helps easy that anxiety.
  • Complete small tasks each day. I will be the first to admit that once the calendar turns to August 1st, I kind of panic. August 1st means summer is almost over and school is close to starting. So, to make myself feel better, I try to tackle a small school task or two as I can per day. So, one day I write down the dates in my lesson plan book. Another day, I might update my syllabus and go make copies. On a different day, I may set up all my Google Classroom and Remind text codes. Crossing those small tasks off starting early August makes me feel like I have a huge chunk of my day left to enjoy time with my kids, go to a movie, or hang out at the pool.
  • Finish my professional development hours. Teachers in my district have to have 24 professional development hours each year. Every summer, I knock those hours out before starting the school year. That’s usually pretty easy, as we typically have a 6 hour district day to focus on curriculum, a 6 hour English department day in August as well as a 6 hour school professional development day a couple days before school starts. Typically, I get the other 6 hours by going to a technology conference that the district usually hosts in June. This summer was different, but I was able to do the tech conference online, we will still have our school PD, and I completed a technology requirement for Canvas that’s 6 hours. So, the past week or so, I’ve been crossing off an hour at a time with online PD hosted my our media center specialist. Anyway, the point is that I don’t want time to catch up with me getting those hours and put off doing something I have more time to complete in the summer.
  • Get prepared for first week, so I can leave school ASAP. After setting up my classroom, I always plan the first three days of school, make all the copies, make sure technology links work, etc. The first couple weeks of school are so exhausting, and I’m always anxious to hear about my kids’ first few days as well. So, I like to be as prepared as possible in order to leave as soon as I can after school to get home.

This year’s planner and new pens! They make my teacher heart happy.

My classroom:

I make my classroom a comfortable place to be, so that I want to be there as well as the students. Itโ€™s warm, inviting, organized, and tidy.

This was my classroom last year before I moved down the hall. It was all set up for homeroom on the first day of school 2019.

2020. Right? ๐Ÿ˜‚

As a Parent, I…

  • Start back to school tasks a couple weeks before going back to school. Tasks like getting hair cuts, finishing summer reading, ordering backpacks, and getting school supplies always creep up on us if I don’t start crossing them off the list around the beginning of August.
  • Look at the Summer Fun list with a couple of weeks left of summer. The kids and I look to see what we haven’t incorporated into our summer yet and plan a few more fun activities. By early August, trips are usually completed or we don’t have any more time, but we’ll squeeze in a movie or an ice cream date.
  • Take the kids back to school shopping for supplies. I take my kids, each with their list, to Walmart to get their school supplies. I find that this gets them excited about school starting. They usually cross items off as they find them, and they each choose their own color folders, notebooks, pencil boxes, etc. Then, if we can’t find something, I still have time to order on Amazon.
  • Have a positive attitude. This is mostly a reminder for myself ;), but I find if I’m excited about school, the kids are too.
  • Start adjusting bedtime/wake up time. During the school year, we’re pretty firm with the bed time, but it tends to get pushed back in the summer. Starting the beginning of August, I start making the kids come in from playing outside earlier than in the summer. Then, I try to get them into bed a little earlier each week. Also, as much as I love that my kids sleep in past 9 am, I start waking them at 9:00, 8:45, 8:30 and so on leading up to the start of school.
  • Plan our back to school breakfast. I have all the breakfast decorations in a box, so that’s easy to get everything situated when they go to bed. I just make sure to bake the muffins and buy extra fruit, etc. for a special breakfast. Starting the second day of school, I’m usually throwing a Poptart at them while they make their beds ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Plan a fun activity for after school. The past few years we’ve lucked out with no practices or anything on the first day of school. So, we’ve made a point to hang out at the pool, eat dinner out, or go get ice cream as a way to be together and hear all about the first day!
Back to school haircuts and supplies, 2017

Our Back to School Breakfast is always something to look forward to. Next year, middle school starts later, so I may move to a Back to School Brinner the night before!

2019

I’ve already said that I can’t believe it’s the last year of elementary for my kids, but I also can’t believe that I will be starting my 19th year of teaching! Crazy!

Soak in these last days of summer before we head back to school in 2020 style!

Posted in Friday Favorites, Traditions

Friday Favorites

Whew! We made it to Friday. I spent so much time trying to get my life together this week that I’m exhausted ๐Ÿ˜‰ I feel like this was our first full week of summer (at home) and maybe we are getting into a groove?

I’m linking up with Erika and Andrea for this Friday Favorites post.

Favorite Pic:

We sure missed Homer while on vacation. This sweet face greeted us on Saturday when we got home.

Favorite Moment:

We went to Evans Orchard and picked strawberries this week. We’d never done that before, so I thought it would be fun. This is the orchard we usually go to when we pick out our pumpkins and is about a 30 minute drive from Lexington.

The orchard decides how many quarts they have available for picking and at 5:00 posts the quarts for sale ($6/quart and limit 2 per order) on their website for you to pick the next day. Some days they have more quarts for sale than other days. That being said, I set an alarm on my phone for 5:00 Monday to buy the quarts for Tuesday. I know some have mentioned when they have limited quarts they sell out quickly.

Anyway, we arrived around 11:00 on Tuesday and went in to get our purchased quarts. Once we got to the strawberry “patch” we were assigned a lane to stay in to pick our berries. While we were there, there was only one other family. We took our time picking our berries in lane 7 and then went inside to purchase their apple cider donuts. #myweakness I didn’t realize they sold the donuts year round! I was only going to get on 6 pack, but Hayden talked be into buying two packs #twistmyarm

So, I shared these photos on Facebook and had a few people comment that they’d never seen a strawberry patch like this. Like I said, this was our first time going, so I knew no different! Each column of berries spins around, so you can find the best berries. Apparently, strawberries usually grow on the ground. #Imnotafarmer

We got our $6/quart worth!

Favorite Kid Quote:

I don’t necessarily have a favorite kid quote this week, but we did go see my brother and his family for my brother’s birthday. The kids played and had a good time together. They hadn’t really played together for quite some time. It was sweet seeing them run around and have fun together.

Favorite Shows:

Some new (to me) shows I’ve been watching are: House in a Hurry, Good Bones, and Alexa & Katie.

Earlier this summer, I stumbled upon House in a Hurry. Basically, the people are on a time crunch to find a home, so it’s kind of like a quick version of House Hunters. That being said, you get to know the people and their lives a bit more. A couple of episodes had me in tears. One man grew up in a one bedroom apartment with many family members, and he was moving his family to Arizona from California to cut down on his drive time to work, so he could spend more time with this family. Two of his three kids have special needs. Once they found their home, he was in tears with appreciation and relief.

Compare that to another episode where the couple had a $1M budget to move to Florida and the wife came off cold, controlling, and out of touch with reality! So there’s a mix, but seeing that tense episode made me appreciate the even more heart warming episodes that much more.

While in Florida, I stumbled upon Good Bones. I’ve heard of it, but just never watched it. Hayden and I watched some episodes, but then when I got home, I started on Season 1. I really like it.

Lastly, Hadley has always watched Alexa & Katie on Netflix. I knew the premise and had seen that the mom on the show is Tiffani Thiessen who I love from my Saved by the Bell days! Anyway, Hadley started the last and final season, and I watched a few episodes. So, now I’ve started season 1 and Hadley’s been watching it with me. We usually just watch one episode in the morning while having coffee (for me) and breakfast (for her).

Favorite Mom Meme:

Adulting. #amIright?

This meme made me laugh out loud! Thankfully, my kids are good sleepers. In the summer, I used to always threaten Travis to be quiet while getting ready for work as to let the kids sleep as long as possible. As they’ve gotten older (and thanks to sound machines in their rooms), they seem to sleep through most anything until at least 9:00…maybe even later if I’m lucky!

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

This sweet pic popped up my Facebook memories. Isle of Palm, SC. June 2013. Obviously, the hand holding is sweet, but for whatever reason, Hayden holding the little plastic boat slays me!

Flash forward to June 2014 and I planned ahead for a cute beach pic session when we vacationed at Folly Beach, SC. The kids were bribed big time with ice cream…and I’m not ashamed of it!

Weekly Recap

Here are my other posts from this week.

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

Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Traditions

Friday Favorites: Traditions

What a crazy busy week it’s been…and I’m so glad that it’s Friday!

With a busy family and lots of activities, it’s the time of the year where I pencil in some of our traditions in order to make sure they continue! This got me thinking about some of our favorite traditions throughout the year….so I thought I’d share!

Winter

In December, we visit the Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park. Even when I was a kid, we’d visit lights at a nearby park, and I continued that tradition once Travis and I started dating…and of course continued it when we had kids. I may be wrong, but since 2002, I’m pretty sure the only year we missed driving through lights either in Missouri or at the Kentucky Horse Park was 2009….when I had one month old twins. Apparently, I was too sleep deprived and hormonal to ensure the tradition carried on that year. When we drive through the Kentucky Horse Park, the kids usually have hot chocolate and popcorn while Travis and I have coffee. We enjoy seeing the same lights each year along with new ones they’ve added in. Pro Tip: Go on a weeknight (it’s cheaper) but even better…a Monday night…less crowded. There are activities to do inside, but my kids don’t even realize you can go inside! haha.

A few Christmas traditions include seeing Santa (of course), building a gingerbread house (from a kit—I’m no over-achiever!), and we usually take one evening in December to go out somewhere and let the kids pick a Christmas gift out for each other (to be opened Christmas morning) followed by dinner out at a restaurant. We also go together to purchase gifts for kids on Lexington’s Angel Tree.

We typically visit my family in Kansas City for Christmas. During that time, we make our family’s traditional German waffle cookies. The waffle iron was brought to the United States by my ancestors, and it’s over 100 years old (and very heavy!) Also, we try to visit the Plaza Lights in KC which was a tradition my family had when I was a kid.

Since the kids were little, on the first snow day of the school year (we usually have at least have one—and some years ten!), I make snowman pancakes. We always have pancake mix on hand anyway as well as bacon and marshmallows (for hot chocolate), so I just make sure to have a pack of M&Ms for eyes, nose, and buttons. I’ve even used a leftover candy cane from the holidays for a scarf. The kids always enjoy this breakfast, and we are all excited when we get an unexpected day off from school!

Another favorite tradition we’ve been doing for years is tubing at Perfect North with two of our favorite families. It’s gotten a lot more fun now that the kids can lug around their own tubes!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

This Santa is always the best…and there’s always a long line!
The kids are almost too big for Santa’s lap…not sure how many years we have left.

Spring

In the springtime, I always look forward to St. Patrick’s Day. Growing up, we’d always have cornbeef and cabbage as well as Irish Soda Bread. So, I make all of that each year, and we all love it.

There’s nothing better than Keeneland Horse racing in April and October. We used to have all the free time in the world to go with friends, tailgate, and make a day (or two) of it at the track. Now, a free afternoon takes lots of planning, but we try to make it happen.

And…Travis is always super busy with work at Oaks and Derby time, but I enjoy going to Oaks Day with him. The city of Louisville certainly comes alive during that week.

Just like I take beginning of the school year photos, I also take end of the year photos as well. I clearly remember the last day of school when the kids were in kindergarten…unprompted, they high-fived each other by the school sign. So, of course, now I make them do that each year…they love me (hate me) for making them do it. Only a couple more years of elementary school (insert sad face). Even the school’s crossing guard knows I’m going to take the beginning and end of the year photos.

Then, we always go out to dinner on the last day of school with one of our friends. Considering how busy we all are, I really don’t know how we’ve kept this tradition alive, but I’m glad that we have.

Summer

When I was thinking of summer traditions, I totally blanked. We must not have very many, but of course, we go on vacation and also have a neighborhood get together at the end of the summer.

On the 4th of July, I always make red, white, and blue waffles. Easy and delicious.

Fall

Even though it’s 90 degrees when it’s time to go back to school, I still consider that fall. Back to school means my back to school breakfast for the kids. Of course, that’s when I get the first day of school photo too.

In the fall, we always make a trip to the orchard to pick out pumpkins and get apple cider donuts.

The families in our neighborhood try to get together to carve pumpkins a few days before Halloween. We hosted this year. Chili, hot apple cider, and parents doing all the carving…what’s not to love?

Once November hits, it’s all things birthday for Hayden and Hadley. I buy their birthday shirt and we start planning the party.

One More Tradition…

One of my favorite traditions is the “You are Special” red plate. We had one of these growing up that my mom would use for our dinner when we accomplished a goal, had a good day, or had something to celebrate. A few years ago, she bought one for my family, and I love keeping this tradition alive. This week, the kids each used it for dinner one day to congratulate them on a successful cross country season as well as good grades on their report cards. I put Trav’s dinner on it one evening as a thank you from the kids for being their cross country coach as well as for working so hard during the horse sales this month.

Real talk: I used to be much better about using this plate for celebrations, but sometimes I end up using it to celebrate many things at once because time has slipped away.

I feel like I’m forgetting a tradition or two, but I love keeping these traditions alive for my family. What traditions do you have with your family?

Don’t forget to check out Narci, Andrea, and Erika’s Friday Favorites.

Have a great weekend!

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Traditions

Pumpkin Patch

Happy Wednesday! I touched on it a bit in Monday’s post, but going to the pumpkin patch in the fall is hands down my most favorite family tradition.

Through the years, we’ve gone with family, with friends, and with just the four of us. We were limited on time on Sunday before Hayden’s soccer game, but we made it to Evans Orchard for about an hour and a half on Sunday. Rather than wait in the long line to buy tickets for the activity area, we just took our time looking at pumpkins, getting our hot apple cider and apple cider donuts, and enjoying the nice weather.

I love that Evans Orchard changes the picture backdrop each year, and I’m even happier that my kids know the way to my heart is a good family photo. #hushupandsmile!

Trips to the orchard used to just be Travis and myself, and we haven’t missed a year at an orchard since the kids were born…and here’s the collage to prove it! 2010 – 2018.

2010 to 2018

2019 pic!

The weather was perfect on Sunday. Some years it’s soooo hot and last year was freeeeeezing…I couldn’t believe it. The weather was so cold that I almost broke tradition, but of course, I’m glad I didn’t.

Trav and the kids
Hadley always asks me to take the photo in portrait mode #diva

My favorite part is seeing the pumpkins in various sizes, shapes, and colors. I swear when I was a kid these kinds of pumpkins didn’t exist.

We learned a long time ago that one 6 pack of donuts isn’t enough, so we at least buy two!

I don’t remember this photo op last year at Evans Orchard, but I loved it. And, what I loved more was Hadley said, “Mom, take our picture by the truck!” #girlaftermyownheart

Hot apple cider and pumpkins…what more could you ask for?

And, lastly, a pic with my two pumpkins. They sure are getting big! They each chose a great pumpkin to carve, and we will do that closer to Halloween…Don’t get me started with pumpkin carving…someone always ends up crying. haha. Why do my kids overestimate their parents’ pumpkin carving skills?!

That’s a wrap on our traditional pumpkin patch visit. What are your favorite fall traditions and activities?

I hope you are having a great week,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweetea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in School, Traditions

Back to School (Breakfast!)

We started back to school this week…and the go to bed at a decent time / wake up early struggle is real (for the adults as well as the kids!) Once the kids started kindergarten, I decided I better go all in to get them excited about going back to school. To be honest, my goal with sending them off to school to have the best day ever is also for myself. Each year, I’m a little sad when I realize how quickly time is passing. Also, each year, it’s hard for me to get in my own back to school groove. While I’m always happy to get back in my classroom and meet new students, it’s not as simple as that. As a teacher, with the return to school, it also means: meetings, organizing my classroom, planning lessons, making copies, learning 150 new names, writing a professional growth plan, evaluations, waking up early…the list goes on and on…as well as juggling life and activities at home.

One of my favorite blogs to read is Momfessionals. She is a teacher as well and does a Back to School Brinner (breakfast for dinner) the night before school starts. http://www.momfessionals.com/2019/08/back-to-school-brinner.html#more

After reading about her brinner a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to start the Back to School Breakfast tradition at my house.

It may look like a lot of effort goes into kicking the school year off right for my family, but I have it down to a science now, and I keep all my props in a tub with lid that I just pull out when it’s time for our Back to School Breakfast.

I set up the night before school starts. I’m always afraid I will forget something in the morning if I wait until then.

I bake the muffins a day or two before. Usually, I ‘m throwing a PopTart at them to eat in the morning, so I’m always happy to start the school year with muffins, yogurt, and strawberries. The muffins are just made from a Betty Crocker mix. Easy peasy.

I printed the “Back to School Breakfast” page off of the internet back when the kids were in kindergarten and have kept it in a folder for safe keeping.

Like most of my back to school books, I found This School Year Will Be the Best Yet on Amazon a few years ago. When the kids were younger, we usually read it after the first day of school, but now that doesn’t seem to always happen.

I always just pull a few apples from the fridge to add as decoration, and the kids snack on them later, of course.

I’ve had this chalkboard for years. I actually have a couple of them, and sometimes I use them around the house. After using it for a breakfast decoration, the kids use it for the back to school pictures I make them take ๐Ÿ˜‰

I believe this is the third year that I’ve purchased back to school cookies for the kids. I’ve had such great luck buying cookies from some local ladies to support their small businesses. These cookies are from Maddie’s Cookie Company here in Lexington,and I’ve even taken a couple of decorating classes from her. I always have so much fun and dream of doing this one day on the side…but it takes so much time and effort. I certainly understand the price point after seeing what goes in to making these cookies.

The black plates, book, napkins and paper apples all came from Amazon. Honestly, it was a 20 pack of napkins, but I use the same folded one every year. The apples came in a pack as well, and I just use a new one each year and write their new grade level on it. I think this is the second year I’ve use the folder as a placemat with the same sticky note with their name on it. The placemat idea came from the Momfessionals blog. Lastly, I’m always surprised with what books I find on Amazon after searching for whatever grade the kids are starting. Thankfully, both my kids like to read, so it’s a way to keep them reading and give them something to start the year.

Luckily, the kids oblige with my back to school pictures, and I appreciate it. Time is flying by, and it’s nice to have the pictures to compare each year. (while I’m curled up in the corner crying ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hadley’s shirt is the best: More Summer Please!

It’s such a blessing to live so close to our kids’ elementary school. We always walk the first day (and I snap a backpack picture). We usually walk 2-3 days a week until November and then again in the spring when it warms up after spring break. We’d walk every day, but I have to hustle to school, so dropping off some days does provide for a quicker turn around time for me. I really enjoy walking with them, and Travis joins us on the walk as well (and this year, Homer too!)…thus giving the two of us 1:1 time when we walk home to get a plan for whatever activities we have going on after school or that week.

This year, their school really welcomed the students with cute and colorful yard signs!

Lastly, here’s my classroom as I start my 18th year of teaching. I’m hoping all three of us have a great year!

It’s hard to believe that I only have one more back to school breakfast for the kids before they start middle school. Middle school has a later start time, so I may have to use the Back to School Brinner idea because who knows what our mornings will look like once the kids are in 6th grade?! It may sound cheesy, but I always want all three of us to start the year putting our best feet forward, and I think the breakfast tradition is a great way to set the tone for the year.

I hope everyone has had a great first week of school. I’ve taken a nap every afternoon this week as the back to school transition is always the hardest on me! I’m planning on resting up this weekend before all of our activities start up next week!

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea