family fun photography wordless wednesday

ww: swim lessons, part deux


Remember Wordless Wednesday guys? Let’s try to make fetch happen again! Post a comment if you are playing on your blog, too!

books & reading family fun

Read Aloud Book Rec: Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

You know when your kid brings a book to you for story time and you have never seen it before in your life and have no earthly idea where it came from and they’re like, “Duh mom, we’ve had this forever.” Maybe this is a sign that I have #bookworm problems or that my brain is slowly melting out of my ear lobes. Who knows?

61nVbenzQtL._SX260_The other day BB brought down Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar and after getting past the “Where did this book even come from??” questions we got to reading and guys it was SOOO cute! It’s an adorable mash up of different fairy tales and kind of all about making up your own mind about people. It’s perfect for reading out loud – not too wordy and not too mind numbingly simple. It’s juuuuust right.

I still don’t know where it came from but I’m glad she brought it downstairs and it was fun reading her cute picture books again – at nine years old, she’s largely in charge of her own reading and story time tends to feature chapter books these days. This was a nice treat for both of us.


What are you and your kids reading these days?

family fun what I'm into Lately

6 Things I’m Loving Right Now.

Anne recently shared 6 things she’s loving for early summer and I thought I’d play copy cat and tell you some of my recent favorite things.


1.Winking Owl Moscato and all the other cheap, yet delicious, deals I keep finding at Aldi. I used to shop at Aldi like eight years ago when I was saving up for our house and living on a shoe string budget but back then I felt like I couldn’t quite accomplish all of my shopping needs and found myself going to too many grocery stores to make it through the week so once our budget got less angsty, I left Aldi behind.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when I started hearing more and more moms tell me that they were shopping at Aldi almost exclusively. I listed all my reasons for not shopping there: Produce and meat left something to be desired, you have to bring your own bags, they don’t take cash, etc. Well then I found out that the quality of produce had improved, the selection in general was apparently better and not only do they take credit card, they also take Apple / Google Pay. I had to check it out for myself and I was so pleasantly surprised. I’ve been shopping there for a couple of months now and haven’t looked back. One of my favorite splurges is this $3 bottle of sweet Moscato.


2.Fun quasi-educational, kid friendly youtube channels. We’ve been starting our mornings slow with a handful of videos that I carefully curate into a watchlist during random bits of downtime. I get a good half hour to drink my coffee while the kids and I watch an assortment of videos about drawing, science, history, geography or things being blown up in slow motion. I’ll be sharing a full list of our favorite soon but Cartooning 4 Kids has been a big hit especially. My eight year old rushes to grab a pad of paper and pencil now whenever she sees a drawing video come on.

3.Podcasts by the pool. My kids have 30 minute swim lessons every morning for about two weeks this month. It’s not quite enough time to be productive but too much time to stare at my feet. I have a tendency to waste the time playing games on my phone but I recently thought to grab a pair of headphones and listen to a podcast instead. I’m very new to the podcast world – I’m not very good at remembering that they are a thing. But I have to say, it’s been awesome and I hope to listen to them more regularly. My two favorites right now are the Lazy Genius Collective and of course, Anne’s What Should I Read Next podcast. What other podcasts should I check out next?


4.Green tea. I didn’t think I liked green tea until I tried a blend by Harney & Sons recently and was like, “Hey this is actually pretty good!” Of course leave it to H&S to be the one to bring me to any tea flavor – they have historically been one of my favorites. Now I’m on the hunt for new green teas to try and really just tea. I seem to fall in and out of love with drinking tea, but right now it is ON. What’s your favorite kind of tea?

5.Five Dollar Movies. Okay, this is nothing new but we’ve been taking advantage of it this month – our movie theater has $5 tickets for all movies on Tuesdays which is such a steal. We took the kids to see Incredibles 2 and Solo this month – both really good movies. Last night I also found out that with our theater‘s rewards program (which is free to sign up for), I also get a free small popcorn with each purchased ticket in addition to other discounted food stuffs. Seriously.


6.The Who Was? Show on Netflix. Based on those kids biographies with the giant headed illustrations – this show  delivers the same goods but in short sketches about famous people. It’s geared for kids roughly 8+ but manages to hold my attention as well. One of the regulars on the show, Lilla Crawford, was in Into the Woods and she’s terrific on the show. And fans of Archer will be amused to no end at the fact that H. Jon Benjamin, aka Sterling Archer, is the show’s narrator. This information alone got my husband to watch a couple episodes with us.

So what things are you loving right now?

family fun photography printable

Summer Vacation Begins! (plus: a free printable weekly planner)


Today was their last day of school and honestly we couldn’t be more ready. Don’t get me wrong, we had a pretty terrific school year. The kids learned a lot and made some great memories and I hit a pretty stellar balance of being a Super Volunteer Mom without feeling like Overburdened Mom-Martyr Person. BUT.

We are ready for late mornings, lazy afternoons, no homework, video game marathons, swim lessons, no homework, summer reading, family vacation, no homework… you get the idea. Mostly it’s the sleeping in that I’m looking forward to, tbh. I bet you can guess what my kids are looking forward to most.


I decided to dive into Summer Vacation Mode with a new weekly calendar layout:

weekly planner grid

This is how I organize our days each week and plan our dinners. I print out a copy and laminate it so I can use dry erase markers on it – and it works really well! I keep mine on my fridge for easy access. They usually last me about a year before they stop erasing well, which is about how long I can usually go before I want to redesign it anyway.

The format is intentionally pretty minimal apart from the splashy background which I found to be surprisingly easy to write over without looking too busy. Perfect for laid back summer days but I honestly feel it will be sufficient for the school year, too. Feel free to save the image and print it out for your own organizing needs.

Okay so how many days are left until summer vacation starts at your house?

What are you looking forward to most this summer?


books & reading family fun printable summer reading

Summer Reading 2018: Choose Your Own Adventure (Free Printable)

A couple of years ago I started making summer reading challenges for my kids because I found the programs at the library a little lacking / redundant for a family of bookworms. My kids don’t need encouragement to read in the summer so keeping track of pages and titles seemed unnecessarily tedious for us and not really a challenge tbh. No shade, I think the programs are a great idea for kids who need that encouragement, it just wasn’t my jam personally.

This was back in 2016 – I read this post at Kate’s blog and was like YES. I had to copycat and create a challenge for my own kids – and thus our Summer Reading Bingo was born. It went over really well with my kids. You can steal mine or make your own if you want – just click this link.

Last year I felt the need to simplify the challenge because of a particularly busy summer and probably just because I like change. So I made a summer reading challenge that fit on a bookmark! This was great for a busy summer and my kids loved it, too. Again, feel free to go steal that one if you need something super quick.

This year, I continue to need to shake things up because I have too much time on my hands or something. I was thinking about those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from when I was a kid  – did you love them, too? I was also thinking about how sometimes kids need to feel like they are in control – they don’t want to be told what to read or even what genres to read. We all like to make our own choices, right?

And so, I present to you our reading challenge for 2018:

I’m pretty excited and just in case you are hoping to shake up your summer reading, too – feel free to steal my idea – you can right click and save this or make your own in a word document – or, my fave place to make cute graphics. (This isn’t some sneaky sponser post btw – they have no idea who I am, I’m just sharing and caring like that.)

Do you do summer reading challenges with your kids?

family fun mama kat's writers workshop photography travel

Spring Break in Florida in Photographs.

It’s Thursday so I must be linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

This week’s prompts are:

1. Write a blog post that ends with the line: maybe next time.
2. Book review!
3. Create a recipe that incorporates hard boiled eggs.
4. Tell us about the last time you saw a movie.
5. Share your favorite photo you posted on Instagram this month and give us the back story.
6. Spring Cleaning! Share a before and after photo of a room you recently tackled.


I really couldn’t choose just one this month because we just got back from our Spring Break vacation to Florida and there are too many good pictures to share.

We were visiting my dad in the Tampa area and in between basking in the glorious sunlight and enjoying the views from his backyard, we also visited the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, the Museum of Science and Industry, Dinosaur World, and The Florida Aquarium.

It’s been a brutal winter for me in terms of sunlight, temperature and the breaking of expensive things – it was nice to escape the cold and mundane for a week and get a change of scenery and some family bonding time.

What have you been up to this month?

family fun photography

Happy birthday to our favorite Canine Time Lord.


Last month Doc the Dog celebrated his first birthday. We aren’t certain of his exact birth date, so we decided to celebrate the same weekend as Dan’s birthday, because why not?

I made the hubby his favorite chocolate chip cookies for his birthday so it seemed fitting that I make the dog some homemade cookies for his birthday, too – wouldn’t it be cute when they both got homemade delicious cookies for their birthday??

Then I totally forgot to make the homemade peanut butter bacon dog biscuits in time and figured, he doesn’t know when his birthday is anyway, so we celebrated a week later, because why not?

Luckily, peanut butter bacon dog biscuits go over real well whether they are on time or not. He was absolutely in his canine glory when we gave him the first one and now every time I go near his dog cookie tin, he is on HIGH ALERT and best behavior, bowled over and ready to receive his prize. So, yeah – good stuff!

Remember back in March when we were in the midst of the Winter Blahs and I kept sending my husband pictures of puppies in the area that were up for adoption – and then we found this picture and virtually fell in love (get it? cause it was online) and then we met Doc (Jingle at the time) in person and fell in love for real and threw caution to the wind and decided to adopt a black lab / st bernard / border collie, because why not?

Named after our favorite Time Lord who refuses to grow up, Doctor is  an aptly named Puppy for Life with literally boundless energy. He gives me a run for my money basically every day, chews things he shouldn’t, barks whenever the doorbell rings or is knocked on (even if it’s just on tv), likes to chew my new doormats daily for good measure and much like our children, has created a new reason for Dan and I to talk about poop on a daily basis.

It was a rocky start and it certainly hasn’t been sunshine and roses, this life of mine as a dog mom. But despite all the trouble he gives me, we are still very much in love with our sweet Doctor. It’s been a roller coaster year, experiencing all the seasons with him for the first time and learning how to be dog parents. We still probably don’t get it “right’ most of the time – but we’re banking on the fact that he probably doesn’t know any better either!


Happy birthday Doctor – I’m probably a month late in writing it, but you don’t know what day it is anyway. That’s the great thing about Time Lords – no sense of time whatsoever!

motherhood photography

fleeting, rushing moments.


This month is rushing by faster than I can keep up with. Again. Still. I feel like I’ve been saying this all year. Every month I find myself writing, “Where did this month go? How is it over already?” Every day I look at my children and think “When did they get so big?”

When did her limbs get so long? How long has he been this tall? When did she learn to count this high? When did his vocabulary get so big? How do they keep on growing, faster than I can keep up with? Why didn’t I savor this moment longer and linger in these precious days?

My babies are getting bigger every day but they are also still pretty young, too, I suppose. Four and seven. It seems like just yesterday they were both being born, but I’ve been doing this parenting thing for almost eight years now so even though I still feel like a total newbie, I’m sort of an old pro.

Except in comparison to all those mothers of middle schoolers, teenagers or adults. To them, I’m sure, I ain’t seen nothing yet. I’ll be them someday though. In the blink of an eye they will be grown and gone, tweens then teens then adults and someday hopefully parents of their own small broods. I have lots of time left and no time at all.

The days are long and the years are short. It’s a cliche but it’s so true in these days that seem to drag on forever until I blink and it’s been weeks or months or years – these weeping angel days where time stops feeling linear and starts feeling wibbly wobbly… Fleeting. Rushed. Exhausting. Exhilarating.

Don’t blink.


(yes, I’m a nerd, shut up)

family fun mama kat's writers workshop

Giving thanks for a wonderful husband on his birthday.


One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts this week was “Something you’re thankful for.” Like any dweeby wife, my first thought of course was of my family – my amazing husband, my adorable intelligent funny kiddos, even my stupid slobbering dog who is occasionally pleasant to be around. I’m thankful for a roof over my head, enough heat and clean water to keep us comfortable, a refrigerator that stays stocked with enough food for us to eat, a healthy family (knock on wood) and you know, books. But the thing that really makes ALL of that possible and keeps me truly sane on even the most trying of days is that husband of mine.

The one who works 9 to 5 7 to 6 and rarely complains. The one who (tries) to remind me to eat healthy, be active, stretch once in a blue moon and take a deep breath before going off into the deep end of a mood swing. The one who cooks dinner when I’m too tired, keeps me in supply of books and coffee, wakes up early to help get the kids ready for school, makes a Tardis out of a cardboard box complete with working light on top, wrestles with the dog to help him burn energy, fixes things when they are broken, builds things when they are needed, takes out the trash, scolds my computer when it’s being naughty, and also frankly just rocks at being a husband, father and human being.

My husband is good at everything. It’s a fact. But he’s humble and doesn’t let it go to his head which is sweet of him. Don’t get me wrong – he’s human, probably. But I would be remiss if I didn’t brag every now and then about the fact that I won the husband lottery. I found a guy who understands how important communication, compromise, team work and awesomeness are to a healthy marriage. I found a guy who gets just as geekily excited about tv shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock, that awesome song I won’t shut up about or that cool board game as I do (Cards Against Humanity, anyone?). He only sometimes corrects my bad grammar and he doesn’t tease me absolutely relentlessly about my addiction to Project Runway / Top Model / The Next Singing Labradoodle Top Chef Model Competition (I would so watch that).

I am thankful for my husband who keeps all the pieces together. For being the peanut butter to my jelly. Today is his birthday and he’ll be no doubt helping get the kids to school, going to work like usual and then coming home to a rushed dinner before we go to a cub scout meeting and then put the kids to bed so they can get up at the crack of dawn and do it all over again. Probably without complaint. I’ll spoil him when I can with birthday gifts and praise – but in the meantime:

Happy birthday – I love you so much!

Mama’s Losin’ It