Sunday, January 29, 2023

Morning Breakfast Casserole

      Sigh... aren't mornings just SO CHAOTIC? Getting ready for work, kids running around and screaming, big rush to get everything in their right places, 'go get your clothes on'... etc, etc, etc!

     The thing that was most frustrating for me was breakfast. I mean, you'd like to get food in your stomach and the kids' stomachs too. But then, you also want protien, easy clean-up, and not too much preparation time either. Finally, after long years of searching, we came across what works for us. (Drumroll, please)


     We make this egg and ham casserole the night before, store it in the refrigerator until morning, and then bake it. I works really well for our large family and just clears up our mornings so much. Here's the recipe:

Friday, January 27, 2023

Gardening with Kids

I think many of us have an instinctive sense that gardening is good for kids.  It gets them outside, gives them a sense of where their food comes from, gives them interesting and stimulating sensory experiences, and the list goes on and on.

Actually following through and making a garden that is successful and enjoyable for everyone involved, however, can often be frustrating and/or intimidating.

Here are the top things I have learned so far from my 8 years of gardening with kids and having grown up with a father who gardened.

1.  Seeds. It is always nice to take a kid to a seed shop and let them see all the packets. These are fun to plant (especially the digging in the dirt part) and it is especially fun to watch the little seedlings poke up out of the ground with your kids.

2.  Anticipate points of tension ahead of time.  Clearly mark path where they can walk, teach them early on what weeds look like and what the seedlings will look like.

3.  Plant things that will capture your kids imagination. Not just vegetables, but also flowers and interestingly shaped plants. Another idea is to let your kids each choose a plant to take care of (with reminders and guidance, of course) :)

4.  Plant things that kids can easily harvest themselves and eat right away: peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes.  Short maturation time.  Seed packets will often tell how long that variety takes to harvest.  If you are a beginning gardener, the information on the seed packets can be especially helpful.

5.  Love your plants, but love your kids more.

P.S. The kiddo in the picture is E, our second to youngest, two years ago, with the sweet potatoes.
Let us know in the comments below: Do you have any tips on gardening with kids?

Make a Garden with Your Kids
5 Easy Tips for Beginners

The Five Little Peppers Books

     Recently, I've been re-reading some of our older books that I haven't read in years. I've really been enjoying the Five Little Peppers series. It is a really fun series with lots of books and it is great for a family read-aloud or for kids ages 9 and up! 

     It is a series by Margaret Sidney about a family with five kids (which is, by the way, relevant to our family now, which makes it even more fun) and about their hard life in the little brown house. They count their blessings though, and are happy, lively, and a very closely-knit family even in the midst of hardships. The series starts with The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and continues on to have twelve books in total. There are also four films on the series that we haven't watched, but are on our 'to watch' list. 

     This is one of my childhood favorites, along with many others. Let us know in the comments below: what are some of your favorite childhood books? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Marbled Fall Cookies


     Over fall break this year, I made some cookies with the kiddos. This is a really fun thing to do with kids because it doesn't take a lot of time, but they are still fun to make and enjoy together. I got this recipe for marbled sugar cookies, and they were quick and easy and came out perfectly.

     Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) I couldn't get a picture of the finished product because they were all eaten before I got the chance! :)

     You can get the effect by separating the dough into different bowls and dying it, then arranging colored bits close together before rolling them out. As you might guess, re-rolling the dough more than once diminishes the marbled look (oh well). To learn more about this fun activity, go to the Land O' Lakes post on marbled sugar cookies.

Let us know in the comments below: have you tried this recipe or something like it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Russian Piping Tips

      Recently, I became interested in Russian piping tips and decided to try them out. There are three types- nozzles, balls, and the basic tip. The nozzle is the most well-known, and it is often referred to as just a 'russian piping tip'.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

14 Gifts for Kids who Love Words


In our family, our kids really like reading and all things associated with it. Maybe you've found, over the years, that your kids do too, or maybe you're just looking for gift ideas. Either way, these fun ideas are sure to please.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Trick for Kids Who Can't Sleep

Nine years into my adventure with kids, I have witnessed my fair share of post-bedtime trips to the bathroom, desperate pleas for water and band-aids, and sad little whimpers that they "just can't sleep."

One particularly fidgety night though a couple of years ago, I stumbled on to a little trick that really does make bedtime a lot more fun for everyone in our family. I call it "the sleep assignment."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reward Charts with Fine Art Puzzles

It's a sad but true fact that the giant art history book full of beautiful artwork is most often used in our house as a bug smasher.  I prefer it to a shoe because I can smash the bugs without coming near them.  I just pitch the thing across the room in the general direction of the offending insect and hope for the best.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Watermelon Tie Dye Beach Towels

I've been scared to death to attempt tie dye with my kids for a long time now.  And since I don't love the look (most of the time) there's never really been a reason to risk the stained hands, clothes, house, LIFE,  etc.
The other day, though, when I saw these adorable watermelon tea towels and realized that the same thing would work with beach towels, I knew it was time to take the plunge. 
When I turned to facebook to get some moral support and tips, my first piece of advice was a reassuring "DON'T!" from one commenter who does tie dye quite a bit but never with her kids.  Her warning further solidified in my mind that if we were going to attempt this project, I really needed to think it through ahead of time.
From this commenter and from other people I came up with a plan of attack.  And I'm happy to say...we survived!  Nothing was irreparably damaged, and I would even do tie dye again if there was another project I was excited about.  (Look for an upcoming post about doing tie dye with kids without losing your mind!)
But specifically, to do this project and make the cutest, juiciest beach towels on the beach, here's what you do:

What You Need:

  • White, 100% cotton towel.  (we bought super cheap bath towels which work just fine for kids)
  • 2 buckets that will hold at least a gallon of water each
  • Some sort of stirring stick (one that you don't mind getting stained)
  • Rubber bands
  • Gloves (at least one pair for each person participating)
  • Hot Water Dye Powder (you could use cold water dye, but the nice thing about hot water dye is that once it cools down, the drips don't stain as much) in two colors, green and either red or pink (or both if you'd like to layer it!)
  • Black permanent marker (big size)

What You Do:

1.  Wet your towel. The wetter the towel the more blurry your dye lines will be. (I let the kids do this part with a hose in the back yard).
2.  Tie the towel in two places with rubber bands.  The space in between the rubber bands will be the white part of the watermelon.  I made my white space a little bigger than I should have because I was afraid the colors would bleed into the white space, but they really didn't.  
3.  Heat water to almost boiling.  Pour in dye powder and stir. (the kids helped me stir)
4.  Dip one end of the towel into the bucket of dye.  Dip as far as the rubber band or a little further if you'd like a faint white stripe there.  (the kids did this part)  Let it rest there for up to a half hour.  The longer the rest, the darker the color.
5. Squeeze out the dye (use gloves) and repeat with the other side in the other color.
6.  Allow to dry overnight. 
7.  Take off the rubber bands for the reveal!  (the fun part- the kids did this)
8.  Hose the towels down again and wash separately from anything else (the first time they will bleed a little bit) in the washing machine with cold water.  
9.  Once the towels are dry,  use a black permanent marker to draw on the seeds (the kids did this part)
Time to head to the beach!

Friday, June 10, 2016

10 Beautiful Gifts Kids can Make with Seashells

Going to the beach for our family always results in lots and lots of shells.  Just finding them is reward in itself (like a treasure hunt!)  but since they're so pretty, we often finding ourselves wishing that there was something we could do with them.  

So this year, before we head to the beach I've done a little research and found some great ideas for how kids can transform shells into beautiful gifts to give away. 

Also, at the end you'll find a list of bonus activities that aren't gifts, but could still be a lot of fun.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Superhero Father's Day Card

Here's a super quick and easy Father's Day card your kids can make.  Cut out your husband's face from an old photo, and glue it on to one of these clip art images.

When Kids Get the Sillies during Learning Time: 4 Strategies

It doesn't matter if you are teaching a preschooler to read or a 3rd grader their math facts.  Kids get silly.  And as a parent, it's all too easy to get frustrated.   For myself, I've found it increasingly difficult to be patient with the silliness now that I have more children who need one- on- one teaching. Time and energy are precious.

But of course, frustration doesn't help.  Here are four approaches I've found that do help:
(It's so good to be writing these out.  I need the reminders!)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Art Lesson with Kids: Unity and Variation in Painting Seashells

I've been thinking a lot about how the similarities in the things God has made help to make the world beautiful.  Diversity is an important element too, but without unifying elements, the world would be aesthetically jarring.  

The kids and I were looking at seashells the other day...noticing how pretty they look together.  We talked about the ways they are different, but also the things that they have in common that make them look like they belong together.