Thursday, August 25, 2016

SUMMER 2016 RECAP

I can't believe summer is over. On one hand, it feels like it went by in a flash, and on the other, it feels like it was the longest summer ever.

We had a really nice summer overall. The summer really started out with a bang when we found out we were blessed with a healthy pregnancy! Telling the boys that they are going to be big brothers was really exciting! We wrote letters on individual cards that they had to unscramble that read "Big Brothers - January 2017!"




Our first trip of the summer was to Sapelo Island, GA. I've told you about Sapelo before. It is a magical place! Given that there isn't really anything to do, we took advantage of the relaxation. We lounged on the beach, slept late, and spent afternoons in the boat watching dolphins and attempting to catch fish. One day, we even saw a manatee!








We were home a week and then headed to the beach for a week with my family. The boys had a blast! They enjoyed boogie boarding, boat riding, fishing, playing putt putt, and going to the arcade. We went shell hunting one morning and found a few nice conchs, too!




Checkers was the game of the summer!

This boy lost one of his top front teeth and a few weeks later, lost the other!


In late July, we spent another week at the beach with Kevin's family. I was getting to the point where I wasn't sick daily during this time, so I was able to enjoy being on the beach some as long as there was a breeze and umbrella. This was another nice, low-key beach week.












All throughout our vacations, I couldn't help but think that our next year beach vacations will look different as we'll have our third baby boy with us!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

7 Books That Made My Summer | WHAT I'VE READ

Over the past few months, I've read seven books. Some, I've loved, while others, I've finished. Here's a list and my thoughts on each.


First Comes Love by Emily Giffin


Emily Giffin is one of my all-time favorite writers. In fact, she may be my favorite author. From Something Borrowed to First Comes Love, her books haven't ever disappointed me.

First Comes Love was different than Giffin's other novels, but it was just as good - maybe even better. It drew me in from the very first page and I could hardly put it down. I could picture myself in the book and I think you could, too. It's all about relationships and the complexities they bring. She does a great job of weaving the stories of two sister's together and examining the family dynamic through tragedy. I don't normally read her books looking for advice, but parts of this book definitely related to something a close friend has been dealing with and I was able to share a passage with her.


All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank


I've read almost every single one of Dorothea Benton Frank's books and loved most of them. I have to say, though, I really struggled with All Summer Long. It was a little different - and not set on one of the beloved barrier islands of SC - and I found myself having a really hard time finishing it. I hate to sound critical because I've loved everything I've read by her up to this point, but there was just something different about this one. I think the fact that I wasn't able to relate to the main characters could have had something to do with it, but it just wasn't the normal page-turner I'm used to having when I read Frank's books. Nonetheless, I finished it, and will read her next book next summer.


Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman


Long before I knew I was pregnant, I knew I would read Bringing Up Bebe. It's on many list of "must reads" for expectant moms and it did not disappoint. I'm very eager to establish a routine with my new baby boy when he arrives because quite frankly, I'm petrified of having a baby with nights and days mixed up and one who won't sleep. I love the advice in this book and I plan to put much of it to use next year. Granted, I know babies are all different and can't really be controlled, but I want to do what I can to try to have a good sleeping baby. 

Side note to all you mama's out there: Send sleep suggestions!


A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe


Mary Alice Monroe is another writer I love. I've read most of her books, too, and find that I usually have trouble putting them down. A Lowcountry Wedding was the final book in the Lowcountry Summer series, but reading it makes me long for another book in the series because, let's face it, one of my favorite character's was just introduced in this book! Being from the South, and South Carolina in particular where both the book is set and the author resides, many of the locations are familiar to me which is always nice.

If you haven't read this series, I'd encourage you to. It's great!


Skyward by Mary Alice Monroe


I've had this book for a while, but just read it. It falls into the category of "I had to make myself finish it." It's not bad by any means, it just took me longer to get invested in it than usual. The story line is interesting, but it's different than some of her other books. All of her novels deal with some type of natural environment issue and this was no different. 

The Matchmaker by Elin Hildebrand


I've only read one other Hilderbrand novel and I have to say, she's quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. I couldn't put this book down. Even though I could figure out how it was going to end, I didn't want to get to the end. I bawled my eyes out in this one (pregnancy hormones or not -- you'll cry). I've found that with both of her books I've read and the one I'm currently reading, you're sucked in immediately. 



I'm fascinated by First Ladies and certain First Families, so this was a book I didn't want to miss. It was great and offered so many tidbits of information about these women and their families. If you like the women and not necessarily the politics, you'll enjoy this book!

There you have it -- the last seven books I've read. Tell me: What are you reading?






Monday, August 22, 2016

5 Tips To Help You Get Back Into the Groove of School

I can't believe the 2016-2017 school year has already begun! The boys have been in school for a week already and both love it, thankfully! They each have many friends in their classes and love their teachers (I do, too!), but even with the excitement that surrounds the school year, it's sometimes hard to get back into the groove. Here are a few tips that help us get back into the groove.


1. Create Excitement Around the New School Year.
I don't know about you, but I always look forward to fresh starts, and a new school year is definitely one of those. By July, we're already talking about the next school year. The boys' get excited and I get excited. We have a tradition of doing "interviews" at the beginning and end of every school year, too. It's something that's fun to look back on and the boys always expect it.

2. Involve Your Kids in the Decision Making Process.
Growing up, I remember my mom would always take me to pick out my school supplies - from my book bag and lunch box to pencils and new clothes. This is something I look forward to doing each summer. Before school was even out in June, one of my boys had already decided what kind of book bag he wanted for this upcoming year. Taking them to Target to pick out their own school supplies really gets them involved and excited.

3. Enforce Bedtime Before the Night Before School
Kevin and I are pretty schedule-oriented and bedtime is no exception. We've found that our children thrive on a schedule, so it's something we are pretty strict about. As the boys have gotten older, we've relaxed some about bedtime during the summer and on Friday and Saturday nights, but we don't let the kids rule the roost when it comes to when they go to bed. Sure, it can be inconvenient at the time, but we've found that we're much better off the next day when our boys go to bed around the same time. During the school year, they're upstairs in their beds by 8:30. They take a little longer to go to sleep, but usually, they're both out no later than 9:15. During the summer and on weekends, we let them stay up a little later - 9 or 9:30 - but not veering too far off this routine helps us ease back into the regular 8:30 bedtime with minimal complaints.

4. Establish a Nighttime Routine.
With two kids with homework and working full-time, we don't have a lot of room for error at night. We want to make the most of our weekday nights and squeeze in a good amount of quality time together. In order to do that, it really helps to have a routine. The boys are used to this and know what to expect when we get home at the end of each day. Of course, in the summer, this is totally different as there is no homework to be done, but this is what works for us during the school year.

  • While Kevin and I work on dinner, the boys play. They're usually in the den or playroom right off of the kitchen, so we're able to talk with them about their days.
  • We eat dinner as a family. We have our kids take turns setting the table and cleaning it off.
  • After dinner, I put up the leftovers and make sandwiches (or whatever the boys are having the next day) for lunchboxes while Kevin is cleaning up the kitchen (yes, I have an awesome husband!).
  • We do homework as soon as the kitchen is clean. This takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
  • After homework, we have an hour or so to play before bath time.
  • At 8, we always have the boys take a bath and get ready for bed. This gives us a few more minutes to play and read while they wind down before taking them upstairs for bed.

5. Establish a Morning Routine
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll just spell it out - we're all about a routine. The morning is no exception. Our alarm goes off around 6:25 and we're up by 6:30. I go straight to the kitchen to pull something together for breakfast (and these days, eat a waffle before I do anything else). A few minutes later, the boys make their way downstairs. Right now, we keep most of their clothes in our room so it's easier to get them out and ironed at night. We always put their clothes out for them and they'll get dressed and play while I finish breakfast. While I'm doing this, Kevin is getting ready for work. By the time the boys are dressed and he's ready, I have breakfast ready and they sit down to eat. I don't usually eat with them in the morning, and instead, take a quick shower while they finish breakfast and Kevin puts the dishes in the dishwasher. The boys then finish getting ready by brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes. I throw their sandwiches, fruit and a cold drink in their lunchboxes and send them off.

For us, it seems that having a routine that works and sticking with it helps us to stay organized and on top of things during the school year. Pumping the kids up about school and their new teachers and classmates is the icing on top. Please share your tips for getting back into the groove of school! I'm sure this time next year, we'll have a whole different routine as we add another baby boy to our family in January!