Back To School

All the feels are flowing in. The lazy days of summer are creeping to an end but the excitement of new adventures are right around the corner. Despite the excitement, I can’t help be sad to say good-bye to this summer.

This was a different summer for me. As a stay-at-home mom, I have been blessed with having my babies around me all the time. This last year, both my children were in school at some capacity (full-time Kindergarten and 3 half-day preschool). It was the first time I had 9 hours a week kid-free. Until last September, the last 5.5 years, I had a child (or two) with me at all times, so I finally was able to relish in alone hours during my week. Then summer came– 24/7 of both kids again. I am certainly not saying I am ready to send my kids off to school, but this was the first year I understood the August crazy.

Yet, while I have days I am looking forward to the kids having some time away from me, under the supervision of another adult, a new school year is a mark that they are one year older. It marks that they are one more year into having less time with me and more time in the world that is not me. It marks that they are one year closer to WANTING less time with me and WANTING more time with friends.

Isn’t this what parenting is all about? Excited for all the things your kids will grow up to do and become, yet sad to say good-bye to the comfortable. No one could ever explain how complicated parenting was going to be. What a roller coaster of emotions.

So while school is now less than a week away, we will enjoy the last days of summer. Next Tuesday, I will excitedly place my oldest on the bus for her 1st day of 1st grade, while I cry inside to see my baby grow up another year. In the end, our emotions will certainly fuel our babies and I want them to be every bit excited for their newest adventures!

Grateful yet overwhelmed

The season of giving is (mostly) behind us. We have been inundated with presents, cookies, candies, etc. We have also given so much and tried to find the perfect present for our loved ones. Now, it’s time to find a place for it all and see what we actually use and what we actually needed/wanted. It’s a weird time because most of us have been very blessed, but now we feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, especially if you have kids.

Christmas morning, my newsfeed was full of pictures showing off lit Christmas trees with dozens of packages underneath. Our tree was no different (more thanks to the grandparents than us). My husband and I have made a rule: 1 “toy” or something they want, clothes, and books. 3 gifts total. Now, I will say that I sometimes find one or two more things that I know that would really love. For example, my daughter is very much into jewelry so I gave her earrings. Both my kids got an extra “toy” and received cozy headphones for their electronics. Overall, we really try to keep it to the three gifts because we know they get so much from others.

Almost a week later and all those people posting their present laden Christmas trees are now posting, “I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the things my kids received.” “How do you organize all the new stuff!” One recent post I saw, from my friend at Good Enough Motherhood Community wrote:

Looking for some suggestions…

My husband and I are already feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the amount of gifts my son had gotten, many of which are not toys that we really want him to have or play with long-term…

We’re grateful for the generosity of our family and don’t ever want to come off as being controlling or snobby, and we know that it comes from a good, well-meaning place. We’ve started seeing the “more more more” and “mine all mine” mentality from our kid and we’re not loving it.

Any suggestions regarding any of these things would be super appreciated!
How you handle the influx of new toys and stuff from the holidays
Having respectful conversations with family regarding gift-giving (or do you just deal with it?)
Not raising an entitled/spoiled/hoarding child (because SERIOUSLY.)

 

SPEAK IT!! That is how a lot of us are feeling and at the same time, I feel like many of us just take what we are given, say thank you, and move on. It’s the polite thing to do, right? But I know with my kiddos, they are truly blessed to have a lot throughout the year, yet they don’t really yearn for much or really play with toys (which many people don’t believe). Yet, how do we find a balance between showing our love and giving gifts without drowning our houses (or other’s) with more STUFF or just dumping \STUFF on the kids that they don’t really need or necessarily want.

EXPERIENCES!!!

I have written about this before and I have often asked friends/family for these for gifts, but unfortunately, many people don’t see this as a “good enough” thing because kids can’t necessarily open something to enjoy immediately. (Instant gratification is a whole other topic that I don’t want to get into right now.) I love to take my kids places and my kids LOVE going places: the aquarium, local zoos, gym classes, indoor playgrounds, pottery making, swim lessons; but guess what, these places cost money! My kids would so much rather go to the zoo or aquarium instead of getting another truck or doll.

I get a lot of push-back with this though. Like I said, people want to give GIFTS- something tangible for the kids to enjoy and hold. Even in my own gift giving, I am guilty of this, but I try very hard to give an experience or something consumable (gift cards to local ice cream places or arts & crafts items, so it’s not permanent clutter). I found the best way to give experiences WHILE also giving something tangible, pair your experience gift card with a small tangible gift that goes along with it. So instead of buying 5 things for the child, you give them money you would have spent on 4 gifts toward something they would enjoy doing and pair it with ONE tangible gift. I’ve complied some ideas for you all for future gift giving to a kid (or adult) you love and want to spoil.

Gifting Experiences with a Tangible Gift:

Zoo/Aquarium membership: favorite stuffed animal

Swim lessons: Googles, new bathing suit, new float device

Pottery making: paint or something to use with what they can make (tea or teapots/cups; piece of jewelry for a small dish; coffee/tea/hot chocolate for a mug; etc.)

Art classes: New art materials- brushes, paint, crayons, etc.

Cooking class: New apron or new kitchen gadget

Amusement park gift card: New bag. (Disney- new Disney dress up or disney related toy)

Museum membership: pair it with something that corresponds with the particular museum. Science museum? Pair with a science kit. Air and space museum? Pair with a toy plane. Train museum? Pair with a new Thomas train.

 

 

 

 

My favorite gift my kids are getting this season is a pajama party with their aunt. So instead of her buying them another toy, she is getting them each a pair of pjs, coming over, and spending time with them. Win-win-win: she isn’t spending a lot of money, kids love having her around, and mom and dad get a free date night out of it!!! WHAT?!?!?!

 

So before you go and buy the latest toy craze that will find it’s place on the floor or the bottom of a toy chest in 20 minutes, give the gift of time or experience. If you feel the need to provide a gift with it then pair it with something small that they can enjoy. I can’t tell you many parents (and kids) would appreciate these gifts more!! I have a whole newsfeed full to back this up.

 

Blessing Bags

Baby, it’s cold outside, and my thoughts go to people who aren’t lucky enough to have a place to call home and get warm. In our little community, there have been a few people with signs on the corner asking for help. While I am always a little hesitant to help people on the side of the road, I have given a few dollars here or there for them. I don’t love just handing over money though so I was thinking of a way I can help. I recently saw a story about Blessing Bags and I thought, how appropriate! All you have to do is fill a quart or gallon size bag with some essentials. You can make it gender specific or not. You can add a few quarters or dollars in as well. It’s super easy to keep in your car and hand out whenever needed.

So here’s what you can add to make your own Blessing Bags:

  • Quart or gallon size bags
  • Water bottle
  • Deodorant (regular or travel size)
  • Shampoo/conditioner (regular or travel size)
  • Body wash or a bar of soap (regular or travel size)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (regular or travel size)
  • Disposable razors
  • Snacks: granola bars, cracker packs, fruit cups, apple sauce, cereal bars, trail mix, etc.
  • Chapstick
  • Bandaids
  • Socks
  • Hand warmers
  • Gloves
  • Tampons/pads
  • Hand wipes or baby wipes
  • Tylenol
  • Hat
  • Poncho
  • Tissue pack
  • Local store gift cards (gas, grocery)

When you have packed your bags, you can print out these You matter free printables and put it inside the bag. Obviously, you can add anything else you want to the bag or even write your own note. This is a perfect service project for a local Girl Scout, local MOMS Club, or even as a family project.

I’m off to make a few to keep in my car. Kids will help and that will be our little project this winter season.

The season of parties

We are in the middle of cookie exchanges, gingerbread parties, class parties, office parties… you name it, we are celebrating. While it’s all happening around us, I would love to share with you the cutest little party that I helped coordinate for my daughter’s Kindergarten class. Most of the things were SUPER easy to get done and some things I would choose to not do again, but it’s all a learning experience.  Welcome to the Frosty the Snowman Party.

The stations:

The kiddos enjoyed a number of stations including a snowman toss, snowman bowling, snowman building, snowman bingo, and a snowman craft. All are super easy and quick to put together and kids had so much fun going to each station.

Snowman Toss:

A fellow mama was given a picture to recreate the snowman toss. I wish I knew who the original poster was, but she did an amazing job getting it together. She wrapped three different size boxes in white and stuck them together with a little glue. (Think of all those Amazon boxes you have lying around paired with a tissue box.) The picture is missing the scarf, but she added a scarf around his neck and some other construction paper accessories and details. With some crumpled up pieces of paper, the kiddos had a blast playing snowman toss.

What you need:

3(+) different size boxes

White paper

Black, red, and orange construction paper

Paper to roll up to make balls or other small light weight balls

Scissors

Snowman Bowling:

SO SUPER easy and kids LOVED it!!!!! Get styrofoam cups and draw adorable snowman faces (carrot nose and all). If you have extra time on your hands, you can decorate them with construction paper or felt pieces or if you want something a little faster, pull out your different color sharpies!! You will need a minimum of 6 cups (3, 2, 1). The best thing to “bowl” with are these amazing snowballs. They are soft but heavy enough to knock them down and they can be used later for an inside snowball fight or for decoration.

What you need:

Styrofoam cups

Black and orange sharpie markers (or black and orange construction paper)

Snowballs

Snowman Building:

This was my FAVORITE activity and the kids were hysterical during it the whole time. Buy some cheap-o toilet paper (but keep it 2-ply). You take the toilet paper and have the kids twirl so it wraps around them. Then take some felt buttons, a scarf, a hat, and an orange nose and make them into snowmen. When they are done being snowmen, they can “melt” by breaking through the toilet paper.

Snowman Bingo:

This is a great way to add a station if you need something to keep the kiddos busy. We ended up using an already made, free, snowman bingo game from Crazy Little Projects, but there are a ton out there. You can use mini marshmallows as your pieces or small counters.

Snowman Craft:

I’m sure you all have seen this particular craft. It is super simple and keeps the kids attention (whether they end up eating the pieces or actually making the picture). Take a snack bag full of mini , blue construction paper, glue, and some crayons and they make their own snowman.

 

Then of course, we had a large spread of snowman inspired foods. Snowman fruit kabobs (bananas with mini chocolate chips, strawberry hat), melted snowman ice cream (vanilla ice cream cups with two pretzel sticks, orange jelly bean, and a few chocolate chips), melted snowman (water bottles), snowman cheesesticks (with a sharpie- draw a snowman on the plastic part of the cheesestick and you can get more creative with construction paper hats and yarn scarf), and snowman punch that we grabbed the idea from The Frugal Girls. And at the end, every kid left with Snowman Soup party favors.

I hope this helps with your next winter party!! I had fun watching the kids enjoy every minute of it and was fortunate to have so many helping hands but this is definitely an easy to do theme and fun for everyone.

 

HAPPY SNOWMANING!

The Perfect Gift

There are only 8 more FULL weekends until Christmas. That means there are that many less until Thanksgiving and most likely any other holiday get together you have coming up. Usually I am pretty good about buying all my Christmas gifts before December hits. So I thought we should talk about gift giving. It can be fun and rewarding but also extremely stressful. Let me share with you some of my tips that help get me through.

So before we get started, what REALLY made me think of this was that my 5-year old daughter asked me if I had another pair of jeans because I keep wearing the same pair over and over again. I said I only have 2 pairs and she told me that I needed to go shopping. It then got me thinking about what I really want on my Christmas list so I thought, let’s just talk gifts.

1. Make a list

Simple enough, but do you know how many times I forgot someone because I didn’t make a list and ended up last minute shopping for them?! Talk about stressful because then not only are you rushing, but you are also now not getting something you really want to get them. So make a list, starting now, because most likely, you will will be adding onto it throughout November as you remember everyone.

 

2. Pick your favorites

Start thinking about what YOU love and see if they can be gifted to someone on your list. For me, my favorites are Stitch Fix, getting pampered– nails/massage/good products, date nights. I think of where I am in my life and who is in the same boat and can benefit from the things I love or use everyday. While I know people don’t love to give gift cards, those are the things that are sometimes the most appreciated. I know for me, I can always use some new clothes to change with the season and allowing me to get something from Stitch Fix or Target helps me tremendously because I can get something for myself (vs always buying stuff for my kids). One of my all-time-favorite gift was a “date night” where our friends were offering to watch our kids for the night and allow us to go out on a date without the expense of a sitter. They included movie tickets, but honestly, the idea of just not having to A) find a sitter and B) pay for a sitter, was an amazing gift in itself!!! So besides thinking about stuff YOU love and use everyday, think about some of your favorite gifts you have gotten, what the gift meant to you and why. Sometimes the gift of time is really all someone wants, whether it’s the gift of time to be with the recipient or allowing the recipient to enjoy something without the hassle of figuring it all out.

3. Make something

Are you crafty?! Make your gifts. Some of my favorite gifts were made for me. They have meaning. I pull them out or they decorate my house everyday and I love the sentiment. I try to do this for people on my list that I just don’t know what they would LOVE but I know something made would be meaningful to them. It’s also a great budget saver. You can make some really amazing things on a budget!!!

4. Support local businesses or local mamas

We all have a friend that sells something. Support them. If they sell things you like and use, gift it to someone else. Not only do you have an amazing gift (and goes back to tip2), but you now have supported a friend and possibly well beyond the holiday season. If you have a local store in your neighborhood, head there before heading to Target. Something might stand out and now you have supported your town vs a large corporation.

5. ASK!

When all else fails and you are in a total loss on what to get a friend or family member, ask. Now there are ways you can do this without it being, “What do you want for Christmas?” but if you are close, this works, too. My mom has asked me that and I appreciate the ask because then I know I am getting something I want or can really use! But if you aren’t close, just ask general questions– maybe you ask what wines they like, restaurants they eat at, or places they frequent a lot because you need recommendations for yourself. Be sneaky and say you need gift ideas for a friend and need some help.

 

Don’t let the holidays bring you down! Gift giving should be fun and enjoyable. The feeling of giving an awesome gift is a really good feeling. Make it easy on yourself! Not one single tip was to spend an enormous amount of money. Gifts from the heart mean everything to someone, and when they see that you have taken the time to know what they want or need means that much more! I can tell you as a mom with young kids, anything that allows them to buy their own clothes, give themselves “me” time, or gives them the chance to head out on the town with their significant other or friends is a great gift.

 

 

Why I write…

I started this blog because sometimes I need to write down my thoughts. If you choose to read, then great. If you choose not to read, that’s great, too. It doesn’t affect me either way. I’ve been through quite a year. I needed a place to put my thoughts down. I also love to write. I’ve tried journalling with paper and pencil and I just can’t keep it up, but I can somewhat keep up with typing my thoughts (maybe a generational thing). I would love to be a paper/pencil girl but it just doesn’t get done.

This year has been crazy on a personal account and national account. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around stuff that has happened, especially this last week. I’m not typically an anxious person, but as a mom anxiety has trickled into my system. I have random fleeting thoughts. I think about the fact that in my hometown church, my dad stands at the back by the big doors most people come through and we all sit with our backs to it and what if someone decides they want to go crazy by coming in and shooting. I am constantly looking around at large gatherings like marathons or metro stations wondering what others are thinking or if someone has left something behind. It’s not completely healthy, but at the same time, I do not let these thoughts consume me. I have them, but they are fleeting and I refocus my mind to something else.

But after this week, anytime I think about what happened, I think about how easily that could have been me or someone I love. That is an event I easily could have been to if it was in my neck of the woods. My eyes are tearing up just thinking about it. Then of course, my mind turns to my littles who I send off to school everyday and pray (and wonder) everyday for their safety.

I’m not someone that will EVER get into a debate with someone over gun control laws because frankly, I  don’t know enough about them to debate anyone and I honestly don’t think many people do. I do, however, think something needs to be addressed. Assault rifles are not something ANYONE needs. Mental health needs to start being taken as seriously as heart disease and cancer. People need to love more, reflect more, listen more, debate less.

I sat with my oldest (5 years old) and talked to her about being a friend to anyone who needs one. I told her that it’s important to look for the friend in the classroom or lunch room who doesn’t seem to be talking to anyone or has a hard time finding someone to play with and invite them in. It’s not going to erase what it going on in the world, but if I can raise two little ones to love unconditionally, be a friend to anyone around them, and be genuinely good people, than I feel like I have done something.

I love the fact that many news outlets were focusing on the heroes of this week. They were highlighting ways people were helping in the aftermath or ways people helped strangers around them. Highlighting

those throwing themselves on top of people they didn’t even know to shield them from what was happening. I believe that our world has more good in it than evil, but unfortunately the evil takes the spotlight. The evil has made me have these anxious thoughts and have placed fear in so many of our hearts and minds, but let’s remember the good we are surrounded by. Let’s focus on the love we receive and the love we are allowed to deliver each and every day.

 

 

Today, be kind to the person next to you. Smile at the stranger walking by. Lift your eyes off the screen of your phone and say hi to someone. Be the kind in the world, because that is all we can do and that’s what we need to live each day for.

Are they disrespecting the flag?!

If you haven’t heard already, there is quite the controversy over what professional athletes are doing. If you haven’t heard, then you are clearly living under a rock because it’s not only all over social media, but the news.  I have been torn about the whole situation because I am an Army wife who sent my husband overseas for a year and had to take care of a toddler and preschool on my own. My husband is sacrificing a year of his life and our lives to fight for our country. We are sacrificing a lot as well. However, I also do not feel so offended as so many of my counterparts feel when it comes to this situation.

I can give you my own feelings about this, and I started typing them all out, but then I thought, I really should back up my thoughts and I wanted to look into what it actually looks like to disrespect the flag.

As I hear the National Anthem and see the flag, I don’t just hear words and see a piece of red, white, and blue cloth. I see those who have fought for that flag. I see those not just on the battlefield and in uniform, but those who fight everyday to make a life for themselves and their families. That flag represents our country. It represents what this country has been founded on. It does NOT represent the ideals that one person or party holds, but the ideals and values that this nation was founded on. Now, I want you to think about what it is you think about when you put your hand over your heart and sing our National Anthem. Do you think of the hate that goes on in our country? Do you think of the President? Do you think of your neighbor, friend, family member who is serving or has served? At first, I thought, that those that are so offended by the taking a knee have a hard time separating the flag from those in uniform, but then as I sat down and really thought about it, those men and women in uniform are what keeps this country what it is and they are in fact the reason that flag can still fly high.

Now, if we want to talk about if these athletes are disrespecting the flag, I turned to the American Legion and the United States Code (taken from https://www.legion.org/flag/code)

Title 36, Subtitle I, Part A section 301 United States Code – National Anthem

(a) Designation.— The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b) Conduct During Playing.— During a rendition of the national anthem—

  • (1) when the flag is displayed—

(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

  • (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

So, those players ARE IN FACT disrespecting the flag. Now, look around you at any event where the National Anthem is being played. I can guarantee at least 25% (most likely more) are being just as disrespectful. My biggest pet peeve is those who can’t take the time to remove a hat or be silent for the 2 minutes the anthem is playing. I also bet that many of us have disrespected the flag before without even knowing. It was through my research that I learned some valuable information.  According to Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, subsection 8:

Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.

Bunting of blue, white, and red always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkin or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. (Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony)

So for those who are saying these men are taking a knee in silent but respectful protest, according to code, you are just wrong. There are other ways they can make their point, but when it comes down to it, they are actually being disrespectful to not only our country but to the men and women who have worked so hard and sacrificed to much to allow that flag to fly high.

Am I Kindergarten Ready?

 

Back-to-school is lurking around the corner. What emotions does that instill in you?! For some, it’s a welcomed sight to send kids off and get back to a normal routine. For others, it means back to work. For others, it means sending your baby off for the first time.

Welcome me. I once was the teacher who welcomed summer and wished it continued on with it’s wonderful journey of long stressless days, fun summer nights, and beach trips. Since being at home for the last 5 years as a stay-at-home mom, I have enjoyed letting long summer nights lead into long chilly fall nights. Pool and splash pad day trips lead into into fall festival and apple picking trips. Not being stuck to a schedule has been wonderful. I somewhat took advantage of it by spending long weekends away with family. Begging my husband to take days off to spend with us. But, in half a week, my first baby heads to school for a full five days a week. She begins her journey. I’m feeling a lot of feelings over this.

As a former Kindergarten teacher, I welcomed my lovely new kiddos on that first day. Prying them out of the arms of their parents who asked if they could stay a bit to make sure their kids were okay. I never understood these emotions. I very calmly and friendly told those parents that it is in the best interest of everyone to say your swift goodbyes and that all would be okay. I welcomed cute little 5 and 6 year olds into the classroom, many of them all smiles and hellos, a few with some tears. I sent parents home or to work- some running away to enjoy the time and others with tears in their eyes.

Now it’s my turn to send my baby off to full-time, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week school. A pit in my stomach forms and tears well up when I think about it. I’m now being that parent who wants to walk my little one to her classroom, give her hugs and kisses, and want to linger a little to know she will be okay. I struggle with wanting to send her off on the bus, something that might be super hard but overall might be easiest or driving her to school. I struggle letting her go off on her own or follow the bus to watch her walk into school.

The hardest part is being constantly excited about school for my daughter, while my heart and head are crying that she will be going off for the first time without me for 35 hours a week. I have never been away from her for that long.

Despite my feelings, I know my daughter is going to love school. She is sweet and compassionate and will make friends quickly. She is eager to learn and is so excited to be a kindergartener. I just sit here, writing this, praying that she continues to have a heart and mind eager to learn, she is blessed with a teacher who showers her with love and compassion while pushing her to be her best, and that she finds a group of friends she feels comfortable with to be beautiful self. I pray these things for all of your kids, whether they are entering a school for the very first time or heading to their last year of high school.

 

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Am I Kindergarten Ready?

 

Back-to-school is lurking around the corner. What emotions does that instill in you?! For some, it’s a welcomed sight to send kids off and get back to a normal routine. For others, it means back to work. For others, it means sending your baby off for the first time.

Welcome me. I once was the teacher who welcomed summer and wished it continued on with it’s wonderful journey of long stressless days, fun summer nights, and beach trips. Since being at home for the last 5 years as a stay-at-home mom, I have enjoyed letting long summer nights lead into long chilly fall nights. Pool and splash pad day trips lead into into fall festival and apple picking trips. Not being stuck to a schedule has been wonderful. I somewhat took advantage of it by spending long weekends away with family. Begging my husband to take days off to spend with us. But, in half a week, my first baby heads to school for a full five days a week. She begins her journey. I’m feeling a lot of feelings over this.

As a former Kindergarten teacher, I welcomed my lovely new kiddos on that first day. Prying them out of the arms of their parents who asked if they could stay a bit to make sure their kids were okay. I never understood these emotions. I very calmly and friendly told those parents that it is in the best interest of everyone to say your swift goodbyes and that all would be okay. I welcomed cute little 5 and 6 year olds into the classroom, many of them all smiles and hellos, a few with some tears. I sent parents home or to work- some running away to enjoy the time and others with tears in their eyes.

Now it’s my turn to send my baby off to full-time, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week school. A pit in my stomach forms and tears well up when I think about it. I’m now being that parent who wants to walk my little one to her classroom, give her hugs and kisses, and want to linger a little to know she will be okay. I struggle with wanting to send her off on the bus, something that might be super hard but overall might be easiest or driving her to school. I struggle letting her go off on her own or follow the bus to watch her walk into school.

The hardest part is being constantly excited about school for my daughter, while my heart and head are crying that she will be going off for the first time without me for 35 hours a week. I have never been away from her for that long.

Despite my feelings, I know my daughter is going to love school. She is sweet and compassionate and will make friends quickly. She is eager to learn and is so excited to be a kindergartener. I just sit here, writing this, praying that she continues to have a heart and mind eager to learn, she is blessed with a teacher who showers her with love and compassion while pushing her to be her best, and that she finds a group of friends she feels comfortable with to be beautiful self. I pray these things for all of your kids, whether they are entering a school for the very first time or heading to their last year of high school.

 

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Our obsession with pressed pennies

With summer coming up, road trips are on the horizon. I mean, who am I kidding, road trips are always a part of our life with family not close, but summer seems to be everyone’s excuse to get out on the road and explore the country. This usually means day trips to favorite spots like museums, zoos, amusement parks, and the like. If you have kids, you may like to get them little mementos to commemorate their visits and travels, or maybe you like to do this for yourself. I was once an avid shot glass collector. Now I’m a Christmas ornament collector. It’s nice to remember where you’ve been and the experiences you’ve had.

My kids recently became fascinated with pressed pennies. I remember getting these as a kid, too, and thinking they were pretty cool, but my kids LOVE them. Honestly, I love that they love them because I can leave any place with a $0.51 souvenir and they are overjoyed. I watch friends at the same place we are fighting over the fact their kid wants the $24 stuffed animal that once they get home they won’t ever want anything to do with it.

It was kind of funny, though, because this has become a recent phenomenon and then I saw a blog post pop up on my newsfeed. It got me intrigued about pressed pennies and if there was more to them then the fascination of cranking the machine and getting a flat penny.

So here are some facts I’ve compiled in case you were as intrigued as I was.

It all started in Chicago.

The first pressed, or elongated, penny was produced in Chicago during the 1892-1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that commemorated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. They had four designs for that event. However, the first designer on record is a man named Charles Damm, who made the design for the 1901 Pan American Exposition in New York.

Their popularity has seen a few shifts.

The first 23 years of existence seem to have been the most popular. Then around 1916, the intrigue seemed to die down. No one really knows why, but they just didn’t seem as popular until again in 1932. It’s said they are being produced at a rapid pace now and it’s hard to keep up with.

There are collectors.

I guess there are collectors for everything, so this isn’t much of a surprise. With how many machines there are today, it is impossible for a collector to collect ALL the pressed pennies, so many have designated specialized subjects (politics, holidays, space programs, etc.) There is even an organization, (TEC), The Elongated Collection.

You can find the machine closest to you.

There is a whole website designed for you to located pressed machines. Our family happened to stumble upon one at a local zoo and then again at a rest stop on our way to visit grandparents. Both times my kids were SO excited to pick their design, crank the machine, and see their newly smushed penny. My son has seemed to have lost his both times, but again, I am okay with this because we haven’t lost a $24 3-inch stuffed animal that they “had to have,” instead a single penny has been dropped for someone else to find.

It is illegal to mutilate coinage, except for the elongating/pressing a coin.

It is actually illegal to mutilate or falsify US coinage with the intention of creating counterfeit money. Since elongated pennies are used solely as souvenirs, the mutilation of them is not illegal

This pressed penny thing is actually a genius idea for who ever came up with it. We provide the penny, OURSELVES. We crank the machine, OURSELVES. Yet, we have to pay $0.50 to get the penny. What a money making scheme!

So the next time you are out and about, see if they have a penny pressing machine. Maybe your kids will be just as thrilled with this prize!

 

*I gained this information from the following sources: Rosato, Angelo A. (1990). Encyclopedia of the Modern Elongated: A Complete and Authentic Description of All Modern Elongateds, 1960-1978. New Milford, CT: Angros Publishers. ISBN 0-9626996-2-4. And http://www.pennycollector.com