Digital Media

I will admit, I opened this week’s module for my Emerging Tech class in the parking lot of a new yoga studio I was trying. I am pretty certain that my heart stopped beating for a moment when my professor told us that we needed to create a piece of online media. Yikes! I went on with my morning — yoga, a meeting at 3’s school, and back home for lunch with my favorite toddler and our pup, all the while this weighing heavily on me. I feel a lot more confident giving others creative ideas on how to do things; but for whatever reason, when I have to be creative, it seems like my brain ceases to work.

I decided to do a video in the Animoto App. This app is really neat and allows you to create animated slideshows. I enjoyed playing around with it last week and thought that I could really delve in and spend some time on it today. While 3 was napping, I uploaded photos and created a theme: Summer in Review, more or less. I used pictures (but none of my kids’ faces) to display some of our favorite summer highlights. Honestly, I could have posted thousands of pictures from the beach. Living in a beach town allows us to go to the beach nearly every single day and that’s essentially how I spent my time with 3 & 13 while 11 was at camp; alas, I chose to add in some other highlights of our summer.

My Animoto video can be found here if you missed the linking above: https://animoto.com/play/Lx0TsAghV1pNPzXgGgOPPA

In addition to creating my own little slice of digital media, I was tasked with creating a lesson plan that utilizes five video clips and three podcasts. Much like above, this was slightly stressful for me at the onset. I admit to not being tech savvy; I have never worked in a school that had bounds of technology, which likely contributes greatly to this. Further, I’ve never taken a super interest in video/movies. The first school I taught in didn’t have books; my classroom floor buckled and was condemned by the fire marshall, thus sticking my class and me in a conference room that frequently had no tables-chairs-or both. This led me to wait outside of a meeting Michelle Rhee was in: I, then, took her to my classroom and asked for a new floor (it worked). Needless to say, the situation was dire and as I’m sure you can imagine, if schools in the nations capital were unable to provide physically safe spaces then think of the kind of technology that was accessible. Incidentally, this school was the only place that I ever showed a film by checking one of the TV carts: My ninth graders were rockstars and at the end of the year, when we finished Romeo & Juliet, we watched the 1999 version of the movie. They loved reading and having the text to connect to and felt really accomplished being able to discuss the text in our “cafe classroom” those final days.

While I did find success with this relational book-movie, I never really had success finding things that seemed interesting to my students. I always incorporated music into class and had students create digital media when possible but modeling/showing examples has always been such a weakness for me. Thus, I tried to approach this assignment with the most open mind and deep breathing exercises for the stress.

My professor recommended a mash-up for us to watch and read about this week: It was a conversation between Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. I thought it was really well put together! It was easy for me to differentiate between the two characters/films despite having not seen either of them. I cannot even begin to imagine how much time and effort it took to put this together, but I love the idea of it and would love to create similar (though much shorter) assignments for students because I think that they could really demonstrate their critical literacy skills through such a task and also, I think they would enjoy it. Full disclosure, I’ve probably watched about a dozen movies from start to finish in my life. I’ve just never had much interest in them, though my husband and kids will sit down and watch them. (I will sit down to watch sports or to read.)

Once I made it to the library (after having a solid 10 hours of thinking to do), I had some ideas on places to look for this task. My first stop, of course, Vivian Vasquez. I took two courses of hers in graduate school at American University and learned so much that I’ve been able to implement in my classroom — critical literacies atop the list. Vasquez introduced me to podcasts back in 2007 and in 2011, I created a class at my school’s summer program for podcasting, which worked out great for my many students with language-based disabilities. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I left the classroom shortly after to pursue other opportunities around curriculum development and that kind of put a stand-still on my tech development. I am eager to plan a lesson for the library classroom that uses Ted Talks, NPR, BBC, TeacherTube (which I’ve used before when I was part of the TrIO program at Chelsea High and Bunker Hill), and whatever other podcasts I stumble upon. I have 13 tabs open on my Internet browser currently of podcasts to investigate. I also think that I need to investigate YouTube more. Sure, I use it; but only to play music that isn’t on the radio (mostly British rock and 90s rap). I’ve always kind of written it off as an educational tool which is perhaps naive or possibly even, dare I say, foolish.

I think that this assignment is pushing me to rethink “MY” way of teaching and really see how far against boundaries I can take my practice. While I both recognize and acknowledge this as a good thing, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by it; and when I think further about this — it’s kind of silly: Approximately one hundred years ago, when I was just a year out of college, I worked my way from coordinator to Digital Media Manager and later left that position to be THE marketing department at a start-up. I am starting to question where my insecurities around technology come from, because 15 years ago, I was really quite confident. I suppose this all comes back full circle where I pinpointed at the beginning of this post that acknowledged the lack of tech exposure as a classroom teacher. (Similar to setting an intention at the beginning of yoga, I’m going to set an intention from now until the end-or at least mid-semester to not let me get into my own head about technology being intimidating and just going for the gusto, as they say.)

Updates to come.

 

 

sept reflections, oct goals

Wow! September has flown by! Four-fifths of my household is back in school, myself included and my husband is the glue holding us all together. Lucky him! Personally, I am enjoying half of my classes so far; the other is okay. I am a little disappointed, to be honest: There’s a lot of theorist review, so it’s not particularly exciting but the worst part is that there is very little class engagement. It is a stark contrast to my other class where we are encouraged to try new things and the discussion boards are very active; even in the online platform, I can feel my classmates’ passion and interest in their collective work.

The whole program I am in is online, which is a really big adjustment to me. I’ve been going on campus to the library two nights a week and am treating both classes like an in-person class, so that I have those hours allotted during the week for work. I also try to get things done during 3’s “naps” and when I can take an hour or two to slip upstairs away from the chaos. I think that because I am so excited to be learning new things, it keeps me going and I don’t feel so bogged down with the work. I just hope when all is said and done, that this translates to employment in a library — sounds like such fun work!

13 is enjoying eighth grade and currently has straight As; she is anxiously (and not even the least bit patiently) waiting for the music teacher to announce this year’s musical. 11’s transition to middle school is going as expected; he’s having a more positive experience with peers but is greatly disorganized. We are watching from the sidelines to see how he handles things, which is easier said than done much of the time. 3 is also enjoying school; he’s going super part-time and he just loves his teacher. There are a lot of adjustments for him (big boy bed, front-facing car seat, school for everyone) and he’s having a hard time but I know that he will settle eventually.

My goals around school are to maintain my focus and schedule and in regards to the kids, to maintain my patience. 3 has some rough days and I try to remain calm as best I can. I give myself frequent breaks when needed and have been walking our boy, Bruttie, every chance I can so that I’m getting fresh air and some exercise. I also bought a Groupon for a new yoga studio; my in-laws got me a gift card for my birthday and I finally got around to using it. I am excited to give the next month a go at the new studio; hopefully, I can set down some roots at this studio and get back on my yoga grind. I am going to continue to try box jumps and tire flips. I’ve also been using the Expresso bikes at the gym and really like the workouts pre-programmed. I want to continue with that and also get back to challenging myself by doing a 5K a month — I liked doing the 5K a week in the spring and summer but I kind of doing what feels right each day and I want to continue with that trend.

Otherwise, my health goals are to just continue doing what I’m doing. I have been walking with our Bruttie Boy a lot. It’s good for us both. I have been drinking a lot of water and trying to eat foods that agree with my body and keep the ones that don’t to a minimum. I am just trusting my mind and body more; this is what I always used to do and then I’m not really sure what happened but I want to get back to a place where I can do that.

I also want to continue grocery shopping without a list. It’s easy enough to figure out what we can make based on what I buy and hit the store for a few more items that are needed, if even anything is needed. I am going to try to highlight a meal or two each week that we’ve made and maybe include recipes/pictures so that I can write posts specifically about the meals we enjoy.

Lastly, my final set of goals for October is to bring back Self-care Sunday (or Saturday) where I paint my nails and/or use a face mask. I work out and try to keep a clear mind, so when I think about self-care at home, I think of pampering.  Other things I’m looking forward to in October:
– Apple Picking
– Fall walks
– 3 turning 4
– Bruttie turning 10
– Family date day
– A fresh haircut
– Boots & booties and other fall-related fashion
– Hot toddy consumption: apple cider, lemon, cinnamon, and 1T of bourbon

 

 

Apps

… this is not another blog about appetizers, but rather the technical term, applications.

In this week’s Emerging Tech class, we were tasked with reviewing apps new to us (which, to me, is basically everything outside of Instagram, Pinterest, MapMyRun, and Weather Underground). Because I do not use a lot of apps on my phone, they never actually dawned on me as having an educational component. (I feel like this is a theme; I just never realized all that’s out there.)

My professor shared links of several apps, including a link to the American Association of School Libraries best 2019 apps for teaching and learning. I looked at several of these (mostly ones that I personally had an interest in or ones that I think my kids would like) and wanted to mention some this week:

Khan Academy Kids — 13&11 used this for assignments in elementary school, so I am familiar with the Khan Academy platform. There are a lot of resources for children on the Kids app and even preK-specific options. Personally, I do not like the idea of my child using a tablet or other technology at home; however, I do see how this would be beneficial in a pre-school/early elementary setting. I think that offering tech-based programming while the librarian circulates to help students find books is a great way to multi-task in the classroom, especially given that class sizes range 20-33 in most districts and there is typically only one librarian. This would be a valuable tool in a station-like setting.

Novel Effect — This app is really neat. I downloaded it yesterday to my phone to use with 3. He LOVED it. I think the concept is super cool; you read a book and there are corresponding sound effects that align with certain words once spoken. Personally, I had to delete this from my phone because I don’t like recording my voice and having it filed away somewhere. (Sounds paranoid, I realize. Oh, well.) I think on a basic school-wide iPad or tablet, this could be a great app to utilize. It is fun to hear the various effects and I think even middle-high schools students would be entertained by it in small doses. This app made me think back to teaching MS in Virginia when my ELA students wrote, directed, and filmed ‘TV shows’ for our figurative language unit — my students had so much fun with the assignment and had voice overs and effects for everything. It was a lovely memory to have while testing out this app and I’d love to use it again when I have a practicum experience with younger students.

PBS Kids — Who doesn’t love PBS? I grew up watching Mr Rogers (filmed in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA); it was one of the few shows I was allowed to watch and at an early age had met all of the stars. So exciting! As I grew older, my love of PBS grew. When I taught in the DC area, I sat on a panel where teachers tested/gave feedback to website additions/materials. The PBS Kids app delivers all I’d expect from such an education-centered organization. I love that there are STEM programs available on this platform, but what I really am excited about are the e-books: I think that e-books give families access to reading that they may otherwise not have. I can’t like this app enough and it goes along with everything I’ve ever known about PBS to do — give access to all.

Do Ink — This site is really cool for any school/program with video programming. Do Ink allows for green screen production and could be used for school TV programs, projects for any content area/class, and even instructional videos from specialists. I love the options of creating green screen videos (and there are really detailed instructions as well). The Do Ink Green Screen reminds me of trips to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh and the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain; both have weather green screens and my kids, husband, and myself have all enjoyed our personal video productions. This could be such a versatile program for students to use and to showcase student projects to parents or even community members (assuming all students can be filmed; all safety measures are followed). Before moving to Boston, I worked in an alternative school for students displaced from their base/public school. Our principal who was equally awesome and ahead of his time, supported project-based initiatives; we regularly took some really unique field trips that allowed students to ‘get their hands dirty’ and they all related to the end of the year culmination project about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. I would have LOVED for our students to use such technology to report their findings in such a way encouraged by Do Ink. I really appreciate all this app offers and hope to use it some day with my students in the library classroom!

iCell — I will be honest: I never got into science. Most everyone on my dad’s side works in medicine and everyone just assumed I would too — that English degree of mine couldn’t be more opposite. That being said, the iCell app is a really neat tool for giving simulated bio lab information. 11 would love such an app and I can guarantee would play on it for hours if we let him. This app allows you to make notations/annotate along the cell’s structure and image; you can lock and hide your notes if necessary. This makes for a great tool in the classroom and yes, in the library. I am constantly thinking about ways to integrate the library classroom into the classrooms of content and it’s really easy for me to figure out ways to incorporate the library into a humanities class and even mathematics; however, I struggle most with science. This would be a great way to support science teachers and/or students who are interested in studying science independently. A colleague at BHCC who teaches science told me that most of their dissection is now done virtually, so I think that students looking to study science post-secondary could really benefit from having access to such an app. I look forward to keeping this app in mind when I am a school librarian.

iCivics — This app caught my attention because 13 is in the eighth grade this year and is currently studying civics. While we are not a very tech-heavy household, I always keep my kiddos in mind when I learn about new educational technologies. 13 and I have been having regular conversations (class assignment) about duties, responsibilities, and rights. The games on this program would allow for additional support in the classroom. Similar to the PBS and Khan applications, I could see this being used in the library classroom while the librarian works with other students to identify appropriate texts. I think that games are a good break for students in the classroom and this could allow them to utilize knowledge without spreading everyone thin and also while giving them a break from the rigorous in-class work and discussion. To me, Supreme Decision seems like the coolest of the games to play within the app — here, you are presented with a case and have to help the US Supreme Court make a decision. Anything that allows a child to be in the company of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a win in my book.

Flickr — We were asked to look at Flickr this week as well. On a personal note, I could see this leading me down a rabbit hole of lost hours looking at pictures of dogs. On a professional level, I see some really neat things you could use Flickr for in the classroom and especially in the library. To me, using the resources available on the site is where the bread & butter is; I think having students post pictures to an open space in the outside world is scary. (Specifically, I think of students in state custody who may not realize the dangers of someone coming across a picture.) This is an app that I need to table until I am in a position to use it. I feel like it would be best to be able to create such a platform on a school/district-wide intranet because there are so many learning opportunities for students to discuss cultures, places, art, humanities, and even science and mathematic components. One area I could see using this would be a collaboration club between maybe an art class and the library; student number would be small and thus could be more easily monitored with content and commenting postings. I see the potential in this app but the parent/foster parent in me sees red flashing lights.

Lastly, it seems there are a lot of virtual/augmented reality apps. I think that these programs are really neat for students to experience and should spend some time looking into them. Sadly, the mere thought takes me back to Body Wars at Disney’s Epcot (circa 1990-something) where the 3D virtual body tour made it so I never see another thing like it since. I get squirmy just thinking about these programs because of that experience… Still, apps like Sites in VR seem really cool. I love the idea of exposing students to other places outside of their comfort zones. Years ago, back at the Alternative School mentioned above, I had mentioned my travels through Europe. Nearly all of my students were jealous of my travels to Amsterdam because they thought it would be a wild party of Red Light District visits and drugs. They were less impressed with my stories of visits to the Anne Frank House, the tulips, the canals, and the food. I think an app like Sites in VR allows students to gain knowledge beyond stereotypes or grandiose stories and could really be utilized in the library classroom to highlight settings of stories, work with ELA/social studies teachers, or just allow students to investigate their own curiosities of the world.

weekend memories

I moved to DC when I was 21 — fresh out of college with a BS in Professional Writing and Information Systems. What a combo! I had a job just across the street from the White House with a boss who believed in me and my writing. Because of him, I was published by 22. I moved on from that position and entered the marketing world, editing online content for financial advisors and eventually settling in as the marketing department of a start-up.

Things at this time were exciting — I was young, full of energy, and was living in the thick of Georgetown’s social scene. I had a serious boyfriend whose friends rubbed elbows with the likes of the Bush sisters; many a night I spent with them at Smithpoint after whispering the code of the night. As a small town girl from western Pennsylvania, this social scene never registered on my radar as a possibility. Every weekend was filled with excitement (and probably too much alcohol) and fun; followed up with brunch dates with my best friend and a trip the Pour House on Capitol Hill to watch the Steelers play on Sundays.

I eventually moved on from marketing and my boyfriend. I went to graduate school and started teaching in DC; I also moved to northern VA. At this point, I was in another serious relationship. This time, with someone who had a brother in-law in the music industry and a sister who was a creative genius. I had the world at my finger tips and a newly purchased home. I spent my weekend nights with my friends and boyfriend; scream-singing Journey and A-ha with a cocktail or two and a slice of jumbo slice to follow.

Fast forward to nine years ago: I sold my share of the house, moved to Boston with my dog, and eventually met my husband. Friday and Saturday nights were quickly changed from cocktails after work to ordering pizza with the kids; my weekend boozy brunches with friends became at-home brunches with the ‘egg-man’ and Beatles’ songs.

Last night, I’d say I hit the pinnacle of excitement that could take place in my adult life. No longer am I out until 4AM, partying in Georgetown; instead, I was asleep BY 8PM and wide-awake by 2:51AM… Oh, yes. The good life of exhaustion and homemade brunches and in-town festivals and walks for ice cream. This is the Saturday dream (less the exhaustion).

september goals, updated

I have thrown out all of my September goals and have started over.

I have been working up the nerve to try to a box jump for the last two years. On Friday, at the gym, I did it. I did ONE box jump and it was not graceful and it was kind of scary BUT… I DID IT. I think I’m still on a high from this! I’ve been visiting the gym on campus because 1. I pay the fees in my tuition and 2. I still haven’t found a yoga studio of interest. So, in addition to testing the waters of box jumping, I have also started to do tire flips.

I’m not going to lie, tire flips really make feel some kind of way — strong, fierce. Today, I did three. I am not doing a lot of them and am being cautious about form. I want to make sure I’m in a deep squat and use my trunk to move the weight of the tire instead of my back. I really look forward to seeing how much I can progress with this once I start back with yoga.

For the rest of the month, I’m going to set a goal of continuing what I’m doing and find myself a yoga studio (or at least test out a yoga studio a few times). Now that 3 has started preK, I have a few hours a few days a week to find a studio that fits with the schedule. I also ran into our babysitter at the gym on Friday and she offered to come on weekend mornings for yoga or running. I am trying to figure out how we can best utilize her with our crazy schedules and hers and this seems like the most ideal situation for us. It doesn’t give us time together, necessarily (unless we are running a race) but it does allow us some alone time doing a physical activity that keeps us sane.

In addition to the deliberate working out, I’ve been trying to log 3.1 miles a day on foot — this is from a combination of dog walks, playing with my son, errands, walking to get ice cream, and parking further than usual from a building. I’ve done pretty well with this and while it’s a goal, it’s not something that I try to focus on, so I don’t typically carry my phone around the house with me. (Fortunately, 13 keeps tabs on it and always knows where it is, which makes one of us.)

I figured if I put the update into the universe, I’d be more vigilant about continuing to try box jumps and tire flips and will find myself a new yoga studio…

 

Learning Tech

This week in my Emerging Tech course, I was tasked with writing about new technologies I’m learning about. This is really neat — I am gaining exposure to so many things and have even more opportunities to ‘nerd out’ if you can believe it. On Monday, I started to look into a series of tech suggestions, whereby I latched on to a few different learning technology tools.

  1. Padlet — This was really neat; you can take a picture and then give a little caption about it. A classmate mentioned using this for book recommendations, which I think is a great idea. I also could see using it as a character highlight when discussing ELA readings or to highlight a specific country, language, or culture for a social studies class. Further, it would be a great visual supporter for word problems in math or even a way to introduce lab items for science. Uploading these to a SMART/Mimio board or to the library/teacher sites would allow students access. I just had so many ideas about how to be able to utilize such a tool in the library classroom, be it through collaboration with teaching staff or to enhance the library experience.
  2. RSS Feeds — I’ll be honest: it never dawned on me to use this tool for educational purposes. I’ve used RSS feeds many times in my personal life and have received many notifications for step-parenting, infertility, IVF, and adoption. I think because I was so entrenched in my personal stories that the thought never occurred to me to use this for anything more. I could see having tabs available on a library site (or just bookmarked on the librarian’s computer) that relate to topics being researched, current events, famous authors, inventors, technology, college applications (because librarians can absolutely lend a helping hand to the school guidance staff) and so much more.
  3. Tumblr — I used to follow a food blog on Tumblr (years ago) but got frustrated by the lack of words. I think that this is a great site to use for blogging for students though. I appreciate lengthy reads; I’m a lover of words, what can I say?! I know many students, however, may prefer to tell a story through images or music or any other artistic means. I love that this is a site that would more easily encourage students to use it in that capacity and I think that integrating this in a classroom or library setting could be a lot of fun. Clearly, in a library setting, students could all post to the library’s page where they highlight current events or review recent books or give tips on how-to use different technologies. There really are endless possibilities and unlike some of the other technologies, Tumblr could easily be used by specials/electives or even outside clubs/organizations with ease.
  4. LiveBinder — HOLY MOLY! The organizational nut in me has died and gone to heaven! I spent hours clicking around this site and thought, “why has nobody told me about this before?!” Honestly, on a personal/professional level, I could catalog all of the consulting I do for grant writing and charter school development. In terms of education or library cataloging — there’s just so much! I could see having students use this to organize and present senior projects or any other type of portfolio (Hello, art teachers!). I can’t wait to start using this tool, myself. If you’ve not heard of it, I advise you check it out immediately (but only if you have a few hours to spare).
  5. Pinterest — This was another suggestion per my professor. There’s both so much and so little to say about Pinterest. I use it for basically everything. When we learned I’m allergic to yeast and had to reframe our entire family diet, Pinterest was my go-to; when we wanted to give 13 a perfect tween escape, I pinned and bought (and was basically banned from ever shopping at Pottery Barn Kids ever again) and had my husband set up every detail of the tween dream; when I wanted to take a cute Halloween treat to 3’s daycare last year, I pinned, failed, and sent a half-empty bag of Oreos with an open bag of pretzels and was reminded why I hate all things crafty and cute… You get it — Pinterest is basically my right hand man. I’ve used it for teaching ideas in the past and for classroom setup. It’s an easy go-to that I can always rely on. (Link to my personal Pinterest (education) site above)
  6. Diigo — I was really psyched to find this tool; online annotation, count me in! Instantly, I my brain was filled with ways to make annotation lessons engaging and fun for students who appreciate the use of technology over the traditional book. I constantly hammer the benefits of annotation and think that an online tool can help students who prefer reading this way. My big thought here, though, centers on how compatible this might be with assistive tech, like Dragon Speak, for students who may not easily be able to find what they’d want to highlight or comment on. This is something I need to dig deeper on. I tried to Google it but only found articles about Diigo with advertisements for Dragon Speak, so I tabled this search for the time being.
  7. Google Classroom — Last night, I had 13 walk me through her Google Classroom. I know the kids talk about using it and in my head, I had pictured a UI similar to Blackboard or Moodle. Her teachers use it to post readings, assignments, and test reminders — don’t get me wrong, this is all great. It allows us to see everything that goes on in the class and allows access to students who miss a day. I was just hoping for more engagement (sure, you can comment to class or teacher, but I don’t really think of a comment box to be engaging). One benefit though, as is Google’s way — it’s super user-friendly and most likely intuitive for students/parents. I just was expecting… more…

These are some of the education tools that I’ve spent time looking at this week. I appreciate the time and space to investigate and learn about these tools. I am starting to realize that it’s not that I’m bad at technology or even that I have a lack of interest; it’s that I haven’t had exposure to various classroom technologies. I think that largely this is because I’ve been out of the traditional classroom for the last seven years, focusing on curriculum development, grant writing, charter applications, and teaching at the college level on the side. I’m excited to continue to gain exposure to these types of tools and eventually implement them in the library classroom!

meals, sept 13-19

This weekend is starting off with a surprise little trip for the kids! My husband and the kids are going camping — so fun! I am going to head over during the day but return home each day. I know what you’re thinking: It’s a bummer someone has to stay back to keep the dog company 😉

Honestly, though, I am really looking forward to the weekend. We are going to make s’mores and it’s just going to be a blast. A nice little break in the back-to-school routine. My husband and I packed the kids each a book to read with some downtime, a horse-shoe game, a frisbee, and a football.

Last week’s rogue supermarket trip was really nice. I like the calmness of not having to plan everything. I did have to run to the store a few times this week to pick up a thing or two, but overall, I think I’m going to try to shop like this more often. I typically do my shopping on Thursdays, so that gives me Friday morning to look at my haul and figure out what we are going to eat for the week. It’s been nice cooking off the top of my head without following tons of recipes (though, we did get back to True Roots and Cravings last week).

We are going to keep things super simple for the weekend, since everything will be cooked either over a campfire or at the site (they have charcoal grills).

Friday: Hot dogs, carrots, and fruit. I figured that we’d want something simple while we set up the tent and we want to make sure we have time for a campfire and the s’mores that go along with it.

Saturday: For breakfast, we are going to do sausage, egg & cheese English muffins. We are testing out the dutch oven cooker we bought for camping this weekend and will use it for dinner when we make a batch of vegetable chili with s’mores to follow, of course.

Sunday: Same breakfast as the day before. We will be home by lunch and will do a fun little lineup for Sunday football of chips and salsa, homemade pizza, buffalo chicken dip and spinach-artichoke dip. I can’t wait!

Monday: We are back in the grind of life and work and school. I wanted to keep things easy so we are going to do pasta & zucchini with sauce and chicken sausage and salads.

Tuesday: Taco night with crunchy tacos, ground beef, refried beans, and beets. This is probably our favorite dinner of the week, honestly.

Wednesday: My husband is going to make his family favorite and ever so famous buffalo chicken salads (Pittsburgh style, with fries, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs). These are amazing.

Thursday: Black bean tacos with salad.

Having the kids make their own lunches and breakfasts has turned into, to put it ever so lightly, a nightmare. They ‘forget’ to eat breakfast most days and 11 literally packed himself a container of lettuce and nothing else one day; the next day, followed it up with a meat stick and popcorn… only. In an effort to make things super easy on everyone; lunches are going to be largely pre-made or sandwiches until 11 & 13 are better able to get themselves set up — this week, I grabbed meatballs, breakfast sausage (so they can finish the french toast bites), and things to make sunbutter sandwiches. I also grabbed two boxes of cereal bars and a box of applesauce, so there is something for my husband to keep in the car in case they forget breakfast.

My husband is going to try a new breakfast idea for the week with getting bell peppers, slicing them in half, and using the pepper to hold an egg, some quinoa, and ham. Hopefully, he likes this; we are always trying to find things that will work as a post-run breakfast after school drop-off. Lunches will be cauliflower and rice or quinoa bowls with chicken sausage, peppers.

My meals aren’t really planned during the week. I typically eat eggs for breakfast and salads for lunch but sometimes I grab something while out and about with 3, so we don’t really plan anything. This is something that’s nice about being home and not having to think about what we will have because we can always go to the store if we want something specific.