Let’s Talk about School…

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

My sad, empty classroom after I cleaned it up during my 3 hour window. We were not allowed in our rooms from March 16ish-end of May.

I don’t know if you are ready to talk about this, but I wanted to, to the very least, share my feelings at this juncture for posterity – as a sort of way to journal and remember where I am at this point. I understand if you want to skip today’s post, but I would also love some healthy dialogue in the comments.

I have conflicting feelings, you all. I feel a bit differently as a parent than I do as a school employee. I am relieved that my boys are finished with their k-12 education, because this is a very hard position to be in. I hear some of my social media friends and blog friends saying they are having to make a really tough choice right now – even though things are constantly changing – about whether their children should go to “school” or do school virtually. I use quotes because we all know this will be nowhere near normal. I read one of my long time bloggers who is now only on Instagram say that she decided to homeschool for this year. If it’s something you have always wanted to try, then I say this is a great time to try it.

But, I want to make a point – the fact that you can choose means that you are privileged to do so. Some people will not be able to choose – for many different reasons. And, I can’t even imagine the guilt if you feel like you made the “wrong” decision. This is a horrible position to be in.

Our beloved daycare/preschool we used from age 4 months – kindergarten has been open for quite some time and is doing well with the restrictions. Maybe the smaller groups are even better and should be our new normal. But, this means that some of their employees were let go or sent to other centers. There will always be some bad with the good. I heard on the news that we should let our daycare centers be our guides with how to do school. I’m not sure I totally agree with that. It’s a whole different ball game. I do think we should look to other countries and see how they got back to school or how they will get back to school.

If you are currently facing this decision, I feel for you. I think you need to look at your family’s situation – do you have anyone immuno-compromised? Is your child in need of the school even if it isn’t the same? How did your child do from March-May? What is your work situation and your husband’s work situation? Remember that schools, teachers, students, and parents were forced to quickly change everything up last March and that whatever happens virtually this year is sure to be much better and smoother for all involved. At least, I hope that it the case.

If you decide to or have to go virtually is it appropriate in your situation to open up your circle a bit more? I think it is. You may have a grandparent or aunt or neighbor or school small groups that you want to form. If you are able to have a set of guidelines and all are being careful and you are all on the same page, this may work for you. Some people might say that this is no different than going to school so why aren’t we in school, but I disagree. This is a much more controlled environment of your choosing. I have been amazed by the creativity that has come out of this experience – and maybe this is another opportunity to think outside the box and question if we should keep doing things the way we have always done them. Do what is right for you and your family is what I think.

I cannot stress this enough – whatever your school and your family decides – your attitude is super important for you and for the kids. Take a deep breath and know that the school will help you. Communicate. Go to any and all Zoom meetings. Write down questions. Form a support group with a few other parents. This is not permanent. This is temporary. Even though it feels so hard when you are in the thick of it, it will not last forever. Remember back to March-May. Now we have some perspective on that time period but it was so hard and scary when we were in it!

My Situation:

My Kids: (I have identical twin boys who are starting college!)

As of right now, my boys have dorm assignments and roommates. They are in two different dorms at a small, private liberal arts college only about 20 minutes from home. I am super worried that this will change if our numbers keep rising. We do have a state wide mask mandate but some people are fighting it and some of our elected officials are even suing our governor for this mandate. I don’t go to many places, but I am happy to report that all of the places require masks to enter and everyone seems to be respectful of this.

So for move in day, my kids will sign up for a 2 hour slot to keep numbers down. Then, there are activities for freshmen planned for 3 days before classes start. There is even a family activity one night? We have a vague schedule for now with more details coming later – again I am wondering if this is a bit on hold because of our current climate. Maybe they are waiting to send out final details. I am so worried that this will not happen. And, they will do health screenings, temperature checks, and wear masks.

The college has said that they will have smaller groups for classes – not sure what that means exactly. They already have a 11-1 student-faculty ratio so my husband and I are wondering if life will be more “normal” at a small college, rather than if they had chosen large universities. Both boys have a schedule already! It seems so light compared to what they did in high school with 7 classes each and activities after school. I remember thinking that about my own freshman schedule. I attended a different small, private liberal arts college. I couldn’t believe how much time was on my hands after a very busy senior year. They have plans in place to reduce numbers and space out in communal areas.

The college plans to break for the first semester at Thanksgiving with no long weekends or fall break or anything like that – and do the last two weeks online. They do plan to bring students back in January but I know some colleges plan to wait until February. Who knows where we will be by then? I pray for all of us that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, that’s where we are with my precious children. I cannot tell you how much better I feel that they will be close, they will be at the same school, and that the college has bent over backwards to help make us feel connected – especially in this current situation. The college has hosted an online orientation for both students and parents, advising meetings for the kids, major mixers for the kids (you meet virtually with other kids in your major), a parent virtual happy hour, sent the freshmen a pair of socks with their logo and a note saying “you’re one step closer”, sent a bandana with the school logo, and lots and lots of emails with information. I am super impressed with the effort they have gone to – not sure if this is what they always do or not!

I am starting to really get sad about them moving out, but there is always a silver lining. With everything we have gone through since March, I will be joyous if this gets to happen because I am so scared that it won’t.

My job: (high school Spanish teacher)

This photo is of students from Mexico teaching my students how to do some traditional dances last year. This kind of stuff can’t happen right now obviously, and it simply breaks my heart. This is the stuff that the kids remember and what spices up the classroom!

I teach in the largest school district in Kentucky. We serve aorund 100,000 kids. Our superintendent has recommended that we start the school year virtually for at least the first 6 weeks of school – until the end of September. But, where will we be in September with flu season starting? This round of virtual school will have a better structure that includes more training for teachers. We will train for two weeks before starting. Last March, we had little to no time to get things going and we are kind of a late adapter to technology with us being such a big district. The school board will be voting on this tonight so I will let you know.

For the 2020-21 school year, this is not what I wanted, but I could not wrap my head around how we would go back with my school of 2000 students and the 150 students I personally serve a day and the other 50 ish people (staff) I encounter on a daily basis. I miss my classroom and my students terribly and this is such a big part of who I am. I have now been a teacher longer than I haven’t been a teacher! I started at age 22 and this will be my 27th year. Once I heard this proposal and the fact that it will probably pass, my stress levels went down several notches, though. I was already running through all of the possible scenarios and to be frank, I was scared to death. This virus is liking playing Russian Roulette. Yes, for most it is mild, but for some it is anything but mild. Maybe we will look back and say we were too cautious, but I would way rather say that than we weren’t careful enough.

So, technology is not my strongest ability, but I did pretty well using Google Classroom and various platforms virtually. I have a ton to learn but I am up for the challenge – I hope!

I hope to have a good attitude and not worry about the things that I can’t change – easier said than done! I am very much a type A, control freak kind of person in both my professional and personal life. I have worked on this and my husband has helped me a lot. I have also mellowed considerably as I have gotten older.

Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading,

Amy

Hello Monday!

Monday, July 20, 2020

How was your weekend? I had a very full week last week and a full weekend, too! I am linking up with Heather, Tanya, and more right here.

Are you ready for lots of food pictures? I’m not sure I am. I really only want to see salads and healthy foods this week!

So, back to Wednesday… our anniversary. I decided to pick up Outback because we hadn’t had it in a very long time and I thought it would be a treat and Tom said to surprise him. We did not do gifts because of the house stuff and we do hope to take a trip when we can. I got Nothing Bundt cakes and had my husband’s favorite drink – Ale 8 and Mason’s root beer and my pretty bottle of rose out. I didn’t have a special drink for Jack. Yes, we ate with our boys. I had a sundried tomato cheeseball but we ended up saving it.

We got a bloomin’ onion.

I got Alice Springs chicken to split with Tom and I also got him a small steak. The boys had fettucine with shrimp and chicken.

Thursday I did errands to get ready for the weekend.

Friday I got to have lunch with my two friends on a country club patio. We spaced out at the table more than we normally would have. It was a nice treat. I got a benedictine sandwich – it is a cream cheese cucumber mixture that is from Kentucky. I have talked about it before because I really like it. My cousin used to eat cream cheese sandwiches as a child.

Friday was a big day because I also went out that night. I made us reservations on a patio at a new restaurant and Tom came from work and I met him. We really like live music and this is one of our favorite local groups – they plan Van Morrison, Jimmy Buffet, and lots of good stuff.

We got hush puppies with pimento cheese and split a stacked meatloaf because that’s what Tom wanted. It was not good so I just ate the side salad.

I tried a fun blue drink. It was really strong.

The patio was so hot and there was no shade. The umbrellas served no purpose. I wore my fan necklace that I recently got and it helped a lot. Tom was really proud to be with me and he said it looked like a voice box. But, he did wear it the other day at work to get a laugh. Texas people, I don’t know how you do it.

Saturday was our very small graduation party for just my side of the family. We will celebrate with Tom’s at a later date if they want to. We decided to keep it really small but it still included 16 people. I debated if it was o.k. and we have all been pretty isolated. My sisters and one brother in law are teachers and have been at home and the other brother in law works for the state and they are at home now, too. So, I decided it would be o.k. but I was a bit nervous. We hadn’t all been together since Christmas.

I made a candy bar on the dining room table.

The party was strictly outside except to come in for the food. We came in just a couple at a time and most people wore masks when they came in to get food and use the bathroom. Out of the 16 people, 9 of them are kids so I think it’s important to model this behavior and to get them used to it. The littlest boys were proud of their masks.

Jack and Mason opened some presents.

Most of our back yard is shady and it really didn’t feel that bad. I brought out a bin of toys for the littlest boys.

We have these funny blow up chairs from Amazon and Tom tried one out.

We tried, but we ended up being closer than 6 feet away from each other. It’s really hard. This is my sister on the left and two nieces and then my other sister.

The menu:

My sister put her pretzel bites in individual bags.

Two of my nieces made cakes for the boys.

My sister made us masks. They are really pretty fabric and breathable. She is an art teacher so she knows what she’s doing!

We got a picture of all of the kids. Jack wore his mask. Top row: Jack and Mason, my kids, 17.

Next row down: Nora, 12 and Mia, 13.

Next row down: Samira, 14 and Miles, 13. (Mia and Miles are twins)

Bottom row: Lincoln, 5 and Silas, 6, and Lena, 9

Even though it’s been 1.5 years, my Dad should’ve been there! It will always be hard on occasions like this. He would’ve been so happy and so excited to be there.

My sister Molly got a pandemic puppy – a German shepherd named Felix.

Everyone left by 8 and I was pooped! I have not had that much activity since March 12!

Sunday was a day of rest and I spent some time reading this. It was a bit slow to start but now it’s really cute.

I also made a Costco run because we were out of coffee!

Then, in the afternoon, Tom and I watched two movies in the cold basement – Palm Springs on Hulu and Eurovision on Netflix. I liked Eurovision more. Anyone watch them?

We ate dinner together and then Mason and I read outside for a bit.

Hope you had a good one!

Amy

Friday Favorites

Friday, July 17, 2020

Happy Friday to all! I am linking up today with Andrea, etc. right here.

How is everyone doing? I will be honest – I had a couple of really down weeks, but this week was better for some reason. I was down for the last couple of weeks because people I knew of (friends of friends) were testing positive, I saw lots of photos of people not even trying to social distance on social media, the talk about will we or won’t we go back to school – it was all too much for me. I still have those same feelings and the fear that we are back to where we were in March – but worse.

Alas, I have decided that I can’t control any of that. I do know that I report back to work – on a computer or in a classroom – with or without students – August 10 and I plan to bring my best to whatever that looks like. I want to enjoy my remaining time off. I plan to focus on preparing the boys for college. We haven’t bought a single thing yet for their dorm rooms but I hope to make it fun by taking each shopping. I will be referring to my list of Pandemic Fun and my list of what I still want to do. And, probably most importantly, I will do my part to re-flatten the curve by wearing my mask, reducing time out of the house or choosing wisely and spending time in prayer for my job, my students, my college boys, my family, and my country and the world we live in.

So, let’s get to my favorites this week…

I have a new ceiling fan! I have never had a ceiling fan! I have slept so much better with this bad boy. I swear – I have not woken up much at all and have slept from about 10-11 p.m. until 5 a.m. (and usually going back to sleep) the last couple of nights because I wasn’t kicking covers off. And, isn’t it pretty? Tom installed it and it took him quite a while last weekend. It has a remote control. Now we have three remotes in our bed – one for the tv, one for the cable, and one for the fan. Lol!

Sophie of Boo Mama and The Big Boo Cast podcast talked about this Gain detergent and I purchased some. I have been using it for my laundry and the towels and I really like it. Orange and energetic grapefruit? I have never met an energetic grapefruit, but o.k.!

I’m still using my Sally Hansen Instadry in Make it Snappy!

2020 is the year of the rug. I updated my rug between my unrenovated kitchen and newly renovated mudroom. It’s amazing how much of a difference a new rug can make.

I also decided to replace my three mismatched runners from my hardwood hallways so that they all match now with this new pattern.

You guys – this face wash smells kind of like if orange juice and energetic grapefruit and the Volcano candle had a baby! You must get this if you aren’t picky about your brands. I keep this in the shower.

I got a super quick haircut this week. I told my stylist I would come with clean wet hair and I was seriously out of there in 15 minutes. I didn’t want her to dry or style it. I got about 1.5 inches off the bottom and long layers. It feels so much better. I styled it myself later in the day.

One thing I did for Pandemic Fun this week was have a high school friend over to my patio for a Paloma! She moved really close by a few years ago and we reconnected. We talked until it got dark and it was really fun. I am kicking myself for forgetting I had lights to plug in, though! Oops! Or, I could have used my new little lanterns. Oh well.

I don’t know if you are interested and I don’t know if I really care but I signed up at USPS.com for the daily email that tells me what mail is coming. Anyone else do this?

This cracked me up! I bought new bird seed this week but just left the bag out instead of filling it up right away – well… those evil squirrels who were probably working for the birds ripped open the bag and had quite a buffet.

What were the highlights of your week? How are you doing mentally at this stage?

Happy Friday to you!

Amy

Entertainment Thursday

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Let’s talk about books and t.v.! Thanks for all of the sweet wishes on my anniversary yesterday! Like many teachers in the summer, I try to catch up on movies, t.v., and books. I do a pretty good job of still taking time for myself during the school year for these things, too. As my kids got older I was able to start reading for pleasure again! Hang in there, moms!

So, I thought I would talk today about what I enjoy when I’m not doing household or family tasks right now. I tend to watch a very tiny bit of news in the morning but then not turn on a show until lunch time. I watch a little bit more in the evenings – a show with the whole family and then maybe a show with one or both boys and then my trashy t.v. alone! I read in the afternoons or evenings – usually outside. I’m not sure why but I prefer reading outside to inside! I love t.v. and I love books. For me, it is an escape so I usually want to read or watch something funny or entertaining and not too terribly heavy.

The DVR is the greatest modern invention of my time (well, one of them!). I set my favorite shows to tape everytime they are on which is called a “series recording” and then don’t have to watch them at any set time. Ladies, learn to use your DVR if you have one. It is life changing. My best friend won’t learn and I can’t even handle it. I have offered to come show her! You can even set shows to record from your cable provider’s app.

For awhile at the start of our stay at home order, I wasn’t able to focus on much – t.v., movies, or books. I think I have watched Bravo shows the most and thankfully they had mostly been produced before the pandemic. It has been weird seeing people filming from their homes with their own cameras. I have liked my cooking show people filming at home – that has been cool!

Here is a snapshot into the entertainment world of Amy right now…

T.V. Recently:

Belgravia on Epix – Belgravia is an area of London. The show only has one season and 6 episodes. It is done by the creator of Downton Abbey if you were a fan. I think I might like this story line better. I have ATT Uverse still (we haven’t decided how to cut the cord yet) and found the first two episodes on my on demand free shows section. I got a free trial of Epix to finish the rest. Let me know if you check this out!

Counting On – TLC – This was formerly 19 Kids and Counting and now we get to see all the Duggar kids grown up and married and having babies. I know they are controversial, but I am intrigued by their way of life. I used to watch so many TLC shows. Remember A Baby Story – I was obsessed. Now, there aren’t that many.

Sweet Home Sextuplets – TLC – I am a twin mom and I always have been fascinated with families with multiples. The mom and dad are so sweet and patient. The older brother and older twins are sweet and cute and now they have 9 kids. They are renovating their house so I like that aspect, too.

Bravo – I have to do a separate word about this channel. I love almost everything on Bravo. I also like Andy Cohen. I love, love, love my podcast Watch What Crappens where they make fun of Bravo shows. I find myself wondering what the hosts will say about a given episode!

Right now these are the three Bravo shows that are on and that I am watching.

Below Deck – a crew working aboard a luxury yacht with the super rich clientele. Love it!

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – I do not love this group of women. They are so petty and hard to watch. But, I watch anyway.

Real Housewives of New York City – I love this franchise! These women are insufferable, too, but they are much more entertaining. I think I enjoy the New York, Hamptons, Berkshires locales more than any other group.

I can’t wait for Real Housewives of Salt Lake City!

Netflix – Netflix is still my preferred streaming service. We have Hulu and Prime, too.

New Girl on Netflix – This is such a fun show. The characters are truly endearing. The writers are incredible. I really think you should check this out. My boys think it’s really funny.

Scrubs on Hulu – This is our family show now. We are all really enjoying it. I caught a few snippets of it when it was on live t.v. but I didn’t really get into it. I treasure our time watching our show as a family. We have done The Office, Schitt’s Creek, Community, Letterkenny, Arrested Development, Psych, Cheers, Frazier, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

Books Recently:

That Month in Tuscany – I finished this in just a couple of days. It was a fun escape!

American Dirt – Heavy but sooooo good!

The Lie that Binds – I really enjoyed this!

The Honey Don’t List – fun, especially if you are a home renovation person.

28 Summers – not her best, but I did like it.

Next Up:

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan (currently reading)

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

On The Bright Side by Melanie Shankle

What should I watch and read! I need suggestions!

Amy

Twenty Years!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary! How is that possible? I remember this 28 year old young woman below thinking that her 20th anniversary would be in 2020 and wouldn’t that be cool? She hoped to take a trip and commemorate it in a special way and I am sure she had no imagination that it would occur during a global pandemic!

We had a traditional church wedding in the church that was a huge part of my life from the time I was 5 years old. I was not a bridezilla to my knowledge and as excited as I was for the wedding I was even more excited to be married! We had a really fun rehearsal dinner the night before and we were blessed with the most perfect 80 degree day in mid-July!

We did not see each other until I walked down the aisle so this photo was taken after the ceremony. I was adamant about not keeping guests waiting long so we didn’t take a lot in the church after and everyone was waiting for us outside by the church steps before we left for the reception.

We were the first to use the new town trolley. We rode on the back the whole way up a giant hill to our reception. The wedding party was inside. My two brothers-in-law decorated a cooler like a present to sneak beer on the trolley.

My favorite photo – this fountain is across from the church steps and this is before we boarded the trolley.

Our original cake person fell through so this was a last minute subsitute. I didn’t really care. It was fine. See, I wasn’t a bridezilla. Also, we did not smash cake in each other’s faces.

As I looked through my professional album, it made me sad to see how many people we have lost since this day. Both of our grandmothers (each of us only had one living at the time), Tom’s best man who died of brain cancer six years ago, and my Dad who died less than two years ago.

My Dad was notorious for starting congo lines at weddings. We went to so many family and close family friend weddings in my early twenties. This is my Dad at the head of the line with my high school best friend and cousins following. What a fun memory! The reception was so much fun and we stayed until the end. We left for Aruba at 3:00 a.m. and stayed up the whole night!

What can one say about a twenty year marriage? I know that you aren’t supposed to be prideful but I am proud of my 20 year marriage. We haven’t been without trials and tribulations. Right after we were married, Tom lost his job and struggled to find his next job with a good fit for him. We found out we were having twins after only being married about 1.5 years. Then, we had premature twins in the NICU for 6 weeks. We have been through struggles with our extended families that aren’t my stories to tell. We have been through deaths of our family members and friends. We have had a little more money than we need and a little less money than we needed. We have figured that out together even when it wasn’t easy. We have traveled together and stayed home together. We parented our twins together from birth until now – almost time for college. And now, I guess we can say we have been in a global pandemic together. I’m not perfect. Tom isn’t perfect. I would like to think that I have brought out the best in Tom and pushed him to take risks. I know that he has helped me and been a sounding board for some of my professional challenges and personal challenges. We are about to embark a new chapter as empty nesters and it seems like it happened so quickly!

Normally we don’t do a lot for our anniversary. We are usually on vacation so that feels special. Tonight we are simply getting fancier takeout than normal since it falls on a Wednesday and then on Friday we will go out to eat on a patio.

How long have you been married? I would love to know!

Here’s to 20 in 2020!

Amy

Masking My Feelings

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Am I smiling under my mask? You’ll never know!

I hope that you find today’s post helpful. To me, masks are not a political issue. It is one easy thing we can do to protect others and ourselves. Masks have been commonplace in other countries for some time and I always thought it would never happen here. Alas, it has.

I probably hate the mask just as much as the next guy or more. It messes with my beloved earring game – I have found studs to be the best with a mask. It hides my treasured lipsticks. I feel claustrophobic and hot – I get super grumpy when I’m hot. Sometimes my breath is bad – like if I have just eaten red onion or garlic before putting on my mask.

So, what I have here is what my precious students have advised. Many of them have been working jobs that require masks. I have an Instagram account mainly just for my students – mostly former. My policy is that anyone can follow me but I don’t approach them. I have found it to be a helpful way to connect and stay connected. I miss them terribly! It brightens my day to see them on Instagram and I hope it brightens theirs when I make a comment or say “hi”.

Here is what they wrote when I asked for advice: (My thoughts will be in ( ) after theirs)

-Lowe’s sells a cooling type of neck gaiter by the brand Mission, I think. Many are wearing the gaiters that are kind of like a turtleneck that stays around your neck when not in use. Then, you simply pull it up. (This is what my hub wears everyday to work)

-If you twist the bands before putting them behind your ears your glasses are less likely to fog. (I have not tried this – interesting – I have tried the Dawn soap trick and it works – rub a bit of blue Dawn on the lenses and then wipe)

-Masks that have fabric as the ear loops are more comfortable than elastic.

-Love the Zazzle brand. They are lighter and more comfortable than others I’ve tried. Their elastic is fairly comfy, too.

-Try cutting a dri-fit shirt into a bandana type mask

-Buy the masks that loop around your head and neck, instead of your ears. It’s much better for long wear.

-The regular disposable surgical masks are the best in my opinion in comfort and in durability or at least for me and my job.

-I cut a thin t-shirt and put slits for my ears, but I have recently started using the cotton ones that come in a package from Target. They are t-shirt material and looser so that it’s breathable but effective.

-One sweet girl sent in this headband like hack. You put buttons on a piece of fabric that goes behind your head and then attach the mask straps to that. This is intriguing!

I was in The Dollar Tree for a couple of minutes this week and as I checked out, there was a bin of 2 for $1.00 disposable masks so I got a pack. This is the most comfortable and breathable I have worn now and it is double ply. See if yours has these, too!

Any mask recommendations for me? In my city of Louisville, KY at least in the places where I have gone since March – Kroger, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, Target, The Dollar Tree, The Fresh Market, and a couple of other shops – 99% of all people, employees and customers, are wearing masks. Go Louisville, KY! On July 10 masks were made mandatory in the whole state of Ky. My friends have reported that the rest of the state has not been doing well and one of my friends even got made fun of for wearing a mask while in a gas station about an hour away! You know how some states have 10,000 new positive cases a day? Ours has around 300 something at the most. Is this because we aren’t testing as much? Is this because we aren’t a desirable place to visit like Florida? Ha! I really appreciate the bloggers and influencers that are posting photos wearing masks.

Stay healthy!

Amy

Hello Monday!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Well, that weekend went by quickly just like last week did! It’s surprising to me that this summer is still following the normal pattern of summers past – time speeds up like crazy after the 4th of July. Do you feel that way, too? I am linking up today with Heather and Tanya right here.

I was so happy Thursday night to find the rest of my Belgravia! Did you enjoy Downton Abbey? This is by the same creator and is from the channel Epix. There is only one season with 6 episodes. I watched the first two on demand but couldn’t find the rest. I finally figured out I could do a 7 day free trial of Epix and I quickly finished the last 4. I am seriously considering watching all of them again.

I got a call from my library that this was ready and I was so happy because the book I had been reading was a dud! I flew through this in a couple of days this weekend, so I do recommend it for a fun summer read.

I made a trip Friday to Bath and Body. Um, you can’t sniff things with a mask on so it wasn’t very fun.

Please don’t hate me – I got a one month subscription to Disney Plus and I’ve already cancelled it. I couldn’t watch all of Hamilton. I did put the captions on as my friend recommended. I’m sure I would have felt differently had I been in a theatre watching it live. I do think it is creative but for all of the hype I heard about ahead of time… I don’t know. Unpopular opinion here I am sure! I love live musicals normally – especially if my son is in it or students I know!

Saturday Tom, Ernie and I took our boat out. We anchored in what is known as “Party Cove”.

My sister towed her boat to our hometown upriver and they came by boat for the first time – about an hour and a half ride for them. She left her four kids and two dogs with my mom! Ha! They have quite the crew. This is their arrival to party cove.

Ernie immediately boat hopped which I thought was funny.

Of course, my sister brought her drink of Summer 2020.

The weather could not have been better and we all floated for awhile with drinks in our hands and then we had some snacks we brought.

Boats just kept coming in the cove.

Then, we put our boat up and all hopped on theirs and went to the river gas station and then showed them around. They had been on our section of the river before with us but it had been awhile.

We stopped at Captain’s Quarters and found a nice shady spot.

Molly and I had their signature frozen Miami Vice cocktail. It is pink and a rum based drink.

We ordered some hummus, pimento, and whipped feta

and some pulled pork nachos on homemade potato chips.

I wish every day were as perfect. I hadn’t seen my sister in person since Christmas and the day was sunny, 85 degrees, and not hot like it has been.

They dropped us off around 7 and started on their way back to our hometown. Unfortunately they got caught in some rain and storms but made it back safely. I would have freaked out! I was so tired from all of the sun that I went to bed around 10 after watching a few New Girl episodes with Jack.

Sunday morning I was up by 6 since I had gone to bed early. I am really good with 6-7 hours and find it hard to sleep longer than that. I went out to the patio in the light rain and lit my Glade Cashmere Woods candle because I am fancy. If you have not tried the Glade plug-ins and candles in this scent you must. I. am. in. love. with this smell. It may not be the most summery but I’m still using it. This mug is special because it was my Dad’s and it is from a place called Ernie’s that he went to on a trip. Molly has his other one like this. Our other sister doesn’t do coffee. It was nice to talk about our Dad and share fun memories Saturday, by the way. I wish our other sister had been with us, too.

Jack wanted to do the bookstore so the boys and I went. We also got Blaze pizza right by the book store. It had been since way before March since we had gone there. Mason isn’t mad – he just didn’t know I was taking a photo here.

I moved on to this and am really liking it so far. I think the premise of the book will turn out to be interesting.

And, those were my highlights.

What about you? I hope you had a good one. I did try to social distance from my sister and brother-in-law as much as I could. We stayed 6 feet apart while in the water but we were probably 3 feet apart while eating and on the boat. It’s really hard with family, especially!

Hope you have a great Monday and leave me your weekend highlight in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Amy

Friday Faves

Friday, July 10, 2020

Happy Friday! This week went by quickly. How was yours? I am linking up today with Andrea, etc. right here.

One of the strategies I am using right now is getting out of the house once a day in the car. I may never even get out of the car – like a grocery pick up or a library curbside – but I think it helps me mentally to get out and see the world and when I return home I have a different perspective on these four walls! That’s not to say that I can’t stay home – just that I am choosing to spread errands out like this right now. What about you?

My first favorite this week is Ernie. He is not on his bed at all in this photo! He cracks me up. I love him so much and he is the perfect dog for us. He sleeps in if we do. He gets up early if we do. He never tries to run away. I attribute lots of this to my husband Tom, the dog whisperer. He trained him well as a puppy.

Another Facebook memory popped up this week. I miss this stage when we had a pool membership and went several times a week. It was always a special treat when the boys had their Daddy in the water on the weekends or after work. You wouldn’t know it now, but my boys got TAN!

Time really does speed up and it’s hard to believe this memory was 4 years ago. The summer between 8th grade and high school we took a 2 week trip to Germany to visit and travel with Tom’s German family. Here is the castle that is reportedly what they based Disney’s castle off of. We took a train to right here where I took this photo and then walked/climbed all the way up. Some people went up by horse and carriage and I can’t remember if there were other options.

This is my sister’s photo and both of my sisters recommended this. I bought my own during my last grocery pick up and it is really good! It’s light and refreshing. I bought it in the slim cans so I can use my rose gold Brumate koozie.

My Master rugs came in. I think I’m happy with them! Tom thinks it may be too big but this is the look I was going for. Anyone? I am so bad at design stuff! I am going for muted grey, light blue, and greenery in the room I guess you could say. We are looking for a giant armchair to put where the plant currently is with an ottoman that may or may not match. I like the idea of two different textures/designs. These rugs are from Boutiquerugs.com and the style is called “Orrick”.

The matching runner.

I have hardly ever gotten breakfast or lunch from a restaurant during these last few months – I just don’t think about it. We get one-two take out meals a week normally, but at dinner time. I have been part of a Facebook group that has 90,000 members! The purpose is to support local businesses during this time and some have even reported a boost in sales! I had been hearing about a little sandwich shop that I never knew about near me. It is called “Starving Artist” and all the sandwiches have names like The Bob Ross, The Janis Joplin, The Leonardo Da Vinci. Isn’t that cute? So, I got sandwiches this week for the boys and I and forgot to take a photo. But, for dessert, I stopped by a bakery called Najla’s and this cookie right here can hardly be called a cookie. It tasted more like cake and the frosting was so good. My glasses are here for size reference. It made me feel good to support two small businesses and it was a treat to have lunch already prepared.

I know my blog post “Pandemic Fun” sounded a bit crazy this week. I hope you didn’t take that the wrong way but so much of what we are going through is super scary. We face so much fear and uncertainty. So much of what we deal with in the day to day is mental and if I can help someone I want to do so. I listed some ideas to maintain connections so check it out here if you are interested.

So, I had a patio cocktail/doggy playdate with my friend of 20 years, S! I love spending time with S and rarely get to. We first met our first year of teaching at my current school. She is no longer there because she moved out west, then to North Carolina before settling back here in her hometown. She is a Latin teacher so we have a lot to talk about! She just got a German Short-Haired pointer named Duke and he and Ernie played hard! I made Kentucky lemonade and had a bit of charcuterie but it was hard to serve with a puppy! It was super hot but I had the fans going and we were in the shade. This was my “pandemic fun” for the week! S and puppy came inside to see renovation and we both wore masks inside.

Look at my car temperature! This is not a favorite but I am thankful for my AC!

I wanted to report back about my Ulta lip oil I talked about here. It just seems like a non-sticky gloss. I like it o.k. but I don’t get what it really is good for. I may use it to top a regular lipstick? I have been super curious about this below but it’s so pricey! Anyone have it? Sheaffer loves it!

I am hoping to hear some live music on the lawn of the neighborhood where we like to go. They have a little cottage bar and a food truck. They didn’t have it last week because of the 4th holiday and the week before that I was very disappointed in people not wearing masks in the bar and food lines. Not good! So, I didn’t get anything. People were spaced out pretty well on the lawn. I can bring my own food and drink I guess. We may ask some friends to meet us.

We will probably do a boat ride. I do think we have a chance of storms, though. Also, our bedroom ceiling fan came in and I’m anxious for that. I have been a bit warm in my bedroom lately.

What’s on your agenda?

I hope you are staying well and that you have some favorites to share with me in the comments!

Amy

Eating Lately

Thursday, July 9, 2020

I try to do these posts every couple of weeks because I know how helpful they are to me! We all get in ruts!

I cook 5-6 nights a week and the other night(s) we get takeout or eat leftovers.

This is really good. I made it to eat just as is and I made it to serve on an entree salad.

Season chicken breasts or tenders on both sides generously with Trader Joe’s lemon pepper and everything but the bagel seasoning. Sear on both sides for 2 minutes and put in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Thank you to Carolina Charm for this recipe! She also just posted that she used this to make chicken salad (the cold version with mayo, etc.)!

I served this with shortcut twice baked potatoes. I did two potatoes in the microwave then after they cooled a bit, I split them in half and scooped out the innards. I added sour cream, cheese and spices and put back in the potato skin and added cheese and bacon and baked for about 15 minutes in the still hot oven.

I also wanted to make this corn from Boo Mama. It has cream cheese and sour cream. It would’ve been a better meal with a green vegetable instead, but we were low on supplies.

I made BLT wraps for the boys one day for lunch. I offer to make them something some days and some days they take care of their meals. They aren’t big on lunch meat sandwiches so they usually make themselves leftovers, grilled cheese, quesadillas, or Ramen.

I made Family Savvy blog’s baked ziti for a crowd but I didn’t make as big of a portion.

Our takeout rotation is: the Mexican place by our house called Mi Tierra, the Mediterranean place by our house, the Thai place by our house – those are our go-tos. We are so lucky to have really good restaurants close by. Not everything is good for takeout but these three can be reheated well if you are doing the 20-30 seconds to kill the virus thing in the microwave. Fried food is not good for takeout – we learned the hard way!

This is arroz con pollo that the boys love.

We have not ordered pizza since I discovered the skinny biz dough recipe. Isn’t that crazy? That’s what my reader who told me about it said, too! I do plan to order some pizza soon because we have really great pizza places here.

I skipped a few weeks of Dinnerly and got another box this Monday. Here are my recipes for this week.

I have only made the Pad See Ew so far but I called it Pad Thai and added chicken- see I just can’t follow directions well! My son called it “Sad Thai” so if that tells you anything – it was not a hit – I also chalk it up to the fact that we are spoiled by really good Pad Thai up the road. The owner is from Thailand so it is the real deal. I kind of think Chinese and Thai food are hard to make at home? We’ll go with that!

Dinnerly has several options each week that you can choose from. I hope the other two recipes go over better with my crew! Also, I can send 3 people Dinnerly boxes. Dinnerly has no idea that I have a blog, but it is their standard referral program. You would have to give your credit card information and then your first box is free. The first three people to leave their name and email address will get a box! I now have two friends doing Dinnerly and two blog readers have tried it. I’m not sure if they kept up with it. I find it to be the most affordable of the meal delivery kits I have seen. For a family of four, for three meals a week, it is around $60.

What have you been eating? I always need ideas! It’s also heating up around here so I want to keep my oven off!

Amy

Pandemic Fun

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

My friend was mentioning her lack of “anything to look forward to” and how that is taking a toll on her mentally. I know that is the case for many of us, too. By putting a few small things on the calendar that can be done safely, we can reap some benefits of summer fun. In a way it doesn’t seem like summer has started yet, but I know that fall will be here before we know it and I want to be intentional and take advantage of some things I can do this season.

I realize that we all have different comfort levels given the current situation. Some of these ideas can be modified according to your comfort level.

Move your furniture a bit to make sure you have enough space to spread out. Or use folding chairs in the yard!

-Have one family over and each of you bring takeout of your choice to eat outside. We did this a lot at the beginning of the pandemic. The host just had to set up their tables 6 feet away and we kept each family at their own table. You can also order individual meals from a restaurant so there is no buffet style sharing.

-We have many neighborhoods that are inviting food trucks to come visit. Bring a couple of chairs, grab some food, eat in a common area of the neighborhood if you don’t live there or take the food to a nearby park. Invite friends and sit 6 feet away. There are some really great food trucks in my city.

-Look for outdoor music. We have had a few options for this and this is what we would do a lot of in a typical summer.

A local brewery had a food truck and a musical act. They had tables spaced out well and you had to wear a mask to order or to go in to use the restroom.

-This is prime time for Farmer’s Markets. I have listed different ones in my calendar in case I can go. It’s more than shopping; it’s entertainment and it’s supporting our local farms. There are all kinds of things – jams, bread, vegetables, meat and eggs, flowers, and more. We did the Sunday 1-4 that a nearby neighborhood has with another couple. We looked around a bit and then set out chairs under a shade tree and enjoyed some treats from the market and some wine we each brought for ourselves. We had a great couple of hours visiting.

-Have one friend over for cocktail hour. It’s easier to social distance with just one person. If they are comfortable you can provide the drink. Get individually packaged snacks or make a separate snack plate for each of you, if they are comfortable with that. I ask my friends what their comfort level is. Some are fine for me to prepare something and some are more at ease with packaged foods or BYO. Bonus: If it’s just one friend at a time you can really visit and talk. I have done this with 3 friends so far. I usually say to come around 2:00.

-Meet a friend on a patio at at restaurant for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. It will get too hot for patios here soon but it will be short lived hopefully. And, we have some unseasonably cooler days here and there in July and August. I try to meet earlier than the rush hour – like a 5:00 dinner or a 11:30 lunch.

-Get a baby pool and invite a friend to put their feet in with you and pretend you’re at a beach. You can make sure you are spaced out 6 feet. If you have a real pool, even better!

-Have a virtual cocktail party if friends are more comfortable with that. Zoom is great and user friendly or use Facetime. Each of you prepare your own drink while talking over video. I did this with high school friends, my cousins, work people. It’s not the same, but it helps.

-Invite a friend to walk with you.

-Invite a friend to take a bike ride with you.

-Go canoeing and keep family units in same canoe!

I find that if I have even just one social thing on the calendar per week it really helps me. Soon I hope to invite a couple of people on our boat. I am supposed to start work August 10, so I am about a month away. We still don’t know what that will look like. I decided I am going to enjoy some more “summer” and not stress about school until there is something to stress about.

What other ideas do you have for fun?

I still plan to:

-shop for college stuff with each boy – Waiting on sales and list from our college.

-plan a couple of family activities that the boys are comfortable doing

-host family for a small graduation gathering outside

-boat

-eat on patios

-enjoy more takeout from locally owned places

-learn to cook a few more things – want to try the Outback blooming onion

-declutter and deep clean many spaces in my house. Take things to donation sites.

-start next renovation project or get plans in place – next up is Master bath!

-Meet Tom for lunch one day while he is at work. There is a particular place that just opened with a large patio

-Go out to brunch on boat

-Meet my sister for boating

-Get my professional development hours done

-Schedule needed appointments for end of summer and early fall

-Read several more books

What about you? Do you have a list of things you want to do?

Amy