The gift of presence

Ever since I left my job a few months ago (more about that here) I have been trying to focus on spending more quality time with my son. Of course some days go better than others, but during the month of December I decided to try and make a more concentrated effort.

I made these gingerbread cookies and made an effort to let him direct the decorating.

I thought I would do a little round-up of some of the activities we did together. None of them were particularly fancy or expensive, but we had a great time together. This seems like the first Christmas that my son has really been able to understand what is going on and I am loving it! Continue reading The gift of presence

Building toys

I recently heard a podcast talking about the magic of Legos and how that magic has been somewhat lost over the last few years. What used to be the most popular build-anything-you-dream-up toy has become overrun with character sets. Don’t get me wrong, we own plenty of Star Wars and City Legos but I also wonder if we’re missing the creativity point lately. Not just for legos, I mean we see that kind of creativity missing in video games and other popular childhood activities as well. The beauty of open-ended building toys is how they combine the physical act of building with the mental creativity to imagine up a design. At our house we call this kind of play “imaginating.”

As the mother of three boys (ages 1.5-11) with a background in child development I do have a bit of experience with building toys. We own lots of them and have tried even more. Today I’ll give you my top 5 picks. These are probably the most popular as well. Maybe I’ll do another 5 later with some more picks that are slightly more obscure. But, these are popular for a reason and I’ll try to explain why I think they are the best bang for your buck. Continue reading Building toys

No-fuss games (part 1)


I love games! We have a huge collection of board and card games and I could easily add more if not for the investment in money and space. So, I’m taking on some classic games (think 1970’s) with the goal to spend $0 and take up no more space. This post is dedicated to one such game: Mastermind. Continue reading No-fuss games (part 1)

Back to school-ing

Remember that old Staples commercial where the family is back to school shopping and all the parents are leaping around and gleeful while the kids are super slow-moving and sullen? All the while the music is playing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” (Jog your memory here.) Well, whether you are super happy, ultra-sad, or like me have mixed emotions about the start of another year of school, I wanted to share some thoughts on celebrating the milestone. Continue reading Back to school-ing

The Tooth Fairy

It is pretty strange to watch your children loose teeth. Maybe even stranger that they are collected by a fairy (or mouse if you’re in Europe) who pays your child for the tooth. Less weird than burning or burying them as was custom for several cultures of the past. Maybe. It doesn’t really matter though. We are parents, we do weird stuff for our kids! Here are my three favorite ways to make the Tooth Fairy an awesome part of family life: Continue reading The Tooth Fairy

Guide to Stanley Idaho

We’ve already done a few hikes and lots on the river this summer. Add that to my past four years of summer adventures, and I’ve got a pretty good repertoire of Stanley activities. Thought I’d put them all down here for anyone wanting to venture over to this little town we call home for the summer.

Continue reading Guide to Stanley Idaho

Six tips to start your own (at home) summer school

   The summer slide: it’s the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made over the previous school year during the summer months. It’s totally real and very preventable with minimal effort. I like to take it one step further though. Because in addition to reading, I’ve seen a loss of other positive qualities over the summer in my Elementary school aged children (focus, positive attitude, ability to entertain themselves, and even creativity). My solution to this has been a “Mom Summer School.” It’s not intense or even much work but having a plan, routine, and expectations has made a big impact in our home.

Here are six steps to get you started on your own Summer School:

Continue reading Six tips to start your own (at home) summer school

Gluten Free Dairy Free Lego Minifigure Cake Tutorial

Ta Da! All my hard work paid off!

Lego Lover Has Birthday, Requests Cake.

Even though the birthday boy in question doesn’t have food allergies, we have three people who are dairy intolerant or allergic and one person who is gluten intolerant, so as a general rule, I bake gluten-free, dairy-free. It keeps things from being complicated in the kitchen with making multiple versions of things, and it keeps anyone from feeling too deprived. So, lucky you, I will teach you to make this amazing creation. (Insider tip: Lego builders who make ‘creations’ that are not commercially sold sets refer to them at shows/competitions and online as MOCs or My Own Creations. So this was a MOC for me. 😉 ) Continue reading Gluten Free Dairy Free Lego Minifigure Cake Tutorial