Friday, August 21, 2015

Routine Charts

The kids really like their before school charts. I've vamped them up a bit - they love their electronics but do not get them during the school week (other than the occasional TV show in the morning).  I also wanted something for after school, just as a reminder of what needs to be done.  It's very exhausting to me to come home after a full day of work, see the kitchen and living room in total disarray. We go right to supper, finishing up homework, baseball or gymnastic practice, 20 minutes of reading (per school request), and then shower/bedtime.  The kids leave their backpacks where they fall, shoes near the door, clothes all over (seriously why can't they change in their rooms???), etc. They rarely hang up their uniform pants, although many times I will find their dirty uniform shirts hanging up? How weird is that?

I created this chart for what they should be doing after school.  I may end up tweaking it after a couple of weeks.  The 7:30 p.m. bedtime really isn't that firm, but it's generally when we start getting them ready for bed.  

What would you add to an after school chart?

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to School - Creating a Homework Station

School starts tomorrow. I am trying to get things organized in between working full-time. Ha!

We had already been using a shoe organizer in our closet off the kitchen for miscellaneous items, such as hats and gloves in the winter, and sunglasses and baseball hats in the summer.  By moving those things to a different spot, I had plenty of space for our homework supplies. The kids love the ease of being able to find what they want without having to dig through the closet or a drawer!

Full view
Close-up #1: The first three bags are the kids' markers for art.
The bottom two bags hold pencils, erasers, crayons and a glue stick for each twin
Close-up #2 Misc markers, rulers,
and art supplies for when homework is done
and they just want to create something!
Art supplies, extra markers (Keith got a great deal at Meijer!)
Stamps, envelopes, return address labels,
Connor's box with his school pencils and crayons.




* I had previously posted this on my other blog, but wanted to move it over here.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: My Enchanting Hoyden


Julie Johnstone's newest novel, My Enchanting Hoyden, was just released last week. As usual, this is another one of her books that is just a delight to read! 

Jemma is a woman who has been duped by her first love. Intent on not wanting to ever make that mistake again, her goal is to earn enough money to be independent and have her own bakery, just like her mother. That's not easy when her grandfather has different plans. Lord Hawthorne, otherwise known as Philip, has a debt to fulfill and marriage to a wealthy woman is his only way out. But he feels he is too much of a gentleman to win a lady's heart, and is intent on changing his reputation to gain a wealthy wife.

As the two of them work together, Jemma to foil her grandfather's plan, and Philip to turn himself into a rogue to be wanted by the ladies of the ton, the reader roots for the two of them to acknowledge their feelings for each other!

This is a really great story. The characters are very likeable from the beginning.  Ms. Johnstone's characters are always so full of life that you can imagine having tea and getting along famously with them.  While this is book 3 in her Once Upon a Rogue series, it can be read as a standalone. Or as the first book of many you pick up to read by this author. ;)

Want to check out the book? Buy it here:



Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Summer of Firsts...

I debated bringing this up, but decided it's my blog, I'll write if I want to. ;)

I had a kidney donor. She was approved as a tissue match and was set to come into the hospital for the final round of testing. Let's just say it didn't work out. I don't know the details, but she backed out. She has her reasons, which I am sure are valid, but she did not share them with me. I just hope and pray that they are not serious health reasons or something of that nature.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. A few dear co-workers offered to go beat her up, jokingly of course. Keith said it happened because it gives me more time with the kids this summer. I don't see it that way. Since my levels are up enough to push off surgery for a couple of months, I would have had that extra summer time anyway. A friend told me once that she doesn't believe things happen for a reason, that they just happen. 

I however, think things do happen for a reason. Not good reasons, perhaps. We had a second donor come forward, but due to an eye injury/surgery, she couldn't start testing. Donor #3 was disqualified by the hospital due to high blood pressure (from one doctor visit!), although she asked to have a 24 hours test to prove that reading was based on stress, not her overall health.  Still waiting to hear the results and if she will be approved to move forward. Either way, the chances of needing dialysis are looming.  Testing of a donor can take up to three months, which is plenty of time for levels to drop. 

I still wonder why this happened to me. Why the donor backed out. Why I was so close only to have it taken away. It's hard knowing there is an actual match out there that could save my life but I don't have access to it. 

Despite all that, I keep on going. There isn't anything else to do. I'm enjoying summer, enjoying the kids. Perhaps that is the reason this is all happening. As a mom, you tend to get so wrapped up in things that there is little chance to enjoy what is going on around you.  Summer gives us the time to step back, without the hustle and bustle of the school year. I can't say that I am looking forward to the kids going back to school in two weeks.  Homework will be a bigger constant in our lives. There are after-school activities to take them to.  And I still work full-time and have my house duties to take care of. The laundry doesn't wash itself. (Although I wish it would put itself away...)  I do all the things I did before, but with a nagging sense of exhaustion that haunts me night and day... one that can't be controlled with caffeine or extra sleep. 

And while this was the first summer of my new normal, there were also more fun "firsts" that happened as well:

First time riding bikes without training wheels (and not falling off!):
 


First Cubs game!!!


First time miniature-golfing! 
(Not the best picture, but it was black-light mini-golf!)


 First time meeting a far-away friend....
(And getting to see other special friends as well!)




First time meeting Batman...
(Who, I'm not going to lie, was pretty cute in person...)



There were other first as well that are not pictured here, since a more personal goal of mine was not to have my phone with me at all times.  Because not all moments need to be documented with technology. Rather they live in our hearts and minds...

I'm looking forward to more "firsts" as the year goes on.  That's the thing, after your children are out of the infant/toddler stage, we tend to forget that there are many other firsts that are to come. My goal for the rest of the year is to find more "firsts" and enjoy them all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Between the Lines






Jane Charles' new book, Between the Lines, was just released. The book centers around Gabe and Ellen,  and the Baxter School of the Arts.  It's told from both Gabe and Ellen's first person perspectives, which is great because the reader is able to see both sides of the story as it develops. 

Gabe is a teacher at the Baxter School of the Arts. Ellen is a reporter who feels that there is a story that needs to be told about Baxter. Both of them are dead set with keeping their secrets to themselves, but as their relationship grows, it becomes harder for them to not trust each other.

I really liked this book, even though it's not what I normally read. Ellen is trying to keep her past a secret, but as she falls for Gabe, she begins to trust him and share her secrets. Gabe continues to protect the school and it's secrets, but not because they are bad. It's his job to protect the students he cares about. As Ellen gets closer to the truth, she begins to understand the Baxter story. I really enjoyed the scene where she met with some of the students and heard their perspectives and stories. Without going into detail to ruin the story, the stories are what truly convinces Ellen that there is nothing shady going on at Baxter.

The ending wraps up the story nicely. I hope there are more books in this series as I'd enjoy reading about some of the other characters. 

**I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Sinning


Mark your calendar - tomorrow is the release of the newest Sabrina Jeffries' book! The Art of Sinning is the delightful first novel in her new series, called the Sinful Suitors. This book does not disappoint!  

Jeremy Keane, an artist not wanting to be tied down to his father's business back in America, meets Lady Yvette Barlow, a woman who has taken it upon herself to solve a family mystery.  Jeremy wants to use Yvette as his muse, but she won't agree unless he helps her. Yvette's brother won't agree to the arrangement, so the two of them concoct a plan to work together - she will be his muse, and he will help her find the woman she is looking for.

As a reader, I am never bored with a Sabrina Jeffries' story. The two main characters are great together - lots of chemistry in both conversation and in the bedroom. They are very witty, which makes them more likeable characters, in my own opinion. The secondary characters are great too, and you want to read more about them as well. 

Check out her book tomorrow - available in paper and e-reader! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: A Body to Spare


I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Sue Ann Jaffarian's new book, A Body to Spare.

I have to say, this was my favorite Odelia Grey book yet! The twists and turns were great! The story begins with a body found in Odelia's trunk at the car wash.  Again, Odelia's luck as the corpse magnet has not run out.  As the mystery begins to unfold, Odelia gets help from old and new friends. Out of the blue, she receives a surprise phone call, and that was one of my favorite parts! I can't say anymore about it because it would spoil the surprise for you, but I was so excited when the caller announced their name.  

As usual, there was a lot of action, with poor Odelia trying to clear her name, deal with a friend moving away, and bodies piling up. Ms. Jaffarian does a fantastic job, keeping the story funny and action-packed at the same time. You don't want to put this one down.

The book will be released in November, so I highly recommend you put it on your to be read list!
 
***I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.