Posted in Kids, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk

Hello! Well, today’s post could also probably be more of a “Thursday Thoughts” situation, but it’s Tuesday, and this is what I have planned. 😆

Well, the fact that I feel like we are on the move 24/7 combined with the fact that in less than a week I will have two teenagers, the rapid pace at which time is flying is definitely weighing on my mind and on my heart.

I feel like I’m constantly thinking about how quickly time is flying by. Of course, we’ve all seen this quote:

Then, I saw this quote recently, and it, combined with an article Travis sent me last week really has me thinking about life, parenting, the kids growing up, and more.

I feel like sometimes I’m hypersensitive to trying to raise good kids. At school, of course, I see students with various backgrounds, learning needs, behaviors and more. I really try to help my own kids by setting an example, teaching them manners, encouraging them to do the right thing, and to always try their best.

My mom taught 7th grade Language Arts for 31 years. She would joke that when my brother and I were in middle school, those were some of her hardest years because she was around teens 24/7. I can now certainly now see why she felt that way.

My waking minutes go from wanting to spend quality time with my family, to creating memories, to helping with homework, to nagging about missing assignments. At the end of the day, I’m tired. I often feel like I’ve dropped the ball or fallen short somehow. Also, to be clear, my kids couldn’t be more different. I have to remember that and try to cater to their wants and needs while also encouraging them and talking to them. Y’all, parenting is not for the faint of heart.

Here’s the article Travis saw on Facebook:

*Sigh* This certainly hits home. It gives me all the feels. This quote was a lightbulb moment for me:

“I realized that it’s not time speeding up –it’s the amount of time I have with my kids each day is dwindling.” Seriously, it stopped me in my tracks.

It’s no newsflash that my kids are busy. Honestly, it’s better that they are busy, in my opinion. There’s a difference in being “burned out” or forced to do something they don’t want to do and being busy. That’s not the case with them. They are learning how to manage time, work with others, advocate for themselves, take risks, and more. That being said, because they are so busy, I do get less time with them. There are week nights where I get one hour at home with them, and they are usually doing homework.

I often feel like I blink and the weekend has passed. I also tend to live “season to season,” and it’s always so crazy to me when summer rolls around, and they are another year older. Also, it’s a blessing to experience so many events and milestones twice at the same time. That being said, I don’t get to do many things over again. For example, we only had one first day of Kindergarten. That also means once a chapter in life closes, it’s usually feels like a slammed door on their childhood without a younger sibling to keep a tradition or spirit alive. I’ve always wrestled with these thoughts, and it’s why I never hesitated to use a personal day to go on the pumpkin patch field trip or volunteer at field day. It’s why I celebrate birthdays big. It’s why I cling to traditions.

A few things:

To make myself feel better, I came up with a list of a few things I feel like we’re doing “right” in order to make the most of the time we have together as well as showing the kids how much we care.

  • Have dinner together as often as possible: We have dinner together most nights. It just means I have to plan ahead, and I’m willing to do that if it means we can all sit at the dinner table together even if it’s not until 7:45 at night.
  • Continue traditions: Busy schedule or not, I like to keep traditions alive. Some things happen more naturally like going to football games, but other things like going to the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, and seeing the Christmas lights at the Kentucky Horse Park are now more scheduled.
  • Show up for them: We’ve been pretty lucky that even with Hayden and Hadley’s activities, we both can usually can make it to most everything. I want them to hear me clapping after they score a point. I want to be the one they see after a race or performance. I will cater my schedule to them, but they are also at the age where I’m able to offset that and run errands or workout at another time because they are old enough to be home alone or at an activity on their own.
  • Encourage them: Travis and I both encourage the kids to try new things, push themselves, and advocate for themselves. Now is the time to “take risks” while they have the safety net of us at home.
  • Celebrate effort, not just outcome: I want them to believe in themselves, set goals, and learn from mistakes whether that’s in the classroom, during a race, or on the volleyball court. I don’t mean that they need praised for everything, but I just mean I know when they are nervous or hesitant. So, when they’ve given their all and shown growth, I applaud that.

So…that’s just a little bit of my heart lately. I’m having a hard wrapping my brain around where these years have gone, but I know I’m not the only one in this boat.

Whether it’s the “Days are long…” quote or the Major’s (my dad) quote, “Time continues to haul a$$,” time sure feels fleeting.

That being said, it’s not lost on me that I have two happy and healthy kids. They aren’t perfect, nor are we as parents. We’re in this boat together…and to quote Coach Cal, “I like my team!”

We’ve gone from this:

…to this:

in no time!

Feel free to share your parenting tips with me! Why do I feel like I’m going to blink, and they’ll be driving…or tossing their graduation caps in the air?!

Posted in Everyday Life, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Cozi App

Hello! I hope your week is off to a good start.

Today’s Tuesday Talk is about a new app my family has been using…

…called the Cozi app.

I often send my kids (and Travis) texts with reminders for things like practices and upcoming tests. This year, I thought we’d try the Cozi app. I honestly didn’t know much about it, but I knew it was a way for stay organized and keep the family informed. I created an account, and had everyone download the app. I invited Travis to use the app via email, and the kids just used my log in info for access.

Here’s a sample week on Cozi (not my family!)…

A few things about Cozi:

  • I assigned each family member a color. There’s also a color for “everyone” in case the whole family needs to know. When you create an event, it’s basically like entering an event on your phone calendar. You can enter the event, location, time, and add notes if needed. Then, I click who is going, and it’s color coded.
  • Anyone can add to the calendar, and I’ve encouraged the kids (and Trav…haha) to add to it as things pop up whether that’s a test or a Student Council meeting. You can also set a reminder to the events just like on the calendar.
  • Emails are sent weekly with everything on the calendar for that week. That being said, since my kids weren’t invited via email, they don’t get those emails like Travis and I do. I just encourage them to check the app every Sunday and then daily as well just for reminders.
  • There’s also a place for lists…
    • Shopping lists: grocery, wholesale, other. This has actually come in handy because the kids will add in things like “toothpaste” or “Doritos,” and I check that part of the app when placing my grocery order.
    • To Do- There’s a “shared to do” list and then one for myself…I guess because I have the account. We haven’t used the lists as much, but I may use it for weekly chores like putting up clothes or taking out the trash.
  • I haven’t used it, but there’s also a “recipes” tab with quite a few recipes. If you choose a recipe, you can also add those ingredients to your grocery list.

We use Cozi for practice and dance schedule, test dates, doctor appointments and even things like UK football games, birthday parties and more. You can mark an event as “repeating,” and it plugs it in for each week. So, for example, Hadley’s dance is always on the same nights every week, and I only had to enter them once.

We have the free version, but I think it’s $30/a year that has other features like a monthly view, reminders, and a birthday tracker.

I’ve heard other busy families talk about “shared calendars,” but we’ve never done that. I kind of like keeping my phone calendar to myself because I have so many reminders and other things I put in it. This app, being separate, has been really nice.

Between the weekly paper calendar on the fridge with activities and what we are having for dinner and the Cozi app, hopefully we won’t miss any appointments or activities!

How do you stay organized?

Posted in Activities, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Summer Top 10

Well, it’s June 21st…the first official day of summer. Why does typing “June 21st” make me feel like summer is halfway over? *sigh*

Today, I’m sharing the ten things we love about summer

The kids helped be compile the list, and here are some of their faves:

1. Pool time

It’s no secret we love a pool day. With them doing swim team through the years (and Hadley still doing it), we spend lots of days at the pool. Swim team is early in the morning, so we will usually stay until early afternoon when we commit to a pool day.

What we also love to do is go to the pool in the evening. It’s cooler outside, and we will also have dinner there. Win win for everyone.

2. Hanging with friends

We love extra time in the summer to hang with friends. I don’t know if it was the fact that kids were forced to be outside in 2020 or the fact that my kids were old enough to be given more freedom, but that felt like the summer that starting being more than just going to the pool. It’s been great letting them go outside, bike, run around, have popsicles for a snack, and play basketball in the driveway until dark. We have a neighborhood full of kids which has been such a blessing.

3. Camp (& sports camps)

Hadley LOVES camp. She can’t wait to go again this year. After the first day of school this year, she came home telling me she recognized so many kids at school from camp. She’s even more excited to go this year because she will know so many more friends there.

In the summer, Hayden takes the cake with signing up for sports camps. From basketball to baseball to golf, he does it all. There are actually a couple of running camps nearby that he’s interested in, so maybe sleep away camp is in the future for next summer.

4. Fruit

Hadley immediately said, “fruit!” as something she loves about summer. I do too, and it’s nice to know that the kids have lots of healthy snack options, and that strawberries and watermelon can be “sides” for dinner.

5. S’mores

Travis loves making a fire when we have time. Sometimes, I tell him no because there’s usually a smokey start that kicks up my sinus issues, but the kids love the fire…and it’s hard to say “no” to s’mores!

6. Vacay

We always look forward to vacation. There are some years we get to the beach twice a year, but summer is the guaranteed time to visit the beach.

We’ve raised a couple of beach bums…that’s for sure.

Ok…i’ts my turn…I love all of the above + extra time with my kids and…

7. Summer scents & flowers

I love a summer candle and…

…peonies are my favorite summer flower …(hydrangeas are a close second!)

8. No alarm

Not having to set an alarm is the best. Now, I don’t really sleep in, but I definitely sleep later than 6am like during the school year. I love to get up by 7:30 to have some time before I have to wake Hadley for swim.

This summer, since we haven’t had baseball, we’ve had the opportunity to have a slow start to Saturday mornings which I love and appreciate.

9. Relaxed meal planning / food prep

Summer means that we often grill out for dinner. I also love that we sometimes eat at the pool or go out to dinner on a weeknight. Those are not things we typically do during the school year.

Also, I’ve shared before that I like being able to eat at home for lunch. It’s nice to take the extra couple of minutes to make a grilled cheese or enjoy a “snack plate” of whatever we have in the fridge or pantry.

10. More time to read

I love having extra time to read in the summer. Honestly, I also love having a bit more tv time too! I usually get behind in many shows and try to play catch up in the summer. I try to start and end my day with some reading…

…with hopefully reading time at the pool too!

Bonus:

One last addition from Hadley…she says one thing she loves about summer is getting tan 😆 Me too! I swear my mood improves when I’m tan. (Of course, we wear sunscreen…but it’s nice to have a bit of a summer glow!)

What do you love about summer?

I try to savor summer as much as possible. After the 4th of July, it’s hard not to start thinking about school. Enough of that negative talk…right? My teacher friends know what I mean.

I hope you have a great summer day!

Posted in Holidays, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: All About the Oaks

Hello!

Last week I mentioned that the first week in May is a busy and festive week around here.

I recently shared my Keeneland post, and today I’m sharing all about the Oaks.

Oaks is the day before the Kentucky Derby. Like Derby Day, there are races all day long, but the main race, the Kentucky Oaks, is for three year old fillies (girl horses).

For Oaks, many wear pink in honor of the breast cancer survivors who walk in the parade before the Oaks race. It’s such a powerful moment to see so many survivors walking together.

If I don’t find a pink dress, I will add a touch of pink with a fascinator. Years ago, if we went to Oaks or Derby, I’d usually wear a fancy hat, but I much prefer a fascinator.

My dress is from Nordstrom, and Amazon for the win for my pink fascinator. (I’d ordered a couple of them and also borrowed a couple from a friend, but Hadley helped me make the final decision)

Travis was already in Louisville, so once I dropped the kids off at school, I headed to pick him up.

I got to Louisville around 11:30, and we were at Churchill Downs by 12:00.

Upon arrival, I was handed the signature drink, the Lily, which was the perfect way to start the day.

For the second year in a row, the ticket was all- inclusive. So, any food or drink is included in the ticket price. Of course, there were still lines for food, but they moved pretty quickly considering the crowd. Also, there were fridges throughout with drinks like water and soda that you could just pick up as needed.

After the first few races, we headed to the paddock to check on one of Trav’s client’s horses who was running.

You have to be a horse owner to get into the paddock, and even then, the pass is for the specific race for your horse. The filly we were there to see was Kneesnhips. Any guesses what the owner does for a living? Then, we headed back to our seats to watch the race (and it was raining just a bit then). She placed 4th.

We stayed in our seats for a bit, but it was only a steady rain for about an hour.

Our seats were in a box (of 6, with friends) that was undercover right near the finish line which is always so fun.

Oaks and Derby make for great people watching, and we always run in to people we know. They said the attendance was at 100,000…and I believe it!

Of course, there are usually more celebrities for Derby, but Kirk Herbstreit (sports analyst) sat right behind us. Then, as we left, I saw Justin Harley (This is Us) walking out with his wife. He did the “riders up” in the paddock before the big Oaks race.

You may remember from my post on Friday, but I was very concerned about the weather. Friday’s weather actually turned out better that Saturday’s weather for Derby. It really just rained from about 3:00-4:00, and then again around 6:15 when we got in the car.

Thurby:

So, for years, Oaks was more for the “locals” (Louisville people) and the Derby was when so many from out of town would come. Quite a few years ago, they started having “Thurby” which is now when most local people go.

Travis and many of his Louisville friends now go for Thurby. Honestly, Oaks and Derby are big work days for him now, so Thurby is a bit more relaxed for him.

Derby:

With a post about Keeneland and now Oaks, it would probably be natural to have a dedicated Derby post. That being said, I haven’t been to Derby in years. Travis had a streak of almost twenty years of going to Derby. That streak came to a halt once we had kids (haha) who usually have activities that day. Plus, Thurby and Oaks are enough. I’m not saying we won’t ever get back to Derby, but he really does a lot for work that entire week, and now has the tradition of watching all the Derby day races on at home while also placing bets and working. It varies year to year, but sometimes we get together with friends. The weather was cooler and rainy this year, so we just hung at home.

My mom actually hosts a Derby party (in KC) every year that I know her friends look forward to each year.

Let me tell you the one person who doesn’t love a long shot–Travis. The horses that placed 2nd and 4th were connected to his farm. While those are pretty good finishes, Epicenter (who placed 2nd) was one of the heavy favorites. Like much of the world, Travis was speechless to see Rich Strike, with 80-1 odds, win.

A Few Derby Facts:

  • Derby is always the first Saturday in May.
  • The horses that run the race are all three-year-old colts.
  • There are 20 horses in the Derby race.
  • The Mint Julep is the signature cocktail.
  • It’s called “run for the roses.”
  • It’s the “most exciting two minutes in sports.”

One thing I wish Lexington would do that Louisville does is there’s no school on Oaks Friday. The city basically shuts down and traffic is probably extra crazy which is why that’s more of a necessity in Louisville than Lex, but it would still be so nice to have that day off.

I never realized until my kids were in school how much the schools (especially elementary) incorporate the Derby into learning and activities at school.

Schools in our district display their “Derby silks.”

There are fun Derby activities like hat making and…

jockey silk coloring.

Most of the elementary schools have activities like Derby races for the kids, learning about horses and jockeys, reading horse books, and more. One year, my kids’ teachers hosted a Derby breakfast at school.

Like most things, it’s fun to see the excitement of the week through a child’s eyes.

It really is a special time of the year. We had a great day. Let me know if you have any questions!

Posted in Other, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk

Hello! I hope your week is off to a great start!

Whenever I go to Keeneland, I always think about what a special place it is. When I’ve shared about about our Keeneland outings, I’ve gotten a few questions and same about Trav’s job in the horse industry. So, today I’m sharing a bit about both of those things.

Travis made his way into the horse industry after a few years working in college athletics. He met me when he worked at Mizzou, but after a few years he wanted to move back home to work in the horse industry.

His job has evolved through the years but his primary role is as a “Stallions Nominations Manager.” That means that he’s basically a match maker for horses. 😂Really, what he does is his farm stands stallions for breeding. Owners submit requests for their mares breed to the stallions, and Travis has the final say on the request to breed. He looks at the mare’s pedigree and decides if it’s a good match for the stallion. They want the mares to produce the best horses, so he finds the right fit for the stallion or denies the request if there isn’t a good fit.

Then, he keeps up with the offspring of the stallions and promotes the race results on social media. During the various horse sales throughout the year, he also follows up with the offspring to look at their track performances and confirmation (physical structure). The past few years, he’s also started buying and selling horses for clients as well.

Travis is always working. Always. He loves what he does. I have never met anyone who looks forward to going to work every single day more than he does.

Did you know?

  • All horses turn one on January 1st. So, you want a horse to be born in January if possible. (There is breeding season to ensure that they are born in January/February)
  • Three year olds run the Kentucky Derby hence why it’s important to have an “older” three-year-old by May.
  • The Triple Crown of racing starts with the Kentucky Derby (in Louisville on the first Saturday in May), followed by the Preakness Stakes (in Maryland), and the Belmont Stakes (in New York).

I’ve learned a lot through the years, but still always have many questions for Trav!

Keeneland:

Now, on to a more exciting topic: Keeneland.

When people think of Kentucky, they often think of horse racing and Churchill Down because of the Derby. When my family would visit after I first moved here, they’d want to visit Churchill, but I will tell anyone who will listen that Keeneland is the place to be. Churchill is much more commercialized, whereas Keeneland is picturesque and just so special.

A few facts about Keeneland:

  • It’s located in the Horse Capital of the World, Keeneland.
  • The horses only run twice a year: the fall meet in October and the spring meet in April.
  • They have tours and people also come to watch the horses’ morning workouts.
  • There’s a Keeneland Kids Club with various events like Easter egg hunt and Sunrise Trackside with activities and breakfast.
  • Their corned beef sandwich is my favorite!
  • No racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Keeneland’s mascot is Buckles.

When visiting Keeneland:

  • You often need to buy tickets in advance, especially on Friday and Saturdays.
  • Keeneland is family friendly, and many bring their kids out especially on Sundays.
  • “The hill” is the hotspot for tailgating. There’s a jumbo tv, food trucks, and betting. (Some people hang on the hill and never even enter the track)

Seating:

As far as the different seating areas…well, I think I’ve experienced close to all of them. Of course, I’m lucky to have Travis who can get his hands on some pretty great tickets somewhat easily, but we always have fun wherever we sit.

General Admission:

General admission and reserved Grandstand tickets are where most people sit.

General admission is fun if you can get close to track. We’ve been bringing the kids since they were little.

April 2011

Hayden’s horse lost by a nose!

October 2015

Keeneland is always a fun place to hang with friends: both big and small!

Grandstand tickets are under cover which is a bonus.

Also, in the Grandstand, many companies and farms have reserved boxes. If it’s sunny, a parasol can be provided! (hashtag: how southern!)

When your dad picks you up from school but needs to watch a couple of races….you get to hang out in the box!

We typically get Clubhouse tickets through Trav’s work, and it does seem like you have to “know someone” to get those tickets or be a club member.

There is a dress code for the Clubhouse: coat and tie for guys and no denim.

ready for the races in 2018

Clubhouse tickets are nice because it’s less crowded which means shorter lines for food, drinks, and the restroom. The Clubhouse has multiple levels and passes, and I feel like we’ve “done it all” through the years.

On the main floor, there are tables that aren’t reserved, both inside and outside. Once someone claims one, it’s probably theirs for the day.

(Forgive the photo quality – 2012 pic!), but the white tables and chairs options for outside seating if you can snag one!

Last spring, Travis and I had a great day hanging out in the sunshine on a Friday afternoon. (Spring 2021 had very limited ticket availability for the spring meet due to Covid)

You always need a racing form

More Clubhouse pics through the years…

2015
April 2018
October 2018
April 2021
October 2021

The 4th floor has suites…

October 2010

The 4th floor also has other dining rooms like the Phoenix room, Lexington room and Equestrian room where there are full dining menus and betting.

On Saturday, we were blessed to hang out in the Stakes Lounge on the 4th floor. Travis has been everywhere in Keeneland and he even said, “I didn’t know this room existed.”

A horse trainer couldn’t use his tickets and gave them to Trav. It was actually a smaller room with a couch and chairs as well as some high top tables and about ten tables of four seats. There was a buffet of food and a private bar and restrooms.

The roof top view was so pretty!

We had some friends who were available to go with us which was such an added bonus. As busy as everyone is, the Saturday before Easter apparently means no kids sports!

The Keeneland Bloody Mary can’t be beat!

We stayed until the second to last race, and it was a great day!

Through the years, as Travis has gained more responsibility at work, he really does end up at Keeneland a bit more than he used to. Sometimes, he gets an eyeroll from me 😆,but he has clients who have horses running or may be interested in buying a horse. Also, the stallions at his farm have horses running as well. How those horses perform certainly impacts the stud fee of the stallions who stand at the farm.

It’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to get to experience Keeneland whether it’s from the green benches in general admission or on the top floor with a view of the entire track. It’s always a magical experience spending the day at Keeneland.

While I’m sharing about Keeneland, it’s also worth sharing about the Horse Country farm tours. Much like the Bourbon Trail tours, there are so many farms you can tour as well. There’s actually a Horse Country passport to collect stamps from all the farms you visit. You’d think all horse farms are alike, but they aren’t. There’s so much history, and each one provides such a unique experience.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek at one of the best things Kentucky has to offer: Keeneland. Let me know if you have any questions!

See you back here on Thursday.

Posted in Meals and Recipes, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Cookbooks

Hello from snowy Kentucky! I’m pretty sure that was my intro one day last week, and now we’ve gotten more snow…with more on the way later in the week! I will be honest…I’m not mad about it, but by mid-February, I will be ready for spring!

I’m not sure if this link up is still a thing, but I still have things to talk about…on a Tuesday 🤣 …like my favorite cookbooks.

January is always the perfect time to regroup after the holidays and take more time to meal plan and meal prep. I don’t ever really stop meal planning, but sometimes I slack off with meal prep.

Anyway, today I’m sharing some of my favorite cookbooks that I turn to very often (and a few favorite recipes from each).

Growing up, I didn’t think much about cooking (besides the fact that my mom made dinner for us every night), but I do love to cook, and have taught myself a bit along the way.

Here are some of my faves:

Simmers:

If I had to choose one cookbook to have for the rest of my life, Simmers would be it. Dramatic or what? haha Seriously though, the busier my kids have gotten through the years, the more and more I turn to Shay’s cookbook for slow cooker recipes.

Some of my favorite recipes:

  • King Ranch Joe’s (We are having these this week.)
  • Taco Tortellini Soup
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Beef Enchilada Tacos
  • Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joe’s

Eat Better Feel Better

I often ask for cookbooks for Christmas, and Travis got me one of Giada’s cookbooks. He knows I try to make healthy meals for the family, and that my love for Giada runs deep! I’ve made a few recipes, and I know I will continue to use this book to plan our family dinners.

So far, I’ve made:

  • Fusilli with Pesto and Green Beans
  • Green Fried Rice
  • Chicken Milanese

That Bowl Life:

Beth used to live in Lexington, and she’s a fun follow on Instagram. She’s had great success with the Faster Way to Fat Loss and created this cookbook after creating so many meals while on the program. I love how easy the recipes are, and the idea of just tossing some goodness in a bowl and that eating healthy can be pretty effortless is a win. {*Not all the recipes are in a bowl…}

Some of my favorite recipes:

  • Egg muffins
  • I’m a big fan of a snack plate because of her: a handful of almonds, a hard boiled egg, a few pickles, some lunch meat, pretzels and hummus, etc.
  • Arugula with shredded parm and proscuitto is another fave.
  • Watermelon, mint, feta salad
  • Lots of a great drink concoctions too!

She has another one, The Village Cookbook, coming out too!

Mix and Match Mama Meal Planner:

This is another cookbook by Shay that I love so much. What I love the most about it is that it is organized by season. Sometimes I think cookbooks can be overwhelming, but I love that I can turn to each season and there are four weeks worth of meals from which I pick and choose what to feed my family. There’s also a “sweet treat’ each week as well!

Some of my favorite recipes:

  • Beefy Cornbread Casserole (Winter)
  • Shrimp Caprese Pasta (Spring)
  • Caesar Salad Burgers (Summer)
  • Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potato Risotto (Fall)

What about you? What are some of your favorite cook books that I can add to my collection? Of course, I also turn to Pinterest for recipe inspiration, but kind of like the book vs Kindle debate…sometimes, I just like turning the pages to see what inspires me while making my grocery list!

Well, today is a first…our first ever NTI (non-traditional instruction) snow day. Of course, we became familiar with NTI in spring 2020 (followed by fall 2020 and winter 2021), but this will be our first snow NTI day. I guess the neighborhood roads are still a bit dicey. I feel like if we have to miss school for the weather, NTI is a good compromise. We had regular snow days (that we don’t have to make up) last week, so I’d rather my kids do a bit of learning now rather than be in school until June. As a teacher, I did weather NTI days in my previous district, and I thought they were a good option if we were going to miss lots of school due to weather.

Wish us luck!

Posted in Holidays, This and That, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: This or That Thanksgiving

Shew! That title. Try saying it five times fast 😉

Happy Tuesday! Today, I’m linking up with Erika and Ashley for this month’s Tuesday Talk.

For Tuesday Talk, we can blog about any topic we choose, and today I’m tackling Thanksgiving with a fun This or That edition!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s no stress of gift buying, and the food is the best! I found this graphic on Pinterest, and I’m excited to break down these choices. So, here we go!

  • Turkey or Ham: Turkey all the way. If ham is also being served, I will grab a slice, but the turkey is the Thanksgiving food for me.
  • Lunch or Dinner: Usually somewhere in between. My extended family usually eats around 3:00 or so. Last year, when it was just my brother’s family and mine, we ate later for dinner.
  • Stuffing or Dressing: I’m not really a fan of either, but last year, I made sausage dressing for the first time, and it was really good.
  • Dress Up or Dress Down: Usually we dress up, but it’s not anything too fancy. I ask Hayden to wear something besides Nike shorts, and Hadley will oblige with something besides a sweatshirt. When the kids were little, I definitely had them wear something festive when they’d let me.
2014
  • Mashed Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes: I’m definitely a mashed potatoes kind of girl. But…guess what?! I don’t like gravy.
  • Football or Movies: Parade?! First, I watch the parade in the morning and then football does tend to be on in the background the rest of the day.
  • Black Friday or Cyber Monday: Hands down, my answer would be Cyber Monday. I don’t think I’ve ever shopped on Black Friday, and I don’t think I ever will. I usually take the weekend after Thanksgiving to start making lists of what to buy, and then I do try to shop as many sales as possible on Cyber Monday.
  • Pumpkin Pie or Pecan Pie: Pumpkin pie is my fave.

How would you answer these? I will post the graphic in my Insta Stories, so if you share your answers, feel free to tag me!

Only a little over a week until turkey day!

Posted in Tuesday Talk

Tuesday (TV) Talk: The Real Housewives

Happy Tuesday! Shew! Yesterday was the longest Monday in the history of Mondays! I felt like I was moving in slow mo all day with a to do list that was a mile long.

It’s the third Tuesday of the month, so I’m linking up with Ashley and Erika for this month’s Tuesday Talk.

Tuesday Talk is all about whatever topic we want to write about. Well, riveting content here…but today’s topic that I’d like to discuss is….The Real Housewives…

I love this show. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. I find myself loving different seasons for different reasons. Here’s my order of favorites for the different franchises (counting down to my #1 fave):

#5: New Jersey

C/o Parade Magazine

I’ve been watching since the first season when Theresa flipped the table! While some of the seasons can be a bit too dramatic for me, this series holds my attention. I like the dynamic between the characters, and I think I’d want to be friends with Dolores, and would have fun hanging out with Melissa and Margaret!

#4: New York

Ok…New York used to be such a favorite of mine. Well, I realized why it was really a favorite: Bethenny Frankel. Since she wasn’t on this last season, it’s been a dud for me. Actually, somehow I missed the entire last season, so I’ve been playing catch up, and I just don’t think this cast works together. I will say I still love Sonya and think she’s a hoot!

C/o bravotv.com

#3: Potomac

C/o bravotv.com

I’m enjoying the current Potomac season. My favorite duo is Robyn and Giselle! Just when I thought Candiace was so extra, insert Wendy! She’s next level this season. Monique isn’t in the cast this season, and it was probably time for her to go. Last season was so much with the physical altercation with Candiace. I do look forward to seeing how this season shakes out.

#2: OC

C/o bravotv.com

I’ve always been a big fan of the OC housewives. The past couple of seasons have been different without Vicki and Tamra, and I do miss them. They were always so fun to see hang out with Shannon. I think this upcoming season is without Kelly and Brandwyn, so I’m not sure who replaces them?! The OC franchise is the OG of Real Housewives, and they always have a fun crew for a cast.

…and #1: Beverly Hills

C/o bravotv.com

Beverly Hills has always been my favorite! Lisa Rinna is a freaking queen! She’s the best, (hunny!) I always think that I’d want Kyle as my friend, and her sister Kathy is on this season which has been everything. Kathy Hilton is the best. I think she’s funny without meaning to be funny, but who knows?! I love Garcelle; I think she has a kind of quiet confidence. I like Crystal this season. She’s kind of in the background a bit, but I feel like she shares more about herself as she feels more comfortable. I’ve always been in intrigued by Erica, and this season with all the issues surrounding herself and her (almost ex) husband have obviously been a hot topic. It’s been interesting to see her navigate her “lifestyle change,” and I feel like she leans on the ladies more than I thought she would. Sutton’s a little too proper and needs to loosen up a bit. Dorit is a bit much as well. I’ve always thought these ladies go on the best trips, and I love seeing their day to day lives as well.

The Beverly Hills series is the one I watch in as close as real time as possible. With some of other cities, I miss a few weeks before playing catch up, but not with the BH ladies!

Other Cities and Thoughts:

Through the years, I’ve watched them all. Real Housewives DC only lasted one season, and I liked it just fine. I was kind of surprised it wasn’t renewed.

I watched a couple of seasons of Miami, and couldn’t get into it. It was eventually cancelled anyway.

I’ve missed entire seasons of ATL and will just sometimes pick up with a current season, but I don’t feel like I’m missing much.

I did watch the Dallas seasons, and thought this past season was the best yet. That being said, I’m not surprised it was cancelled. The girls just seem to do silly things and are even kind of crude at times.

Salt Lake City is still too new for me to know how I feel. I think season one was shorter than most, so maybe they were just testing it out. Season two has been fine, and I’m interested.

I love the reunions at the end of the season when they break down the seasons and dig a bit deeper into everything that’s gone on. There’s usually a screaming match or two, and “receipts” are always shown 🤣

I’m not too ashamed to to admit that I watch these shows because I do a good job balancing out my free time with reading as well 😉What about you? Do you watch any of the Real Housewives? If so, which one is your fave?

Thanks so much for reading today’s post. I hope you have a great day!

Posted in Books and Shows, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Good Reads

Hello! It’s Tuesday Talk with Erika and Ashley!

Today, I’m talking about books, reading, and the Goodreads app.

It’s no secret that I love to read. In 2018, I started to keep two different notes on my phone. One note was an ongoing list of books I wanted to read, and the other list was for books I read. The list of books I wanted to read continued to grow and grow. I would typically just read the last few books on the list since they were the most recent additions.

In December 2019 and December 2020, I shared my favorite books that I’d read during those years. I’ve had a few people mention the Goodreads app through the years, but I never really tried it out. I downloaded it and added some books that I’d read, but didn’t really do much more.

Then, a few friends shared about the 2020 Reading Challenge on Goodreads, and for whatever reason, that was enough to make me take some time to use the Goodreads app to set up my 2021 challenge. In January, I created various books shelves other than “Want to Read” and “Read.” I wanted to be able to get book titles based on what I wanted to read and stay organized.

I can honestly say that I’m really enjoying the app. I’m assuming I’m not utilizing all features, so please share on what else I can do besides the reading challenge and shelves.

My bookshelves include:

  • Bio/auto bio/memoir
  • Christmas/holiday
  • Faith based/self-help
  • Historical
  • Light reads/chick lit
  • Mystery/thriller/suspense
  • Read ASAP
  • Serious Reads
  • Summer Reads
  • Young adult
  • Started but didn’t finish

How do you organize your Goodreads book shelves? Here are some books I have for a few of these caterogies:

  • Bio/Auto bio/Memoir: Life in Love (Lauren Akins), He Put My Buddha in the Freezer (Karl), Blood: A Memoir (Moorer)
  • Lit Reads/Chick Lit: The Friendship List (Mallery), Surprise Me (Kinsella), Talk Bookish to Me (Bromley)
  • Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: The Night Swim (Goldin), Survive the Night (Sager), Local Woman Missing (Kubica)
  • Summer Reads: Big Summer (Weiner), Here’s to Us (Hilderbrand), Under the Southern Sky (Woodson Harvey)
  • Read ASAP: Pack Up the Moon (Higgins), We Were Liars (Lockhart), Are We There Yet? (West)


So, my “Read ASAP” category just means those seem like books I would want to read sooner rather than later, and I wanted to have a way to access that list.

I know you can follow people on Goodreads and even like/comment on what others have read or want to read. Are there any other features that I’m missing?

For the 2021 Reading Challenge, I’ve read 19 of my 40 book goal which means I’m on track since we are halfway through 2021. I’ve read a lot of great books so far this year!

I really am enjoying this app over all, and I wish I started using it sooner. I like having my books organized, and seeing what others are reading. Plus, the app helps me remember what I’ve read!

Speaking of organization, I randomly found a new app over the weekend for my blog reading.

Probably five years ago, Shay’s blog was the first blog I started reading, and now I ready quite a few throughout the week. I used to always read them on my computer, and some I would receive via email. For my blog, I use the WordPress app, and have started a few more bloggers on WP!

Anyway, I found this “My Blogs” app in the App Store, and adding blogs to it is very easy. You just get on the app, search for blogs and add them. Then, the app tells you when that blog has a new post to read. Of course, I’ve only started using it, but I like having blogs in one place to read whenever I have time.

Let me know what else I need to know about Goodreads and what books I should add to my Goodreads book shelves!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Posted in Kids, School, Tuesday Talk

Tues Talk: Reflection: The Elementary Years

It’s Tuesday Talk with Erika and Ashley.

For this link up, we chat about any topic, and, well, the end of the school year has certainly been on my mind.

And…

Today is the day. Today, my kids will be finished with elementary school. I blinked and they went from toothless grins to braces, from the babies of the school to the oldest ones that the babies look up to, and from teeny tiny to almost as tall as me.

Where. Did. The. Time. Go?

I’m going to take today to reflect through their elementary years. This post is a mix of “why do I do this to myself?” to “there are so many memories, and this post will provide one place to house them all.” So, here we go…

Reflecting through the years…

Kindergarten:

I remember how excited Hadley was to start kindergarten. I also remember how hesitant Hayden was to start “big kid school.” (That being said, he was adamant that he didn’t want to be in Hadley’s class!)

That whole year was filled with new school experiences.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Walking to school
  • Learning to read
  • Pumpkin Patch field trip
  • All about Me posters
  • School lunch!
  • Spring kindergarten performance
  • Ran first ever mile race at the PTA mile/5k
  • 100th day of school celebration
  • They loved their teachers!

1st Grade:

This was a year filled with growth and new school activities. Hayden had “the best teacher ever!” and Hadley loved being her teacher’s helper.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • More walking to school
  • Field trip to the Living Arts and Science Center
  • 50th day of school celebration
  • Chess club
  • Pete the Cat 1st grade performance
  • Book Fair
  • Hadley clipped down to yellow one day, and rule follower Hayden exclaimed, “Hadley!” as we walked home from school, and she told me she was talking when the teacher was talking.
  • Field Day fun

2nd Grade:

Second grade was their last year in the primary hall of their school. Hadley learned that “boys can be teachers too!” as her teacher, Mr. B. was assigned to the class about a week before school started. Hayden loved the second grade and his teacher’s Safari theme for learning and room decor.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Academic Team(both kids)
  • Boosterthon Fun Run at school
  • International Night
  • Derby Breakfast (Hayden’s class)
  • Both kids got braces
  • Family Night: spaghetti and puzzles
  • Valentine’s Day parties
  • Making signs in support of teachers when their retirement was being threatened
  • Student led teacher conferences
  • School carnival
  • Safety City field trip
  • Indoor field day
  • Black History Month celebration: class project and third grade school performance.

3rd Grade:

Third grade was the first year in the secondary wing and the first year earning grades on report cards! Hayden had a few rough patches when his teacher left in October for a district level position, followed by a teacher that lasted less than a week, and then a replacement teacher for the remainder of the year. It took him some time to adjust with the sudden changes. Hadley loved her teacher and really excelled that year.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Academic Team (Hadley)
  • PTA movie night
  • Indoor Boosterthon Fun Run
  • Arboretum field trip
  • first KPREP tests
  • Book character dress up day – (Hadley dressed as Pinkalicious)
  • Class science fair
  • Family night: spaghetti and puzzles
  • School carnival
  • Cat in the Hat performances
  • Zoo field trip
  • Girls on the Run
  • Multiplication!
  • Family heritage project

4th Grade:

In the 4th grade, the kids continued to do well in school. Hadley had the same awesome teacher that Hayden had for 2nd grade, and Hayden’s teacher was perfect for him with her love of reading and very structured classroom.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Academic Team (Hadley)
  • Cross Country (both kids–with their dad as the coach!)
  • Chorus (Hadley)
  • Field trip to Newton’s Attic
  • Movie Night
  • Recorders for music class!
  • Science Fair – Hayden earned honorable mention and Hadley made it to the district Science Fair!
  • Family Night: spaghetti and puzzles
  • Read Across America week
  • Packed up their belongings for what they thought would be two weeks…but didn’t return to the building before summer break
  • Waving at their teachers as they drove through the neighborhoods
  • Became proficient at Zoom and Google Classroom
  • Virtual Field Day
  • Said goodbye to their teachers and classmates on Zoom

5th Grade:

Their 5th grade year started with more virtual school. Seven months of virtual school to be exact. The kids both had awesome teachers who did an amazing job teaching via Zoom. The kids attended a pod of learners (friends!) two days a week which provided them with structured school, academic support, and social interaction. They *finally* returned to in person learning on March 8 to close out their elementary years in the same building they’d attended since kindergarten.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

first day at the pod in August 2020

return to in person learning March 2021

  • Delayed start to the school year
  • Drive through for textbook and supplies pick up
  • Virtual School
  • Pod two days a week
  • Became distinguished with Zoom and Google Classroom
  • Teacher front porch visits
  • Cross country (both kids, with their dad as their coach…again!)
  • Braces again!
  • G/T dance and dance club (Hadley)
  • Learning the flute (Hadley)
  • Return to in person learning in March which included thermal checks, plastic desk partitions, mask wearing, limited interactions at recess, and lunches in the classroom
  • Oldest kids in the school building
  • Field Day
  • Tie dye day and pizza lunch
  • 5th grade promotion

Final Thoughts:

Today, they enter their elementary school building one final time. This year hasn’t been what we expected, but they adjusted, they made the best of it, and they thrived.

Walking them to school provided me with memories and opportunities for conversations to last a life time. Seeing their independence grow each year was both bittersweet and rewarding. We went from kindergarten where we walked them to their classrooms every day for the first two weeks of school to stopping at the crosswalk and letting them finish the walk to the building on their own. (**and many days pulling into carline with minutes to spare! 😆 )

Letting go at each phase feels natural, but sad as I see the time pass by right before my very eyes.

I will forever treasure our time in this amazing school. The teachers and administration did an amazing job kicking starting their educational career.

Dear Hayden and Hadley,

Happy last day of elementary school!

You’ll move on, you’ll continue to learn, you’ll continue to grow, you’ll make new friends, you’ll keep forever friends, you’ll test your independence (& my patience!), and you’ll continue to become the people you are destined to be.

I tell you all the time how lucky you are to have had the teachers, the administrators, the experiences and the opportunities that you’ve had over the past six years. I know you’ll remember these years fondly.

You’ve made dad and I very proud. Keep leading with your heart, keep being kind, and keep putting your best foot forward. I promise hard work, dedication, and kindness will always pay off.

Through the years, I’ve shared some words of wisdom with you; you know your English teacher mom loves a good quote. Some of my faves are:

“Be silly, be honest, be kind.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“Anything is possible. Anything can be.” ~Shel Silverstein

…and…

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~A A Milne

So, I will wrap up your elementary years with this:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” ~Henry David Thoreau

I hope you have the best last day of elementary school. You deserve it! I know this is only the beginning for the both of you! Keep up the good work!

xo,

Mom

P.S. No, I’m not crying…why do you ask? 😉😢

……………………………………………….

Tomorrow, I hope to share our last day of school photos. We have lots of fun planned for today with my 5th grade graduates!

Thanks so much for reading!