How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up: 6 Tried-and-true Strategies

Getting kids to clean up after themselves doesn’t have to be a chore. Try these simple but effective strategies for encouraging kids to clean up without a fight.Getting kids to clean up after themselves doesn't have to be a chore. Try these simple but effective strategies for encouraging kids to clean up without a fight.My children are brilliant. They already understand concepts of physics that I didn’t learn until college. What?!? That’s right, my boys have officially mastered the second law of thermodynamics.

“What is the second law of thermodynamics?” you ask. Let me explain. It’s all about ENTROPY. Continue reading

Toddler Trail Mix (perfect for moms on the go)

For busy families, snacks that can be eaten on the run are a necessity. This toddler trail mix is a great way to get your little ones a healthy, filling snack that will keep them going strong.For busy families, snacks that can be eaten on the run are a necessity. This toddler trail mix is a great way to get your little ones a healthy, filling snack that will keep them going strong.I officially became a soccer mom this week. I don’t know the rules of soccer much better than my four-year-old player, but I figure we’ll learn together. The important thing is that he has some awesome cleats and matching shin guards, so at least he looks the part. Plus, when we went to his first practice on Wednesday, he found out that his team is the purple team, which is his favorite color, so he is beyond thrilled about that. I think I’m gonna like this stage of life.

With school starting and soccer season ramping up, I’m realizing that life is going to be a lot busier around here for the next few months. We are going to spend more time driving in the car from one place to another, and I know I need to be prepared with snacks to keep everyone from getting hangry (I love that word…so accurate). Continue reading

100th Blog Post Celebration! My Blogging Journey & The Best of the Best

Welcome to my 100th blog post celebration!
Blogging has been a crazy journey for me. Here is a bit about my journey, and some fun facts about me as a person and about my blog.Hello all!

I’m so excited about today. Blogging has been a crazy journey for me, and I can hardly believe that as of today I’ve actually written 100 posts. WHAT?!?!? If you figure each post averages roughly 900 words(ish) , that’s around 90,000 words I’ve send out into the Internet void.

To celebrate, I want to share with you a bit of my journey, and some fun facts about me as a person and about my blog. Continue reading

Alphabet Kaboom! (a simply brilliant preschool game)

This “Kaboom!” preschool alphabet game is so simple, costs almost nothing to make, and it can be adapted to learn practically anything. This "Kaboom!" preschool alphabet game is so simple, costs almost nothing to make, and it can be adapted to learn practically anything.

I have an announcement!

Today’s post is number 99, which means that on Wednesday I’ll be sharing my 100th post with you all here on this little blog! Thanks for being a part of this crazy journey with me. Be sure to stop by and celebrate!

Okay, and now back to today’s awesome preschool idea…

Summer is winding down, and while my kids (4 & 2) are too young to be heading back to school full time, we are gearing up for mommy school. We got super lazy over the summer and our school routine got a little lost in the midst of all the morning walks to the park, afternoon trips to splash pads, and play dates with friends. I’m okay with that because I think play is an important form of learning for little ones, but I’m looking forward to getting things running a little more predictably again. I really like predictable. :)

As I was reorganizing my preschool stuff last week, I found one of my favorite preschool games that somehow got buried in a drawer for a few months. I pulled it out to play with Little Man, and he quickly exclaimed, “Mom, I LOVE this game!” Continue reading

Nectarine Blueberry Crisp

This nectarine blueberry crisp is the perfect summertime fruit dessert. Sweet with a little tart, gooey with a little crunch…it’s simply delicious!
This nectarine blueberry crisp is the perfect summertime fruit dessert. Sweet with a little tart, gooey with a little crunch...it's simply delicious!I’ve been imagining this desert for a while, but last weekend, it finally became a reality. Originally, I was planning to make a peach-blueberry crisp, but then nectarines were on sale for 3 lbs. for a dollar…and who can resist that?

Plus, I actually like nectarines better anyway (the fuzz on peaches kind of makes me shiver). We even have a nectarine tree in our back yard, and I’m thrilled that it is actually producing fruit this year (we just planted it last fall)! And now that I’ve made this dessert, I think I know what some of those nectarines will be used for once they’re ripe.

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Life lessons from teaching that made me a better mom

Middle schoolers and toddlers aren’t so different after all. Here are a few life lessons from teaching that apply to parenting, too.

Life lessons from teaching that make me a better mom - Middle schoolers and toddlers aren't so different after all. Here are a few life lessons from teaching that apply to parenting, too.

Every year as August wanes I start to get nostalgic. I feel drawn to all those back-to-school displays in the stores, I have a desire to start decorating bulletin boards, and I day-dream about all the students meeting their new teachers and embarking on new adventures.

It’s been four years since I have actually stepped foot in a classroom on the first day of school, but I’m still a teacher at heart. Continue reading

12 Awesome Alphabet Books to Start the School Year Right

Learning the ABCs is essential for preschoolers. Here are 12 of my favorite alphabet books for kids that will keep you laughing and playing while learning.  
Learning the ABCs is essential for preschoolers. Here are 12 of my favorite alphabet books for kids that will keep you laughing and playing while learning.

Note: This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure to learn more.

I had so much fun last month putting together a list of our family’s favorite laugh-out-loud funny books, that I’m bringing you another book list today, this one perfect for getting into the back-to-school spirit: alphabet books!

My boys LOVE the alphabet…Little Man is starting to get interested in the idea of reading and while he can’t do it on his own yet, he loves to talk about the letters of the alphabet and what words he know that start with each letter. It’s become a fun game, and we’ve been gathering alphabet books from the library to give us some variety. One of the fun things about alphabet books (aside from all the alliteration, which my English teacher heart LOVES) is that all the different books use different words that start with the various letters, so it’s fun to compare and contrast. Continue reading

Easy Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake

This no-fuss chocolate cake recipe isn’t overly rich, but it’s moist and flavorful. It’s a great choice for when you need to make dessert for a crowd but you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. 
This no-fuss chocolate chip applesauce cake recipe isn't overly rich, but it's moist and flavorful. It's a great choice for when you need to make dessert for a crowd but you don't want to spend a lot of time cooking. Sunday night dessert is an institution around here. I’m not sure how it happened, other than that my husband’s sweet tooth requires copious amounts of sugar when we’re home on the weekends. :)

It’s one of the few times he steps into the kitchen and cooks, and he gets a lot of enjoyment from looking up dessert recipe ideas. In fact, several years ago I showed him how to “pin” a recipe that he thought looked yummy so we could make it later, and the next time I looked at my account I saw that he had pinned 20 or 30 recipes after that first one! Apparently, I created a monster. At least it’s a monster who creates tasty desserts.

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Changing what it means to be “smart”

Parents want their kids to succeed, but did you know that telling your child that he or she is a smart kid can actually have negative results?  Here’s what I learned in six years of teaching about how to help every child understand that their ability to be “smart” is within their control.
Parents want their kids to succeed, but did you know that telling your child that he or she is a smart kid can actually have negative results? Here's what I learned in six years of teaching about how to help every child understand that their ability to be "smart" is within their control.During my six years of teaching, I regularly heard kids talk about how they were “smart” or “dumb”, or “good” at reading or “bad” at writing. These sorts of comments always bothered me, because my students often discussed their ability as if it was something that they had no control over–as if you’re just born smart, the way you’re born with brown or blonde hair.

I found myself trying over and over to help my students understand the deeply held belief I have that no one is inherently dumb or smart. Sure, there are natural aptitudes for certain things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t develop skills in other areas. Ultimately, we choose the things that we care about most, we put time and effort into those things, and we get better as we practice. Continue reading

Stress-free Parenting: How to Prepare for a Babysitter (with free printable!)

Leaving kids with a babysitter can be stressful, but a little preparation (and a handy printable babysitter info sheet) can give everyone piece of mind while you’re away.
Leaving kids with a babysitter can be stressful, but a little preparation (and a handy printable babysitter info sheet) can give everyone piece of mind while you're away.

I just got back from a three-day camping trip with a bunch of the ladies from my church. I’m a leader for our young women (age 12-17), and we spent the time enjoying nature, building our faith, playing ridiculously fun games, and eating way too much junk food. It was a wonderful chance to step away from the craziness of everyday life and remind myself about the things that matter most in life.

One thing I’ve learned about being a mother is that I’m always a better mom if I get a break from the kids from time to time. When I start getting really irritable, I often stop and ask myself when the last time was that I left the house without the kids. Usually, I realize it’s been too long. Continue reading