books & reading family fun motherhood summer reading

Summer Reading BINGO 2020 | Free Printable

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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

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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.
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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.

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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!

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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.


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What’s Saving My Life Right Now.

I don’t think I need to tell you that winter is HARD some days but, guys, winter is hard some days. I’ve had pretty much exactly enough cold days, icy sidewalks, sick kids, grey skies and nothing on tv. But I’m linking up with Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy to share a list of things that make these hard winter days a little bit better – the things that are “saving my life right now” – what would be on your list? Here’s mine:

  • Silk brand coffee creamer has been the best solution I’ve found to making quick, easy lactose free cups of joe that I actually want to drink. I know this is a really small thing but really small things are the name of the game on weekday mornings.
  • Water aerobic classes make me feel kind of like a super hero for an hour. I love the fact that I can kick ridiculously high underwater and jump around for an hour without needing aspirin immediately afterwards and being underwater has the added benefit that nobody can really see how poorly I’m doing the moves. Bonus life saver: A gym buddy who keeps encouraging me when I want to cop out.
  • Game nights with the best people keep me from wanting to scream into my phone at Facebook every day. This world can be an exhausting place between sports, politics, Starbucks cups and whatever other ridiculous thing we’re told to be furious about today. Having friends over to play dumb card games and drink cheap wine definitely helps.
  • The balance ball desk chair that my husband got me for Christmas is surprisingly comfortable and way better for my back than my old office chair. You know that feeling you get from sitting too long looking at Pinterest? I don’t seem to get that with this chair and it’s fun to bounce around every so often when Pinterest isn’t being interesting enough.
  • Raising awesome little humans is hard work but it gives me hope for humanity when they say something kind or clever or just awesome. Motherhood definitely isn’t all sunshine and rainbows – trust me I could write a whole post on all the ways that my kids annoy and frustrate me. But they also delight me and make me seriously proud and they are definitely the best thing I’ve ever made.

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Don’t Blink: Her 8th Birthday

When people ask me how long we’ve lived in Wisconsin, I quickly consider the age of my daughter before responding and it always catches me by surprise. We’ve lived here for EIGHT years now and the proof is in how big my youngest child is. Which seems to be bigger every time I look at her lately.

Sometimes it feels like ten minutes ago she looked like this:


And then I blinked and she looked like this:


Like when did that even happen? But then I look through that Facebook “on this day” feature and watch the years slide by and ohhh it really does go so fast…

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Last week she turned officially eight years old. There was much birthday cake and merriment. We invited friends over for a Trolls themed birthday party complete with sing-a-long. She blew out candles.


And then I blinked again and the moment was over. Life got busy and she was simply eight years old. But in between dropping kids off for summer camps and buying groceries and switching loads of laundry I keep looking at her in amazement, wondering when all my littles became bigs, where those cheek bones came from and what she’ll look like after I blink next.

Happy 8th Birthday, Darling, But Please Slow Down.


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Swim Lessons: Underwater Pictures and Mom-commentary


We just finished a session of swim lessons at our favorite pool. I love this place for it’s oh so small class sizes, incredible teachers and lessons that include everything from blowing bubbles underwater to every type of swim stroke you didn’t know existed. They seriously cover every aspect of swimming with detailed charts at the end of each session showing you what skills your kiddo still needs to work on.

But one of my faaaaavorite thing about the swim lessons here: their genius version of fund raising – $2 for an underwater photo of your kiddo during swim lessons. I seriously look forward to these pictures all summer.

Above and below are this year’s pictures. BB’s is only half under water, as you can see. She is kind of the world’s biggest baby about going underwater, even with goggles, especially when it’s cold. That’s our big task for this summer – getting her to be more comfortable and confident under water. Above water she can do basically anything. 🙂

MM is several levels ahead of her. After discovering a love of water slides last year his water confidence grew by leaps and bounds and now he’s working on various dives and strokes that don’t mean anything to me but have him coming back from lessons with a huge grin on his face – and really that is what it’s all about!

What are you up to this summer?

Office Lens 20170623-163944

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Then and Now: Deep Questions To Ask Your Kids.

So about this time four years ago I asked the kids a bunch of super deep questions about life and shared them with you. I thought I’d ask the kids the same questions today and see how their answers changed and share my findings.

2013 | 2017

Back in 2013 the kids were about 3 1/2 and 7. Those responses are on the left just like the picture above.

Right now the kids are 7 1/2 and 11. Their responses today are on the right hand side, again, like the picture above. Got it?

What is the meaning of life?

BB: um, a sun.
MM: I don’t know, I really don’t know, ok?

BB: hmmm let’s see… god created us and wants us to be saved.
MM: What? I don’t know.

MM still has no idea and no desire to pretend he knows. He’s a realist. BB wanted to tell you GOODDDDD for just about every question but after like the fourth question I told her she needed more variety in life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

BB: Cinderella
MM: an actor of Doctor Who

BB: I want to be a jewelry maker.
MM: um a video game tester

I’m not sure either kid has career aspirations that will allow me to live in the comfort that I’d like to become accustomed to. Oh well.

What brings you the most happiness?

BB: my brother
MM: well, my favorite thing is Doctor Who, so that’s what I would say.

BB: you (while hugging me)
MM: Skyrim

These answers pretty much sum up my life right now.

When do you feel the most loved?

BB: Sunday
MM: when I’m with everybody.

BB: Really, I ALWAYS feel the most loved.
MM: when you hug me

I’m happy to hear that my daughter feels loved on ALL the days of the week now. Also awww.

What are you afraid of?

BB: those scary birds, the scary ones and they were black…
MM: nothing really. At least I don’t think I’m afraid of anything.

BB: The dark
MM: a world without books

MM is a boy after my own heart. BB has forgotten all about the birds.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

BB: um, a telephone.
MM: Doctor Who to be real.

BB: That the pool in swimming lessons would be much warmer than it is.
MM: longer days

We leave for swim lessons like any minute now and clearly BB is hoping for warmer water. MM just wants a later bed time or more time to play video games. Priorities.

What is the funniest word?

BB: button… button.
MM: I don’t know…. plethora – it means a lot of something.

BB: The word “who” because sometimes it’s “who” and sometimes it’s “hoo”
MM: abdomen, I think it’s kind of funny

My kids still have no idea what funny means.

What is the hardest/easiest thing to do?

BB: a present giving up / getting excited.
MM: to make a tent upstairs / to read a chapter book

BB: swim / use my kindle
MM: social studies / creative mode minecraft

These answers are boring but accurate.

What is the best/worst thing in the world?

BB: a present with a doll in it / um… a ring.
MM: The best thing in the world? Wow – sun. / I think that is rain.

BB: my BFFs / my enemies I guess?
MM: YOU! / I don’t know.

I have no idea who my daughters enemies are but apparently they are the worst thing in the world. MM has never encountered the worst thing in the world but I guess it isn’t rain anymore.

What makes you mad?

BB: a computer (I swear she’s just looking around the office and naming things)
MM: sometimes when I don’t get my way, that’s one thing.

BB: when something is really hard and frustrating
MM: sometimes my sister storms out of the room.

I think my kids only understand anger when they are feeling it. They were totally at a loss here.

What is the meaning of love?

BB: a heart
MM: well, it means that you really like something.

BB: hope
MM: happiness

This. All of this.

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

BB: I would… buy something.
MM: Huh… I would buy a lot of things…

BB: I would buy jewelry and a bunch of dress up clothes that I love.
MM: Like infinite money?? I would buy a lot of stuff, I would buy a mansion and a dog that does not bark. I would become Tony Stark and I would have a lot of nice food.

Neither of them offered to buy me anything. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Let me know if you and your kids play along!