My Christmas Wishlist

Apparently this is the year of earrings, baseball caps, and sweatshirts--as sixty-plus percent of my wishlist falls into one of those three categories!  At any rate, seeing that no one buys me gifts except for my mom and we've already done Christmas with my parents, this list can double as my birthday list.  Which is exactly three weeks after Christmas. **Hint hint hubby**  (Craig and I don't do gifts at Christmastime; only stocking.)


(some affiliate links)

Rhett's Christmas Wishlist

You know how hard it is to come up with gift ideas for a one-year old with two older brothers who have everything?!  Pretty dang hard.  It's even difficult to find toddler books we don't already have!  I rounded up a few ideas, but sadly, Rhett will be receiving fewer gifts than his brothers.



(affiliate links)

Gift Guide for 3 to 6 Year Old Boys

Also known as Brantley + Holden's 2017 wishlist.  Rather, the list Mom created because when asked, those same kids said they wanted, and I quote, rainbow shoes, a mario yo-yo (Amazon actually came through on that one), ski ball, and a Mario & Luigi soccer ball with a Jayhawk on it.  Huh!?  Where do they even come up with this stuff?  (Besides YouTube, of course.)

Anyway, if you're frantically trying to finish your shopping and you have a 3 to 6-year old boy to buy for, here are some ideas.  I'm about all gifting things that are a) educational b) quiet or c) something the entire family can do.  Heaven knows we don't need yet another cheap toy cluttering our floors!




(affiliate links)


2017 Christmas Cards with Shutterfly

This post is sponsored by Shutterfly.

Between Amazon packages and Christmas cards, checking the mail during the month of December is quite the treat!  I just love seeing our friends' and families' faces splattered across the fronts and backs of Christmas cards.  I also obsess over designing our own cards.  I don't know why.  The average person probably glances at our card and throws it in a pile with all the rest.  But it's still a decision I sit on for hours days before finally pulling the trigger.

(Side note: I punch a hole in the cards we receive, add a binder ring, and make them into books with our own card as the cover.  We have a book for every year since 2009 - the first year Craig and I sent cards, as a newly engaged couple I might add.  Anyone else do this?)

This year, I ordered our cards from Shutterfly.  Since I've used Tiny Prints the last couple of years and they were recently acquired by Shutterfly, it was a no brainer.  And I'm certain I say this every year, but our 2017 cards may be my most favorite one yet!



I just love the quality of these.  The thick cardstock.  The customization options.  The glitter! ๐Ÿ˜  



Not to mention, the ease of designing them.  They have a favorite (heart) option, which makes narrowing down a design a liiiiiiittle easier, although still difficult with all of their gorgeous designs!  (See above comment about it taking me days.)


 
Shutterfly also includes the option of adding your own photo to every design.  Which is basically genius and a huge time saver!! 

Here's how you do it...




...and here's an example using our photo.




I debated whether or not to share our full card on here so soon (after all, it's only December 7, people, and these have yet to hit the mail), but given my track record with blogging lately, it may be May before I get to it.

So here you go.


The front anyhow.  I'll save the back for later.


If you're lucky enough to be a recipient of the Sides' family Christmas card, give me another week.  Life has been cray lately and the stack of cards (all 130 of them) still currently sit on our new dining room table.  Unstuffed.  Un-stamped.  And unsealed.  Thank goodness for Shutterfly's addressing options (recipient✅, return✅)!!  It may take a bit of time up front to input all. the. addresses, but I can't tell you how happy it makes me to already have both sets printed on the envelopes!  (Bonus: You can store the addresses for future use  so next year should be easy-peasy.)




If you're still in the market for Christmas cards, good news!  Shutterfly is offering 50% off premium holiday cards with the code ENCORE.  But hurry because this amazing deal ends this Saturday, December 9!

Huge thanks to Shutterfly for our gorgeous 2017 Christmas cards!

First Day of School 2017

It's Throwback Tuesday, right?  Because I'm throwing it way back to August and the boys' first day of school!  I'm bound and determined to catch up on this ole blog of mine...just for you Aunt Debi! ;)

Anyway, not only was it the boys' first day of school, but their first day at an all new full-time preschool.  A lot closer to our house.  We knew Brantley would do great.  He was enrolled with three of his best neighbor buddies and generally does pretty well in new situations.  Holden, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.  He hates new situations, hates strangers, and hates being away from his all things familiar (i.e. Mommy or Daddy).  I dreaded his prepped him for first day for weeeeeeks, even bribing him with a new toy if he made it through the day sans tears.

Let's just say, he didn't get a toy that day.  Or the next.  Or the next.  In fact, it was a good two weeks before he finally made it through the day without crying.

It didn't help that the first day was dark and stormy.  I waited and waited for the rain clouds to pass before finally snapping their photos in a light drizzle.  As a result, I was late for work (my first day as well) and the thunder during photos didn't do us any favors.  They are both are terrified of thunder. 

But the good news is, things finally got better and though Holden is still super shy around his teachers, he actually enjoys preschool.

Here are our first day photos.  3.5 months later.









My Mompreneur Friends

Hi, friends!  It's been awhile, but I wanted to pop in today to share with you not one, but three of my neighbor friends and their latest ventures.  I've said it before, but moving into this neighborhood has been the biggest blessing.  Craig has a solid group of guy friends, I have my mom tribe, and the boys have umpteen friends within a stone's throw of our backyard.  I remember crying and crying about leaving our old house, our first house, but now I look back and realize that God had a plan for us and it was better than anything I could have ever imagined.  I am grateful every day for this neighborhood, these friends, and this life we live.  Anyway, enough of the sappiness, on to the reason for my post.

Three of my neighbor friends have recently taken on new roles.  They are mamas first, but each has recently taken a leap of faith and created a business invovling something they love...mompreneurs, if you will!  Today I want to share with you their three businesses!

A Seasoned Pot.
Facebook page here.  
Instagram here.

First up, my friend Ali.  She adores all things gardening.  She probably knew more about plants at age ten than I do at 34.  She has been our go-to girl for landscaping advice these past two summers.  Her business, A Seasoned Pot, is focused on container designs--meaning she will take your planter and turn it into a beautiful, seasonal arrangement of plants.  That's always my problem.  I don't know how to mix plants of varying kinds, sizes, colors, etc. and make them look good.  But Ali is amazing at doing just that and I am in awe of every single planter she puts together.  She also makes a killer eucalyptus wreath.  And because it's real eucalyptus, the smell is to die for!  Here are the holiday planters she created for us, as well as her eucalyptus holiday wreath.







If you are local and interested in a planter, do yourself a favor and contact her.  And if you're not local, she is willing and able to ship you a wreath!  Please contact her for details!

KP Designs.
Facebook page here.
Instagram here.
Blog here.


Next is my friend, Kristen.  Like myself, Kristen is a high school teacher, though she teaches classes way more fun than mine (think fashion, interior design, things of that sort).  And soon, Kristen will begin working for a local mom who recently landed her own DIY Network t.v. show.  Cool, huh?  Anyway, Kristen's side gig, KP Designs, is an interior decorating business created to help you plan, visualize, and create the space of your dreams.  I can vouch that Kristen's home is decorated beautifully and I often joke that I want her to come decorate my house.  So whether you want someone to help you spruce up your decor (from near or far) or maybe you just like to follow pretty accounts on Instagram, go check her out today!



Sunflower Steals.
Facebook group here.
Instagram here.
Blog here.


And finally, my friend Vanessa.  Chances are, you and your best friend are already a part of Sunflower Steals because Vanessa grew her little business from zero to a million (not quite, but close) followers, like, overnight.  That's how great this group is!  Vanessa posts all sorts of amazing deals - kids toys, women's clothing, home decor, even discount codes to use at your favorite stores!  She also hosts pretty sweet giveaways that you definitely don't want to miss!  And her kids make frequent appearances in the photos and they are adorable.  Reason enough to follow along, right?!  So, if somehow, you're not a part of this group already, please click here and join!  I promise, you won't regret it.  (Well, your bank account might....)



That's it for today!  I'm going to try to up my blogging game because I've got Christmas cards to share, a first birthday party to recap, and first day of school photos to post. ๐Ÿ˜‚  Happy Monday!

The Daily Dime / / October 2017

How in the world is it this time again so soon?!  I feel like I just documented one of these days yesterday!!  Anyway, welcome to another edition of The Daily Dime!  Remember all you have to do is post ten photos from a day in your life  - they can include as much or as little explanation as you'd like - and then link up below!



Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Brantley is 5 years + 3 months.
Holden is 3 years + 6 months.
Rhett is 10.5 months old.
I realized at the end of the day that my ten photos are crazy similar to last month's!  And once again, Craig is out of town for work.  (I'm joining him on Thursday!)
All photos were taken with my iPhone 8 Plus (yay a new phone!).

The drive on my way to work after dropped off the boys at daycare and preschool.  I just love these early morning sunrises in Kansas.



I arrive at school, Emergen-C, coffee and essential oils in tow.  It seems I'm coming down with a cold or sinus infection and I'm trying to avoid getting sick before our kid-free weekend getaway!



Planning period.  I finalize a few quarter one grades, reply to some emails, and begin working on my sub plans for Thursday and Friday.  Did I mention I'm headed to Dallas and oh-so excited!  I also snap a photo for my new Instagram account (@schoolinstyle) focused on teacher style/fashion.  I'd love it if you follow along!


Back to teaching.  Today's lesson included going outside to indirectly measure the height of a light pole.  You know, math nerd things.  But a total success when one student said "That was so much fun!"



End of the school day.  First, I get the older boys, then on to get Rhett.  I have them all by 4:20 and headed home!


Once home, my work clothes come off and comfy clothes go on.



And whoa, I come back downstairs and Rhett is halfway up the stairs!!  Apparently, he climbs stairs now!  Mental note taken.


 The rest of the evening is a blur.  Feeding three kids, washing bottles, laundry, packing three kids for four days at Grandma's, packing the dog stuff, bath/showers, bedtime, books, getting things ready to run out the door by 6:55am the following morning.  Whew!


Finally, I sit down with a hot cup of tea and watch This Is Us.  Ummmmm, the ending?!  No spoilers here, but all I'll say is that it made me smile instead of cry for once!!


And back upstairs to finish start packing for myself.  Who knows what time I'll actually get to bed tonight, but hopefully by the time I'm lounging at the pool on Thursday, it'll all be worth it.



An Ode to My Mini {Van}

This is a sponsored post in partnership with cars.com.  All opinions are my own.


It's true what they say, minivans. are. amazing!! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ

We were definitely "those people" who said they would "never, ever" drive a minivan.  Yet here we are, three kids and one Toyota Sienna later and you know what?  I reeeeeeally love my van!

I mean, the sliding doors, the space, the cup holders, the sliding doors, the DVD player, did I mention the sliding doors?  Just the other day, I was at Sonic contemplating how to squeeze my size 8 body out of a size 2 space when I decided to climb over the console and out the sliding doors.  Genius.  And not a scratch or dent on my pretty little Sienna.

Did you know my van can comfortably fit eight passengers?!  It has a "jump seat," as they call it, which is an eighth seat that can be quickly and easily installed/uninstalled between the two middle row seats.  And what I really mean by quickly and easily - even mom can do it; no dad required!  Let me tell you, those eight seats have come in mighty handy when we, alongside our best neighbor friends, are responsibly making plans and there's only one pregnant DD.  Minivan for. the. win.  (By the way, when not in use, the jump seat straps in nicely in the back of the van.  Out of sight = out of mind.)

Also, we are still a three car seat family.  Try as he might, Brantley is just not ready for a booster.  Three car seats?  Difficult to fit in the back of an SUV unless you buy the "skinny kind".  Even the fattest of carseats will fit in my van!

You may have heard about the famed cup holders in a mini van.  The stories are true.  They are abundant beyond belief.  In fact, there are six within arm's reach of just my driver's seat!  I can have my coffee, my water, my Shakeology (who am I kidding, I don't drink that stuff anymore), and my wine (wait...) and there are still cup holders to spare!

Let's not even talk about the glove boxes and console.  Storage for daysssssss.

Let's do talk the DVD player though.  We have a specific no-movie rule unless we are traveling outside of the KC area.  But let me tell you, when we do allow movies, there's only so much I can handle.  Enter: headphones.  Did you know that, with headphones, kids can listen to a movie while we--the adults--jam out to all the gansta rap we want?!  (Kidding obviously.  But I do enjoy my country music while my kids watch Frosty the Snowman for the 197th time.)

And lastly, but certainly not least, the trunk space.  Is trunk the right word given a minivan?  Who knows.  Anyway, I can fit a full-size stroller in the trunk and $150 worth of groceries and still have room.  I don't know too many SUVs that can claim the same.

Long story short.  I love our van.  Craig loves our van.  The kids love our van.  We took it on its first road trip to Florida in July and it served us well.  15 hours there-and-back-well and now it holds those vacation memories that I will cherish for a long, long time.

Perhaps you are in the market for a new car, maybe even a van?  (I promise you won't regret it!)  You may want to start with cars.com.  It's a great website--for buyers and sellers alike--to start searching for a new car, list or trade a current car, or just research and read reviews of different cars.  Did you know cars.com also conducts carseat checks?  Click here to see how!

One final van story.  Most days, I feel like I'm still 25 years old.  Until I get into my van and the reality of being a mom x3 slaps me in the face.  However, apparently I don't look like a stereotypical "van person".  On the first day of class this year, I played two truths and a lie with my students.  One of my statements was that I drive a minivan.  Every single class assumed that was my lie.  Moral of the story: it's possible to be young and hip and drive a minivan! 

The Daily Dime / / September 2017

I haven't had much motivation to blog since returning to school a month ago (it happens every August/September), but today is our fourth installment of The Daily Dime so here I go!


Date: Monday, September 11, 2017
Brantley is 5 years + 2 months.
Holden is 3 years + 4 months.
Rhett is 9 months old.
Craig left mid-day for a work trip to Nashville so I was one my own with all three kids.
All photos were taken with my iPhone 6.

My alarm goes off at 5:30am.  I lay in bed for a snooze or two and then roll out of bed to go get ready.  I wouldn't call myself a morning person, but once I'm up, I'm fine.  My clothes are laid out because I'm still excited about dressing up and on top of my wardrobe game.  Plus, after being pregnant last year, it's like I have all new work apparel that I had forgotten about!  I decide to curl my hair to avoid having to wash it (if you've been around for awhile, you know I hate showering).  Rhett wakes around 6am so I go get him a bottle and give it to him in his crib in his dark room.  At 6:44am, we are both ready for our day (and the only ones awake) so we take a mirror selfie.


The other boys' clocks turn green (and Craig's alarm goes off) at 6:45.  I lay out some clothes for the boys, give everyone kisses, grab my things (coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and purse) and head out for school shortly before 7.  Craig is in charge of drop off for all three boys; I do pick-up.  I have a short drive to work, only about eight minutes away.


On this particular day, I have to be at school for an NHS meeting (I'm a co-sponsor) at 7:20 so I arrive around 7:10.  Normal days start at 7:30.  I do like going to work before the masses; it's mostly peaceful on the roads at 7am and I get to see some great sunrises.  Here's a picture of my school upon arrival.  My classroom is just outside of view, one or two windows to the left.


School starts at 7:50.  This year (and for two second year in a row), I have five blocks of Honors Math 2 (Geometry/Algebra 2) and one block of Math 2 Support (a remedial class where I review, reteach, and help students better understand the material).  It's a pretty sweet schedule, I'm not going to lie!  This was a blue day (block scheduling), so I teach first block and have second block plan.  I use my plan time to grade, make copies, respond to emails, plan upcoming lessons, attend meetings, organize NHS files, etc.  I love teaching, but I really love plan time, mainly because I love thinking about how to adequately teach particular topics.  I always eat a mid-morning snack, lately it's always an apple!


The rest of the day is business as usual.  Third and fourth blocks (with lunch in between), then seminar, which is like an end-of-day study hall.  My contract day ends at 3:30, but I hardly ever leave at that time!  I would rather stay later and get my work done at school than have to take it home.  Plus, I'm a perfectionist and everything has to be just so before I leave.


I did pack up to leave at 3:36 on this day because I had scheduled a Walmart grocery pickup for between 3 and 4.  One of my favorite parts of our new daycare/preschool situation is the proximity to our house/my work, which allows me to swing by the grocery store on my way home.  Still, to save time, I generally order my groceries online and schedule a pickup for the following day.  (Sundays/Mondays are grocery days in our house.)  Also, grocery pickup (and delivery) is the next best thing since sliced bread.  If you're not using it, you should be.  (Click here to save $10 on your first-ever Walmart order.)  


I try to always get the kids by 4:30, but I can leave them until 5 (Rhett) and 5:45 (older boys) if need be.  Once home, the older boys unpack their backpacks.  We all love their new preschool, but holy moly, the amount of papers that come home with them is crazy!  Most end up in the trash...what can I say, I don't like clutter.


The moment I'm home, my work clothes + heels come off and my hair promptly goes in a mom bun. #duh


The boys go outside to play football, while I get dinner ready.  Since Daddy is out of town, dinner consists of corn dogs and leftover mac & cheese for the kids and a leftover Asian skillet meal for me.  (Ain't no cookin' when I'm solo.)  By the way, football is the current sport of choice in our house.  However, it literally changes with the season.  Since football is on t.v., that's what they play!  Give it two months and the basketball goal will be in the middle of our dining room floor.


Dinner for Rhett.  At nine months, he's eating a mixture of pureed baby food and finger foods.  Tonight he ate some diced banana, diced peas, diced watermelon, and puffs (to keep him occupied while I did a few things).  Then, I fed him rice, pureed blueberry/carrot mixture, and meat while the boys ate their dinner of champions.  He's such a happy, fun boy these days!


After dinner, I cleaned up (which took forever, despite the meal of leftovers๐Ÿ˜ฉ...boys are messy!) and washed/prepped bottles for the following day.  The older boys had gone to play with some neighbors.  It happened to be 9/11 and there was a Royals pregame tribute for the victims of the terrorist attacks.  Taps is what drew me in so I watched while solemnly thinking about that day 16 years prior.  It is still so incredibly sad, yet it absolutely blows my mind that those attacks were so many years ago.  (On a side note, most of the students I currently have in class were not even born then!!  A kid I had last year was born on that exact day.)


Shortly after, it was already 7pm (solo evenings seriously feel like a marathon) so I put Rhett to bed--along with another bottle--and sat down for a few moments.  Around 7:25, I walked to the culdesac behind our house to get our boys.  The sky was gorgeous and I'm a sucker for a pretty sky.  It was a struggle to drag home the boys (they love their neighbor friends), but they were finally in bed at 7:55pm and I had some quiet time to catch up on social media and watch the Royals, my normal nightly things.


Before heading to bed, I got everything ready for the next morning - lunch packed, coffee tumbler ready, Keurig prepped, water bottles filled, boys' breakfast laid out, dog food ready to go, etc. etc. etc.  I don't typically do all of this, but since Craig was out of town, I needed to get up extra early and drop off all three kids en route to work so I over-prepare myself for a smooth morning.  


Once upstairs, I hopped in the shower and made sure to shave my legs (dress/skirt season).  I put my wet hair in a messy ponytail/bun to sleep so that I could just get up and go in the morning.  I didn't take a photo, but I was in bed shortly after 10pm and ready to do it all again the next day!  So there's my day in 10 13 photos.  I can't seem to do it in ten...

Now, tell me about your day and link up below.  Link-up will be open for two weeks so you have plenty of time!  I would especially love to read about other teachers' days!  And fyi, next month's link-up will go live on Wednesday, October 18 so mark your blogging calendars now!

Hosts:
 Kristin // Taz + Belly
Kristy // Seven Graces
Kerry // XO Kerry
Chelsea // Binkies and Baubles
Courtney // Our Alabama Life

Guest Host this Month:
Jacqui German // Drink the Day