Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Fall weekends are the B-E-S-T!  Especially since I do so much travelling this time of year.  Every minute at home is like a blast of fresh air.

I spent Friday recovering from my long journey to Alabama and beyond.  I feel like I drove the length of the world all by myself.  It was lovely.  I like alone time.  I used that time to catch up on some courses I am taking (listening to the lessons at least) and I listened to a couple of audiobooks when my brain went to mush from learning.

This old mind ain’t what it used to be.

I just adore a good audiobook and they’re so hard to find.  You can never tell if the narrator is going to be good (I just can’t stick with a bad narrator) or if the story is something that will make you better.  That’s my requirement….that a story improves my life in some way.  I want it to help me be stronger, wiser, gentler, humbler (is that a word?), something that is worth spending 9-13 hours of my life on.

And one of the books I listened to was so, so good I just HAD to tell you about it.  But before I do, I want to warn you that there is some swearing in it.  It’s not a lot, but if that’s a deal breaker for you then skip it.  That being said, it was so sweet and filled with great characters.  It’s a light, simple story.  Not deep or action packed.  It’s character based and that’s my thang.  I love, love a well developed character.  The book is called, “A Man Called Ove.” (pronounced Ooo-vuh)  I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet, feel good read.

While I loved every second of my listening time and Beauty School and visiting with my amazing friends, home is where the heart is.  And my heart was sooo happy to be back with my family.  As soon as I walked in the door I just wanted to hug people for an hour.

And what’s a teenage boy’s favorite thing?  Yep….extended hugs from Mom.

Once I got unpacked and caught up with the home front, it was time to start scrubbing.  Nothing says, “Mom’s HOME!” like a day of house cleaning.  On Saturday morning I made a long list….like the one Santa makes on a big scroll and releases with drama in front of the elves.  Bathrooms, behind the appliances, pantry shelves, under the beds….I meant business.

After we divided up the jobs, we went to work.  I may have heard one of the boys singing a song from Cinderella while he was sweeping out the fireplace.  These people have a flair for the dramatic.

When your kids sing songs from Cinderella as they do their chores....

After a few hours the house was clean and we rested.  There’s really nothing like knowing the floor is spotless under the refrigerator to make one feel like taking a long nap.  It gives you that all-is-well-with-the-world feeling.  I slept like a baby.  Only not one of my babies because they never slept very well.  I slept more like a new mom whose husband has taken the baby in another room for the night.

Sunday we went to church and the sermon was so good….very convicting.  I love those kinds of sermons, that dig deep into my heart and shine a light on some ugly stuff I keep hidden.  This week’s topic was humility and all I can say is, “ouch”.  I came home with some stuff stirring around in my mind and decided to take a walk and let it all settle in.

God’s been doing some sweet things through the difficulty of the past couple of years and I can feel some of the ice around my heart melting away.  A good, hard hitting, Biblical message always helps.  I know He loves me too much to let me stay stagnate in my mess for too long.

That led to some good talks in the evening about humility and forgiveness and being Christ-focused.  Between that and the clean house, I felt prepared for the week ahead.

My boys and I got back to school Monday morning and the lesson in our government class was about what makes a good leader.  Since they’ve been watching the debates, this led to some interesting conversations.  “Mom, why don’t our 2 candidates seem to care about this?” and “How has America gotten so far away from these principles?”

How have we gotten so far off track?

I didn’t have good answers for their questions.  Sin.  Greed.  Selfishness.  It’s a tough one to put your finger on.  But I was able to share about how we are never in control anyway.  We just do the best we know how then we leave the rest in God’s hands.  These candidates may not be what we used to think of as good leaders, but God knows what He is doing.

This is one of the hard lessons I’ve been learning, to trust God no matter what the circumstances are.  Everywhere I turn there it is again….God says to lay it all down.  It’s not about me.  Or what I can do.  Or my own strength.  It’s about trusting Him and letting go.

So there.  Your deep thought for the week.  My brain is worn out from all this thinking and now I need another one of those Daddy-takes-over kind of naps.

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom


I wanted to share some extra love and encouragement for all you moms out there who are trying to get used to the fall schedule changes.  Whether you homeschool or send your kids to school, it’s hard to adjust!  If you’re hanging by a thread, you’re not alone!

My plan was to get back to school this week, homeschool that is.  I have been going through curricula, setting up schedules and stocking up on supplies for weeks.  I woke up early Monday morning, exercised (which I haven’t done faithfully all summer), woke up the boys like a town crier and got breakfast ready.  “Wake up boys!  Time to wake up!  It’s 7:30!  Rise and shine!!!’  They moaned and groaned and rolled out of bed with their eyes closed.  But no amount of groaning was going to persuade me to let them go back to bed.  I planned to start school precisely at 9:am with real clothes on and the chores done.

Yep.  I’m a dreamer.

One thing I knew after 20+ years of homeschooling was that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing.  There has not been a school launch week yet that has gone exactly as I had planned.  No matter how much prep work I’d done there were going to be bumps in the road.  And this year has been no different.  Lots and lots of bumps.  Some of the bumps felt more like Mt Everest on top of Old Smokey.

By 8:00 on the first morning we had already gotten off course.  There were some kid character issues and slow-pokiness to deal with.  Then we moved on to dog poop in the hallway, a dead rodent in my bathroom, cleaning out lockers (which they were supposed to have done the week before) that took 2 hours and a friend with a minor emergency that needed help.  We got very little school done, not only because of the constant issues, but half of the books I ordered had not arrived yet.  By 10:pm that first night I collapsed into bed and wondered if I would ever get my groove back.

But then I remembered something….something that made all the difference.  And after that I fell asleep with hope for the future.

  1. The early morning character issues exposed a problem I hadn’t known about.  We dealt with it, made a plan, and I can tell it really lifted a burden for one of our boys.
  2. The hallway carpet got scrubbed and vacuumed, something I’d been wanting to do but not finding the time.
  3. The dead rodent, well the only good thing about that is that it was dead.
  4. Since we cleaned out the lockers during school hours I did the job with them (last week they would have done it on their own) and we had a really nice time looking at all of their old projects and talking about all we learned last year as we tossed out the papers.  It helped us all feel a sense of excitement for the new year.
  5. I took one of my boys along with me to help my friend and that was a sweet time spent together that we rarely get.
  6. Since we are waiting for some books, we pulled out a few maps and pencils and did some really fun geography that everyone enjoyed.  They’re still working on the maps just for fun.

There’s always something good about any day.  Hidden opportunities and unexpected blessings.  Even a dead mouse can bring joy when you see your son coming to your rescue.  The kids know I hate it so they bravely do the dirty work.

Day 2 had its own share of challenges including a trip to take my oldest son to rent a car that became the Gilligan’s Island of projects.  What was supposed to take 30 minutes took 6 hours and I barely made it to a dinner meeting I had.  I walked out the door at 11:00 that morning to drop him at the car rental place, calling out behind me, “Get those assignments done boys and I’ll be back in half an hour to do the next lesson!”  I didn’t get home until 9:30 that night.

I understood how Gilligan’s family must have felt.  3-hour tour my eye.

What was good about that?  Well I got to spend a gob-ton of time with my oldest son and quietly watch him handle some very rude and dishonest people at the car rental place.  He was MUCH nicer than I would have been.

The next day, Wednesday, I got up an extra 15 minutes early to add to my prayer time.  I thought I needed it or we would never get school done.  I normally have my prayer while I exercise, but I went for a bit extra since it had been such a hard week.  After prayer and a little time on the treadmill, I had a few emails to answer so I didn’t come out of my bedroom until 8:15.  I expected another rough start since I hadn’t done my town crier routine, but what I found was amazing!  My 4 boys were all fed, dressed, chores done and doing their school work.  Say WHAT?!

I nearly cried.

OK I did cry a little.  Boys love that.

I went around to each of them and hugged them and thanked them for being so responsible then we went over their assignments for the day.  Really….I was kind of amazed and thanked God for this miracle.  I don’t expect it to happen every day, but it sure was nice and I will pack it away in my memory for the other days that don’t go as smoothly.

I can already picture us 15 years from now sitting around the Christmas dinner table laughing and talking about old times, them with their families and me soaking in all the togetherness when one of them smiles and says, “Hey, remember that time we all did our school work and chores without being asked?”  And I’ll tear up and hug them again.  Then I’ll hug their wives and their kids just for being there.

Yes.  It was that nice of a morning.

So maybe Lisa will get her groove back after all.  If not, that’s OK too.  When you ask me what I learned from this rough start to the new schedule, I will say that I learned how good God is to use all of the problems and turn them into blessings.  I know for sure that every day will be filled with richness, even if I don’t recognize it right away.

How’ve your first few weeks of the new season been?  Hop over to Facebook and tell me all about it!

First Day of School Happiness

First Day of School Happiness

I am so happy to be back to normal life this morning!  We are starting school today and after a full month of doing nothing but entertaining ourselves and not cleaning the house, I am ready.

A week ago we were in Florida running around at Universal Studios, then came straight home to a houseful of company.  Before we left for Universal I tried to get it all clean so when we got home the guest beds would be ready and all I’d have to do is wipe off the bathroom mirrors and go to the grocery store.  But somehow that theory never actually works and there seemed to be more work than we could do to get ready for our weekend.

We spent last Wednesday putting away our suitcases and scrubbing the bathrooms and restocking the pantry.  I think the washer and dryer ran all day and night so we would be ready for our friends to come and stay for the weekend.  I also knew a little secret, which was that our oldest daughter was going to come down and surprise everyone.  So I had to discreetly have a bed ready for her too.  It wasn’t easy….I am not good at that kind of sneakiness.

I can barely get Christmas presents into the house without being discovered.  I try to do little surprises for the kids all the time, like buy their favorite drink to surprise them with for Friday movies only to find them sipping on them one afternoon because they found them in the back of the fridge.  Or I get up really early to make a special breakfast and wake people up with my clanging around in the kitchen.  So last Wednesday when my boys kept asking me why I needed extra sheets I got panicked and almost blew the secret about a dozen times.

The main reason we had so much company was because there was a conference happening here in our little town and we offered our house as a place to stay for some families.  So we were piled up and overflowing and I loved it.

I attended the conference as much as I could, but I had to do some catching up on work at home so I kept slipping back and trying to get some work done.  There are definitely disadvantages to having the event in our own town.  I ended up only being there about half the time.  But even with only hearing some of the talks at the conference I was really uplifted and encouraged.  There’s really nothing like being around other like-minded Christians to fill your tank.

One session was about being content with what God has given you and it was especially encouraging to me.  It was not only a great message, but the speaker was a young man who is a close friend of my son and that made it even sweeter.  To see these boys grow up and develop wisdom from their personal relationship with the Lord melts my heart.  The message of trusting God and understanding His sovereignty washed over me and I was so thankful for the words.  One thing the speaker said that I wrote in my notes was, “The world tells us that to be content we must get away from what makes us uncomfortable.  But Paul clearly teaches us that we must be content with wherever we are.”  Good stuff.

It was just what I needed as I move from the carefree times of the summer into full time school with my boys.  It won’t be easy to get us all up at the crack of dawn and stick to our school year schedule.  We kinda like sleeping late and not cleaning the house and going to theme parks.

So now we are back to our fall schedule and daily routine of school in the mornings and I will do my personal work in the afternoons which includes grading papers for the next day.  Having homeschooled for over 20 years, I know that I have to keep up with grading their work every day or I fall so far behind that I can’t catch up.  It’s like laundry.  Miss a couple of days and you have an overwhelming mountain to deal with.

I won’t be taking any of those “first day of school” pictures though.  It’s just not my thing and I tell you that in case you didn’t do it either and you’re feeling guilty.  Let it go, my friend.  Life’s too short to sweat that stuff.  Do what you can and release the rest to the list of things you didn’t really need anyway.

Have a great week!

Be sure you’re following me on Facebook!  🙂

A Universally Good Time!

A Universally Good Time!

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you as overwhelmed as I am by all of the activity surrounding this time of year?  School starting, summer ending, new afternoon and evening schedules and so many new things popping up on the calendar!

We took our end of summer trip to Universal Studios last week and I have been home for about 24 hours.  The suitcases are half unpacked and the laundry is half done and I am half asleep.  I took 2 naps yesterday between straightening and chatting with my kids and today I have a gob-ton of stuff to do because we have company coming for the weekend.

Our trip to Universal Studios was amazing.  I can’t imagine how it could have been any better.  We took VIP tours of the parks, getting all kinds of education on how things were done behind the scenes (I love that stuff!).  We spent an afternoon in a lazy river and ate at some incredible restaurants.  I mean the best food you ever ate kind of food.

a great family fun time at Universal Studios!

I did make one mistake that cost me $44.95 + $12 + tax.  I only took one pair of shoes.  I know, it is completely against my character not to have at least 3 pair with me at all times and I have learned my lesson.  But I was traveling with an airline that has very limited luggage guidelines and I had to keep it as light as possible.  My Oofos (which you can read more about HERE) served me well on my last 2 trips to Orlando with all of the walking so I decided to just take one pair and wear it the whole time.

But then I got a bug bite on the top of my right foot where the strap goes.  Even though I had my essential oils and they helped the bite not itch or bother me, they couldn’t move the bite to another location and the strap rubbed on it until it turned into a blister.  And suddenly what had been a comfortable pair of shoes became a torture device.  No amount of bandaids or medical gauze would help because everything I taped to the spot kept falling off in less than 5 minutes.  I went through an entire $8.50 box of hotel bandaids in under an hour.

At that point I realized I would need to either buy a new pair of shoes or rent a scooter and ride around all day.  I opted for the shoes.  So I went into a gift shop and bought myself a pair of Crocs that I don’t need because I have a pair of Crocs at home that I rarely wear.  I got a “guy” color so that I could give them to one of my boys after the trip.

I also bought myself a $12 pair of socks because I was worried that the crocs would rub the blister and I’d need a barrier.  I also thought the socks would help the bandaid stay on.  And it worked.  I looked like a dork-mom, but my foot was fine after that.  Believe me, if I could have worn the sock with my Oofos I would have.  But I tried it and the shoes kept falling off because the thong-toe-thingy kept fighting with the socks.

And now boys and girls, here’s the lesson from this experience: Always have 2 different pair of shoes when you travel.

If I had taken my Otz I could have saved money and kept my feet from hurting today.  I will be in extreme arch support shoes for weeks trying to recover from the lack of arch support in my new pair of Crocs.

But since that was really the only problem we had the entire time, it was nothing.  A speck on the globe of amazement and fun.

There were 6 of us on the trip, so after the first day we divided into 2 groups of 3 so we could have some quality time together and the boys could do more of what they each wanted.  I loved that because it gave me time to chat with each guy (I was the only girl) and do exactly whatever they wanted without juggling so many other ideas.  If you have a large family, take it from me… things alone with 1-2 kids at a time.  It’s the best!

a great family fun time at Universal Studios with Honey Bunches of Oats!

One day I spent time riding the less intense rides with these 2 boys and exploring the Jurassic Park discovery zone.

There are plenty of fun photo ops at Universal Studios!

And another day I snuck over to Disney with these two and we had a great time, despite the rain! (in fact, the rain made it less crowded so we didn’t mind at all)

A little rain means lighter crowds!

Once we got home it was back to reality and getting the house ready for friends to come stay with us this weekend.  I’m looking forward to the fellowship, but if I don’t get to the grocery store this morning my friends will starve.  We ate up everything before we left and there is nothing but scraps in the pantry.

I am also getting the school books out and going through them to get our new school schedule ironed out before we start next Monday.  It doesn’t matter that I have been homeschooling for over 20 years…..there’s always something new to figure out.

Here’s to new seasons and normal schedules!  Have a great weekend.

The Last Adventure of the Summer

The Last Adventure of the Summer

While everyone else is going back to school we are on a trip once more, heading to Florida for our big family adventure.  Six of us are going for some serious Harry Potter discoveries and riding some crazy coasters.  I can’t wait to experience the Rip Ride Rockit.  I didn’t get to ride it last year because no one was with me to watch the boys who didn’t want to ride it, so I hung back while my older kids rode.  This year my hubs (aka: roller coaster hater) will be with us so I can coaster to my heart’s content.

The boys are so excited about this trip that it’s been non-stop Universal talk for weeks.  Since April we have had a countdown display on the school white board and every morning they change the number.  When it got to single digits they started hopping around the house like little minions.  We have been watching YouTube videos of the rides at Universal in preparation for our trip.  This one is our favorite (warning: there’s one bad word).

I spent the past weekend getting the house clean and food prepped.  I don’t want to come home to a messy house because I know I will be exhausted after this grand adventure.  Plus we are having a houseful of company only 3 days after we get home so we are trying to get the extra beds ready and floors swept.  The sweet things in life are simply endless.  I am so blessed with travel and a home and friends to share it all with!

Today we are packing.  I have a whole list of what we will be taking in my Mom’s Guide to Universal.  Since I am trying to keep the costs as low cost as possible, we are trying to pack in small duffle bags instead of suitcases so we don’t have the extra charge of checking a bag.  It’s a challenge!  But by golly we are going to make it happen if it means wearing the same clothes for 6 days in a row.  Mama can rinse and dry in the hotel bathroom if necessary.  😉

Pack light and just wash the clothes at your hotel.

I have also been trying to get all of the ipods and ipads ready.  Apparently they all need new games and movies before we go.  I remember when our entertainment on trips was my dad calling out what to look for out the station wagon window and the first to see it got a nickel.  I’m pretty sure he had us looking for mountains in the desert just to keep us quiet.  But now they’ve got all kinds of entertainment and earbuds and self-contained activities and frankly, I am fine with that.  Saves me some nickels.  And my sanity.

Speaking of packing, I have learned the art of the roll.  I can’t believe how much space it saves in the suitcase when you roll your clothes.  I’m sure there’s some complicated math out there to explain it, but I am just rolling and accepting it.  No reason to fill my brain with math when there’s important stuff like where the Pokestops are or which oils to carry around with me at the park.

We will also see the BlueMan Group while we are there.  Last year we went to their show and, if I am being totally honest, I thought it was kind of dumb.  My daughter and I kept looking at each other and rolling our eyes.  But then we would look down the row and the 3 boys who were with us were laughing so hard I thought they would bust a gut.  It’s definitely a Three Stooges kind of humor.  There’s a dividing line in our house between who thinks the stooges are funny and who doesn’t.  I think the BlueMan Group will cause that same division.  So I will go to their show again for the sake of seeing my boys laugh so hard they nearly fall out of their seats.  In fact, I may just watch my guys instead of the blue guys.


So that’s what’s going on here.  School starts the day after we return, so we plan to enjoy every last second of not doing any book work.  I am gonna need a countdown on the board to the next time I get to take a long, hard nap.  And it better not be a double digit number.

Have a great week!!!


If you liked this you will also like A Mom’s Guide to Universal, part 2 and 10 Ways to Lighten a Traveler’s Load.

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

It was such a sweet weekend….filled with family time together, crafting and snacking.  I mean, what’s a better way to spend a couple of days?

Generally James and I have a date every Friday night, but this past Friday we decided to invite the 4 boys who were home to go with us.  It was a last minute decision since all of the older kids were gone and it was only going to be the 6 of us.  For a big family, having only 4 kids to take with you means you can drive a normal-ish sized car and eat at a normal-ish sized table so we thought it would be a fun thing to do.

I told the boys, “Hey, y’all go get your shoes on and come to dinner with us!”

I thought they would be all excited but instead they looked at me like I had invited them to go to the moon with me.  “But Mom, what’s going on?  Is there something happening?”  “Did you forget to cook dinner?” “What’s the occasion?”  One of them even asked me, “Are you about to tell us something bad?”

Gee, I didn’t realize going out to dinner would be such a shock to them.  Clearly we have given our children the impression that it only happens when there is a serious reason for it.  Like a birthday or announcing terrible news.

Once they warmed up to the idea and accepted that it was just for fun, we had a blast.  Over burgers and salad we talked about our upcoming trip to Universal and what they’ve been doing lately and a little about politics, geography, whatever crossed our minds.  We ate and ate and then drove around looking for PokeStops for a while.  Perfect evening.

On Saturday I got the urge to create something and since I had borrowed my BFF’s Cricut machine for the weekend I got the boys to help me design some t-shirts for us all to wear to Universal.  I like having matching shirts in crowded places and since the theme of the event we are attending is super-heroes, I wanted something to celebrate that and also share our faith.  We came up with a design and went to Hobby Lobby to pick up the supplies.

We had packed a lunch to take with us (dinner the night before was all the money I was willing to spend on eating out for the weekend) and no one remembered to pack napkins.  So we ate our lunch on Kleenex from the car, which didn’t work as well as we had hoped considering we brought Cheetos and cheese cubes (not me, I had sliced veggies which weren’t any better for our napkin needs).  I finally got tired of fighting with my Kleenex and decided to drive through Sonic and get us all a drink and some napkins.  I pulled up and ordered, “2 medium Root Beers, 1 medium Coke, a large cup of ice (that was for me) and a handful of napkins.”  I’m sure that didn’t seem odd to the Sonic employee at all.  No food, just the napkins please.  But, of course, the boys were thrilled to get the rare soda.  I’m surprised they didn’t start asking me again if someone was dying and I was just sugaring them up for before I dropped the news on them.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making t-shirts in the kitchen and being the audience for a bunch of magic tricks my boys made up.  That was fun.  Cut some vinyl, iron-on the transfer, pick a card, any card, just a card.  For 2 hours we did this until I couldn’t take it anymore.  The magic tricks were slowing down my t-shirt making.  So I said, “Hey boys….why don’t y’all go swimming?”  They replied that they would rather do more magic tricks, at which point I offered to buy them some ice cream if they would leave the room for an hour.

It worked.  They swam, ate ice cream and I got an hour to myself.

I finished the 6 shirts and they are so much fun I had to show you….


I also made some numbers for the new mailbox we put up last week….


Cute, right?

I’m gonna have to borrow her machine again soon and do some more crafting.  I have a Cricut, but it’s an old model and it doesn’t do nearly as much as hers does.  I can use mine in a pinch, but being able to use the app to do all your designing and just sending it to the machine via Bluetooth is th’bomb.

Sunday was lovely….just quiet family and games and snacks and finishing up my Cricut crafts before I had to give the machine back.  And naps…..oh the deliciousness of a Sunday nap.


I hope you have a great week and find some quiet time to spend with your family before the summer passes you by.  Maybe take the kids out to dinner and teach them some magic tricks.  If you do that though….be sure to have some bribery ice cream in the freezer in case it gets to be too much.

See ya!

If you liked this you might also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios.

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

If you're not sure wheteher or not to pick up this latest craze, or how to keep it under control, here are some great tips for you!

Yes, we have gotten into the new craze…Pokémon Go.  Before you throw stones and tell me how it was started with evil intent and Christians shouldn’t be spending time on such terrible things, let me fill you in.

I have been looking for things to do with my 3 youngest boys that don’t involve yard work (which we do a lot of) or home repair (it never ends) or school (being the mom and the teacher has its challenges).  I wanted to do something they would enjoy, but didn’t cost much and we could build memories with.  And since lately I have been seeing this Pokémon game being discussed all over the interwebs, I downloaded the app.  Of course, because I am old I didn’t understand anything about it, I had to ask my 15 year old to look at it with me and that was the end of that.  He took over and his 2 younger brothers gathered around him like moths to a flame.

After we got it set up and started it became obvious that it wasn’t something we could do at home.  Living in the country means no PokeStops or Pokémon to catch.  You have to go where the people are.  You have to be active.  So I suggested we go for a drive and see how it all works.  For the next hour and a half we explored our town and met some interesting young people.  And that’s when I fell in love with the game.

I wasn’t actually playing, I was just driving my boys around as they took turn catching and colleting.  And I had such a fab time with them!  Here’s why I am all for the game and why we will keep playing….

  1. We do it together.  It depends on how you play, but since we were all working off of one phone it became a group activity.  They take turns and help each other find things.  They tell me where to go and when to turn and I enjoy being led by my little men.  They get excited together and we have plans to do it as often as possible.
  2. We explore our town.  The PokeStops are places like monuments, murals, churches and city buildings.  We walk around and learn about our town and places we had never really noticed.  It is such fun to find out more about the place we live!
  3. Historical markers!  Some places we have to go are the local historical Markers.  I told the boys that any marker we stop at to get Pokémon we also have to actually READ the marker and discuss it.  We decided to do some more studying later about some of these incredible historical spots!
  4. Meeting new people.  We meet a lot of new people!  I will chat with other Pokémon players while the boys look for Pokémon and I really enjoy meeting some people I would otherwise never have met.  I don’t care if they are a group of young men drinking beer while playing Pokémon or moms with their kids or teen girls with all colors of hairstyles.  It is such a blessing to interact with them, ask for their advice on playing the game and get to know a little about them.  Everyone has been friendly and I hope I will get to see them again!
  5. Adding a new dimension to our travel.  My boys kept talking about how fun it will be to look for Pokémon when we go to Universal Studios in September.  Or the airport.  Or when visiting their sister in Dallas.  I can see that we will get to explore new things about these places too, things we would never have discovered otherwise.
  6. Believe it or not, exercise!  There’s one part of the game where you get rewards for walking….actually walking (or running would work too, but you can’t drive or ride).  So we are going for walks and talking about life while our steps work in the game.  LOVE!

I know there are bad things about this game.  People getting hurt or being careless.  There is probably some wicked intent with the whole Pokémon thing that I am unaware of and, frankly, not worried about.  I do have some requirements that I added to the game to make it family friendly and as long as we stick to those I think it will be a great way for me to spend time with my boys.

  1. We do it together only.  No one will be going off to play alone and they have to take turns.  Once someone catches a Pokémon and goes to a Poke Stop they hand the phone to the next person.  Their turns can vary in length and style, so you have to be patient and a bit selfless.  If your kids aren’t good at this, it’s a perfect way to teach this concept.
  2. Be careful, for goodness sake!  Really, I can see how someone would just step into the street or if you were driving and doing it, man it’s dangerous. Even though I am not looking at the game at all when I am driving, the boys shout out directions to me like, “Turn left NOW” as I am driving in the right lane.  They’re excited and I can’t see what’s happening in the game so it gets hairy.  Just keep your wits, remember what’s most important (staying safe, that’s what) and you’ll be fine.
  3. We have to look around and not just at the phone.  Anytime we are in a spot that is interesting (which is almost everywhere) I take the phone from them and we look around.  We talk about the area, what happens there, why we think it is a PokeStop, etc.  Like I said above, we read all historical markers and study the murals and statues.  There is some amazing stuff out there!
  4. Talk to people.  If we see anyone else playing where we are, the rule is that one of us has to say hello to them and ask them one question, either Pokémon advice or something about themselves.  Smile, be friendly, get to know someone, and shine the love of Christ to others.  This is my favorite of all the rules we made.  🙂
  5. No getting obsessed.  We are an obsessive bunch around here.  We get overly attached to things and can let it control our minds.  We do a lot of Bible memory and make it a habit to focus on what is good, and true and pure.  So when my mom-radar detects a kid getting overly consumed with something that is just fluff and not valuable to their life, I nip it fast.  The boys have been told in no uncertain terms, if they talk too much about Pokémon, or seem like they’ve gotten carried away with it we will stop.  Nada.  No mo.
  6. No spending money! There is no way I am going to spend any money on in app purchases no matter what….we won’t be doing that.  I don’t care if the world’s rarest Pokémon treasure is within our reach if we would only spend 99¢, I’m not doing it.  Got it?  Not my money, not their money, NO money will be spent on this game.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am really enjoying this.  It’s not just another video game that my boys play and I know little to nothing about.  This is something I can do with them and I have at least a clue what the different parts are and what they’re talking about (although I will never understand it all).  I love listening to them in the backseat strategizing and sharing their victories with each other.  It’s a delight to play this game with my boys and have something we do together.

When I run into town I invite one of the boys to go so they can play alone for a few minutes.  I’ll run my errand then spend 10 minutes or so looking for Pokémon at their direction.  This morning my youngest son and I discovered a park that we didn’t know was there and made plans to go back and play on the playground there when it gets cooler.

If you’ve been on the fence about this or have decided it’s a bad thing to stay away from, I hope you will consider trying it.  Just stick closely to the boundaries you create for it and you’ll have grand time!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where, of course, I don’t share any Pokémon pictures because I don’t have access to my phone/camera when we are playing….which….if you think about it is another plus.  No one is doing anything except playing and enjoying the outdoors.  But I do share other fun stuff there….. 😉

And if you have any other Pokémon tips we would love to hear them.  Hop over to Facebook and tell us all about it!

If you liked this, you will also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios —>

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Pt 2

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Pt 2

This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I shared my mom tips for what you need to do when you go to Universal in part 1.  Universal is so much fun and you don’t want a little lack of preparedness to spoil it.  With just a teeny bit of thinking ahead, your time at these parks can be stupendous!

I had so many things to share to make your trip better that I divided it into two parts.  Part one is things to DO and part two is things to TAKE (or not take).  And if you’re wondering how I figured all of this out, it’s been from experience.  Last year when we went to Universal I actually made notes on my phone of things I would do differently if I ever got to go back and what I wished I had known in advance.  We had an amazing time there and I really hope you will consider going there with your family!

And when you do, this is a list of things you will want to take with you when you go!


Mom’s List of What to Take to Universal Studios

  1. Take ONLY what you NEED! I love to use a cinch bag because they weigh nothing and are so easy to slip on and off.  I carry in it only what I absolutely must have.  Resist the urge to take big, heavy things.  You just don’t need them and these parks are very active.  There isn’t a lot of moseying along the street.  It’s rush, rush, ride, ride, go, go and you’re going to need to stay energized.  I will reduce the size of some things, like sunscreen.  Instead of bringing the whole bottle, put a big squirt in a small ziptop bag and just carry that.  Instead of regular bottles of my essential oils, I put a few drops into a teeny bottles.
  2. Prepare for rain.  When we were there last year it rained every day for a little while.  We didn’t slow down, but put on our ponchos and kept going.  We were prepared with not only ponchos, but waterproof shoes and ziptop bags for our phones.  I’m not all fancy with special gear to keep phones dry….a ziploc bag does just fine.  In fact, in the rain I am a fan of the poncho/teeny umbrella combo.  You’ll stay almost completely dry.  Speaking of bags, they will inspect your bags when you enter.  Actually, they do it outside of the City Walk area before you even get to the parks.  It’s no big deal, I just wanted you to be prepared.
  3. Keep your temps down.  We went over Labor Day weekend and it was H-O-T.  So it’s vital you make sure to stay as cool as you can.  Besides drinking water, you can use a fan.  I’m a big fan of fans.  I wear this one around my neck and sometimes also carry a small misting fan in my pack.  Another thing I carry is a Frog Togg.  These are cooling rags and they are amazing for cooling you down and there’s also a cooling headband that I am going to try for this year.  I cut my Frog Togg into smaller pieces so I didn’t have to keep a whole big one in my pack.  Universal also has a misting station across from the Incredible Hulk Coaster and misting fans all around the park.  You can ask for ice water at any of the drink locations for free.
  4. Comfy shoes.   Here’s the thing with shoes….they have to be more than just comfortable.  Comfort is vital….you need shoes that you can walk around in all day and then again the next day without hurting your feet.  But there are other needs too.  Like they need to dry quickly.  Like I said in #2, you will likely get rained on.  There are rides that get your feet wet.  Walking around in squishy, wet shoes is misery.  Also, you want lightweight shoes.  This is a hard day and you don’t want to add any extra weight to what you’re carrying around. I love my Oofos.  They fit every one of those needs plus they’re cute.
  5. Have power.  You will want to take pictures and be able to be reached, so be sure you have ways to charge your phone.  I like to carry a retractable power cord and light power pack.  I have never regretted having these with me.  If you don’t need it you can help someone else who needs a charge!  (although I take so many pics that I have always needed it!)
  6. Sunshade.  The sun will suck the energy right out of you! So I always take a hat and wear it when I am going to be without shade for long.  THIS HAT is the one I carry because it’s affordable and rolls up for easy packing.  I also use a chemical-free sunscreen and I put a little bit in a ziptop bag (like I said in #1) and carry just that amount with me each day.
  7. Earbuds.  I always have a pair of earbuds (or two) with me for a couple of reasons.  First, the day at Universal is a lot of activity and can be over-stimulating for the kids.  So I like to let them relax and listen to music or play a game occasionally to help them regroup.  Second, they help on the rides if anyone in your group is sensitive to loud noises.  I will give them to my kids (not plugged into anything, just the earbuds alone) to wear through a loud ride.  My 9 year old will ask for them because he doesn’t like the noise.  THESE wireless buds are great for that!
  8. Essential oils.  Come on, you knew I was gonna say it!  I lean heavily on my oils when we are at any long-day activity.  I put them into small bottles so my load is still light, but I always have them with me.  I wouldn’t go to Universal Studios without peppermint, PanAway, Lavender, StressAway, or FUN.  And you will definitely want to have NingXia Nitro for when you really hit an energy slump!
  9. Leave the jewelry at home.  I am a jewelry girl, but this is not the place for it.  I don’t wear any jewelry to the theme parks except my silicone wedding band.  I tried not wearing a wedding band at all, but it bothered me not to have it on.  I kept suddenly panicking that I lost it (even though I didn’t wear it in the first place).  So I got a silicone band and it doesn’t interfere with the fun and keeps me from freaking out that I lost my real one.
  10. Credit card.  Obviously you will need money here and there after you get into the park.  I never carry cash, I only take a card that I can use just for this trip.  I call the credit card company in advance to let them know I will be traveling and I make sure there’s no balance on it (unless it’s a bank card in which case make sure there is money in there).  I keep it tucked somewhere on my person (like a Secret Stash Pocket or a passport holder) so it’s not in my pack where I can lose it.  I will also keep my resort room key in there.
  11. Moleskin and blister balm.  I never got any blisters while I was there, but one of my boys did and oh man, was I glad I had this stuff ready to use.  I like this moleskin because it’s a little thinner than what you can buy locally.  And it comes in strips, unlike others that you have to cut (and I don’t want to travel with scissors).  If you haven’t used moleskin, it’s like an extra layer of “skin” that you put over your sore place to stop it from rubbing on your shoe.  Also, if you tend to get blisters, use Blister Balm as a preventative.  Rub it on before you get a blister to keep from getting one and if you still have a problem you can also use it on the blister.  I’d also have some lavender to put on as well, maybe applying it at night and again with the balm to promote healthy skin.
  12. Cotton clothing and limited makeup.  You really want to be comfy and cool!  Of course we like to look good, but honestly I don’t worry too much about that when I am going to be out all day in the sun with my family riding rides and trying to keep up with their energy.  I have a few linen dresses that I like to wear, but whatever you are comfortable in is what to take with you!  As for makeup, I don’t wear anything except for drawing on my eyebrows because that’s what my comfort level is.  Sure, I’d rather look glamorous all of the time, but frankly it would sweat off in the first 2 hours and then I would look like a freakish comic book character, so I skip it.  For my eyebrows (I have no eyebrows so I really like to always wear that) I use Too Faced Bullet Proof Brows because it stays on all day no matter what I do and it looks natural.  It’s one that I just put on in the morning and don’t have to worry about it again.

What do you need to take to the theme park?! Here's a tried and true list by a mom of 9 for all moms!

All in all this is a really fun and binding day with your family!  The more you can prepare in advance, the easier it will be for you to be able to relax and enjoy your time in the rides and with the fam.  Think it all through and have FUN!!!!  Each of these products I mention above are ones that I personally bought, tried and use myself….and I have tried a lot that didn’t work so I have done the legwork for you.

I just know you will have a mah-velous time on your trip to Universal Studios!  Of course, these tips will work for any theme park and even other family trips.  With just a little advanced preparation you can have a blast!

Don’t miss Part 1 of A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios where I share the things you MUST do while you’re there!

And if you have issues with big thighs and chafing, be sure to check out “I Got Big Thighs and I Cannot Lie”

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

This post contains affiliate links.

Last summer I went to Universal Studios Orlando with 4 of my kids.  Ever since then I have been a ginormous fan of that place.  Like, anytime I hear of someone going to Orlando for Disney I say, “Oh!! You HAVE to go to Universal too!!!!!!!!” (there aren’t enough explanation marks, but I didn’t want to get obnoxious).

I am thrilled that this September we are going back and in addition to 4 kids, my husband is going with us (he didn’t go last year).  Honestly, he has heard so much about our trip that I think he couldn’t resist.  We basically have not stopped talking about it.  Every few days we will all be sitting around chatting about nothing in particular and one of us will say, “Hey!  Remember at Universal when ____?!” and the 5 of us who were there will laugh and start to talk about it more and we are all laughing and smiling and those who didn’t go roll their eyes because they are tired of hearing about it.  Yep, good times.

A mom's guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

But even though the Universal parks are awesomely fun and exciting, there are some things you can do to make your visit even better. You need to be prepared.  Not the kids, they don’t need to be prepared.  The kids can just wake up and ride in the back of the minivan to the airport and follow you wherever you go.  But for moms it’s a different story.  We gotta pack and plan meals and make sure everyone in the family has what they need.  It’s a much tougher job than it looks when you’re a kid.

Being a mom of 9, I know how hard it can be to travel with the family.  There is so much to check on at the last minute and so many teeny details that it can make your head spin.  I like to have my ducks in a row as much as possible when going somewhere like Universal because once I get there it makes my time so much more relaxing.  I mean, let’s face it, there WILL be problems.  Someone will lose a toy or drop their ice cream on the ground and you have to handle it.  But you can make it easier on yourself by being prepared for the issues that you know will come up.  That’s why I wrote this list, for the moms.

But as I worked on this list it got so long because I have so many tips, that I decided to break it into two parts.  I mean, we’re moms here.  Ain’t nobody got time to read a 4,000 word blog post.  So part 1 is about what to do while you are there and part 2 is what to take with you.  Easy.

This is part 1 (which you probably already figured out ‘cuz you’re so smart).  There is a LOT that you don’t want to miss and I am making it my mission to help you.

Tips and tricks and things you don't want to miss at Universal Studios written especially with moms in mind. We are the planners and we need some help!

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios – What to Do

  1. Use the app.  The Universal Studios app is fantastic for keeping up with wait times, restaurants, showtimes, shop hours and more.  This will save you time when you’re hungry or late (or both).
  2. Study the map.  In the app or on the web you can look at the maps of the parks and surrounding areas.  It’s good to familiarize yourself with where the restrooms are, what rides are close to each other, which are in the front of the parks and the back.  Also, in case it isn’t clear, there are TWO separate parks, Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.  You could buy a ticket to only one if you want, so do all of your research beforehand.  If you have kids who like maps, give it to them to study.  This makes it so much easier to get around the parks from the beginning.  I’ll be refreshing my memory of the maps as we get closer to our trip.Universal Studios Orlando map
  3. Make a meal budget.  Look over the menus of the various restaurants in the Universal area and see what you like.  Plan how much you can spend and know where you have to go to keep within that amount.  OR you can purchase a dining plan which makes it so easy!  You can also bring your own snacks and water bottles with you if you want.
  4. Understand the locker system.  OK, this took me time to appreciate, but once I got it I really liked it!  On the thrill rides you can’t carry anything, and I mean anything, with you on the ride.  So they provide free lockers at the beginning of the lines for you to store your stuff.  They open and close using your fingerprints, so your items are safe.  The first few times I walked right past the lockers thinking I didn’t want to deal with that.  But stuff easily gets lost on these rides y’all (ask me how I know)!  And once I embraced the locker system I saw how freeing it was!  No more worrying about anything on the ride….just lock it up and be free! In order to remember which locker we used, I made it a habit to go to the very back of the locker area every time instead of stopping at the first available kiosk.  That way I didn’t have to remember the area my locker was in.  And once our things were in a locker (you don’t get to choose your locker number so you have to remember), I would tell all of the kids our locker number and we would make up something to remember it (OK kids, our locker is number 173, like the highway near our house or number 42 like there are 4 wheels on a car and two people can sit in the front).  If I said it out loud we could remember the number when we got out.  Rides that have these lockers are: Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, Revenge of the Mummy, Men in Black Alien Attack, Escape from the Gringotts, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Forbidden Journey (this is my favorite ride) and Dragon Challenge.
  5. Understand the child swap system.  Universal has this FAB way to ride when you have small children.  There is an area at the end of the lines where you can sit and wait with a child.  So mom and dad can go through the line with the kids, then one person rides while the other waits right there in a little room off to the side and when the first person is finished riding they slip into the waiting area and the other can ride.  It’s awesome!
  6. You can also do a bag swap.  So, if you don’t want to use the lockers or you’re carrying something too big to fit in there (please don’t bring big things, it will hinder your fun!) you can do the child swap plan except with bags.  You don’t have to have kids with you to use the child swap area, so just take turns holding your stuff.
  7. Stay hydrated.  Whatever you do, keep the water flowing.  There are plenty of restrooms and places to stop and refill.  I love to carry a bottle holder like this one so it’s easily by my side with my small stainless steel water bottle.  This makes it easy to take a sip frequently and it’s easy to handle on the rides that don’t have lockers.  Stainless steel so I can add my essential oils which help a ton!  I also love this strap that keeps the kids in a stroller from losing their cups!  Buh-rilliant.
  8. Have a “Must-Ride” list.  Before we even left home we read through the list and descriptions of rides and watched some YouTube videos.  We let each person choose one that they absolutely had to ride.  We made sure those rides got done on the first day so we didn’t miss out on them.  Now that we have been there once, it’s going to be even harder to choose because we love them all!!!
  9. Get the Express Pass.  This y’all, made such a huge difference in our time there!  This is a special pass that lets you go through a shorter line on many of the rides (not all of them though).  Because we were staying in one of the gorgeous resorts, we got Universal Express Unlimited Passes AND an extra hour early in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (This is a perk of staying onsite!).  With these passes you can use it all day that you’re staying in a resort.  If you don’t stay at a resort and instead purchase a pass it’s a little different.  Those are called Universal Express Pass which lets you use it one time per ride per day. There are some rides that don’t have Express Pass lanes.  These are: Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, Twirl ‘N Hurl, the Forbidden Journey, and Pteranodon Flyers.  But don’t worry, the lines in these rides have some really COOL stuff to look at and they keep you entertained.  Well, I’m not sure about that for the Twirl ‘N Hurl because I would never ride that…..I nearly hurl just thinking about it.  Also, if you want to speed up your wait time you can also go through the singles line.  This means you won’t be riding with your people, but filling in blank spaces with other people.  The rides that have single lines are: Escape from Gringotts, Rip Ride Rocket, Men in Black, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers, Spider-Man, Dr Doom’s Fearfall, and the Forbidden Journey.
  10. Explore outside the parks.  There’s a great shopping, walking, eating, entertainment area right outside of the parks called City Walk.  We really enjoyed walking around there while we were at Universal and plan to go to City Walk several times on our next trip.  I love how close together it all is so there is no waiting for buses or lines.  You can just walk out and stroll around.  We ate dinner a few times at the restaurants in City Walk and the food was outstanding.  You can also walk over to the resorts and check them out, or ride the boats over.  We took some time to explore each of the resorts and that was fun!
  11. Try everything.  There are some things that are totally unique to Universal and if you don’t try them you’ll miss out!–Butterbeer – This drink is only available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which is at the back of both parks) and you have to at least try it!  Our family had various reviews of it, but we all thought it was very interesting.  A couple of the kids were crazy about it.  You can even get Butterbeer ice cream in Diagon Alley.
    –Pumpkin Juice- We tried this too (we tried everything we could!) and it was also super yummy.
    –Fishy Green Ale- This bizarre looking green drink is interesting.  Actually, I really liked it, but it’s something you have to try for yourself.
    –Using a wand- We went to the wand shop and chose a wand (or did it choose us?) so the boys could experience the extra cool feature in both Harry Potter worlds.  There are places all around that, if you have a wand, you can do a spell.  My mom-tip for this is to go online and study how the wands work because it’s not as easy as I think it should be, especially considering it’s something children will be doing.  It took us a long time to figure out how to make the spells work.  But we will definitely return with wand in hand to do it all again!
    –Moaning Myrtle- Don’t miss a stop in the Public Conveniences in Hogsmeade to hear her moaning.  It’s hilarious.
    –Hogwarts Express- You can move between the two parks by either going out the front entrance and taking a very short walk to the other, OR by riding the train in the back of the parks.  This is an experience all in itself and we rode it several times and never did catch all of the amazing details.  I was so impressed with the train station that I made the picture my computer screen saver.  No, my screen saver is not a picture of my kids, or my puppy, or my front porch that I love, but the train station at Universal.  That’s how cool it is.Things you don't want to miss at Universal Studios! A guide for moms.
  12. Last but not least, have fun!  Just because you’re the super-mom, trip-organizer, kid-catcher, clothes-washer, wand-carrier, meal-planner and stroller-pusher doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of fun.  Stop and do a few things you want to do.  Ride the rides, explore the parks, have a Butterbeer and relax.  I’m going to ride the Forbidden Journey like a juvenile and swing my legs and get kid-excited.  I’ll try to shoot all of the aliens on Men in Black and skip around through Seussland.  Just because you’re the grown up doesn’t mean you can’t act like a kid.  Let yourself enjoy it, even if that means swapping off with your husband for an hour to yourself to do anything you want.

A mom's guide to Universal Studios, part 1

I really can’t wait to get back to Universal in September and see it all again.  I hope you will put it on your calendar as something you must do soon!

Hop over to Part 2….things you must take with you!

How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu

How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu


Do you stick to a tight schedule in the summer or do you keep it foot loose and fancy free?  Me, I’m a little of both.  When there’s a lot going on I keep it tight, carefully planning how we will manage the time away from home and still keep the house clean and food on the table.  But if we aren’t traveling or keeping appointments I’m all “Get up whenever you want and feed yourself.”  It’s those times I will lounge around like a movie star who has nothing to do but ask the servants for more ice.

Over on the Tommy Nelson blog I’ve shared my 5 Tips for Keeping a Summer Schedule.  It’s how I manage things when we have a lot going on.  Like right now, I am getting ready to be gone all next week to Utah (Young Living Convention here I come!) and I am using all of the tips from that post!  Since two of my older kids are going with me and my husband will be home with the younger boys, there’s a lot of meal planning and organizing to do.

But the week after that I am planning on doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g.  This means we will be lounging and not cleaning or cooking if I can help it.  We do have to survive though, so I have a list of staples that we keep around for those weeks when Mom needs a break and the kids just want to swim, eat, swim, repeat.  With these things in the pantry it’s super easy to put together meals with very little cleanup.


Here’s what I will have on hand:
corn chips (I buy big boxes of them at Costco or Sam’s Club…actually I buy a lot of this there)
refried beans
tomato sauce

elbow macaroni (including a gluten-free option)
shredded cheese (again, a huge bag)
rice or almond milk

bread (GF bread for those who need it)
bone broth (I make it and it’s ready to eat for any snack or meal)
carrot sticks

popsicles (I’ve been making NingXia Red popsicles that are amazing!)
ground beef, cooked and seasoned
chicken, cooked and seasoned and cut up or shredded
hot dogs
corn tortillas

I also keep the makings for my Taco Soup around so we can throw that together.  I know it’s not really soup weather, but its so easy to make and very satisfying.  We can just heat & eat it when we are hungry.

With this list of ingredients we can make: nachos, burritos, macaroni with chicken, macaroni with cheese, hot dogs, cereal, smoothies, simple salad, simple soup, chicken & rice, chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes, burgers, eggs and toast, and many other random experiments.  Now, this is assuming there are already spices and oils in the pantry.

For instance, I can shred lettuce, chop carrots and almonds to sprinkle over the lettuce, drizzle with whatever dressing we have in the fridge and it’s an easy salad.  Or mix the seasoned ground beef with a little cooked onion, tomato sauce and whatever spices we have and serve over rice (Do you have a rice steamer?  Um, you need one!).  Really, we just wing it.  As long as there’s protein and produce at every meal we’re good.

It’s not a super healthy menu, but quick and easy for the kids.  When I am not laying around ignoring my responsibilities we have a healthier menu.  But everyone loves this style of casual eating….I just lay out some things on the list, cut up some veggies or fruit and they make their own concoctions.

Oh, and don’t forget the paper plates!  That is KEY to an easy summer menu.  I keep them in the cabinet right next to the real plates so they’re easy to grab.

As for drinks, we are water all the way.  We very rarely have anything else so drinks are not on my shopping list.  But once in a while I’ll buy soft drinks to have around for a family movie night or when we have friends over.  I keep the soft drinks hidden away in the extra fridge so the kids don’t really notice them, otherwise they’d be gone before the end of the day I bought them..

Whether you have a crazy summer schedule or laid back lazy days, or like me, a little of both, getting organized will go a long way toward a smooth and enjoyable time.

Stay cool my friend!

If you have more summer menu tips, hop over to Facebook and share them with us!  We’d all love to hear!