Wednesday, August 19, 2020

7 Back-to-School Tips for Remote Learning

After the spring when Covid-19 turned our kids' school years upside down, all parents were hoping school would be back to normal once the summer was over. Unfortunately, the US has not figured how to flatten the curve so here we find ourselves, with full on virtual academy or a hybrid model of back-to-school schedule. 

Here in NC, schools re-opened under Plan B, where students go to school one day a week and the remainder of the week is all virtual. We started back officially this week. 

I am in several Facebook parent groups and I have already seen all the posts from anxious parents about technical difficulties, questions on the assignments and more. This year will definitely take a lot of patience and grace if we are to survive it! 

I have a 3rd and 5th grader and it's important for me to support them through this school year as best as I can. In today's post, I am sharing my back-to-school tips for remote learning. 

1) Set the Scene- Kids are able to focus better when they have a designated space to learn. I set up section of our loft that includes a charging station for their Chromebooks, a plastic drawer organizer stocked with their school supplies, a paper tray used to keep their notebooks and folder and lap desk trays so they can work comfortably on the couch or sitting on cushions on the floor. My girls were very excited about their special space. 

2) Embrace Routines & Consistency - The teachers put together a school schedule that includes specific work times for different subjects. It also includes times teachers will provide live instructions. Having the schedule visible helps both the parents/kids stay on track. Kids thrive on structure so using the schedule for consistency will be key! Our family has a pretty typical routine. We get the kids up at the same time, they get dressed and have breakfast before signing into their virtual morning meetings. After the school day, we have dinner, spend free time/family time, have bath time, and then we wind down for the night. 

3) Preparation Will Go Far- The girls have to join Microsoft Teams meetings every morning. I recommend getting set up for any virtual meetings early. It's a good idea to make sure you know how/where to access the meeting. I also look to the lesson plans the night before and I make sure I read through them to understand exactly where to find assignments and how to go about getting the girls ready to start them. This step has helped me tremendously so I don't feel as anxious when they sit down ready to work/learn. 

4. Choose Grace - Throw perfection out of the window. There will be plenty of times when things won't go right. The internet will fail you, kids won't want to focus, and you will have questions about assignments, etc. Try to remember, you are not the only one dealing with these same issues. Give yourself credit for showing up and being there to support your child. Your teacher will understand and together you'll come up with something that will work. 

5. It Takes a Village-  It will take a village to get through this school year. Students, Parents, Teachers, etc. working together. I joined a couple of parent groups specifically for 3rd and 5th grade so I could find support or offer it without judgement. I also noted in teacher emails who I need to contact for specific help in different areas. Knowing the right source will get you answers quicker. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Others could possibly need help with the same thing! 

6. Be Flexible. Not every school day at home will look the same. Both my husband and I work from home full-time and we also have meetings to attend. Even though the teachers have a school schedule doesn't mean your child will work at the same pace at home. Learn to be flexible and it will be less anxiety-inducing. 

7. Let Kids Lead- Empower your kids. My 5th grader is more independent this year. I am learning I don't need to monitor her too closely. She knows when she has a question or needs help to come find mom or dad. My 3rd grader still needs come general guidance, but sometimes she wants to the easy things on her list of assignments first... back to being flexible....I let her choose when she wants to do certain assignments and our day has less melt downs. 

These are just my tips to getting through this time of uncertainty. If you have a mom hack or tip to add to this list, please leave a comment because I am always looking for ways to make my life easier! 

I am hoping, despite this school year not being the one anyone was looking for, our students and teachers have a great year. Thanks for reading my tips and I hope you find them helpful. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

DIY Project: How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

One of the first projects I wanted to work on for our deck was to hang string lights. I just love the warm and inviting atmosphere string lights create. When we were house hunting, the deck was a big bonus for us. I envisioned hanging out back watching the kids play and eating meals al fresco. 

Today, I am sharing how to hang outdoor string lights and some helpful tips we learned along the way. This project was easy, effective and budget-friendly. The whole project cost me about $80. 

Before I bought supplies, I did some research on how I wanted to complete the project. I planned out the design for the lights, the distance the lights needed to cover and what type of lights I wanted to use. I love the look of Vintage Edison bulbs. I found a set on Amazon that were heavy duty to ensure they can withstand the outdoor elements like wind and rain. 

I had to decide how I would attach the lights. I researched lots of options, but ultimately choose to go with electrical conduit. It is durable, effective and budget-friendly. 
What You'll Need:
black zip ties
(1) 15 ft. outdoor extension cord
deck/wood screws (I used 6)

Other tools needed:

Once I bought all the supplies, I spray painted the electrical conduit black. You can also spray paint the coupling to match. I used the coupling so I didn't have to drill a hole in the pole to attach the lights. This prevents the zip-tied lights from slipping down the pole for any reason. 

Next, I mapped out where I wanted to attach the cup hooks into the side of our house and where the pole would need be attached. We used the conduit straps and deck screws to attach the conduit directly onto our deck. Once the cup screws and post were in place, we were ready to hang the lights. 

Before hanging the lights, test out the strand by screwing in a bulb and plugging it into the outlet. Our strand of lights did not have the bulbs attached. I recommend hanging the lights without the bulbs first so there is no chance of breaking any bulbs in the process. 

We started hanging the lights from the point where we plugged the lights in. We secured the strand to the cup hooks with a zip tie. Then, we extended the strand to the post and secured it with a zip tie in-between the screw coupling. We strung the cord back to the side of the house and so on. 

Once we finished hanging the entire strand, we attached the bulbs and plugged the lights in. I love how it turned out. The lights give off the perfect amount of light that is warm and inviting. I also purchased an outdoor outlet so we can control the lights with my phone or voice control with Google assistant. 

Helpful Tips:
  • Map out the design for your lights to ensure you buy enough sets to cover the desired distance
  • Test the strand out before hanging the lights.
  • Remove the bulbs before hanging the lights to prevent bulbs from breaking 
  • Start with the end that plugs in.  
We cannot wait to enjoy more time outside this summer with our new outdoor string lights! 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Meal Planning: A Month of Dinner Inspiration

Are you cooking alot more these days? Meal planning can be stressful and I want to help! I've put together some dinner inspiration for the whole month! None of these are my own recipes, but they are meals I have cooked for my family and have been our favorites! 

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more inspiration! Most of the recipes I'm sharing today are from my Food & Recipes board

My meal planner includes 4 weeks of meals. I typically only cook Sunday through Friday. I've included the links and some of my tips further down. 

I try to meal plan for an entire week before I  make my grocery list because multiple trips to the store is annoying. I hope you find this planner helpful.  What are your favorite meals to cook for your family? I would love to know- drop a comment below with your recommendations!

Steak Stir-fry: Super easy recipe- just add your favorite veggies. My favorites are carrots, snow peas, baby corn and broccoli.
Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles: Feel free to add shrimp or chicken to this recipe

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: I don't care for water crests so I substitute with chopped baby corn and zucchini 


Air Fryer Honey Glazed Salmon: squeeze lemon in your glaze
Chicken Scampi I substituted the rice for angel hair pasta and served with peas or broccoli

Deck It Out: Inspiration for Your Outdoor Space

Our family has been spending a lot of time outdoors lately and our house comes with a great backyard and deck so I have been itching to start transforming the space.

Our deck has enough room to include a dining area and another section perfect for a grill and conversation set. I have been on Pinterest a lot lately looking for ideas. One thing is for sure, it can get pretty pricey! It will have to be a work in progress, but I am excited to get started.

I used some left over birthday money to make our first big purchase, a dining set. We have had great weather and I cannot wait to start enjoying the space and eating outdoors!

Since I have so much time to daydream, I thought I would share my idea for the space. Let me know what you think?

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