Saturday, November 14, 2020

 Hello, and happy weekend!

First, I just want to express my gratitude to you for being here for me, and with me, over the last couple of years: thank you from the bottom of my heart for spending a few minutes of your day with The Lucky Lifestyle. To me, there is nothing more valuable than time, so the fact that you've chosen to spend some of yours reading my words -- whether they were about something deeply personal and meaningful or something more light, like shopping or food -- is truly an honor. I'm honest-to-God still surprised when someone (other than my mom) says they've read a post or read regularly, LOL! So... thank you.

This pandemic has taken a lot, but one thing it's given me is an opportunity to really evaluate what's most important to me. I've spent a lot of time thinking while supervising first grade Zoom calls, feeding three little mouths twelve million snacks a day, and working late nights... and very little time doing. That's frustrated me at times, but it's also been a gift. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the "doing" that society demands of us that we're not really sure why we're doing it anymore.

I want to be clear that the why of this blog has not changed since the day I started it. I dreamed up a space in 2017 where I could connect with other women, and they could connect with each other. Over the years The Lucky Lifestyle has touched on everything from the ordinary details of every day life, to style, to motherhood, to miscarriage, and more. This space has also highlighted some truly incredible women through the Women Who Inspire series -- probably my favorite posts of all!

And now? Well, I've decided it's time for an intermission.

Why an intermission? Because I don't want to say this is goodbye. I enjoy this too much. I love writing, connecting, sharing, and realizing that we all have way more in common than we could have imagined. The Lucky Lifestyle will still be here, but I will not be posting new content regularly until the time feels right. I never want to post just because I felt obligated to -- that would compromise the authenticity that is so important to me. So you may see a new post pop up if something really moves me to write, or you may see this space grow into something else... something new. As I grow each year, so do my expectations for The Lucky Lifestyle and everything else I'm passionate about. I'm not sure what's next, but I'm taking this strange year and these strange times and listening as best I can to what it's telling me.

In the meantime, please please please shoot me a request at @jenpadrontucker on Instagram (you probably know by now that I keep the page private to protect my kiddos, but will go through and personally approve requests!). I mean it sincerely when I say I'd love to stay in touch.

Be well, sweet friends. See you soon. :)

Five on Friday | What I'm Loving

Friday, November 13, 2020

 Happy Friday! I got a little nervous when I realized it was Friday the 13th. In the year 2020. Ha! Let's just all cross our fingers and lay low. ;)

I'm excited to share a big ol' random collection of things (& moments) I've been loving lately with you today. I usually enjoy reading these types of posts, so hopefully you do too! 

PS: how pretty is that recent sunset we got to enjoy?

Loving Lately

1. Two New Favorite Recipes: Skillet Taco Pizza & Stuffed Shells Florentine

We were in a rut with dinners so I've been trying some new-to-us recipes to shake things up. Two winners were this skillet taco pizza (which, I admit, I made in our dutch oven because we don't have a skillet *adding to the Christmas list*) and these baked stuffed shells florentine. If you're looking for something new to make, give these a try!

Skillet Taco Pizza

2. Custom Name Bracelets

I really wanted some bracelets with the girls' names on them, and these from the Etsy shop SandyPeachandCo were perfect! They are such a nice weight, don't feel cheap at all, but the price point was great. I love how they go with everything and, of course, have the names of my lovely little ladies on them.

3. Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

Are you sick of pumpkin spice yet? I meant to share this earlier in the season, but if you're a pumpkin lover you need to try both the pumpkin creme cold brew from Starbucks and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice creamer (I found mine at Target) -- literally tastes like a piece of pumpkin pie. 

I get questions on this mug sometimes, and it's from the Hearth & Hand line at Target. I can't find it online, but it might still be in store!

3. Holiday Goodies

From pumpkin spice to Christmas -- 2020 is confusing, amiright? If you're over the pumpkin and more in the mood for gingerbread and peppermint in your mug, you must try these incredible cookies I picked up on a whim this week. And check out this adorable mug! It's the little things.

4. New Dog Tags for Max

Max's name tag came in and it's SO cute! This terrible picture does it no justice. We ordered it from a company called Two Tails Pet Company. It's navy and rose gold, and the front says "I'm lost, somebody call my mama" while the back is engraved with his name and our contact info. They're running a 10% off sale today!

5. J.Crew Winter Accessories (now 45% off!)

I've taken the approach of getting new accessories instead of new outfits for the holidays this year, since we really won't be seeing many people. I figure a new headband or piece of jewelry will be all I need, ha! J.Crew's accessories are always some of my favorites, and I recently scooped up this cute knotted headband and this ear-warmer for all of my chilly walks with Max.

What have you been loving lately? Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead!

Monday Coffee Talk | Life Lately

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Welcome November!

Typically this is one of my favorite months of the year. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, the fun and anticipation of the holidays has officially begun, my first baby was born this month, we got engaged in November... there are just a lot of fun, happy feelings for this month. This year is going to be different, for sure. Thanksgiving won't look the same as we're not sure what we're doing or how we're celebrating yet. What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?

But even so, I refuse to let the craziness of 2020 steal joy away from one of the happiest and most magical months. We will still find ways to make it fun and special.

In that spirit, I wanted to pop in to see how your Halloween was! We had such a fun day. We ate some fun Halloween-themed meals, carved our jack-o-lantern, took a family walk, and the girls helped me bag up candy for trick-or-treaters. After our traditional mummy dog dinner, we headed out with our three princesses for some trick-or-treating fun. I was so happy, relieved, and impressed with how our neighborhood handled it! Tons of creative ways to hand out candy to the kids, including decorated tables, creepy costumes, even haunted yards. The girls got to walk around for about half the time with their neighbor/friend and then we parted ways, dropped the baby and pup back off at the house, and continued on in the darkness for more candy! 

Hoping no matter how you celebrated, you had a nice weekend and hopefully scored some full-sized candy bars along the way. ;)

Rewinding a bit, last weekend Steve and I got to embark on our first date night in almost 9 months! His parents came over for a visit and offered to hang out with the girls while we went and grabbed dinner on the patio at a nearby restaurant, picked up some Starbucks, and even voted (talk about an efficient date night!). It felt so good to have some time together and a real adult conversation (of course we mostly talked about the girls, haha).

What else? We recently got our yearly family photos taken. Families with small kids, this was a GAME CHANGER: the mini session! It was 15 minutes long, which was the perfect amount of time for kids (and pets... and husbands... ha). The full hour is great for capturing a ton of different pictures, but if you just need an update and something for a holiday card, I highly recommend the mini session. You know what else was a game changer? Getting matching dresses (H&M for the win as usual) for our two big girls. I know photographers tell you not to match -- and I am in complete agreement for the most part! -- but if you have 3 kids, I feel like matching two of them and changing it up with the third makes things so much easier. 

Sara McCaffrey Photography

Lastly, thank you for your warm welcome for our Max (a little intro and more details about our new pup can be found in this post)! He's doing wonderfully. We finally heard him bark which we feel like is a good sign he's warming up and feels like this is his home too. He is such a good boy and we all love him very much already.

It felt good to catch up! I hope all is healthy and well your way, and that you have a great week. xo

Meet Max

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


Meet Max!

On Saturday, 10/17, we welcomed a new furry family member to the crew. Maxwell Layne (named to honor our Layla) was adopted from our local animal shelter, who partners with a high-kill shelter in North Carolina to save pups who probably would have not had a chance otherwise. I am so glad they brought Max to us, because he is the absolute sweetest boy!

A little back story: If you know me in real life or have been following along for any amount of time, you know how much I (and our entire family) adored our Golden Retriever, Layla, who passed away in January of this year. She was truly my best friend, my constant companion, my calm in the craziness of life. Of course, she left us right before life got crazier than ever and I have missed her presence desperately during these long, lonely pandemic months. If you had asked me (and many did) if I would have considered getting a "new dog" after Layla died, it was a hard no. I simply couldn't picture doing that through the pain.

Over the course of the year I've continued to grieve. After a few months, the kids asked about getting a new pup someday, and around the 7 or 8 month mark, I began to open my heart to the idea. I think my readiness came about when I realized that no matter what, I will always miss Layla whether we have another dog or not... so we might as well save a life and enjoy all of the benefits loving an animal brings.

Back to the present: I knew I was committed to rescuing (just as we had with Layla), and we preferred not to adopt a puppy as they usually get a ton more interest than older dogs, plus, I'll be honest: I have three small kids and potty training a puppy, and dealing with teething/nipping and such just wasn't ideal. Our ideal age range was 1-4 so the pup could grow along with our kids. As far as breed and size, we weren't picky (although I do have a soft spot for larger dogs). Our only real requirement was: great with kids.

Enter Max.

I saw his picture pop up on our local shelter's website and sent our application in. It was a whirlwind from there -- he would be arriving on transport from the south in just two days, and could we meet him with the intention of finalizing the adoption that day? It was a little nerve-wracking because we take adopting so seriously but I just had a good feeling about this boy. The minute I saw him get off of transport with his handler, I knew he was sweet. I could just tell from his demeanor. He was shy and a bit timid (who could blame him?) but gave me a kiss on the cheek and had a seat on my lap right away. He didn't jump at the girls, but greeted them happily and took his treats gently. We all fell in love right away and knew we had to bring him home!

So far, he's doing wonderfully. About a week and a half in, he's relaxing in his new environment and showing us his playful side. He's well-mannered but fun-loving, obsessed with people, and so snuggly. He reminds me of Layla in that way! He just loves to be with us. We are so grateful that he is a part of our family.

Have you ever rescued a pet? Would love to hear your story, too!

Monday Coffee Talk | Fall Catch-Up

Monday, October 12, 2020

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! 

Our's was my favorite mix of busy and relaxed. On Saturday we met friends of ours at a local farm for pumpkin picking and a corn maze. They had live music, food trucks, animals, and beautiful views to enjoy too. The whole experience was "park and pick," which we loved! Everyone was wearing masks and being respectful of distancing. It was overall a great experience and so much fun for the kids.

Sunday was grocery day and H had soccer in the afternoon. C came with me to cheer her on (it's during I's nap time, so Steve stayed home with her. Y'all know how important nap time is! haha), and afterward we went through the Starbucks drive thru for cake pops & coffees. We caught up on some house to-dos, too, and today everyone had off school and work so we stayed in our pjs all day, played, cleaned up, and made this veggie soup in the Instapot for dinner -- it was so rainy and chilly out. All in all, a great long weekend!

How are you doing? I've been wanting to check in to see how everyone's holding up. I hope you've found as comfortable a balance as possible, and that despite the strangeness of this year, you are still seeking and finding happiness and making memories. As the seasons turn, I'm reminded that the Earth keeps spinning despite what's happening across most of it. While it seems life has been at a stand still since February, time still marches on. 

Life here has been crazier than ever lately, and I'm finding myself missing this outlet and connection so much. My friend Elizabeth over at Blush Magnolia Blog said it best a couple of months ago: "When things stop adding up, start subtracting" -- and that's what I've had to do lately. I've had to subtract things from my life in order to keep up the juggle of work, raising three kids, and virtual school/teaching. I know how many of you mommas feel me. How many of you have heard the insight of Nora Roberts about glass balls and plastic balls? Someone once asked her how she does it all, and she said "The key to juggling is to know that some balls are plastic and some are made of glass. And if you drop a plastic ball, it bounces, no harm done. If you drop a glass ball, it shatters, so you have to know which balls are glass and which are plastic and prioritize catching the glass ones." 

So if you need me, I'll just be over here attempting to juggle! ;)

Really, though, I have to say: virtual school has been going so much better than I expected. I think the key was that I had pretty low expectations to begin with (because 2020), but even if they had been higher, I believe they would have been exceeded. C's teacher is excellent and her online class is small, and with some close friends she made last year. I feel like she's making progress with her reading, writing, and math, so that's encouraging to see! 

H and I work on some "preschool stuff" each day and I think she's making some progress also. She can write her name really well, has mastered shapes and colors, and is getting pretty good with recognizing letters. What I think is hardest is that I know all of the social she's missing out on by not being with other kids in a traditional preschool class, and our H is a social gal. She would have loved to go to a new class and make new friends. That truly breaks my heart. But I am trying to keep my eye on the fact that she has two built-in, 24/7 playmates in her sisters, so she's still entertained and engaged, and she's still very young so I do feel like there will be time left to enjoy herself and get in the groove of things once she's back in school.

We are trying to keep up with occasional play dates too so the girls can see their friends, and each big girl has an activity that they're involved in right now to maintain some sense of normalcy: Girl Scouts for C and soccer for H.

Isabelle is doing great amidst all of this, bless her sweet soul. Thank God for her laid back, happy, patient little self -- she's a true easygoing third child and I think she's loving having her big sisters home so much and being part of the action!

I have a few *new posts* coming up, and have thought about reviving the Women Who Inspire series too. What do you think? Would you be interested in that?

Let me know what you've been up to and how everything's going (and feel free to be honest -- I think you'll find that more people can relate than you might have imagined!). So glad you stopped by today! Happy Monday and new week!

Happy October! Our Fall 2020 Bucket List

Thursday, October 1, 2020

 Happy first day of October!

Are things starting to feel fallish where you are? Our weather has cooled down a lot and we've had several days that have felt like full-blown, chilly fall already. Usually I'm sad to see summer go, but this year I've decided to just embrace each day as it comes and focus on the fun that there is to be had in each new season, and each new day. Even if it looks a little different.

How did you celebrate Halloween when you were a kid? Did you go trick-or-treating door to door? Did you do a trunk-or-treat (I had no idea this was a thing until I was older, btw)? Did your parents buy your Halloween costume or were they homemade every year?

I grew up in a tight-knit neighborhood with lots of kids. My two best friends lived in the two houses next door to me, so for many years we went trick-or-treating door to door together. I have really fond memories of my one friend's family throwing the best backyard Halloween parties each year when were little. I remember how big, magical, and exciting they felt to me. There were spooky snacks, music, games, bobbing for apples (we're probably never going to see that activity again!), and of course... costumes. Those memories are good and necessary reminders to me as a parent to remember that sometimes the simple fun is the best kind.

Anyway! Despite the weirdness of this year, there are still things we want to do to celebrate the season. Enter: our fall 2020 bucket list!

What's on your fall bucket list this year?

Back to School... Virtually!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


Well, we're officially back to school!

Kind of? Haha.

Carrington started first grade virtually yesterday, and Hadley started Pre-K from home (aka mom is the teacher). You all already know about the difficult decision making process we went through when trying to figure out what to do for school this year, and I'm sure many of you are in the same boat.

I'm happy to report that so far, so good! Carrington's schedule will be M/T live with her teacher (a first grade teacher who is teaching only virtual -- so C sees the other kids on the screen who are also learning virtually, which I think works well!) from 9am-1pm, W live online instruction from 9-2:30ish, and Th/F she will have assignments and pre-recorded lessons from her teacher that we can do at our pace in the morning with a live hour from 2:15-3:15pm. Phew! It's a lot to keep track of, but I'm happy with her schedule and really happy with how they've handled it so far. The teacher gives them plenty of wiggle breaks and even a little "recess." Her teacher is wonderful! Very warm and engaging. And two of her best pals from her kindergarten class are in her class (there are 9 in total on Google Meet), plus another girl she knows from Girl Scouts. Fingers crossed, but I am happily surprised with how smoothly its gone so far. Maybe my expectations were just really low, because it is 2020 after all. ;)

Hadley will be doing Pre-K from home this year. I am by no means a teacher but I figured the lessons she'd be learning in preschool are basic enough that I'd like to try to tackle some of it from home instead of just entirely skipping it this year. Her big sister will be learning from home, so why not? So far we've kept it really simple and, again, it's gone surprisingly smoothly. We are starting with the letter A and numbers 0 and 1, working on appropriately-leveled workbooks on things like tracing, etc., practicing cutting/pasting, and writing her name. Because she's young for her "year," we may very well take another year next year before kindergarten and do a transitional kindergarten program if we feel she needs it -- we'll see!

What does your school look like this year? If you have any tips for virtual learning or good lessons/ideas for preschoolers, I'm all ears. Hope the year is off to a happy and healthy start! 

Let's Get Cozy: Sweatshirt Round Up

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

 Hello, and happy Wednesday (and September)! 

I hope your week is going well and your month is off to a great start. I can not believe it's already September -- totally surreal! Though summer is my most favorite season, I love fall too, and I am embracing this new season with open arms. I've already had three pumpkin cream cold brews (please oh please try it if you haven't!), have lit my favorite candle (pumpkin marshmallow), and am ready to whip out all of the fall decor. This year, the girls want to decorate the outside "spooky" and my new motto for 2020 is.. whatever works! haha. So, spooky decor it is. We'll probably save that for October, though. ;)

On the topic of all things cozy, today I'm sharing a round up of comfy and cute sweatshirts since I foresee them making up 99% of my fall wardrobe. I've shared a few of these gems in my Instagram stories already (come follow along, if you're not!). Enjoy!

This is the sweatshirt I'm wearing above, from Loft. It's a crop, so just keep that in mind style-wise! But it's so, so soft and I love the embroidered stars.

Love this off the shoulder style from Gap.

A nice change of color to brighten things up! From Asos.

Another off the shoulder option from Asos. Really like this one!

My favorite oversized sweatshirt, from Aerie.

Love this affordable style from Old Navy. Such a cute neck, and lots of color options!

I love that this style from J.Crew Factory could look easily pulled together.

These are great for throwing on for chilly outdoor walks/hikes, from LL Bean.

Target does it again! Can't go wrong with this burnt orange for fall.

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


It's that time of year again! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is here and open to non-cardholders (aka me!). If you're a blogger or avid blog reader, or like to follow influencers on Instagram, you likely already know allll you need to know about this sale. It's one that I personally keep an eye out for every year because it includes some staples that I like to try to buy while on sale. For instance, I've never purchased a North Face jacket from anywhere/at any time other than this sale -- and every North Face jacket I've gotten for the girls has been passed down through all of them! So it makes sense to get the deal, if you can, on quality products. 

I know this year looks very different for many, so please know these posts are just for fun. I love shopping (and especially filling my "cart" and then not buying anything, or only buying one thing -- is that a hobby of anyone else's? lol), but I never want these shopping posts to come off as pressure-y at all. Just sharing what has caught my eye this season and what's on my actual wish list!


The Natori Bra is the "regular" (non-sports) bra I wear daily and I always replenish them during the anniversary sale. They're great quality, comfortable, and pretty!

I've talked about Wit & Wisdom Jeans so much I should probably be a spokesperson. In fact, if I've seen you in person, I've probably shown you the stretchy inside of the waistband (please comment if I've done this to you! haha). They are the best, though -- so comfy, so cute, so genius! This style was on my wish list but is sold out. Check out some of their other styles!

I've never had a pair of Spanx leggings but they've long been on my wish list! I love this faux leather pair because, let's face it, this is as dressy as I'm going to be getting this fall/winter. Paired with a long sweater -- how cute? Hello Thanksgiving. If you have a pair of Spanx leggings, do they live up to the hype?

This Patagonia jacket is unfortunately also sold out, but it was on my wish list because I could use a mid-weight winter jacket for running around. I feel like this is one of those pieces you'd have in your closet for years and years -- especially in black!

I am a sucker for a high-top sneaker, and this Dolce Vita pair (love this brand, I have other Dolce Vita shoes that have lasted for many years!) lined with plush looks like the comfiest. I know this pair is getting a lot of blog love, but I'm personally a fan of these!


My oldest has had this North Face jacket (in a different color) for the past two years and it's held up great. I love that it's reversible -- we actually would just flip it to the furry side for her "dressy" jacket. She could use a new one this year!

I don't know if I'll pick up this jean jacket for C, but man it's cute! I love this style of a jean jacket mixed with sweatshirt sleeves/hood. So fun for the fall (and can still be used in the spring!).

These classic Sperry duck boots are perfect for snow and/or rain, and the anniversary sale is a great time to grab them for a good price! Unfortunately they're sold out in C's size, but I'm going to keep an eye out for restocks.

And there you have it! I told you I'd only share the things that were on my personal wish list (so easy to go down the rabbit hole of things I could potentially want... but not really need at all ;)). Have you shopped the Anniversary Sale? If so, what did you pick up? Happy midweek, y'all, we're halfway there!

Friday Favorites

Friday, August 7, 2020

 Hello, sweetest friends! So happy to see you here once again. I hope you've had a good week and have some fun plans for the weekend ahead! I have a lot to share/update you on today, so grab a cup of coffee and please say hello. :)

1. School Decision

Early last week I wrote a blog post all about my thoughts and feelings about starting school. I was so, so torn about what to choose for my kids. I think what made this decision so tough for me (and so many others) is that I just want the best for my kids -- I want to choose the option that is in their best interest -- and we're all making these decisions simply not knowing so much. My husband and I were leaning toward our district's hybrid option for most of the time, but truly on the last day (pretty much the last hour) we had before we had to decide, we had a change of heart. I talked to my oldest about it and she expressed that if she couldn't play with friends at school and really interact/socialize, she'd like to try the virtual learning at home. So that's what we went with. And I'm not going to lie, I had a good cry about it all. I feel content with our ultimate decision, but of course, it all just sucks. However, as I talked about in that post last week, I am determined to make it not suck as much as possible for my kids. I've already grabbed several things for our learning at home -- here's what I have so far:

2. Hair Cut

On Tuesday I went for my first hair cut in a year! I got at least 6 inches chopped off and feel so much lighter and better. My salon did a great job with precautions so I felt safe while I was there. It was also a good little mental health break/booster, getting out and taking care of myself a bit! Have you had a hair appointment yet?

3. Kitchen Sneak Peek

I shared this sneak peek of our kitchen update on my new Instagram page a couple of days ago, and am so excited to do an entire blog post about it. We did everything ourselves, so I have some DIY tips for those of you who might be interested in doing the same. It was definitely a lot of work, but we saved so much money and are thrilled with the results!

4. Dance Class

This week the girls had their first in-person activity/class since COVID came around, and I have to say, it made my heart so darn happy. We are only sticking to outdoor activities right now, and when the girls' old dance studio where we went for years organized some outdoor, socially-distanced dance classes for both of their age brackets -- we had to jump on it. Luckily, the weather was absolutely perfect and the girls really enjoyed it! I loved seeing them pirouette-ing around, just being kids. :)

5. Outschool

Speaking of activities, have any of you heard of or used Outschool? It was advertised to me so I made a (free) account to check it out (clearly the advertising worked!), and it seems pretty neat!  There are a ton of online classes for kids on there -- everything from gemology to tea party/etiquette class to dance classes and much more. I'm thinking it might come in handy especially this winter when activities are potentially very limited again. The prices seem reasonable, too. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Hope you have a relaxing weekend!

Weekend Favorites

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Happy weekend & first day of August!

Phew, what a week! I feel like most of my days have revolved around back to school research, talking to other parents, discussing all of the various points with my husband, calling my own mom with updates, reading and debating and writing lists... repeat forever. I know so many of you are in the same boat and I've really appreciated you being alongside me with all of this. The fact that we are all in the thick of this together is comforting. And somehow, we will make the right decision for our families (I shared more of my thoughts on this topic on Monday, here).

Anyway, coming at you a day late with Friday Favorites! Here's what I've enjoyed this week:

-Loving connecting on another level with my new Instagram page where I share my favorite finds, fashion, home decor, and snippets of motherhood. It's a brand new venture and I'd love to meet you.. so come say hello! :)

-This viral message with a pediatrician's advice to parents about making "the school decision"

-Hadley got the round version of this swing for her birthday, and the kids have already gotten so much use out of it. Who am I kidding: I love it too!

-Literally lol'ed at this video -- and then wondered if someone secretly filmed me. Too true!

-I ordered 4 of these kids' mask lanyards -- two for each of our older girls -- so they don't lose their masks or put them down on dirty surfaces. You customize them with their names, fun colors, and a little charm. How cute/genius is this?! They should arrive today so I'll share what we think of them on Instagram stories.

-Check out the new Oprah magazine cover. Powerful.

-I made this salmon twice in one week it was so good (and easy). Let me know if you try it!

-And two sales happening this weekend I wanted to share: bareMinerals Friends & Family (everything is 25% off and free shipping -- this is the foundation I've been using daily for years), and J.Crew is taking an extra 50% off sale styles (sign up for their free rewards program and get free shipping all the time)

Have a wonderful weekend & start to a new month. <3

Monday Coffee Talk | COVID Confessions & Back to School

Monday, July 27, 2020

I can't believe how fast the weekends fly by! Hope you had a great one. :)

We took an afternoon trip to our hometown (the first in 6 months!) to celebrate our nephew's first birthday -- he's such a cutie. On the day he was born, Steve, Carrie, Haddie and I (with Isabelle in my very large belly at that point!) all drove to meet him and met up with my mom for a quick dinner at a nearby diner before we went to the hospital. Turned out the diner's air conditioning was broken, which only really became apparent once we were seated and began sweating profusely as we ordered our meals. It was an extremely hot, sticky July day and I'll never forget that little adventure! ;) He was such a sweet little bundle and my sister-in-law was a champion.


For today's Monday Coffee Talk, I thought I'd share a little bit of what's been on my mind and heart related to a very complicated, confusing, and emotionally-loaded topic for many parents right now: back to school. And up front, I want you to know that if you're in the same boat with school-aged kids, I see you, feel for you, and understand how tough this is. I want you to know, because I know you've second-guessed yourself, that I believe that whatever you decide is the best decision for your family and one made with so much love and so, so, so much thought.

From what I've read, heard from others, and generally understand, each district is structuring their back-to-school plans very differently. I have friends whose districts aren't doing much of anything different except for requiring the kids and staff to wear masks, but otherwise it'll be a full 5 day schedule. I know of people whose districts have decided to go 100% virtual, with no in-person option. And many others have adopted hybrid schedules, with students in class a couple of days a week alternating with a couple of virtual learning days. This is to allow for better social distancing while there are bodies in the buildings.

I think that last option -- the hybrid -- is what our district is going to do (based on surrounding districts), but they are set to officially announce the proposed schedule today. Just being really honest with you, I am still on the fence about what we will do in the fall. I have written pro/con lists, put our two big girls' schedules side-by-side to see what they would look like in every proposed scenario, imagined what next year might look like if we decide one way or the other, talked to other parents, researched the recommendations of trusted medical sources, and agonized. 

I realized the privileged position I am in for even having this choice to make. I am so very grateful to have a job that I can do from home. I am so fortunate to be able to cut back in that role if I need to, to focus on things at home. We are healthy (knock on all of the wood), and we do not live with any immunocompromised or elderly family members. Those are all just starting points for making this decision, and I know all of our starting points are different. 

So here's where I am personally. Why not keep the girls entirely home for remote learning? I could and I very well might, but my reasons for considering sending are that I see a lot of value in personally connecting with a teacher. Since the majority of school will likely be virtual, I think connecting in person a couple of times a week might help my child (six) be more invested in those virtual learning days and ultimately get the most out of this unconventional school year. If I can, I would like to allow her that chance. The AAP and CDC are both in support of in-school learning for a variety of reasons. 

But, yes, I am also nervous about illness (if you know me, that's me during a normal year) and just generally whether I'm "doing the right thing." That's me all the time, too. I want to make the right choice for my family, but I also don't want to disregard others and their needs. I don't want to regret sending, and I don't want to regret not sending. I know any of you in this situation understand these ramblings and have had similar thoughts. If you have, I would love to hear them, to bounce ideas off of each other whether about in-school or homeschool, and to just generally lend a word of support to one another. I have seen so many judgmental, downright ugly posts tearing down parents' decisions no matter what they are, and no matter what I choose, I will not stand for that. That isn't helping anyone.

One thing I have decided is that no matter what path we choose this year, I want to help my kids choose happiness and hope. We are going to do some back-to-school shopping together (online!) as we normally would, they can help to pick out some new gear like backpacks, lunch boxes (even if we stay home!), and school supplies. We are going to set up a comfortable space here at home for virtual learning days. We are going to talk about school and what they might learn, and make sure there are ways for them to safely socialize. We are going to choose joy this school year.

I'll keep you posted on what we decide. Just know that when you're feeling frustrated, unsure, doubtful... you are not alone. And I hope you choose joy despite it all.

33 Things

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Last week I turned 33! We took the girls to the shore for the afternoon/evening and had a really nice (albeit not relaxing in the slightest! haha) time on the beach, followed by a picnic dinner with takeout. Time in my favorite place with my favorite people... can't ask for much more than that to kick off a new year! We also got to see my family this past weekend for a little backyard get together with pizza and cupcakes to celebrate.

33 is supposedly the number that resonates with "the energies of compassion, blessings, inspiration, honesty, discipline, bravery and courage," and tells us "all things are possible." I'll take it!

Just for fun, I thought I'd celebrate by sharing 33 things about me. Some you might know, and some you might not. I'm nosy, so I always enjoy reading this type of thing. ;) What do we have in common?

33 Things

1. My second daughter was due on my birthday, but born three days before.

2. I played violin for 10 years.

3. My bad habit is... snacking in bed at night. Oops!

4. I transferred colleges after my freshman year (Temple --> West Chester).

5. I could easily be a vegetarian, I just don't enjoy eating meat and never have.

6. My wedding DJ turned out to be a murderer (true story, you can read more here).

7. I've had six jobs (CVS Pharmacy, Babies R Us, a leather store, Auntie Anne's corporate, a marketing agency, and my current job which I've had for 8 years).

8. My dad was born in Cuba and came to the United States when he was seven.

9. I'm really passionate about connecting with and encouraging others.

10. I much prefer salty foods over sweet.

11. I'm an enneagram 2.

12. I am an ENFJ (closely followed by an ENFP).

13. I always make a wish if I happen to catch the clock on 11:11.

14. I love traditions -- making them and keeping them.

15. I'm a bit superstitious (I will knock on wood, not get rid of a "lucky" shirt, etc.).

16. The oldest piece of clothing I still wear is my denim jacket, which was a gift from Steve for my 17th birthday.

17. I have a dream of owning a house by the ocean.

18. I don't like horror movies. Feel tense and stressed for 1.5 hours? No thanks! Haha

19. I eat the same thing for breakfast every single day (for the past 7 years) -- coffee & a protein bar.

20. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my oldest (but not with my other two!). 

21. I can't wait to travel more -- my bucket list is long!

22. I'm a huge animal lover. I can't watch any movie in which an animal gets hurt or there's any negative/sad focus on animals, watch those ASPCA commercials, and you know that saying "wouldn't hurt a fly?" That's me. A friend got me this, and I swear by it.

23. I have dear friends from each stage of my life (starting from toddlerhood!) that I am still very close with and love very much -- I value my friendships a lot and have always strived for quality over quantity in my closest relationships.

24. I've always wanted to be a mom and was obsessed with pretending my dolls were real babies as a kid. I'd always pretend I had three kids. ;)

25. I have motion sickness and can't read or focus on anything too long in the car.

26. Blood doesn't bother me a bit, but vomit is my nightmare. Haha

27. Every night as I fall asleep, I say a prayer of thanks for everyone and everything that I am grateful for.

28. I'm an old-school pen and paper girl. I still keep a paper address book, a paper schedule/calendar/agenda, write lists on paper, and enjoy reading actual magazines and books.

29. I eat cheese every single day. Can't quit you, cheese.

30. I'm sensitive to smells and don't like strong floral scents, the new car smell everyone else seems to love, pine, cigarette smoke, etc.

31. My  favorite scent of all time is sunscreen, especially when on the cheeks of my babies, closely followed by yummy food scents like baked goods and cinnamon.

32. I analyze everything way too much. It can be a frustrating quality, but as I grow I also try to embrace it and use it to an advantage.

33. My professional/personal goal over the next year is to write a book. There, I said it!

So, did you learn anything new or am I pretty much an open book? Did anything resonate with you? I'd love to hear! Have a wonderful rest of the week, xo
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