Friday, August 30, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 30

Happy Friday! This Friday is extra exciting with Labor Day on Monday, and a three day weekend coming our way! I hope you have some fun and exciting things in store. Tonight kicks off high school  football at my son's school and we are headed to the game. The cooler temps has me a little excited for all things fall, and that includes football. Here's five things from me on this Friday!

100 Days Lunch Check List-On Monday, I shared 5 lunch box ideas for kids, you can check that out HERE, if you missed it (and come back next Monday, I'll be sharing 5 more new lunch box ideas). Earlier this week, one of my favorite accounts to follow on instagram, 100 Days to Real Food, posted this awesome School Lunch Chart for Kids. There are tons of great lunch ideas and she gave the idea of laminating this printout and having your kids use a dry erase marker to check items they would enjoy having in their lunch for the week. This allows you to easily transfer their lunch wishes to a shopping list. She has the printable available for free on her website. I love that this great idea includes your kids in the lunch process, creating a more probable outcome that they will eat their lunch, since they helped select the items for the week.


Kansas City Marathon-I'm excited to be running in the Kansas City Marathon again this year, in October. This will be my seventh time to run this race. It's my favorite race in Kansas City. There is nothing like running downtown, I love the sights and the challenge (it's a very hilly race course). School has thrown off my training schedule, so I've had to set my alarm even earlier, but this is the payoff. Gorgeous sunrises. Someone pulled over to the side of the road and put their hazard lights on while I was taking this. Not sure what was going on, hopefully they were going to check on my well being, and it was all on the up and up, but they sped off when I started to run again. I had my guard dog Wally with me, so I wasn't too concerned, but it's a good reminder to always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

Beef Tips-Healthy Little Peach is my go to place to get Whole 30 recipes. Everything I have ever made from Mac's website is amazing. This Beef Tips recipe is a hit with my entire family, and that is a hard feat with five little boys with distinct palates. Be sure to add the ingredients to your grocery list and make it soon! You will thank me.

 photo cred: Healthy Little Peach

Wedding File Box. I was looking for a book in my basement and ran across my wedding box. This is how you planned a wedding back in 2005, before Pinterest. I bought this box at Target right after Chris and I got engaged, it was specifically for wedding planning. It was so fun to look through all that was inside. Wedding magazine were all the rage and I'm so happy I saved these from when I was planning my wedding. It was fun to see the receipts from the wedding to see what a tux cost back in 2005, compared to today. Does anyone even announce their engagement in the newspaper anymore? I remember reading that section every Sunday. It was so fun to step back in time this week. 
Anyone else plan their wedding before Pinterest?

MOMS (Ministry of Motherhood)-I'm on the leadership team of our MOMS group at church. We met last night for another planning meeting before our fall kickoff. Now that I'm getting into a school routine, I'm so excited that my twice a month recharge will be starting soon. There's nothing like dropping your sweet children off, with loving caregivers, and heading into a two hour break full of fellowship, food, and fun. We have some fun things planned this year. Our theme for the year is "Encourage and Build Up," from 1 Thessalonians 5:11. What meeting ideas or speaker ideas do you have for us, we are always looking for some fresh, fun, new ideas!

Enjoy your long weekend, I would love to hear how you are going to spend your weekend!

Monday, August 26, 2019

5 Lunch Box Ideas for Kids-Part 1

Finding good, healthy food options to pack in your child's lunch can seem like a tough task. Last year I got stuck in a lunch rut, and found myself packing a sandwich and chips for my boys everyday. I started to notice when the lunchbox would come home at the end of the day, the sandwich was still in the lunchbox and had not been touched. I knew I needed to come up with a better plan for this year. A few weeks before school started, I sat down with my boys and began listing off a bunch of lunch ideas. They would give me a yes or no, and I wrote everything down so I could refer back to it later. This school year, I have been changing it up, and so far my boys are loving it. Their lunch boxes are coming home empty and I'm happy to know that they are getting the nourishment to fuel their bodies to allow them to focus on their learning at school. I also want to note, these meals can be packed ahead of time for kids who are home with you all day. Then, all you have to do at lunch time it grab them from the refrigerator and lunch is served! Here are a few of the ideas I've been sending with the boys.

1. Mini pizzas - Bake on grands biscuits, spread a little spaghetti sauce and cheese and other desired toppings (pepperoni, hamburger, canadian bacon, etc). After they came out of the oven, I wrapped the individual pizza in foil before placing it in their lunch box. My son proudly told me that it was still warm at lunch! Fruit and fruit dip (made with plain yogurt and maple syrup), and cucumbers.

2. Make your own lunchable. I used crackers, pepperoni, and cheese. You could also use deli ham or turkey meat to change it up. A mini orange (peeled for my youngest school age son), and scooby snacks (like graham crackers) with a dollop of icing to dip them in! 

3. Salad. This one make my heart happy. My two elementary age sons specifically asked for this lunch. They love salad. I packed the dressing on the side to add later. Strawberries, and hummus and Naan bread. They have had this meal a couple times already.

4. Peanut Butter, Strawberry Jelly, and Banana Roll Up- I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this was, and super easy to make. Add a side of fruit, and and some goldfish or other snack and you are set.

5. Mac and Cheese-For this lunch I used a thermos to keep the mac and cheese as warm as possible. Bring water to boiling in a small sauce pan and then pour into empty thermos. Put the lid on and let set for at least 5 minutes and then dump the water out, and dry with a paper towel. Then place warm mac and cheese inside. My son loved this lunch and he happily reported after school, that his mac and cheese was still warm at lunch! Add some fruit and a snack and you are set. These scooby snacks (graham crackers) with the addition of some milk chocolate and white chococlate chips was the perfect way to finish off lunch!

Five more non sandwich lunch ideas are coming to the blog next Monday! Check back for more inspiration. What other fun lunch box ideas do you have to keep kids excited about lunch?

Grocery List (some of these ingredients you will already have on hand):
cheese (pre cut or to cut into slices)
box of Scooby Snacks or graham crackers
shredded cheese
salad dressing
Naan bread (or you could use crackers you already purchased for the homemade lunchable)
gold fish
peanut butter
mac and cheese
chocolate chips

various fruit:

Friday, August 23, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 23

Does this feel like the longest week in history to anyone else? Maybe it's just me because of number one below, or the first full week of school could also have something to do with it! Getting into a new routine is hard. Let's jump right in to Five Things Friday, friends.

Chris in Panama on a Mission Trip. I'm so thankful that he got to go. Our team partnered with the International Mission Board (imb) missionaries to learn techniques to reach unreached people groups. It was a great trip with many gospel conversations, and at least 10 coming to Christ! Having him gone at the beginning of school was a little intense. I was dealing with back-to-school things by myself, with his support from 3,500 miles away, but it was challenging at times. I'm so thankful to have him home and to hear all about the week.

This is how big avocados are supposed to be! Seriously, why are all the avocados here in the US so small?
Chesapeake Shores. I'm so excited for the return of Chesapeake Shores this Sunday, on the Hallmark Channel. The setting of this show is absolutely stunning, I would love to go vacation in this beautiful destination (which is on Vancouver Island's Qualicum Beach and neighboring town of Parksville, British Columbia). Chesapeake Shores is a multi-generational family drama following main character, Abby O'Brien as she adjusts to life back in her hometown of Chesapeake Shores. The O'Brien family consists of five siblings, so there are always multiple storylines going on in each episode. If you haven't checked this show out, set your DVR or tune in Sunday at 7:00 pm central time! You will be hooked in no time. 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sprinkles. The little boys and I made a new cookie recipe while the big boys were at school this week. They love helping me in the kitchen and are very good at it! These cookies were a hit and the boys were so excited for an extra special after school treat. Check out the recipe here. Just a side note, if you like softer cookies bake these for a few minutes less than the recipe calls for. My kids and I are a huge fans of soft cookies so I always shorten every cookie recipe by a few minutes!

Johnson Farms Mums. Mum Season opens today at Johnson Farms! You know what that means, right? Fall is right around the corner. It doesn't feel like it yet to me, but I like that we are starting to see small signs that fall is on the way. I have been getting Johnson Farms Mums for four years now and they are the biggest, prettiest mums for the price around (3 gallon garden mums are $11.99 each or 3/$32.99). I can't wait to go pick out my mums for this year. If you are in the Kansas City area, you need to head to Johnson Farms and while you are there take your picture at their new Mum Selfie Station for a chance to win a dozen pumpkin donuts, #yesplease.

Dishwasher Revelations. I love Five Things Friday because I get to talk about five random things. I've been frustrated with my dishwasher lately. Several dishes come out dirty and I have to wash them again, and sometimes by hand. So, I did some research, or should I say Facebook happened to have a random article in my feed about "8 Things You Are Doing Wrong With Your Dishwasher." It was a little worrisome that Facebook seemed to know I was having this problem, but anyway, my interest was peaked. I learned in the article that dishwasher detergent powder is better than the pods for getting your dishes clean, and it's cheaper! I picked some up at the store on my next trip, and I've seen a significant improvement in my dishwashers cleaning ability. If you too have been having this issue, try the more cost effective solution of dishwashing powder. Just solving all of life's problems over here!

In case you missed it this week:

Happy Friday! We have a fun weekend ahead with a wedding of two friends Chris and I thought would make a great couple, even before we knew they were dating, so do we get credit for this union? Other than that, rest and enjoy my family is what is on the docket. What are you excited for this weekend?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How to Keep Kids Entertained, Without a Screen, On-the-Go

Keeping kids entertained without a screen can feel like an Olympic sport. We've all been there, stuck in a waiting room for an appointment, and your child who has been ready to leave from the moment you walked in the door, is about to lose their cool. How do you keep them entertained? I've rummaged through my purse before, hoping there was something that would magically keep their imaginations engaged, and voices down, until I could hear the best sound in the world, the nurse calling my name. I once tried to use a first aid kit to keep my youngest one busy, it's all I had at the time. I was so proud of my creativity, I had him using the plastic tweezers to pick up leaves and acorns on the ground, until he started to go near a dog at the home of friends we were visiting. Then the tweezers had to go away! Or, how about this one? You are at your older child's sports practice, younger kids in tow, how do you keep them entertained and happy? After 2.6 seconds of screaming, I usually give in, handing over my phone, hanging my head in defeat. We can't have a scene, you know! There has got to be a better way. 

After many discouraging times out and about I found the old saying to be true, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." So, you want to keep your child entertained while out and about, without having to hand them a screen? You need a magic bag of tricks. Think of it as your Mary Poppins bag.

I put together an activity bag before we headed out on vacation this summer. We had an almost 14 hour drive ahead of us, and with five boys in the car, I knew the recipe for a successful road trip was going to be hard to come by if I was not prepared. I tried to come up with things that were age appropriate and peak their interests. It was not going to be a one size fits all approach, with my five boys. Think of things that each of your children would enjoy. Browse the aisles of the dollar store, or the Target dollar spot for fun ideas to change out through the year. It's best to keep things on a frequent rotation so they never know what you are going to pull out (just like Mary Poppins)!

These license plate stickers (from Michaels) are fun to use to play the license plate game while driving. It could be for just one long car trip, or an ongoing game to see how long it takes you to find all 50 states. My son had a special page in his travel journal that he would add a new sticker each time we found a new state. It was fun to yell out, each time someone would see a state we hadn't found before.

Explorers tin-Great to use when at a practice waiting on an older sibling. Have kids try to find things in nature to add to their tin.

Coloring books


Crayon/Colored Pencil/Marker Holders-rolls up for unplugged, on-the-go fun. Easy, elastic closure, for little ones who don't know how to tie. These are a great way to keep crayons, colored pencils, and markers from rolling around in your purse or bag. Many fun designs are available in my Etsy Shop, Kate Williams Designs.

Activity/Busy bags-I found these binder pencil pouches on Amazon. They are hard to find, expect during back-to-school time. So, stock up during back-to-school or order online. I tried to think of fun activities that would keep my younger kids occupied. The animals were the biggest hit. I had a pouch for mini Mr. Potato Head, cars, legos (this was a hit with my elementary school kids), and little character toys. What I love about these bags is the endless possibilities you can come up with. You can change out the contents frequently to avoid boredom.

 I also packed some magnetic tiles. My kids love to play with these at home, so I knew they would be a hit away from home too. I placed some in a gallon size zip lock and they have saved me on a few occasions!

Find a tote bag and place all of your on-the-go activities inside. Keep it in the trunk of your car and then you never have to worry about being unprepared for down time in the car pick up line at school, long drives, or other times you need a quick idea to keep your child entertained while away from home. Simply grab a few things out of the bag on your way into an appointment, meal at a restaurant, or activity, and you are set!

Kites from the Dollar Store! You never know when it will be the perfect kite flying weather! At $1.00 each, these kites are a great addition to the bag. Flying kites at the park has kept my kids entertained for a long period of time in the past, and with all the running involved it's a great way for kids to burn energy and get exercise.

This Coop Football is a huge hit at our house. My husband and boys love tossing a ball around when we are hanging out. Having one in the bag comes in handy, so no matter where you are, you are prepared for a fun game of catch. This one is also water proof, great for a game at the pool, lake, or ocean!

Sidewalk chalk-It has saved me several times. It worked great at the ball fields keeping my youngest boys entertained while we watched my oldest son's game.

Various card games work great for something new and different to keep kids busy while on-the-go. My boys used a deck of cards to play war, in the car, on our long road trip home! It kept them busy for quite awhile, which made us parents very happy!

Books-always keep rotating new titles in and out of the bag to keep kids attention wihle away from home.

Flash Cards/Clock-Flash cards are the perfect way to work on school math facts, sight words, etc. Maybe keep a small treat bag, in the tote, to reward a job well done. The clock is perfect to practice telling time. You can have your child tell you the time on the clock, or give them a time and have them put the hands of the clock in the right position!



Water Wow Book-These books are great for keeping kids entertained on the go. You fill the pen with water and the pictures on the page change color when wet. After the page dries, you can paint it again. My kids were fighting over who got to use it next. Time to add a few more to my collection!

Now, run, go find a bag and fill it up, and set yourself up for success! Remember to keep changing the contents frequently to keep kids entertained while out and about. Mary Poppins would be so proud!

What ideas do you have to add to the bag? I would love to hear your ideas.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 16

We made it to Friday! It always feels like a huge accomplishment to get to Friday on the first week of school. To all the momma's needing a high five or fist bump at the end of a short, but long week, I'm here for you! I can't wait to soak up and savor the time off this weekend. Here's to hoping it doesn't go too fast! Let's jump into five things from me this Friday.

First week of school. New school. New teachers. New schedule. New, new, new! The clean slate of a new school year is nice, but all the newness can leave even a mom who likes change feeling overwhelmed. Max is at a new school this year, and it's exciting but I've also been thinking about him a lot during the day. Will he find his class in a timely manner, get his locker opened, find someone to talk to at lunch, and adjust to the workload of eight classes? All the things that a mom worries about when their kid goes to a new school, and out of elementary school for the first time. That's been where I'm at this week, and it can be draining. I just have to keep reminding myself that God is in control and to give all my worries and fears to Him.  Max will figure it all out, just like I did when I was his age. I'm thankful for a few days off before Monday! 
The boys have had a great week and are enjoying their new teachers and classmates. When we walked into Jack's classroom on meet the teacher night, his desk was right beside his good buddy, Nolan's desk. I'm not sure how long that will last, but this momma was so thankful that on the first day of school he would have someone he knows so well sitting beside him!

If you read my post from Monday you will remember that in tip #4, I talked about the key to keep first day of school nerves at bay was to stay busy. Well, this year I stayed busy cleaning/organizing my laundry room and now I have a laundry room refresh planned. This project makes me laugh because I didn't even sit down to plan what project I wanted to keep me busy that first day of school. Just like "nesting" kicks in before you have a baby, this same subconscience urge to jump into a project happened in my laundry room. After the boys were at school and I was busy working, I thought to myself, "Okay, laundry room it is!" Phase one of cleaning and organizing is complete. With a family of seven this room gets used a lot. Since I spend so much time in here, I want it to be an inviting space. So, stay tuned to see what i come up with! I've got a few ideas rolling around.

Ruth Chou Simons. I'm excited to announce that Ruth Chou Simons will be speaking at our women's event at Fellowship Church this November 9th. Ruth is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and speaker. She shares her journey of God's grace intersecting daily life with word and paintbrush through an online shoppe at and her Instagram community. I have been following her  on Instagram for sometime. When I discovered she has six boys, I knew we would be kindred spirits, and have so much in common. With eleven boys between us, I'm sure we could swap some good stories! Through her Instagram posts she shares from her heart and always has just the right thing that encourages me in such a timely manner. I can't wait to hear her speak. I hope you will join me this November for, "An Evening with Ruth Chou Simons!"

Strawberry Shortcake. Food brings people together. I've had the strong urge to cook meals and desserts for my family in the last few days since school has been back in session, and I attribute it to the fact that food brings people together, and innately I wanted my family to feel happy to be at home after a long day away. One of our family favorites is strawberry shortcake, and my favorite recipe can be found on the Bisquick box. It's such a fun summer dessert, and it was nice to have a special treat after the second day of school (and Max's first full day).

With the big boys back at school, there's not as much action around our house, and as many people to play with. When you've had three months of fun and excitement chasing your heroes around, and now it is quiet, it called for us to find a little excitement. We headed up to check out the action at our church. We are building a children's wing and they were pouring concrete out front today. Then we popped inside to check out the new classrooms and theater. I cannot wait for these little guys and many others to learn about Jesus in the new building very soon.

Happy Friend Friends! I'm praying you enjoy friends, family, and find a slower pace these next couple days! What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Tips For Easing First Day of School Nerves: Mom Edition

First day drop off can be extremely hard on a mom, no matter how many years you have under your belt. Try a few of these tips to ease the back-to-school nerves on the first day.

1. My kids elementary school allows parents to come in the building and walk their kids to their classroom on the first day. This helps both kids and parents ease those first day fears. It's comforting to see your kid in their seat and enjoying whatever activity your child's teachers has them doing as you leave the room. If you child's school does allow you to walk your child in on the first day, I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity. It has become a fun tradition in our family.

2. Meet up with friends at a coffee shop or park. I did this a few years ago and it was a great way for all of us to get our minds off of our kids and their first day at school. Our younger kids all played on the playground while we chatted and before we knew it, it was time for lunch. If you are heading to work after first day of school drop off, call a friend who is in the same boat as you as you drive to work. It's a nice way to take your mind off things.

3. Stop for a special coffee drink or breakfast treat to reward yourself for making it through the first day. The year my second son started kindergarten, my husband drove me straight to the coffee shop and got me my favorite coffee drink. He was heading off to work and knew it was just the thing to help brighten my spirits after leaving Cooper at school for the first time. Having a little pick-me-up to look forward to can help ease the back to school nerves.

4. Stay busy. If you are headed to work after first day send off, it will be a great distraction. If you are heading home, find a project to keep you busy. Organize the problem drawer, or run some errands that you have been putting off. I've found, over the years, the more I stay busy that first day, the better things go for me! One year I organized the junk drawer, read about it HERE!

5. Plan a special surprise for after school. Last year, I ran to a cupcake shop right after drop off and got cupcakes for the boys as a special after school, first day treat. They were so surprised and it was fun to hear about their first day as they enjoyed their "out of the ordinary" treat. They have already asked me several times if I'm going to get them cupcakes again this year. I guess it was a hit!

6. Pray. Praying for your child and their first day of school is probably the best thing you can do. You can download a free copy of a back-to-school prayer guide I put together HERE to give you some ideas of things to pray for your child, their teachers, and the staff and administration of your school district. There is no better way to help calm your anxieties and fears than to take your requests before the Lord.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

Before you know it, you will be picking up your kids, or they will be getting off the bus, and you can look forward to hearing all about their day! More often than not, they are all smiles! So, take a deep breath and remember as your kids head back to school this year, to give yourself grace. Back to school hits each of us differently. Some sail through the first days, while others have a hard time adjusting. Give yourself time to adjust to the new schedule. After the first several days we tend to get in a groove and get used to a new routine. Have a great first day back-to-school and be sure to tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you try any of these back-to-school distractors, I would love to see!

What is your favorite thing to do after first day of school drop off/send off?