mama kat's writers workshop

6 Things I Want to Accomplish This Fall

Kat @ Mama Kat’s Losin It wants to know 6 things I’m hoping to accomplish this fall (it’s one of 6 prompts for her pretty much world famous Writer’s Workshop. It feels weird to make plans or goals in a year that has been notoriously filled with uncertainty and change – but let’s see if we can come up with 6 goals for a season known for change anyway.

  1. I want to make pumpkin bars this year. I’ve never done it before but I’ve eaten a lot of them and it feels like it’s probably in my wheel house. Have a favorite recipe? Throw it in the comments section below. Don’t throw actual pumpkin bars because it will just land on your monitor or phone screen and I don’t want to be responsible for that.
  2. I want to start a nature journal with my 6th grader. This one might be cheating because I’ve literally already gotten a book from the library about how to start a nature journal and dug up some sketch books in the basement and even started pressing a couple of leaves and a flower from a recent “field trip” to a local park. But if Fall ends and we haven’t put anything in our sketch books, I’d be disappointed. So I’m throwing it out into the universe for accountability.
  3. I want to try making homemade biscuits again now that I have biscuit cutters and stuff. It’s tough when most of my goals are carb based and supposedly we’re trying to eat healthy? The conflict is pretty crystal clear.
  4. I want to watch a bunch of Halloween themed movies with the family in October. I actually looked up a bunch that are streaming and ones that I owned and put a handful on my Google Calendar to try and make this actually happen. Cross your fingers.
  5. I want to drink a warm tasty beverage while cuddled under a cozy blanket and watch The Great British Baking Show or reading a cozy mystery. We’ll pretend that I haven’t been doing that all year anyway.
  6. I want to find an extra room in my house that I can escape to when my teenagers are being exceptionally loud playing video games online with friends or watching cartoons. Like I’m glad they are happy and being entertained but my house is basically never quiet and it’s starting to get too cold outside to hide on my front porch so we’re going to need to figure something out before I start shouting that children should be seen and not heard.

That’s my list – what would be on yours for this season?

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The Difference A Year Makes.

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week’s Writer’s Workshop is to look back on a blog posts from this time last year and compare how things are different now…

I know, right?

I don’t think 2019 Jen could even fathom 2020 Jen’s life and that’s okay because I wouldn’t wish it on my worst alternate reality self. But if we can’t giggle about it and pretend it doesn’t hurt then the Rona Gremlins win. So here’s a post I wrote back in August of 2019 just before school was about to start.

I was giddy with anticipation about the kids going back to school soon because as much as I love my kids, being with them every day all day for a whole summer can be tough.

Here are some of the things I was looking forward to doing:

I can’t wait to go to the coffee shop and just get something for myself and only spend like $5. Which I still do sometimes during the summer but it earns me a stink eye from the Offspring.

I mean, I’d still love to go to the coffee shop by myself but I would love it even more if I could go inside without putting on a mask, applying hand sanitizer and spritzing myself with holy water.

It goes without saying that I can’t wait to go to Target alone, right?

God guys, remember when going to Target was fun? I want to pretend I enjoy my trips there now but it’s not easy when people are standing too close to me, I feel guilty for wanting to peruse the dollar bins and I can’t drink a pumpkin spice frapuccino through my mask while shopping.

Though I’ll admit, shopping for office supplies still kind of feels like this.

I have these grand ambitions to start exercising again.

Siggggghhhh that would be awesome if I wasn’t still recovering from this sprained ankle situation. I have grand ambitions now to walk without limping. Besides I’ve always been terrible at exercise. So at least 2020 Jen won’t be lying to herself.

I am pretty stoked to spend a significantly smaller portion of my day listening to my children bicker about whatever video game they have ambitions to play together.”

Oh, I might actually get this one – once we’re all back on a school schedule there will be much less time for video games and arguing about video games. Huzzah!

I have not watched much in the way of grownup movies or television in months.

Man, same 2019 Jen, same.

So I guess the moral of the story is the more things change, the more they stay the same.


The grass is greener on the vaccinated non-quarantined side.


Wash your hands, kids!


I can’t think about that right now, I’ll think about it tomorrow…

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Writer’s Workshop: Homeschooling, Week One


It’s Thursday so it’s time to link up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. How has your week been?

Here are the different prompts to choose from this week:

1. Attempt a craft or recipe you saw on Pinterest, how did it turn out?
2. Write about how you keep busy during a “quarantine.” Is your daily schedule affected much at all?
3. Show us a place you love to visit.
4. List 5 frivolous things you don’t want to live without.
5. Write a blog post inspired by the word: new

I figured I’d take this time to update you guys on how our “quarantine” is going because that’s all we’re talking about anyway.

This is week two of Hiding at Home for us and Week One in homeschooling with the kids. Our school is doing a trial run of their virtual learning plan starting today but the past few days we’ve been making up our own home learning plan.

In the mornings we have art class which meant doodling with authors Mo Willems and Jarrett J Krosoczka, both are local artists and authors from Massachusetts aka our old hometown and both are probably responsible for some of your kids favorite books. I’m grateful to them for taking this weird scary time and making something fun for kids and parents to look forward to. The kids draw along while I drink a cup of coffee and work on becoming human enough to home school.

Next the kids work on English which has so far involved them each working on a creative writing story. My ten year old is working on a short story about a girl who moves to a new school where students are disappearing when they go to the bathroom?? My thirteen year old is writing a story about a guy in space who has lost his memory and there appears to be an evil computer involved maybe?

For reading they are reading independently and writing me book reviews about the chapters or books they are finishing. They’ve been reading The Descendants Junior novelization, Emily of New Moon, Ban This Book and some Minecraft book. I’ve been explaining to my thirteen year old the difference between a book report and a book review and spoiler etiquette.

Math has been on Khan Academy and these Disney multiplication printables from Artsy Fartsy Mama for my ten year old.

Science and social studies have been more hands on for my part. After lunch we have watched educational YouTube videos and documentaries on Disney Plus. I highly recommend Crash Course for middle school and high school and Sci Show Kids for elementary. We also love National Geographic Kids. Some topics we learned about include astronomy, climate challenges for animals and the Westward expansion of the US.

I also signed both kids up with Duolingo so they can learn Spanish and French from home. Now all four members of the family are using this to learn a foreign language and I have to say we all love it. That’s not an ad or sponsored thing, I’m just letting you know that I recommend it. I have been learning German and brushing up on my French with Duolingo for awhile now and it’s the easiest learning a language has ever been for me.

Meanwhile my hubby has been working from home since Monday which involves a lot of typing and meetings and saying, “Shhhh!” and drinking coffee. I think it’s been going okay – you can’t beat the commute at least.

Overall, we continue to be in a pretty good place. We’re healthy and have enough food and the worst I can say is that it’s hard to get time to yourself when we’re all here all day. That and I’m tired of cooking dinner but I’m trying to reserve takeout for desperate times.

How are things going where you are?

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Writer’s Workshop: Keeping Busy And Staying Sane

One advantage to this whole mandatory hibernation is that I have more time for my hobbies and stuff. The blog is seeing more action than ever AND the kitchen has never been cleaner. Is this a dream? I’m linking up with Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop today.

Here are the prompts you can choose from if you want to play along on your blog:

The Prompts:

1.  It’s been another week. Share an update about how your city/state is reacting to the Coronavirus.
2.  Write about what you occupy your time with when you need a break from current event news stories.
3. If you could go back in time and relive one year of your life, what year would you choose and why?
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: home.
5.  Show us something beautiful!

Like I said, this week has been chock full of hobbies and productivity. Although I haven’t been avoiding Facebook as much as I should, I’ve been doing lots of other stuff that there normally doesn’t seem to be time for. Things like…

  • Baking banana bread with my ten year old
  • Going hiking with the family
  • Playing the D&D game my thirteen year old is running
  • Watercolor of course – love how this vase of flowers turned out:
  • Watching all the High School Musical movies with the girl
  • Watching the Marvel movies in chronological order, beginning with Captain America
  • Catching up on my book club book
  • Decluttering the office and organizing the bills
  • Challenging the kids to a 30 day Lego building competition
Day One of the 30 Day Lego Challenge
  • Lots of Mario Kart
  • Stargazing because bedtimes are non-existent
  • Hello Great British Baking Show
  • I ordered some new jigsaw puzzles for the very near future
  • And I’ve been bookmarking educational websites, YouTube channels and documentaries to watch with the kids next week (it’s supposed to be Spring Break this week so I’m just being Fun Mom for now)

What have you been up to this week? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

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8 Things I’m Looking Forward To This Fall.


My kids go back to school on Monday and most of the moms I know are in two different camps about this:

  1. Half are sort of wistful and telling me it all went by too fast and they want more time to make those summer memories.
  2. The other half are like “Can I drop them off today?

I’ve gotta be honest. I’m in the second camp this year. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had an awesome summer and made some amazing summer memories. My kids are like the coolest shorties ever and it’s been good times. But…

  1. I’m looking forward to having some more alone time to recharge my Introvert who, as it turns out, cannot seem to do so when other people are breathing in the house.
  2. I can’t wait to go to the coffee shop and just get something for myself and only spend like $5. Which I still do sometimes during the summer but it earns me a stink eye from the Offspring.
  3. I have not had a lunch date with my husband all summer and I am very eager to get back to that routine. It was one of the best ideas we ever had last year.
  4. It goes without saying that I can’t wait to go to Target alone, right? Shopping with children just sucks the lifeblood right out of me and turns me into that mean, ranty mom who throws tantrums in the parking lot.
  5. I have these grand ambitions to start exercising again and I’ve convinced myself it will be easier when I don’t have to convince the kids that they want to go, too.
  6. I am pretty stoked to spend a significantly smaller portion of my day listening to my children bicker about whatever video game they have ambitions to play together. A lot less, “But I only like playing in survival mode! / But I only like playing in creative mode!” will do my spirit good.
  7. My Netflix queue has been sadly neglected all summer – between the kids clamoring to play video games or just being generally underfoot means I have not watched much in the way of grownup movies or television in months.
  8. Honestly I miss the routine that the school year demands of us. It’s one of those love / hate relationships but even when I’m angsty about early mornings and homework, having a set schedule is definitely good for all of us.

workshop-button-1.pngWhat about you? Are you ready for summer to be over or longing for just one more month?

I’m linking up with Mama Kat today – her writing prompts are always fantastic. Let me know in the comments if you are playing along.

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Some of our favorite 2019 memories so far.

Our summer vacation is half over. The kids go back to school in mid- August, a fact which makes most people do a double take because their kids have only been on vacation for like a month. #privateschoollife

We’ve had a BUSY summer and a lot of great summer memories are firmly under our belt. Here’s a not remotely exhaustive round up of some of the highlights of our summer.

Dan found the perfect little fishing pond nearby and he and the kids have been enjoying fishing together on lazy weekend mornings.

We’ve all become obsessed with Pokemon Go this summer. I finally seem to have a phone capable of playing the game without dying and Dan and I are oscillating between competitive and cooperative gameplay which is enough to make any hobby take up a lot of our time. Lots of Pokewalks and raids this summer.

My little Daredevil went on her first Zipline this summer. And then not to be outdone…

This one flew an airplane at the EAA museum the next day!

We took our annual vacation to Massachusetts to visit family and honestly had the best time catching up with everyone. We also went on a quick trip to Mount Wachusett which I’m ashamed to say was my first time despite having grown up basically around the corner from the place.

I made homemade strawberry jam for the first time and the reviews have been seriously ecstatic. I guess I need to make it more often because “best jam ever!” keeps getting thrown around.

My baby turned 10 and we celebrated basically everywhere all month but then for realsies we had a birthday party with some of her besties. The theme was Nancy Drew and I promise to tell you more about it later when I’m done sobbing about all my babies being double digits.

Last night my THIRTEEN year old earned his brown leader stripe in karate. This is the last step before testing for black belt which will probably happen this fall. Remember when he was a gangly first grader taking a free karate class on a whim? I sure do.

What have you been up to this summer?

Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

Are you linking up with Mama Kat? Everyone else is doing it! #peerpressure #fomo

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5 TV Shows I’m Binging Right Now.

I’m not watching many new shows right now. Blame it on the lack of cable or the lack of exciting things on network television or maybe I’m just old or something. Not sure. Most of the shows we’re watching now are old news to everyone else. Which is kind of great, because those shows are perfect for binge watching.

If you are looking for a new show to OMG over – or even better, an old show to say “What took me so long?” here are some of the ones I’m loving right now.


Veep | You probably already know about Veep – like I said, none of these shows are new. But just in case you aren’t familiar: This is a 30 minute comedy on HBO that I stream on Amazon Prime. It stars Julia Louise Dreyfus as the sweary, imperfect, and kind of awesome Vice President of America. I really just started watching this one, I’m still on Season 1, but so far so good.


The X-Files | It’s almost ridiculous that I never watched this show before a few months ago, but here we are dealing with that reality. My husband and I are making our way through this one rather slowly as we seem to suffer for nights where we have enough time to watch a one hour drama. But it’s so worth the wait! A very young Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny is everything I need in life. The entire freaking show is available to stream on Hulu and we definitely have our work cut out for us.


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel | This might be the smartest show on television so it’s absurd that I only just finished the first season. For some reason it keeps getting buried on my Amazon Prime queue and again, it’s another hour long show. I’m bad at keeping up with those. But if you haven’t checked out this show by Amy Sherman Palladino, you need to fix that immediately.


The Good Place | We’re actually rewatching this one from the beginning with the kids because my oldest asked about it and we decided they were just barely old enough to watch it with us. I won’t lie, there is some occasional language and content that makes me think that my nine year old should not be in the room. On the plus side, it’s usually as an example of what Bad Behavior looks like. But I wouldn’t recommend it for watching with your kids unless you really think your kids can handle it and you’re up for the explanations and discussions that will ensue. But I definitely recommend it as a show in general. It is so smart, and so funny, and the cast is incredible. And for what it’s worth, my kids both love it. You can stream the first two seasons on Netflix and the current season is available on Hulu.


Doctor Who | We just finished the current season which I personally loved. A lot of Dr. Who fans are apparently not as in love. I will admit, it feels like a departure from the normal tone of Doctor Who, with very few references to seasons and aliens and baddies past. This makes it a great place for new people to jump in though. Still, we loved the new season, especially my daughter who has found a new role model in this new regeneration of The Doctor. We are also rewatching the older episodes with the kids, at least all of the ones streaming on Prime. We watched all of the 9th Doctor and are about halfway through Number 10. If I play my cards right, I’ll never have to be not watching Doctor Who.

What are you watching these days?

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I’m link up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop today. All the cool kids are doing it, so

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5 Songs I Loved When I Was 16.

I’m linking up again with Mama Kat’s World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Albeit, I’m linking up a little late – but hopefully you won’t mind. This week Mama Kat asked:

4. What was your favorite song when you were 16 years old…is it still a favorite?

According to my calculator, I was 16 in 1998. Remember the 90’s? A musical cornucopia of delights. Or if you were my husband, it was the dark ages of music that resulted in him abandoning popular music entirely until he married me and I forced him to listen to Top 40 music against his will.

Anyway, a quick google search actually resulted in me finding several old favorites that came out in 1998 – I couldn’t pick just one! So instead I’m sharing with you 5 of my favorites from that year. A real glimpse into 16 year old Jen’s life! So exciting!

The Boy Is Mine by Brandy and Monica | Teen girls everywhere were obsessed with this mega hit by Brandy and Monica. I don’t think I’ve ever been in this situation, but at the time I could imagine myself fighting for my man like this. The music video was epic (at the time). A TRL favorite for sure.

…Baby One More Time by Britney Spears | Oh my gosh, you guys, this was like The Beginning of Britney Spears. Like one day I didn’t know who she was and then over night she was The Most Amazing Thing Ever. I know that after the whole head shaving crazy shenanigans that she kind of stopped being a thing, but back in 1998 she was like the Beyoncé of our time. Britney Spears owned music for a minute and it all started here.

Closing Time by Semisonic | I still love this song! It gets played at the end of most of the Trivia nights I go to – it’s iconic in my mind. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here! 

When The Lights Go Out by 5ive | Do you guys remember 5ive? They were my favorite British Boy Band. In the time of Nsync vs Backstreet Boys, 5ive was one of those boy bands that you could mention off hand to be like, “I’m not your boring average Boy Band connoisseur. I listen to totally exotic boy bands, too, like this British one. I’m like super deep.”

One Week by Barenaked Ladies | This may be the one song from 1998 that my husband will begrudgingly acknowledge was excellent. BNL love reigns supreme in our home to this day. This is one of those songs that I always want to sing along to but only know like 40% of the lyrics. Of course I still try to sing along anyway and pretend I’m not failing epically.

What songs did you listen to when you were 16?

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5 Recent Instagram Posts, Now With Full Stories.

I really didn’t mean to go so long without posting anything other than the occasional tag. It seems like life is determined to keep me busy – not with anything necessarily bad or strange, just life stuff.

Before I get sucked into the Time Vortex again, here are some thing I forgot to tell you about when I was busy being busy.

What do you do during the day on Thanksgiving? We weren’t hosting this year and ended up with a blissfully open morning. In between finishing up some side dishes we spent the morning watching the parade on tv; the boys played video games; and we even had time to play a game of Stranger Things Monopoly. The last time we played, I won my  first game of Monopoly ever in my whole life which is why I even agreed to playing twice in a six month period. Lightning, sadly, did not strike twice. I went bankrupt relatively early and got to watch my husband and son battle it out to the bitter end. No big surprise that Dan the Man won in the end – he’s The Monopoly King in our house.

One of the dishes we brought to Thanksgiving dinner was my MIL’s famous rum cake recipe. BB was eager to help me make the cake this year and is very into the idea that it’s a family recipe to be passed down to her. The only reason I even have the recipe is because we moved halfway across the country and Grammy didn’t want her poor kid to go without a rum cake indefinitely. Now I get to bring it to parties with me and wow the socks off of everyone. BB was a great help of course.

I spotted this little dog toy at my local pet store the other day and was like “Where have you been all my life?” Or at least all of my dog owning life. The Hear Doggy toys claim that they contain an ultrasonic squeaker that only dogs can hear. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I can tell you that I don’t hear any squeaking and that’s good enough for me. Am I the only one that thinks squeaky toys are a cruel torture for pet parents (or parents of human children)? I’m looking forward to giving this to our four legged buddy on Christmas morning.

I don’t really remember how the conversation started but I suggested that MM try on his dad’s hat the other day at dinner so that we could see what he would look like “as an old man” and then I squealed with delight and insisted on taking a picture because I cannot handle this cuteness. His father looks equally handsome in the hat, but seriously? I cannot even stand it. Both of my kids are looking so grown up these days but in this picture he like transcends time. He’s about to sweep chimneys and sing in a musical and I cannot even.

Ok last thing – I found this and a million other intricately folded post-it notes that opened to reveal a Hogwarts acceptance letter and supply list for Taylor the Unihorn and someone named Dokaro Watachl. I’m incredibly jealous that they have been accepted (or excepted) to Hogwarts and I still haven’t received my letter. Also, I feel like this is proof that I’m doing something right.

I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. Check out her blog for more writing prompts, awesome vlogs, cocktail recipes,  and other awesome things.