Education · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday — Back to School (things edition)


When parents are getting their children ready to go back to school, they often think about getting clothes, backpacks, notebooks and lunchboxes. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, you will often get a list of supplies from your child’s teacher as well.

Image result for back to schoolWhen picking out items for your child to use at school it is often worth spending a bit more now so you don’t have to replace these items later in the year. Over the years, my sons have had 3 backpacks. I let them pick out a fun/novelty backpack for preK but after that we switched over to a better quality backpack. Make sure the size of the backpack is proportionate to your child. We tend to get JanSport backpacks. The ones that we purchased when Blake was in K we still have and use to this date. This is smaller than the one they now use for school (we got those ones when Blake was in 4th grade). When you get a quality backpack it will last years. I had many years where children had cute backpacks, but by February they were destroyed (typically the zippers broke or the pack itself will tear)

Lunch boxes do tend to be something that we replace yearly. This is more because things will spill, the lining will tear or in other ways it will get ruined/destroyed. Again make sure you buy something that is proportional to your child’s size. I also always get reusable ice packs to put in the lunch box with their lunches. Make sure your child is able to open up all the containers you put inside their lunch. When packing lunches take into account the timeframe that your child will be given to eat. Most schools have about 25 min for lunch, but this includes getting into the cafeteria, sitting down, eating, TALKING, and cleaning up. Many children get frustrated when they have too much, or not enough lunch.

When getting clothes for school make sure your child is able to get in and out of the items independently, for bathroom purposes. Make sure you send your child in wearing clothes that they can move, work and play in. Do not send them in wearing clothes that they feel like they can not get dirty or play in. Your child will be sitting on the floor, going to recess, as well as the various special area activities (art, music, pe). Send your children wearing shoes that they can run and climb safely. Also, make sure you check out your school’s dress code.

Some of these things seem trivial, but to your child and their day it is major. School days may seem long to you, but the days are packed and busy. There is limited time for doing tasks, and you don’t want your child struggling with materials, clothes, or lunch items when they don’t have to the time to fumble through the process.



Bathing suit shopping…. UGH!

Today I headed to the store to go bathing suit shopping. I HATE this task. I have hated this task since i was a teen. Is there anything worse than going in and trying on bathing suits?

I went to TJMaxx first. I swear there was no A/C on in the store. When you are hot and sweating, inside the store, it doesn’t help you feel better trying on bathing suits. I think I tried on over a dozen bathing suits. Some didn’t fit. Some didn’t give enough coverage, some were not comfortable, some just didn’t look right on me. I did find one suit that I found acceptable.

I then went over to Target. I had less success there. I didn’t even find as many to try on. I swear the do not make bathing suits for people who have any kind of chest. Not everyone is a size B or C cup (or smaller). Not everyone wants to flaunt all their goods.  I do not want to be popping out all over the place.

I know the fact that I’m not happy with my body image right now doesn’t help the whole shopping process. But, I needed a new suit. I’ll need it for our vacation. I’ll need it because it is summer and there are pools and other water activities to do.

At least I don’t have daughters so it is only me dealing with this shopping drama.

family · food · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– menu planning edition


Every week the night before I go to the grocery store I spend some time menu planning. I have done this for years. I want to go to the store once in a week. I don’t want to have to go back and get something. I also don’t want to limit my meal plans based on what I got on a whim, or what I have in my pantry.

Now don’t get me wrong there are times when I still make pantry meals. There are times when I have to go back to the store because I forgot something or I ran out of something I didn’t expect to run out of before shopping again.

So here is my must have Monday items for menu planning. First thing I grab is a pad of paper. I like the small/junior legal pads. They tend to be the perfect size for my list and then I can fold it up and put it in my pocket. Yes, I know that I could make the list on my phone, but doing it this way is the way I do it. Plus I can have others add to the list without them touching my phone.

I divide the paper down the middle on the left hand side I write all the items I am getting at the store. I even write the staples that I get each week. My list typically starts: milk, fruit, veggies, deli.

On the right hand list I write the days of the week and start picking out meals for dinner. i do not plan lunches or breakfasts. These meals are all fend for yourself at my house. If you want something for one of these meals that we don’t already have you need to put the item on the left side of the list or let me know so I can write it down.

I tend to make simpler meals for the week nights. There are many nights that Richard doesn’t get home from work until around 7pm. The boys and I do not wait until then to eat so the foods either need to be either easy to reheat or remake. The weekends (F, S, S) are the days I’ll put more energy into eating. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t cook during the week, they are just easier to put together.

The summer months mean more grilling and more simple meals. Who wants to put the oven on or slave over a stove when its in the 90s outside??

We purchase a good chunk of meats at Costco so I will go down and see what meats we have in the freezer before planning. That doesn’t mean I  am limited to those meats, but then I don’t have to buy new meats if we have them.

I always ask for meal suggestions. Blake typically says: quesadillas, pressed sandwiches, pizza or tacos. Colby typically asks for: burgers, steak, pancakes or pasta. Richard’s thoughts are a bit more random.

I typically make things we have had before, but I have an extensive Pinterest board with foods to try. Every now and then I will say… time for something new.

This week we are having:

  • grilled ham and pineapple
  • tacos
  • steak, grilled fries, and salad
  • chicken something (I pulled out chicken, but don’t know what we are having with it yet)

That’s as far as I got. I’m slacking this week! Oh well we will get there.

Do you menu plan? How do you go about menu planning each week?

family · life

Fun at the grocery store?

Yesterday we needed to do our weekly grocery shopping. I don’t mind this chore, but doing it with the kids in tow is not always fun. Typically they aren’t bad, but they just hate the whole process. I will say I’m at least glad that I don’t typically end up with a ton of extra stuff when they come with me. I think the area we may have splurged a bit in was fruit, but who can complain about that?

But, yesterday went ten times smoother than normal.  Why?… you ask! Well that is because our grocery store has added a new way to check out. They now have hand held scanners that you can take around the store with you and scan the items as you take the off the shelf. We also have fabric bags that we take shopping with us, so we had everything scanned and bagged before we even got to the checkout.

The boys took turns pushing the cart and scanning. They are also good about popping down isles to find items they want. In the produce section they helped by going to the scale and weighing the items we were purchasing, printing out the label and then scanning the items.

I was worried that shopping would take longer or we’d end up getting other items we didn’t need, but that didn’t happen. The shockingly they both helped bring the groceries in from the car.

We had a good day yesterday all around. I jokingly said to Richard last night, “Who are these children and can they stay for the rest of the summer?” Don’t get me wrong I know my boys are actually good kids, but they are tween so they test limits and get on my nerves… it’s their job.


book · family · life

With May Came Spring!

Finally we have had spring weather. The windows are open. Everyone is wearing shorts (don’t look at our scary white legs). It feels good to finally feel like spring is here to stay (we won’t discuss the fact that we had flurries on Sunday).

Today I went shopping. Blake decided that he needed new school shorts. Let me tell you something shorts for boys are hard to find. I do not let my sons wear athletic shorts to school. I make them wear cargo, jeans or something on that idea. Yes, add this to my mean mom criteria. I just see school as their job and I’m going going to work in workout clothes unless I work at a gym or something on that idea. I want them to see that play clothes are play clothes not play and school/work clothes. So after three different stores (Target, TJMaxx and Kohls) I managed to get him 5 pairs of shorts. There was not a pair of jeans shorts anywhere. Oh well!

In my shopping, I did pick up a few shirts for myself, some pajamas and new bedding for our bedroom. We haven’t got new bedding for our own bed in a quiet a few years and it was time for an update! I picked up a few shirts for Blake and Colby as well. Plus Richard needed a new wallet.

I don’t go out shopping very often beyond the grocery store and Costco… so when I shop… I shop!

When the boys got home from school we headed over to Costco. Blake got new glasses this weekend and they were ready to be picked up. We actually got him glasses and prescription sunglasses. He was very happy since he’s never been able to wear sunglasses. Both the boys now have to order adult size glasses. This was a challenge, but worked out fine. I also picked up a package while I was there. Richard ordered me a new laptop. I’ve had this one for quite a while and it was refurbished at the time. I’m excited for him to come home and set it up. The one I have/had couldn’t hold a charge for the last two years so it really is a stationary laptop now. It will be nice to have a lighter laptop that hold a charge so I can use it where ever I want, not just at the end of my island.

My parent purchased me a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers that I started playing with today. I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 3) yesterday so today I downloaded a book to read. I set up Goodreads first and downloaded Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series. I’ve only read the prologue so I won’t share anything about it yet, but I will. Hmmm maybe I’ll take my kindle outside and read later?

I hope spring has sprung in your part of the world. Time to make dinner. We are have quesadillas tonight…. so easy! I have one more recipe from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.  This one is healthy and tasty and full of veggies.

family · life · through my camera lens

Thursday is shopping day

Seems like I’ve moved my grocery shopping day to Thursday. Last night we made our week’s menu at dinner time. This is always an interesting adventure. I ask anyone have a meal they want or don’t want for the week ahead? Sometimes I get answers other times not so much. Richard is better at this then the boys. But, they are often good at coming up with things we have ALL THE TIME. I’m the type of person who likes variety, my guys like routine, or so it seems.

This week we are having:

  • BBQ chicken lasagna (leftovers)
  • hamburgers and hot dogs – haven’t had this in a while actually other than eating out
  • TBD- probably go out to Zuppas since we haven’t been there in a while and the boys have mentioned going
  • steak with sweet potato fries
  • pork tenderloin and apple sauce- haven’t had this in a while too
  • make your own scramblers
  • Tex-Mex chicken totchos – think nachos on tater tots

Ok meal planning.✓

Does anyone need anything else from the grocery store? crickets! But then they complain when I didn’t buy x, y, or z. Or like yesterday at the oddest time they will say can you pick up Alfredo sauce? It’s not as bad on the days they think of it while I’m actually making the list. The worst is the day after I went shopping, oh I needed you to get _______. Too bad, you’ll have to wait until next week. Remember to add it to the list.

So I’m going to get ready to head to the store. Typically I’d go to the gym first since they are on the same street, but not today. I am not sure what I did, but my hip has been killing me since Tuesday. It hurts to walk up and down the stairs, it hurts to get on and off the chair, it just hurts. I refuse to stop moving. Yesterday the four of us went on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and I walked 1.47 miles and we do not live in a flat neighborhood. (looking at my map my hike info the elevation change was 128 ft between the min and max elevations). But, I’m not going to go to the gym and push it to the point of doing more damage to whatever I did. UGH getting old sucks!

So I will head out in the snow… yes it is snowing AGAIN. Yesterday we had temps in the upper 50s for a high and right now it is 33F and snowing. Here I thought it was spring. Ok mother nature we get it… we aren’t in Florida anymore. It isn’t 80s and sunny 90% of the year. But, can’t we move onto the season of spring? You know the season of renewal and rebirth? The season of flowers, allergies and sunshine? The season that leads into summer? I’m ready… any day now! At least looking at the 10 day forecast at this point there is no snow forecast after today and there are actually days in the 60s. I’ll take it… please!

So, what’s on your menu this week ahead? Do you like to have the same things over and over or do you like to switch things up pretty regularly? Has spring sprung where you live or are you suffering with the season of Spinter like me?

Image may contain: plant and flowerImage may contain: snow and outdoor

family · food · life

It’s Friday

Image result for it's friday

It’s Friday. I have to keep reminding myself about that fact. The boys didn’t have school yesterday or today so this is totally throwing off my days of the week feeling. Richard is home today too so it feels even more like a weekend day.

Today we got up and went to take Richard’s truck to the garage so that he could get his regular maintenance. We decided this would be a great opportunity to go out to Kelly O’s for breakfast. We have never been there during the week and were sort of shocked to walk right in and sit down. The food did not disappoint! Colby had 2 chocolate chip pancakes with bacon, Blake had a build your own omelette (ham and cheddar cheese) with Italian Toast and shredded potatoes, Richard had a Philly cheese steak omelette with raisin toast and shredded potatoes, my dad had blueberry pancake, my mom a Belgium waffle and I had a breakfast sandwich (scrambled egg, bacon, cheddar cheese on a bagel).

After, we drove to the Container Store and walked around to get ideas for the master bedroom closet and the mud room. I have so many thoughts, but we need to find the time, money and what not to get them done. We then headed to Toys R Us. This store was among the original closure stores so they only have 13 days left. The boys still found a few things they wanted to pick up and who can say no to those prices? I need to go to the other one we have nearby that was in the second round of closing so they haven’t been liquidated as much. I want to see if I can get some more games and a few other things.

The boys are going to a flashlight egg hunt tonight. I wonder if it will still be outside since it has rained every day since Monday. It isn’t raining now, but the world is mushy! I was glad to find an egg hunt that is geared towards older kids. Bringing a 9 and 11 year old to an egg hunt were the eggs are just toss around for all age kids doesn’t work very well. Plus my kids won’t eat 90% of the candy in the eggs anyway. This one says it has bigger prizes too. We will see tonight.

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend… if you celebrate Easter, Passover or just are enjoying the start of spring… enjoy your weekend!

family · life

Weekend business

This weekend was busy on so many levels. Saturday we slept in and then the boys worked on their homework. We got a late start to the day and then headed out to Lowes. We went to buy a garden wagon, but decided to go look at tile for the backsplash. Lowes was having a sale for their credit card members… we saved 10%. We decided this was a good time to buy the stuff for the backsplash. When we first looked I couldn’t decide which one to get. We ended up buying three different styles and bringing them home. I then made a decision. We decided to head back to Lowes to get the tile and all the accouterments needed to put up the backsplash in the kitchen. So Saturday felt like all we did was homework and shop at Lowes.

Sunday found us heading out the door again. First we went and dropped Dixie off at The Dog Stop for their Sunday daycare. She LOVESSSS this. On Saturday she was asking to go for a ride first thing in the morning, and we realized she thought it was Sunday since Richard didn’t work on Friday. So Sunday when he was home again, she was trying to get to the car as soon as she went downstairs. When she found out that she was going in the car and going to doggy daycare she was bouncing.

When we got to the gym, the boys were disappointed to find out that the kids size circuit training equipment has been removed. The person working in the kids zone was one of the trainers. He decided to work with the boys an put them through a workout. They said they had fun doing it. We signed them up for a “Little Lifters” workout group that they are starting there. This will take place Saturdays from March 17- April 21. This will be really good for both of them.

Then we went to lunch and then back at Lowes. In the process of painting Friday and doing everything on Saturday we failed to get the paintbrushes cleaned… so back to Lowes we went to buy brushes to paint the gray.

After picking Dixie up and heading home the guys went outside and drove their Traxxas trucks. This provided me time to shower, fold laundry and then do some reading. I read quite a bit on Sunday and am now getting to a better place in Lilac Girls and can read it quicker.

Sunday night Richard and I painted the gray wall. I’m so happy with the choices we made. The windows pop, the furniture goes well, and it just wraps up the space.

Hope you had a great weekend.



Monday morning

It’s Monday morning! Richard and the boys are home today. There is snow in the forecast and it’s Monday.  But, there is something nice about a long weekend. The slow start to the work/school week is always a treat. Now granted when I taught I always had a love/hate relationship with long weekends. I loved the extra time home with my family, but I hated the feeling of squeezing 5 days work into 4. I was always a K or 1st grade teacher. Those children need routines the most and often have a hard time transitioning from home to school routines when they’ve had an extra day off.

But, today I’m going to enjoy time with my guys. We are heading to Costco this morning. We always had a membership to BJ’s Warehouse and for a long time I went there every week to purchase a ton of our groceries. We bought meats, paper goods, milk and even deli from BJ’s. It is nice to boy the boys snacks there too because then there is always snacks around. Before we moved here, we let our BJ’s membership expire since BJ’s isn’t convenient to us here. We debated on not getting a new membership, and buying more of the bulk items on Amazon, but have since decided it is better to get a membership somewhere. So Costco it is! We went and checked the store out before Christmas. The parking lot was PACKED. There were so many people there. But, we also know that right before the holidays all the warehouse stores get packed.  The nice thing is I’ll be able to go during the week and it shouldn’t be as busy… perks of being a stay-at-home mom right now.

After Costco, we will probably come home and just relax. We are making pancakes and bacon for dinner, Colby’s request. Then try to get back into bedtime routines and prepare for the short week ahead!

Do you have today off? What are your plans? Do you have a warehouse club membership? If so what do you typically purchase there?


family · reviews

Where is your….???

Where is your sweatshirt? Where is your water bottle? What happened to all the pencils I bought you at the beginning of the year? What do you mean you left your homework at school?

It seems like some days I ask these questions more than other days. For as smart as my sons are, they are still kids. Some weeks are worse than other weeks. This week Blake managed to lose his Under Armor Sweatshirt. This is the second sweatshirt he has lost this year. He thought he knew where he left it, but when he checked there and in lost and found he says it is gone. I did ask “Were looking with his eyes and hands or with the force?” This is a running joke in our family since 90% of the time the item is where I said it would be if they just looked.

Both boys keep leaving their water bottle at school. They both have Brita filtered water bottles at school. We purchased these for our first Disney Cruise. These water bottles are great for school. The boys can fill the water bottle in any sink and still have filtered water. Having worked in enough schools I can tell you they need the water filtered!  This is the water bottle that I take to the gym as well. I love knowing that I can drink filtered water anywhere

Richard and I made a decision a long time ago to not fix these problems for the boys. They need to take responsibility for their items. I typically will replace an item once and then they are responsible to replace it the next time. Blake had to buy himself a new Under Armor Sweatshirt. He went onto Amazon and found this one and paid us to order it for him.  (I then went on and ordered both Blake and Colby Adidas Sweatshirts since they will be wearing them a lot this winter.)

I often think that I don’t think the way that many parents think. I don’t know if it is because I was a teacher? If it’s the sons that I’m raising? Or if its just that I’m not like other people? But it’s hard when I see so many parents rescuing their kids from every situation in their lives and I just don’t see that as beneficial. Maybe it’s the whole difference between what really happens and what people want others to see happening? I don’t know, but I know that I’m not here to make my sons lives easy. I’m here to make their lives real. I always say I’m raising men not boys. I want them to understand that in life people need to stand up and take responsibility for their own actions. That everything in life is a choice, and choices have consequences.

I never know if I’m making the right choices. I often question my decisions, but I never back down from them. So, today while I’m at the boys school I may just stop by the lost and found and see if I can find Blake sweatshirts. But, even if I do, he will still have learned a lesson when he had to spend $30 of his own money to buy a sweatshirt. Hopefully he will remember this the next time he puts his sweatshirt down somewhere.


I am in the process of adding Amazon Affiliate to my blog site. This means I will get a percentage of any Amazon purchases made through my blog site. Anything you read about on my blog is my own thoughts and opinions. I will not post about an item we do not use ourselves. I will not be influenced to post by the proceeds of this Amazon connection. I shop at Amazon all the time and already link you to Amazon when I do my product reviews. So read my blog and know that these posts are true Lori posts… just with a few extra links.