It has been almost a year since I’ve written anything. And I don’t just mean here…no journalling, no letters, heck not even a full, coherent email. I wasn’t even able to read a whole book for most of that year, which is insane, as my whole life I have had a voracious appetite for books and read to go to sleep. It has been one hell of a year, as I’m sure everyone is aware.

I really don’t want to dwell on it because I’m prone to wallowing and that’s just not fun for anyone. So all I’m going to say is that I finally believe there is a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel – even if it’s a bit further away for those of us with younger children who cannot yet be vaccinated. School, a mix of virtual and homeschool for my four kids, ends this week and I’m feeling good, dare I say, optimistic, about the upcoming summer break. I’ve taken a *very privileged* break from a lot of news and social media, and that has been really good for me as well.

A couple weeks ago, a dear friend took me shopping (we are both vaccinated and wore our masks!) and I figured out my real bra size, so for the first time in TEN YEARS (yes, really) I have bras that fit properly and clothing that isn’t 10+ years old or picked up at Target in a rush without trying on. For real. I feel like a new person! The reason for that ten years is a whole other post, probably going to tackle it soon because I have a big birthday coming up. But, as usual, I digress…

The point of this post is to jump back into writing/me time, but also to just say, if you’ve been out of it or stressed or short on time or lost or feeling depressed or overwhelmed or wanting to scream (or cry or run away), if you haven’t been able to do what you love for lack of time or money or mental capacity – I get it. Me too. All of it. It’s been a hard year (or more). I think we have all had a rough time, but moms (parents) maybe have a strangely unique and simultaneously universal experience. I hope you, too, are starting to see the light again…

That time the baby got a concussion during a pandemic…

Well Mommas, it was a Monday. Baby and I spent the better part of our day at Children’s Hospital for concussion observation. It was all about as wonderful as you might imagine.

So despite the fact that said baby woke up super early and I was feeling extra tired, the morning started nice and slow – because, pandemic! not like we have any place to go or could even go if we wanted! Everyone was reading or playing legos, still in pjs, I had time to do the dishes and make a list – was looking forward to a productive day. Bwhahaha! I should know better by now. But it did start out well…

Like all kid injuries, or so it seems, I saw (or in this case, heard) it coming but couldn’t prevent it. Big brother was helping me with laundry (side note: the five year old LOVES to help me with laundry?! I have no idea why and I feel like maybe that’s a whole other post). Anyway, he had an armload of clothes, so his vision was blocked. He was rounding a corner and at the exact same time, I heard the baby (21 months) running full speed towards the same corner, opposite direction. I should mention that the five year old is quite big and sturdy for his age, the baby is on the smaller side – you all know what happened next. Full on collision. Baby literally went flying backwards. I didn’t see what part hit first, but one second later when I rounded the corner, he was flat on his back, silent, staring at the ceiling. I described it to the doctor as “one of those hits in the NFL where the entire stadium does a collective inhale and makes ‘that face’.” And just like those hits, where you wait to see if the guy gets up, you hold your breath, you look for a little movement – it was that, but with my baby. The next minute or two felt like an eternity. The fear and anxiety and decisions…and with three other children, who get so much credit for being so calm and listening to my instruction and helping. It was all such a blur.

Phone calls were made, my husband sped home, and we raced to the ER at Children’s. It’s so weird, it felt simultaneously like it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r and that the time flew by. I’ll spare you all the medical details because some are boring, some are confusing, and some I just don’t want to talk about yet. But we ended up with a diagnosis of mild concussion, no sign of a brain bleed, and we will never know for sure if there was a small seizure because we didn’t do that scan (at doctor’s advice).

Turns out that concussion observation is, really, just sitting there, waiting.  And waiting. And waiting. While you think of ALL the things that could be wrong or could go wrong: like the brain bleed which hadn’t even crossed my mind until we got there and the doctors started talking about bleeding brains; or a seizure, which also had never crossed my mind until they started talking about seizures; or a fractured skull – which no one mentioned at all and I had no reason to suspect but still, I thought it was good to worry about, because, why not?! My anxiety was already thru the roof. Oh, and not sure if you’re aware, but there’s a global pandemic killing people and we live in an especially hard hit area so I was also simultaneously trying not to breath and convinced that we were both going to catch covid and bring it home and infect our whole family. (In my more sane moments I could acknowledge that they were  doing an excellent job, they clearly were separating everyone, I saw tons of sterilization and safety protocols in place, and it was probably way safer than any grocery store.) Most of that time, the baby was also just sitting there, sort of out of it, only wanting me to hold him. We weren’t sure if he was tired, shy, grumpy, hungry, scared, had a headache, or maybe a combo. Poor sweet thing. We did get him to eat (I guess that’s a thing, they wanted him to eat) and drink some juice. And like magic, at some point, he was “back”…he started talking (he talks a lot but had been almost entirely silent since the fall) and then started climbing and when he tried to jump off the bed onto the chair several feet away, I knew he was back to his old, crazy, normal self! The relief I felt, the thankfulness – momma’s baby was going to be ok. Even if I may take awhile for my emotional recovery.

My husband said someday we will laugh about this and talk about the time big brother knocked his baby brother out cold during a pandemic. I’m sure he’s right but currently, I just feel grateful for the wonderful nurses and doctors and for a happy, healthy, baby!


Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta

This is such an easy, healthy recipe for families! All four of my kids asked for seconds (or thirds) and, along with some fresh fruit, this perfectly fed our family of six (if you count the baby…I will need to double in a year!)

Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta

roasted veggie pesto pasta

I hate reading through ten paragraphs to get to the recipe to see if I even like the ingredients. So here it is and the “story” comes after. You’re welcome. 🙂


Pasta of choice, 1 lb.

Pesto Sauce (I prefer the refrigerated store-bought kind, but you could use the dry packet mix, frozen, or make your own!)

Red Pepper, 1 chopped

Yellow Pepper, 1 chopped

Carrots, 2-3 peeled and sliced OR a handful of baby carrots

Broccoli, 1-2 heads cut into bite sized pieces

Red Onion, 1 chopped

Garlic, 2-4 cloves, diced

Olive Oil



Parmesan Cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and chop all vegetables into relatively uniform, bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast veggies for about 10 min. Then “flip” veggies, add the diced garlic, sprinkling evenly over veggies, and roast another 10 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached.

Meanwhile, boil pasta according to directions. When finished cooking, drain pasta and mix in pesto sauce. When veggies are done, add to pasta/pesto and gently stir to combine. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


So, like always, this recipe isn’t “exact” and it doesn’t have to be. You can use as many or few veggies as you desire. I found this amount to be a good ratio, but some families may mary choppingneed to start “small” with just one or two favorite vegetables that you know your kids will eat – and that’s fine! Or you might want to really load up on the veggies and that
would be great too! I found that my kids didn’t love the bigger chunks of red onion, so I may dice it more for next time. Turns out, they all loved the carrots best, so I’d definitely add some more in the future. Play around with it! The fun part of these vegetables for us was making a “rainbow” first, as you can see. Which reminds me – does anyone know any blue vegetables?!?!

Oh yes, my kids help in the kitchen – they often chop veggies for me. We have these knives and love them! In order to speed things up, I cut the peppers into strips, then my 6Mary Mixing year old chopped them into bite sized pieces. She also cut the baby carrots in half (probably wouldn’t bother with this in the future), and cut some of the broccoli; onions are all momma, they’ll eat them but don’t like the watery eyes (I agree!).

As for the pesto, I’m a big fan of the refrigerated kind they have at Costco. I used to make my own, pre-kids, but honestly just don’t have the time now. I also find it so easy to always have a jar (or two) of pesto in the fridge of freezer. We all love pesto, so I used half a jar for this – really, it’s up to you and your preference.

This recipe is definitely going into the rotation! I’ll probably try some different vegetables occasionally – it would be a great way to try something “new” or to let the kids pick out the “rainbow”. I hope this works for your family – let me know!



Real Life Strikes Again

I just sat down at the computer – the REAL computer, not my phone or iPad – to finally get back into blogging. Well, writing. I don’t really care about the blog part, I just like writing, getting things out of my head, it helps me feel sane. And a little connected. Anyway, I literally just sat down after doing ALL the chores I do during nap time…lunch dishes, switch the laundry and start a new load, picking up toys that made their way to the middle of the hallway (?), checking email, all the things associated with my “work” of running a food pantry, called the doctor back, cleaned up the crayon the dog ate…thought I’d have some time to write. Nope, the baby is stirring. Of course. He hasn’t started fussing yet, but he is awake. And this situation just about sums up what I was going to write about anyway – how I just haven’t had time to write! Life! Life is so wonderful and chaotic and beautiful and busy and the little things that shouldn’t take up all my time somehow do and I am absolutely certain that “they” are right, some day I will miss a lot of this…but I also think someday I will NOT miss all the little chores or the inability to sit and “relax” for a few minutes. Sure, I will miss my babies being babies and the snuggles and first steps and their sweet little voices, but I don’t think I’ll miss changing poop diapers or temper tantrums because I wouldn’t let them stick a toy into the electrical outlet. And while I am sure I will miss some of the hustle and bustle of a house full of kids, I hope I remember to appreciate the alone time whenever it does come.

So for now, my foray back into blogging will have to be short. But that’s ok, I learned a lesson today – write first, dishes later. 🙂

Happy Halloween from our book-loving family to yours!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love making my kids Halloween costumes! I don’t know why, but it is really something I enjoy…helping them chose, trying to find a theme (that all can be excited about), the creative process (how to make a dragon costume that can be worn to school!), all of it. I am not some fancy seamstress, I’d say I’m just above a beginner, and often I am totally making it up as I go (I can’t read a pattern!). Also, a lot of our costumes are more “assembly” then “sewing”…this is my little trick. 🙂

So, since I hate blogs that take twenty paragraphs to get to the point…without further ado, I give you Halloween 2019:


So, this year’s theme was super easy because their school was celebrating Red Ribbon Week and actual Halloween was “Book Character Day”. My kids LOVE to read, so they were thrilled to use this as our theme and find characters to be for Halloween. And I was thrilled because most of these costumes were super easy!


My oldest knew instantly that he wanted to be Calvin – he is currently obsessed with Calvin and Hobbes books (which makes this momma happy because, I too, loved that comic and he has read and re-read all of my old books!). His was by far the easiest – we had black shorts (part of our school uniform!). I bought a plain red t-shirt on clearance and used thick black sharpie to make the lines. I didn’t measure, but I did use a straight edge, one of the kids’ art paper books, to keep my lines neat. Be sure to put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt so that the sharpie doesn’t bleed thru! I did “splurge” on a stuffed tiger on Amazon. The creator of Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson, never did any licensing, so this is not an official Hobbes; but it is quite close. And yes, I felt slightly guilty getting a “knock off”. But my son adores this thing and, much like the real Calvin, has many pretend adventures with his new friend – so money well spent if you ask me!

IMG_2859Next came Madeline – also a pretty easy choice. She first wanted to be Ivy (from the Ivy + Bean book series) but we decided that wasn’t obvious enough. Then she hit on Madeline! I bought the blue dress from Primary (side note: if you haven’t tried this company, I highly recommend it! We first bought from them this spring – everyone loved how soft their clothes were, I loved how easy they were to wash, and they held up really well. We bought most of our school uniforms from Primary this fall and have also been very happy! If you check them out, please use my code: PRIMARYCOLLEENM72). I just used a white uniform shirt (also from Primary!) under the dress for the white collar and white tights that we had already. I bought this hat from Amazon, pulled off the decoration, and used a wide black ribbon (I suggest hot gluing it down or else it will keep sliding off). A red ribbon at the neck and you’re done! Both ribbons I had on hand because, well, I make costumes, but they can easily be found at JoAnn’s (and they always have a sale or coupon!).

Finally we have the Red Dragon from Dragons Love Tacos. This was by far the most work! My son, age 4, was quite insistent that this was what he wanted to be for Halloween. I was a little intimidated at IMG_2870first, imagining an absurd amount of sewing. Then it hit me – use a hoodie like I did for last year’s shark! I actually had a hard time finding a plain red hoodie and matching sweatpants – I had hoped to find them locally, but no luck. I did find them on Amazon, Hanes brand, although I wish I would have just spent a little more and ordered from Primary – he’s taken to wearing it a lot and the fabric just isn’t nearly as nice as Primary. Oh well. In any case, I order the pants and hoodie in his current size and then I ordered another pair of pants in XL to use as fabric for the wings and tail! I used black felt to make the horns and tail spikes, cutting a triangle, stitching inside out, and then flipping (difficult because they were so narrow) For the horns, I inserted a small wire into them, then some stuffing, to give them structure and so that I could


dragon tail, in process

better shape them. As you can see, they still fell over! Oh well! I cut small slits into the hood to attach them. I think, if I should do something like this again, I would connect them underneath, almost like a headband, to get them to better stand up. The tail also had wire, but the spikes did not; both were also stuffed with pillow stuffing. It’s hard to see in this pic, but the tail was able to stand out and be shaped. I also cut a slit into the back of the sweatshirt, just above the elastic, to attach the tail…lower, and it would have hung/dragged more. The wings…well, the wings were interesting. Honestly, I loved the challenge and am quite proud of these wings! The stitching isn’t perfect and I did have to hand-stitch them on to the hoodie itself, but I


wings done, just awaiting attachment to the body!

think they turned out pretty darn good! I made a pattern on paper first, holding it up to my son to get the size and shape right. I cut out two sets of wings from the extra large sweatpants, a front and a back. I used wire to give them structure…stitching that in was new for me, but I joke that I could now sew an old-fashioned corset! Overall, with a lot of trial and some error, I think they turned out really well, especially for a very non-professional like me! And of course, the final touch was the taco! Made from scraps of felt I had lying around, plus a last-minute frantic text to some friends (moms always have random felt!). I didn’t follow any pattern at all, but laid it out and then hot glued. The kids are currently playing with it now in their pretend store, so I’d say I did well. 🙂

IMG_2889This is literally the only picture of the baby in his book character costume…because he kept crying if I set him down, so I had my oldest try to take a pic but the baby wouldn’t even remotely stand still and then I realized I had handed the seven-year-old the camera on manual and not auto…in any case, that’s real life and I’m not a pro so here it is: (Baby) Harold and the Purple Crayon. Easiest costume ever! And comfy! Once again, sleeper from Primary…so soft! And the big purple crayon is actually a bank from Amazon. I was going to make it, but luckily did a quick search first…saved me a lot of time and probably cheaper than making myself. And he, clearly, loves it…quite tasty! haha!

So that’s it, the 2019 Book Character Theme Halloween Costumes! These were fun to make and fun to wear – everyone recognized Calvin and Madeline right away on Halloween night and most kids and parents of young kids knew the Dragon too, with lots of jokes about spicy salsa! Again, I’m not a pro and mostly just winged it, like always. But if you have any questions, just ask!


Another parenting hazard no one warned me about…

Beautiful morning today – sun shining, bright blue sky with a few puffy clouds, light breeze, and not yet stifling hot (it is May in Texas, after all). The toddler – although I don’t think he’s really a toddler any more, he’s almost four and quite tall and extremely verbal (like can-you-please-stop-talking verbal). But that’s a whole other post. Anyway, the kid asks if we can go on a bike ride…which means he rides his balance bike on the sidewalk and I push the baby in the stroller and the dog plods along beside us on the road. I think this a fantastic idea, given the nice weather and the fact that later it will be too hot to walk and also, bike riding = tired kid!

So off we go, strolling through the neighborhood…we see a few friends, wave to some neighbors, stop to watch a snail crawl across the sidewalk. Yes, really. We had to wait a VERY LONG TIME to watch a small snail make its way from one grass patch to the next. The kid pointed out literally every single Beto sign along the way (there are a surprisingly large number of Beto for Senator signs still up – I guess we are a hopeful bunch here in my little bubble). Anyway, it was a very nice 20-30 min excursion until…

As I am trying to find my keys that I dropped into the vast wasteland that is the stroller caddie, I smell something. Something really foul. Like this is not from my kid or my dog. I am looking around frantically when my son very casually says “there is something on my shoe” and oh dear god in heaven, it was on his shoe and his tires and even up on the tire guard…SOMETHING DEAD! The smell of Death! Road kill from the sidewalk?!? Like the insides of something that was once living or had maybe been living and eaten and vomited back out. Or maybe it was just intestines. But no, there was a little patch of fur. And some blood. But mostly what I think was internal organ pieces which may or may not have been partially eaten.

Folks, I am not proud of this, but I screamed and wretched and then yelled “DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! DO NOT MOVE!” and I really and truly wanted to run away. Just leave the kid and the bike and the shoes on the steps and let someone else take over. Forever. Like throw in the parenting towel. I don’t know, I can handle poopsplosions (clearly) and I feel empathy for them when they puke. But this? Nope. I did not sign up for unknown animal intestines. Let me repeat, so the universe and I are very clear on this: I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR CLEANING UP DEAD ANIMAL PARTS OFF MY KID AND HIS SHOES AND HIS BIKE!

I don’t even know what happened next but somehow I ended up with clean kids inside, and a bike and shoes somewhat clean drying in the sun. Ok, that’s a lie…I know what happened…I calmed the fuck down, did not take a deep breath (the smell!), hosed everything off as best I could, left the rest for my husband to deal with tonight (I love you! remember you are legally bound to me!), and bleached my hands ten thousand times (as well as my kid’s foot that was in the tainted shoe).

But here is what I want to know – how the hell did the kid spot a teeny tiny little snail, from way up on his bike while zooming along, yet he did not notice a dead carcass that he apparently drove right over? I mean it was big enough to get on both tires and his shoe, so significantly bigger than a snail. And stinkier. And probably a little squishy (oh gag!). Seriously, how does one not notice that?!?!!

I blame the Beto signs.


Every Day Earth Day (or totally easy things lazy people can do to help save the earth!)

You want to be a little bit green, you know there are “things” you can do to help the earth, but it seems a bit daunting…both in terms of effort on your part and the sheer volume of the worlds problems. You have kids and pets and work and volunteer stuff and adding even one more thing to your list seems like it might just put you over the edge. I get it. But there ARE little changes you can make that do NOT make more work for you, but DO help the environment.

Remember, I have four kids and I’m lazy, I don’t want to do any more work than is necessary. These really are small, easy things you can do every day that reduce your footprint or have a positive impact on the environment. Keep reading…

1. Unplug It!

Just by simply being plugged in – even if “off” – many gadgets and appliance use energy. Granted, a small amount, but still, it’s energy that costs you $ and harms the environment. So why not unplug and save yourself some cash and save the earth too? Make this a mental note for a week or two and then it will become habit…I promise, you won’t even notice yourself doing it, but it will add up!

Heres a great little article about vampire electrify with tips to reduce!


2. Turn It Off!

Just like above, let’s save some cash and the earth…simply turn off things when not in use! Leaving a room? Turn off the lights! Leaving town for a week? Turn down/off your hot water heater! Don’t use the tv as background noise. When you’re going to bed for the night, actually shut down your computer (and unplug! See above!) vs just letting it go to standby mode.

If you are leaving home for a few hours, turn down the air or heat! Especially if you’re going on vacation, that one can really add up. If you want to really up the savings, buy a programmable or learning thermostat! We’ve tried both Nest and EcoBee and slightly prefer EcoBee for our family. But any will help!


3. Reusable Bags

I know, I know. You’ve heard this one a million times and you have dozens of cute reusable grocery bags that you always forget. You’ve just got to make it a habit! Like me, you probably have enough bags to go put ten in your car right now. I use them everywhere, not just at the grocery store – Target, the mall, wherever I have things to carry. They really do save, especially if the only other option is plastic. And frankly, they are so much better – they hold more, don’t rip, and I can carry them on my shoulder…helpful when I need hands free for kids. When you make your grocery list, just grab some bags right then and put them together so you can’t forget. 🙂


4. Ditch the Straws!

I know you’ve heard this one before too. I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know -single use plastic straws add up, they clog the oceans, they kill animals. Here’s an article if you want to know more about why they are bad. But you like straws, right? Your iced coffee is just not as good without a straw. And a milkshake or smoothie? Of course you NEED a straw. Me too. I get it. And kids…they need straws. But there are so many reusable straw options out there now…they are cheap, better for the environment, and easy to clean! We have both stainless and silicon and strongly prefer the silicon…these are the ones we like! We have both thin (water, coffee) and wide (smoothies, milkshakes) and they come with a little brush for easy cleaning! I do keep a few in my purse and car and simply ask for “no straw please” in the drive thru. (Bonus, these are an excellent teether for the baby! Ha!)


5. Say “NO!” to Bottled Water!

If you’re bored, read this paper on why/how bottled water is bad for the environment. If you just want to trust me and use logic, it saves resources to just drink tap water vs water that gets bottled and shipped. And with few exceptions (Flint, MI comes to mind) tap water is just as healthy and perfectly fine for you and your kids. So stopping buying bottled water…think about all those water bottles floating around in the ocean and landfills! Find a reusable water bottle that you like and fill it up at home. Like many things on this list, this will ultimately save you some cash and if you are diligent about it for a few weeks, it will easily become habit.

I still prefer a good old Nalgene bottle (if you’re nearing 40, like me, you had one in college!) because there is a smaller 16 oz size, which makes it not too heavy to carry around, and has a wide mouth for easy cleaning. This is the one I like.

My kids all like their Camelbak straw cups which come in a variety of colors and style. I actually use the straw brush that comes with our reusable straws to better clean these!


6. Be Lazy – Do Less Laundry!

This is a great one! Next time your kids complain that they their favorite shirt isn’t clean, tell them you’re saving the earth! 🙂 Make sure that you are washing a full load each time, not a partial load. It seems small but this is a big one that can really add up…think if you halved the number of loads of laundry you did each year? How much water and energy could you save?! Not to mention your time!


7. Wash on Cold

Yes, I have four dirty kids. Yes, I wash almost all of my laundry on cold! Don’t believe me that it works? Even Martha herself agrees! Or read here. You save a ton of energy (it takes a lot to heat water!) and money AND it saves your clothes making them last longer, making you buy less, and further helping the earth! Speaking of clothing…


8. Buy Used!

This one has so many pieces, it’s hard to calculate just how much energy and resources are saved, but just think if we could cut down on manufacturing? Not just the actual resources used, which would be huge in and of itself, but the waste materials, the water and the energy in manufacturing, energy and pollution from shipping…wow!

You can buy used furniture, clothing, household goods, really almost anything! You can frequent estate sales, yard sales, Facebook marketplace, consignment stores, or any number of online resale sites. Ask a friend to trade clothing for you or the kids! Pass along things you’ve outgrown – who doesn’t love hand-me-downs?!

I tend to buy more of my oldest boy’s clothing new since there are three of them and we leave it all for the next kid. But my daughter gets almost exclusively used clothing (and some for the boys too)…I love our local FB sale pages! I also get at least half of my clothing used…I am a big fan of ThredUP! I haven’t bought “new” jeans in years…why spend $250 when I can get them for $40?! And fancy events? I always buy dresses used at consignment shops or, again, ThredUP or similar.

I also tend to buy used furniture with only a few exceptions (mattresses and upholstered stuff I buy new). It’s helpful that I prefer antiques anyway, so I look at antique stores, consignment stores, estate sales, and auctions.

It’s also fun to switch toys with a friend…your kids will love getting “new” things to play with and it also helps cut down on the clutter. Which reminds me, anyone want to switch up some puzzles?!? 🙂


9. Meatless Monday

Yes folks, it’s true…cutting back on meat and dairy is better for the environment. It takes A LOT of water and energy to produce meat, far more than plants alone. Don’t believe me? Read here! And, of course, a diet low on meat and dairy and high in whole grains and fruits and veggies is better for your body too. So simply commit to cutting out at least one meat/dairy meal a week! That doesn’t have to mean plain pasta (although who doesn’t like pasta with red sauce and a good salad?!). There are tons of vegetarian and vegan meals online…we prefer veggie heavy pastas or loaded salads (with yummy bread, of course!). We try to do at least two meatless dinners a week (and two seafood) and even my meat-and-potato-loving husband likes them! Maybe that’s a post for another day…


So there you have it, some small adjustments you can make to help save Mother Earth! These are all super easy, cost effective, and just require a little time until the habit forms.

What other tips and tricks do you have to help protect this beautiful planet?!

Board Toddler? Do this today!

Here is a fun craft/learning project that your kid will love, takes up a decent amount of time, and is super easy for you! Remember, I’m a lazy mom – if it takes more time for me to prep than for them to execute…nope, not happening. If I can combine letter recognition and fine motor skills plus art…with little effort on my part…that’s a win.

So the quick overview – little pieces of paper are glued down to make a letter. There are lots of little things you can do to make this more of learning experience and many small variations to this project…

Start with your “canvas”…you can use any paper and color, or, in our case, the inside of a cereal box we were about to recycle. Engage your child here by asking “What letter does your name start with? What sound does it make? What does it look like?” My 3 year old practiced some “B”s on scrap paper but then I ultimately drew a giant B for him. If they are able to draw their own, great! Or you or the child can write their whole name. Or a favorite word – really, whatever you want!

Then use any scrap paper, colored paper, etc and cut little squares. Again, I did this part but this is also a great chance for 4 and 5 year olds to work on scissors skills and hand strength! Parents can always cut and hold the strips of paper and kids can just cut off the squares. Once we had a big pile, we were ready to begin.

Armed with a glue stick, he went to work carefully picking up one square at a time, applying glue, and placing the square onto the line.


A great variation for older kids is to use different colored squares and have them make a pattern as they go! Or, if you’re wanting to focus more on letter sounds, use Red for R, Blue for B, etc.

Once we completed that, we went through our giant bin of stickers and looked for things that started with that letter! Younger kids will need guidance, older kids can likely do this part on their own. This is a great way to work on letter sounds and you’d be surprised how much they get into this – and get excited to find things that start with the same letter as their name!

So that’s it! Fun, easy, educational activity you can do with little to no prep – and your happy kiddo has “art” to show off at the end!




Easy Family Meals – Shrimp & Broccoli

Let me make this very clear: I am not a chef, I have no desire to be one. I am also not a nutritionist. I took one nutrition course in college, which was interesting, but that’s it’s. I’m not looking to become a cooking blog or even a mom-cooking-for-kids blog. I don’t *really* know what I’m doing but I do know that it’s been hard for me to find meal inspiration lately that fits our family and so I thought maybe other mommas could use some tried-and-true recipes and meal ideas.

When I check out recipes or meal plan, I’m looking for health-ish meals that the whole family will like (momma is NOT a short order cook!) that do not require dozens of ingredients and/or special ingredients. They also cannot be too time or labor intensive, which I realize is a bit relative, my biggest thing is I can’t have to just be cooking for an hour straight! I do a lot of prep at other points during the day (like cutting veggies during naptime) to make that witching hour better. You know, that horrid time when the baby needs a catnap and the toddler is hangry and older kids need homework help and the pot boils over and the doorbell rings and where the hell is your father?!???!!   Oops, I digress…

Anyway, I’m going to occasionally share some of our meals/recipes and hopefully they help some mommas! The only “order” to these is if I make them and then have time to type them out. 🙂 Also, sometimes I don’t really measure so my recipes don’t have perfect measurements. #sorrynotsorry

So, without further ado… drumroll…



This one is easy, healthy, and a favorite with all five of us (baby doesn’t count yet!). I serve over brown rice, which I always make in my InstaPot! The best part – I can have all of these ingredients on hand at any time, so this is one I call back on often when I haven’t planned anything else!

You need…

1 lb bag of frozen shrimp

Broccoli, I like to have equal amounts shrimp and broccoli…I just eyeball it! You can use fresh or frozen…I prefer fresh because I like it to remain crunchy, but often use frozen for ease.

Several Cloves of Garlic, diced (probably normal people would use 2-3…I use like 6-8!)

Ginger, diced, about 1 teaspoon

Soy Sauce, 4 Tablespoons

Honey, 2 Tablespoons

Cooked rice of choice

Use a fork to mix garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and honey in a large mixing bowl. Add shrimp and broccoli and toss well to coat.

Meanwhile, heat oil of choice in a large skillet (I only use cast iron, if you use nonstick, you won’t need the oil) over medium heat. You want probably the biggest skillet or wok you own for a thinner layer and more even, and quick, cooking. Add the entire contents of the bowl – shrimp, broccoli, and all “sauce”. Cook over medium, for a couple minutes, then flip shrimp and cook a couple more minutes until shrimp is cooked thru (no longer translucent). Time really depends a lot on how packed in the shrimp are and what size shrimp you get…I generally get what’s on sale!…so adjust time accordingly. Overall, this cooks in 5-15 minutes. Serve over rice and enjoy!

That’s it! This is super easy, relatively healthy (I use low-sodium soy sauce and organic ingredients), and my family destroys it! I usually have to either double the recipe or make something else to go with it – we like to quickly boil some frozen edamame or frozen dumplings.

Let me know if you try this!


The hardest thing about motherhood…

Oh the mind of a momma!

My first baby, who is almost seven, needs to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. This is NOT news – we knew this day was coming for years. The kid has snored since day 1, has severe allergies (and now asthma), and we’ve been seeing an ENT for several years. His ENT, allergist, and dentist – all of whom we love and trust – have said this needs to happen. His tonsils are huge. His adenoids are huge. He can’t breathe. I’ve researched (too much!). We’ve exhausted other options like allergy meds, allergy shots, daily steroids (which I hate). I’ve tried to find a balance between helping my kid feel better and not undertaking any unneccesary risks. But this is needed, required, for his health and comfort.

So why am I feeling so conflicted about this decision?! Why am I so worried?!

I generally don’t worry needlessly. I like facts and stats. I smuggly judge (honest confession here) those that fear flying but not driving – don’t they know the odds?!? I’ve researched this surgery, and our doctor. I know my worrying is silly. I know the stats. But stats and facts don’t erase the fact that this surgery is happening to MY BABY BOY! That my little boy (because he’s still little to me) will be operated on while under anesthesia. I’m worried for him. I KNOW he needs this and it will ultimately make him feel better, but I feel so sad that to make him better, he first has to endure some pain. And fear. Although, admittedly, I’m more scared than he is…he is super excited to get to eat ice cream after and has already requested various flavors of homemade milkshake. And I know he’s brave…the kid willingly sits down for three allergy shots every week and doesn’t even flinch.

Being a momma is hard for many reasons.  But, for me, the single hardest part is making these decisions for your kids. Sometimes I feel virtually paralyzed at the decision making, particularly with regards to health: Doctor A or Doctor B? Antibiotics for that ear or give it a day? The inhaled steroids or the surgery? Fluoride toothpaste or no? Of course, I want to do what is best for my kids and, per my usual, I research and fact find and sometimes that is enough, it’s cut and dry.  The kid needs an inhaler during an asthma attack! Clear cut! Easy! But often times it isn’t so black and white, there are so many little things to consider and balance, pros and cons that aren’t evenly weighted. Those are the decisions I agonize over, afraid to make the wrong choice. I know I’m not alone in this, and yet, it does seem like a lonely mental game.

In this case, I am positive that a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is the right choice for my son. I really have no doubts about this decision itself…although I do still worry about my kid. That’s just part of this mom gig. And it’s a price I am more than willing to pay…because this kid, and his siblings, are worth every agonizing decision, every worry, every gray hair.

Now if only they can sedate me during this process too…