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

It's July! Summertime Questionnaire

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Happy July, all!

May, June, July, and August are my favorite months of the year. Warm weather, lots of fun things to do outside, and plenty to celebrate. This month we're celebrating Hadley's 4th birthday (fun fact: she was due on my birthday!), my 33rd birthday (is 33 a lucky number? It sounds like it could be. I'm going with it is.), and my nephew's 1st birthday! The Fourth of July is also in there, of course. I remember feeling like the Fourth of July meant we were really into summertime as a kid. There's nothing quite like watching fireworks on a warm summer night.

To kick off the month, I thought I'd join in with a couple of fellow bloggers (Dara and Danielle) to share a "just for fun" questionnaire all about summer. One of the best things -- probably the best thing -- about blogging is connecting with others, so I'd love to hear your answers too!

1. Lake or Beach

Beach! Truthfully I love to be by any body of water, but being by the ocean is one of the things that makes me happiest. The salty sea air, the expanse of the water against the horizon, the seagulls... the whole thing makes me happy.

2. Iced tea or lemonade?

Unsweetened iced tea is so refreshing! One of my favorite drinks.

3. Favorite summer vacation memory?

There are too many to choose! When I was young, we took a couple of trips to Canada with extended family -- my grandma, aunt, cousins. Those trips are full of fun memories because it felt like such a big adventure as a small kid. For the first three years Steve and I were married and without kids, we visited Mexico, Bermuda, and Jamaica. I'll always cherish those memories because it was just the two of us, and we knew it wouldn't always be that way. Those trips were so relaxing and beautiful. But maybe my favorite memories come from our annual beach trips to the Jersey shore with our kids, parents, and my brother's family. It feels pretty special to know we're creating lasting memories for our kids!

4. Favorite summer destination?

Avalon, NJ. :)

5. Go-to summer fashion item?

I love maxi dresses for their comfort and effortless style, and I'm a shoe lover so fun sandals are always a favorite. This is one of my favorite new maxi dresses this summer (I got mine in navy -- and for $29! Keep an eye out for more sales!), these are my most-worn flip flops (they hold up amazingly well, on sale for $28 with code EXTRA30) and these are my favorite new sandals (mine are in a woven straw, and unfortunately I can't find them available anywhere).

6. Have you ever been water skiing or jet skiing?

I think I remember trying to water ski a long time ago, but have never been jet skiing. Been tubing plenty of times, though!

7. Favorite summer movie?

Anything light and fun. Sweet Home Alabama comes to mind. Grease is a classic!

8. Song that makes you think of summer?

Danielle mentioned Summer Girls by LFO and I had a moment remembering all the times I listened to that! I like country, and no better time to listen to it than in the summer with the windows rolled down. Anything Tom Petty, and that song 99 Red Balloons always makes me think of summer and fireworks set to music.

9. Best Fourth of July story?

I think my favorite is the first year I met Steve. I was 15, almost 16, and every year my brother, cousins, and I would go to a local park to watch the fireworks display. Steve came along that year (I had just met him less than a month before!) and as we were driving there along some backroads, my teenage cousin was driving too close behind us and tapped the back of Steve's SUV. I was mortified, haha -- but Steve took it in stride and we still laugh about it to this day.

10. Are your fireworks on the 3rd, 4th, or another night?

I feel like it depends on the year around here! They are usually spread across multiple nights depending on the town putting them on, so it's sort of up to us when we go. We've skipped the big crowds the last couple of years with tiny ears and early bedtimes but we usually can catch them lighting up the sky somewhere. ;)

That was fun! Let me know if you join in, I'd love to check out your answers. Have a great Wednesday -- halfway to the weekend!

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