family fun motherhood

5 Things Bringing Me Joy Right Now.

It would appear that 2020 is in no hurry to take it easy on us. Like everyone else, life has been a series of one step forward and two steps back, making the urge to wallow and whinge strong. But we know better.

We’ve learned to look for the things bringing us joy in the little moments. It’s the only way to battle the blahs and look at these months behind us with the ability to remember more than face masks, social media meltdowns and heartbreaking news stories.

So today let’s choose to look for the joy so that we can fight more battles tomorrow with renewed spirits.

Like these new jars I bought to store flour and sugar on the counter.

And the cookbook that I’ve been baking my way through while we’re stuck at home.

Or those small moments when life looks almost normal. Like taking the kids out for ice cream (we wore masks to order). Bonus points, we had the place to ourselves, so I let them eat inside in the air conditioning.

Playing outside – we’ve had plenty of time for frisbees and sidewalk chalk this summer.

Or when I baked chocolate chip cookies for my husband for Father’s Day and everyone agreed they were some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

What’s bringing you joy right now?

family fun motherhood photography wordless wednesday

wordless wednesday | pictures of june

When I look back on this time someday, these are the things I hope to remember. Not how Facebook was driving me crazy or how much I hate group texts or how much I miss that sense of normalcy that we’ve always taken for granted. I want to remember the beautiful moments that we found when we were forced to slow down and focus on home.

doodling along with some favorite illustrators on youtube - we love Studio JJK and Mo Willems!
doodling along with some favorite illustrators on youtube
what better activity to spend quarantine doing than baking my way through a new cookbook - these cheddar herb scones came out great
baking therapy for the win
making pinecone bird feeders with the kids really brought me back to doing this as a kid with my grandmother
making pine cone bird feeders like it’s 1992
finally painting again - it felt good to pull out my watercolors after a long hiatus
painting a watercolor meadow

family fun motherhood

Summer Vacation: Stuck at Home Still Edition

Summer vacation started a couple of weeks ago but for the most part nothing has changed. Despite some restrictions being lifted in town, we’re still mostly staying at home and trying to keep busy and avoid the news. Oh wait, that last part is just me.

That said, with school work out of the way and my husband back at work, we’ve had more time for Momma Camp type activities. I’m trying to keep the three of us busy during the day so we don’t melt into the couch forever.

We’ve been watching drawing tutorials on YouTube by Mo Willems and Jarrett J. Krosoczka. And a few others as well but these two are probably our favorites.

MM has been doing karate lessons online since March and just started attending in person again, with lots of restrictions and regulations in place.
My Animal Crossing addiction continues but I’m trying to play less during the day. I still managed to become a bellionaire in the Stalk Market though.

My reading life has been pretty solid this Spring. With no forced early wake ups, I’ve been staying up late reading most nights and occasionally sitting outside and reading in our backyard. My book club just finished Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and this month we’re reading The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. These are some of the other books I’ve been adding to my TBR pile recently.

I might have bought the Babysitter’s Club board game to play with my girlie.
I taught the kids how to make bird feeders with pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed and then we hung them outside.

Then on the way inside I slipped and sprained my ankle so that is a bittersweet mom memory for me. I was feeling all the nostalgia remembering making these bird feeders with my grandmother and got some gorgeous pictures hanging them up. Then a moment later, woosh! I’m doing ok but still in a bit of pain several days later.

Luckily I have pretty self sufficient and sweet children who manage to keep themselves busy and help me out as needed. What was that about playing less Animal Crossing again?

What have you guys been up to?

IRL motherhood op ed

Before and After. Thoughts on life before quarantine and “new normals”

People keep talking about the new normal we’re going to have to adjust to when things start to open back up. I have mixed feelings about this phrase because I have mixed feelings about what life in quarantine has been like. The things I will miss and the things I won’t miss if and when life starts to resemble before.

Before quarantine I would stop into a favorite coffee shop for a latte and a treat. Sometimes I’d meet friends. Sometimes I would simply be taking a moment for myself between errands.

Most of these coffee shops will let me pick up these goodies to go, but I haven’t taken advantage of this because it seems like it was never about the latte, it was about the place and the people.

These days my morning starts with making a big pot of coffee to share with my husband who is working from home (though it sounds like he’ll be going back to the office soon). In between meetings we meet in the kitchen and pour another cup and chat about our day so far and discuss dinner. Usually he makes us bacon and eggs for lunch. I’ll be honest, this new ritual is something I’ll miss when he goes back to work.

Right before the spring break that never really ended I chaperoned a field trip to the planetarium with my fifth grader. It’s a favorite field trip of mine and I’m glad it wasn’t one of the many that was cancelled.

I miss volunteering in the kid’s classes, serving lunch to their smiling faces, going on field trips and catching up with school moms. We chat on Facebook but it’s not the same.

That said, I don’t miss the early morning rush or the driving from activity to activity at all. I secretly love having the kids at home all day. Don’t get me wrong, my introvert frequently burns out from the chatter, but I don’t hate midday cuddles and late bedtimes.

Before quarantine I bought a travel watercolor set so that I could paint on the go. That entire sentence seems foreign to me now.

I also carried around a book to read in the car during school pick up because nighttime reading was often sacrificed because of exhaustion. These days I have all the time I need for hobbies. I’m reading three books at a time. I play video games every day, y’all. We watch family movies multiple times a week.

I don’t miss being tired from running errands and saying yes to too many things. I don’t miss the busy. I love a lot of things about this forced slow down. And yet…

I do miss going to Target to look at absolutely nothing. I miss shopping without a mask. I miss a trip to the grocery store not leaving me emotionally exhausted for at least an hour. I miss seeing friends and kissing babies and smiling at cashiers and not cringing about 6 feet of separation.

I know it feels petty to complain about little things like wanting to grab coffee at Starbucks or visit a friend. But we all know it’s not about that really. It’s about being able to breathe and stretch and exist in the world – to smile and laugh and hug each other. That’s all I want.

books & reading family fun motherhood summer reading

Summer Reading BINGO 2020 | Free Printable

three wooden dinosaur
Photo by cottonbro on

I just finished creating a summer reading challenge for 2020 because my kids have ONE WEEK LEFT of distance learning before our summer break begins! Is anyone else baffled by how fast and how slow quarantine seems to go at the same exact time?

My kids are counting down the days and I’m trying to get a game plan put together so that we don’t spend the entire summer staring at YouTube and playing video games. As fun as that sounds.

I’m not sure what our summer will look like right now – our state is starting to whisper about opening things back up but we as a family are planning to continue hunkering as long as we can stand it. Summers past have involved a lot of trips to the library for free camps and checking in with their summer reading programs because one challenge is never enough for my voracious readers.


I’ve been making the kids summer reading challenges for a couple of years now to supplement the programs offered by the library and bookstores because those tend to only last us a couple of weeks at best.

Creating these challenges can be tough because my kids are already good readers, and I don’t want to make reading seem like a chore. I’m not going to make them count how many minutes they’ve been reading or how many pages. I don’t want to make a long list of categories that don’t line up with their interests – and often they read such vastly different types of books that I end up having to make multiple challenges – one for each kid.

Anyway – behold: this year’s summer reading challenge! I’ve been pretty into the BINGO format because it lets the kids aim low or high depending on their motivation and gives a fair amount of options. I’m pretty proud of this assortment of categories because I think it will appeal to both my 10 year old and my 14 year old. Wish me luck!

summer reading 2020 bingo

Feel free to save and print this to use with your own kids this summer.

Let me know how they like it!

When do your kids start summer break?

Here are a few challenges from summers past: 2018, 2017 and 2016

family fun motherhood

My Homeschooling Plan for Next Week

This looks like as good a plan as any, right?

I’m still waiting to hear from our kids’school about a formal plan for the coming weeks but after a week of letting the kids indulge in all the video games and YouTube videos they can stand (hey, it’s Spring Break!) I’m thinking next week will need a little more structure.

I’m tentatively considering some websites, books and documentaries that we have access to here at home that I can use for a lazy lesson plan. I figure if I can get them to spend at least 30 minutes a day on English, science, history, math and reading and then add in art, music and foreign language as needed… It will get us to lunch time? 🤣🤣🤣

Anyway here are some things I’ve found for said subjects:

History / Geography



  • I honestly just plan to have them write stories and poetry.


  • This is another easy one. Look two feet in any direction and they will find a book here. Maybe I’ll ask for book reviews?


  • Dan got a weird math calendar for Christmas.
  • Crash Course YouTube channel
  • I don’t know, their math books?



  • Um, there’s a new Taylor Swift “documentary on YouTube that I could make them watch with me.
  • The Masked Singer is mid season.
  • Jamie Foxx’s show Beat Shazam.
  • Shut up.

Foreign Language

  • I thought I’d get both kids set up on Duolingo. I’ve been using it for a couple years to learn German and brush up on my French.
family fun inexplicable kids motherhood

File this under: Things found while cleaning the house.


Sometimes I’m cleaning up around the house and I find stuff like this lying around and I’m torn between “Geez, does anyone even clean up after themselves…” and “Wait? What? What even is this?” and sometimes “Are my children brilliant and way more funny and interesting than I am?” and then “Do you think I’m qualified to be a buffet taste tester? How much do you think it pays? Maybe I should call.

And then I find stuff like this:


And I’m just wondering how long it will be until I’m posting bail for these two.

family fun mama kat's writers workshop motherhood

8 things my kids have asked me for recently.

img_20181026_154715Now that Halloween is behind us, it’s time to obsess over the upcoming Winter holidays. Obviously we’re going to skip right over Thanksgiving because here in America, we’re more concerned with commercialistic holidays like Black Friday, Christmas and Christmas Bonus Time (You know I’m kidding right? Thanksgiving is awesome and there should always be pumpkin pie, extra stuffing and an excuse to eat five different kinds of dessert so nobody’s feelings get hurt).

In the Spirit of Wanting Stuff in the Wintertime, here are 8 things my kids have asked me for recently:

img_20181026_154823My daughter wants a lamp for her nightstand for reading at bedtime.

Like this was the first thing she mentioned when the kids got into a discussion about their Christmas Wishlist the other day. I kind of love that we’re in a stage now where reading lights are more compelling than a new doll or lego set. I’m sure she wouldn’t turn those down either but I’ll take my victories where I can find them, okay?

img_20181026_154759My son wants an mp3 player.

We got one for my daughter last year because her boom box died. Yes we own boom boxes. Anyway, the mp3 player was the cheapest solution. She loves carrying it around with her and living that 1999 life. And, of course, now my son wants one, too, even though his boom box still works. Ah, decisions. Luckily mp3 players are actually an outdated device now so they are surprisingly dirt cheap.

mvimg_20181026_154815My daughter wants macaroni and cheese for dinner every night.

Or grilled cheese. Or a cheese quesadilla. Noticing a trend yet? If the main ingredient of the dish is not cheese, she’ll probably complain about it. We live in Wisconsin though, so maybe this was a foregone conclusion? Hard to say.

img_20181026_154742My son, conversely, wants tacos at any given moment.

Of course, my daughter thinks she hates tacos which kind of takes the fun out of taco night a bit. But we could have tacos tonight and he’d ask for them again tomorrow. No to tacos? How about nachos? Quesadillas? Taco pizza?

img_20181026_154809My daughter wants studded boots like Mal from the Descendants movies (that’s her Halloween costume if you couldn’t tell because you aren’t a 9-12 year old girl).

This isn’t an altogether outrageous ask except that she really doesn’t need anymore shoes right now. But if I spot a good deal on cute boots that have that Mal vibe… who knows.

img_20181026_154722My son wants his own YouTube account so he can make Minecraft tutorial videos.

At 12 years old, we are still toeing the line between what Internet interactions are okay and which ones aren’t. We haven’t let him get involved in social media yet – he has his whole life to have a love / hate relationship with those. We don’t really want him playing games with an online / chat element just yet. But he does watch Minecraft videos on YouTube and he’s pretty sure he’s the next Dan TDM.

img_20181022_090523_706My daughter wants her own umbrella to bring to school.

She honestly doesn’t need one because her rain jacket has a hood and her class doesn’t go outside for recess if it’s raining. But I guess umbrellas are very glamorous and make an excellent prop for moments that need an umbrella kind of vibe? I should probably just give into this and buy the girl an umbrella but I’m pretty sure she’ll break it or lose it within a week so I keep being stubborn Mean Mom about it.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20181019172835209_coverMy son wants a tv for his bedroom so he can play video games in his room.

I think this is hilarious and he can keep on wishing. I’m probably super strict and an awful person but I want him to spend time with me and junk and not hide in his bedroom all day… just yet.

What are some things your kids have asked you for recently? Do you think I should give my daughter an umbrella? Would you let your 12 year old have a YouTube account? Is it time for Pumpkin pie yet?


I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s pretty much world famous Writer’s Workshop today. Let me know if you are participating, too, in the comments section below!

mama kat workshop

family fun IRL kids motherhood

A Snapshot of the School Year So Far

The kids’ school pictures came in the other day and I cannot stop staring at them. When I was a kid, I feel like most school pictures looked pretty terrible and awkward. Or maybe that was just me? This is not the case these days, at least at my kids’ school. The photographer s so freaking talented and  had the genius idea of taking the pictures outside in natural lighting. Life changing stuff.

Anyway, I thought I’d share their pictures and tell you a little bit about what they are doing in school because I know you guys are deeply invested in the lives of my children like that.

My daughter, BB, started fourth grade this year. In a lot of ways, she’s still my little girly who loves cuddles and thinks I’m basically the coolest person ever. She still loves it when I walk to class with her and is always hoping I’ll be volunteering in the class that day.

She is getting more and more grown up though also.  She loves extra credit reports for fun. Sometimes she asks me to take her to the library to check out a handful of books about seahorses or otters so that she can make a report for her teacher for fun. I can’t wrap my mind around this but I’m not going to tell her no.

Some highlights from the school year so far: This month her class read Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink together. They took a field trip to a golf course where they learned how to play foot golf – a cross between soccer and golf. They did science experiments on paper towels to see which ones were the most absorbent. She’s continuing piano lessons this year and turning into a real piano Rockstar. Next month she will be joining the school’s Spirit Squad.

A letter from BB about her class’s paper towel experiments

MM started 7th grade this year which feels impossible basically. How are there only two years left until high school? Can someone check my math and confirm? Also how is my kid almost as tall as me now?

Seventh grade is very different from fourth. I basically never volunteer directly in his classroom and I think he’s probably good with that. Don’t get me wrong – we’re buddies at home. But he appreciates that separation between home life and class life. I’m mostly okay with this.

This month his class read Day of Tears by Julius Lester. They have been learning about the civil war and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t hear much about because he’s self sufficient in the homework department these days. He is participating in Forensics after school which has nothing to do with studying bones apparently and is more like public speaking. He’s working on reciting a passage from Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, which is basically his favorite book. Add to this karate classes three times a week and piano lessons on Tuesdays and my kid is one busy bee!

Want to take a serious walk down memory lane? Here are some school pictures from years past.