It’s my last day at school and I’ve got summer rhythms on my mind. As a teacher, of course I love a schedule. I think that most kids thrive when they know what to expect in their day. Summer is supposed to be fun though!! Throw the schedule out the window. Structure be damned!! You’re right, sort of. For me – if I go totally schedule free – it’s hard to toe the line between fun, carefree and go with the flow without losing my marbles on my three little boys. I’ve learned that the hard way. I like to meet somewhere in the middle between the rigidity of a schedule and the fluidity of free range parenting. And that’s where a rhythm comes in. What’s the difference between a rhythm and a schedule? Not much. A rhythm to me is more of a guide to your day. A schedule is more firm and typically has times.
Our rhythm may vary slightly from day to day because *hello* I still do want to be spontaneous and fun summer mom. I just don’t want my kids to wind up sitting in front of a tv all day because I haven’t thought of anything for them to do. The core piece of our summer rhythm is – in the morning we do a field trip outside of the house, and in the afternoon we stay home and get in the pool. The only firm times on my rhythm are that we need to be home from our field trip by 11am so we can have lunch and get Lukey down for a nap around noon and that dinner happens around 6pm. The other thing to remember is that my kids get up early. Like 6am early. So if your kids sleep in (you lucky duck), this outline might need some shifting to work for you!
Summer Rhythm 2023
Goals: Be flexible, have fun and live outside.
The Morning: Work out first thing – take whoever is awake in the running stroller. Shower and get ready before husband leaves for work. Breakfast Morning Chores Art/Worksheets/Reading Time Field Trip – home by 11am Lunch Nap & Quiet Time for boys – Prep Dinner now!
The Afternoon: Pool & Water Play Indoor play or movie while I make dinner. Planning to do lots of grilling/easy dinners during summer, so minimal kitchen time will be needed. Bikes, Chalk and Scooter play on the sidewalk while we wait for dad to get home from work. After dinner walk or evening swim.
That’s it guys – that’s our summer rhythm! I think I’ll do a couple more *summer* posts this week – lunch and dinner ideas, field trips, activities/art projects, summer reading, etc. Nothing but fun with the occasional meltdown thrown in. Lol.
What about you? What do you do for summer? Any special schedules/routines you follow?
Sunday – Lasagna with Caesar Salad. I use this recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I’m sure there are much more complicated ones out there, but when I’m looking for a classic recipe I always look to Betty. She’s never steered me wrong. She keeps it simple enough that it’s manageable and she offers lots of tips and tricks. She’s very much for normal people like me.
Monday – Leftover Lasagna. Work smarter, not harder, friends.
Tuesday – White Chicken Chili. I’ve never tried this recipe before, but I love that it can be made in a crock pot. I love coming home to a meal already made. Feels like someone else has made dinner for us. I feel like white chicken chili is all about the toppings. Pulling out the corn chips, avocado, cilantro and sour cream to top it off here.
Wednesday – Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce. I bought the ravioli from the store because I’m a working mother, not a wizard. My husband is notttt a fan of butternut squash nor ravioli. He’s traveling this week though, so I won’t feel guilty making this for just the boys and I.
Thursday – Leftovers. Most likely the chili from Tuesday!
Cocktail – Hot Buttered Rum. Had it on my November list last year and never did get around to it! So I’m going to get to it this week!
Bake – Cinnamon Rolls. These are the best I’ve ever made. There’s another recipe that I want to try from Sarah Kieffer, but I’m so scared to deviate!! I KNOW these are always good, so why try another? But what if Kieffer’s are better. Ack! The indecision – I’ll let you know on Instagram what I decide!
Treat – Chex Mix. My mom always always had a tin full this time of year, so I’ve always kept with tradition and had it around the house for my family too. Don’t you love tradition?
Happy eating this week, friends! Please share if you make anything amazing this week!
Ah, September, the beginning of apple everything, darkening days, You’ve Got Mail viewings, sprinkling of stalks of wheat and mini pumpkins around the house, and that crisp feeling in the air that means only one thing – It’s (basically) Fall! I have so many things on my list for month. I’m so excited about it I could dance. I do have to make one tiny little disclaimer though that I may change a few things. I just got two magazines (this one, and this one) from the store the other day that have so many great recipes inside, I may have to make a few sub-ins. But I’m also so excited about the lists I already have that maybe I’ll just have to add rather than subtract. There is time to do it all, we just have to make our minds up to do it. So without further ado, The September list.
Monday – Beef ragú over egg noodles. We’re having this today over parmesan polenta with Caesar salad and garlic bread. We’ll have the leftovers on Monday with egg noodles and more bread for the boys.
Tuesday –Taco Soup. A recipe from my mother-in-law. I’ll post the recipe this week on Instagram, but the recipe I’m linking to looks identical! Liz (my mother-in-law says “It is very forgiving…. can substitute anything…. I just give it a shake or two of ranch powder… I use 2 fire roasted tomatoes and 1 stewed… and I add about a can of water. It’s so easy. The hardest part is opening cans!”
Wednesday – Sheet pan salmon and tons of veggies (zucchini, squash, broccoli, onion). Mixed with lemon pepper seasoning, garlic, oil and lots of butter. Spread in a single layer and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Thursday – leftovers always!
Friday – Pizza night! I’ve confessed that we’ve been picking pizza up from our favorite local spot lately and I have zero regrets as we’re still getting into the swing of being back in school!
Saturday – Date Night! Our anniversary is the 30th, so we’re hitting the town and the boys will most likely have hot dogs or chickens nuggets.
Sunday – Spaghetti Bolognese. A Sunday favorite, and the perfect weekend cooking project. It’s not hard, but it takes a long time.
Bake – Sourdough. It’s happening! I’m getting my poor languishing starter revived this week. I use Tartine’s country bread recipe and it’s not the fastest, nor easiest, but it’s easily the best.
Treat – Molasses Cookies. Feels very end of August-y. A follower shared this recipe with me and I have to try it! I have so many cookie suggestions from a story chat the other day, so I’m going to share a blog post with all of the links because I need to try them all.
I bet you never thought I would get to this second part of my “Day in the Life” series. I shared a morning in the life way back in January and promised I would get a typical day down for you, and it’s taken me…a while. ha! Well it’s here! I get so very many questions about what it’s like to be a school librarian, so I’m going giving you a typical day. To give you a little background though, I work in a large, urban, dual-language, title I elementary school with about 750 students. 99% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and about 98% speak Spanish in the home. Days can feel a little grueling sometimes and there are definitely some tough issues that you have to deal with, but I love it. It’s definitely not for everyone though! As the school librarian, I am on the Fine Arts wheel which means I have classes all day. Many school libraries are just “open” so students are sent down to check books out, or classes can make appointments for classes with the school librarian. That’s not the case in my school. I have all classes K-5 on a six day rotation. Let’s walk through a day, shall we?
7:20am – I arrive to school. Sign in in the office, and get to the library. I put my things down, unlock doors, check the copiers, log on to the desk computer and get it ready for my 5th grade safety patrols to check books in. If I have time, I’ll check my e-mail and start getting things ready for my first class.
7:30 – My 5th graders arrive. I have 8 students who come to the library first thing. They check in books, tidy up the space, deliver books to teachers and they also are my TV Crew. We put on the morning announcements every day.
7:45 – Head back to the TV Studio. Each student has a different job so they go to their places, we run through the script and practice one or two times. It’s such a fun group of kids. I pick them in 4th grade after they’re chosen as safety patrols and I really try to think through how they’re going to work together. So fun. We’re going on a field trip in November to our local news affiliate and they’re so excited about it.
7:55 – The morning announcements go live to classrooms.
8:00 – Round of applause to our Crew. I remind them what their jobs will be the next day and then I send them to class. Now, I get ready in earnest for my day of classes. My first class is at 8:30, so I log into both of my smart boards, make sure my lesson plans are ready, get my class folders out, get any materials we’ll need put out on tables, pull books out for the Kindergarten and First grades to choose from to check out (they won’t start checking books out from the shelves for a few weeks yet. I just have them choose from a table while they’re learning library skills.).
8:30 – My first class! 2nd grade. If I had to teach a grade level, I would choose 2nd. They’re still sweet, but are starting to be so much more with it, and they’ll sit for a longer picture book. They understand school rules, but still want to give you a hug. Love them. I’ll start doing some longer projects/activities at the tables later in the school year, but for now, they’re mostly just on the carpet for story time. I do like to do a lot of crafts, but we’re still easing into the school year with rules and expectations. My classes are for a full half hour, so one class leaves and then the next class comes.
9:00 – 1st grade. I love first grade because I had nearly all of them in Kindergarten. They know what to do when they come in. They are excited and they love it. And I know their names, and who their brothers and sisters are so I can tell them to get it together. haha. K-2 classes sit on the carpet and my formula for K-2 is generally – sing a welcome song, then we have story time (I read a book), we do an interactive activity (last week we sang a welcome song with each student’s name to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this week we’re playing a little Jumping Jack game), then we do a library lesson, we do book check out and then stickers and then it’s time for them to go.
9:30 – Kinder. Little wiggly worms. They’re still learning how to behave. Most of our students didn’t go to Pre-K so there is a loooooot of learning to go through in Kindergarten. The first week is the hardest, and then most of them get it together. Again, MOST of them.
10:00 – 1st grade again!
10:30 – 1st Grade lunch duty. The bane of my fine arts existence is doing lunch duty. I don’t want to digress, but I could go on at length. Let’s move along. I don’t want to bring this lovely day down.
11:00 – 3rd Grade. I could really use a break at this point, but there isn’t oneeeeee. My 3rd-5th classes sit at tables, and I have another large smart board on that side of the library. The formula for them is generally – sit down, chit chat, library lesson, book check out and then centers. I won’t get into centers, that could probably be a whole post, but I don’t want to bore you with the details.
11:30 – 4th Grade. Same as third, but bigger. The 4th grades are probably our toughest this year.
12:00pm – 3rd Grade again.
12:30 – Lunch finally. This is very late for me to each lunch. I think we ate at 10:30 last year, which was very early haha. They change the schedule every year! I always, always, always take a break for lunch. I have a small couch in my office so I sit there and eat at my lunch while reading my book. It’s time that is sacred to me.
1:00 – 5th Grade. Last class of the day. The big kids. I’ve had them all since Kindergarten and I know most of their quirks by this time. We have a really great bunch this year.
1:30 – Now I have a little break where I kind of “reset” the library for the next day. Tidy up my materials, make sure that the last class left everything fairly picked up. I’ll walk through the library and pick up anything out in the stacks, etc. I will also check my e-mail real quick to make sure we don’t have any end of day updates.
1:50 – Dismissal begins. I’m always on bus duty, so I check off all of the students and walk them out to their bus.
2:20 – Dismissal wraps up and I head back to the library to do anything that still needs done. I usually do any shelving at this time, laminating, fulfil teacher requests, place book orders, repair books, work on lesson plans for the next week of classes, etc. Meetings always happen right after school too so we may have a meeting or a training every now and then. Teachers are usually milling about at this point so they come to me if they need any books. I also run the safety patrol club with my friend, so we meet now to talk about anything that needs to be done. Andddd I’m starting my fifth grade book club in a few weeks, so I’ve been working on that too. Just enough time to get it all done! Eek! Ok, now you might be wondering how I get everything done in that time. I usually make a list at either the beginning or end of the day with my *MUST DO’s*. I love my new planner from Golden Coil that I got this year. I chose a weekly layout that has three squares for each day, so I make my list there. I do actually have enough time to do everything, and if one thing doesn’t get done – it’s shelving. I can always put that off until the next day. Teacher needs come first, then my own class/library needs, and then shelving. 🙂
3:00 – Teachers are dismissed for the day. I’ve committed to consistent blogging, so what I’ve decided to do is switch off my school brain (as long as there isn’t anything urgent) at 3pm and stay after school to write. I’ve been finding that it takes me about half an hour to 45 minutes to write, edit and post a full blog post, so I’ve been getting done by 3:45 or so. I go get the boys from their school then! I actually like it better than going right at 3 because I don’t interrupt their recess time. They’re all sweaty, bothered, and miss their snack if I get them right after school. Around 4 works a little better for me and for them!
And that’s it! We usually get home around 4:15 or so, and then it’s playtime, dinner prep, dinner eating, waiting for husband to come home, baths and bed. 🙂
It’s a full, busy day that’s full of life! Any follow up questions? Drop them in the comments if you do!!
You guys, I was looking through my blog this morning as my first *School Year Is Starting, But I’m Not Working Yet* order of business, and I really thought I had more on here than I do. Ha! It’s a bit bare bones isn’t it? I have pages and pages full of post ideas. One of my goals for the school year is to get this little spot up and running with regular posts each week. I do still love Instagram, but I know there are mixed feelings on it. This could be a really cool spot with a little more time dedicated to it, couldn’t it? On to this August to do list though!
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that every month, I make a list of things to do in certain (favorite! fun! exciting! whimsical!) categories (Bake, Treats, Cocktails, Meals, and Home). Typically, I do four things under each category and then I pick one from each category every week. So every week I’m crossing something off from each little list. I find that if I list everything out like this at the beginning of the month, I automatically eliminate the need to make any crippling decisions during the month. I do it all at once, and then I’m just left with time to actually do those things on my list! It works, trust me. I’m much more productive since I’ve starting planning my months out like this. You could obviously make the categories anything you’re into. And maybe you could just do a couple under each category if you think it’s unlikely that you’ll do something every single week. This is just what works for me. Make it your own!
So (drumroll please) the August LIST! Just click on the text for a link to the recipes!
Feels a little late to be sharing this, February being a short month and it already being the 9th, but better late than never! But I can imagine this coming in handy next year when I’m looking for monthly to dos. I think I’ll share every month (but hopefully a little earlier next time!).
Now before I dive in, I should explain that I have a little monthly planning hack to help myself get more crossed off of my dreams list. Every month, I go through my calendar, and count how many weeks I have in which to fit a reasonable number of fun things. It’s generally four. So then, I have categories for things that matter to me. Baking, Treats, New Meals, Cocktails, and Home. Sometimes I change the categories, like if I want to focus on organization, for example, or marriage, mental health, physical health, the boys, outings, etc. What I’m saying is that you can choose any category you like. Then, for each of those categories I pick four things (or however many weeks we have) to do. So at the beginning of every new week during that month, I pick one thing from each of my categories and cross them off of my list. Doing my months this way makes me feel like I’m still getting to do what I love and I don’t get overwhelmed with the number of choices out there. Decision fatigue is real! Phew. Maybe I’ll have to post this little monthly planning hack again as a stand-alone post, but (drumroll please), here’s my February to do list – complete with links!
If you follow me on instagram, I’ve talked many times about a document I made several years ago after having my first son, Charlie. To give you a little background – I was just going back to work after maternity leave and felt so sad about it all. I wanted to stay home longer with him, quit my school librarian job, throw caution, our family insurance, and my pension to the wind, but I just couldn’t. But after I had a second son, and then a third, I’ve since come around to being a working mom and I’ve actually found that I am a much more balanced and happier person this way. Now…of course, I am on a teacher schedule which I highly recommend if you have kids and are looking at work options. I have summers off, long holiday breaks, I get off at 3pm every day, and I don’t take any work home (Let it be know that I often did have to bring work home my first few years of teaching and of course I have no homework, papers or tests to grade).
Ok but that’s right now – when I started back at work after that very first maternity leave, I was struggling emotionally and just with figuring out routines and how to make days meaningful when I was so tired all the time from working all day and then caring for a child all night. I would sit in my office while pumping and watch the online video feed of my son crying at daycare and I would cry too. I would get so upset about how unnatural it is to separate a mother from her child at 12 weeks when he was just so tiny and helpless and needed his mama. Phew! I’m getting emotional just thinking back on it.
Well…I soon got pregnant with a second son and decided that something had to change. I had to figure out a way to manage it all – to make childhood magical and special for my kids even if I was so freaking tired I couldn’t even think about how to get to bedtime every night. I wasn’t depressed. I was just struggling with how to do it “all”. And no one was going to figure it out for me. If I didn’t make the memories happen – they just weren’t going to happen. My husband is wonderful, caring and everything one could want in a partner for life but he doesn’t really care about having green milk on St. Patrick’s Day, God love him. I found that things were passing by without me noticing. I forgot St. Nicholas Day, I forgot to send a homemade card from the boys to my mom for her birthday, I realized my husband’s half birthday had been the week before. These things matter to me. All these special, (seemingly) silly little moments passed me by without me doing anything about it. My life was being lived. Not celebrated. And not to mention that we didn’t have clean laundry because I kept forgetting that I had to do a load of laundry every day, and I had to make dinner every night and also somehow keep the house clean and get the boys to daycare and myself to work on time?? After many weeks (or was it months?) of floundering – enter, The Document.
As a librarian, I have a mind that likes to put things into categories. (I live by the Dewey Decimal System after all). So I started to think through what things are important to me. Tradition. Family. Celebrating major and minor holidays. Baking. Acts of Kindness. Food. Having a clean house. Predictability. I am a huge believer in rhythms. If you know nothing about rhythms or the importance of routine for small children, try reading Simplicity Parenting. It’s one of my favorite parenting books and gave me so much inspiration for what I wanted my own parenting to look like. Anyway. I could go on at length about all of these ideas, but I wanted this post to serve as a little introduction to these ideas, and where Making Every Day Special came from. I especially wanted to have a place on here for this spreadsheet that I made to manage our life. It may seem a little structured and boring to you at first, but I feel like it has helped me so much in just wrapping my brain around doing “it all”. I’ll probably use this space to talk through some ideas for celebrating life every day, but now this document has a place to live!
Just click on this link to make a copy of the Making Every Day Special that will go directly to your Google Docs. If you don’t have Google Docs – Here is the Word Document.
I left my text in there to give you ideas for things we do and celebrate, but make it your own! I usually go through throughout the year and add and delete things for the new year. Delete everything that doesn’t speak to you, and add new columns for things that are important to you.