Friday, September 25, 2020

Friday Favorites (According to the Kids)

Happy Friday!  It's been a wonderful week here.  The weather has been gorgeous.  We've been outside as much as possible and making plans for a fun Fall.

I thought it would be interesting to document Friday Favorites this week from the kid's perspectives.  I made a list of their highlights to share with you today.  

1. Notre Dame won their 2nd game & we enjoyed lots of game day food.  The kids love wearing their Notre Dame gear, cheering for the Irish and doing push ups when they score a touch down.  Can't wait until we can take them to a game one day!

2. We got cute Halloween plates from Walmart!  If you're in the market, they are just $1.48 each and are really sweet.  I typically like to pick up the Pottery Barn Kids holiday plates, but they are the same design that they released last year.

3. We drove down to my sister's house for my nieces 8th birthday party on Sunday.  It was tie dye in Paris themed.  We all enjoyed our first tie dyeing experience, loved all the desserts my sister made and had fun hanging out with our family.  We came home with a box of our very own macarons.

Olive and my mom in matchy matchy outfits.
Aren't these the cutest favors?  They were coconut, brownie, lemon, animal cookies, vanilla and strawberry.  It was fun to try so many flavors.

4. Haircuts by Mom!  I cut everyone's hair this week - Fletcher, Olive & Kevin.  Saved us tons of time and money going to a salon.  Fletcher yelled to the neighbor, "Hey, Guys!  I definitely have on clothes under this cape!"  haha  Olive requested a bob after letting her hair grow for the past few months.

5. We hung Leo's swing so now all three kids can swing together.  He adores the swing, and always holds on for dear life.

6. Double A+ week for Olive's tests at school.

7. Kevin brought home Insomnia Cookies a couple times.  Grown ups - Educators get 6 free cookies with any purchase this month.  Their Chocolate Chunk Cookies are AMAZING.
8. Playgrounds.  We met friends at several different playgrounds this week.

9. Matching tie dye shirts.  I love how they turned out!

10. If Leo could talk, he's say that our last favorite of the week was that the last three nights he's only woken up once in the middle of the night or slept through the night.  Hallelujah!  It's amazing the pep you have in your step when you are well rested :)

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Best Surprise Ever

One year ago on September 19, 2019.  We found out that I was pregnant with Leo.

Remember this post: Surprise... Baby #3

It'll go down as one of the biggest surprises ever for our family who struggled for years to get pregnant with Olive and Fletcher.  A surprise pregnancy wasn't even on our radar anymore.  It's wild to me that God will surprise you with an answer to prayer YEARS after you started praying for it.

We are so thankful for Leo and can't imagine our family without him.

I thought today would be the perfect time to share his birthday announcement with you as well as a new piece of jewelry.  

I LOVE sending out real snail mail baby announcements.  It's one of my favorite new baby traditions.  I always order card stock announcements from Snapfish.  They're my favorite.

It's top priority to me.  I've done it for all the kids.  Thanks to COVID we had to cancel all of his newborn photography sessions and I had to take his pictures at home.  I was really pleased with how they turned out.  I opted to include all three kids on his birth announcement because we were all so excited to meet our new baby.  My favorite pictures were of Leo and his siblings.  That's the perk of being baby #3 - you're always surrounded by LOVE.

All the kids have changed since these pictures were taken back in May.  Olive has lost teeth, Fletcher has some shorter hair and new scars and Leo has changed the most.  Babies just don't keep.


Fletcher Baby Announcement

Olive Baby Announcement

Then sometime last Fall when we were starting to throw around baby name options, I mentioned Leo among others.  Kevin later asked me if I knew that there was a Leo Diamond when Leo was starting to stick as our front runner name.  I had never heard of a Leo Diamond and went to check it out. It's a diamond with many extra cuts in it to make it the brightest, sparkliest diamond on the market.  You can get it in a variety of shapes.

Kevin insisted that I get one for my Christmas gift last year.  He scoped them out at a local jewelry store, I went to try them on and selected my perfect Leo diamond.  It was really fun to try on all the different shapes and styles for a right hand ring.  Ultimately, I went with a princess cut diamond to go with my wedding ring.  Inside the band it says Leo and it makes me smile every time I wear it.

He said, "You know having our last baby feels like a big milestone.  We need something special to commemorate this!"  He's the sweetest and will forever be the romantic one on our relationship.  I love wearing it and am excited to have this fun piece of heirloom jewelry.

We love you, Leo!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Day in the Life // 2020 School @ Home Edition

Many of you requested a Day in the Life post when I asked you for blog post ideas that you'd like to see from me this year.  That's very nice!  I hadn't done one since January so today's the day.  

This is a typical day in 2020 trying to do home at school for Olive (2nd grade), Fletcher (PreK) and keep 5 month old Leo entertained.

Olive is currently going to school in person every other day.  

I'm thankful she gets to go to school, but we are missing the routine of 5 full days of learning.  Don't get me wrong.  We are thankful and enjoying our extra time together, but she reminds me often, "Mom, you know I'd really rather be learning AT school."  She loves school and I'm super thankful for that.  Fletcher's PreK program has been delayed until October.  It looks like he's set to start in just a couple of weeks.  He's unsure about it, but I think he'll love it.

I documented our day yesterday.  I always enjoy looking back at these post throughout the years to see how life looks very different from year to year.

Day in the Life // 2020 School @ Home Edition

I don't usually set an alarm on Home School days.  Partly because the kids always wake up between 7-8am and because the baby was up 4 times the night before.  I was exhausted.

7:30 The big kids woke up and headed out to the playroom to play.  I was taking care of Leo and moving slow.

8:00 I head out to wake up the house - open the curtains, turn on all the lights and make something for breakfast.  Cinnamon toast and milk is the #1 request.  I get everyone situated - Leo in his exersaucer to play, big kids eating breakfast and I hop on my computer to take care of some Monday jobs.

9:00 Kevin heads out for the day with a coffee in hand.  I packed his lunch the night before and he gives me an ETA for when he'll be home.  We all wave goodbye and head inside.  Olive hops on the computer to do some math games her teacher assigned.  I'm her tech support.  It's a stressful job - there are a million passwords, websites and games that I inevitably have no clue how to play.  She gets frustrated because I don't know how to fix her learning games and I'm frustrated because there are no directions other than - here's the fun learning website and this is your child's password.  The text book websites are all user friendly for reading her weekly stories, but the interactive games give me a headache.

*Bless your heart if you are trying to juggle doing school at home with multiple kids.  If you're trying to log into so many different online programs, zoom meetings, classes and hours of computer work with your kids.  That's not the way that school is supposed to be.  We just do a little computer work here and there and, while it has its place, it is no replacement for in person teaching and learning.

9:30 I grab some iced coffee, make Leo a bottle and sit down to feed him.  He's grumpier than usual (teething?!?!) and needs to go down for a nap ASAP.  I try to shush the big kids so he can nap usually in his swing.

10:00 Big kids play together.  *If we have to run errands or want to go on an adventure, we usually head out around 10:00.  This day we stayed home.  I take care of dishes, prep bread for dinner, tidy up the kitchen from breakfast and zoom through some to dos while Leo is asleep.  I get ready for the day - hair, make up, make bed and get dressed.  The big kids get dressed, tidy up their rooms and make their beds.  We all get ready every day. I make some oatmeal for everyone for a filling snack.

10:30 Leo wakes up after a short nap and we head to our bonus room for some school time at their desks.  Olive has a long list of school work to tackle.  I let her pick the order and she gets busy while reminding me she'd rather be at school with a smirk on her face.  Fletcher's PreK curriculum is totally up to me.  We work on him writing his name, identifying letters, tracing shapes, making patterns and letter sounds.  Olive picks to work on spelling words, math, reading fluency and phonics.

11:30 We head outside for some fresh air.  The big kids decide to rake leaves today and Leo and I supervise.  The baby loves being outside.  The sunshine and fresh air is good for all of us.  The kids chat with their favorite neighbor kid who's also home today.

12:30 We go inside for lunch.  I make everyone's favorites and we eat at the kitchen island. I usually try to use up leftovers when we eat lunch at home.

1:00-3 Leo goes down for another nap & bottle.  I take care of cleaning up the kitchen, chores like laundry, blogging, text friends to check in and such.  Kids craft, do art, play together or watch a show together.  We usually try to do some more school work while Leo naps.  They quietly read or work on more assignments from school.

3:00 We try to be done with school by this time so that we finish when real school finishes.  Snacks for everyone and they usually want to watch a show.  We often go outside and play and I try to get some dinner prep done while Leo plays in his high chair.  I water flowers, the kids play, we tidy up the house and get excited for Kevin to get home.

5:00/5:30 Kevin gets home.  I do final dinner prep stuff, we play outside, debrief about our days and the kids usually show him all the things they did for school that day.  I prep, cook and clean up and Kevin does fun stuff with the kids to keep the out of the kitchen for me.  They'll play basketball in the kitchen, go for a walk, bike ride, swing, pick up sticks in the yard, etc.

6:00 Dinner time.  We eat together 95% of the time.  I plan our meals around what time Kevin will be home from work. I cook 5-6 nights a week and he picks up take out once or twice.  Take out seems like the easiest dinner option when you've got little kids.  Especially now with all the COVID craziness we've been trying to take advantage of drive thrus, Door Dash and Easy take out.  We eat, chat about our days and clean up.  I usually pack kid lunches at this time when I've got out leftovers and the kitchen is already a mess.

7:00 Clean up is done.  I take care of the kitchen.  Everyone works on the rest of the house together - toys get picked up, things put away and sometimes I do a quick vaccum.  Then we head outside until it starts to get dark around 8.  We usually go on a family walk or one parent will take the big kids on a bike ride.  Sometimes I go on a solo bike ride.  Each night is a little different.

7:45 Come inside - baths, showers for anyone that needs one, snacks, pjs and books.

8:30 Bedtime - divide and conquer.  Kevin puts the big kids to bed.  He's currently reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe with them.  They've read a lot of books together - the whole Ramona series, Box Car Children, Bible Stories, etc.  Fletcher falls asleep first most of the time and then Olive drifts off after being chatty about her day.  I put Leo to bed.

9:00 Grown up time!  We watch a show (currently blazing through Longmire) while having a dessert together.  Brownies, ice cream or popcorn are our favorites.  Lately, Leo has been crashing our party and wanting to be held while he sleeps.

10:30 Take care of Leo if he's up again, tidy up the house one last time and say goodnight to Kevin. I  pack his lunch for the next day.  I get busy working on blog stuff, catch up on to dos from the day that didn't get done, laundry, lay out all the things we'll need for the next morning to make our morning easier.  If Olive has library, I get her books together or if she has PE I set out her shoes.  I look forward to quiet, late night time to myself all day long.  I get a burst of energy every evening about this time.

12:00am I try to head to bed.  I usually feed Leo a bottle around this time and then put him in his bassinet for the night.  Ideally, I'm asleep by 12:30ish.  


That's a wrap on a really regular day at home in 2020.

Some snapshots throughout the day on 9/21/20

Leo does school.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Charcuterie Boards // Tips from a Pro

I've been making charcuterie boards for my family for almost two years now.  I love them.  They love them and my boards just keep getting better.  I am going to share my best tips with you today to help ensure that you've got the details to put together a really great board of your own.

I tried some new charcuterie ingredients and we had several yummy meals last week.  These boards have been really fun for game day, too.  I know people aren't tailgating for football season like they would normally, but you can definitely have an awesome game day party at home.


Board #1 //

My family loved the nectarine slices, cucumber spears, pickles, fancy salami slices, wheat crackers and the sharp white cheddar cheese.  I love boards like this with 20+ different things to try.

Lunch Board #2 //

Gab a little bit of this and that to snack on for lunch.

Board #3 //

Leftover Pizza & bread sticks + some fruits, veggies, cheese and Gardettos.  I love doing simple boards like this to use up leftovers.

Board #4 //

I love these little condiment cups for pickles, olives and mustard.  We enjoyed some kiwi, the kids tried and didn't care for Swiss cheese and we tried a new salami that we didn't love.  It was still fun to try a little bit of lots of things.

Our cute game day crew :)


I'm still in shock that I made this bread.  It felt very artisan and very fancy.

Pro Tips:

1. Splurge on the meat and cheese.

Do not buy cheap meat.  Go to the fancy meat section of the grocery store and buy nice salami or whatever meat you like.  Our favorites are pictured above - cheese from Aldi $3ish and Salami from Meijer for $6.99.  That's double the price from Aldi salami and less meat.  BUT this salami was so tasty.  Even if you just buy a little, it'll be worth it to have high quality meat.  I've had good luck finding great cheeses at Aldi for very affordable options.  But, meats are trickier.  The nicer meat options are pricier at the nicer grocery stores that offer a wider selection of meats.

2. Plan to eat Charcuterie Boards twice + some lunches the week you have it on your menu

In order to put together a really delicious board, you've got to have a wide variety of ingredients.  It's not super cheap, but if you plan to eat it several times throughout the week, it can be done affordably.  We have it for dinner two different times in one week and then I'll pack it in lunches.  That way we aren't wasting any of the yummy food.  Another idea that I've done before is to package up all the supplies for a charcuterie board and deliver it to a friend for dinner.

3. Splurge on delicious bread, in season fruits, etc.

Bonus if it's homemade bread.  My family is still obsessed with this 4 Ingredient Crusty Bread

4. If your board is on a Lazy Susan, your people will love it!

I have several wooden boards to hold my charcuterie ingredients.  Our favorite one is as giant circle that is on a Lazy Susan.  Everyone spins to get what they want.  I found a really great deal on mine at TJ Maxx.

5. Take Advantage of What's In Season or On Sale

Use in season fruit - nectarines or apples - and things that are on sale like crackers, cheeses or meats to build your board.  Carrots, cucumbers, grapes and bananas are pretty inexpensive year round.  Use those and then add in anything else that is on sale at your store that week.  It'll help you to save money on building your board and it will ensure you've got tasty ingredients.


What questions do you have for me about charcuterie boards?  I'd love to help them seem less intimidating for you!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Aldi Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  Hope you've had a nice week.  

I did something I haven't done since February... I went to Aldi this week!  We are still be careful about taking the kids in stores to shop since Leo is so little and that makes shopping tricky.  Before all of this COVID business, I took the kids everywhere with me.  Now I've got to time my errands and grocery runs when Kevin can be home with the kids.  Otherwise, it's Walmart grocery pick up for the win.

I'd been missing some of our favorite Aldi products so Wednesday evening I headed to our Aldi after dinner.  It felt good to be back in the store.  I shopped quickly because the store was not crowded at that hour and then I snapped pictures of our very favorite Aldi items.  I waited to bag my items when I got back out to my car.  It worked well to keep my shopping trip short.  

We would highly recommend all of these.

$1.75 Apple Peach Pouches - they're delish.  The perfect on the go snack.  My kids think they're okay, but I love them!  I love to keep one with me for an easy snack on the go.

$2.29 Mini Sandwich Crackers.  Kids love them.
$2.49 Twisted Fruit Ropes - we all love these.
$2.65 - Aged White Cheddar.  Our #1 favorite cheese.  It's SO good.
$1.19 Canned Cinnamon Rolls.  These are the best cinnamon rolls in a can ever.  You just cannot beat that price and they taste amazing.
$3.19 Kale & Quinoa Frozen Mix.  This is so good as a side with dinner, topped with feta, or served with grilled chicken on top.  I love it.
$0.75 Rotini - can't beat their pasta prices.
$2.19 Granola.  I've tried a lot of granola and this is the best.  It's something kids and adults would love.

$3.99 Bite sized Salami - thicker and so good.  Any of the Appleton Farms meat we've tried is yummy.

$3.45 Sea Salt Caramels.  These are amazing.  They also make the perfect little gift to surprise someone with.  I picked these up to save for a friend or teacher gift.

I love Aldi baking supplies.

$1.15 Flour, $1.97 Sugar & $1.29 Brown sugar

$2.76 Mini cans of Sprite.  Not something I buy regularly so I figured the mini cans would be good for us.

So many good chip and cracker options!

$2.89 Ritz chips, $1.99 Gluten free chips and $1.99 Pretzel slims

$3.99 Play-Doh Builder Sets

I love all the random stuff you can find in the "aisles of shame" haha.  I picked up two of these igloo builder sets to save for winter.  I know it'll be cold and snowing before we know it and my kids will be thrilled to have this fun surprise on a snow day at home.

$1.69 Butter Popcorn - we have tried a lot of microwave popcorn and this is the best.  It's buttery without being super greasy.  It definitely feels like a treat and has lots of yellow pieces (the sign of a really good bowl of popcorn according to my kids :)

That's a wrap!  Do we have any of the same Aldi favorites?  What products am I missing out on?  Please share your Aldi favorites with me in the comments.

Aldi favorite posts from the PDP archives:

*I noticed that nearly all products had gone up in price in 2020.  Bummer!  But there are TONS of favorite finds and products in these posts.

Kids Love Aldi, Too!

Our Aldi Favorites

First Trip to Aldi - Will I Ever Go Back?

Aldi Haul & Aldi Tips

Unexpected Aldi Haul

Aldi Haul & Latest Faves

Aldi Favorites & Fun Finds 


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