Monday night we celebrated our first Back To School family night. I'll be honest, it was a lot of work and I was tired and not feeling really great. But I didn't want to miss an event that only happens once a year, especially when this was our first year to be able to start this tradition. So I pulled through it.
We started the afternoon by going to Despicable Me 2. Or as The Bug calls it "De-stick-able Me 2." I keep telling her it's "pick" and not "stick" and she knows it, but when she's in a hurry it still comes out "stick-able." Cracks me up. I love that there are still a few words she doesn't get quite right. That was always so cute when she was little.
Saturday I planned our menu and did all the grocery shopping. I decided to use the slow cooker so there wouldn't a lot of prep time. Here was our menu.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast (cooked in onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme and crushed black pepper)
Oven Roasted Potatoes (with olive oil, garlic, thyme, black pepper and chunky salt)
Spinach Salad (with cranberries and mandarin oranges)
Fresh English Cucumbers and Homegrown Tomatoes
Icebox Key Lime Pie with whipped cream
I put the roast in Monday morning about 11 a.m. on the low setting and from there it took care of itself. Once the roast was going, The Bug and I made the pies. Super easy recipe: frozen limeade, whipped topping, sweeten condensed milk and a little lime zest in a homemade graham cracker crust. I cheated, since I forgot to buy fresh limes and threw in a tablespoon of lemon zest instead. Didn't change a thing. The pies went into the freezer for the day.
When we got home from the movie I cut up the potatoes, threw together the olive oil herb mixture, mixed it all together and threw it on a cookie sheet into a 400 degree oven. All the thyme and rosemary I used was home grown. I love being able to just head out and cut what I need. We quickly threw together the salad and set the table.
I took all my inspiration for this event from Stephanie Nielson of NieNieDialogues. She makes the most fantastic paper crowns for her school age children each year. From this link you can follow links to all her school feast events filled with wonderful photos. So fifteen minutes before dinner I gathered craft supplies on my bed and quickly made a cute little crown for our girl. I took this photo after the event so it looks a little worse for wear now, but at least you can get an idea of it.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner together (hours to make, minutes to devour) then Daddy shared his thoughts about the beginning of the school year. For our theme we chose two words COURAGE and ATTITUDE. He talked about each, how they apply to school and our lives. He did a great job. Then he gave The Bug a blessing for the school year.
Within seconds of completing the blessing, she was asking when we could have pie. Before she even finished the sentence she caught herself and realized that maybe she should be a little more focused on the moment at hand than rushing into dessert. It was very cute to watch her process all that.
We enjoyed delicious pie, then The Bug modeled her new outfit she has planned for the first day and then we danced for a few minutes in the living room. By 8 pm she ready to hop into bed, nightlight and music on, blankets positioned just as they should be, teeth brushed and ready for sleep. I thought she might be nervous, but she wasn't. I climbed into bed a few minutes later with my laptop. To my surprise, Daddy was in bed and asleep before 9:30. It was an early night for all, followed by a very efficient and happy morning for the first day of school.
Lesson learned. I'm glad I pushed through and made it happen. I like that we did a movie in the afternoon before our dinner. Next year I am going to start working on things in advance. I'm glad I kept the meal simple. Next year I'm going to avoid turning on the oven. That really heated up the kitchen. Now that we've done one of these and we all know what to expect I hope we can make each coming year more memorable and magical. I feel like the first time it was a little like pulling teeth to get everyone on board and on schedule.
Did you have special night before the first day traditions growing up? Do you have them in your own family? I'd love to hear what you did/do! Leave a note below.