Posted in Traditions

Kentucky Classics: Oaks/Derby

Hello and happy Tuesday.

While I think most people know that the Kentucky Derby is the “greatest two minutes in sports,” many aren’t as familiar with the Kentucky Oaks. Last year, I wrote this post sharing all about the Oaks.

The first week in May in Louisville is pretty festive. It used to just be Oaks and then Derby, but as the years have gone on and there’s horse racing all week, there are many days of fun.

Thurby (Thursday before Derby) is another busy day at Churchill Downs. Now, another big day is the Tuesday before Derby which is dubbed “502-uesday” (the Louisville area code). Now, many Louisville locals use that day the have fun at the track because so many from out of town are now there the rest of the week.

Anyway, Travis is pretty busy throughout that week, but he usually goes to Thurby with friends, and then I join him in Louisville on Friday for Oaks. We’ve done this for quite a few years as when the kids were little, it was hard to get away…or they had sports on the Saturday of Derby. Honestly, I think Travis really enjoys Derby at home now because he watches the races all day, has the tv on, his computer out, and has fun keeping tabs on everything and placing bets. I’m sure some day we’ll get back to going to Derby, but for now, this schedule seems to work for us.

We talk about having a Derby party, but the month of May is just so busy and hectic with kids’ activities and school, I’m usually just lucky to commit to going to the Oaks.

I always buy a new dress for Oaks, and I usually order a few, hoping one works, and then return the others.

Since pink is the color for Oaks (as the Oaks race honors breast and ovarian cancer survivors), I always look for a dress with pink in it…or one that could be worn with a pink fascinator. That’s what I did last year…

Well, this year I was really cutting it close, and had a few dresses arrive on my doorstep Thursday afternoon. (I did have one in my closet that I was going to wear if all else failed, but was hopeful one of the ones I ordered would work).

Well, guess what…I had a couple I liked, but my favorite was this one…from Amazon!

As soon as I put this dress on, I loved it so much. (I honestly want to get it in another color!)

Once I decided on the dress, I second guessed the fascinator that I had, and reached out to my friends.

My neighbor let me borrow this one…and Hadley snagged it off her porch.

Who wore it better?! haha (Actually, don’t answer that!)

Hadley wearing the fascinator reminded me of a few years ago when I borrowed one from the same friend…and Hadley looked like quite the fashionista!

Anyway…off to the races!

I picked up Travis from our friends’ house in Louisville, and took a quick photo!

Then, we headed to…

Thankfully, Travis knows a guy who lets us park right by the track. My feet were already thanking him.

Every year, we seem to end up sitting somewhere different, and it’s always a fun experience. We’ve sat in the Finish Line suites, an outside box near the finish, the Turf Club, and this year, were were in the outside Winner’s Circle suites.

Trav’s work had two suites in that area for Oaks. One was right behind the winner’s circle and the other was on the end.

I never really place any bets. If I do, it’s a simple bet based on the name (or if there’s a connection to Trav’s farm).

The Lily is the signature drink on Oaks Day. There was also a buffet inside with food and desserts. There is a bartender for each suite as well as one near the food.

We went to the paddock area before a few races. On Derby day this is where KC Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said the famous, “Riders up!”

After a few races, we walked around and found our friends/neighbors. I have Krista to thank for the fascinator!

The green space in front of the suite was a nice spot to watch the races, and snap a couple of pics.

The weather was amazing. Honestly, it was hot. That being said, I’d take a hot day over a rainy one. The past few Oaks have had a significant chance of rain. Friday’s forecast called for afternoon showers, but we never saw a drop of rain. Derby day weather was the same…it did eventually rain, but it was after the race.

Before the Oaks race, breast and ovarian cancer survivors walk around the track. It’s a moving experience seeing all the survivors in pink and Rachel Platten sang “Fight Song” as they walked.

The Oaks race is always exciting. Congrats to this year’s Oaks winner, Pretty Mischievous.

Then we stayed for the race after the Oaks because Trav’s farm had a horse running.

Then, we headed home. Thankfully, the walk to the car wasn’t too bad. Traffic was a bit hectic at first, but Travis knows the back ways. haha

We pit stopped for a snack, and then told the kids we’d order some pizza to pick up on our way home. We were both so tired that I also told the kids Travis and I were going to bed by 10! I really was asleep by then. It was such a long (but fun!) day.

Derby Day

Y’all, I couldn’t sleep Saturday morning, and I woke up around 5:00. I ended up watching quite a bit of King Charles’s coronation. Around 8:00, I told Travis I was going to shut my eyes for a bit. Then, I woke up at 11:30. Can you believe it?!

Thankfully, we didn’t have much planned…and spent most of the day at home. Like I said above, Travis worked a bit (phone calls, etc), watched all the races, and placed some bets. (He does a few large group bets too.) Hayden wasn’t feeling well, so it was a good day of downtime for him too.

I guess we all just needed a day to recoup.

My mom does more on Derby day than we do! In KC, she throws a party every year. It’s fun to see her friends in their hats, holding their Derby draw winnings, and “loser” cups. She has a quite a few cute decorations that she’s acquired through the years.

I did go to the grocery store before the Derby to pick up steaks and sides for dinner.

Then it was time for the race…

Congrats to Mage, the 2023 Derby Winner!

After the race, Travis grilled out, and we ate as a family on the patio. Overall, it was a really great day at the track and then a relaxing day at home. To me, that’s the best of both worlds.

Posted in Holidays, Traditions

Fall Fun

Hello!

With our non-stop activities and going in a million different directions, we seem to have to “schedule” in the fun things.

One of the best things about October in Lexington is Keeneland. There’s no place like it in the fall.

Pre-kids, we’d go with friends a few times a meet and even tailgate beforehand…and go to dinner after! Obviously, life is more hectic now, but I like to go to the races at least once in the fall and the spring. It’s always fun to bump into friends and people that you know. Travis is there quite a bit for work, and sometimes I will tag along. When the kids were in elementary school, he’d usually pick them up once or twice and take them for the last few races. It’s just a fun thing to do especially when the weather is nice!

I shared a post all about Keeneland last spring…and here are a few pics with the kids…

through the years…

and now…

We were able to go to the last few races on Friday, and I’m so glad we made it work!

The first race we were there, Travis had the kids each choose a horse, and he placed a trifecta bet…

…and they WON!

Hadley actually had winners in almost every race…and they hit another trifecta too. Hadley said, “This is easy!” {follow us for more parenting tips…}

Keeneland has great food and some great people watching too.

We had a really great afternoon. While it was a short visit to Keeneland, it was a good one!

Other weekend fun:

On Sunday, Hadley helped me put out the cobwebs, spiders and skeletons.

Then, the kids carved their pumpkins. I will say that while it’s bittersweet how quickly they are growing up, I’m not mad about the fact they can carve their own pumpkins!

They both had a “vision” and executed the plan. I love this tradition, and I hope we can do it every year.

When I shared my Pumpkin Everything post a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I wanted to try the Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Cake that I’d saved on Pinterest.

I added the ingredients to my Clicklist order this weekend, and made the cake on Sunday.

I followed this recipe…

Ingredients:

Mix and put in slow cooker…

Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip on top. We all enjoyed some after carving pumpkins on Sunday night.

It was so good! Now I’m thinking this is a fun way to make a cake without having to worry about the oven!

What are some of your favorite fall activities where you live? I’m so glad we made sure to get in a couple of our traditions this fall.

Tomorrow, I’m sharing the books I read this month.

I hope you have a great day!

Posted in Holidays, Traditions

Pumpkin Patch Time

Hey there! On Sunday, we went to the pumpkin patch which is one of my favorite days of the year.

Simon Holland cracks me up, and his pumpkin patch quotes are the best. On Sunday, we kept it pretty simple…no corn mazes, hay rides or sign purchasing happened, but we did have a great time.

We used to spend hours at the pumpkin patch letting the kids run around, go down the slides, pet the animals, jump on the inflatables, and more. That being said, right around Covid time, they probably aged out of those things anyway. So, the past couple of years have been more about enjoying the scenery on the drive there, walking around a bit, buying all the seasonal snacks, picking out carving pumpkins and heading home.

We go to Evans Orchard in Georgetown. This is the same place where we picked strawberries a couple of summers ago.

The weather was overcast (I remember going so many times when the kids were little and sweating in the hot temps!), and the temps were pretty cool. We actually had a few raindrops fall on us during out time there.

Can’t beat this sight:

The front porch is always so festive and cute.

There were a few raindrops right as we arrived, so we headed inside for our favorite snacks. We picked up some apple cider donuts, Hayden got a cold apple cider while the rest of us got hot apple cider, and then Travis always falls for the “buy 2, get 1 free” fudge. So, we wandered around the store a bit and then purchased our items.

My favorite part is looking at all the different kinds of pumpkins.

Hadley saw the muted colored pumpkins in the top left photo and said they were my “vibe.” She’s not wrong!

Every year, they always organize the pumpkins in different ways which is always so fun to see.

I was tempted, but I didn’t pick up any more pumpkins for the porch!

This carved pumpkin caught my eye:

The kids obliged for a photo by one of the set ups they had…

Then, they picked out their pumpkins to carve.

We paid for the pumpkins, walked around a bit more, and then headed home!

So it was a quick trip, but I still enjoy this tradition so much.

Then, I immediately inhaled two donuts when I get home ๐Ÿ˜‚ and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

Through the years…

I’ve shared this collage before, and I still love it so much. Travis and I have actually gone to the pumpkin patch every year we’ve been married. So, of course when we had the kids, we had to continue the tradition. (or at least that’s what I told him…๐Ÿ˜‚)

Here they are in 2010–2018:

2019

2020

2021

and… this year…2022.

(Hadley’s getting a lot of wear out of her pumpkin sweatshirt I got her last year.)

Other Favorite Memories

In 2015, I went with the kids on their kindergarten field trip to Boyd’s Orchard. I loved going with them, seeing them run around, learn, hang with their friends, and pick pumpkins.

In 2016, Hadley’s Daisy troop went to Evan’s Orchard, and that’s when we made the shift as a family and started going there. It’s a little more spread out than Boyd’s, and when it’s crowded, that really makes a difference.

(Speaking of getting wear out of a shirt…clearly, I had a pumpkin patch outfit in 2015 and 2016. Actually, I still own that plaid Old Navy flannel. It’s a fave, for sure.)

I feel like we are so busy, but I told the kids and Travis that the pumpkin patch in October and Christmas lights at the Kentucky Horse Park in December are two traditions I want to make happen for as many years as possible! Even if we have to squeeze in a time to make that happen, I’m going to do it.

What’s your favorite fall tradition?

Posted in Meals and Recipes, Not Just a Mom, Traditions

Not Just a Mom: Family Food Traditions

Hello! How was your weekend? We got back late Saturday night, and I’m still up to my eyeballs in laundry, suitcases, and errands. I’m going to continue to chip away at that stuff today too.

I swear…after the 4th of July, the summer just really starts to slip away. It’s already the second Monday of the month, so I’m co-hosting this fun link up with some of my favorite bloggers.

So far this year, we’ve discussed:

This month’s topic is: family food traditions.

Today, I’m sharing the first few food traditions of ours that immediately came to mind.

Corned beef and cabbage:

My entire family looks forward to March 17th! They know this means we get to have corned beef and cabbage as well as Irish soda bread for dinner. I’ve shared those recipes before, and here they are again!

I grew up on these dishes around the holidays, and I’m glad to have carried the tradition on for my family.

Cookie cake:

We are big cookie cake people. Honestly, I think we started having cookie cakes around the time the kids were born. I remember picking a double stuffed one up at Sam’s Club for my brother’s birthday in 2010. Then, it just became a thing we do for birthdays, anniversaries (sometimes), Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

We always look forward to this sweet treat!

Christmas cookies:

Like many families, we make Christmas cookies every year. Again, I grew up baking cookies, and started doing that with my kids when they were little.

The kids always loved making the Hershey kiss peanut butter cookies, and when they were little, the best help they could be was peeling off the silver wrapper on the kisses. Now, they can make the cookies without any help from me!

Years ago, I added in the chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies I found on Pinterest, and those are our two main cookies. Sometimes, the kids will use cookie cutters on sugar cookies and then ice them, but we don’t do that every year like we do the other cookies.

My mom always sends us Christmas cookies, and then when we visit KC at Christmas, we make cookies as well. We make Spritz, Pfeffernusse, and Lebkuchen cookies as well as waffle cookies using the waffle iron that’s been in our family for well over 100 years.

Back to school:

Another tradition we have is our Back to School Breakfast. I started doing this when the kids were in kindergarten. I keep most of the supplies in a box and just bring them out the night before school starts. This is a fun tradition….

…that I tweaked last year. With the start of middle school, I decided to have a Back to School Brinner the night before the first day of school.

It was a success, and I think that will be the plan this year too. Honestly, it felt weird waking up on the first day already having that traditional meal over with, but it also was the perfect time for that transition.

Red plate:

Growing up we had the “You are Special” red plate. My mom served us dinner on it for anything from getting a good grade on a test to passing our driver’s test!

She gave one to us maybe four or five years ago for me to carry on the tradition with the kids.

The kids get it after report card time, after a game/performance/sports season, for being extra helpful and more.

So…those are some of our traditions. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but those were the first to pop up in my mind!

What food traditions do you have in your family? I’d love to hear!

Next month, our topic is binge watching tv shows. Considering in binged all six seasons on Schitt’s Creek in the past month, I know that will be the first on my list!

If you have a blog, we hope you’ll link up with us. There are always so many great posts to read too!

I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=c0efdbe6b4add43dd7ef
Posted in Holidays, Traditions, Weekend Top 5

Weekend Top 5

Hello and happy Monday! Tuesday! I took yesterday off from blogging because I was swamped from our action packed weekend! So, I’m recapping that for you today…just on on Tuesday rather than a Monday!

Here’s our Weekend Top 5:

1.

Hadley requested Chick-fil-A for lunch on Friday (what’s new?!), so I picked up a peppermint milkshake for myself! (Also, I’m late to the party using the Chick-fil-A app–I’ve been using it now for a couple months, and it’s life changing. Even better is usually Hadley rides along with me to pick up our order and runs inside to get it!)

2.

Cookies, cookies and more cookies.

My mom came to visit, and we baked lots of Christmas cookies over the weekend. Hadley helped her bake gingerbread cookies on Friday. On Saturday, most of us helped make Spritz cookies and Pfeffernuse. Then, Hayden helped her make more gingerbread men because he missed out on that fun on Friday. Saturday night, Hadley helped GG make fudge, and then on Sunday, Hadley (and others) helped dip the Lebkuchen in the icing.

Ta da!!! the finished Pfeffernuse…

Pfeffernuse, Spritz, and Lebkuchen cookies. Often times, GG bakes ahead of time or when we are in KC for Thanksgiving and sends us home with the goodies. Some years she mails the the cookies to us. This was the first year we all baked together (or took turns baking because…too many cooks in the kitchen…) ๐Ÿ˜‚

A few weeks ago, I ordered cookies to decorate from a local small business baker/decorator (One Smart Cookie). The kids decorated those on Sunday after dinner, and those cookies were our dessert.

We always save a decorated cookie + a few of the family cookies for Santa. I just put them in a baggie and freeze them until Christmas Eve.

3.

I always put a few front porch decorations out, and Travis always puts the lights out on the porch and/or bushes. This year, I wanted to add garland to the porch. I couldn’t really find any I liked until…I made a stop at Trader Joe’s for a few goodies and saw their beautiful (and inexpensive!) garland.

I bought two swags of it…and Travis worked his magic in hanging it! I love it so much.

This may be what I do every year since I only need it a few weeks, it’s inexpensive, looks beautiful, and we won’t have to store it.

4.

Well, it happened! I know I mentioned last week that our favorite Santa spot wasn’t hosting Santa. This year, our club organized a drive thru Santa visit, so we decided to go for it. I’m assuming this will be our last year to visit Santa, so I wanted to take advantage of this offer. We waited in the car line and pulled right up when it was our turn. The kids got to chat with him outside for a few minutes, we hopped back in the car, and headed home.

It was a really sweet experience even if we didn’t get to enjoy all the usual festivities that the club typically offers.

Chatting with Santa, hand “Santa”-tizer, and waiting for their turn to see Santa while wearing their masks.

5.

Holiday lights! We usually drive by these festive lights at some point in December, and we decided to go ahead and swing by while we were out after visiting Santa. We ooh and ahh at them every year!

Bonus:


My mom brought Hayden the rest of her Harry Potter books. Hayden’s read the first few, and she gifted him the rest, so he can continue reading them through the years.

Shew! I told you we were busy! I was even able to wrap a few gifts while watching the Chiefs game on Sunday night! That made for a late bedtime, but it was worth it to cross one more thing off my list!

I hope you’ve had a great start to your week. See you back here tomorrow for Let’s Look.

Posted in Holidays, Traditions

Tis the Season!

Well, Thanksgiving was already a week ago, and we are in full Christmas spirit in my house. We’ve taken Christmas card photos, picked out our tree, decorated, welcomed our Elf back from the North Pole, and even had our first snowfall of the season!

Today, I’m sharing the details of our decking the halls and Christmas cheer so far this holiday season.

Starting with…this meme…

It cracks me up. I’m either watching a holiday baking show or Ozark. My tv watching goes from G to rated R real quick!

I mentioned in Monday’s post that we were pretty busy on the Friday after Thanksgiving. One of our errands was stopping by our favorite place to pick out the Christmas tree for our living room. The weather was perfect for wandering around to find just the right tree. Well, technically the kids each found a “perfect” tree, and had to rock, paper, scissors over which tree we’d bring home. Hadley won.

This is also the place we usually go to see Santa. Unfortunately, Covid is cramping Santa’s style this year! I know there are probably other options, but this Santa is our fave, and I guess for now, we’ll have to live with this very 2020 Santa experience. (or lack thereof)

Y,’all, this Santa really is the best!

A few Santa pics through the years…

Top: 2017; bottom left: 2016; bottom right: 2019

2020:

I’m assuming my kids won’t be “believers” for much longer, so I actually did tear up taking this pic. As the years pass by, I do miss the innocence of having little ones and seeing Christmas through their eyes. They are still excited for the holidays, but it’s just different than when they were little.

Travis strung the lights on the tree Friday night, so we could decorate on Saturday morning before everyone got busy.

I put any leftover ornaments not used on the living room tree on the artificial tree in the sun room. I think this is our fourth or fifth year getting a real tree for the living room. Last year was the first year we put our older artificial tree up in the sun room, and I’m glad we did that again this year.

We now have a total of five trees up in the house.

  • The kids each have a small tree in their rooms.
  • We have the artificial tree in the sun room.
  • The real tree is in the living room / office area.
  • and… I (Trav) moved my new pencil tree to our bedroom.

Then…we had to have a talk with Homer about behaving and not taking oraments off the tree.

“Who, me?”

He looks innocent, but last year he had a real knack for #Homering nostalgic ornaments and family heirlooms. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I was hoping we could trust him because for the month the skinny tree was in the sun room, he didn’t bother a single ornament. But…within an hour on Saturday, he’d already taken three ornaments off the living room tree. So, I moved most of the ornaments up higher (even though he can still probably reach some), and now our tree is decorated like it was in 2010-2012 or so when we had two toddlers!

On Friday, I also had the kids dress up, so I could take pics for our Christmas cards. I always think I will have my act together in the fall for family photos for our cards, but that never seems to happen.

The last time we had a fall family photo for our Christmas card was 2014…

This year, the kids were adamant we bring Homer again for the photo, so I decided to head back to where we had our 2014 family photos, the Henry Clay Estate. I knew we’d have space to walk around and would be able to keep our distance from people and enjoy the beautiful weather.

When I saw the bench, I knew I wanted to have the kids sit there again, but later noticed they put their hands in the same spots they did for the photo years ago.

This was a very how it started…

how it’s going…

moment! ๐Ÿ˜†

I will share our Christmas cards (and photos that made the cut) when they arrive. I always order from Shutterfly and take advantage of the Cyber Monday deal they always have.

And…to really keep the spirit alive, Red, our elf, arrived on Tuesday morning. My kids were panicking a bit because some of their friends’ elves arrived after Thanksgiving. I told mine that Red was probably still in quarantine before safely entering our home (just kidding!) Really, I reminded them at Red doesn’t show up until December first, at the earliest!

When we were talking about our elf’s return, Hadley did ask how long the elf will visit. I said, “Well, I guess as long as you believe.” She said, “Well, shouldn’t you always believe?” It was the sweetest and something I need to remember for the next 20+ days ๐Ÿ˜‰

Upon Red’s arrival, he brought the book that we’ve had since 2012. We know he’s our elf because he has the book and a few years ago, he glued a cotton ball to his hat, and the residue has been there every since. Also, last year Red was #Homered, and his torn hat and bandaged hand proves that the right elf came back to our house from the North Pole.

I know these holidays are going to be different (and I’m tired of saying that!), but I’m thankful some traditions remain: decorating, Christmas tree picking, fussing at my kids for pictures, and the return of Red are only the beginning.

I hope your December is off to a great start! See you back here tomorrow for a hodge podge of Friday Favorites.

Take care,

Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Traditions

Friday Favorites {#45}: 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 {#36}: 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.