Kindergarten Newbie

We have officially made it through our first full week of half day kindergarten! JB is doing really well, making new friends, and learning classroom procedures. It’s been such a blessing to have him in such a loving environment!

All that said, there have been a few things that have caught me off guard.

1. Pencils

I don’t know why I didn’t think about this, but pencils are now very valuable at our house for handwriting practice. Thankfully, I’ve been saving them for years in preparation for school one day so we have plenty. Unfortunately, we don’t own a single damn sharpener. None. So, we do our handwriting practice with colored pencils because those come pre sharpened. 🤷🏼‍♀️

2. All the stuff.

JB is at school for 15 hours a week. How the heck did he manage to make 21 pieces of “art” in his first week?!? All those “treasures” are now piled in the mudroom eagerly anticipating their judgement day to determine if they make it into the air conditioned house or will retire/die in the blue carport bin. When asked about this mass creation of art, he explained that art center is his favorite and he goes there first every day.

So far, creations include “cook books” (ie, homemade books with yummy desserts glued on the pages cut from a magazine), “origami” (ie, construction paper with a million folds rolled up together with tape to keep it closed), a large painted cactus with toothpicks glued on it (my fav so far), goldfish glued on a giant sheet of paper to spell out his name, and a sheriff badge/name tag with a star decorated in sequins.

3. Homework.

Silly me, for some reason I thought 15 hours of weekly instruction was enough for a 6 year old. But, they want us to teach him at home too. Technically, this is homework but so far, I don’t have a problem with any of the content!

laugh, brooke

Cocktails in the Garden

We love being members at the Atlanta Botanical Garden… especially because of their evening events!  Tonight, we went to Cocktails in the Garden and it was so much fun!  Each Thursday night, the garden is open from 5:30-9:30PM from May through October for drinks and a variety of entertainment.  The garden staff does a wonderful job of planning so many activities to appeal to all ages:

We saw several of the “Imaginary World” exhibits

We listened to live music, danced to the DJ, and helped with a collaborative art project.

We watched a man do fire breathing and magic tricks!

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We played lawn games- including giant connect four, jinga and corn hole.
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We visited the tall Chihuly installation at the reflecting pond.

 

 

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And of course, all of the gardens were open for exploration.  Check out these super cool pink bananas growing near the Earth Goddess permanent exhibition!

 

 

 

Such a great night!  But… who wants to be my (21+ up) date ?  I’d love to do some reviews of the cocktails next time!  Also, looking forward to cooler weather!

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live, Brooke

How to Buy a Used Car in 20 Easy Steps

We just got to experience the joy and happiness of car shopping, so I thought I’d share what we learned in 20 easy steps:

  1. Figure out a general idea of what kind of vehicle you want (suv, minivan, sedan, truck, etc).
  2. Go to Carmax and look at every single one of those types of vehicles.  It’s the only place you can see so many year models and options in one place.  Note: salespeople just love this.
  3. While you are there, get a quote from them to buy your current car.  Try not to cry in the dealership when you find out your car’s value.
  4. Narrow down the make/models that you are interested in between 3-5 cars.  For me it was a Toyota Highlander, Lexus GX 460, Toyota 4Runner, and Toyota Land Cruiser.  
  5. Research the different options, trim levels, body styles and price points.  
  6. Go look at your short list of vehicles at the respective dealerships to see what they look like/drive like/cost if you were to buy brand new.  Try not to throw up when you see the price tags.
  7. Determine if you like the newest models or an older version.  For me, I did not like the new Highlanders and instead preferred the older body styles.
  8. Narrow down what you can buy in your price range- mainly the year, mileage and trim level.  
  9. Start searching for cars that check those boxes daily- and heck, twice a day if you want.  Search Carmax, carvana, auto trader, Craigslist*, and individual dealerships.
  10. If you see a car you like, check the Carfax (provided for free by most dealerships on their website).  This is when the fun starts. See if the car has been wrecked, where it’s been registered, and if the title is clean.  This is the most time consuming part of your searching. “Oh, that’s a good price… let me check the Carfax. Oh, it’s been wrecked three time and lived in New Jersey for 4 years.  Pass.” This step will help you weed out 85% of the cars in your search results.
  11. Send your partner/family/friends links to any car that passes step #10.  
  12. Call/text to see if the car is still available.  If so, haul your kid and husband to see it ASAP. If car shopping in June in Georgia, bring copious amounts of cold water and a well charged iPad.
  13. Climb through the car to see how many people you can fit in it, set up every possible seating arrangement you could possibly use, check all the buttons/gears, screens, windows, trunks, jacks, floor mats, DVD players, and look under the hood. If this passes, take it for a test drive.  If not, don’t waste your time.
  14. Ask the dealer what they did to the car after they bought it off trade, they should give you a list.  Double check the carfax report to be sure the VIN matches the VIN on the car.
  15. Try to negotiate on the price. Know that dealerships don’t have as much negotiation room as they used to.  Also, know that Carmax and Carvana do not negotiate so dealerships have gotten their advertised prices as low as possible to bring in buyers.  Keep in mind that many used cars only come with one key, if you need/want two, negotiate that in with the purchase.
  16. If you come up with an agreed price, take the car to your mechanic for review- along with a copy of carfax to be sure things are accurate- before buying.  
  17. If the car checks out, know that you can put up to $3,000 on a credit card at most dealerships.  If paying “cash”, they want the rest in a personal or certified check. They offer financing options but you can usually get a better rate at a credit union or bank.
  18. The dealership will do the paperwork to get the car registered before you leave but be sure to call your insurance company to have coverage on the new car before you drive it off the lot.
  19. If you car comes with any warranties, be sure to fully understand them before you leave the lot.  
  20. Drive off in your new-to-you car and try to keep your son from dumping pretzels all in it within the first hour of ownership!

*We had a scammy experience with potentially buying a car off Craigslist.  Don’t buy a car from anyone who has a POA to sign the title to you.  There is no way to be sure it’s legal.  Also, if the mileage seems to be too low- it probably is.

learn & laugh, brooke

May is a Marathon

For many, May is the slammed together book ends of school ending and summer starting.  It’s full of overlapping sports seasons, teacher appreciation gifts, dance recitals, swim team practices, graduations, Mother’s Day gifts/gatherings, Memorial Day travel prep, and end of school parties.  It’s exhausting just writing it all.

So today, I salute you parents who make it all happen…

…Those that make sure that their daughter’s bangs are glued to her head with a series of butterfly clips and level 6 hair spray.

…Those that stay up late making egg free cupcakes for the last day of school party even though the egg free kid won’t be there.

…Those that hold their two year old while also nursing their six month old so everyone is quiet and happy during the dance recital.

…Those that set an early morning alarm on a Saturday for a kid’s swim team practice meet.

…Those that drive around to 5 different stores to purchase gifts for each child’s teacher.

…Those that make grocery lists and shop so that you can pack it all up and take it with you to the beach to prevent going to a store once you arrive.

…Those who construct a homemade bamboo structure for VBS decorations.

…Those who show up for swim team practice every day with twin ten month girls in tow.

…Those who plan an end of the year party craft that the kids don’t want to make.

…Those who decide to paint their entire basement the last week of school because childcare will be limited in the coming months.

What are you doing this month that’s totally insane and deserves mad props?!

laugh,

brooke

 

Successful Self Care

I recently watched Ann Lamott’s Ted Talk: 12 truths I learned from life and writing.  She had many good lessons to share but one that stuck out was the importance of self care.  Yes, we know we should care for ourselves for lots of reasons- physical, emotional and mental reasons- but her point was that it helps others.  In fact, she calls self care “a huge gift to the world”.

Many times we may feel selfish about our self care.  That sentence makes me laugh a bit… that’s kind of the point, right?  But, when we stop and think about how our lack of self care can be a drain on those around us, it makes me realize that it’s more than just caring for ourselves but also caring for others.  I am reminded of what I hear everytime I am on a plane… secure your oxygen mask first before helping others. I have wanted to scream, but what about my baby boy? He needs oxygen just as badly and fast as I do!?  But then I remember, I can’t do any good for him if I’m suffocating.

Like most things, I had some preconceived notions about what self car looks like.  So, I did some research among my friends to find out what they find successful in feeling rejuvenated throughout life.  It’s important to remember that self care doesn’t have to be financially expensive.

1. Exercise.  This was a very popular response for many of my friends.  One said that “its a huge stress reliever to physically exhaust myself while building strength.”  Others preferred a more low key workout like yoga which also involves meditation too. Ideas:

  • Tennis
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Fitness Classes

2. Solitude.  This is a big one for many moms.  We often share most of our life with others- even if we don’t want to (ie: a toddler busting in the bathroom while showering).  So, taking a break from those we love to be able to focus on ourselves and doing things that we love is a great thing to recharge.  Some examples from others:

  • Solo walk
  • A nap
  • Taking a bath
  • Driving in silence
  • Being still

3.  Personal appearance.  This was one I had never really considered before as I am super low maintenance in my appearance.  But, I can definitely understand how it can help with your confidence and mood. If you feel blah about your appearance, than spending some time and energy on it can improve your outlook and interactions with others.  

  • Facial
  • Manicure
  • Botox
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Make Up

4.  Protecting your commitments.  One of my friends said she has to say no to opportunities as a form of self care.  At first hearing, it didn’t make sense to me, but as she went on I realized that protecting her calendar/schedule was a major form of self care as it prevents over-scheduling and extra stress.  For every yes we say, it’s a no to something else.  Feeling guilty?  I’ll be your No Cheerleader 🙂

5.  Do something fun.  This may look different for many t people because we all find fun in a variety of ways.  A girl’s night out, going on a guy’s camping trip, or exploring a new part of your city could all be fun. The key is to do something fun with other people is make sure they are fun and that you enjoy being with them. Doing something out of the norm gives us something to look forward and gets us out of the normal daily rut.

  • Reconnect with an old friend
  • Visit a brewery with  neighbors
  • Picnic at a new park

I’d love to hear how you practice self care!

xoxo, brooke

Kindergarten Anxieties

Last night, I got hit by all the emotions of my son starting kindergarten (at a new school) this fall.  It was full on ugly cry.  For like 15 minutes.  I realize that kindergarten is 7 months away, but now is when schools host open houses and tours and the lottery sign ups start.  Where will he go to school?  Will he make new friends?  Will kids be mean to him?  Is he “prepared” for kindergarten?  Will he get a good teacher?  Will he get in trouble for talking too much (no clue where that comes from)?  Did we make a good decision holding him back a year since he has a late August birthday?  Will he actually eat his school lunch?  You know… just a few kindergarten anxieties for this mom.

On top of this, the school options in our area are endless!  There is the neighborhood elementary school, public charter schools with lotteries for attendance, private Christian schools and non-faith private schools.  As of right now, we have toured 3 private schools, 2 charter schools and our local public school.  And I have 3 more tours scheduled in the next three weeks!  That’s a lot of options!!  It’s good to have choices because not all children learn the same but it’s also so overwhelming.  We’ve been doing our best to understand what’s available and trying to find the best fit for our son.

Last night, the passage of time hit my emotions like a ton of bricks.  I realized that my son is 5.5, I can barely pick him up and he is so hard to sit in my lap due to his size.  Yes, he is healthy, happy, and wonderful- all great things, but still difficult to wrap my head around how big my “baby” is.  I cried tears of anxiety to my husband as I recognize that change is coming.  We have been blessed with a wonderful preschool for 5 years of school that has been a perfect fit for our son.  I pray that he transitions well to kindergarten- wherever that may be.

I was sad about how big he is, how old he is, the unsurety of what’s next and trying to process time going by so quickly.  How can I have a child old enough for kindergarten?  How have we been married for almost ten years?  How do I have wrinkles around my eyes?  

This morning my (one and only) baby went to an open house at what could be his school for the next six years.  We got to see the entire school, have breakfast in the cafeteria and ride on a school bus.  It was a big morning and my son loved it.  He walked out of the school saying he can’t wait to go to school there.  Who knows where he will attend kindergarten, but I’m thrilled knowing he loved this option and is excited about his future.  Yes, I’m anxious, nervous and sentimental but I’m going to keep him focusing on excitement and not let my hesitant emotions get in his way!  

And yes, I realize I am not the first parent to send a child to a new school.  Knowing this helps- some.  But it’s still the emotions that I am working through.

So, to all the parents who are sending their hearts out into an unknown world this fall, know that I am with you in solidarity.  We will get through this.  Also, I have heard that wine helps.  

love, brooke

Half a Decade

My sweet, itty bitty baby boy turns five years old today and he is no longer a baby boy.  Instead, he is over 4 feet tall and it pains me to say/realize that I can’t pick him up much longer. He has grown physically, mentally, and emotionally so much in his short life.

When I think about myself in those terms… I have also grown and changed so much in five years. Physically, I’m way smaller than I was after I had him (thank goodness 😳😂) and I’m stronger (probably from trying to pick up a 50lb+ kid). Mentally, I’m much more laid back and go with the flow.  I think having a boy chilled me out a bit. I still have anxiety but very rarely is it about being a mom. Sometimes I suffer from mom guilt but I try to keep things in perspective and know that extra screen time isn’t going to hurt him (I hope).  Emotionally, well, it depends on the day. Some days I feel confident and happy and others I feel incompetent and worried. I guess some things may never change.  

Over the last five years, I’ve been blessed to make many mom friends. We have banded together to love each other’s children and support one another. The hundreds of weekly texts checking in with one another, praying for one another, cracking jokes and offering support are invaluable. It truly takes a village to raise a child and I’m grateful for such a solid one.  I’m also grateful to have a wonderful husband who happens to also be a fantastic father. He picks up the pieces where I’m unable. He rounds out JB’s life in so many ways. When I want to helicopter parent, he nudges me to let JB’s independence shine. For the most part, we make a good duo.

Motherhood definitely changes you. It makes you patient, crazy, happy, sad, calm, and stressed… often at the same time. You learn to be flexible. You can’t control nap times, illness, diaper blow outs, or separation anxiety. But, life is more fun having this precious little boy in our lives to keep us on our toes… even if there is less sleep than before.

Today, I’m grateful for the little boy who made me a mom, his dad who loves us both so much, our families who are always cheering us on, and our friends who are full of nothing but love and support.  

love, brooke

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