Reading Bingo

As always I’m going to make this short and sweet and right to the point. We started playing a regular “Reading Bingo” to encourage the kids to read more when they get in slumps.

The best part is there is a bunch of ways to play. See who can get BINGO first, play until a blackout, give a set time and they have to see how many they can get done and whoever has the most wins, etc. Our reward always changes…a small treat, stay up an extra 30 minutes, dessert on a weekday, etc.

And there you have it. Hope it helps encourage your littles to read, too!

Sight Word Bingo

This is a fun game to get your preschool &/or kindergarten age kids to practice their sight words. Our little Zoey is just starting preschool so she needed a lot of help at the beginning but she is already starting to catch on. She loves feeling like she is doing “real homework” like her siblings.

Recite a sight word, have them look to see if they have it on their paper and then mark it if they do.

The following document has 3 different cards with sight words on it and then a list of site words for you to use to call them out. Here is an example of what the cards/sheets look like.

That’s it! Super simple, fun for kids and free for you! Happy learning, happy practicing!

Here is the free document to download!

DIY Pumpkins

The best thing about these pumpkins are you don’t have to store them after the holidays. You can just undo them, put the supplies away, put the toilet paper on your toilet paper holder and save space in your storage area!

You will need fabric (I bought the Waverly fat quarters from Walmart that are 18″x21″), toilet paper rolls, leaves if you have any (I took some out of a bouquet that I had which didn’t miss the the 3 leaves I took) and something for the stem, you can probably find something in your yard but I used these table number holders turned upside down. I love when there are multiple uses for a product!

Lay your fabric out flat, print side down. Next, unravel the toilet paper just a little and then wrap around again but don’t let it lay flat.

Tuck the toilet paper into itself when you are done and then set it down in the middle of the fabric.

Side note, you don’t need the fabric to be ironed because next you are going to pick up one corner and bunch it together before tucking it into the middle.

Make sure you really push the fabric into the center, use a pencil if needed to get it in there good. Once the fabric is bunched and tucked all the way around you add the leaf and stem.

Then you are done!

Once I put them in their designated spot (after this picture) I realized there was an area where one was sticking out more than I wanted. You can see it on the right of the orange one. So I took the stem out, re-tucked a little tighter and then put the stem back. I didn’t re-take the photo but you get the idea.

I am SO excited for fall, it really is my favorite season, and decorating always gets me in the best mood. Happy fall, ya’ll!

3 read out loud books for multiple ages

Here are 3 chapter books we loved and would highly recommend for families that have a range of ages they are trying to appeal to.

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh. This book is short, only 11 chapters and 54 pages. Based on a true story, Sarah travels with her father to a new colony to begin a new life where she learns to befriend new people and that the greatest courage is not to never fear but to be brave in the face of fear.

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates is an amazing read. One of our favorite books, it had all of us captivated from the very beginning. It is a great mixture of educational, you get a very real sense of what captured slaves had to endure, but it is also inspiring to read how Amos Fortune, son of a king in Africa, overcame the challenges set before him. You will find yourself moved, inspired, in awe and unable to put this page turner down.

Sometimes there is just nothing like a classic! I was so excited to read The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden to the kids and even more excited when they loved it as much as I had. This is a great book if you want to discuss how books can have multiple lessons all depending on the reader. A cricket, perhaps the most unlikely character to be in NYC, discovers a hidden talent and teaches those around him a valuable lesson in learning to slow down and enjoy the simple things.

I hope your family loves these books as much as we did. Follow for more book reviews to come!

Compound Words Practice

Some fun, quick pages to practice compound words. Great for morning work, refresher, summer or seasonal breaks when your kids need to do some worksheets to earn some more screen time.

The following attachment has these two documents and answer sheets.

I got majority of those words from some 6th grade worksheets I had seen but with that being said, our 2nd grader also did these sheets and was able to get them all.

Happy learning!

To the Struggling Mother of Young Children

oh the look of pure exhaustion we all know so well. Look how cute Taylor was though! I mean she still is but extra cute when she was that little!

I promise I’m NOT going to say “enjoy it while it lasts because it goes so fast”.  Whether that is truthful or not is not even relevant, it’s not helpful to hear while you are holding a screaming baby in the grocery store with a toddler half naked on the floor throwing a tantrum.  Also not helpful when you are exhausted from being awake for what feels like 3 days straight with a newborn, you are covered in spit up, can’t remember when your last shower was and are skipping back and forth between not being able to get enough of your kids to wanting to run away. 

I will say there are some tips that have helped me during the struggles of motherhood and continue to help me to this day.  So, here are 4 things to remember each day:

  1. It’s ok to not love every second of motherhood.  Just because you aren’t loving every moment of motherhood doesn’t mean you love your kids any less.  Don’t forget that you are human and every single human has bad days, including mothers.  Allow yourself to have “off” days, days where you just want to take a break. Give yourself credit for what you are continuing to do even though you may not want to and let yourself off the hook for the stuff that is not mandatory that day. Let yourself cry, let yourself be annoyed, allow yourself to feel whatever your are feeling.  The sooner you do, the sooner you can work through it.  Put your kids to bed a little early if needed, give them a hug goodnight, then take a break and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.
  2. It gets easier.  It may feel like it’s FOREVER away but eventually you will sleep again.  Your kids will scream less, you will want to cry less as well.  Your house will stay clean for longer than 10 minutes, you will be able to have long deep, hilarious and heartwarming conversations with your kids.  You will be in awe watching them grow before your very eyes and transforming into these amazing preteens, teens and young adults.  I don’t say this so that you will no longer find the difficulties of young kids less frustrating and exhausting, I say this so that you can remind yourself during those moments where you are overwhelmed that it WILL get better and it’s going to be SO worth the struggle.  Day dreaming of the joys ahead is always helpful for me and has gotten me through some dark days.  Each stage your kids go through has pros and cons and the pros usually outweigh the cons but in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons more and more the older they get.  They thank you more, they confide in you, they make good choices that fill you with pride and if you’re lucky, you still get lots of hugs and “I love you, mom”s. You may be a parent first, but you also gain a friend.
  3. Find time for yourself EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  It doesn’t have to be much.  10 minutes hiding in the bathroom eating a treat of your choice, the bedroom door locked while you paint your toenails and shave your legs, taking time for reading or watching your guilty pleasure show while the kids nap, some meditation after putting kids to bed…whatever you choose as long as it’s something for YOU.  If waking up with a clean house helps your day start off right then get that done really quick after putting kids to bed and then SHUT DOWN all “mom duty” stuff and pamper yourself before bed.  If your are feeling like you’re about to snap, consider pushing off the cleaning for tomorrow morning and take the night off for yourself. Then the next day you can feel rejuvenated and take the day by the horns and do the cleaning.
  4. Motherhood is so hard but the good news is you’re not alone.  You are apart of an amazing tribe of women who are strong enough to take on the task of raising tiny humans!  Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with other moms about how things are going.  Other moms may look like they have it all together but you may be surprised to find out they are having the same struggles as you are.  Hearing that you are not alone in your struggles can be extremely therapeutic and healthy and oh man does it feel good to feel validated!  To go along with this, don’t be afraid to widen your mom group.  Often times we want to hang out with people who parent just like us, which totally makes sense.  With that being said, if we open our minds to seeing a different point of view we can learn a lot.  Sometimes we learn a new approach to an aspect of parenting that may actually work better than what we’ve been doing, other times, we just get confirmation that we like our way better.  Either way though we learn and we grow and we can support each other, even if we don’t see eye to eye.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you feel a little more hopeful and a little less alone.  Just remind yourself everyday, YOU CAN DO THIS.  Say it to yourself as many times as you need to, “I. CAN. DO THIS!”  

Going through the pictures of the good times always helps as well.
The look of complete adoration while equally exhausted and overwhelmed. Can anyone relate? This was right before Tay was hospitalized so my levels of exhaustion doubled shortly after this picture. Parents sure endure A LOT of emotions!

Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle got its name from white settlers who assumed it had been built by the Aztec and was home to the Aztec emperor, Montezuma. However, they were wrong. This 5 story, 20 bedroom building is carved into the limestone cliff in Camp Verde, Arizona and was built by the cliff-dwelling Sinagua Indians. It still stands today as a National Monument.

If you choose to go here it is $10/adult and your ticket is good for 7 days and gives you entrance to Montezuma National Monument and Tuzigoot National Monument. With that all being said, if you get there an hour before closing they let you in for free and you don’t need more than an hour to visit this place.

From the entrance it is a very short walk to see the “castle”. It’s fun to look at and talk to your kids about what it would be like to live in such a place. From there, you take the small loop around the rest of the monument where there are several plaques to read that are very informative and there is a small replica that has a button you can push that gives you more information but other than that, there isn’t much else to see. We stopped by while we were passing through the general area after visiting the Meteor Crater. We got to the monument about 40 minutes before it closed and spent a total of about 25-30 minutes there which was plenty of time.

Overall my personal opinion is its not worth a long drive to see just this BUT if you are passing by the general area and have time to do a slight detour it is worth a one time visit. It is pretty impressive. I mean, how many houses are still standing 800 years later?! Also, don’t forget that if you have a 4th grader you can get your National Park Pass for free admittance into all National Parks and National Monuments.

Math BINGO!

I am always trying to come up with new ways for the kids to brush up on their multiplication and this is such a fun way to do just that. I read the problem and they have to think of what the answer is and then look for it on their card.

Flashcards are only fun for so long but can you really practice multiplication enough?! It just makes math so much easier in the long run when they know them so well. At first you may need to play slowly depending on the grade level but eventually you get to the point where you try to see how fast you can go through.

Attached is the document I made for us to play. It has 3 playing cards and the problems I used to make them.

This definitely makes me want to come up with some more games to practice multiplication because this was a huge success.