Friday, July 31, 2020

Five on Friday - Fun Apple Watch Bands, Great Masks for Kids, Gold Star Choker, and an Easy Way to Chop Veggies

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Hey, hey, it’s Friiiidaaaay!  I have some especially good favorites to share this week so let’s get started!

O N E – Apple Watch Bands

As you all know, I’m obsessed with my Apple Watch.  I wear it all day every single day without fail and I’ve already reached the point where I don’t want to ever have to live without it.  Yep, it’s that good.

I still have lots of Amazon gift card money left over from my birthday, so I was browsing around for some goodies earlier this week, and I completely fell down the rabbit hole of Apple Watch bands.  Y’ALL.  Amazon has them in every single color and pattern you could ever imagine, and most of them are only around $5-$6!!!!

The bands are super easy to change out, so it’s no big deal to swap them daily to match your outfits.  My original watch came with the pale pink silicone band, but I’ve been thinking it’d be nice to be able to change it up sometimes, so I bought a couple of new ones this week to start my collection. 

This slim silicone leopard band is my favorite!  I love the silicone bands because they’re weather-proof and very comfy, and I especially love this band because it’s slimmer than the one that comes with the Apple Watch.  It also has two slits in the sides that make it more breathable which is nice when it’s hot as blazes during the summer.  The band is the absolute CUTEST and I’ve been sporting it all week.  I can’t wait to wear it with some fall clothes!  :o)

I also bought this plain white slim band because I figured that white will go with pretty much everything.  It is also made of silicone and it’s the slim version with slits so my wrist can breathe easier in the summer heat.

The quality is great for both of the new bands… they’re very similar to the Apple Watch bands, and at only $5.95 each, they just can’t be beat!  Now I want one for every outfit!

T W O – New Masks for Kids

Since we’ve chosen to send the kids back to school in person, we had to load up on masks since they’ll be wearing them all day every day.  My mother-in-law did make a couple for each of them that they’ve been using, but we thought it might be nice for them to pick a few masks with designs of their choosing with the hope that they’ll be more excited to wear them at school.  Or at least to tolerate them, anyway. 

I searched a few places online and ultimately settled on these masks from Gap.  They are durable, the bands are really stretchy and soft, and they have a thin piece of metal across the entire top of the mask that you can bend over the nose to keep it in place.  They fit on the kids’ faces perfectly, and they seem to be about as comfortable as face masks can be, plus they are machine-washable, so we highly recommend these!

T H R E E – Easy Way to Chop Veggies

B gets employee rewards points at work, and then he can cash them in for items in the employee catalog.  He recently cashed in a bunch of points for a really nice Bose speaker, and he had a few points leftover, so he surprised me with this OXO chopper for the kitchen.  I had mentioned it in passing several months ago, so he scooped it up. 

Y’all!!  This is the best thing ever!  I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without it.  I can now chop a whole onion or a whole bell pepper in about 20 seconds!!  It chops other things, too, but so far, I’ve only used it for those two items.  It’s super easy to use and the back end is open which makes it easy to dump the chopped-up veggies straight into the pot.    All four pieces of the chopper come apart in a flash, and they are all top-rack dishwasher safe for super easy clean-up.  If you’re not using one of these in the kitchen, you’re missing out!  It is going to make cooking prep so much faster and easier. 

F O U R – Star Necklace

When we watched Outer Banks a few months ago, Sarah Cameron’s gold star choker caught my eye, and I’ve been wanting one ever since.  I found several great options on Etsy, including this perfect dupe right here, but I also found a few options on Amazon, and ultimately went with this one.  I like that the stars dangle and are further apart, but that the necklace is still dainty and delicate.  This necklace was only $11.99 and so far, it’s holding up nicely.  I have a tendency to put on a necklace and then wear it for days on end, sleeping and showering in it, so I need jewelry that’s durable.  This one is not solid gold, but it’s 14K gold plated, so hopefully it’ll hold up for a while.  Not bad for the price!

F I V E – Supermarket Sweep

Did you guys see that the old episodes of Supermarket Sweep are on Netflix now?!  Oh man, I loved that show when I was little.  I grew up watching it every single afternoon during the summer in the 90’s and it’s one of my favorite gameshows of all time. 

When I found out that the reruns were on Netflix, I was ecstatic, and much to Brian’s dismay, we started watching them with the kids this past week.  The kids love it, too now, and it is just as good as I remember all those years ago.  Except now we have the added bonus of being entertained by everyone’s crazy 80’s and 90’s hair and outfits, too.  ;o) 

Friday Funnies

Because, quarantine.



We've tried everything else... it's worth a shot!


On the Blog This Week

Happy Friday, y’all! 

*Linking up with A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Our Week - The One with Quarantine, Week 19 & Summer, Week 9 (School Decisions and Jacob’s Birthday)

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Although things were different this year, we had a pretty darn good week celebrating our Boo!  We were able to get back together with my in-laws after another stint of quarantine, and we were finally able to get together with my parents because they were tested and are Covid negative!!  We also made some tough decisions regarding the kids’ return to school so get ready for a lengthy recap.  What else is new, though, right?

Monday, July 20 (Day 129 of Quarantine)

Monday morning, I was on pins and needles waiting on the announcement from our school regarding plans for the new school year.  We’re now less than two weeks away from the big day so decisions were needing to be made.  As I expected, our school has given us a choice... we can send the kids to school in-person with protocol in place to keep them safe, or we can choose to do distance learning.  They are not requiring us to commit to a specific amount of time for either, so we should have the ability to go back and forth between the two should we need to. 

While I’d love to just choose distance learning and keep the kids sheltered forever, there are many reasons why I’m not sure it’s a good idea.  Due to the fact that the majority of the kids at their school will be going back in-person, the distance learning will be vastly different than that of the distance learning we did this past spring when everyone was doing it.  If we choose the distance learning option, the kids will be taking classes live with their teacher and classmates (which is awesome) but that also means they’d have to be on the computer pretty much all day from 8 AM – 3 PM to “sit in” with their classmates.  Yikes.  Throw in the fact that staying home can take a serious toll on their social, emotional, and behavioral well-being and the fact that they’ve already been home for five months, and you can see why we want so badly for them to be able to return in-person.  Not to mention they both want to go back in-person.

Once our school’s plan was announced, B and I had a discussion and ultimately decided to send them back in-person to start since the school is taking things so seriously.  They attend a very small, private school, and therefore, the school is able to make decisions and take certain safety precautions that some other schools cannot.  They put together a school reopening task force made up of administrators, teachers, staff, parents, medical professionals, and safety experts and they all came together to create a very well-thought-out plan to keep our kids as safe as they possibly can under the circumstances and that has definitely helped ease our worries a little.  A few of the things they’ll be doing:

  1. Temperature checks during morning car line
  2. Requiring all kids to sanitize hands upon entry to the school
  3. Increased sanitization protocol for the entire school
  4. Enforcing social distancing in the classrooms (and everywhere else)
  5. Restricting all parents/visitors from entering the building
  6. Enforcing a mask policy (masks must be worn at all times for everyone... this makes me feel so bad for the kids and teachers, but I know that it's 100% necessary for now)
  7. Kids will not be changing classes or teachers to prevent the spread of germs
  8. Weekly mass will be broadcast live to all of the classrooms, so the kids won’t be congregating in church
We are ultimately choosing to put our faith in God and our faith in our leaders at the school, and prayerfully, the kids will have a better school year being there in-person than they would if they were staying home.  And if B and I find that our kids aren’t thriving in that not-as-typical school environment, or if the virus continues its upward trend, we’ll just pull them out and proceed with distance learning.  I’m just grateful to have the option.    

Once our decision was made, I immediately started ordering uniforms and new masks and everything else the kids need for school.  I had been holding off as to not waste money in case we were returning to distance learning, but it was time to take the plunge and buy the goods since their return is just right around the corner.

After lunch, the kids and I played outside for a while and then they worked on summer homework some more… goodness gracious, it seems like the homework has just dragged on and on this year!  I’m sure it’s only because we got a very late start on it since we were so burned out from distance learning at the end of the school year. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon wrapping Jacob’s birthday gifts and ordering his cake, and then I cooked dinner.  After dinner, B and I sat on the back porch discussing more school stuff while the kids played outside.  There was a storm rolling in, so it was cool and breezy which is very rare this time of year. 

That very evening after B and I had already made our decision to send the kids back in person, our public school system announced that they’ll be delaying the start of school by a week (to give the teachers a chance to train) and then they’ll be returning to distance learning only for at least the first 3.5 weeks of school.  They made the decision based on many factors, one of which is the fact that our city continues to have an upward trend of new cases, and one of which is the fact that they cannot enforce certain safety protocol (such as requiring the kids to wear masks) and therefore, could not provide the kids with the safest environment possible.

Since they made their decision to stay closed for in-person classes, that only made me more anxious about our decision to let our kids return to in-person classes.  Sigh.  I could sit here and analyze all of the pros and cons all day, but that’s not going to change the fact that it’s a lose-lose situation.  It's just an impossible predicament to be in right now.

We were sent inside by thunderstorms shortly after, and I started reading White Fragility while the kids showered.  We watched a couple of episodes of Supermarket Sweep with the kids (they love it!  Haha.) and then after they went to bed, B and I watched our shows.

Tuesday, July 21 (Day 130 of Quarantine)

Tuesday morning, I woke up to see that my Covid antibody test results were in and they are negative.  As I’ve mentioned several times, I think it’s possible that I had Covid back in February, so these results either mean that a) I didn’t have it as I thought, b) the antibodies have already left my system, or c) the antibodies are still there, but are not strong enough to be detected.  The results did come with a disclaimer that did mention that even if you get a negative result, that doesn’t mean the antibodies aren’t there.  A certain amount of antibodies must be present for the blood test to detect them, so you can possibly have the antibodies in your system, and still get a negative result.  There are just so many unknowns still, y’all.  So many unknowns. 

The kids spent the morning playing with water beads (I’ll post the before and after below… those things are so cool!), and then after lunch they played with them some more while I did a dance workout.  I read for a while after that, and then I got some work done.

After dinner, we had some more outdoor time, and we were sent back inside, once again, by some thunderstorms that rolled in.  So, we all got in our PJs and settled in to start watching The Making of Frozen 2 on Disney+. 

Wednesday, July 22 (Day 131 of Quarantine)

Wednesday morning, I had to run some errands.  One of the good things about having B working from home is that I can leave the kids at home with him, so I don’t have to drag them around in their masks while they pick up germs.  I dropped some old uniforms off at the kids’ school, picked up Maui’s flea and tick medicine, picked up Jacob’s birthday cake, and grabbed a few urgent items from Publix.  

Publix had issued a mask mandate that had just gone into effect the day before, and I was pleased to see that they had someone checking at the door to make sure everyone was wearing one.  I was also pleased to see that 100% of people were wearing their masks in the store.  FREAKING FINALLY.  If only this had happened weeks ago, we may all have had the opportunity to send our kids back to school in person without worry.  For the love.

After lunch, Olivia and I lay down on the couch to read, and I ended up drifting in and out of a short nap.  The kids watched their afternoon movie and I spent the afternoon doing some work and chatting with my cousin on the phone.  Olivia’s teacher for first grade had called to introduce herself since she’s new to the school, and I found out she knows my cousin, so I called my cousin to find out how she knows her and learn more about her.  #StalkerMode Haha.  Anyway, her new teacher sounds absolutely lovely, and we can’t wait to get to know her better.  Olivia is so excited to go back. 

After dinner, we all went outside.  The kids played with Nerf guns and we all tried to catch the darts that they shot.  Once we came inside it was time for a little bit more of Supermarket Sweep with the kids followed by All American and Sneaky Pete once they were in bed.

Thursday, July 23 (Day 132 of Quarantine)

Thursday morning, B and I were awakened by Olivia around 5 AM because she’d had a bad dream and wanted to bunk up with us.  However, she couldn’t fall back asleep, so she proceeded to roll around for the next hour, which in turn, kept me up.  B had to get up at 6 AM and head immediately to his office (at home) for work because they had a special project starting, and since Olivia had never gone back to sleep, she decided she was ready to get up, too.  Sigh.  I told her to go get back in her own bed and try to sleep some more, and then I rolled over and tried to do the same, but the next thing I knew, she had gone to wake up Jacob instead.  That girl. 

Since it was his birthday, he was super excited and ready to get up, and they played for a bit until I finally dragged myself out of bed.  I’ve grown so accustomed to sleeping until 7 for so long, that I’m going to be queen of the struggle bus when we actually have to start taking them to school again… that requires a 6 AM wake-up call and I’m dreading it.  I cringe even thinking about it.  I so wish I was a morning person.

I typically shower and get ready immediately upon waking every weekday, but since it was Jacob’s birthday, we had special outdoor plans for later in the day, which meant no shower for me until later.  Instead, I kissed the birthday boy and headed out for a two-mile run… I hadn’t done one in a while, so my SI joints actually cooperated.

After I finished my run, the kids piled in the car in their PJs and the three of us went to pick up donuts for breakfast for the birthday boy.  B had decided to take the rest of the day off to be able to hang with us for Jacob’s birthday, and he was just wrapping up his project by the time we arrived back at home.  We ate our donuts and then Jacob opened his gifts from us.  As per usual, all he wanted was Legos, so we got one of the larger sets he’s been wanting, plus a couple of smaller ones, and B also grabbed the Minecraft game for him for Nintendo Switch.  I think his expressions say it all, y’all.  He was very excited about all of it!  Haha.

He immediately wanted to dig into his Lego sets and start building, so while he did that, I headed to my office to catch up on a few things.  While I was working, Jacob’s new teacher called to say hello and to let us know that he’d be in her class this year.  Jacob and I both talked to her for a few minutes, and we are all really thrilled that he ended up with her.  Typically, in fourth grade, the kids switch back and forth between the two teachers, but with Covid, the school has decided to keep the kids in the same classrooms with the same teacher all year to prevent the spread of germs. 

We’ve known his teacher for several years now, and her son is in Jacob’s class, so we were hoping he’d get to have her this year.  I’ve heard great things about the other fourth grade teacher as well, so you really can’t go wrong, but it’s always that much more comfortable to start a new school year when you already know your teacher.  That will also make it easier for me to communicate with her if the kids end up having to return to distance learning… it’s pretty much inevitable, isn’t it??  I mean, once November and December roll around and the normal sick season begins, it just seems that Covid is going to spread even more.  I pray that I’m wrong.  (We later found out that the other fourth grade teacher whom we don't know just decided to retire, and now Olivia's old Pre-K4 teacher is going to be the other fourth grade teacher so it turns out we know both teachers!!)

Mid-morning, we all got into our swimsuits and headed to my parents’ neighborhood to swim at their pool.  We typically let Jacob choose something fun to do on his birthday, but since our usual options (arcade, library, miniature golf, etc.) are not Covid-friendly, we thought he might enjoy going to the pool.  Sadly, the pool cleaning service was there adding chemicals when we arrived, but they told us to come back in 30 minutes and it would be good to go.

Instead, we went back home, the kids played for a bit, I went ahead and made lunch – hot dogs and mac n cheese per the birthday boy’s request – and then we headed back to the pool.  Thankfully, there was nobody else there, but unfortunately, we also found out that the neighborhood association had changed the locks and my parents didn’t have the new key to get in.  Sigh. 

Fortunately, my friend’s dad is in charge of the pool in the neighborhood, so I was able to text her, and she was able to get in touch with her mom, who brought the key to us.  We spent the next couple of hours swimming and having fun, and the kids really enjoyed their time there.  I guess we need to start using their pool more often. 

It’s been there since I was little (that’s where I learned to swim and spent all my summers) but it’s just not super convenient for us for several reasons.  One, because the key and lock situation has always seemed to be a pain (they change the locks frequently, my parents can’t find the key half the time, etc.), two, because technically someone who lives in the neighborhood is supposed to be there with us since we don’t live there, and three, there’s no bathroom down there.  The bathroom situation used to be a big deal when our kids were little, but now that they’re older, it’s no big deal. 

My parents were getting Covid tested that day, so they didn’t come down there with us, but we did get the good news later in the afternoon that they are both negative!!!!  Woo hoooo!!  My mom is also done with her quarantine now anyway.  And she, thankfully, never had any symptoms.

When we arrived back at home, I showered, and B and the kids spent the afternoon playing Jacob’s new video game, and then B went to pick up dinner at Five Guys… birthday boy’s choice!  I had ordered a lemon Minecraft-themed cake per his request, and we had that for dessert.  By the time the day was over, I felt stuffed… so much junk food, y’all!

We watched some more Supermarket Sweep after dinner, and then we Facetimed with my parents for Jacob’s birthday, and that was a wrap on our sweet boy’s special day!

Friday, July 24 (Day 133 of Quarantine)

Friday, we had a lazy morning, watching TV, playing board games, drinking hot tea, and pretending it was fall.  Haha.  I downloaded Taylor Swift’s surprise new album and listened to that on and off throughout the day.  It’s SO GOOD, y’all.  I'm completely obsessed.  I may end up loving this one more than any of her other albums and that is saying a lot because I have loved her last three.  

We had lunch, the kids did some summer homework (Olivia finally completed hers!!!!), and then we spent an hour tidying up the whole house.  It was a disaster from Jacob’s birthday, so we had our work cut out for us. 

Friday was National Tequila Day so B picked up Mex from one of our local faves, and we had margs to celebrate.  After dinner, we had a family movie night – Gnome Alone (a Netflix original) – and I’ll be honest… I went straight to sleep on the couch.  Haha.  Tequila does one of two things for me… if I’m up and out, I’ll be laughing and lively and dancing on the table, but if I’m still and hanging out at home, I’ll be falling straight to sleep.  There is no in-between.  Haha.

After making our decision regarding in-person school, and being so nervous/terrified/anxious about it all week, I did feel a little relieved to see that the CDC announced Friday evening that they are leaning in favor of reopening schools for in-person classes.  They said that the benefits of returning outweigh the risks at this point, and that it’s incredibly important for the kids’ social, emotional, and behavioral health and well-being to be in school.  I’m still not sure it’s the right thing to do, but at this point, I don’t think there is a wrong or a right.  We’re all truly caught between a rock and a hard place. 

After we got the kids in the bed, B and I watched a couple more of our shows, and then we were off to bed as well.

Saturday, July 25 (Day 134 of Quarantine)

Saturday morning, I cleaned the house and the back porch, I had a good cardio dance sweat session, and then I sat outside and read while B and the kids practiced their golf swing.  Both kids have been very interested in playing golf, so B bought them a set of used kids clubs that had just arrived earlier in the week.

Saturday evening, we had my father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephews over to celebrate Jacob’s birthday.  We had the back porch all set up – twinkle lights on, TV on (turned on to actual real, live baseball!), and cornhole boards out – aaaand theeeennnn we had some totally unexpected thunderstorms pop up which sent us all inside. 

My father-in-law had brought pizza and cookie cake for dinner, and we had just enough time to eat outside before the storm drove us all into the house.  Jacob opened his gifts and we had cookie cake inside (my father-in-law also got Jacob a single cupcake so he could blow out a candle), and then everyone left a little after 8. 

The kids got into their jammies and we watched another Supermarket Sweep, and then it was off to bed for them and more bingeing for B and me.  We’re almost done with season two of All American and I’m crushed.  I don’t want it to be over.  And to top it all off, I read an article that said season three likely won’t be coming out in October as expected, and instead, it will probably be January 2021 because of Covid.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Devastating.

Sunday, July 26 (Day 135 of Quarantine)

Sunday morning, B took the kids to the driving range for the first time ever.  I opted out to have an hour of quiet time to myself… I’ve only had the house to myself one other time in the past five months, so it was bliss.  Plus, I figured golf can be something fun for B to do with the kids on his own... I spend lots of time alone with them now since I don’t work outside the home anymore, but he doesn't ever get to since he works.  That, and also because I just don’t like golf… unless I’m driving the cart and drinking beer.  Which I used to do with my old coworkers way back.  Lol. 

While they were gone, I did my meditation and quiet time and I squeezed in a yoga workout, too… all done in an actual quiet house.  Meditation has been tough these last few months because our house is rarely quiet anymore, but I’ve still been doing it religiously anyway.  I have learned to tune most of the noise out, though, so I suppose that means I’m doing a decent job. 

We went to my mother-in-law’s and step-father-in-law’s for lunch to celebrate Jacob’s birthday with them, and it was good to be back.  We had to miss the last couple of weekends with them because they had been quarantining, so it was great that we were able to get back together with them again, just in time for Jacob’s birthday.  I even dressed up a little just because, and it made me feel so good!!  It had been far too long.  

We’re still not all eating in the same room, but we do all hang out together for the rest of the time there (all spread out).  Jacob had requested key lime pie for his birthday dessert and then he opened his gifts (spoiler alert – more Legos – ha!) and then we all hung out on the back deck for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday afternoon I watched church on my phone... our friars are doing much better and were able to do mass together so we could all livestream it.  They didn't allow anyone in the congregation, but it was nice to see them doing much better after their Covid diagnoses.  They're all on the up-and-up.

Sunday evening, we were able to have our first Sunday dinner with my parents since March 15!!!!  We did have that one random Wednesday dinner with them a couple of months ago, but then everything was halted again after that due to more exposure to the virus + quarantining, so we never got to have an actual Sunday dinner with them. 

My mom made a delicious sausage and rice dish that Jacob had requested, and she also made a Funfetti cake (his request, and also my very favorite), and I cannot even tell you how wonderful it was to have our first normal Sunday in nearly five months.  We were missing my littlest brother at dinner, though, because he works at Starbucks and didn’t want to sit with us and potentially expose us since he has to work with the public every day.  They all wear masks and require their patrons to wear masks, too, but he wanted to be safe rather than sorry.  He and his roommate did stop by later in the evening (wearing masks) to give Jacob a birthday gift.  So sweet.

One of these days, things will be back to normal and we'll be able to resume all of these activities that we love so much... that day can’t come fast enough! 

Now for a few current things...

Currently Reading

I read two books this month and also started two more.  First up, was The Towering Sky, the third and final book in The Thousandth Floor trilogy.  Y'all, it did not disappoint, and it wrapped up the whole series in a neat little bow with an ending that you'll never forget.  So so good.

After finishing that book, I moved on to another series by the same author, and I read American Royals.  Again, this girl knows how to write a page turner!  I flew through this one as well, and I'm counting down the days until the sequel comes out on September 1.

I also started White Fragility and Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts and I'll review those at another time.

Currently Watching

We finished Magic for Humans and Be Our Chef on Disney+ and B also finished Space Force.  We gave up The Blacklist and and True Blood (too out there for me) and we also stopped watching The Office, only because we've found other things that we're obsessed with...  

All American, y'all!!!!  It is the best!!  We watched the entire first two seasons this month and I'm dying to find out what happens next.  This might end up being in my top 5 or, at least top 10 favorite shows of all time.  I.  Love.  It.  Fun fact, I just found out this week that the actor who plays Spencer actually has an English accent in real life.  I was blown away when I watched one of his interviews and heard him speaking... his American accent is so convincing I would have never guessed he wasn't from the United States!

B is also watching Sneaky Pete and loving it.  I don't care for it, so I typically scroll through my phone or read a book while he watches.

We're also watching America's Got Talent and we just started watching old reruns of Supermarket Sweep on Netflix (the best) plus The Making of Frozen 2 and The Making of the Mandalorian, both on Disney+.

Oh, and lots of movies with the kids, of course.  

Currently Listening To

Taylor Swift's new album, all day, errrry day, y'all.  I've probably listened to the whole album at least 10 times now.  It is so so good. 

Happy Monday, y’all!

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