Fun With Grammar ~ Valentine’s Day Free Printable Packet (And My Grammar Confession)

Valentine's Day Fun with Grammar
I write for a living. I homeschool my kids. I love and appreciate correct grammar usage and fantastically written sentences. (The frequent misuse of the words bring and take drives me batty. Take it there. Bring it here. This is not difficult.)

But for all my love of a good sentence, I cannot stand most typical Grammar Lessons (or sentences that begin with but).

I get a headache when reading information like this:

A Complex Sentence has one or more Dependent clauses (also called Subordinate clauses).

Does it? Does it really? How nice that I have not one, but two options for which to label the clauses that make up my (what was it again?)…my Complex Sentence. Now let’s talk about what modifies what, identify all the gerunds, and take the time to break it down into a diagram.

Woe is me. I just want to write sentences. Please do not make me pinpoint the predicate nominatives. I am 42. I have learned the definition of predicate nominative at least 24 times, and I still have to look it up every single time one of my kids asks me a question about it when he comes across it in his grammar lesson. This is because I DO NOT CARE. Oh, but a predicate nominative is a word that renames the subject of a sentence. Great. I just learned it for a 25th time. I will forget that information once again in five, four, three…

Well, now you know the truth.

I’m glad some people love all of the specifics of grammar because someone has to write the grammar lesson books and teach it in our schools. Some of you think grammar is fun and I still like you alot (<— even if I did just write that non-word on purpose out of spite).

While those are my feelings – I still teach my kids grammar because I have to. (This book series is the one I dislike the least and currently use with my older kids.) I don’t, however, make them re-write all 17 sentences if they have mastered the concept after 3 sentences; I don’t insist that they take time to memorize all the correct terminology (see predicate nominative predicament above); and if the lesson in their book is truly not relevant, I modify it to make it meaningful.

However, my kids are all still learning and able to write nice sentences. I know this doesn’t make sense without their mother’s solid knowledge of participles, but our oldest really has been getting A’s in his college English courses and has been successfully cranking out countless essays and term papers for professors.

Maybe it goes without saying that our family values creativity and practicality over fact-spitting. We try to keep education relevant if at all possible. Some parts of school a kid just has to get through because it’s required (so do not ask our current sophomore how he feels about Geometry theorems). But when it can be fun – for the love of the accurate use of then and than – let’s make it fun.

Fun with Grammar

Now that you’ve read my feelings on grammar you will know that when I labeled my newest creation Fun with Grammar, this means something. Our 5th grade son recently completed one of his (boring) Grammar textbooks for the year. (He’s still working through Wordly Wise 5.) As a way to fill in some gaps, I began creating some Valentine related grammar activities for him. One page turned into another, and before I knew it I had 12 pages prepared.

Nice kid though he is, Malachi was not excited or supportive of my new project. “You’re making me grammar pages? Why???” However, as soon as I printed them out and handed them over, he worked his way through the first four pages without a complaint. He might have even looked like he was enjoying himself. I believe his exact words tonight were, “Actually, that grammar thing is pretty fun.” Boom. Mission accomplished.

Bonus: I made said 5th grader proof-read this packet for me before I shared it with you. I’m a sly one.

Fun With Grammar - Valentine's Day Free Printable Packet

None of these activities are tedious. They simply ask your child to be creative and have fun with some basic English and Grammar skills.

Does it get any better than this? I typed out a Brownie Recipe, purposely made some mistakes, and asked your child to find the errors and misspelled words. It’ll take your child just a few fun minutes, then he/she can go bake brownies. Friends, there are no predicate nominatives in a pan of brownies!! (At least I don’t think there are. I obviously already forgot the definition.)

Fun with Grammar - Valentines 122

Even more fun is that this packet is free for everyone. Use it in your home. Use it in your school. Enjoy the activities. Be creative. Actually have fun with grammar. And if your kid still hates it, well at least it was free and you got some brownies out of the deal.

Enter your email address below to download your free Fun With Grammar ~ Valentine’s Day Edition Printable Packet.

I’m super excited to share that signing up for this freebie will connect you to our new Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone. It’s free, of course. You can unsubscribe at any time, your info will never be shared or sold, and being on this list means that you’ll be the first to know of the other fun (yes, FUN!) educational tools we’re putting together! Emails will not be frequent. I’m too busy trying to relearn what a subordinating conjunction is.

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Provide and Protect ~ a Prayer For My Children

Provide and Protect - a Prayer For My Children

It used to be me. Or so I thought.

When they were little, I was the one who provided everything they needed and protected them from anything that might hurt them. I set up their routines and walked them away from situations that were too much for their young hearts to handle. I set the boundaries, set the stage, set out the activities. I said yes, said no, said too much, said too little, said things wrong, said things right, and said it will all be okay. I was in charge. I was in control. I was the one.

Or so I thought.

They’re big now. They are amazing and skilled and smart and fun, and one by one, they are launching. Their steps are becoming their own; their thoughts and behaviors are less and less a result of my commands and instruction and more and more a brave leap of their own long-legged independence.

My prayer is no longer crafted out of the ideas on my own heart. Recognition of truth has left me with very few words. I know little about tomorrow. You are the One who knows your Kingdom plans for my kids. I’m simply the one whose heart longs for their good and for their walk to be on the path you’ve carved for them.

I’m not who I once thought I was.

I’m not their provider. I’m not their protector. I’m a huge part of their life on this earth, but I’m only their mother. I’m the one God gave them to show them love and guidance. But you, God. You are the One who knows what they need and how to provide.

This is what I ask of you:


Protect them, Lord. Protect them from people who do not have their best interests in mind, from people who are self-seeking and heartless, from people who will hurt them.

Protect them from apathy. Protect them from becoming self-centered, self-seeking, self-deprecating, and self-motivated. Provide them the heart to lay aside self in order to seek You.


Provide for them, Lord. Provide people to encourage and hold them accountable, to build them up and make them stronger, to inspire and challenge them to be more like Christ. It takes a village. Build it strong and high and full.

Provide my children with confidence and skill, tools and words to get themselves out of any situation that would be harmful to them in any way. Provide them with the confidence to do right and strength to flee from wrong.

Provide everything they need, because You are the One who knows precisely what that means.

Do what I cannot do. I trust you with my children.

Thank you for the blessing and honor of being Mom to my sons. How cool of you to give me my four favorites. How wise of you to grow me along with them. How gentle of you to hold us so gracefully. How perfect of you to love us so consistently.

To my boys:

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

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That One Time I Handed Out Knives to All My Kids


It is a real thing that once your kids know how to cook, you can holler at them at meal prep time and say, “Hey, I need you to go cook dinner for us tonight please.” Then you can go about your business of running other household tasks while your children efficiently cook a meal.

It’s one of the coolest things ever, and I’m not just talking about handing them boxes of mac-and-cheese.

As the mom of four sons currently ages 11, almost 14, almost 16, and 18 – all of whom can cook at various skill levels – I can’t say enough about the importance of teaching your kids to cook. Is it easier to just go into the kitchen and do it yourself? When the kids are younger, absolutely. There were many times I banned all my little boys from the room so I could just get it done. But allow me to remind you about sentence number one up there. Our kids need to know how to cook! It is worth taking the effort to teach them to cook when they are young so that when they are older they can wait on you hand and foot (and also feed themselves well and all that).


Boy #2 always walked around on the counter-top (close to the stove) while cooking.
He has grown out of this habit. We are grateful.

It’s been fun to revisit some pictures of my little cooking angels from back in the day. For some teenage reason, they don’t like me to take pictures of them cooking now. I mean, I think they’re still cute when they’re slicing and scrambling, but they usually say something about “hair not fixed” and “really, Mom?” so I put the camera away and let them go about their boiling and chopping. But cooking with these little guys has led to being cooked for by big guys, so I’ll just treasure it in my heart and leave my camera in my office.




My children with knives…





Walking on the counter-top by the stove aside, let’s talk about kitchen safety. Knives are almost always involved in cooking. There are so many questions about this! At what age is it safe to give kids a knife? What is the best way to teach them to cut safely? What should they be allowed to cut?

At this point in the mind of a parent, we get too scared to risk it and banish the kids from the kitchen (to play in the street). It seems safer.

Don’t give way to fear, and don’t hide the knives! You simply need to teach your kids how to use a knife safely. Just released today, here’s a fantastic free tool for us!

kids cook real food 1

Katie from Kitchen Stewardship put together a FREE Knife Skills Training for Kids Video Series. In fact, she has put together an entire, incredible eCourse on teaching kids to cook because she is nothing short of amazing. Through January 18, Katie is kicking off her eCourse by offering this Knife Skills Training course for FREE!

Malachi (my 11-year old) and I just signed up and watched Video #1 from start to finish. It is super! I love how Katie put catchy names to the different knife safety rules and methods to help kids remember the safe way to hold and use knives. (My favs are Top Chop and Up and Over Soldier – you have to watch the video to know what these are and to see how her methods make so much sense!) She created free downloadable flashcards to use along with the lesson too.

Sign up for the FREE Knife Skills Training for Kids Video Series here. It is so good!

This is how we work ourselves out of a job, help our kids appreciate the hard work it takes to prepare a meal, and keep all their fingers intact. Join me?

What have been your experiences with your kids in the kitchen?

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Raising Siblings to Be Best Friends ~ Finding Joy in Motherhood ~ and More Mom Stuff

I’ve only had about five minutes per day to sit and work at the computer this week. That’s why I’ve been a little bit delinquent in telling you more about the free Mom Conference going on right now. :/

Thanks to some technical difficulties (which is not something I’m typically thankful for) – Day 1 of the Mom Conference is being repeated today. TODAY. October 16. Of all the sessions I wanted to attend, these are it. If you can squeeze out some time today, try to join me. You can listen in at any time today that works for you. I think these are going to be fantastic (and there’s more where these came from).

These are the presentations I want to listen to today:

Raising Siblings to be Best Friends

Beyond raising godly Christian leaders, husbands, and fathers – this is very much what we want for our sons.

mom conference 2

Teach Kids to Cook and Eat Real Food

I look forward to hearing what Katie has to say about this subject!

mom conference 3

Today’s Teens, Tomorrow’s Titans

With my houseful of teenagers, and a realization that I don’t know what I’m doing here, I welcome any advice I can get.

mom conference 4

Finding More Joy in Motherhood

I think we all seek this. I can’t wait to hear what this speaker has to say!

mom conference 5

This is all free for all of us – but it is only free today! You can register for the Mom Conference here. There’s no cost unless you want to purchase the presentation packages later. Today, I plan to listen and be refreshed and inspired by what I hear!

Keep in mind that there are other presentations today too. I simply highlighted those that interest me most right now! You can see the others here.

Blessings on your parenting. I’m so thankful we serve such a big and consistent God who loves our kids, loves us, and always provides just what we need!

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Cute Clothes and Encouragement. Hey, Moms! This is For You!!

You know those days when you’ve been up-and-at-em for hours – but you still haven’t made it back to your room to actually get dressed? And then how on that very day someone drops by and gets to see you in your jammies? And then later that same morning someone else stops by and you’re still in your jammies, but by then you’re like, Whatever. At least I brushed my teeth. 

Yeah, that happened to me this morning. It actually happens often around here. I know the whole “get dressed down to the shoes when you first get up in the morning” advice works well for many and would help me avoid meeting people at the door in my fleece polka-dot pants – but that method simply doesn’t work for me. I roll out of bed early and seek quiet time in my chair with God right away (necessary so that I won’t commit murder later in the day or otherwise think that the success of my day is up to me alone). Then I make breakfast. Then we start school. Then I work out. I really don’t want to get dressed for the day until after I’ve had my workout. 

For some reason I thought maybe you needed to know all of this. 

Anyway, the two people who stopped by today both happen to be dear friends who think I’m adorable in my pj’s, and by that I mean that they love me no matter how silly I look. So now let’s talk about clothes and how hard moms work (because this segue it just makes sense).

Fun and Encouragement For You!

I feel no guilt about jammie pants at 10:30am, and if I wanted, most days could be yoga pant days or the like because we school from home and I work from home. Clothing is optional (well not that kind of optional – oh, you know what I mean). But I’ve noticed a big difference in yoga pants days vs. cute jeans days – in my mood, in my productivity, in how I interact with my husband – everything. I like dressing in actual clothes (after my morning routine, workout, blah blah blah). Cute clothes are fun. 

Ladies – I’m not going to go completely “do this because you’re worth it” on you. But I am going to suggest that there is a lot to be said about taking care of ourselves in all kinds of ways. Eat well, drink water, exercise, spend time with Jesus, and most days – try to put on a cute outfit. 

Cute is relative. Your cute is your cute – so you rock that cute outfit, girlfriend! Be comfy (oh my goodness, be comfy), but go for the cuteness. It can be a game changer in your day!

Agree? Disagree? What have you noticed about your day depending on what you’ve chosen to wear?

Free Clothes For You!

Guess what? I just learned of a way you can get something cute and fun and just for you – for free (plus shipping, which is a flat $5.99 no matter how much you order).


I’ve been shopping at ThredUp for two or three years now for gently used kids clothes. A year or so ago, they added women’s clothes!! You guys, I’ve gotten two pairs of my very favorite jeans (which would normally be about $80 – are you kidding me?) for a huge discount!!

Finding jeans that fit well is hard (can I get an amen?) so I actually tried on a pair of the pricey ones at the store, and wouldn’t you know it? They fit amazingly well. I waited until they went on sale before I got them, plus I had a coupon, but I still paid more than I wanted. But did I mention that they fit?? 

Well anyway, after I knew what brand I liked, I started scoping out ThredUp for that brand in my size. Not only have I found two pairs at an enormous discount – they were brand new with tags!!! Oh yeah, by the way – not everything is used at ThredUp. You can search through all the brand new items and score big-time!

Now that you’ve all suffered through hearing about my polka-dot pj’s and my discounted jeans, would you like to hear about what you can get for free? (Thank you for your patience.)

ThredUp is offering new referrals $10 off your first and second purchases!! (That’s a total of $20 worth of free clothing for you, just in case you’re still in your pj’s and can’t do math yet.) You can absolutely use this credit for your kids, but just know that there is a lovely selection of women’s clothing, maternity, and even accessories for you to pick from for yourself. 

So here’s my referral link – go get your free credit! Come back here and tell me what you picked out – even if it’s yoga pants. :)

And now this:

A Free Conference For Moms!

There are conferences for just about every profession out there – but how about one for Mom? It is, after all, one of the most important jobs on earth.

Mom Conference

I love this. I love that it is completely free. And I love that it is online so I can attend whether I’m in my cute jeans or in jammie pants! (Pretty sure it will be a mixture of both, just not at the same time.)

This conference features a great line-up of moms who are also experts in a variety of fields.

We’ll learn about:

  • teaching our kids to cook healthy foods
  • how to find more energy (for ourselves, not our kids)
  • how to teach our kids wise money skills
  • raising teenagers (yes please)
  • positive parenting
  • being intentional
  • dealing with depression
  • ways to make money as a mom
  • much more!

It is 100% free (with the option to buy conference packages later if you loved the info and want to hear it again). But to attend and enjoy and learn – it is just free. What a gift to moms everywhere!

You can sign up for this conference here. I’ve marked my calendar so I can listen in on the sessions I need. Hope to see you there! (In my jammie pants – I mean in a cute outfit.)

Free cute clothes for mom, free conference for mom – I’m sitting up a little taller already.

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The Only Thing I Know About Parenting

The Only Thing I Know About Parenting

What do you do when your kids disobey? When they are picky eaters? When they aren’t sleeping well? When they are defiant? When they aren’t getting along with one another? When their attitudes are ugly? When they make poor decisions? When they talk back? When they don’t talk enough? When they ask hard questions?

You know what I thought when I was a kid? I thought my parents knew all the answers. They were the grown-ups. Grown-ups knew all of everything.

Now that I have been a parent for 18 years and have had to answer too many hard questions while raising four uniquely amazing individuals, I know the truth. I won’t speak for every parent, but here’s what I know about myself: I’m winging it here. I mostly don’t know what I’m doing. There are too many decisions and too many difficult questions. My answer all too often is a solid I…don’t…know.

I felt this when each of my kids were babies, when they were toddlers, when they were preschoolers, when they were elementary age, in middle school, turning teenager, becoming more independent, and now I’m excited to begin learning what it means to be a mom of a kid adult in college. Throw into the mix that what works for one does not necessarily work for the others because of that blessed thing we call individuality. This leads me to share what I do know about parenting – the only thing I know.

God has to do this for me. Not with me. For me. Thinking that God is merely by my side on my parenting journey leads me to believe the lie that I must be more than I was created to be. Instead, I can confidently embrace the fullness of who He is as sovereign Lord of my children. God, be for my sons all that I cannot. Protect them, lead them, teach them. They are yours. I trust you.

I am very willing to be God’s tool in this process because these babes are my very heart beat. My love for them is fierce, which matches my insatiable desire to see them grow humbly into Christlike servants, leaders, spouses, and parents.

As with everything else I do in life, as I walk this parenting road, my confidence cannot be in my self. When I find myself at a loss with how to wisely and consistently parent my sons, wondering where I am and how in the world I got here, this is when I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

It is this place that I recognize that God has a plan for each of my children and He will carry it out. This is where I remember that my job is to love them, care for them, and train them – but not save them or attempt to be God to them. This is when I realize that I am to point my children to the One who saves – to the God who has good works prepared in advance for them – to the Savior who already won the victory for them.

I parent best when I’m on my knees. I say the right words when I’m letting the Spirit speak. I love my children fully when I embrace the Truth of the One who loved us first.

When we ask for wisdom, He provides. When we surrender, He reigns. When we let God, He is.

That is what I know.

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Some Of Our Favorite Books

This post was originally posted in October, 2013. Our kids are older now but this list of books is still our favorite!

Books, books, the magical fruit. The more you read, the more you…

Oh wait. Wrong poem.  Sometimes I get confused. Although I’m sure if I threw that poem starter out to my boys, they’d be sure to finish it with something creative. And by creative, I mean gross.

I am excited to share that all four of our boys are now all independent readers. It was a little slow in coming for our youngest, who is now a 3rd grader. But late this summer, it all clicked for him. He now loves reading! Last week he said, “I can’t believe math used to be my favorite. Now reading is so much fun!”  Awesome – just what I love to hear. (Although you still have to do your math, Buddy.)


Here are some of the books currently at the top of our reading list for the year:

Boxcar Children Books
These books were some of my favorites when I was little. (You know I had my very own boxcar, right? Okay, it wasn’t my very own.  I shared it with my cousins.)  All of our boys have loved the Boxcar Children books, and now I am reading them to Malachi (age 8). Elias (age 11) has already read most of these books, but sits in to listen when he can, because who can resist?


Ralph Moody Books

We read through most of the books in this series (as a family) a year ago, and now I’m having my two older boys read the last few on their own. What I love most about these books is that they show how important it is to be a hard worker, how much fun it can be to work together as a family, and how if you put your mind to it – you can always find a way to provide. I am so inspired by these books, and my boys love the adventure aspect they include.

Books by Clyde Robert Bulla

These are the first chapter books our boys have read. We have about eight of them on Malachi’s shelf this year – and he’s made his way through two of them already. I love that Clyde Robert Bulla keeps his vocabulary simple and easy to read – all while teaching history and making his books fun and intriguing.  When I pulled these books out for Malachi, all three of his brothers said, “Oh, he gets to read those this year? Malachi, you will love them.”  I love hearing the boys talk together about books they’ve all read.


Ramona the Pest Series

Malachi pulled his first Ramona book off the shelf this year, too. So far he’s loving it, just like his brothers did. I read this series several times when I was younger. It’s so much fun re-reading these books with my kids.


Christian Heroes Books

I can’t say enough good about all of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now books by Janet and Geoff Benge. We’ve actually decided to use about 15 of these books this year to go along with our History/Geography studies with Justus, Elias, and Malachi. What better way to study the culture and history of a country than to learn about missionaries who worked there? These books are so well written and inspiring!

I also have to share that as we reach the end of each book, Justus (age 13) likes to point out, “You know Mom, this is the chapter when the missionary dies and you cry.”  Pshaw.  Okay, fine. So I cry at the end of all of these (and the Ralph Moody Books, and just about every other book I read aloud to the boys). I can’t help it.


In addition to these sets of books, our three older boys are all reading lots of books from the Sonlight reading lists for their grade level. Asa (a junior in high school) is reading some Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, The Hiding Place (you MUST read this!), and quite a few others Sonlight recommends.

What books are you and your kids reading these days?  I know I’m not the only mom who cries at the end of a good book. Help me out here – do you get choked up when you’re reading books to your kids?

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How I Plan To Keep My Kids Reading This Summer

All four of our boys enjoy reading. However, we often find that summertime lends itself to a more flexible or on-the-go schedule which sometimes makes us forget about important activities like reading books (and combing hair).

Last summer we tried offering a fun reading challenge that worked amazingly well. Why wouldn’t it? There were rewards involved.

How did it work? We kept it simple. For every five hours each child read, they received a reward. These were inexpensive and sometimes even free. But they are rare treats for our kids – so they picked up a book frequently.

This summer, our three older boys will be gone more than they are home (mission trip, church camp, church camp, and church camp). During the few weeks they are home, they will be more than welcome to take part in this. However, it is our 10 year-old that is really diving in and taking the challenge. Summer Reading Challenge

I created a fun chart for Malachi – which he promptly put on the fridge. (Again, the other boys will take part too – they just don’t have enough weeks during the summer to warrant a chart.)

Here are some of the rewards we’re offering for 5 hours of reading time:

  • Pick a movie from Redbox.
  • Get an ice cream cone from Runza (89¢ – yes, I can handle that
  • Pick something from the dollar store
  • Go to Captain Red Beard’s with Mom (this is our local coffee shop)
  • Lego surprise ($4.00 mini-figure) You wouldn’t believe how much this motivates Malachi to get to the 5th week of reading 5 hours (25 hours total).
  • Choose a meal for Mom or Dad to make
  • Choose a dessert for Mom or Dad to make
  • Choose a board game (from our stash) for a family game night

If by chance Malachi reads more than five hours in a week, he will be allowed to move on to “the next week.” This chart is flexible because our summer is flexible.

I created two “open” charts for you to download, print, and fill in with rewards that will motivate your own kids if you like.

Summer Reading Challenge Printable Download and Print Summer Reading Challenge Printable 1

Summer Reading Challenge Printable 2

Download and Print Summer Reading Challenge Printable 2

Below is a chart without the “weeks” filled in so that you can make it work to meet your needs:

Summer Reading Challenge Blank 2

Download and Print Summer Reading Challenge Blank Printable

How do your kids do with reading in the summertime? Do they need extra motivation or do they naturally pick up a book and go for it?

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6 (Dozen) Ways I’m Going to Keep My Kids Busy This Summer

We usually begin our school year the first week of August and finish the final week of April. Do you know what this means? This means our family has only one week of school left for this year! Summer break, here we come!

schools out

Raise your hand if you feel like I do: Summer break is really for mothers and teachers. The kids think it’s for them. They have no idea.  #lovehomeschooling #needabreather

Our older boys have big plans for several weeks this summer to go on a state-side mission trip and then to attend several weeks of church camp. We’ll go swimming as much as possible (hello, sunshine, I love you so much ~ xoxoxo). We have a family reunion around the 4th of July. We have friends visiting from out of state part of June/July. How is there any time free to do anything other than be on the run (and in the sun ~ xoxoxo)?

Oh trust me. There’s time. See, it’s my 10 year old and my 13 year old that have more downtime than the others. They spend time with friends and help out around the house, but I find it beneficial to…shall we say…put a little routine and creativity into their downtime. Otherwise my 13 year old who shall remain nameless would either:

  • find ways to torture his 10 year old brother which will thus torture me or
  • try to get away with sitting in a chair with his iPod playing games all the live long day.

The summer break rule is: No electronics until after 3pm and then there is a time limit (which varies depending on the day). What’s to keep the boys from getting on each other’s nerves? Oh just look at the ways…

6 Dozen Ways I Plan to Keep My Kids Busy This Summer

1. Summer Reading Challenge

We did this last summer and the boys loved it. Prizes for reading? What’s not to love? I’m working on another blog post to share all the (very inexpensive) details of this fun challenge. Stay tuned.

2. Service Challenge

With school work set aside, there are more opportunities to look outward. The boys will be serving at church camp with us later this summer, but while we’re home I plan to have them jot ideas and be on the look-out for ways they can help others. Will there be prizes for this like in our Reading Challenge? No. But sometimes “coming up with and executing as many ideas as we can” is incentive enough for my competitive boys. Hey, whatever helps them learn to see other people’s needs.

I got the idea when looking through the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle to have my 10 year old serve by putting together some of the pre-school printable activities for a 3 year-old buddy of his. Since we won’t be using these particular bundle items for ourselves, it’s just fine for us to share them with one friend. My favorites included in the bundle for this are:

  • Preschool Alphabet Packet
  • Pocket Chart Calendar Bundle
  • Animal ABCs Bundle

You can check out the specifics of each of those here. Why not have Malachi print, cut, package, and prepare these fun games and activities for his buddy? Besides, this mama might be a little nostalgic since there are no little boys left in this house to use those great items. So this is a way I could still get my hands on them. (Look at me – making service projects all about myself.)

kids service

3. Host Friends

I love that the boys are old enough to make plans with friends and execute the plans without much help from me. They can come up with activities like Movie Nights, Cook Outs, Flag Football, Watermelon Feed, Blow Up a Bunch of Money in our Yard (otherwise known as come over after church on Wednesday night during 4th of July week and bring whatever fireworks you want to shoot off) – the ideas are endless. We love it when the boys invite their friends over. The more, the merrier. Just keep the door closed so the mosquitoes won’t come in.

4. Get Creative in the Kitchen

I have found that summer break is the perfect time to let my boys tinker around with fun recipe ideas. It’s not always food, either. Sometimes they make non-edibles like homemade modeling clay or flubber. Or they make funky popsicles. Or they do something weird with chocolate bars or cheese sticks. Whatever gets them creative and keeps them busy.

Since I got so many neat new recipe and food eBooks in this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (available for only three more days, by the way), I’m printing some out that I know they’ll really like. My top three right now are:

  • Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters
    I am in love with this book. I’m learning tons of tricks for how to creatively use my muffin tins and cookie scoops (and many other kitchen gadgets too). Talk about creative, fun, and easy. Brownie Pops with a cookie scoop? Yes, my boys are going to love this book.
  • Not Just Tacos
    The beauty of this book is that it not only includes many authentic Latin American recipes, it has beautiful pictures and wonderfully laid out and fun to read facts about Latin American countries. My 13 year old loves reading facts like this, and he likes recipes. This book is a win-win for him.
  • Supercharged Food for Kids
    This one has great recipes kids will love. And if your kids are older like mine, they can make many of the recipes on their own.

kids kitchen

5. Craft Projects

My 13 year-old is very much not into making crafts. However, my 10 year-old very much is – crafts of the boy variety, that is. He tinkers with scraps of wood or cardboard, makes gadgets with clay or pipecleaners – he just likes to build and create. This is why the free Green Kid Crafts kit we got in the homemaking bundle is so perfect for him (and for girls, too). We are considering continuing the subscription if he works through this first one and we feel it is worth it. Beyond that, I’ll keep throwing out the popsicle sticks an duct tape as needed. :)

I may consider starting my 13 year-old on the Craftsy Photography class we got free with the bundle (instead of saving it for the next school year). You should know that you can also pick a cake decorating class, a sewing class, a card making class, a knitting class, and many others you and your kids may be more interested in.

6. Board Games

Our family loves games and has shelves full of them. During the school year, it’s hard to find time to play. I cannot wait to pull out our favorites and make up for lost time.


As you can see, the ideas within each of the ideas are limitless. And if boredom still creeps in, there are always windows to wash and gardens to hoe.

(The bundle sale is over now. If you want to be sure to be informed of other sales and great deals in the future, sign up to receive our free daily newsletter~)

How are you planning to keep your kids busy and productive this summer?

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What I’m Learning About Natural Home Remedies

I’m currently taking the Parent’s Guide to Natural Remedies online course. You guys. I can’t tell you how good this is. I really don’t have time right now to get wrapped up in this course (because hello graduation party, speaking engagement, end of the school year, everyday life, and many summer plans staring me right in the face). But every day or so, I pull up the course and click on another module to listen to – and I can’t stop listening. This information is incredibly helpful to me.

parent guide

I’ve been trying to take some notes as I go. This is a crack up because I can’t write and listen at the same time because I’m afraid I’m going to miss more good information. Thankfully, I can go back and listen to and read the info over and over in this course.

I love being empowered to try home remedies first – before heading straight to the doctor. As the creators of Natural Home Remedies say, we know our kids better than any doctor. BUT, I also love that these ladies share information about when we DO need to take our kids in for doctor’s help. That’s always one of my biggest question marks. How much to treat at home…when to take them in. This course answers that. I’m loving this.

Here are some of the notes I’ve been scratching down. (But I can’t share all the specifics because the information in the Online Course isn’t mine to give out freely.)

~ Fever is Your Friend

I knew some of this already, but I didn’t know how much a fever kicks those healing white blood cells into gear. We should watch our kids’ energy level more than their temperature. Caution flags should go up with babies and when kids get dehydrated. Many more details are given in the course about what to watch for and how to treat.

~ There Are Many Reasons to Avoid Tylenol

Throw out the tylenol. Throw it out, throw it out, throw it out. I knew it wasn’t good, but I had no idea how bad it was. Wow. I’m so glad to know all this information from someone so studied and knowledgeable. Tylenol keeps the body from doing what it needs to do. It’s too easy to overdose, which really hurts the liver.

~ Everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream.

It’s just like eating food. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. What a great way to help determine the safety of skin products and treatments. (Although I think an exception to this is essential oils. I don’t take them orally, but they are wonderful to put on the skin so they can absorb and get to work.)

~ A Urinary Tract Infection does not automatically mean you need an antibiotic.

There are natural ways to treat these at home first like unsweetened cranberry juice and chamomile tea, plus essential oils and more.

~ Be empowered to know the right questions to ask if/when you take your children to the pediatrician. 

Yes. Thank you. The information shared in these modules helps so much with this.

~ There are many, many options for helping treat ear infections that do not involve antibiotics.

But you might begin with these two ideas before trying anything else: chiropractic care and cutting out dairy. If your child continues to have trouble, then try the many homeopathic remedies mentioned or treatments from a natural doctor.

~ Homeopathy is treatment that works with the body to help the body do what it is already trying to do to heal itself.

I guess I never heard a definition before. I know our bodies were made to heal themselves, and that sometimes when we’re sick we need a little help. I love knowing that homeopathic treatments simply give the body a boost of what it needs so that healing can occur when our bodies are weak.

What I'm Learning About Natural Home Remedies

This Course is incredibly professional, completely thorough, and wonderfully helpful for parents. I am so grateful to have all this information available. The cost for A Parent Guide to Natural Home Remedies is regularly $99, and is well worth that price because of all it includes. I can’t imagine how much money we can all save by practicing all of these home remedies and avoiding doctor bills. Plus, having all this information at our fingertips??  Priceless.

What are your favorite home remedies to use? 

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