Tuesdays with Jacob

Back to School Styles for Little Men

August 18, 2017

We've got just a few weeks now until Jacob starts preschool and we've been having so much fun getting ready. He loves to tell us how we're going to "drop him off and say bye" to him. Needless to say he's ready  for all the fun! This will be the only year before he enters our public school system and has to wear a uniform so it's really our only chance to go back to school shopping for clothes. We had to take a few things into consideration, the first being that he will be going to the bathroom all by himself. He's been potty trained for over a year now, but we definitely help a lot with the clothing aspects of it. All of the bottoms here are elastic waist for ease at potty breaks. We've also grabbed some of our favorite underwear from Carters, they just seem to fit him the best and be easiest to get off and on. The second thing that we can count on is that it will be hot well into the fall and even the winter. We've added a few layering pieces for the winter months, but otherwise kept things light. 

This is where I admit to you that once upon a time I didn't think dressing a boy would be any fun. Oh how wrong I was! We also picked up a sturdy Pottery Barn Kids backpack that we're hoping will last a few years, and a new pair of our favorite sneakers since his feet are growing like crazy lately. Here are some of our favorite picks for back to school:

Bring on the Tailgate

August 15, 2017

I know two guys who are VERY excited that it's finally time to start breaking out the football jerseys again. Jacob is finally at the age where he is old enough to start to "get it." (perhaps more so than mommy, which is somewhat embarrassing) Now that he's starting to understand football we figure maybe we can take him along to some games or tailgates this year. 

In anticipation of that, we've started stocking away some necessities. Walmart.com actually has an entire tailgating section! It's really easy to find everything since it's all together in one spot. We ordered two Coleman quad chairs and a 50 quart cooler, but I suspect we'll grab a few more things before football officially starts. All of our items were available for pickup at our local Walmart, the day after we ordered them. 

We'll try to keep things as simple as possible, bringing or ordering easy foods that we know Jacob likes, and keeping plenty of water for him in the cooler since it's notoriously hot well into fall in Florida. The cooler is a perfect size and easy to transport with it's wheels and handle. It's also super sturdy and makes a great seat for a toddler or small child. 

The chairs are super roomy and comfortable and they'll also be great for sitting on the sidelines at Jacob's soccer games this fall. There's plenty of space to comfortably hold a kid in your lap, and they even have a built in cooler on the armrest to keep your drinks cold! 

If you have football traditions with your kids or other tailgate essentials that we need to add to our list, please let me know! I'd love to hear from you!

Jacob's First Sleepover + Checklist

August 11, 2017

Jacob had his first sleepover earlier this month at his grandparents. I know sleepovers are a hot topic in mom groups, and I'm not sure where we fall yet on the sleeping over at a friends house debate. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We had a lot of painting to do in our living room and we needed him out of the house and away from the paint fumes to do it. We also got to see a movie while he was away, our first in months! 

He had a grand old time at his grandparents. They made him steak for dinner, which is one of his favorites and let him watch his favorite movie Polar Express. At bedtime he slept in his travel bed that he usually sleeps in for naps at their house. Sometime around 1:00 am he woke up and was a bit out of sorts waking up in a new place and wormed his way into their big bed. From what I hear there was very little sleeping between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 am, but at 4:00 he decided to go back to his own bed and slept till 7:00. Despite his late night shenanigans he still got a beach trip in the morning, so I'd say he got the better end of the deal here! 

Before he left I made sure to pack up his bag with everything he could possibly need to recreate his sleeping environment at home as much as possible. This was our very first night apart ever! He has a duffel bag from Pottery Barn Kids that was the perfect size to hold everything. In addition to the basics I sent Llama Llama Gram & Grandpa which is about sleeping over at grandparents for the first time. It was the perfect bedtime story for the occasion. 

As  excited as we were for a night off, and to get all our painting done, we were just as excited to pick him up the next day. Our house sure is quiet when he isn't in it! Each new milestone we pass is bittersweet. He's growing all too fast! 

Starting our Gallery Wall + Printable

August 9, 2017

The past few weekends we finally started to tackle our living room, a project I've been itching to start for years. The first step was to paint the whole area white, to try and brighten up our not so bright townhome. The nature of the beast with a town home is that you are only getting light on two sides.... not my favorite thing as a lover of light. When we go searching for our next house, good natural light will be the number one thing I look for! Give me all the windows and sky lights!!! 

Painting took us an entire weekend while Jacob slept over at his grandparents (more about that soon) because we are novice painters. This was actually Dan's first time painting ever! We got better as we went and the second coat was MUCH easier and faster than the first. The following weekend we swapped out our TV stand for a wood one and began to collect (and make!) artwork and plan out where we wanted it. I decided to take a page book from Young House Love and add our frames directly around the TV to help the it not stick out like a sore thumb so much. 

We cut newspaper to the size of each frame and used painters tape to hang them until we found an arrangement that looked good. Then we marked where the nail holes should go and hung them up. It wasn't perfect right away, we moved some stuff around before landing on our final arrangement. I used a mix of frames, but made sure to put the black and gold ones on opposite sides to balance each other out. We kept the spacing between the frames as consistent as possible to make the variety of frames look intentional. The gold frame has a mat that is white, while the others are off white, so I may try to switch that mat out down the road to match better. Now... on to the art!! 

On the left side are two pieces that I made my self. The first is a branch with oranges and orange blossom. I made it with clip art I purchased on ETSY to represent our life here in Florida. The black frame holds a print that reads "then there were 3" representing our little family. 

Directly above the TV is a photograph taken by a Michigan photographer of Pine Trees. (Purchased from Minted) It reminds me of my grandparents house in Northern Michigan and every time I see it I think of our first ever vacation with Jacob when we took him on an airplane for the first time and flew up to Michigan. We stayed at the lake up in the woods for a few nights and Jacob slept longer through the night than ever before. We were all amazed at what some lake air can do!! 

On the right side is a watercolor painting I purchased off ETSY. The sea turtle reminds us of our many beach trips, and all of our beach vacations to Sanibel, Anna Maria, and the Keys. Our beaches are no stranger to nesting sea turtles and we often see roped off nests when we take beach trips. On our Sanibel trip we got to watch scientist observing and digging up a hatched nest. They found several live turtles still inside! 

The last print is another one that I made. It contains lyrics from the Jenny Lewis song "Barking at the Moon." The song is on the soundtrack of Jacob's favorite movie BOLT, and I love the sentiment of it. 

We're in love with the final result that is balanced visually, brings some color to our walls, and is so meaningful to our little family! I'm already dreaming up seasonal changes and pinning holiday printable to swap out for all the upcoming holidays! 

If you'd like a free copy of the Barking at the Moon printable I made, just click on it below! It's formatted to 8x10. 

Here's a handy pin if you'd like to save it for later!

10 Easy School Night Meals

August 4, 2017

This is it. The last weekend of summer. Can you hear my tears? They're falling like rain I tell you. Life gets real interesting when our house has two parents working plus little man and all his activities. During the week my one goal is to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. The reason is two fold: 1. I'm exhausted from teaching all day, and 2. the sooner we eat dinner the sooner we start our bath and bedtime routine. Here are some of our tried and true weeknight dinners. The ones that are quick, easy, and for the most part cheap. They don't take much prep, or they can be prepped the night before. 

1. Spaghetti // I make a simple meat sauce (beef and garlic browned in a pan. drain. add in a jar of past sauce and a cup of grated parmesan) and serve over noodles with garlic toast (butter bread. sprinkle on parmesan and garlic salt. broil until golden) and call it a night. If I plan ahead I make a big batch of Nonna's meatballs on the weekend and freeze them. Then I can just defrost what we need and add those on top. 

2. Pulled Pork // THIS is my favorite pulled pork recipe. I marinate it the night before and then toss everything in the crock pot in the morning. I also make up the salsa the night before. All I have to do when I get home from work is boil a pot of rice and shred the pork. 

3. Flank Steak // another easy crock pot recipe. Toss it all in the crock pot and you're done. Serve over rice or shredded cauliflower or even mashed potatoes. Recipe HERE.

4. Sheet Pan Fajitas // I recently discovered THIS recipe for fajitas and it could not be easier. Everything cooks on one pan and you can use steak, chicken or shrimp. 

5. Breakfast // always a winner at our house. Little man eats breakfast food better than anything else. I will mix up some pancakes or waffles (from a box mix) and then fry up some eggs and bacon to go with it. 

6. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup // a classic. If I know the day is going to be super hectic I'll assemble the sandwiches the night before and keep them in the fridge until I'm ready to put them in the pan. 

7. Baked Meat + Veggie // I'll pop some chicken or pork chops or steak in a pan with some salt, pepper, and maybe garlic powder and then pull a bag of veggies from the freezer and cook them in the microwave. If I'm feeling extra fancy I'll cook some steak fries or sweet potato fries to go with. 

8. Sausage Bake // slice turkey sausage thin, add some diced potato and sliced pepper and toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil and some salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other seasonings. Then I lay it all out flat on a pan and bake at 350 until everything is getting nice and golden. 

9. Quiche // THIS is my favorite quiche recipe and I love to assemble them on the weekend and then bake before freezing, so that all I have to do during the week is defrost in the fridge during the day and then reheat that night. 

10. Chicken Salad Sliders // We pick up premade chicken salad either at Publix or Aldi and spread it on mini hamburger sliders for a fun change from hamburgers. We usually serve with some chips and fruit. 

And of course when things get really crazy we'll pop in a frozen pizza or a skillet bag (Jacob loves Bertolli Chicken Alfredo) or run through the drive through at Chick-fil-a, it's all about balance! What are your favorite quick and easy meals?

Simplifying School Nights

July 28, 2017

It's juuuust about time to be getting back into our school life routines. As much as I'm dreading giving up these long summer days, I know it's good for all of us. It can be a little bit stress inducing thinking about everything that needs to get done in the day, which is why I try to simplify as much as possible. The after school rush is the worst for me. The sprint from the last school bell until bed time when all the things must get done. Homework, dinner, sports, playdates, etc. Here are just a few ways I try to get the upper hand: 

1. Keep a schedule in place. This probably seems so obvious, but I make sure we have a set time for homework, a set time that little guy can watch tv while I prep dinner, a set time for dinner, play, bath and bed. It might not always get followed to a T, but it helps keep us chugging along when we start to feel tired and run down. Schedules get adjusted of course when sports practices and lessons are added in. Here's what our schedule generally looks like during the school year:

2. Plan dinner ahead. Every Sunday I sit down and I outline our meals for the week. I make sure we have all the ingredients on hand and pick up anything at the store that we may need. Anything that I can prep the night before I do. Meat and veggie chopping, marinating, etc. all make things run smoother the following night. I try to stick to super simple, quick meals during the week and I promise to write a post soon with all our favorites! 

3. Avoid messy cleanups. I LOVE using Reynolds Kitchens products because they cut my clean up time in half. If I'm using the crock pot then I add one of their crock pot liners to the bowl ahead of time. They also have oven liners that go in baking dishes and precut parchment paper that fits cookie sheets that I use when roasting vegetables. These kitchen helpers make it so easy to just pitch the dirty liner and put away the clean pan without scrubbing. Nights when we are really in a hurry we use Hefty foam plates and cups, so there are no dishes to wash. Any spare minutes I can gain in our night time routine are a huge win! 

 Reynolds Kitchens™ and Hefty support Box Tops for Education  which helps schools raise money for supplies, technology and more. Find Box Tops on most Reynolds Kitchens™ products like Parchment Paper, Oven Bags, Slow Cooker Liners and Bakeware Pans. You can also find Box Tops on Hefty Trash Bags, Hefty Foam Plates and Hefty Cups—all things you need to make life easier during the busy school year!

Now through August 29 you can enter here to be one of 50 daily instant winners and enter to win the grand prize of $1,000 worth of Box Tops for your school! A total of five schools will be chosen for the grand prize and you can enter daily until 8/29 so make sure to bookmark the site and visit often!!

Tears and Fears

July 25, 2017

We seem to have entered a new phase of parenthood. One where our fearless toddler has blossomed into a wary preschooler who is afraid of just about everything - including the old cliche, his own shadow. Shadows, thunder, bugs, water, all things he didn't give a passing thought to previously. We try to calm his fears as best we can, we tell him the thunder is just the angels bowling, bugs are just tiny animals, shadows are caused by light, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. He's suddenly super shy around kids other than those he knows well. Trying to get him to share his name and play is like pulling teeth. Besides a big bowl of reassurance and a whole lot of encouragement, we're a little bit at a loss....

Perhaps the most discouraging is his sudden fear of water. The bathtub is fine, but anything else... is not. The kid who used to run straight into the waves now won't go anywhere near the ocean without being held. He's started crying at the splash pad refusing to go anywhere near the water. So we've started taking him, several times a week, hoping repetition will make him more comfortable. Our pool is closed until August for maintenance (SERIOUSLY who's idea was it to do that in the middle of summer?) so it's pretty much our only option for cooling down outside. Beach trips are big productions with armloads of stuff so those get saved for longer trips on the weekend. 

For now, it seems to be working. After a good half hour of being carried around he'll eventually let us put him down, and with A LOT of encouragement he'll come around and start to enjoy himself. He still doesn't like to tell other's his name or interact with them (unless he previously knows them) .... but baby steps, right? If you have any tips for calming fears in preschoolers, I am ALL ears! Please, give me your best advice!! 

This adorable towel is from my sweet friend (and former teaching neighbor)'s new collection. It's 100% organic bamboo, eco-friendly, and the softest towel ever. Jacob loves to put it on and run around growling pretending he's a polar bear. It makes a PERFECT shower or new baby gift and you can get one for yourself HERE

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