Monday, August 24, 2015

back to school survival kit...

when i was teaching i remember those first few weeks of school being brutal. it was an exhaustion comparable to the first trimester of pregnancy. only my nausea would come from nerves instead of morning sickness. but man, was i tired! it was an exciting time, but so exhausting. now that i'm on the other side of things as the parent not the teacher, i realize how important it is to make sure our teachers know that we appreciate them and all their hard work. not just at the end of the year, but at the beginning too! and i'm telling you what, i have NO shame when it comes to buttering up my kids' teachers - ha! seriously though, i live with these girls - i know the drama that comes with them - so i'll do whatever i need to do to soften the blow for their teachers. ;-)

in years past, i've done little gift baskets, personalized items, cookies, and gift cards, just to name a few. 

this year, i decided to go a different route and make a "survival kit" for the teacher. i tried to think of all the little things that i used or needed, or even just wished i'd had during those first few weeks of school. i'm all about practical gifts - i know it's the thought that counts - but come on, no one wants to have a collection of stuff they can't use! i picking up things here and there over the summer and just stashing them away until the time was right. that typically works in everyone's favor…. i don't feel like i'm spending much since it's "spread out" and i'm also able to search for great deals because i'm not rushed. and the recipient usually lucks out too, because i tend to forget half the things i've picked up over the course of three months and the collection ends up much larger than i anticipated. win: win! ;-)

i thought i'd share our survival kits in case anyone else is interested. most items came from target (thank you, dollar spot!) or just our local drug stores, grocery stores, etc. nothing too elaborate. 
i've tried to link to most things and i've also attached a FREE copy of a coordinating poem as well as the favorite things checklist that i sent in for the teacher to fill out - because again, i want to give gifts that she can actually USE! 

so without further delay, here's the back to school teacher survival kit: 
the things i included were items that i would have loved when i was teaching or things that i remember going "oh, man! i WISH i had thought of that!"
•mini hand sanitizers - because germs. and germs. and germs. and seriously - is it really yours if it's not monogrammed? i think we all know the answer to that. 
•candy - every teacher needs her own supply of candy. a supply that she's 100% positive little hands have never touched. 
•tylenol - no explanation needed ;-)
•air freshener - i'm telling you what, there is no smell so strong as that of a classroom full of hot, sweaty, children after an hour long PE class. and precious as they might be, those little ones often let out not so precious smells. air freshener can be a life saver….for everyone.
•personalized notepads - these are some of my favorite teacher gifts. i can make them in any colors, fonts, mascots, etc. if you're interested in ordering one you can email me or message me on my etsy page! i'd love to create one for you (or your favorite teacher!)

•snacks for the teacher - believe me, the beginning of school is crazy. especially those first few days. i remember teaching kindergarten and not having a break at all the first week of school. we had to go with our class to lunch, to PE, the playground, even wait in the bus line to make sure they all got on the correct bus. snacks were necessary since my lunch was often overlooked. 
•dry erase markers are amazing. and also sneaky. those things have a way of drying out and disappearing overnight. fresh markers and a (magnetic!) container to hold them are a prized possession in my book. ;)
•magnets, paperclips, and other little "office" odds and ends - always useful, but just more fun when they're cute. 
•band-aids - sure, there's a clinic and a school nurse, but for those little bitty (sometimes invisible) "boo-boo's" it's just easier to have your own supply than to waste class time sending a little one down to the clinic. which can sometimes take muuuuuuuch longer than you ever imagined. ;)
•lotion and chapstick - because with the amount of hand washing that goes on, you're bound to need some lotion. and chapstick helps with those windy playground days! 

i put everything in one of the plastic tubs (pictured in my collage) from target. i think it was either $2 or $3??? not expensive at all. i always try to get ones that either coordinate with the teacher's classroom or with the school colors so that she can hopefully continue to use it for storage or something useful later in the year. and my handy dandy silhouette helps make everything a bit more fun with names and polka dots! to download the FREE poem to coordinate with the basket, click HERE. (please remember this is for personal use only and to give credit where credit is due). 

i included this list of favorite things for the teacher to fill out and return home with libbi. like i said, i love knowing that i'm giving our teachers things that can use and things that they actually enjoy! it may seem a bit over the top, but i have no problem showing my appreciation for the people who take care of my baby day in and day out. no matter what you choose to do, a gift, a note, a card - it's always nice to know that you're noticed and that someone is thankful for you! 

let me know if you have any questions or any trouble with the links! i'm happy to help :)
and don't forget email me if you'd like to order a personalized notepad! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

five on friday...

my girls have a new obsession: the chipmunks…and the chipettes. there's a new alvin and the chipmunk show on tv, but we had to quit watching it. it was just a little too much sassiness and attitude and it was starting to rub off on the bigger girls. (like when i told libbi to go to her room after she was being disrespectful and she shot back "you haven't seen the last of me!" which precious little chipmunk alvin had said not 30 minutes earlier on the episode they watched) so before i started yelling,"liiiiibbbbiiiiiii!!!!!" we decided to limit the viewing of the chipmunks tv show. ;-) BUT - they have been watching the movie, "the chipmunk adventure" and they LOVE it!! i used to watch it growing up and it was one of my favorites. it's much more tame and and family friendly in my opinion than the modern day chipmunks. my girls want to watch it all the time and they sing the songs constantly. they may be a tad bit obsessed…. seeing as libbi wrote all about the chipmunks and chipettes in her journal at school. i had to laugh when i read her entry at curriculum night this week. she also told me that she wants to change her name to "britney" when she grows up (as in the chippette, not spears). and poor laney was so distraught because libbi had convinced her that her new preschool teacher is "miss miller" and we all know miss miller is not the sharpest tool in the shed. 

we've officially made it through the first two weeks of first grade. which is a record for libbi. last year she only made it through the first two DAYS of kindergarten before coming down with the plague. so we're already off to a better start! :-) now let's just pray she keeps it up. i said something the other day about "perfect attendance" and she said "what's perfect attendance?!" and i just had to laugh because i wanted to say, "my thoughts exactly." ha!

liza is talking up a storm these days. she's hit that window of "language explosion" and it's so evident. i love hearing her talk. some of our favorite things she says are "one more" "bibbi" "naney" and "i love you" but if you ask libbi and/or laney they would tell you differently. pretty sure "poopoo" and "poopoo balls" (yes, poopoo balls…don't ask) are what make them laugh hysterically. and in turn makes liza want to repeat these words over and over. it's hard raising little ladies, y'all. ;-)

this is a small confession on my part. 
my name is amy and i love internet memes. like really love them. they make me laugh more than anything. i'm embarrassed at the amount of them i have saved in my phone. there is always a perfect meme for a text message conversation (am i right or am i right, group text friends?!) ;) 
jeffrey loves when i send them to him during the day. except not. but what can i say? they sometimes mimic my life so closely that they just make me bust out laughing. 
and the very best ones in my opinion are the nene memes. they are always appropriate. 
like when jeffrey texts me and asks, "what's for supper tonight?" i can respond with
or if it's been a day and he texts and says he's stuck in traffic and will be late. i can send back
and this is pretty much the imaginary text i send laney every time she asks for a snack because she's "starving for her whole life"

i posted the other day about these DARLING custom cookie cutters that i included in our "back to school basket" for teachers. i'll be blogging about the gift baskets next week (fun stuff!) but in the meantime, check out sweet cookie cutters on instagram or check out their etsy shop Sweet Cookie Cutters they are so cute! 

happy weekend, friends! :) 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

the things no one told me about kindergarten...

when your child starts kindergarten, especially when it's your first child - your baby! - it's almost expected that you'll be a bit emotional….or in my case, a complete mess. ha! what can i say? i feel all the feelings all the time.

when libbi started kindergarten last year, i was so thankful for the community of friends and family that supported (and commiserated with) me. it made such a difference to know that there were other mommas missing their babies, too! it was also so comforting to hear from those who had "been there; done that" and were seeing their children flourish in upper elementary, middle school, high school, and beyond! many people were quick to offer advice or even share their own kindergarten memories, which definitely helped ease my anxious momma heart! it wasn't unusual for me to hear things like, "hang in there, momma!" or "you've got this!" there were encouraging words about how libbi would be "just fine" and even plenty of "she's going to love school" votes from friends and strangers alike. and i believed them, i truly did. but it didn't make it any easier to send my baby off.

now that we've survived that kindergarten year and libbi is starting first grade, there are still lots of emotions…. from me at least. ;) there's not that anxious feeling like i had before she started kindergarten, more like a nervous excitement. i don't feel like i'm entering into a great unknown, rather like i'm stepping into another adventure; one cautious foot at a time. i'm guessing it may always feel like that with the start of each new school year - with all my children…. because i'll never know exactly what the year will entail, but i'll at least have some idea of what to expect. 

i feel like my friends and family prepared me as best they could for what to expect with our kindergarten year, but looking back i realize there were a few things that no one told me. and not because they avoided telling me or because they were afraid i couldn't handle it. mostly because they were the kind of things that you might not know or understand until you've actually experienced them. the kind of thing that you don't know until you're actually in the midst of it and even then, you might not realize what you could have done until after you've made it through. kind of like you don't know how prepared (or unprepared) you are until catastrophe strikes, and then it's too late. you're in the eye of the storm, praying you make it through. when the dust finally settles, you look back and think, "now i know…." so here are the things that no one told me about my baby starting kindergarten….the things i can look back on and say, "now i know…." 

no one told me that i'd still be sad after her kindergarten year….
i'm not sure why, but i really believed that i'd be sad to see libbi start kindergarten, but that after we made it through that milestone, i'd be fine. i thought i might have a trace of wistfulness that day she started middle school, or a bittersweet feeling when she started high school, but i really believed the sadness wouldn't show itself each year. but, i have to admit that i still felt sad knowing that libbi was starting school last week. and even though i still felt sad, it's a different sadness for me than i felt last year. when she started kindergarten i was so sad to see my baby growing up. i was sad knowing that she was starting a new phase of her life where i was not needed as much as before. this year, i'm still sad about those things (because let's face it, i think being sad you're not needed as much is probably a recurring theme of motherhood) but i'm really just sad because i'll miss her.  it's never easy sending your children to spend the majority of their day with someone else after you've had them all to yourself day in and day out.

no one told me that she wouldn't miss me near as much as i miss her….
i know, i know -you're probably thinking, "get it together, lady!" but i've already warned you that i feel all the feelings, so throw me a bone. don't get me wrong, i'm thrilled that libbi loves school. and i'm thrilled that she is excited to go each day. i know that is not always the case for everyone- so for that, i am truly thankful. i think it would be so much harder if she didn't want to go each day and i was having to drag her out the door (we did have a few exhausting weeks like that in K and i can't imagine an entire year of it. bless you if you were/are going through that!) but there's still that small part of me that thinks, "really? you don't miss me at all while you're gone?" {hashtag selfish, crazy, mom} ha!

no one told me that kindergarten would steal my baby….
i worried so much about libbi starting kindergarten. i prayed and prayed that God would watch over my shy, timid, little five year old. she's young for her age (a summer baby like her momma) and i fretted way too much about how she'd handle the transition from her little preschool to actual "big girl" school. i was reassured time and time again that she'd be just fine and deep down, i knew she would. i expected her to grow academically throughout the year, but i was completely unprepared for the growth i saw in her self confidence and in the changes i could see in her demeanor. she started the year as my baby faced, anxious, unsure five year old. she ended the year as a snaggle-toothed, confident, spunky almost six year old. and in case no one has told you just yet - let me be the first to say that those kinds of changes- the ones you never see coming- those are the ones that take your breath away. 

no one told me that i'd be so proud i'd almost burst….
for some reason, this might have been one of the more surprising aspects of having a kindergartener to me. before i had my own kindergartener, i taught other parents kindergarteners. i was more than familiar with all of the kindergarten lessons, the curriculum, even different teaching strategies used. i was trained in many of them. i spent years teaching kids how to read and write. it was so gratifying to see children learning and knowing i had a hand in it. and yet, it still stopped me in my tracks to hear my own child read. to see my own child's hand written stories (stories, y'all!) and to hear her excitement over learning a new skill. i suddenly felt an instant connection with all those annoying parents that constantly brag on their kids and post every little accomplishment they've ever even thought about making. it took some serious restraint for me not to become one of those people. ha! i'd spent years witnessing the accomplishments of kindergarteners throughout different school years, but there are no words to describe how incredibly proud and amazed i felt at the accomplishments of my own kindergartener. 

no one told me that i'd blink and kindergarten would be over…
seriously. i know it may not feel like it right now, but before you know it your kindergartener will be in first grade. i didn't believe it either, but somehow after all my feelings and emotions and dramatics ;-) it happened. and here we are. in first grade. 
and i'm seeing my sweet girl smiling and feeling confident as she starts a new school year.  the more things change, the more they stay the same, right? i'm still so proud i could burst. and i'm still crying on the first day. so there's that. but i feel a peace in my heart knowing that she's growing and changing and coming into her own. and i feel unbelievably thankful that she still held tightly to my hand as we walked into school on the first day of first grade.  

Friday, July 24, 2015


liza june, somehow i blinked and you turned two! i look back on this past year and i'm in awe of how much you've grown. from the little curls on your head to your expanding vocabulary this past year has been full of changes for you. when i wrote your "one year old" post last year for your first birthday, there were so many things about you that i still didn't know. you were my precious baby and i loved every bit of you, and yet at the same time, you were still a bit of a mystery. 

that first year, i would watch you literally growing and changing every single day right in front of my eyes. while it was amazing to witness all the new milestones, it made it difficult to pin down your little personality because you were constantly changing. after all, you were only 12 months old. how could i know all of your likes and dislikes when you weren't even sure of them yourself. i mean, you weren't even eating a full diet of "solid" foods at the time. how could i expect you (or me!) to know what your favorite food was?!  it's crazy for me to think that just five short months ago, i was still nursing you. although at the time, it seemed like there was no end in sight, now…. i'd give anything for just one more midnight feeding where it's just me and you. 

this year, on your second birthday, i still feel like there is still more to learn - because isn't there always? - but i also feel confident in the fact that i know much more about who you are. little nuances of your personality, likes, dislikes, fears, favorites - all things that i feel like i've learned about you this past year.   i know there are so many more to come (and i'm sure many of these will change, because….you're a girl and that's what we do.) ;-) but for now, i wanted to document the things that i know and love about you, my two year old liza girl. 

i know that you wake up with completely crazy hair every single morning. and for that matter, nap time hair doesn't disappoint either.  the cowlicks of your baby days are still going strong and paired with your new curls - your hair is a force to be reckoned with. and we love it. your sisters think it's hilarious and i have to admit that i do too. 

i know that you love to eat. and you pretty much eat anything we give you. there are very few foods that i've found you don't like. if libbi and laney ate like you, suppertime would be so much easier. so - do your best to tell your sisters what they're missing out on. ;)

i know that this next trait i'm hesitant to even say out loud, because we all know that once it's spoken aloud (or typed), it can have the reverse effect. but for posterity's sake, i'll take the chance…
 i know that you are an excellent sleeper. you love your sleep...and i love that you love your sleep. :) you go to bed every night right around 7:30 and will sleep until 8:15 or so the next morning. again, if you could pass on to your sisters how amazing it is to sleep through the night and actually stay in bed past dawn…. that would be awesome. 

i know that you have two sisters who adore you. uh-dore you! they love to make you laugh. they cheer you on when you accomplish new skills. they teach you various words (some i appreciate, some i do not….). they laugh hysterically when you do something funny. and they still fight over who can go in to "talk to liza first" every.single.morning. it's been more than two full years since you've joined our family, and libbi and laney STILL fight over who can talk to you first in the morning. craziness! i would have thought the novelty might have worn off a bit by now. 

i know that you love peppa pig. i'm pretty sure you wish she was your third sister. or maybe you even think she is. ha! every night after bath, you'll get one of the chairs from the playroom and drag it into the living room. you then find the remote and yell, "PEPPA!" with a few snorts thrown in. you definitely love your downtime of watching peppa. 

i know that you've got some moves. you are a dancing queen! we have many a dance party at the tippins casa and you are always right in the middle breaking it down. you love music and signing. anything from the itsy bitsy spider to taylor swift's bad blood. you have a very broad repertoire of songs. 

i know that you have the sweetest heart. i can already tell that you're a bit of a people pleaser, but i pray that you'll be able to stand up for yourself when it's needed…much like you scream bloody murder at your sisters if they get near your stuff. 

i know that you have a little sense of humor. you love to make us laugh! your current favorite game is for us to ask you, "what's your name?" and you'll answer, "buddy" and laugh. we say, "you're not buddy! what's your name?" and you'll answer "mimzy." again we say, "you're not mimzy! what is your name?" and the game goes on and on with you calling yourself every name except your own. finally, you throw your arms in the air and say, "I'M LIZA!" 

i know that you are not a fan of clothing. or diapers. but i have to draw the line somewhere. you scream if you have to get dressed and more often than not, as soon as we come back home you're pulling at your clothes and trying to take them off. 

i know that you love to be held. you would let me hold you all day and rock you all night. and truthfully, i don't mind it one bit. 

i know that i am thankful each and every day that The Lord saw fit to make me your momma. 

i know that because of you, God's grace is more evident to me than it's ever been. 

i know that every smile, every kiss, every breath is a gift. 

i know that you are, without a doubt, one of my greatest blessings. 

i know that year two is going to be a big year for you my sweet liza girl. i can't wait to see what's in store!