Unfortunately, there are a fair amount of late nights around here when the school year is in full speed. Despite any late bedtimes, Sean is always up early to run or workout before leaving for school. So when I brought him lunch at school for his birthday a few weeks ago (along with these peanut butter bars...which I did not mess up too badly) I brought him some supplies...
Mint gum, mini cans of coke and a jar of peanut m&ms.
Now at least he is a little better prepared to put up with his night owl wife.
I have used this cake recipe time and time again (from the Cake Doctor) and add various things in like toffee chips or chocolate mints. This time I had a leftover bag of mini marshmallows so I tossed them in the batter and they melted into the cake to make it extra good.
Chocolate Marshmallow Pound Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup bundt pan generously with cooking spray. In a large bowl use an electric mixer to blend together cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs until well combined. By hand, stir in 3 cups mini marshmallows. Pour batter into bundt pan and bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for 20 minutes. Run a long knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto the rack to cool completely. Or remove to a cake plate and serve slices while it is still warm.
Clothespins covered in washi tape (with tacks glued on the back) for my office wall.
In the grand scheme of school year weekends, this one was a really good one. Lunches and dinners are prepped for the week. Our master bathroom is clean, beds are freshly made, our house is dusted and vacuumed and our cars are washed (all thanks to Sean). The pantry, freezer and fridge are all cleaned out and reorganized. And fifteen out of seventeen things on my current school to do list got checked off. Granted the last two are some of the biggest, including recording a couple of online lectures. I finally noticed (three week's into the semester) that pretty much every time I share an example in a lecture (in person or recorded) I keep saying, "Or whatever the case may be". Those poor kids listening must think I am nuts.
Or whatever the case may be.
Some version of cinnamon harvest apple vanilla pumpkin spice cider candles have been burning constantly.
The iced salted caramel mocha consumption could easily get out of hand.
The mantle is decorated with pumpkins and leaves.
And the air conditioning is running 24/7.
Minus that last detail, it is almost like fall around here.
In fact, this leaf was in the driveway today after a bit of a rainstorm. (We will just ignore that it was actually 100 degrees here when the rain started.)
The first football game is tomorrow night and Mac's cheer coaches decided that this year the teams would have big and little sis match-ups.
Or in our case a Big Mac...since we're super cheesy like that.
Somehow Mac ended up being the only person on the team with two little sis's. It's almost like the coaches knew he and his mom would be totally into this gift giving thing. Because, now that I have been working with them for almost two years, the coaches are well aware of my endless pursuit of all things cute.
Mac and I immediately were thinking the same thing...a cheer emergency kit. We got little cosmetic bags and filled them with bobby pins, band-aids, hair ties, chapstick, a mini hairspray bottle, mints and kleenex.
And then they had to be wrapped up with a school colors pom pom, right?
This semester's class planner edition is starting to fill up fast. My favorite part is the inside cover page (borrowed from a cute screen saver).
Hopefully it works as a reminder that, no matter how much there is to do this fall semester, it's good stuff.
Wisdom teeth removed, finishing summer school, wedding anniversary, lots of cheerleading stuff, Sean starting his school year three weeks earlier, syllabus writing and rewriting and editing and double-checking and rewriting, college workshops, after-school coaching, the beginning of a senior year, Sean's birthday this past weekend, and that's it for August.
My new newly relocated office at school (including the chair I covered).
Um, this first week was no joke.
I worked everyday from 8am until 10pm.
I typed, "Thank you so much for your interest. Unfortunately, the class is full", in what felt like one thousand emails.
I sweat my way through a classroom barely having air conditioning on a 95 degree day. Super attractive.
I checked my online class constantly...terrified that it wouldn't work. (minus a couple small glitches, it totally worked)
I couldn't find parking, despite getting to campus three hours before my class. I ended up having to pay to park despite already purchasing a $65 parking pass for the semester. State schools are just the best.
I had ants crawling all over my stuff in the community college classroom. Apparently they are all through the building. Awesome.
And yet I still really, really love my job.
We can add the senior year official leaving for school portrait to yesterday's collection of photos. This was the first time in high school that he wasn't off to an early morning cheer practice before performing in the welcome assembly...since they scheduled it for the second day of school this year.
Mac's schedule includes culinary arts, digital photography, a life skills class and government.
I'm super jealous, I want to go to school with him to cook, take pictures, learn how to handle life and to discuss what the heck is going on with this presidential election stuff.
(Oh and I only started to tear up for a second...and Mac totally laughed at me)
I cannot imagine that tomorrow will be tear free as I take Mac's last first day of school photos for high school. I decided to further rip my heart out and dig through computer files to gather as many first day of school photos as I could. Where does time go???
And in continuing with my endless sappiness I also gathered these...laughing, jumping, yawning, rolling his eyes and always humoring his mom who has always insisted on taking dozens of photos.
And I am so glad I did.
You know I love some teacher gift giving...especially the first day of school. I have transferred most of my teacher gift obsession into making something for my department's administrative assistants and my office mates.
This year my brainstorming resulted in making a box of snacks. The gift was actually the boxes (which I have loved packing lunches in), but I thought it would be much more fun to give with snacks in them.
I suppose it was a pretty random idea, but this ended up being my favorite first day of school gift so far.
It's officially all school all the time around here now. The semester starts today. Mac starts his senior year on Wednesday. Sean's already been in school for what feels like months even though it's two weeks.
One of the many new school years tasks I finished up this weekend was to mail a little something to my niece in Iowa and my little sister in Oklahoma. I couldn't resist the patterns on these school supplies.
Where was this stuff when I was in 4th grade? Can you imagine if I had grown up with washi tape? I would have covered my room, my locker, and anything else I could think of with it.
Catching up on the last three days. After a day full of trainings and weeks filled with class planning, I spent late Friday morning using a gift card I had saved to get a massage and a facial...best idea I have ever had. Mac wandered around the mall while I was at the spa, so we met back up in time for lunch. We had a football barbecue to be at in the early evening. Cheerleaders were in charge of bringing drinks, plates and napkins. I held my breath hoping that families would bring enough (apathy can often run rampant in our group). I was so happy to see that I was wrong for worrying. After the barbecue we rushed to my nephew's first flag football game and went out to dinner with everyone afterwards.
Cheer photos down at the beach at 7:45am. Farmers market afterwards for a little fruit and hummus (sun dried tomato/spinach & feta). Sean's car is a little too old (thankfully he fixed it this weekend). Speaking of old, we finally replaced the last rickety old chair at the kitchen table. I was sentimental about it...as I am about pretty much everything. Mac went with his dad's family for the night so Sean and I got slightly gussied up and went to dinner. I realized I haven't really worn shoes all summer...which means next week at work is probably going to feel awesome.
The fridge before and after. It was cleaned out and refilled with food prepped for the week. Sean and I watched an episode of Astronaut Wives. I put together gifts I'll share soon. I have my class planner ready just in time for the semester to start tomorrow. I spent pretty much the entire afternoon on last minute details (with iced coffee of course). Love when Paddington smushes himself right next to me.
So, that's it...another week in our life captured. This time it felt a little different, since I am a little more used to capturing random details throughout the week to keep up with my Project Life book, but this still contains way more little bits. Love that it's always a different week on the calendar and that the busy week before I start the school year is saved to look back on. Can't wait for the next round...
Holy heck there was a lot of school training today...eight hours between the two schools. And one more CASA training tonight. My chair at the state school is always super thoughtful and gets us all gift bags, This time they had a mug and white board markers. When I had an hour at home between the two schools it was iced coffee and sitting in bed answering student emails, "No, I'm sorry, you probably won't be able to add my class next week" over and over. After the last training for the day I decided that I needed breadsticks and alfredo sauce...an amazingly nutritious choice. And when I got home, as is the case on most days I'm at work, I put away all the bracelets I have scattered around on my dresser from putting together a color combo for the day.
I got to have my favorite breakfast half a sourdough english muffin, "four" pieces of bacon which is two that I cut in half and a small cup of iced coffee. You know I have lots of school work to do when I find something to scrub down around the house...today it was the guest bathroom. I put together a greek salad to take to my cousins whose baby just had surgery. I had big calendars printed out again (like last year) to keep track of everything this fall. Here's the file if you need them too... Download End of 2016 Calendar I have them printed at Staples on 18x24 inch paper for $1.99 each. And between the treadmill, errands and a walk tonight with Sean I had a pretty active day.
A little treadmill-ing before and after I dropped Mac off at cheer practice. Didn't wake up early enough to walk as much as I wanted before leaving at 8:45am...which is pathetic. Handled cheer tasks while Mac was at practice. Spent the rest of the day working on my fourth and final syllabus. I tried the self timer and learned that my posture is atrocious. The kitchen had a sink stuffed with dishes. Icepacks on my neck and shoulder after hours at the computer. Finishing the day at an evening training with Sean.
Mac running out of the house after having to dash back in twice before leaving for registration. Senior year registration! Two hours of standing in lines later he was done and on his way to cheer practice. He hates the photo on his ID for some reason, but I think it's cute. I had pre-semester trainings to attend at the community college...thankfully they were good ones. Being up by school meant being able to grab a favorite turkey avocado sandwich to bring home for lunch. I had to be back at the community college for a late afternoon training too. We had a quick takeout dinner, walked the dogs a couple times around the block and I was off to a mini cheer camp meeting. Finally back home for a walk before being super lazy for the last couple hours of the day. I should have done some work...but oh well.
I received my order of thirty or so printed Project Life pages last week. I have been consistently making pages, but hadn't had them printed since March. It made me so happy to slip these into page protectors and see how many details have been captured.
On Monday I sent Sean a photo of my sad lunch alone when he went back to work (although the sandwich was actually really good and I am obsessed with those maui onion chips). And this week there were dahlias on the kitchen table that Sean brought home after grocery shopping.
It's the first weekend as we ease into the school year. And we'll probably spend a good chunk of it working on school stuff...but at least it'll be together, at home, in comfy clothes, with the air conditioner cranked.
There are just some ideas that you see and they immediately help you reach your "make sure life is cute and colorful" goal. Washi-taped tea lights was that kind of idea.
I have found it to be the most helpful for the fun stuff that we hope to do, like go to the movies or something. That way in case we can't get there (for instance we did not make it to the fair this week because Mac has had so much cheer practice) it's easy to move around to the future or easily take it off altogether.
I have a pack of them in two different sizes and would love to share a sheet of each, if you want to try them out. I can send them to three people...just leave a "pick me" and I'll email you next week.
Although my right hand is back to normal now (thank goodness gracious), last month I learned the last step of healing is similar to a sunburn. Peeling. Yuck.
I tried to think of an exfoliant to help it along and figured a salt scrub or something equally harsh would not be a good choice. So I came up with something I will continue to use well beyond burn healing, since it worked well and was really soothing.
I used my mini food processor to grind up some oatmeal and then mixed it with olive oil. All I had to do was lightly rub my hands together and rinse off the oatmeal. The olive oil stays behind and soaks in as a moisturizer. I kept a little container of the ground oatmeal and would mix a palmful with the oil each day. Even now that everything is healed, I have been mixing it up to use once or twice a week. Wanted to share the idea in case you need a gentle, but effective scrub.
Last summer I prepped for a fall semester full of classes I had already taught. This summer I am prepping for a semester full of classes I have never really taught. It has been a drastic difference in the workload...thinking about it, it's the most work I've had so far.
I get my first Introduction to Women's Studies class...woohoo! One school changed Sociology of Women to a new title, Sociology of Gender, and tried to tell me it's actually the same class...based on the female focused topics I had before, I am going back to the drawing board.
As for Intro to Sociology...I have taught it eleven times now, but this time it will be an online class (so much more prep!) and I volunteered to move my on campus class to an after school class at a local high school. As someone who originally dreamed of teaching in a high school, I am super excited.
I have been working every day for weeks and there is no end in sight. Thankfully I think it's pretty fun to come up with new ideas and organize what seems to be a million details.
As of this morning, Sean is back at work with his school year starting this Wednesday. He loves the first day...I am usually melancholy about the carefree days of summer coming to an end. Especially this year when they are coming to an end almost three weeks earlier.
Yet in our five days of vacation (between me finishing summer school last Wednesday and him back at work today) we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on the 6th. We were just at home with Mac recovering from his wisdom teeth surgery, but Sean still made it a great day.
He raided my cardstock scraps and left me 16 notes around the house. And even had a 17th one as the clock struck midnight at the end of the day.
It was the simplest, sweetest thing...and has me missing him even more than usual today.
For eighteen it was cake batter pancakes and scalloped tissue paper...nineteen was a marble cake with cream cheese icing, big painted numbers and ombrè paper mobiles. Mac appreciates the details, so it makes it extra fun to work on them.
This time last week we were putting all of this together for a little family birthday dinner for Mac...granted "little" still meant over twenty people.
It's been on my to-do list forever and ever to cover up the ugly chair that the school placed in my office for students visiting my office hours. I finally brought it home to tackle before the school year starts. Today Sean helped me unscrew the seat and cover it with linen (it was the only fabric I had a big enough piece in...apparently all 150,000 other fabrics I have are in a 1/2 yard or less). I then took a favorite fabric I've been saving for something good and sewed a cover to slip over the top. It was a 45 minute project that took me almost three years to actually complete.
To celebrate his birthday, Mac wanted to head to Los Angeles for the day. We got to have brunch at a restaurant he really wanted to try, we stopped by the Urban Light sculpture that he has always wanted to see and he got to go shopping at one of his very favorite stores.
Sean and I decided last weekend that we would stay the night by the convention center so we could go see some of the World Game events. We got see the bocce competition, handball, roller skating, badminton, table tennis, and power lifting. It was amazing...the entire atmosphere was one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever been lucky enough to have.
The last time we went on vacation it was for 27 hours and that was fifteen months ago. This trip was about the same amount of time...but it's amazing how fun it can be to wander around a bit, eat all the free hors d'oeuvres the hotel is offering and take some time to relax.
The most recent photo I have of Mac is from last week about to board the bus on his way to cheer camp...for the last time. I was ridiculously weepy about that.
Despite the photo background, I love that he spent three days carefully organizing and packing for cheer camp, that he is so enthusiastic about what he is interested in and how his happiness beams out of his smile.
Happy Birthday Mac! Nineteen is going to be an awesome year...and I promise I will try not to cry too much during all these "last time"s. Love you...
Three years ago I shared about my purse organization. I usually carry a pretty large purse in case I need to toss extra stuff in, however this summer I got a small cross-body bag for just the essentials. Granted my definition of "essential" clearly comes from a deep internalization of the "be prepared" lesson from my time as a Girl Scout.
It probably should be noted that my "time" as a Girl Scout was a single school year...third grade...Troop 227...but apparently it made an impact.
So if you need a measuring tape or something to floss your teeth, please know I'll be prepared to help.
My right hand is completely healed...my mom has been trying amazingly hard to be on the mend and has gone back to her house (.7 of a mile down the street) and Sean has exactly two weeks left of summer vacation (he has three weeks between summer school ending and his school year starting on August 10th).
In typical "Nora" fashion, I printed a schedule and to do list for these next couple of weeks. There is not-so-fun stuff like a heap of yard work or Mac's wisdom teeth surgery...but there is also lots-of-fun stuff like Mac's nineteenth birthday dinner and going to a day of the Special Olympics World Games.
And hopefully there will be plenty of blogging. I've missed it...
Here is a big pot of chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove late in the afternoon on a stormy Saturday. There was actual thunder and lighting and it was awesome.
And on the not-so-awesome list right now is my mom's complicated recovery from total knee surgery. She had it early last week and has been staying with us recovering...which is why it has been quiet around here. I have been busy working on my care-taking skills while my mom has been busy being stoic despite numerous set-backs. I actually was asked if I was a nurse at one point while I was writing notes on the medication timeline we started right away when she got to our house.
My answer was, "No, I'm not a nurse, I was just raised by one."
If I did anything right this week and it's because my mom taught me how. When I threw a fit or two and cried that, unfortunately, was all me.
I'll be back around here soon...
My mom has taught me to always write down the name of who you spoke with and what date/time you spoke to them for any important phone call. When I put together a planner for her birthday gift this year I made her a couple different kinds of pages, including one for phone call notes.
You can print your own from this PDF... Download Phone Call Notes
Somehow, the week after the 4th of July is when I manage to become very aware that summer is going really, really fast. If I actually want to get anything accomplished, either for work or for fun, I better pick up the pace.
So this week's work goal is to organize a darn good chunk of my new Women's Studies class. My fun goal is to finally spend time with this stack of books I got for my birthday two months ago.
The tomato harvest is in full swing...the bread and salt tomatoes have the coolest shape. Loved seeing our house full of friends and family on the 4th of July. Then Sunday afternoon meant watching soccer on the screen I surprised Sean with on Father's Day (a long-awaited upgrade from the ceiling).
Summer weekends are the best.
Earlier this week we brainstormed this year's 4th of July party menu so grocery shopping could be done. We always have hot dogs, baked beans and potato salad, but I also like to check my Pinterest boards for a couple new ideas and couldn't remember what couple new ideas I tried last year. That's when I realized I really need to start keeping track of parties...since I often run into this issue with the different parties we host each year.
I should know better, because my Thanksgiving book is surprisingly helpful each year. Each party I always write lists, menus and notes anyway, but now they will be cuter and I'm saving them to refer back to. I also made a little spot to jot down anything I should change in the future.
I'll share each one as I make them. Here's the first one, barely in time, if you're hosting a celebration this weekend...Download 4th of July Party Planner Page
I have realized this week that everything is pretty ridiculously challenging without both your hands. I had this life lesson figured out by Friday morning and texted Mac to tell him, since he was out of town with his Dad...
"In case you were ever wondering, life is really hard with one hand. You are pretty amazing".
Mac's diagnosis of cerebral palsy has meant he only uses his right hand about 20% of the time. He has lived almost nineteen years with basically one hand. He is so good at it, that most of the time it's too easy to forget that he is accomplishing everything one handed.
My hand has continued to be wrapped up with burn cream and healing this week...Sean helps me clean and change the bandages a couple times a day. I have been really lucky that it doesn't hurt at all and is doing pretty well, all things considered.
I was hoping a patterned paper background would help make a stupid injury look a little cuter.
Last night I cooked a steak...seared it and then put the saute pan in a 400 degree oven. I took it out, put it on the stove, forgot the pan had been in the oven, grabbed the handle, lost my ever-loving mind from the pain, and went to the urgent care with second degree burns.
Since I will be one-handed for a little bit, there will probably be very little typing around here. I'll be back soon...
Tonight was our first concert in the park for the summer. We might not be able to get to many since both cities right by our house have concerts on Wednesdays and Mac has competition cheer team practice scheduled on that night. But Sean and I got to see a U2 cover band, break in the camping chair love seat he got me for Mother's Day this year and had a dinner that pretty much came straight from the grocery store.
I gathered together roasted garlic bread, turkey, salami, prosciutto, provolone, olive tapenade, goat cheese and crackers. Dessert was also picked up the grocery store...coconut macaroons and brownie bites. Then there might have been a bottle of raspberry hard cider too.
Last week I hosted the cheer booster board meeting that kicks off my final year as the president. I put together binders for the half dozen board members this year...which is one of my very favorite tasks. I feel that cute office supplies make everything better.
This week I am working on the welcome barbecue coming up on Saturday and the big fundraiser when we host a booth at the city's 3rd of July fireworks show.
It's taken two solid years and a 1,000 hours of work to feel like I might finally have a little knowledge and capability. My goal this year is write as many notes & lists as I can, so the next booster president is as prepared as I can possibly help them be.
With the Ten times Eighty-Two attempt (still going strong, although I inevitably missed a couple days already), I wanted a little journal to make collages (which was inspired by this project) or to smear watercolors around in. Some cardboard, watercolor paper, and loose-leaf rings turned into a book very quickly.
Hopefully I'll have it all filled up with "not art" by the end of the summer.