food: frozen yogurt dots

Need a fun snack idea for kids that’s more fun than another piece of string cheese? 

Take a tub of yogurt, any flavor. Fill a small plastic baggie, close it and snip off the corner. Squeeze small dots of yogurt onto a cookie sheet covered with foil. Put in the freezer. Wait.  

If your kids are old enough, they can do it themselves and it becomes an activity (aka time killer. What?) too. 

Peel the dots off of the foil and serve in a small cup or bowl and voila! 

Healthy finger food snacks for the kids – we did ours with vanilla this time, which pretty much tastes like vanilla ice cream, so they think they’re getting away with having dessert for snack. Just eat them before they melt! 

Enjoy!  Do you have any easy 1-2 step snacks that are quick to prepare and yummy? 

mom hacks no. 1

Or simply: Things We Do in our House to Make Things More… Simple.

1. If it’s not labeled on the toy itself, write the type of batteries that a toy requires on the outside, so you don’t go through the trouble of getting out a screwdriver only to find you don’t have the right kind of batteries. And then the kids cry.

2. Put stuff close to where you will use it.  I used to keep my daughter’s hairdo supplies  in her bathroom upstairs, then I moved them downstairs to the cabinet in the guest bathroom. Then I thought, “That’s dumb too.” I do my daughter’s hair at the breakfast table on school mornings, so this is much faster.  Weird to have hair supplies on the fridge? Maybe. Nice to have extra time on school mornings? Absolutely.  (PS – there are tiny rubber bands in the bottom of the basket.  I’ve found that the whatchamacallit popular loomy- bracelet-making rubber bands are the BEST for doing little girls’ hair.  They hold tight enough and they don’t get tangled when you pull them out.  And there’s like, a bazillion in a package, so I don’t reuse them… just trash them after each use.)

3. If you have younger kids who don’t go to school yet, pack their lunch when you pack your school-age kids’ lunches. You have all the stuff out already anyway, and then when hunger strikes, you can direct them to their lunchbox instead of scrambling to decide what to feed them.  My 4-year old starts asking to eat his lunch at like, 9:30am.

Sometimes I let him. What?

4. Lay out a week’s worth of clothes at a time. (or sometimes I do 2-3 weeks at a time if I have enough clean laundry for it.) See this post for one of my favorite school morning saving-grace projects: day of the week hanging shelves.

5. And/also… Have your kids sleep in their clothes if you know a particular morning is going to be hectic. Kids’ clothes feel like pajamas anyway, right?   We do this specifically when we know we’re leaving early in the morning for a road trip, etc.

More hacks to come as I come across them in every day life…

Any quick tips that you use to make school mornings, or just mom-life in general, go more smoothly?

our house daily

On a good day, when I have the house picked up before my husband gets home, I suppose it can look like we didn’t do very much during day.  I guess if it looks the same in the morning and evening, then nothing happened in between, right?


Right now, I just have the two boys with me at home during the day, so naturally it becomes “boyish” around here while sister is at school.

Just a snapshot of what happens here on a regular basis…


The orange one that got away.


Friends came over = snack time x 2.


A little extra decoration in daddy’s office…


The vehicle lineup, protecting our fireplace from… something?


And I can assure you that those hand weights are not there because I worked out this morning…

How many times a day do you tidy up?  Do you let it all go until the end of the day?  My husband said that he realized our house is like my office or workplace, and having it be a mess would drive him crazy if it were his “desk.”
(What if your co-workers came and messed up your desk 14 times a day?)

I tidy up every day (several times a day) because it is… it’s my office.

But, it does my heart good to stop every once in a while and notice the imagination and fun and childhood that is going on around me.

It’s their office too.
Play is their work.
And who am I to mess up their work? 🙂


morning routine

Quickest blog post ever…

So, seasoned moms with school-age kids… what do you do to make your school mornings run more smoothly?

I tend to find that every 1 minute that I take to prepare the night before is worth 2-3 minutes of “morning” time.  Time just slips away too quickly in the mornings, and there are also the “grumpy waking-up, I needed more sleep, I don’t want to wear those clothes, I hate brushing my teeth, I can’t find my shoes” unanticipated delays in the morning that make them hectic.

So… what do you do?

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poor moses

We have three kids.  It is very easy to get impatient with them.

Like today.

They were picking on each other, being mean, complaining, whining, fussing… like kids do.  And that’s just two of them – the third is a baby.  He just cries, but it’s not really his fault, right?

Anyway, I started this Bible study 4 years ago.  You go through the Bible one book per week for 3 years to complete it.  Yes, 3 years to complete it.   Why have I been doing it for 4 years?  Because I felt like I needed to start over.  Mainly because of Moses.  He’s my man.

We have three kids.  Moses led a group of millions of whining, complaining Israelites.  We’ve had these kids for 6 years. (the oldest)  Moses led those people for over 40 years.  Complaining.  No wonder he struck the rock instead of speaking to it.  I would have flipped a lid.  At the first mention of “We were better off in Egypt!”, I would have said, “Great.  Head on back.  Have fun with that.”

And what did Moses get for it?  With one slip – taking things into his own hands,  demonstrating his frustration with the people of Israel by striking a rock instead of speaking to it like God commanded, he was voted out.  No Promised Land for you.

I would have been right there with you, Moses.

Then, in thinking about the “great” men of the Old Testament, I started thinking… These men were all called to do these great things.  They are remembered as the “big men” of Scripture.  But they were all called to do jobs that were not glorious, not fun, a lot of work, full of complaints, dirty and without much gratitude from the people they were serving.  (Though we make them out to be glorious heroes, and we make feature films out of them.)

Moses: Millions of dirty, exhausted, beaten-down Israelites.  Ungrateful. Idolatrous at times.  Complaining.  40 years.  In the middle of the wilderness.

Noah: Surrounded by wicked people.  Unrepentant. Physical labor building the largest boat known to man at the time. Exhausting.  With no applause.

Jonah: Sent to speak to an evil enemy nation.  Miles and miles from home.  Traveling in the dust.  Disobeying.  Getting swallowed by a big fish.  Not fun.  No applause.

David: Pursued by Saul who wanted to end his life.  Fighting giants.  Endless battles…

… on and on.  These are the Biblical greats.  All called to hard, endless, dirty, thankless jobs.  God didn’t call them to these jobs because they were good at them, or because they were great, great men.  He just called them.

And he called me to be a mom to these 3 children.  And be patient with them.  And serve them, even when they’re fussy.  Even when they don’t like the manna and quail (so to speak) that I put on the table.  Even when they wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or hit each other, or whine, or wet the bed, or spill stuff… this is the job that I’ve been given.  The job that I wanted.

So… I’ll be starting my 5th year of this Bible study in a few weeks.  🙂  Bring on the prophets!  God’s proof of his patience with us, over and over and over.  And a reminder of the patience I need to have when serving the little “nation” that has been entrusted to me.

summer theme day 4: ocean day

Last week was Ocean Day.  We kept it simple and stuck to the easy outline: cardboard box for a boat, magnet fishing poles, paperclip fish and Goldfish crackers for a snack.  My mom is a teacher, and she had some great resources for learning about ocean life too, so we got a bonus there.  Thanks, mom!





It’s been understandably more difficult to get a theme day done with a newborn in the house – no more schedule; we just fit it in whenever we can.  But, it has been really nice to have activities already planned out, along with snacks and a supply list, so we always have something to fall back on when the kids are getting antsy.

If you could do a theme day, what would you do?


summer theme day 3: bob the builder day

Well, we’ve done two more theme days, but are just now getting around to posting them. (I wonder why…)

The third one was Bob the Builder Day.  I didn’t take many pics, but we spent the day watching Bob the Builder, teaching the kids how to use a hammer and nails and screwdriver, and then for snack we built fun structures out of marshmallows and toothpicks!




He wanted to make a stoplight for his cars.  What a creative little guy!


Next up… Ocean Day!


summer theme day 2: bug day

Bug Day was the first theme day we did after baby arrived, so I’m glad it was an easy one! (baby pics to come soon)

Thanks to the Target Dollar Aisle (we’ll be there a lot this summer) we had a mesh bug container and some magnifying glasses to hunt for bugs in the backyard.  They might still be at Target if you look this week!





We searched the backyard and found two beetles, so one of our activities for the afternoon turned into searching online for what type of beetles they were, and drawings pictures of them.  Fun and free!



Then we made paper butterflies.  Clothespin, construction paper and markers.  Just color patterns on the paper, accordion-fold, and cut into the shapes of wings. Done!


Then after dinner, we surprised the kids with special “bug dessert.”  The old standard, dirt and worms in a cup!



Side note: her eyes.  Daddy is gonna have to watch out for all the boys…

I have to say, I LOVE having activities planned ahead of time.  It took a little bit of time on the front end, but simply having a 20-30 minute activity each day keeps us from going crazy.  The kids are happier and I’m more patient with them.  And it forces me to take the time to spend with them and do kid things.  No laundry, no dishes.  Just play.

I highly recommend it!



summer theme day 1: crayon day

Started our theme days today.  Our first official Friday of summer!


We started with Crayon Day.  So easy; if you have crayons, wax paper and an iron (and a computer for the video) then you’re set!

First, we watched the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode where they take a tour of the crayon factory. (on Amazon Prime, or you could probably find it on YouTube.  There’s also an old Mister Rogers where they take the same tour.)

Then we did the stained glass window/crayon shavings craft using all of our broken crayons, then colored pictures with our new crayons. 🙂


Disclaimer: Our kids are 6 and 3.  It’s messy to have them do the shaving themselves. 🙂 Do at your own risk. (metal pencil sharpeners work best – the plastic ones that come with crayon sets aren’t as good)






Staple a frame on it, punch a hole, and hang it like a stained glass window!


So easy and fun, and the kids had never done it before, so they loved it.  Next Friday, we’ll be doing Bug Day!  We’ll also have a newborn, so hopefully that’s an easy theme to pull off!

summer “school”: week 1


In addition to Theme Days this summer, we’ll be doing summer school with the kids.


Goal #1: Keep our daughter fresh on all she learned in kindergarten, and to work on alphabets, colors and numbers for our 3-year old son.


Goal #2: Have something for our kids to do that’s planned/organized. 🙂  I’m choosing Tuesday and Wednesday as school days.  That gives us Monday off, and Thursday to prepare for Theme Day on Friday.


That’s at least 3 days a week where we have at least a 20-30 minute activity to do.  We just finished day two of summer school and I am loving having a planned activity!  Even if it’s just a few minutes, it’s a big deal to the kids, and after we finish, they are so happy to go play on their own and entertain themselves.


So, our schedule will be as follows:
Tuesdays – Our son will do alphabet/number puzzles or watch a Leap Frog video about letters and numbers.  Our daughter will illustrate and write a short story each Tuesday.  We’re planning to scan them all in and make a photo book online of her whole summer’s worth of stories!



Wednesdays – Creative learning day.  Paints, shaving cream, chalk… something fun!  Our daughter will work on math/numbers on Wednesdays, as well as have individual reading time.






That’s it!  Just a short activity to keep the summer moving.

Anybody out there have good ideas on creative ways to teach kids over the summer, with a little hint of fun? 🙂