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Family-Friendly Christmas Movies for the Holidays!

December 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family
The weather outside might be frightful, but inside it can be delightful! Grab some blankets, hot cocoa and snuggle up by the fire with your family as you enjoy the spectrum of Christmas movies that are perfect for this time of year! From classics to comedies to films geared towards the kids – we have gathered the best of the best Christmas movies for your family to enjoy this holiday season! PLUS – many of the Christmas movies listed have links to fun activities, games and more!The Best Christmas Movies

If you are looking for more details on the content of any film you show your family, a great resource is Plugged In Movie Review. Within this site, you can search any particular film and select “Parents Guide” to view content advisory. Most films list, in detail, content issues regarding language, violence/gore, profanity, sex & nudity, alcohol/drugs/smoking and even frightening/intense scenes!

So, let’s get started! When choosing a Christmas film for family movie night, you may want to start with what type of film you are going for. Below we have links to all the film suggestions and a description.

1. A Christmas Story – In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

2. Miracle on 34th Street – When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

3. Christmas Carol (1951 Original) – An old, bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life – An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

5. White Christmas – A successful song-and-dance team becomes romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general. For a fun date night based on this classic flick – try our White Christmas Date Night For Couples!

6. Holiday Inn – At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer.

7. Christmas in Connecticut – A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.

8. The Bishop’s Wife – An angel in human form enters the life of a bishop in order to help him build a new cathedral and repair his fractured marriage.

9. Smokey Mountain Christmas – A country/western singer on a trip through the Tennessee mountains runs into a reclusive backwoodsman–and a witch.

10. Bells of St. Mary’s – At a big city Catholic school, Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict indulge in a friendly rivalry and succeed in extending the school through the gift of a building.

Christmas Comedies

Christmas time gives us plenty to smile about, but here are a few movies that are sure to make you chuckle as well!

11. Elf – After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.

12. Deck the Halls – Two neighbors have it out after one of them decorates his house for the holidays so brightly that it can be seen from space.

13. Jingle All the Way – A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas; however, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

14. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

15. Christmas with the Kranks – With their daughter away, the Kranks decide to skip Christmas altogether until she decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holiday at the last minute.

16. I’ll Be Home for Christmas – A college student experiences difficulty in getting home for Christmas after being hazed by his friends. While Struggling to get home in time for Christmas, he learns quite a bit about himself and the true meaning of the holiday.

17. Home Alone – An 8-year old troublemaker must protect his home from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.

18. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – One year after Kevin was left home alone and had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, and the same criminals are not far behind.

19. The Santa Clause – When a man inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place. We love these movies (all three of them!) so much that we created a Santa Clause Movie Marathon Night! Now you can snuggle up for some Christmas fun AND have interesting activities to make it a fun family night!

20. The Santa Clause 2 – Scott Calvin has been a humble Santa Claus for nearly ten years, but it might come to an end if he doesn’t find a Mrs. Claus. These movies were so fun they even made a third one: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause – Santa, aka Scott Calvin, is faced with double-duty: how to keep his new family happy, and how to stop Jack Frost from taking over Christmas.

Christmas Movies For Kids

For those of you with little ones at home, there are many great, quality Christmas movies specifically gears towards kids. Some of these are classics from my childhood that I still love to watch today!

21. The Nightmare Before Christmas – Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.

22. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Live Action) – On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all of the citizens of the town.

23. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Cartoon) – A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. Whichever version of this movie you choose to watch (or both!) we have some fun ideas for a Grinch Dinner and a Movie that your family will love!

24. The Polar Express – A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure, he learns about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas. This movie is totally one of our favorites. So much so that we created a fun family night with tickets for your own Polar Express family outing!

25. The Muppet Christmas Carol – The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser’s redemption on Christmas Eve.

26. A Christmas Carol (Animated 2009 Version) – An animated retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic novel about a Victorian-era miser taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions.

27. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.

28. Frosty the Snowman – A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman’s magic hat.

29. Prancer – A farm girl nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa’s, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas. Her holiday spirit inspires those around her, something her disheartened father is having trouble understanding.

30. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.

31. Mickey’s Christmas Carol – The classic Disney animated characters play the roles in this animated retelling of the Charles Dickens masterpiece.

32. Arthur Christmas – Santa’s clumsy son Arthur gets put on a mission with St. Nick’s father to give out a present they misplaced to a young girl in less than 2 hours.

33. Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas – A poor otter family risks everything for the chance to win the cash prize of a talent contest for Christmas.

34. Jack Frost (Live Action) – A father, who can’t keep his promises, dies in a car accident. One year later, he returns as a snowman, who has the final chance to put things right with his son before he is gone forever.

35. Jack Frost (Cartoon) – The Groundhog tells the story of how, for once, Jack Frost became human, and helped a knight win his lady love.

Romantic Christmas Movies

There is just something so romantic about the holidays! These movies are romantic to the core and would make perfect films for enjoying by the fire with your honey!

36. Let It Snow – An executive examines her company’s new property and prepares a presentation to transform the rustic lodge into a new hot spot.

37. The Christmas Card – A US soldier visits the town from where an inspirational Christmas card was sent to him by a church group that mails cards out to servicemen as a goodwill effort.

38. While You Were Sleeping – A hopeless romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector is mistaken for the fiancée of a coma patient. And if this movie alone were fabulous enough – we have a few ideas to go along with this film in our While You Were Sleeping Date!

39. The Holiday – Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love and, yes, we DO have ideas to accompany this film too! Our Holiday Date night includes activities to go along with the theme!

40. The Family Stone – An uptight, conservative businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family’s annual Christmas celebration and finds that she’s a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life.

41. Four Christmases – A couple struggles to visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas.

42. The Christmas Lodge – Mary Tobin has wonderful memories of family gatherings at the Christmas Lodge. When she arrives for a weekend vacation, she quickly realizes that the lodge that she loves has fallen into serious disrepair. With a lack of funds and a looming deadline, she not only restores the Christmas lodge’s charm but finds love along the way.

43. Holiday in Handcuffs – A struggling artist working as waitress kidnaps one of her customers to bring home and meet her parents at Christmas.

44. 12 Dates of Christmas – A story that follows Kate, a young woman who after a horrible blind date on Christmas Eve, wakes up to find she is reliving that same day and date all over again.

45. Hitched for the Holidays – An attractive pair agrees to be each other’s supposed significant other throughout the holidays to keep their meddling families at bay.

Christ-Centered Christmas Movies

With all the hustle and commercialism in Christmas, it is nice to know there are good quality films to remind us (or teach us) the reason for the Christmas holiday – Christ. These films focus on Christ and his birth.

46. The Nativity Story – The story of Christ’s birth is turned into a full-length film in “The Nativity Story.” The movie can really help bring the beloved story to light for older children, but I recommend pre-screening it before showing it to younger children.

47. VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection – The entire VeggieTales gang put on a Christmas movie marathon that also teaches Christian values. The collection includes: It’s a Meaningful Life, Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving, The Little Drummer Boy, The Toy that Saved Christmas, and The Star of Christmas.

48. What’s In The Bible? Buck Denver Asks…Why Do We Call it Christmas? – Join Buck Denver and his friends for a fun and unusual Christmas party. Everyone loves Christmas, but have you ever wondered why we celebrate the birth of Jesus by putting trees in our houses? Or hanging stockings by the fire? And how did Santa Clause become a big part of Jesus’ birthday party anyway?

49. Joy To The World – This movie is filled with wonderful scenes of Jesus Christ’s birth, life, and ministry, and accompanied by beautiful music performed by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

50. Mr. Krueger’s Christmas – Mr. Krueger is a lonely widower, played by Jimmy Stewart, who finds comfort through a group of carolers singing outside his window. His interaction with them places him in a fantasy where he imagines himself in the stable on the very first Christmas.

51. Silent Night – A touching re-telling of the true story behind one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time. Set in 1818 in a small Austrian town near Salzburg, it tells the story of Joseph Mohr, the new assistant priest who organizes a church choir, including outcasts from the local tavern.

52. The Perfect Gift – Max is a young girl who just happens to have her birthday on Christmas – and she does not like it. She also does not like her school assignment to write about Christmas. But Jes helps Max to see how important God’s perfect gift to us was.

53. Christmas with a Capital C – The mayor and citizens of Trapper Falls, a small Alaskan town, are in a legal battle to keep the spirit and traditions of Christmas alive. The movie explores the culture wars between secularism and Christianity and is a reminder of the real spirit of Christmas, peace on earth and goodwill to all. Even to this whose hearts seemed closed to Him.

54. The Fourth Wise Man – Based on the classic book, “The Other Wise Man,” this fictional story is set in Biblical times. It tells of a Magi named Artaban who sees the sign in the heavens and starts his journey to find the Messiah. With three precious gifts in hand, he seeks Jesus, only to keep missing him. After 33 years he finally finds him, on Easter Sunday.

55. Jacob’s Gift – Eager to participate in the construction of a new synagogue, a young boy works diligently to create a manger to convince his rabbi he is qualified for the job. But when a needy couple takes refuge in the stable behind his family’s inn, Jacob offers them a precious gift instead.

Hopefully, you found several films to watch this holiday season (I know I did!). In fact, you probably have enough for a full-blown Christmas movie marathon! Maybe you could make this one of your Family Christmas traditions!

If your family loves watching movies together, you should definitely check out our list of 101 Family-Friendly Movies that are perfect for any time of year!

My 3 Biggest Fears as a Teenager

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family

Several of us at CHRI are involved in student ministry. Whether we have teenagers of our own, hang out with nieces and nephews, volunteer in our churches, or through the Family Fun Team, we love discipling students to grow in their faith. That’s why we found this article about what teens fear and how to minister to them very helpful.

The teen years can be scary. Adolescents stand on the cusp of adulthood and face a flood of newness—new feelings, new experiences, new relationships, new responsibilities, new decisions, a whole new stage of life. It’s overwhelming, like we’re standing at the edge of a cliff, told to jump but unfamiliar with what’s below.

And we’re afraid.

As a teen just now crossing into the threshold of adulthood, I’m all too familiar with the fears of adolescence. All that instability, confusion, and decision-making can be stressful and even painful. I’ve laid awake at night because of a melting pot of fears bubbling in my mind, poisoning my peace.

Three Fears

Above all, three fears have screamed the loudest and lasted the longest: fear of the future, fear of failure, and fear of both intimacy and loneliness.

1. Fear of the Future

When I was little I thought I had my future figured out. Like most kids, I painted a picture of adulthood with beautiful, happy colors, cheerfully envisioning precise details of my life. At 12, I’d planned out my education path, career plan, car model, and the homeschool curriculum I’d use with my future kids. And then God abruptly tossed my pretty puzzle pieces out the window and directed me to a different path. He invited me into different opportunities, and filled me with different dreams and desires.

While I don’t pine after those displaced dreams, my future no longer looks so sweet and simple. It has lost its rosy, predictable blush and has been iced over with a harder edge. It’s unknown. As teenagers we start to realize the idealistic plans we made as kids aren’t sure things. We don’t have control.

Last winter, a few months after I turned 18, marked one of the most unstable times in my life. Mentally and spiritually, I was settled, but in every other part of life, I was in-between: in-between school, jobs, plans, and security. Stress lingered. My future was a blank slate, everything was up in the air, and I felt swallowed by the unknown. Fear of the future pressed in.

2. Fear of Failure

If teenagers are honest, it’s not just the unfamiliarity of the future that scares us—it’s the idea of failing in it. Failing in school, work, relationships, driving—basically, failing at life. We’re afraid of disappointing those we love and messing up in some extravagant, irreparable way.

The fear of failure is paralyzing because it inhibits us from taking risks and moving forward—which is, of course, what growing up is all about. Becoming an adult is embracing the process of trial and error, repentance and grace. As teenagers, though, we often long to skip the failure. We want life handed to us in a color-coded game plan. Go to this school, get this job, marry this person, and you’ll win. We want to know it all, and we want to know it right now.

That’s me. I’m a perfectionist, and I dread mistakes. Failure would give me nervous sweats. It was always there, hovering darkly and persistently on the horizon. It has genuinely terrified me.

3. Fear of Intimacy and Loneliness
One of the greatest things I’ve feared failing at is relationships. Many of us teenagers struggle with two below-the-surface (and seemingly paradoxical) relational fears: intimacy and loneliness. Intimacy connects to a fear of being known for who we truly are. As teens, we’ve become more self-aware and have started to carefully examine our own hearts. We usually aren’t too impressed with what we see. This is the season of my life where I’ve never been more aware of how sinful and broken and flawed I am. Yet it’s the season where I’ve never been more aware of trying to cover up my flaws. I’m afraid of people seeing the real me.

But I’m also afraid of being alone. Isolation and loneliness are serious threats to my happiness. I want to be loved. I want close friendships. I want community. I don’t want to be by myself. But I fear the risk of relationships.

Four Ways to Help Teens Overcome Fear

Teenagers wrestle with much crippling, shame-fueling fear. So what can you do about it? You’re the parent of a teenager, or you work with teens, or you are a teen, and you want to know, How can I help teenagers overcome their fear? Here are four suggestions.

1. Teach them to put their trust in the right place.

All fear bleeds from misplaced trust. We trust in ourselves or our circumstances or our dreams, and we idolize our security over our Savior. To fight fear, we must cultivate trust in the one person who’s in control and never changes. Faith is fear’s ultimate weapon.

2. Prepare them for difficulty.

Telling teens that life will be easy if they follow Jesus is a spectacular deception. It gives us false expectations and only feeds our fear. After all, what happens when our dream job falls through or we fail dramatically? It shakes our already faulty foundation. Help us face fear, then, by preparing us for fearful circumstances.

3. Encourage them with your experience.

Fear isn’t an exclusively adolescent sin, not by a long shot. Have you thought about sharing your own struggles and stories of fear with your teenager? Encourage them that they’re not alone. Then show them how the gospel has freed—and continues to free—you from fear.

4. Combat fear with gratitude.

Fear withers where gratitude thrives. Teach your teens to root out fear with intentional thankfulness. If they’re afraid of starting a new school, help them create a list of things about the experience they’re thankful for. Show them what it means to put their focus in the right place.

Don’t Forget to Remember

Jesus told us we have no reason to fear (Matt. 10:28). No reason whatsoever. Whatever happens, God’s in control and he’ll take care of us. Yet we still fear, teenager and senior adult alike.

We fear because we forget. The cure for our fear, then, is to remember.

Remember God is sovereign. Remember God is good. Remember God loves his children. Remember God is faithful. Remember God is present. Remember God is on for us in Christ, on our side no matter what.

Why, then, should we fear?


30 Healthy Back to School Lunch Ideas (that aren’t all sandwiches)

September 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family

30-healthy-back-to-school-lunch-ideas-that-arent-all-sandwichesPa-lease tell me I’m not the only one that always had the same reoccuring back to school dream of walking in to class completely naked. Never failed – every night before that big first day, the nude dream creeped into my subconscious and freaked me out. Graduating from college meant many things, but the most important was kissing the awkward naked nightmares goodbye. I can’t guarantee your kids won’t be haunted with the same dreams, but I can give you an awesome list of 30 healthy back to school lunch ideas (that aren’t all sandwiches).

A dear friend requested I write this post as her little one is starting preschool this fall. She’s that kind of mom friend you can text and say things like, “Ok I understand why they say never shake a baby, but is it ok to shake a toddler?” or “I’m trying to go #2 and I see little fingers under the door so I feel like I need to hurry but I just want like three minutes”. Then she responds with, “I’m drinking a big @ss glass of wine as I’m giving both boys a bath” or “I ate blueberries off the floor because he threw them all but I didn’t want them to go to waste. Seriously feeding him cardboard if he does it again”. She’s the mom friend every mom needs.

And for the record, it’s not ok to shake a toddler….apparently. (KIDDING!)

So when you’re the mom that can laugh and cry at the same time or jokes about running away, but truly can’t imagine a second without those addicting round ‘lil cheeks….If you’re the mom that isn’t Martha meets Pinterest yet still wants to feed your little one healthy and nutritious meals, I got you covered (and I like you, a lot).

Making lunches for your kids doesn’t have to be a grand production, or a stressor in your already crazy life! So if you are worried that pb & j’s are the extent of your creativity and need some better alternatives, check these out!

#1. Deli meat wrapped around pickle spears

#2. Paleo pizza egg cups

Pizza-inspired egg muffins. Paleo and perfect for breakfast on the go!

#3. Avocado and cucumber sandwiches on whole wheat, gluten-free, or sprouted grain bread

#4. Lunchbox Kabobs from It Is A Keeper

Lunch Box Kabobs from it Is a Keeper
#5. Build your own pizza with a whole wheat english muffin, pizza sauce, and variety of vegetables

#6. Hard boiled eggs

#7. Cinnamon spinach mini flapjacks

Toddler approved and healthy! Cinnamon Spinach Mini Flapjacks are paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free and sweetened with only banana and cinnamon!

#8. DIY chicken salad (made leftover shredded chicken, paleo mayo, and sliced grapes) with whole grain or rice crackers

9. Almond butter and hemp seed banana ‘sushi’ from Fit Foodie Finds

Almond butter and hemp seed banana sushi from Fit Foodie Finds

#10. Paleo carrot cake energy balls

The best paleo snack ever! Try these carrot cake energy balls next time you're in a snack rut! Great for kids too.

#11. Grilled chicken tenders with choice of dipping sauce (hummus, honey mustard, sunshine dip, etc.)

#12. Build your own tacos (separately packed soft tortillas, beans, guacamole, shredded chicken, cheese, etc) inspired by Forks, Folks and Fun

#13. Lunchbox turkey and cheese “sushi” from The Weary Chef

#14. Mini skewers – protein of choice on toothpicks or mini skewers with previously roasted veggies

#15. 4-Ingredient Carrot Stars from Feeding Fin

#16. Apples, thinly sliced with nut butter in between for ‘sandwiches’

#17. Organic hot dogs or chicken sausages, quartered for easy finger food

#18. Paleo broccoli “cheese” sticks

#19. Build your own pita pockets – protein of choice, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

#20. Spinach sweet potato tots

#21. Roasted fingerling potatoes with hummus or sunshine sauce to dip

#22. Pea and Sweet Corn Fritters from My Fussy Eater

#23. Grain-free crepes with shredded chicken or sliced ham, spinach, and cheese OR strawberry chia seed spread

#24. Flaxseed crackers with tuna or deli meat

#25. Chicken and rice patties from Planning with Kids

Chicken and Rice Patties from Planning with Kids
#26. Gluten-free sweet potato cereal

Making your own gluten-free cereal is so easy and super healthy! Packed with vitamin A, this sweet potato cereal is the perfect breakfast to power through your day!

#27. Sandwich kabobs from Mom Endeavors 

Sandwich Kabobs from Mom Endeavors
#28. Prosciutto & Egg Roll Ups from Nom Nom Paleo 

Prosciutto and Egg Roll Ups from Nom Nom Paleo
#29. Mashed sweet potatoes with almond butter or leftover protein to top

30 Whole30 Hacks - microwave sweet potatoes

#30. Almond butter or cashew butter and strawberry chia ‘jam’ on whole grain or gluten free english muffins

Need some additional finger food side ideas? Here are a few!

Sliced apples

Mini sweet peppers

Sliced cucumbers

Berries of any kind

Sugar snap pease


Sliced jicama

Peeled oranges


Baby carrots

Broccoli or cauliflower florets

Pineapple slices


5 Prayers for Your Child

September 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Have your children started back to school yet?

Mine begin Tuesday and I’m both nervous and excited.Nervous because this is a new school and three of my four kids have never attended school in the States before!!

Excited because I’m believing for tremendous growth academically and spiritually in their lives. Plus, I’m ready to have a long quiet time again :)


I’m getting so much out of the 40 Day Praying the Promises for Our Children Challenge (it’s going on now and you can still join!) that I thought to share some of the scriptures we are praying during the course of this challenge. What a blessing to link arms with so many others as we storm the heavens on behalf of our children. My husband is praying these scriptures with me too. He told me this morning how much he is enjoying this challenge!

I hope these scripture prayers will motivate you to join us if you haven’t OR be diligent to keep at it if you’re already praying. You are making a difference!


1. For wise teachers and adults to invest in the lives of our children (Proverbs 22:6, 27:17)

Proverbs 22:6- A back to school scripture to pray for our kids

2. For God’s word to guide their path and guard their steps (Psalm 119:9)

Psalm 119:9

3. For a steady heart that seeks the Lord and dwells in peace (Psalm 34:4)

Psalm 344

4. For feet that run away from evil and towards righteousness (II Timothy 2:22).

2Timothy 222

5. For a godly impact and influence (Philippians 1:14-15)

Philippians 2 14-15

The cards above are included in our Fall Resource Kit, for a total of 40 printable prayer cards, journal sheets, and more. If you’d like to grab the Praying the Promises for Your Children Resource Kit, it’s available now for only $5 for a limited time!

Our prayer is that this resource equips you to effectively pray God’s word on a consistent basis. Let’s do this!


25 Tips to Prepare for School

August 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family

As August begins, many of us are now thinking about how we can prepare for school. The back to school sales are everywhere and your home will soon be overwhelmed with papers (that you can easily control!) As you prepare for school, find some extra helpful tips here.

1) Take some time to read with your kids throughout the summer and it will help prepare them. These six tips will be so helpful to teach you what you need to do to get the most out of your reading time with your kids.

2) Enjoy school shopping with your child and involve them by giving them choices. Our kids love to pick out their own outfits! (as you can see below – because rain boots go with every outfit, right? haha! That’s our Allie!)

3) Prepare yourself for early mornings and prepare what you can the night before. Being ready for a school morning is the best thing that you can do to get your family off to a great start! It makes a HUGE difference (and cuts back on stress and chaos for the mornings).

4) Celebrate back to school with a party! My friend hosted a back to school party and it was adorable. She had water balloons, pizza and gave each of the kids a few school supplies that were adorable (like cute Frozen pencils and a fun Initial notebook!)

5) If you are homeschooling, build up your supplies as you start the new year. Stock up on pencils, markers, crayons, highlighters and more! You can even check out the free printable below from

6) When all the busyness of school hits, it is nice to have some planned family time.  Play one of the board games here or do any of these 10-minute activities with your kids.  Our favorite time to play is right after bath time when we are ready for some much-needed family time!

7) Take time to prepare your anxious children for school. Take a tour of the school, meet the teacher and practicing pick up and drop off are just a few ways to get starting in your preparation. It will really help your child to know what is going to happen on that first day.

8) Create a homework station for your children. You could even build a whole desk for under $100 like this one (get the directions here)

9) Heading back to school is always a busy time for teachers, surprise your child’s teacher with a gift as school starts. A mason jar filled with pencils is perfect!  Paint the mason jar a bright shade of apple red to look like an apple!  Or you can make a school supplies cake and fill it with everything that your teacher could need this year.

10) Use this video is my secret weapon to teach the kids their letters in a week!  Seriously awesome (use it in the car… even better!)

11) Start a tot school with the little ones to include them in the fun! Preschool is a great time to help your kids start learning.

12) Use hooks for each child’s book bag to keep things organized. I grabbed these little buckets & hooks at Ikea.

13) Mix up the lunches this year and keep it simple.  You can even use something fun like this sandwich cookie cutter to make their lunchbox filled with anything BUT a boring sandwich:

14) Organize your child’s clothes for the entire week.  Pick every outfit out on Sunday afternoon and lay them out or hang them up for the week.   It will get rid of any “I didn’t want to wear that!” type of battles… well, let’s hope so! 

15) Start your child’s day out right with a great meal! These make-ahead frozen breakfast ideas are easy and you can have them ready to go. A little protein is all that they need .

16) Plan out some easy, healthy after school snacks to fill your kids just enough until dinnertime.   I can remember my mom letting us pick a snack as soon as we came home from school (which reminds me… I can also remember my VERY HEALTHY brother having two powdered doughnuts and sprite every single day after school!  I’m pretty sure he hasn’t had a doughnut in over 20 years, so that is a very funny memory!)

17) Back to school means sicknesses are on their way, find ways to cut down on sickness!  I recently read a study that said that two groups of people were ‘given a cold’. One group slept for 8 hours. The other group had under seven. Which group was more likely to get a respiratory infection? The 7-hour group… THREE TIMES HIGHER!   Find more tips like that right here.

18) Let go of last year and be ready to start fresh with a positive attitude!

19) Start the school routine a weeks before school starts to get yourself and your kids ready!  I love the tip about preparing for back to school emotions. They caught me off guard when our very mature first born started Kindergarten several years ago… and was very nervous and scared to go.   I wish I had prepared for this part a little more.

20) Create a command center to keep all your meal plans, papers and other school materials organized.  I love the ones here (you can buy these to make your own Command Center!)

21) If your child is going to Kindergarten, these back to school items are going to be really helpful for your child!

22) The morning of the first day, have a special gift for you child. It doesn’t have to be fancy.  A great book and crayons or pack of fun pencils might be all that you want to do. I love to give our kids a book like this before their first day:

I like this one, too, if you have a child with First Day Jitters:

23) Have your child fill out a first day interview.  These are adorable and your child can fill it out on their own or with a little help (although I suggest you let them write it… get in some last minute handwriting practice before school starts!)

24) Try lunch box notes to brighten your child’s day. If you don’t want to use chalkboard paint on their things, at least stick a little note in each lunchbox. Here are a few free printable lunch box notes that you can print out to be ready for that first week!

25) Be sure to use your last week before the kids go to school to spend some much-needed one on one time with the kids. This is how we have one on one time in our house of four kids and it has been really helpful and all of our favorite nights!

What are some tips you find to be useful as you prepare for school?  I would love to hear them! 

Recommended by Brock Tozer – TED Talk

July 5th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family

BrockIf you can bear with the audio issues, in the first few minutes, this Tedx talk is well worth watching, in full. I love the direct one-to-one connection she makes between household chores & the development of character, in our children. As parents, sometimes we’re guilty of placing too much emphasis on grades, & personal achievement, even at the expense of teamwork and cooperation (such essential life skills!). This is a great reminder, on that score, from Dr. Deborah Gilboa. – Brock

Moms, this is a great read!

July 5th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family

Can I Be Honest? Sometimes, I Get Jealous

Stay-at-Home Mom

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom,

Can I be honest? Sometimes, I get jealous of you.

Like, when I picture your mornings, minus the chaos of hustling kids out the door to daycare. I picture breakfasts eaten without staring at the clock, maybe a morning kids’ show, everyone still in PJs. I see you taking the kids to the zoo or the park or the lake mid-morning, snapping selfies with them and texting your husband the funny thing your oldest said. I see you throwing a load of laundry in the dryer when you get home (or whenever you WANT!), playing goofy games with the kids over lunch, eating food you didn’t have to pack at 11 PM the night before.

When the youngest goes down for a nap, I see you getting things done around the house, or working on your in-home business, or bonding with your oldest over a craft project. I see you witnessing every milestone and every funny moment, amassing memories that will make you smile years from now. I see you, glowing and healthy from days spent outside, chatting up the other moms at the park or the library or the gym, wearing whatever the heck you want, never going to boring department meetings, never realizing mid-day that you forgot to put deodorant on and can’t do a thing about it…

It all seems so nice, as I sit in my cramped, sunless office, stressing about the project I’m way over my head in and wondering what my kids are doing right now (that I’m missing).

But don’t worry. I know there’s more to it than that.

I know you also deal with meltdowns, and picky eaters, and fighting over toys (over everything), and long, lonely days where you’re way over-touched and you don’t talk to a single person over the age of 4. I know there are rainy days, snowy days, teething days, and inexplicably-crazy-kids days. I know you go to the same park a bazillion times a week, repeat the same phrases to your kids all day, play the same games over and over, and prepare and clean up SO MUCH food.

I know you’re desperate for alone time and adult time, and I know you feel guilty when you take that out on the kids. I know you think about your education and your pre-kids career, and you wonder if you’re doing the right thing. I know you wish you could contribute more financially. I know you worry that you’re pouring so much of yourself into your kids that you might lose sight of who you are.

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I see you, and I recognize the sacrifices you’re making for your family. It’s easy for me to focus on the highlights of your life—the things I’m personally missing out on—but I know that’s not the full picture.

The truth is, neither of our lives is perfect or easy, but they’re both pretty dang awesome—just in slightly different ways.

I see you, and I support you. Keep it up, girl!


Working Mom

Dear Working Mom,

Can I be honest? Sometimes, I get jealous of you.

Like, when I picture your mornings, sipping a still-hot latte, alone at your quiet desk. I see you going to important meetings, talking to important people about important things (or at least, talking to adults about adult things). I see you grabbing lunch with your coworkers, gossiping about the office, maybe on an outdoor patio, maybe over some giant salads and still-cold iced teas. I see you giving presentations, in that cute tailored blazer you have, speaking eloquently and confidently to a room of people who respect your ideas.

I see you planning out your days (and having that actually be a useful endeavor), working on projects that interest and challenge you, getting recognized for your hard work from your peers and superiors. I see you traveling for work—sitting on a plane (ALONE!), staying in a nice hotel room, eating dinner on someone else’s dime. I see how proud you are of your career, how good it makes you feel. I see how extra special the time you spend with your kids is—the way you’re eager to pour into them in the evenings and on weekends, the way you treasure every minute…

It all seems so nice, as I sit here eating leftover cold chicken nugget bits off my son’s plate, half-heartedly yelling at the kids to stop tackling each other and preemptively beating myself up for all the TV I know I’m going to let them watch later.

But don’t worry. I know there’s more to it than that.

I know that you still feel guilty sometimes after dropping off your kids, especially when they cling to you and cry. I know you envy the person who gets to spend their days with your children, seeing the funny things they do and hearing the funny things they say. I know you hate being stuck in your office on a beautiful day, wondering what your kids are up to and wishing you could be part of it.

I know it’s hard at the end of the day, when everyone’s tired and hungry and cranky, and you’re desperately cobbling dinner together before the frantic rush of baths and bedtime, and you SO wish it could be different because those are the only precious hours you get together as a family. I know it sucks to have to cram all the housework and errands into the weekends. I know you get lonely when you travel, and all the nice dinners and hotel rooms in the world can’t compete with those little faces at home that you can’t kiss goodnight. I know you miss your kids, and you wonder if you’re doing the right thing.

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I see you, and I recognize the sacrifices you’re making for your family. It’s easy for me to focus on the highlights of your life—the things I’m personally missing out on—but I know that’s not the full picture.

The truth is, neither of our lives is perfect or easy, but they’re both pretty dang awesome—just in slightly different ways.

I see you, and I support you. Keep it up, girl!


Stay-at-Home Mom


This post was written by a woman who’s been a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, and a work-from-home mom. She’s felt the unique joys and challenges of each, and is here to scream from the rooftops: none of them were easy. None were perfect. And definitely, none came without guilt.

There’s always greener grass somewhere, and always will be. Don’t forget to look down at your feet from time to time–the ground you’re standing on right now is actually pretty awesome.

About Kim

Kim grew up in Minnesota, but moved to Madison to attend the UW and fell in love with the city’s spirit and culture. Kim is married to a handsome dude named Brent and has two handsome little boys, Mason and Joshua. When she’s not racing monster trucks across furniture or reading dinosaur books, she’s working on freelance writing projects or planning events for Madison Momshine, a local health and fitness community for moms. Kim is a certified personal trainer and teaches strength training classes for women through her fitness business, Lioness Fitness. She’s also a food allergy mom, which means she can read a food label like nobody’s business! Kim’s a sucker for good wine, good sushi, a good book, and ANY beach.