Sunday, June 30, 2019

June Round Up



2019 is halfway over. The month of June has been unusual for us, because for the first time ever, the boys and I all did summer school. I taught, and they both attended. We were all in the same building, which was so much fun. It made time fly, and now that I look back on pictures, I can't believe everything else we managed to fit in around that. Here are our highlights from this month. 

Scouts

A few months back, we finally signed the boys up for Boy Scouts. They've been asking for years, but there were always too many extra-curricular activities on our calendar to add something else. But late in spring, the time seemed right and we jumped right in. It was too close to the end of the year for them to rank, but they got to participate in lots of fun activities. At the beginning of June, they got a jump start on next year's badges by attending Summer Day Camp. It was 2 days of one adventure after the other. I met up with them for lunch on their second day, and went to a couple of stations with them. 

Marshmallow Shooters

Covered in dirt and Popsicle juice.

Eli with the Bow and Arrow

Lex got a bullseye!


 Below is my favorite picture of the day. Lex and Eli side by side at the shooting range. Even from behind, you can tell they are brothers.

Lex and Eli with bb guns

Baseball

Many sports have come and gone in our family. We've tried just about everything. But baseball has been the one that's stuck. Lex just loves it. It's his 5th year of playing, and his first year of kid pitch, and also his first year of traveling to away games. Aside from video games, playing catch in the backyard is his number one favorite thing to do. It's so funny to me, because I was never really a baseball fan growing up and there is still a lot I have to learn. But I love watching him do something he loves to do. Jeremy helps coach, and Eli and I sit in the stands, ranking the concession stand food, and snapping pictures of sunsets during late games.

Batter Up

Jeremy - third base coach

Night sky at last week's baseball game.

Photo Credit - Eli
 Sunset at the ball field.



 Hiking and Outdoors

Although it didn't make it to the blog, Eli and I did hike this month. I had planned to do a big trail write up on the new section of Three Creeks Conservation area that we recently discovered (while hiking with the Scouts!). So we headed out on a perfect hiking morning and planned to do about 3 miles.





 But about one mile into the trail, we came to a grassy field, which is normally maintained for hikers, but on this trip, was heavily overgrown (no picture). My guess is that with all the flooding from the Missouri River, the Department of Conservation is likely busy with water management. We headed back, before completing the trail. That one will have to wait for another day.

One of the perks of teaching summer school was that as part of the curriculum for middle school, we went on multiple field trips to learn about conservation in Missouri, and water conservation in particular. One of our trips was a guided tour of Rock Bridge State Park. We've been there before as a family multiple times, but it was so interesting hearing the Naturalist speak about the geology of the park.


Another cool field trip was to 3M Wetlands in Columbia, which I had no idea even existed. This man-made wetland is right in the middle of Columbia and was also an incredibly informative trip. I can't wait to take the boys there. There are stops along the way where you can read about conservation and different native animals and trees.



New Recipes

We've done a lot of easy meals this month. Most nights, I throw together a big salad and some marinated chicken on the grill. But I have tried a few new things.

As part of a cleanse at the beginning of the month, I didn't eat meat for about 10 days. Mostly, I ate tons of vegetables, but I did find this one yummy, yummy corn and zucchini pie, which I will definitely be making again. The boys even ate it!


During summer school, there was a themed carry-in every Thursday, so I tried some new recipes to share.

These key lime cookies are very similar to our favorite lemon cookies. I made them for the Sweet and Salty themed carry-in, and they were a huge hit. Every single cookie was eaten, and tons of people commented how different/refreshing/delicious they were.

Photo Credit: Dessertnowdinnerlater.com
The next week was a dip themed week, and I hesitantly tried this five ingredient Million Dollar Dip that I've seen on Pinterest a million times. I say that I tried it hesitantly, because the ingredients don't look like something that would come together as something as delicious as this turned out to be. I'm serious. It is my favorite dip ever, and I will forever be bringing this places. Again, the dish was practically licked clean. And yep, my boys tried and approved this dip, too!

Photo Credit: Yummly

The rainbow themed week was fun, and there were so many ideas to choose from. Someone else actually found this rainbow wrap recipe for me. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but I did use all the same veggies, and it turned out just as pretty as the one on the original recipe. Again, every one was eaten at the carry-in, and my boys enjoyed the stack I left for them as well.

Photo Credit: Asideofsweet.com

After all that, I didn't feel guilty at all for bringing chips and store bought dip on the last carry-in day.

Swimming
If you follow me on on Instagram, you've seen some of these pics. This is the first year we bought a pool pass, and it has been well worth it. There have been days we've just gone for an hour to cool off, and days that we've stayed for hours, doing nothing but enjoying the water. The boys have become such good swimmers and love the diving board. 




Eli went to a friend's house to swim and his mom let them play with her underwater camera. How cool is this pic?


Out and About

We've spent plenty of time in the backyard. 

Swinging, 


Playing catch,


And reading bedtime stories at sunset.


Our backyard is definitely one of my happy places.


Also, fireflies arrived this week, so the boys spent an evening capturing (then releasing) them!



Puppies

I'll just do a photo dump here. These 2 dogs are so entertaining, both to each other and to us. They go everywhere together and do everything together. Mostly it's just Daisy following Kylo around, but Kylo for sure does not let Daisy get any attention without him getting in on it too.

This picture below isn't the greatest, but it was so sweet one night when a storm was rolling in. Jeremy and I were watching the sky from the deck and then looked over and saw these two sitting like this. It was so sweet!



Romping around the backyard...




And getting all the snuggles.


Love our puppies!

Well, I think that's just about it for this month. We have a big trip coming up in July, so there will be plenty to write about.

Cheers to riding into the sunset!




Sunday, June 9, 2019

School Memento Storage System


Every year on the last day of school, I send my boys to school with an empty backpack. And every year on the last day of school, their backpacks come home, bulging with crumpled papers, worn notebooks, half finished art projects, and a pencil box full of broken crayons and mechanical pencils with no lead. It's tempting to empty everything straight into the trash (and trust me, a lot of it ends up in the trash!), but I happen to be pretty sentimental when it comes to my boys' school work and I like keeping items that I think they might enjoy one day.


So one of the first big projects of the summer each year is filing everything away from the school year so that it can be easily accessed and enjoyed for years to come. I have perfected this system over the 4 years I've had kids in school (more if you count preschool), and find it incredibly easy to manage and maintain. This works for me, so hopefully you can find something here that works for you too!

Here are some things to consider.

1.) Decide how to store everything
My storage method of choice is 3 ring binders.  The advantage to binders is that they don't take up much space and they are easy to access if you want to look through things. The disadvantage is that you have to whole punch everything which can be time consuming. Honestly, I set aside a whole morning to do both of they boys' binders for the year. But trust me when I say the final product is soooo worth it. I know many people use a bin or box to store things too. The advantage of a file bin is that you can just drop papers in it as you go and don't have to spend time putting it together. The disadvantage is that it's not as easy to access everything if you want to spend a time looking through the papers. When my boys were in Pre-K/Kindergarten, it took 2 binders each year for each child. I did one of artwork, and one of school work. By the time they were in 1st grade, I could fit everything into one 2-3 inch binder.

Binders by year on the left, year books in the middle, box of baby mementos (birth day newspaper, hospital tags, favorite outfits, baby book, etc.)

2.) Create a system that's easy to maintain

Every Friday, when the boys bring home their folder of papers for the week, I immediately sort through them. Some papers get recycled (or composted now that we have a system for that!) and others go straight to the "Keep Forever" basket. The boys both have one in their closet, and I just stack up papers all year as they come home. Keep or toss - every Friday. It takes less than 5 minutes a week. By stacking them up, from beginning to end, everything stays in chronological order and is ready to file at the end of the year.

In Lex's closet, we use a basket, just the right size for paperwork. 

For Eli's closet, we use a shoe box for the "Keep Forever" box. It's overflowing by the end of the year, but it works!


3.) Decide what to keep. There are sooooo many papers and projects that come home from school. And it starts in preschool. From the first time they right their own name (preschool), to the time they master writing in cursive (2nd grade), you have to decide what's important to you to keep. Here is my rough guideline of what I have kept throughout the years (of course this will be different for everyone).

Ideas for the Keep Pile:
*Anything with a hand print



*Projects that are a reflection of them. Typically these happen at the beginning of the year and are titled "All About Me," or something like that. Another version is a list of their favorite items or goals they've written for the future (typically around New Years) or the end of the year reflections.



*Cards and letters: This includes Valentine cards, thank you notes from teachers, birthday cards, etc. I use gallon sized Ziplock baggies for this kind of thing.

The time Lex was sick for an entire week and his class sent home Get Well cards. 

Birthday Cards, also stored in a baggie. 

*Final drafts of almost any writing assignment. I come from a family of writers (maybe explains the blogging hobby?), and love reading the stories and poems that people devise from their imaginations. It's the same with my boys' writing. Since kindergarten, if they have written a story, a poem, or a letter, I've kept it.
A Poisonous Snake, a non-fiction story by Eli. 
*Paintings and drawings - okay, this is one's hard. I don't keep every drawing or painting. Obviously. Kids draw lots of stuff and a lot of it is really crappy. So how do I decide which ones to keep? Honestly, I just keep the stuff I like and throw the rest out. That's honestly all I can say. I tend to keep most everything they make in art class at school, but I also like it when they draw detailed comics at home.
Keep

Keep

Keep
*Report cards, progress notes, and data charts.
*Tests that they've aced (although I throw most spelling tests away).
*Awards
I love to layer things in the binder, so you can see several things at once. Here is Lex's artwork (on bottom), his certificate, and blue ribbon. The artwork is big, so it folds over the other things. 

*Miscellaneous - one example of this is the name card from their desk. It's the last thing teachers send home every year.

Eli's desk name tag, followed by his first day of school work. 

Another "miscellaneous" that definitely went in the "keep forever" pile: the part of Lex's jeans that had to be cut off when he fell at school and had to get stitches. They are stored in the binder too, in a Ziplock baggie.

Some additional tips:
*Use the front binder pocket for items that immediately bring back memories of that year.
Lex's name card, class composite picture

Followed by his first day of school picture, a "Good Luck" note from his 2nd grade teacher  and his third grade teacher's "Get to Know  Me" letter.
 *Use Ziplock baggies to store things like Valentine cards, or anything small. Just whole punch the baggie and store it like normal.

*For bigger projects, fold it over.

*Let it be messy (can that just be my motto all the time?). Your papers won't all line up, period. School is messy. Art is messy. Learning is messy. Let your storage system show what school was really like that year.



*You might wonder about the projects that are just too big for the binder (shoe box projects, posters, etc.). We have not had too many of them yet, but when they start coming home, they probably won't make the "keep" cut. Both my boys made toad houses in 2nd grade. They were made of  a milk carton, leaves, twigs, and pine cones, definitely not built to stand the test of time. They stayed on the front step until the boys stopped showing interest - and then I threw them out. In first grade, they both made clay hanging owls. Those made the keep cut and are displayed in our den. You just have to decide what fits your home's personality and keep the things that match that.

4.) Don't forget to enjoy them. I store the binders in each of the boys' rooms and they are easy to reach. We pull them out several times a year to look through them. I keep their year books right beside the binders, and have their single box of baby mementos right above the binders. The boys are so proud to have a whole section of their closet that's dedicated to things they have made and accomplished.

I hope you've found something useful here. Happy organizing!