15 Year Wedding Anniversary Trip: Deep Creek Lake

Travis and I celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary last week (10/19), which coincided with Jack’s school being closed on Friday… so we went to a fabulous cabin in Deep Creek for a long weekend! Over the years, we’ve gone on some amazing anniversary trips, pretty much always taking Jack with us. This year, we decided to keep it relatively close by with a trip to Deep Creek and save our “big” trip for another spring break blowout.

Deep Creek Lake is located a little less than 3 hours from our house, so we decided to pack up after work/school on Thursday and make the trip that night. That way, we could be all settled when we woke up on Friday and have all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning for fun before heading home.

We typically have our dog sitter watch Ollie, but we decided to bring him with us since the cabin was dog friendly for no extra fee. He enjoys car rides with us and sleeping in bed with us even more, so it made sense for him to tag along.

Here are some highlights from our trip:

All the cabin snuggly time – we logged into our Netflix account to watch tv, brought video games and books and enjoyed some down time. It was a rainy chilly weekend, so it was perfect to turn on the fireplace and get all comfy in some snuggle blankets. Ollie enjoyed it too.

Checking out Sacred Ground Gem Mining – We purchased an “Emerald bag” for about $20 and Jack took it over to the sluice to dump a small portion at a time into the screen tray, submerge it and watch his gemstones appear. Afterwards, he went through the accompanying photo identifier to figure out all of the different gemstones he found in his bag. This was a HUGE hit for him!

Deep Creek Donuts – Who doesn’t love homemade donuts?! Super yummy flavors and a delicious afternoon treat!

The hot tub – We loved the cabin’s hot tub and got lots of use out of it even though it was really chilly outside. The view from the backyard was beautiful with all the leaves changing and luckily, we didn’t see any bears while we were hanging out in our ‘people stew.’

If you want a little trek through our first 10 years of marriage, I was reminded of this post I did back in 2018 that makes me smile: Celebrating 10 years of Marriage.

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Jack’s First Day of 6th Grade

Today is our first day of school and we officially have a middle schooler in the house!

Jack is excited to go to a new school with TWO floors and meet a bunch of new friends this year. He’s also thrilled that his best friend shares his homeroom and a few other classes too. Most of all, he is eager to learn more about what clubs he will be able to join once they launch this fall, with the robotics club high up on his list.

With Jack getting older, I asked him whether he still wanted me to write about him on Pocketful of Joules. He’s been approving his own photos for a while, so I wanted to make sure that he had the chance to veto any Jack-specific posts if it makes him uncomfortable. I suggested maybe we discontinue the ‘back to school’ type posts and only include him when talking about family trips and general adventures. However, he said he would like to keep up with the Jack posts for now.

So, for the time being you’ll still see my kiddo on the blog from time to time. But, over the next few years I may start sharing a little less.

Today though, I’m happy to share this adorable, smart, hilarious and very, very cute 6th grader!

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Back to School: Tips to Make Your Life Easier

It’s that time of year again – we just received our class assignments and school supplies lists for the upcoming year. We don’t go back to class until after Labor Day, but according to my social media timelines some kids are already starting to head back!

Here are a few of my tips to help make the back-to-school craziness go a little bit smoother:

School Supplies Upgrade

Order these labels and stick them on EVERYTHING!

I’ve been using them for years on school supplies, lunch boxes, water
bottles, plastic containers, ice packs, etc. They are dishwasher safe and hold
up really well after dozens and dozens of washes. I even have a water bottle
from a year ago that STILL has the label on it with Jack’s name. These things are invaluable, so keep a pack on hand!

If you need a quickie shopping list for back-to-school deals, I did all the
legwork to find the best pricing on smaller quantities and saved my school
supplies shopping list: Back To School Supplies List 2023

Throw in a Load of Laundry

Hunt down the backpack and lunchboxes your kiddo(s) used last year, throw them in the washing machine and wash them on cold (add a few towels so you don’t waste any space). Then, let them hang dry so that they’re all ready for the coming year. Even if you bought a brand-new lunchbox and backpack, DO THIS ANYWAYS with the old ones. That way when a container of peaches opens up inside their lunch bag and makes everything sticky, you’re prepared with a backup until the new one is clean again. If you have a hard lunchbox (rather than the squishy kind), stick it in the dishwasher for a nice back-to-school bath.

Reintroduce Shoes

If your kid is like mine, they’ve been wearing sandals, flip flops, or crocs
all summer long. However, at our school it is required to wear sneakers on gym days. Well, Jack hasn’t put on socks and sneakers in months, so each August I have him try on his sneakers to make sure he hasn’t grown out of them.

Flow Chart 1: If they’re too small, you now have a couple weeks to
find a new pair. Find them, buy them, start wearing them to break them in so they are ready to be worn for a full school day.

Flow Chart 2: If they still fit, reintroduce shoes and socks to your kid.
According to Jack, socks are evil and so hard to put on after three months. So, we start wearing them sparingly before school starts to get the whining out of the way early.

Do a Clothing Fashion Show

Yes, I know it’s still 90 degrees in Maryland. However, when you realize
your kid grew out of all their pants and long sleeves it will be cold outside
and you’ll be stuck sending your kid to school in capris. Do a quick try-on of
pants, long sleeves and jackets so that you have a couple months to hunt out
sales and gather what you need.

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