10 Things I’ve Learned After the First Week Back to School

School has been in session for a little over a week now. It feels like they’ve been back for four months already. Anyone else feel that way too? It’s weird.

Even though this is not my first time at the rodeo, I always feel like the new school year teaches me something new…besides how to do common core math, which by the way is ridiculous.

It doesn’t take long to be reminded why I actually look forward to the summer and days off. Between work, school, activities, and meetings…it feels like it should be wine o’clock all day long!

So, what have I learned since we hit the play button on the new school year?

  1. I hate making school lunches. If the school lunch menu gods would understand that my kids don’t eat pancakes and French toast sticks for lunch then maybe I wouldn’t have to make sandwiches that I hate to make and I know they hate eating.
  2. There is no “fun” in fundraisers. Yes, I know they idea is to raise “funds” and not have “fun”, but I still find the name deceiving. It’s no fun seeing family members cringe when your child walks up to them with their trusty little sheet and book of “goodies”.
  3. Realizing you’re giving up half your day on Saturdays to sports. I proudly wear the title of soccer mom, but when you have two kids on two different teams, that’s your Saturday in a nutshell. The bigger problem is realizing you’ll have to use the porta potty if you opt for the medium coffee over the small.
  4. Apparently a closet full of clothes=nothing to wear. Funny how I was ready to poke my eyes out with a  spork while doing back-to-school clothes shopping, yet my kids tell me they have nothing to wear. My wallet tells me otherwise. Perhaps I need to get their eyes checked. By the way, uniforms were so much easier.
  5. My kids are allergic to waking up early. That is the only explanation. Riddle me this…in the summer they were ready to jump in the pool by 8 a.m., yet we can’t get up at 7 a.m. no matter how early we’ve gone to sleep.
  6. I don’t care where everyone in class sits. While I love to know who is in my kids’ classes and who they’re having lunch with, I don’t need to know where everyone sits and how many feet away they are from the door. If Jenny sits directly across from Michael who sits next to Thomas, that’s great, but I don’t care.
  7. I can’t keep every worksheet my kids do at school. I love seeing what my kids do at school, but am I supposed to keep every piece of work? Who has the space for all that paper? Why in creation do my kids think we need to keep everything? Yes, I know it’s special because they did it, but that work can still be special somewhere else…like not all over my house.
  8. My car is a disaster. All of a sudden, my car is full of soccer cleats, socks, shin guards and half-empty water bottles (okay, a lot of those are mine). It’s chaos in the car. I’d much rather go back to when sand in the car was public enemy number one.
  9. Getting to bed on time must be an Olympic sport. It seems like we’re jumping through hoops to try to get to bed on time every night. It’s a 100 meter dash that we are desperately losing. It seems that everyone is dehydrated or needs to give me the answer to a question I asked five hours ago just as we’re going trying to get to bed. In this event, we’re barely getting the bronze.
  10. I can’t do third grade math “right”. If my daughter has a question about her homework, I’ve tried to help but I’m told I’m not doing it “right”. Hmmm…but I know the answer is right! It’s downright annoying.

As the year progresses I’m sure I’ll learn many more life lessons! For now, it’s time to pack lunches and secretly hide all of those worksheets that have wallpapered my home!

Why I’ve Decided to Lead a Cursive Crusade in my House

The other night my girls were getting ready for bed when my 7-year-old daughter was looking at a book and said something that blew me away.

As she pointed to a page where someone had signed their name, she said, “Look, she wrote her name in cursive.”

I froze.


Right away I asked her how she even knew what that was because I know she hasn’t learned it in school. She went on to tell me that one of her classmates writes her name in cursive.


Wait, it gets better.

“Mom, I want to learn how to write my name in cursive.”

So, I said what any penmanship award winning mom who grew up in the 80s and 90s would say, “I’ll teach you.”

After I put my kids to bed I began to think about how cursive has become the black sheep of the writing world. It was something I thought about before, but never really zeroed in on to be honest with you. Since Common Core standards don’t require teachers to teach cursive writing in schools anymore, many kids don’t even know what it is. When they hear the word cursive, they probably think it’s some kind of disease.

I know I sound like my mother, but “when I was growing up” there was a big emphasis on cursive writing. I remember the upper and lower case cursive letters hung around the top of the chalkboard all around the classroom so that we could always be reminded of what the letters looked like. We also had those papers with the dotted lines so that we could practice our penmanship. Cursive was where it was at.

Not now.

Fast forward 30 years and we are raising a generation of cursive-illiterate printers.

Here are some questions to all of those who have written off cursive. How are our kids going to sign documents when they grow up if they don’t know cursive? How are they going to sign checks? Will they even know what a “signature” is? Are they just going to print for the rest of their lives?

I know there are a lot of people who could care less about cursive writing, that’s probably why it’s no longer mandatory in schools. But, I care and I find it a sad commentary on our little society.

As a society we’ve thrown out so many of the “old school” things that used to be important and have value. Things like cursive writing for one. What have we gotten in return? Technology? Tablets and phones? Sure. While technology has helped in many ways, it’s also created a generation of kids who don’t have the social skills to have a conversation that doesn’t involve a text message. Many kids would be outraged if they could no longer text. But, not learning how to write in cursive doesn’t faze them in the least. OMG! BTW we need to bring back cursive kids!

I’m excited that my 7-year-old daughter wants to learn cursive. Although I wish it was still mandatory in school, I’m ready to take on the challenge of teaching her. Maybe I’ll even break out my old penmanship award for inspiration. Perhaps cursive will make a comeback like the boy bands of the 90s. Until then I’ll be leading the cursive crusade in my house so my daughter will always have the “write stuff”.


Sponsored Post: Great Learning Tools for Kids from Kadho

Meet Mochu. He’s an animated penguin who takes his job very seriously.

Meet Mochu! Courtesy: Kadho, Inc.

Meet Mochu!
Courtesy: Kadho, Inc.

He wants to help your babies and toddlers develop and learn sounds. He’s all about great games and eBooks designed to entertain and engage your children and develop their brains.

Kadho has developed Mochu along with a new generation of resources aimed at taking all of those “goo-goo gaga” sounds to the next level. Scientists and early childhood educators have teamed up to create a line of products aimed at making the most out of sound and language. Research shows paying attention to and distinguishing between sounds plays a pivotal role in how children learn as they get older.

If you’re a little shy about using technology to help teach children, don’t be. It’s all around us and it’s not going anywhere. So why not use it to our advantage? In moderation, screen time can actually help a child, if monitored and used correctly.

Take the Mochu Pop game for example. This game lets kids have the fun of popping balloons while hearing sounds that make up languages like English, Spanish, and Italian…just to name a few.  While kids think they are just playing a game, they’re actually learning language skills that may otherwise be hard to teach. The game is geared for ages five and under. So, if you have more than one little person at home, you can experience different levels.

Although the game is top notch, I have to admit, my favorite is the eBook, “Mochu Says Goodnight.” I love it for kids for several reasons. Let’s start with the storyline. Poor little Mochu can’t fall asleep. I’m sure many parents and children can relate to that problem all too well! So, he goes on a little journey to say goodnight to all his friends as he tries to fall asleep.

Then comes the all-important words on the bottom of the screen. I find these helpful for toddlers learning words. They can see them as they are being read and match the sounds they are hearing at the same time. If that weren’t enough, they are hearing different words in different languages.

You can monitor the sounds your child can recognize through Kadho’s parental dashboard. This allows you to keep track of what sounds from what languages your child actually knows. This way you know what you need to work on. It’s a great tool to keep your child’s learning organized and moving in the right direction.

When it comes to teaching our kids, I think we need to be open to everything. Products like Mochu Pop and various eBooks are useful and unique tools that can only help your child succeed.

*This is a sponsored post.


Monday’s Mommas: Nicole from Mommy Talk

We all know how hard it can be to keep things interesting when it comes to learning at home. Besides flash cards and worksheets, it’s always good to spice things up a bit.

This week, Nicole from Mommy Talk, shares a great idea to teach your kids addition.

Check out her Addition Bingo, in this week’s Monday’s Mommas segment!


Addition Bingo

My boys have been getting bored with their addition flash cards, so I asked a teacher friend if she had any ideas on how to make it more interesting and she suggested addition bingo!!

I tried it, and it was a hit!! So I thought I would share for any other parents out there looking for fun ideas to do with your kids to teach them addition (and really any kind of math for that matter.. this would work for subtraction, multiplication, division). But for today’s purposes we will talk about addition.

So what I did was make a Bingo sheet (not the fanciest or nicest bingo board out there but I wanted something quick and easy and this does the trick) 😉 On the board I put all the answers of the flash cards I already had made. When I held up the flash card, I read the problem out loud to them (so they are visually seeing it and also hearing it, which I like so that they are able to solve the problem either way in the future by looking at it or just by hearing it), they figure out the answer in their heads and then find that number on their board (which is good for quick number recognition as well).

Once they find the answer they can put a marker on that number. My boys wanted to use chocolate chips as their markers haha, so we made this an “after dinner” activity and they got to eat the chocolate chips as dessert when we were done 🙂 So basically who ever got the numbers in one row or column first won!! And you can play as many times as you want which makes it fun for the “competitive” type kids 🙂


nicole dellAbout the author: Nicole is a stay at home mommy of three sweet babies who loves to bargain shop, loves all things dessert, loves to write, loves to be with her kids and loves Christ. She and her husband Mike have been together for 15 years and married for almost 10 years. A lot has happened in her life the last few years, and through it she started writing again. Mostly on paper… sometimes just in her head or in the notes section of her phone… eventually she knew she wanted to take it a step farther so she started her blog as an outlet of sorts. A way to feel more in-tuned with herself, while also reaching others. Be sure to check out her blog!


This Post Brought to You by the Letter "e"

It’s funny how we take things for granted. Putting one foot in front of the other, feeding ourselves without dropping everything on the floor, reading, writing…these are all things that we know how to do now, but can’t remember ever learning. We just do them. Well, when you’re a kid, these things are like learning ten languages at once. I never really thought about it until I started teaching my daughter how to write her alphabet.

Sure, she’s learning these things at school, but I’m a firm believer that these lessons need to be reinforced at home. So, over the summer my now four year-old and I took on the mission of learning to write her name. Let me tell you, it has been a lot harder than I thought. I mean, how hard can it be to look at a letter and then imitate it over and over again? Well, it’s hard. Really hard.

I have to say I am lucky because my daughter actually wants to learn and thinks its fun. Oh yeah, she is my kid! So, almost everyday over the summer we practiced writing her name over and over again. I can honestly tell you she improved each and every time. We kept looking back at her old writing and we could both definitely see the difference.

By the time school started earlier this month, we had her name done…all except that pesky “e”. Big “E” was easy, but his little brother proved to be a pain in the alphabet. No matter how hard we tried or how much we practiced there was just something about it that stumped my daughter more than the hardest “Where’s Waldo” picture you could find. But that all changed a few nights ago when she picked up an empty toilet paper roll. You see, one night after bath I changed the toilet paper roll and she took it to play with so she could be a pirate. After a few minutes of looking for treasure, she took it into her playroom. I was in the kitchen when all of a sudden I heard, “Mommy, you have to come here and see this.” Inside I was thinking, oh no, what happened now? Is there more crayon on the wall? Did Barbie lose an arm? Thankfully it was none of those. Surprisingly though it was the letter “e” written pretty nicely in purple crayon on the empty toilet paper roll.

“I did it, I did it!” My daughter yelled loudly, beaming with pride. She knew the pesky “e” was that summer fly we could never get rid of. But that night, she swatted it. I was so proud! I felt like our hours of practice really did pay off. I don’t know what happened, but something must have clicked at the moment allowing her to write that “e”. She was so excited. She brought it to school the next day to show her teachers. I believe now it’s on a bulletin board in class! At least, that’s what she told me, although I haven’t seen it yet!

With all of that said, duplicating that “e” has been difficult. We don’t get it all the time. But, we try. That’s all I can ask for. I’m so glad my daughter is learning that hard work (and toilet paper rolls) do pay off. Now, on to that empty paper towel roll…

Trapper Keepers & A New School Year

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always loved the first day school. I loved the smell of new notebooks and pencils. I loved picking out new shoes for my school uniform and I really, really loved picking out a new Trapper Keeper. Yeah, I know I’m a weirdo. But, it’s the honest truth.

Besides the new Trapper Keeper and color coded folders, I think I’ve always liked a new school year because it signifies a beginning. Everyone gets a fresh start. There is the promise of something new. There is the anticipation and, of course, the fear of what lies ahead. There is so much to learn, so much to be discovered.

Although my school days are a part of history, I can still enjoy the start of a new school year vicariously through my children. I knew I had them for a reason! Even though my daughter is only in Pre-K and not yet fully invested in the whole school thing, I’m still excited.What can I say? I guess I’m still a bit of a nerd at heart.

I can’t wait to see all the projects she’s going to bring home. I can’t wait to hear about all the things she is going to learn.  I can’t wait to pack her little snacks. I could go on for days about all the things that I’m excited about, but you would probably fall asleep.

I always think of the beginning of the school year as a great time to start new things and new routines, no matter what age you are. It’s a great time to kick start a workout regime or maybe just work towards some type of personal goal. I know I have a lot of things in mind myself once I turn that calendar to September, which by the way is something else I love…switching the calendar to start a new month, but I digress. Anyway, I think you get the drift. This self-proclaimed nerd can’t wait for the start of the school year! Maybe I’ll even go out and buy myself a Trapper Keeper just for nostalgia 🙂

I Love Mommy!

Okay, so there are a few first words and phrases that can get a parent a little misty. “I love (fill in the blank of said parent) is one of them. Last week, my little one said “I love Mommy” for the first time. It would have been fantastic on any given day, but she decided to say it on a day that really sucked for me. I didn’t expect her to say it then because I’ve been trying to get her to say “I love you” for weeks now and get “I…u”. Love just seems to be a hard word for little kids to get out. But, at that particular moment she managed to get it out. She’s only said it one more time since then, but I don’t care. She said it and that’s all that counts.

I’m sharing this not only because it was great, but because I think it’s funny how kids know what you need at just the right time without knowing it. Does that make any sense? See, I was a good mommy all day long on the day I got my first “I love Mommy”, but was highly aggravated under the surface and tried not to let it show. It was just a domino effect of crappy things that made me want to drink a bottle of wine at the end of the day, although I didn’t. So, hearing those three little words really meant the world to me that day. I clapped and cried, of course. My daughter knew she did something good that night because we were all excited, but she still has no idea just how much it meant.

I think kids have a sixth sense on these type of things because it’s not the first time this has happened. There’s been other times when my older daughter has said or done something just when I needed it. Of course she didn’t know it at the time. That’s what  made it all the more special. We always hear about a mother’s intuition, but I truly think kids have it too. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

The Write Stuff

As a parent, we all have a few things…okay maybe tons of things we like to brag about when it comes to our kids. I’ll admit, I’m no different. These days, I’ve really been trying to get my 3 1/2 year old to write letters and spell stuff. Why? Well, it’s pretty obvious. I want her to be smart, enough said.
Sure she’s in preschool, but they haven’t done too much yet when it comes down to writing. So, that’s where I step in.

You would think getting someone to write a letter or two would be pretty easy. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not. So, when it happens, it’s kinda like hitting the lotto.

I decided to start with the letters in my daughter’s name because it’s obviously important to be able to write your own name. It took a few days and countless tries, but we eventually got our “M”. When we did, I was almost as happy as when I gave birth. I’ll admit I even got a little misty. So, what did I do? Took a picture of our “M” masterpiece and posted it on Facebook, of course. It really was an accomplishment because before we started, she really had no idea what she was doing. I was so proud of her once she got it! What was even better was that she was just as proud of herself too.

Let me tell you, it didn’t stop there. We’ve now mastered the “A”, “I”, “O”, and “T”, and sometimes “Y”. While we haven’t been able to spell her entire name, she is making progress, and that’s all that matters. We’ve inserted our letter practice into our routine almost on a daily basis. In the beginning it was kinda like a chore, but now my daughter actually looks forward to it. Go figure!

In the words of New Kids on the Block, my daughter definetly has the “write” stuff. I can’t wait until the day she can actually write out her entire name. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely hear about here!

OMG…I S-p-e-l-l Everything Now

   I know you’ve heard the saying “kids are like sponges”. Well, I think they’re more like Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I am quickly learning nothing gets past them. These days we’ve resorted to spelling things out so my three year-old can’t pick up on what’s really going on. Boy, are we d-u-m-b! One day I thought I was being s-m-a-r-t by not actually saying the words ice cream. Well, I didn’t even get to the second “c” when she shouted “ice cream!” It was pretty funny. Annoying, but funny. Another time I didn’t want to say the word “pee”, well stupidly I started spelling the word, forgetting what the first letter was. Yeah, I was really a dumb a-s-fill in the last letter!

   Not only is it annoying that she can pick up what we are trying not to say, but now we also have to remember how to spell. What a p-a-i-n! I love when I’m talking to my husband and I have to spell every other w-o-r-d. Let’s just say he looks at me like I have two h-e-a-d-s. With all this spelling I am doing, maybe I can go enter some kind of adult spelling bee. Guaranteed it would be filled with a bunch of parents who are in the same boat. Well, them and people who are actually good at s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g.

  While spelling is all fine and good, there are times when you just have to substitute another word for what you really want to say.No fudging around here. Shut the front door, I know you know what I’m talking about. The funny thing is after saying it so much, you can actually forget how to swear. I know it may sound weird, but I sludge you not. It’s the truth.

   I know I’m in deep doodoo when my daughter can actually start to form words with her letters. Then, I really really have to be careful what I say. Until then, I’ll be training for the spelling bee and telling people to shut their front doors.

Pre-K Pre-Jitters

   So, my baby starts pre-k next week and guess who’s nervous? Yep, me. I mean she could very well be nervous too and just not telling me. But, that’s what makes me nervous. She’s excited for now, but what’s going to happen the first day? She could be waving goodbye with a smile one minute and crying her eyes out the next. That’s what I’m nervous about.

   I know it’s just pre-k, but still, it’s her first school experience. I’ve left her with family before, but never with complete strangers. So, of course, this makes me nervous too. The school she’s going to has been in business for 49 years, so there is some comfort there. But, now they have my baby. That’s what I’m nervous about.

   On the list of “are you kidding me lady, chill out”, I’m also worried about what kind of snack to pack. They say to pack a “healthy” snack. Well, I have one of the pickiest eaters ever and healthy isn’t always on the menu, so this should be fun. Yes, I know this is dumb, but this is what I’m nervous about.

   Since we’re talking about the whole food thing, it would be a good time to mention the fact that we were sooo late to the lunchbox party. I figured shopping for a lunchbox two weeks before school would be okay. Yeah, I was wrong. I went to four stores. The stuff was so picked over and jammed together I thought I was watching “Hoarders”. Oh and since when are thermoses not included? For the love of God, I’m still trying to find a darn thermos! I remember the days of the old plastic lunchboxes that always came with a thermos…but I digress. Anyway, my daughter walked in wanting a Dora or Abbey lunchbox, but settled for Hello Kitty.  I know she doesn’t care, but this is what I’m nervous about.

   On the list of things she could care less about, but is giving me gray hair, is her outfit the first day of school. Of course I bought some new outfits, but they’re fallish. So what if it’s 85 degrees the first day of school? What does she wear? I know it doesn’t matter. But, this is what I’m nervous about.

   So folks, we’ll see what happens next week. I know in the end, we’ll find the “right” outfit , the “right” snack, and the “right” thermos. But, for now I’m just going to be nervous!