Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: April 2017

Happy Wednesday! Thanks for joining me today as I link-up with Mel, Sheaffer, and Shay to wrap-up April! Can you believe it's almost May?! Make sure you link-up and share what's been going on in your world!

What we're eating this week...
Last weekend, Robert and I tried out Hello Fresh for free. You can read my review HERE. We've got a packed week of practices and performances, so on Sunday, I made a chicken and rice/noodle casserole to make Monday night easier. Robert requested meat and cheese roll-ups for his school lunches. I made some pretty similar to THIS recipe and have had no complaints.

What I'm reminiscing about...
Last week marked one year since the terrible flood that hit Houston. It demolished our pool system, and we basically had a swamp in our backyard until our system could be repaired. I'm not fondly reminiscing about this time, but these pictures make me laugh because it's not very often that you can get a family photo from inside your swimming pool!

What I'm loving...
I try to write emails each Friday to parents about students who have done a great job that week in class. I make a list and try to get to each kid during the semester. Last week, I wrote an email about a student who doesn't always seem that interested in class but had been doing a better job participating. His mom wrote me back to tell me that he went home and told her the story verbatim of how my Popo proposed to my Nana while stationed in Alaska during the Korean War and some other stories I had shared with the class. I was floored that this kid was A) paying attention and B) cared enough to share the story with his parents! I love when I get to make good calls instead of the sad calls about lunch detention!

What we've been up to...
This shirt sums up my life. Baseball on Mondays and Saturdays, swim practice Tuesday-Friday, swim meets on Saturdays, birthday parties, wedding showers, teacher appreciation days, etc. Nothing super exciting around here. If they installed a camera in my house for a live feed like the giraffe, you'd see me watching reality television, cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring children to various activities!

What I'm dreading...
Swim meet season! I know I'm supposed to be a good mom and support my kids in their endeavors, but I also am not so secretly hoping that they decide that this is the year they don't want to swim again! Ugh- why can't swim team be like it was when I was a kid? Sure we had practice 4 times a week, but our practices and meets were actually during THE SUMMER! The meets were also in the evening and only lasted a few hours. My kids have to check-in at 6:45 a.m. and it goes well into the afternoon. Top it off with dance class and baseball, and I'm DONE! Can we go ahead and skip to mid-June when all activities are over please?

What I'm working on...
I'm working on getting back into shape. I did really well and lost 17 pounds from October to February. After I stopped running and relaxed my diet for spring break and Ari's birthday coupled with going back on steroids, I gained 7 pounds back. No bueno! I'm off of my steroids now and am trying to be good. I've started running again in hopes of shedding the pounds a little faster. If you want to work out with me, check out my most recent Tuesday Training post and follow my Tuesday Training Pinterest board.

What I'm excited about...
Depending on Robert's summer work schedule, we are planning on road-tripping to St. Louis to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins! I can't wait to eat toasted raviolis and go to the zoo! (Ari also is planning to go to the new restaurant owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley!)

What I'm reading...
Ummm magazines from several months ago? I've been bad and haven't stuck with my 20 minutes of reading each night. After I finished Laura Bush's autobiography, I think I needed a brain break. I feel like I'm constantly trying to catch up, and I have a stack of magazines from the past 6 months that need to be read and recycled. My favorites are Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Woman's Day.

What I've been listening to...
Robert and I have been cracking up a lot lately because we'll hear Ari in the next room singing the song, "Belle," from Beauty and the Beast. She doesn't really know how to say, "this provincial life," and kind of makes it up. She also acts out the part where the villager stops her and she tells him she's on her way to the bookstore. It's pretty funny to listen to, but it's also a little maddening as she is stuck on loop!

What I'm wearing...
In the spring and summer, my mom uniform basically consists of the following:

What we're doing this weekend...
Baseball, swim team time trials (mock-meet), and a birthday party! Anybody want to swap lives just for the weekend? :)

What I'm looking forward to...
A friend of mine recommended a travel agent here in Houston that is a superstar Disney concierge. I know people are going to hate on me and tell me to not pay someone to plan my trip, but we're doing Disney and Universal next summer, and the park has changed tremendously since I went in third grade. We've saved up and want to do it big, so I'm going to have Dani plan everything out for us so I don't have to stress about anything. I've gotten to the point in my life where I definitely weigh the DIY vs. saving my sanity options, and for this, I'm going with staying sane! Do you have any Disney recommendations that I need to think about? Please share!

What else is new...
I'm waiting to hear on some big news in the next few weeks- nothing scary or life-threatening but something exciting for me personally. I'm not the most patient person in the world and would love to have everything signed, sealed, and delivered ASAP, but I'm trying my best to calmly wait for an answer. I'm hoping I have exciting (to me) news to share with you in the next few weeks. (And no, I'm not becoming a mom again!)

Question of the month: What's your favorite spring/summer shoe? 
I probably wear THESE sandals from Merona at Target at least 4 times a week in the spring and summer. I own them in black, brown, and silver, and they go on sale often for less than $12!

In case you missed my previous What's Up Wednesday posts:
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017

Follow along with me on Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin', and Pinterest!

Link-up with me tomorrow to share your favorite recipe of the week for my Try It Thursday link-up party! See you soon!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post contain Target affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Show & Tell Tuesday: Grown-up Parties

Hello party people! Thanks for joining me today as I link up with Andrea at Momfessionals to share about the grown-up parties I've thrown. To see my previous Show & Tell Tuesday posts, check them out here:
Steal and Splurge
My Loves
Most Embarrassing Moments
Top 5 Pictures

I've shared about the kid parties I've thrown in THIS post, and I talked all about Ari's 5th birthday HERE, and Trip's 7th birthday HERE. I love to plan a party and enjoy hosting friends and family in my home, but as much as I love to make things perfect, I sometimes go a little nuts and can't wait for it to be over. Here are some of my tips for hosting parties big and small:

1) Invitations

If I'm having a casual brunch, lunch, or dinner, I like to use Paperless Post to email out invites. In this day in age, I've found that a lot of people from my generation are incapable of responding to a paper invite which is very unfortunate. If I need a super easy invite, I create an event in Facebook because it'll bug the invitees about the party to get a response! Ha! 

When I want a beautiful paper invitation but don't want to pay a lot of money, I use PowerPoint, Pinterest, Google Images, and free font websites like 1001 Fonts. I print the invites on cardstock and use colored or specialty envelopes from Hobby Lobby. I appreciate a physical invitation- it's definitely a lost art that I want to see make a comeback!

2) Theme Parties

Pick a theme and go with it! For a casual party, I don't pick a theme, but for a wedding or baby shower, I usually like to pick a theme that I think the lady being honored would appreciate. I threw a baby shower last year for a friend who loves all things superheroes, so I ran with that. I also get inspiration for a shower theme from completely random things like a t-shirt! Pinterest has countless ideas if you're stumped! Check out the ideas I've pinned on my Showers & Parties Board! Pins about flowers are also a good jumping off point to get ideas for color themes.

3) DIY vs. Sanity

If you hate planning and hosting, outsourcing decorations and food may be a good call for you! If you love to plan but your wallet doesn't appreciate your love to party, then DIY-ing might be a good fit for you. I like to do some custom decorations that can be gifted to the lady of honor so what I have in my head might not be something I can search and find online to buy. Also, half the time, something I want to have at the party is cheaper for me to make than to buy online. For example, a burlap banner will run you $16+ on Etsy, but you can make and customize your own banner for about $5. 

Stores like Dollar Tree, Five Below, and Target have tissue poms, paper garlands, and felt decorations quite cheap. I've made a bunch of poms by hand, but the older I get and the less time I have on my hands, the more I'm willing to purchase pre-made decorations and mix and match it to my liking. 

4) Re-purpose Decorations

I have a holiday closet where I store holiday and party decorations. Once I've taken the time to either make decorations by hand or spend money to purchase pre-made decor, I want to use the decorations again. When I've had a pink party, I re-use the decorations for Valentine's Day. My friend's superhero shower left me with decorations that I was able to re-purpose for Trip's Olympic birthday party. So, unless your decorations are super specific, hang on to them- you'll probably be able to use them again soon!

5) Map It Out 

To save money, I usually cook and bake everything, so I spend a LOT of time planning the menu. I scour my Pinterest boards and hit up friends at school for ideas and recipes to develop a menu. Once I have my menu planned, I make a grocery list with every ingredient needed. I also plan out what platters, bowls, and plates will be used for each food.

Then, I make a timeline. I list out everything that needs to be accomplished starting a few days before the party. For the day of, I have a list with to-dos by time so I can ensure that each dish gets cooked and warmed as close to guests' arrival as possible. Lately, I've come to the conclusion that I do best when we clean the house and set the tables the night before. Then, we head out to dinner so we don't have to do any extra dishes or extra clean-up. 

Did you notice that I didn't have any pictures during the parties? That is one of my biggest regrets! I usually get so wrapped up in hosting and hanging out with friends that I forget to take pictures! Maybe I'll make that next year's New Year's resolution! What are your top party hosting tips? Tell me in the comments below, and make sure you stop by my Tuesday Training post from this morning! I'll see you back here tomorrow for the What's Up Wednesday link-up. See you soon!

Tuesday Training: Week 17

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by to get in shape with me! Swimsuit season is just around the corner, and I definitely need to work on my core. I had sworn off running until Thanksgiving when I start training for next February's 5K, but I think I was in my best shape when I was running, so I've picked it up again.

While searching for ab challenges, I came across this one on Pinterest. The link doesn't actually take you to the correct website, so I took a screenshot of the picture and kept my phone by me to reference while working out. I got through day 16 of the challenge and then quit because I was exhausted from work and mom life. I'm off of my steroids but still not in remission, so it's time to get back in the game!

To see more of my favorite exercises, visit my Tuesday Training Pinterest page!

Later this morning, I'm linking up for Show and Tell Tuesday to share some of my party planning tips. Check it out HERE!

Tell me what some of your favorite core exercises are in the comments below! See you soon!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Life With the Lees: Weekend Recap 4.24.17

Good morning! We've got 6 weeks to go at school until summer break, and everyone in our house is super pumped! Even though we did a lot this weekend, it was mostly housework and yard work, so today's going to be short and sweet!

At the end of the week, one of my students stayed after class to tell me that I needed to read this book and consider it for future student book clubs. I think it is so sweet that my kids like to read non-fiction and historical fiction and then that they share their recommendations with me.

The book club that I'm in each summer with other social studies teachers has picked this book for our summer reading:

Our weekend wasn't as packed as it usually is, and all we had on the agenda was Ari's baseball game on Saturday morning. She missed a practice due to her swim lessons and then her 2nd game and another practice got rained out, so it's been a few weeks since she's been out on the field.

Just like her first game, Ari got a hit off the tee the first time up to bat and then got a hit off the coach's pitch during her second time up to bat. We're still working on the whole drop the bat and RUN thing!

The kids spent the rest of Saturday hanging with Sue-Sue and Grandpa. When they got home, we watched some Animal Planet shows after dinner. Speaking of which, Robert and I tried out 3 free meals from Hello Fresh this weekend. 

I'm glad that we had the opportunity to try it for free, but we won't be subscribing to the service. If you like to cook and want to impress people with your plating, then you might enjoy it. Here are my pros:
* The dishes are fancier than what I'm used to cooking, but I felt confident cooking them with the instructions. 
* The plating made me look more professional.
* Every meal was boxed together separately so you don't have to divide up the ingredients.

My cons:
* The food was okay. None of the meals made me feel like I needed to rush out and register for the program full time.
* Each meal will run about $15. In my book, that's too much money to spend on 2 adults. 
* The meals were very high in calories.
* The meals required a large amount of olive oil.
* I didn't feel like the produce was as fresh as it could be.
* The seasoning for one meal was definitely off. The label claimed it was one teaspoon, but it was very clearly more than a teaspoon. 
* The packaging was quite excessive and wasteful. Please recycle what you can!
* The only thing I feel Hello Fresh saved me was time at the grocery store which wouldn't have actually bothered me much as it wouldn't have taken a planner like me long to do. The meals took about 30-45 minutes to cook, so if you're a busy person on weeknights, this program will probably stress you out!

The type of cooking that doesn't stress me out? Baking! On Sunday I baked for hours on end for this week's secretary day and to apologize to my librarians for missing last week's library week! I made chocolate peanut butter cookies, slutty brownies, hummingbird cupcakes, and lemon crinkle cookies. Shout out to my awesome friend Betsy for gifting me lots of bakery boxes to transport everything in!

Ari has baseball tonight, and then both kids have swim practice the rest of the week. I'm back tomorrow for a double post with Tuesday Training and Show and Tell Tuesday. See you soon!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Favorites

Hello there, Friday! I am in desperate need of a weekend!

One of my favorite stress relievers is music. A song can come on the radio and transport me to another time! I miss the days of CDs - I had binders and binders full. I always had music on, and I prided myself in being able to identify what the next singles would be from a band's latest album. Little known fact: I went to college to get a degree in arts management to work with rock bands, and I always aspired to become a soundtrack producer. 

Bigger known fact: I changed majors and became a middle school social studies teacher instead! :) 

So for today's Friday Favorites, I wanted to share some of my favorite movie soundtracks that I always had playing!

1) Dick: The Unmaking of the President

Dick: The Unmaking of the President is 70s gold in the 90s! If you haven't seen the movie, two high school girls help take down Richard Nixon. It's funny and worth a viewing if you haven't seen it yet, but the soundtrack is one of my all time favorites! Some of the best songs on the album include:

"ABC" by The Jackson 5

"Crocodile Rock" by Elton John

"Rock On" by David Essex

"The Loco-Motion" by Grand Funk Railroad

"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon

2) Clueless

I had the Clueless soundtrack on cassette tape when it first came out and obviously bought it on CD when we had to convert. Whatever! This album will totally transport you back to 1995! Some of my favorites are:

"Kids in America" by The Muffs

"Here" by Luscious Jackson

"Alright" by Supergrass

"Supermodel" by Jill Sobule

3) American Pie

I can honestly tell you that I've never seen American Pie! I know the premise of the movie, but when the Tonic song came out, I was sold on buying the soundtrack and fell in love with the rest without even going to the movies. Some of my favorites from the album are:

"You Wanted More" by Tonic

"Super Down" by Super TransAtlantic

"Good Morning Baby" by Bic Runga and Dan Wilson

4) Empire Records

If you didn't want to be Liv Tyler at some point in your life, then you and I probably shouldn't be friends. My friend Meghan and I watched Empire Records a thousand times every summer, and I'm pretty sure I cracked the soundtrack cd from listening to it so often. My favorites from the soundtrack are: 

"Liar" by The Cranberries

"Circle of Friends" by Better Than Ezra

"Here It Comes Again" by Please

"Nice Overalls" by Lustre

5) Can't Hardly Wait

Pretty sure every teen could relate to Ethan Embry's character in Can't Hardly Wait. The soundtrack is pretty diverse, but then again, weren't most kids' music collections pretty eclectic in the 90s? My favorites from the soundtrack were: 

"Graduate" by Third Eye Blind

"High" by Feeder

"Tell Me What to Say" by Black Lab

"Farther Down" by Matthew Sweet

If you're in the mood for some angsty-teen anthems of the 90s, head on over to your local Best Buy to buy... oh wait, Best Buy has like 4 cds in their music section these days! AGH! Check them out on iTunes or Amazon, and tell me what some of your favorite movie soundtracks are in the comments below! 

In case you missed any of this week's posts:
Life With the Lees: Weekend Recap
Tuesday Training: Week 16
Ladies Who Link: Favorite Target Finds

Follow along with me on Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin', and Pinterest!

Linking up with Erika, Narci, Andrea, Tif, Katie, Della, and Amanda 

I've had a crazy week and had to take a few days off from my workouts, but I'm back at it this morning! We've got a baseball game on the agenda and then Dr. Mom is prescribing a large dose of stay home and relax to catch up on rest! Hope you have a very enjoyable and restful weekend- see you back here on Monday!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ladies Who Link: Favorite Target Finds

Hey there! Thanks for joining me today as I link up with Sara and Trina of Moms' Coffee Date, Lisa from Coast to Coast, Tara from Mommy In a Nutshell, and Holly from Pink Lady for our monthly Ladies Who Link party! Today, we're talking all about my motherland- Target

I talked about some of my favorite basics to stock up on at Target in THIS Show & Tell Tuesday post. Toilet paper, paper towels, medications, and more all have great off-brand options at a much lower price!

I also recently wrote about my ultimate favorite skincare products, all of which can be purchased at Target. Read all about those finds HERE! Pixi Beauty has done wonders for my skin!

I shop at Target at least once a week, if not more. Robert will tell you that our bank statements are pretty boring because I only shop at Target and our grocery store! (Almost a true story!) Other than my typical cleaning products, paper products, and medications that I stock up on, I wanted to share some of my most recent Target purchases with you.

Trip wants to redo his bedroom, so when Target ran a kids' bedding sale, he picked out THIS comforter set from Pillowfort and a new sheet set from Threshold. We love our sheets from Threshold. They are super comfy and are a great price! 

When Target ran a BOGO shoe sale, I finally pulled the trigger on THESE sandals from Merona and then got THESE Mossimo laser cut flats for only $10!

During the spring and summer, I live in THESE sandals from Merona for school and the weekend. 

The kids live in Target swimsuits during the summer, and I've picked up multiple pairs of swim trunks for Trip at the end of the season on the clearance rack. Ari likes two pieces, but she needed a one piece to have for swim practice, so I picked up THIS one from Xhilaration for her. 

I loved the Circo and Cherokee brands that Target carried, and I've had mixed feelings about the new Cat & Jack line. I think the boy line has been a pretty good fit for Trip, but the reviews are still out on the girl line. They carry some nice basics, but I think the quality isn't up to par with Cherokee. If you've got some sporty kids in your house, we do love the C9 by Champion line for both boys and girls. 

If you've got kiddos in diapers still, we loved the Up & Up brand of diapers. They are often on sale and on Cartwheel. Target often runs a deal where you get a free $5 gift card with the club size package.

Target often runs a rug sale, and last summer, we ordered THIS rug from Threshold. We absolutely love it! It is the perfect size and a unique print that you don't see everywhere- it's very us!

I love shopping the endcaps in the housewares aisles and occasionally will find a total steal- like an art piece or frame. Target also carries my absolute favorite candles! I love the Signature Soy brand and have multiple jars of "Cozy Nights." I also love their "Havana Oak" scent for the spring and summer!

At lunch every day at school, I eat a Think Thin bar. It has been really helpful in my weight loss journey, and Target actually sells boxes of 5 bars which go on sale and sometimes have a Cartwheel deal, so it's easier to purchase a box than purchase individually at the grocery store. 

If you're not already using Target's Cartwheel app, hop on the bandwagon NOW! You can use your phone to scan items to see if there's a deal on them or you can preview the deals online before you shop and add them to the list. The more you use Cartwheel, the more spots open up for you to add deals to your list. ALSO, this past year, Target started giving Cartwheel users points every time they used the app. Now you can rack up points to then use for perks! I've gotten a free Halloween decoration, bed sheets, 2 books, a pasta pot, a game, a tube pan, and more just for using the app! That's a win-win in my book! 

And finally, if you haven't taken the plunge and gotten a Red Card, do it ASAP! I was weary because I didn't want to mess with a credit card, so Robert and I got the debit card version. You save 5% every time you shop, and it gets you free shipping from Target online. (Speaking of- Target's customer service is pretty darn awesome! I've received some random items in my online packages, and they've replaced everything overnight.)

So, tell me what are YOUR favorite Target finds? 

If you've missed any of my previous Ladies Who Link posts:

I'll be back tomorrow for another round of Friday Favorites, and make sure you link up with us again next month when we share how we're kicking off summer/Memorial Day plans! See you soon!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post contain Target affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. Thank you for supporting my blog!