His & Her Gift Basket Ideas

Sunday, August 30, 2015

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. Readers must be 18 years of age or older. All opinions are mine alone. 
#bluPLUS #CollectiveBias

It has been a few years now since my sister and brother in law have moved down to Indianapolis.  We love having more family close by and being able to spend time together.  The best part has been the frequent afternoon cookouts and dinner dates.  Since I only have one sister, I really appreciate everything she has done for us and love knowing they are just a short car ride away!  Plus the kids love their aunt and uncle beyond words.

My sister has also bent over backwards helping us out with basically anything we have needed.  I'm serious.   She is so incredibly crafty.  From home cooked meals to making new curtains for Lola's room to even sewing a new canopy for the play set - her creative hands have gone above and beyond for us.  Her husband is just as savvy but more in the technology area.  He's always helping me make quick fixes to the blog or he's busting out his handy tools to change watch batteries.  Once he took the world's smallest screwdriver and unjammed a wind-up toy that saved us all from a major toddler meltdown.  I seriously have the best family ever.  But the past month has been busy for both of us.  They took off on a few trips with friends and I started back up at work for the new school year, so we haven't seen each other in awhile.  I decided it was time to invite them over for dinner next weekend.  My sister always seems to have little gifts for me when we get together but this time I wanted to do something for them.  I found a bunch of their favorite little gadgets and decided I would send them home with some goodies for a change.  Basically whenever I saw something that reminded me of them both, I grabbed it.  And then I ended up with an entire gift basket to share with them.


My sister is a master in the kitchen and loves to try out new recipes.  I snagged a few fun kitchen items since you can never have enough gadgets in your drawers.  We have an amazing Farmer's Markets so I also grabbed her some great produce that I knew she would find a way to use in a new meal.  I threw in a new apron that I found on clearance a few months ago and forgot all about!

My brother in law is a craft beer lover so when I saw this glass I knew it had his name written all over it.  A beer opener at the bottom?  Hello and thank you!  I also found some local craft beers on sale that tied nicely into his glass.

Now the last time they were here, my brother in law had just purchased an electronic cigarette to try out.  Kurtis and I are not smokers but the whole technology being this invention is actually quite fascinating!  I started reading up on how they work and came across blu PLUS+ e-Cigs.  It's a rechargeable e-cig that uses a blu flavor tank.  It lasts longer, you get more flavor and has easy-to-use charging options.  Plus the price for the Xpress Kit is only $14.99 and right now you get a free pack of Tanks included with the kit for that price, which is normally a $30 value.

Here is how the blu PLUS+ works:

1.  Start by charging your blu PLUS+ battery.  The Xpress Kit includes a USB charger for easy charging basically anywhere!

2.  Remove the sticker and small blue cap at the end of the Tank.  Attach your blu Tank to your battery - it should twist right in.

3.  Press the blu PLUS+ to your lips and take a puff!

4.  There is a blue LED light at the end of the blu PLUS+ that will glow when it is working correctly.  Then you know you can sit back and enjoy it!

I purchased my brother-in-law an Xpress Kit and a set of Vanilla Tanks.  (The blu website offers tons of different flavors and nicotine strengths that you can only get online.  Did I mention there's free shipping when you order online too and more discount offers?)  I'm excited to see how he likes his blu PLUS+ as well as his opinion on the whole technology behind it!  It seems super handy and convenient, especially for people with an on-the-go lifestyle!

Now that I have spent the majority of my time planning this fun gift basket, I completely forgot to plan the dinner menu.  Any suggestions?  Bueller?  Bueller?


Check out the blu PLUS+ Xpress Kit bundle with a free pack of Tanks for just $14.99 - only available while supplies last!

You can learn more and follow blu e-Cigs on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram and Twitter.

Project 52 - Week 34

Thursday, August 27, 2015

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2015*

This kid wants nothing to do with me these days.  The second he sees his friends in the neighborhood, he's gone.  And when I call him to come in he always has an excuse as to why he needs five more minutes.  I love that the neighborhood kids congregate in the yards behind our houses, but unfortunately he's got rather good negotiating skills at quite a young age...

We moved this sweet pea into her big girl bed this weekend and surprisingly she had no problems.  My heart got a little sad as I looked at her tiny body in that huge bed.  I'm sure she would've slept forever in her crib if we let her but unfortunately Baby Sissy will need it here shortly.  Now if she could just get rid of this darn cold and her 39423409 ear infection we'd be golden.


Friday Night Lights...On a Saturday Morning

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

As summer begins to fade and fall slowly makes the way in, I'm once again reminded of another year that is passing us by just like that.  We are just weeks away from turning into a Party of 5 and let's be real here, I'm holding on to every string of denial that I can.  Not because I'm not excited - I really am excited to venture into the newborn world one final time.  But more so because I am struggling with the thought that my family is growing up and I'm not sure that it's fair.  Mr. Cohen will be 5 in less than two months.
He's in Pre-K this year and already soaking it all up like a little sponge.  I couldn't be prouder of him.  But this fall we decided to get him into some organized activities because the kid is all boy.  He needs to be busy 24-7.  Plus I wanted him to meet some kids his own age that he may recognize when he heads of to Kindergarten next year.  

So what did we decide on?

Flag football my friends.

And guess what else is so amazing about this situation?
His dad is his coach too.

My heart has been so full watching the two of them leave for practice despite the one evening of tears and frustrations from both ends.  But last Saturday was their first game and I don't think I could have smiled anymore watching the two of them work together with their team.  I was a bit nervous at first because Cohen's attention span is the size of a flea's.  But my worries were quickly smashed when he was passed the ball for the first play of the game and ran it down like a little lightning bolt to score his team's first touchdown.  Even though he was technically supposed to pass it off to another kid, Cohen was determined to score and that he did -- TWICE!!!  He played some great defense ripping off those flags and worked like a champ with his teammates passing off the ball to let them score touchdowns too.  Kurtis was a great coach too making sure all the kids got the ball and played together.  Lola and I enjoyed cheering them on from the sidelines and I'm so excited for this Saturday's game to see how much they have improved!

So here's my warning now.  Be prepared to have your feed blown up with adorable football pictures over the next 8 weeks.  

I'm taking my big lens next week...


Work Smarter, Not Harder - A Teacher's Dream Tool

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 
#SchoolYearReady #CollectiveBias

It's that time again - back to school time!  We have already been back at it for over three weeks now (and of course I am already down for the count with Bronchitis...) and my gears are turning with new activities and ideas for the school year.  This is my tenth, yes TENTH, year as a teacher and honestly it still is just as hard, if not harder than when I first started the profession.  But I believe that good teachers educate themselves with new and exciting lessons to make the learning experience a fun one.  Every year you will see that each class is different, so I have to switch things up to make sure I'm meeting the needs of everyone in my class.  But the one phrase I ultimately live by in my teaching career has been - "Work smarter, not harder."  Because let's be real here, any teacher knows that your time is precious, especially the lack of time that you are given to plan and create these fabulous lesson plans!

 The tenth year will be a memorable one as you can see.

This year I decided to switch up my math layout because I have some super high math kiddos in my class.  I have decided to incorporate more small groups so I can narrow down my focus of each of the math skills I teach to make sure each student is learning at their level.  I have always done some type of math stations but this year I have decided to make my stations leveled for the groups.  I love creating new math games but as a busy mom of two, well almost three, and with just 50 minutes of prep time a day if I'm lucky, I really need to live by my motto - "Work smarter, not harder."  So each time I make a new math station I plan on laminating it to protect it from the wear and tear of 22 (or really 44) little hands that will play it as well as preserve it for at least a few more years.

Sounds easy, right?

Well it totally would be if our school laminator wasn't on the complete other side of the building and didn't take 50 hours to warm up.  Plus it's the beginning of the year and everyone and their brother has the same idea of course.  For me it's just easier to make my activities at home, so I decided to head to Walmart to stock up on some ink and other teaching supplies for the year.  As I was browsing the stationary aisle and stocking up on more things than I really needed, my eyes caught the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator.  At a price of around $20 I could create, print and now laminate my own work at home!
Insert clapping emoji and throw in the dancing lady one too!
I was pumped!  I grabbed a pack of the Scotch™ Thermal Pouches Letter size 50 pack too so I would be well prepared for my at home laminating adventure.

We are in the process of moving rooms around and preparing for Baby #3, so my office area has been moved to the loft.   The Scotch™ Thermal Laminator is compact enough to keep out on my desk or simply put on a shelf when I'm not using it.  Plus it is super easy to use too!  I am so excited about this tool that I have decided to share one of my math stations with you too!

Here's a link to a game I created for my class to use while focusing on 10 more and 10 less.  The students will work in partners and all you need is this game, two different colored counters and a 20 sided dice.
10 More and 10 Less Partner Game with 20 Sided Dice Printable

Five Simple Steps to Creating Long Lasting Math Stations

1.  Place the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator on a flat, secure surface and turn it on.  Make sure to use the 3 mil setting since you are using standard printer paper.

2.  While the laminator is warming up, prepare your activity and insert it into the Scotch™ Thermal Pouch.  (Sidenote:  don't cut your pouch until AFTER you laminate it!  Otherwise it will jam your fabulous machine!)

3.  When the blue READY light comes come, you are ready to roll!  Adjust the input tray to the width of your pouch and insert your pouch, sealed-edge first.  Be sure to hold on to to it until the laminator pulls it forward.

4.  The Scotch™ Thermal Laminator will pull your pouch right on through.  Let it cool down and double check that it has sealed.  If it is thicker, it may need to go through twice!

5.  Cut and prepare your math station - and remember the beauty of this all is that you were able to do this at home, probably in your yoga pants!

Teaching is something I am truly passionate about and I'm excited to start back with a new group of students each and every year.  I love being able to change things up and try new activities but like everything else, of course that takes time.  This has been by far one of my most favorite teaching tools I have purchased in my career.  I'm serious.  
And teachers, never forget - "Work smarter, not harder." 

Share with me!
I've shared how I'm using Scotch™ Laminating Products to get ready for Back-to-School! What project are you planning to use them for?


Project 52 - Week 33

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2015*

We are in the second week of our flag football season with our first game approaching on Saturday.  Last night he got upset because someone tackled him and as he said, "This is flag football, not tackle football.  We do not tackle, Mom!"  I also think the combination of his late night shenanigans doesn't help the exhaustion.  If someone has any tips on making the kid go to bed early please share them with me.  Like yesterday.

This sweet girl is all about the babies these days, which I'm hoping is a good sign.  She loves to pat her baby on the back, shush her baby and most recently feed baby yogurt at breakfast.  Poor Baby needs a bath but I'm afraid it will ruin baby if we do so.  I'm excited for her birthday and for Santa to bring her some fun stuff for the babies.  I loved dolls so much when I was little and it makes me excited that she is just in love with them too.


Weekend Shenanigans - When It Rains, It Pours

Monday, August 17, 2015

Another week along with another weekend that has passed.  Seriously, every weekend I think, "I could use another day."  But it never magically appears.
What if...

Last week was our first full week back at school for everyone.  Luckily things went off without a hitch and both kids are loving school more and more.  The teachers in Lola's room seemed a bit devastated when I shared that this would be a temporary placement for Lola since I plan on keeping her home with me once baby comes.  I do have to say that I love that her teachers seem to love her just as much as we do.  Cohen has taken quite a liking to Pre-K this year with all of his old buddies.  This weekend he was sharing some things he learned include the fact that there are seven days in a week along with all the days of the week.  The teacher within was quite impressed and I'm excited to see what my little sponge will suck up in the upcoming weeks before he heads to Kindergarten next year.

But what's a first full week without illness, right?  

Friday evening was Kurtis' family night at work.  I'm so mad I didn't take my camera because I could have taken some amazing shots of Cohen on the FlowRider machine and Lola splashing in the kiddy pool.  Parenting fail right there.  Saturday was hot and humid.  Kurtis was on call so it was just me and the kiddos.  Poor Lola has been placed on a morning Miralax regime after her sad afternoon Saturday.  When she woke up from nap all she did was cry and want to be held, which is nothing like that child.  We tried to cheer her up in the pool, which worked for about 10 minutes and then she wanted to be held the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning we awoke to another sunny day but this time my sweet little girl's nose was stuffed to the brim.  Seriously, can't the kid catch a break?  Luckily after a brief morning catnap she seemed back to herself a bit more and was ready to tackle the afternoon.  When Kurtis got home from work he took Cohen on a long bike ride and fishing while Lola (and Mama) enjoyed a three hour nap.  They ventured to the basement to cool down with toons and apparently a nap.  I guess everyone around here naps...but me.  
Hello.  I'm the pregnant one here.

But it's time to attack a new week full of busy plans.  Football practice, doctor appointments and the transferring of rooms is all on the agenda.  Our goal is to have Lola transition into her big girl bed on Friday.  Wish us luck.

Cheers to another Monday past - and one less Monday spent pregnant.


Cohen's First Day of PreK

Thursday, August 13, 2015

This guy.
I know.  I seriously feel like he was just in my womb waiting to make his ridiculously crazy entrance.  He will be five in October and a big brother again.  There's so much I love about him I can't even explain it.  This summer was a good one.  Yes, it was all about testing my limits and my mommy voice was quite apparent (as well as my scary mommy eyes too he said) but since he has had the structure of school again this kid is amazing.  He wakes up like a big boy and is ready to go to school to see his bestie, Jack.  It makes me so happy that he loves school.  This will be his last year at the school he's attended since he was two.  I'm super sad about it because it was one of the best choices we have made for him, especially after our horrible previous babysitter experience.  But his vocabulary lately is amazing as well as his what he hears -- both good and well, bad.  I had to laugh today because he innocently told me a story about the time Dad drove into the grass because he was looking at his phone.  Yes, totally busted.  He also asks a million questions and is curious about everything and their brother.  Cohen started his first year in Flag Football on Tuesday.  Even with the attention span of a flea, I think it will be a great experience for him and he seems super excited to go back again tonight.  This weekend he will be moved into Lola's room and Lola will be transferred to his room.  My plan is to decorate his room with vintage superhero decor and he's already told me he's ready to go pick out some pictures of his favorite heroes this weekend.  He can name all the Avengers and will politely correct you when you are wrong.  (FYI Bane is not an Avenger.  He's from Batman.  My mistake.)  I'm excited to see how he grows this year as well as how he adjusts to the new baby in just a few months.  Five will be a big year.  And I can't believe I almost have a Kindergartener. 


Project 52 - Week 32

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2015*

This sweet boy has officially started Pre-K.  I'll share more about it later this week but I'm quite certain that I blinked and he was all of a sudden this little man.   He also started his football season, which Lola and I are super excited to head to his games to cheer him on!

Lately this one has been a turd in the sleep department.  She will randomly wake up around 4:00 with this horrible wail and make sure everyone else knows she's awake.  Let's just say that doesn't sit well with this mama's 5:30 alarm.  I'd rather be tired and at home then at work all day.  Seriously Lola.  Quit playing games with my heart/sleep/sanity.