Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Teacher Edition

Teachers are caregivers and, while teaching is known to be one of the most underappreciated positions in America, these past few weeks have shown us how much teachers really matter. And it is not just about the academics, it is about the connections they have with our kids and how much they care. Teachers are another constant in our children’s lives: they inspire them, believe in them, and show up for them 5 days a week. I recently asked Acadiana’s teachers what they want their students to know during the shelter in place order:

Dear Students,

“I think about you every day and I hope you are safe and feel loved. Be grateful for this time and look for the positives. Keep reading, solving math problems and experimenting.”-Madeleine McAnally

“I love and miss you! I pray every day for your safety. I hope you are reading and writing in your journals because you all have a story to tell”-Erica Fuselier

“I hope you are getting to be a kid. I hope you’re playing and learning through your experiences at home. I can’t wait to see your faces and learn about all the new things you have discovered.”-Reanna Metcalf

“Learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. There are always opportunities to learn something new; you just have to open your eyes and explore. I think about you all of the time and hope that you are all okay.”-Aimee Hamilton

“I miss and love you all! Hope you are reading and doing some of the work I sent you. I can’t wait until we can have real hugs again”-Samantha Stephens

“Although we are not together, I am still thinking about you daily. I love you all very much and I am proud of each and every one of you. Stay safe and keep reading!”-Aline Kiffe

I wish all of my ‘little chicks’ were with me and we were in our class doing the ‘I did a good job’ cheer! I love you and miss you and as soon as we can go back to school, we will. Stay sweet!”-Mary Gautreaux

“I love and miss you! I hope you are happy and healthy. I am thinking of you every day. Stay smart.”-Olivia Ross

“You are a lifelong learner. Keep working hard in everything that you do and know that I will always believe in you.”-Ava Venable

“Lots of little things remind me of you each day. You are a big part of my heart and my prayers. Be safe!”- Phobe Boutte

“You guys rock and I am thinking of you. I am sorry that we did not get to hug and say goodbye. I love and miss you.”-Michelle Lutgring

“I wish I could’ve given you all the ‘last day’ together you deserve. I had so much more planned for us. I miss your smiles and our high five Friday traditions.”-Mariah Miller

“I miss you so much! My days seem longer without being around you in class. I hope you are enjoying your time away but you are just as ready as I am to go back to school.”-Sarah Turner

“I pray that you are healthy and safe. Your sweet faces are in my heart. I hope that we will reconnect soon, but in the meantime, wash your hands.”-Natalie Hidalgo

“We miss hearing your stories and hope you are safe and healthy. We love and miss you.”-Emma Gerard

“I think about each of you every day and pray for you every night. I wish I could hug you, I miss your beautiful smiles and can’t wait to see you again. I hate that we are missing out on so much.”-Kara Vanhaverbeke

“I miss you all and think about you constantly.”-Paula Schott

“Always remember, no matter what, you are smart, you are important, you are unique and you are loved!”-Dadra Stewart

“I think about you guys all day, every day. I wonder if you’re bored, sad, lonely, safe and missing our class time as much as I am. More than anything I miss your personalities, stories, your insights, and your funny quips. You guys always made me laugh and leaving without a goodbye has left a hole in my teacher heart.”-Kimberly Vincent

And to my students: You are all so special, I love your quirks and your laughter. I miss how you would interrupt my lessons to tell me about your dog or how your Mom ran a red light. You made everyday fun and full of laughs. I love you all so much and someway or another, I will see you soon.

Love, Your Teachers

I Was Already Anxious: On Being Accidentally Prepared for the Worst

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I have anxiety. I am quarantined. I am … okay?

Having anxiety during a pandemic seems like a recipe for disaster, right? For parents who have anxiety, I’m sure the feeling of impending doom is not unknown. Every phone call from school is a terrible accident, missed calls are traffic accidents or missing loved ones, and being left on “read” signifies the end of a friendship. I have anxiety daily even when everything is going well. I have anxiety when I think things won’t go well. I have anxiety thinking about my anxiety. Now my family is under a stay-at-home quarantine order to mitigate a global coronavirus pandemic.

Anxiety battlers know that most of the time things turn out fine. The student simply forgot their homework, someone was just calling to catch up, and our friends just left the room and didn’t bring their phone. And, most of the time, we recover and carry on with our days. How silly, we think. Of course everything is okay. Why wouldn’t it be?

But now things are not quite okay. A missed phone call could really be bad news now. Our children aren’t able to attend school. Our loved ones are out of reach. Even a simple trip to the grocery store has become something we have to prepare for. Things feel very uncertain.

I thought that when the official shelter in place order came, I would panic – do what I always do and spiral until I collapsed. I thought I would fall apart trying to figure out how to keep my family safe. I wasn’t sure how we would even begin to adjust.
The shelter in place order came, and …I was okay.

No panic, no hyperventilation, no rush of adrenaline. I read the announcement and felt a very surprising wave of relief wash over me. That is not a feeling I experience often. I thought maybe, like many others with anxiety, I was just compartmentalizing and that this “okay” feeling wouldn’t last.

A day passed. Then two. Then three. And I was still okay.

I did the things I knew needed to get done – got a week’s worth of groceries, ordered some activities, got soap and cleaners. I put together a loose meal plan and made sure we all got some fresh air. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t falling apart – the outbreak seems akin to the beginning of horror movies, so if there was ever a time to panic, this was it. Finally, it dawned on me.

I have spent my entire life feeling like something bad is about to happen. Always predicting that anything that might have gone wrong, has – despite any evidence to the contrary. And the sticky thing about anxiety is that you can’t really trust your gut – anxiety is a liar and it has gotten your whole body on its side. So there is no “follow your instinct” for me – I am stuck with tangibles and facts for comfort. All my life, I knew my reactions weren’t always rational or proportional, and I felt guilty, internally, for being so gullible.

But now, finally, my inside feeling matches the outside. And while an outbreak is not in any way a positive thing, it has given me an odd gift: validation. All that fear and that worry that I carry around like a 50-pound backpack finally has a purpose. I realized that I am emotionally prepared for chaos because I have carried chaos with me for 27 years already. The scenarios and explanations anxiety has provided me with over my life have always been on the scale of the coronavirus outbreak, and reflect what I imagine are a lot of similar anxious parents’ experience – something scary and unknown happening to our loved ones where we can’t do anything concrete to help.

Unlike a hurricane or a tornado, for those of us who are deemed “non-essential,” there is no group to go join to help people rebuild, no field hospital to volunteer at. The most powerful and life-saving steps we can take is to stay home. As a “helper,” it feels counter-intuitive but the best gift I have to give right now is the self-control to keep my family sheltered at home. Normally, anxiety would have me bouncing off the walls trying to figure out how to help and fix and protect and save, and I would likely have completely unraveled already.

But finally, the best thing I can do, and really the only thing I can do, is stay focused on how lucky we are to be able to do something to help – stay home. No special skills required.

Home Improvement: Why Wilson Stood on the Other Side of the Fence

Classic 90s kid here checking in to see if anyone has binged Rugrats, Boy Meets World, Home Improvement, or the like lately? We have been living life in a perpetual home improvement since quarantine began. I remember looking at my husband and declaring that we have just been given the ‘gift of time’ and what a ‘blessing’ this will be that we can do these projects together! 

I get why Wilson stood on the other side of the fence watching from afar all of Tim’s projects. First, these projects are far more complicated in reality than they play out in my mind. ALWAYS. Especially now that I chase around a 10-month-old between paint drying times. I recently painted my utility room. Side note: why do we call it the utility room? Let’s all call it what it is: mom’s room. Dads get the bathroom, and the deep dive on that room will be saved for another blog post. I spend so much time in our laundry/utility room that I decided to make it a sacred space for myself. Cue my order of a chandelier on Amazon #happyinhiding. I just can’t step into that space with its dark brown paneled walls and dimly lit can light anymore, and my family needs clean clothes so it had to get painted. In my mind, it was a simple prime, paint, redecorate job. In reality, it turned into two days of priming with many pauses for snacks and diaper changes. With the priming complete, I had my eye on the prize of painting. 

Which brings me to my second understanding of why Wilson stood on the other side of the fence. Wilson could see the bigger picture and give his wisdom from afar. I painted the door to the sunroom and the door to my husband’s man-cave shut. You’re either laughing with me or at me at this point. I will take either because this project happened during week 1 of the quarantine, and I have yet to re-sand, re-prime, or re-paint either door. My chandelier has been shipped from Amazon so don’t doubt my priorities. 

Professionally, I am a Realtor and pride myself on the helpfulness of my home improvement tips for my Sellers. My husband kindly reminded me of this after prying the doors open. This being the third reason why Wilson lived NEXT DOOR and not in the same house as the home improvement project. Wilson could comment after the error had been realized and processed. I stood in shock that my beautiful paint job on both doors had just been ripped to shreds in the name of entering and exiting; aka actually using the doors for their purpose. Great, now my sacred space isn’t perfectly painted just the way I always envisioned it. At this point, I have succumbed to the motto of “you get what you get, and you won’t throw a fit.” White walls over brown paneling is a win any day of the week. 

This experience can pretty much sum up how working from home during COVID-19 is going. Everything is seemingly great and perfectly painted until one of us cracks and then it turns into hurt feelings cut just as deep as these gashes my dried paint left in the doors. More regularly it is business on top and jammies on bottom. Almost done, but not quite there. 

Little Goodbyes

Author’s Note: This post was, of course, reflective of my life before COVID-19 quarantined us all.

As I sit here in my hotel room on my first night of five away from my family, I can’t help but think about how blessed I am to have a job that provides for us, but also about how hard it is for me to be away. Telling my husband goodbye as he left for work this morning brought out all the waterworks. “I know it’s ok, but I hate leaving y’all for a whole week” was uttered through one of my ugliest “ugly cry” faces.

But I had to “suck it up” and put on a brave face for the six-year-old who was still sitting on my sofa – for there, staying home with a fever, was my girl twin – my sweet, strong, fearless girl. She was so focused on the latest episode of Elena of Avalor that I don’t think she was even aware of the conversation that my husband and I had had in the kitchen.

Woman Crying

I struggle with letting her see me cry.

As a mama who has spent most of her professional life working in a male-dominated field, it has been frowned upon to let those emotions show while I am at work. Crybaby woman, anyone? I have such high hopes for my feisty girl, and I hold myself to a very high standard so that I am being the best example of a strong and independent woman for her. On one hand, she needs to be in tune with her emotions and needs to be accepting of them, but on the other hand, some folks think there’s a time and a place for those emotions.

And I’m also trying to be a good example for my son, my boy twin, my soft-hearted, sweet little old man in a six-year-old body, who was already off to school for the day. He needs to know that it’s ok to have a wife/partner that works out of the home, that it’s ok for him not to be the breadwinner or sole provider in his family, that it’s ok to let the cards of life fall as they may. He needs to know that people cry, and he needs to see his dad’s reactions to my doing so, so that he can learn how to be a loving, supportive, and comforting partner one day.

Rest Easy

So here I am, about to shut my eyes on my first day away from all that I love in the world; I will power through this week and I will put on my best smile and attend the conference sessions, the dinner meetings, and the happy hours. I will excuse myself from wherever I am at 8:30 pm so that I can video call my favorite threesome and say prayers with them and “kiss” them goodnight. I will continue to bust my tail at my often-thankless job. Thankless except for when it comes to my family . . . When I finally get back home and see my husband’s smile as those two kiddos smother me with hugs and kisses, while he patiently waits his turn, and the kids thank me for working so hard – and for making money so that we can “go to Disney World one day” – it will all have been worth it.

Mom and Child

What about you?

How are you mindful of the little lessons you’re teaching your children when you didn’t know they were watching? Have you experienced “little goodbyes” in your own lives and how have you successfully overcome them?

Quarantine Bingo :: Fun for Parents During This Time Inside

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During this time of uncertainty, it’s easy to feel alone and isolated.

Sometimes we’re scared, sometimes our patience is tested, and sometimes we’re questioning how we made it out of high school when we’re asked to help with Common Core.

I am right there with you.

These are all common feelings shared in the motherhood/fatherhood club during the Coronavirus outbreak.

I’ve found that the best medicine for fear, frustration, and uncertainty is humor, play and not taking ourselves too seriously.

And, what better way to do that than a good old fashioned game of BINGO with a quarantine spin?!

So, pull out your BINGO markers and play along with us in the Lafayette Mom edition of Quarantine BINGO!

Don’t forget to yell “BINGO” when you win – it’ll stun the heck out of the kids!

COVID-19 Scatter Brain Solutions

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Quarantine day whatever we are on, I can’t even keep count and I haven’t been trying. My stay sane mantra has been, one day at a time. It’s been a real challenge to stay grounded and remain focused.Calming Ground

As I’m sure many can relate, the unknown anxiety has been coming for me in unpredictable waves. It’s the hardest when I am alone, like allll by myselffff! It’s during the alone times that I struggle the most, with no one directly in front of me, other than myself, to take care of.

When I’m alone, my brain flutters around randomly and unpredictably, crafting unlikely scenarios that will upend life as we know it. The logical part of my brain assures me, everything is going to be alright, while the irrational side of my mind is trying to forecast and prevent catastrophes far outside of my, or anyone else’s control. Worry is such an unproductive endeavor, so why won’t my mind stop wandering?

Under COVID-19 isolation, some days I struggle just to get out of bed, to find joy in ordinary things, to maintain “normal” under circumstances that are anything but normal.

Grounding techniques that have a calming effect on my scatter-brained mind in our abnormal world:

  1. Counting my blessings. They are everywhere, you just have to want to see them
  2. Practicing Daily Yoga: Kassandra’s YouTube routines are my favorite
  3. Daily exercise! I am a runner at heart BUT I need more than just me time with the road. Resources:
  1. Remaining connected with trusted friends and voicing my struggles
  2. Creating a new routine when I can’t leave the house. Example: Set an alarm, get up, get dressed, make the bed, fix a cup of coffee, and create a to-do list for the day.
  3. Reading books, the old school kind that require you to turn a page
  4. Stepping away from Social Media & limiting news intake
  5. Going for walks outside
  6. Taking short breaks every hour to refocus.
  7. Laughter. Keep laughing, it’s infectious!
  8. Focus on what you CAN control.

Audible.com and My 2020 Book List

When I was in college, my then-boyfriend (now husband of 7.5 years) lived in Lafayette while I lived in New Orleans. I moved to Baton Rouge for law school while he remained in Lafayette. I have made more Highway 90 and I-10 drives than I can count.

At some point, I started listening to books on CD. I have always affectionately referred to them as “book tapes.”

Last year (2019), I “read” 15 books via Audible.com. I always listen/read while I drive when there are no other adults in the car, even if it is just the grocery store. I committed to 20 books in 2020. So far, as we sit here at the end of March/beginning of April, I am on my 6th book. I am 11 minutes out of 12 audible hours into my 6th book, and it is by far my favorite of 2020 so far. Do you want to know what it is? You will have to wait. Let’s give credit where credit to my 2019 reads first.

Some of my favorites that I read in 2019 are:

Still Me by Jojo Moyes (truly anything by Jojo gives me life)

Surprise Me and Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (again one of my very favorite authors)

Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown by B.A. Paris (ok, so at this point in 2019, I started reading psychological thrillers, to while B.A. Paris is an expert)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (I really did not enjoy this book, but I am enjoying the heck out of the Hulu series)

One Day in December by Josie Silver (this is the most perfect Christmas/month of December book of all time)

I also read several titles by Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena. I love most titles by both.

My first book of 2020 was The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks. This was a super easy/fast read but definitely not my favorite. I did not love the narration and just worried the whole time about the women involved.

I then read All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin. I have read every single Emily Giffin book and have preordered her summer book. She is definitely one of my top 5 of all time. I loved this book. It will maybe be hard to read if you have high school kiddos.

Next up was The Mother-in-law by Sally Hepworth. I really loved this one. I am a sucker for anything and everything Australian. I particularly love Australian narration. There was a Q&A with the author at the end of the book. She brought up that she did not start out as a women’s issues author but it is where her heart always falls.

I loved The Mother-in-law so much that I read another Sally Hepworth book next. I loved the book but it was really hard for me to get through, with no fault to Sally. I read The Family Next Door, but this book goes prettttty deep into the emotions that surround stillbirth and infant loss. It was not the book I needed to read.

Last month (March), I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and I essentially hated every second.

I am currently reading and LOVING (all 11 minutes that I have listened to so far) Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner. Jennifer Weiner is right up there with Jojo Moyes, Emily Giffin, and Liane Moriarty as my very favorite authors of all time. I will report back in the comments of this blog post with my thoughts once done. You can also follow me on Instagram — rebeccaautin — I have a highlight button with books and thoughts on each!

Next up for 2020, I have:

The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Big Summer (releasing in May) by Jennifer Weiner

Thirtynothing by Lisa Jewell

The Lies that Bind (releasing in June) by Emily Giffin

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Happy reading/listening friends. I hope these lighthearted/mind of the Corona titles help you in our time of need.

We Are An “Essential Working Family” :: Through a Child’s Eyes

It’s confusing and crazy times for the whole World right now. All of us on the same common ground in the midst of the Global Pandemic that is COVID-19. Some of us have abruptly been laid off from their jobs wondering how we will make ends meet. Businessmen and women have suddenly found themselves working from home and raising their kids simultaneously. Homeschoolers who are used to having daily educational activities away from home have found themselves homebound. There are families like mine where we are deemed “essential workers,”  I work in healthcare and my husband in law enforcement, trying to balance a homestead during this time.

It’s been an adjustment for us all in these past few weeks, and I fear there are more obstacles to come until we see a shift in ”the curve.” #FlattenTheCurve

As hard as it has been for us as adults, it’s just as difficult for our little ones we leave behind on the homefront. I know it’s easy to brush off how they are processing this. Especially if we are under the assumption that our reality is so much more difficult to accept than theirs. It’s easy to assume that they are all just enjoying their time away from school with no homework, but those assumptions may only be surface deep. I decided to dig in a little deeper. I sat down with each one of our fabulous five and asked them some questions about how they are handling our “new normal” in our home. 

Here’s how it went.

What’s been the hardest part about Mommy and Daddy working right now?

“No hugs when you get home because… are you clean? Or are you germy? Can I have a hug now?” – E (age 3)

What is your biggest worry right now with us still working?

“Knowing that you could get Coronavirus and that you’re not like, safe. I worry about one of us getting Coronavirus because you have to keep working. It makes it easier for us to get sick because you don’t get to be home like everyone else. It scares me, a lot.” – L (age 11)

What piece of advice would you give to those families staying at home right now?

“I would tell them to stay home. Play board games and run around outside in your backyard. Oh, with no shoes! Take baths, eat healthy stuff, and take your vitamins. Read some books, watch a movie, and keep up with your schoolwork.” – K (age 7)

If you could leave some words of kindness for “essential workers” like us what would it be?

“I would say, thank you for the work that you do. Keep up the good work because we really appreciate you. Make sure you take care of yourself! You are heroes!” – M (age 8)

What do you miss the most about life before coronavirus?

“SOFTBALL!!! My teammates and my Coaches are like my family. I miss tournaments every weekend. The games and the bus rides to them where we laugh and joke. School, I never thought I would say that, but I miss seeing my friends. I miss the routine. Sleeping, I haven’t been able to sleep well since all of this. I miss my normal life. My first year of high school just ended without warning. I’ll never get it back, and Mom it’s awful.” – B (age 14)

Let us be mindful of one another and that this pandemic is all affecting us differently but affecting us all nonetheless. Take time, we have it now, to get past the superficial conversations. Lean into your relationships with your children as they navigate this with you. Remember, it’s new for all of us. Let us be considerate of this new normal that we are all processing. Please, do your best to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. This is how you help us. So if you should need help we can help you. From our “essential working” family to yours, thank you.

Easter is Not Cancelled :: 5 Ideas for a Nontraditional Easter

One thing that I’ve learned during the past month is that time passes differently during a pandemic. Is it Wednesday or could it possibly be Saturday? Is feeding your children dinner at 8pm socially acceptable now? When was the last time I washed my hair (and does it even matter considering the only human interaction I have is with my kids and husband)? When you add in the fact that this quarantine is taking place during a holiday season, it basically has given my anxiety the green light to completely take over every rational part of my brain.

The grocery stores are limited in stock. There is nary an Easter Bunny photo set-up to be found. Churches are holding services online. Even big, Southern family dinners are frowned upon due to social distancing. So it begs the question: is anyone even doing Easter this year?

But here’s the thing: Easter has not been cancelled. Yes, it may look a bit different this year. However there are still ways to pull together a nontraditional, whimsical Easter that the kids will be grateful for.

1) Stay Connected With Friends & Family

There is something about the holidays that makes you realize just how important connection with your family (whether biological or chosen) is. It can definitely make this Easter feel “less than,” because there will be no big celebration with the people we love most outside of our homes. But that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating those family ties in these more cautious ways.

  • Have a Zoom dessert or cocktail hour. No, you can’t hug them through a screen, but seeing the smiling faces of those you love is better than nothing!
  • Send handmade cards or letters. Remember the thrill of opening the mailbox and seeing that someone had sent you a little envelope of happy thoughts and well wishes? Let’s bring that feeling back! (Bonus: it’ll make for a precious keepsake to remember that there were lovely moments during these trying times.)
  • Drop off a “thinking of you” care package on the porch. Whether a basket filled with homemade goodies or kid-friendly activities, your loved ones will be ecstatic to see a little surprise waiting for them when they open their front door. (Pro tip: “egg” a friend’s house by hiding candy-filled eggs in their front yard for a fun Easter themed surprise.)

2) Savor the Sweetness

My family has been embracing Quarantine Rules (which are a lot like Hurricane Rules); which is just a fancy way of saying there are no rules. Our favorite of these non-rules is that “dessert time is all the time.” My kids love to help make these three desserts almost as much as they love to help eat them.

  • Easter Candy Cookies – Use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but substitute pastel Easter M&Ms for the chocolate chips for a pretty spring treat.
  • Carrot Patch Dirt Cups – There’s a reason that the “dirt cup” is a classic dessert. Who doesn’t love chocolate pudding covered in crushed Oreos?! Add a marshmallow Peep bunny to the top of your “dirt” to make it look like Peter Rabbit was trolling for carrots.
  • Fruit Salad – You know I had to include a healthier option too. In all seriousness, my kids love a fruit salad about as much as they love the sugary treats. Chop up whatever fruit your family prefers, toss together in a bowl, and voila! To take it up an extra notch you can mix together a dressing made of 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice. Pour the dressing over the top of your fruit salad and your life will be forever changed.

3) Have a Nontraditional Egg Hunt

Egg hunts are a definite non-negotiable Easter activity for my kids. However, it seems as though this quarantine has brought out the “harder to please” side of my lovely, sweet children. I’m taking it in stride and making it my personal mission to try and shake things up with the tried-and-true activities that they love. Here are three twists on the traditional egg hunt:

  • Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt – Put a fanciful, whimsical spin on your hunt by having it at nighttime. Hide plastic eggs containing small glow sticks throughout your yard to create a fairyland of gleaming eggs for your kids to enjoy. Remember to crack the glowsticks right before the hunt to take full advantage of the glow time.
  • Puzzle Piece Egg Hunt – Hide plastic eggs containing puzzle pieces so that the fun can continue even after the hunt when they get to put together a new puzzle with their found pieces. Now this is not one that I’d recommend for older kids, because (quite frankly) it has the potential to turn into the world’s biggest headache depending on how big the puzzle is. (Bonus: puzzles are a quiet activity so Mom & Dad can enjoy some post-excitement wind down time.)
  • Scavenger Egg Hunt – It seems that that pesky, mischievous Easter Bunny hid all of the basket treats! Hide plastic eggs filled with scavenger hunt clues to lead your kids to their missing goodies.

4) Buck Tradition with a Themed Basket

We all know that most kids’ favorite part of Easter is the basket of treats that their favorite bunny leaves as a surprise. It seems as though the economic shortages that our country has been experiencing has posed a problem for bunny helpers as they try to fill baskets. As a result, sometimes substitutions have to be made for the usual basket goodies that we all get to enjoy. Try a different take on the basket by centering it around a theme that your family will be sure to enjoy.

  • Movie Marathon Basket – Start with a new popcorn bowl as the “basket” base and fill it with all the home theater goodies that your kids adore. Consider adding a bag of popcorn, each child’s favorite candy, a bottle of soda or juice, & a movie. You can even go the extra mile by adding in a new pair of pajamas to make the basket the ultimate “cozy night in” kit.
  • Gardening Basket – For this one, you can use a cute watering can as your “basket.” Fill it with gardening gloves, spades, trowels, and other gardening tools. Top it off with a few seed packets and turn those kids loose in the dirt. Life is too short for clean fingernails!
  • Family Game Night Basket – Admittedly, this one will be less of a “basket” and more of a tower. Stack a column of new board and card games and tie a ribbon around it to make it look more festive. Organize an array of snacks around your tower and boom! A literal pile of fun that will promote family bonding.

5) Strike a Pose

All dressed up and nowhere to go? Head to the backyard! If you’re like me, you’ve been planning your kids’ coordinated Easter outfits for weeks (if not months). Don’t just let them gather dust in the closet. Get those youngsters all fancy and pull out your trusty camera for a backyard photo shoot. Consider these ideas to add a funny twist to your memory:

  • Add a sign. Use poster board or a felt board to include a funny quote about this crazy, unusual holiday. Something along the lines of: Somebunny is sick of Quarantine…
  • Artfully arrange the goods. Toilet paper hoarders of the world, it’s your time to shine! Create a backdrop of toilet paper so that you can remember just how ridiculous some of our quarantine preparation decisions were.
  • Embrace the real. Use props! Have your kids been screen time monsters? Let them hold their tablets. Has Mom had a particularly rough couple weeks? Toast us with that glass of wine, girl. Dad, don’t pretend that you haven’t been holding that video game controller for hours every day. Show it off. Because life is rough right now. So, we might as well laugh at ourselves.

This Easter is definitely shaping up to be one that we’ll never forget. It might not be the Pinterest-perfect Easter of our dreams, but just do your best. And remember, Mama, it’s all about the memories!

Crafting Our Way Through Covid-19

When I first received the message that school would be closed, I was sad and slightly terrified. My 4 year old son is in pre-k and his teacher was just coming back from maternity leave. The FUN we had been waiting for was about to start! I had dreamed of all the art projects that were going to fill up my refrigerator door, the field trips we were going to take, and the outdoor fun days that now were not going to happen. Also, how was I going to keep a 4 year old and infant entertained and happy all day, every day for weeks?

So I did what any self-proclaimed Pinterest mom would do and started Googling craft ideas. My goal was to fill our playroom walls with bright and cheerful, homemade artwork! Since most of the monthly budget was going towards stocking our pantry for the month, I wanted to find projects using some items from around the house. I did add a few essential items to my Walmart grocery pickup order for a grand total of around $10:

  • washable, non-toxic paint
  • glue sticks
  • Kid’s craft ultimate fuzzy kit which includes enough refrigerator eyes to make any kid happy

Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

Since everyone and their momma was out buying toilet paper, toilet paper roll crafts were first on the list of projects! You can make pretty much anything your heart desires; ninja turtles, princesses, butterflies, googly eyed silly monsters, castles, rocket ships and the list goes on. You can paint them, wrap them in construction paper, attach pipe cleaners or googly eyes. Before I knew it, we had a whole family of little toilet paper roll characters sitting at our dinner table.

Mosaic Art

Next on my craft bucket list was side walk chalk mosaics. All the cool kids were doing it. But if I’m being honest, my 4 year old lost interest about 1.5 squares in which means I was left to finish. When I was finally able to wrangle him inside and away from the June bugs he was playing with, we sat down and created a painted canvas mosaic. I used painters tape to tape random areas and a big “G” in the middle. He enjoyed mixing colors and learning how primary colors can be combined to make other colors. We let it dry during nap time and pulled the tape, and voila his masterpiece was ready to hang on the wall.

Popsicle Stick Art

Easter is a bit different this year due to Covid-19. We won’t be able to attend church or family egg hunts, or Easter arts and crafts at our local library. So Easter crafts are a weekly activity right now to help us get in to the Easter spirit. We glued popsicle sticks together and cut shapes out of construction paper. The best part is it’s a tangible art piece that my son can actually play with!

Paper towel Butterflies

Our last craft of the week has to be one of our favorites. These butterflies are often made using coffee filters but since we didn’t have any, we improvised using paper towels. We used markers to draw on the paper towels then used a spray water bottle to wet them. Allow to dry then use a clothespin to secure the middle. You can add eyes and a mouth, pipe cleaner antennas, glitter to make the wings sparkle, etc.

Get creative with it! A child can see the beauty in so many items around us. What an adult may see as trash can be a treasure in the eyes of a child. We have spent many afternoons finding sticks, rocks, buttons, colorful pieces of paper, etc. and gluing or taping them on to paper. Lastly, when in doubt, just draw a rainbow. I don’t know about you, but I can’t look at a rainbow without smiling, and we definitely all need something to smile about right now.

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