Monday, June 2, 2014

20 Ways To Make Your Next Family Movie Night Awesome!

My husband works every other Saturday, so unfortunately when he get's home there isn't time to really go someplace as a family and "do something", but luckily my kids are always in the mood for a family movie night.

 Whether it's a rainy day, it's too hot, it's too cold, everyone in the family is sick, or you're just looking for something fun to do a family movie night just might be in order.

 While popping in a family friendly flick and then popping some popcorn make for an easy event there are ways to make your family movie night a little more awesome without a terrible amount of effort. Now you could go all "Pinterest Mom Crazy" and do every single one of these ideas or use them as a spring board for your own creative adventures.

 I've tried to keep this list to simple things that involve the kids in a fun activity that don't require a ton of setup.

Make Movie Night Awesome By Adding Pizza Before the Show

 1) Make your own pizza dough, and watch youtube videos to learn how to toss it with the kids. If you're family is gluten free Chebe dough (affiliate link) is one of the few tossable options, the rest fall apart. (Ask me how I know).

 2) Setup a toppings bar and let your kids simply top their own pizzas.

 3) Have your kids play pizza man and "deliver" a homemade pizza to the front door. Just make sure it's in a container that won't ruin dinner if it's dropped. (As a bonus be sure to tip them).

 Make Movie Night Awesome By Adding Awesome Snacks
(While I'm a huge advocate of natural, healthy snacks I'm also of the opinion an occasional splurge is okay too.)

 4) Try to create movie themed snacks. These certainly don't need to be complicated, just fun. Check out these Pins for inspiration.

 5) Involve the kids in prep work for the snacks as much as possible.

 6) Make a spread of dips. Think, cheesey, ranchy, and sweet. Provide plenty of munchies for the kids to enjoy.

 7) Make a Sundae bar or Blizzard station. This can be an incredibly sugary option unless you opt for natural fruit toppings and a carb friendly ice cream.

 8) Make popcorn on your stove top rather than in the microwave. Even if your kids aren't old enough to help you make popcorn they'll enjoy watching if they've never seen popcorn made the "real" way before. Jiffy pop is always fun, although buying a bag of kernels is infinitely cheaper in the long run.

 Make Movie Night Awesome By Adding Imaginative Play

 9) Do a movie premier themed night and have everyone dress up in their fanciest. Give air kisses, call each other "Dahling!" and don't forget to have someone play the role of the reporter.

 10) Dress up in movie themed costumes. There's no need to break the bank buying "official" costumes when raiding mom and dad's closest and accessory drawer generally yield a ton of fun options. Princess and pirates are always easy to pull together. Make Movie Night Awesome By Not Watching From The Couch 

11) Build a living room fort in a prime location for T.V. viewing.

 12) Watch from sleeping bags and let the kids camp out after the movie is over. If you don't have sleeping bags check your local thrift store I always see a ton come through ours. Just wash first.

 13) Grab every spare pillow and fluffy blanket from your house and make a huge pile on the floor.

14) Hook up your T.V, computer, or projector outside and watch from under the stars. Don't forget the bug spray.

 Make Movie Night Awesome By Adding Crafts and Decorations 

15) Have your kids create movie posters or color movie coloring pages. Make it more fun by letting them use paints instead of boring old crayons.

16) Create movie themed crafts as a family.

17) Decorate your viewing area to match the setting of the movie. Crepe paper is cheap and with a little creativity can become water, ice, the jungle, or a hundred other things.

Make Movie Night Awesome By Choosing a Movie Everyone Will Love

18) If you have a spread of ages, and there is no pleasing everyone with a favorite choose 2 family friendly movies (one geared to the older, one geared to the younger) and pull a double feature. 

19) Read plugged in reviews first to know about any trouble spots that may be in a movie. 

20) Check out Veggies In Space. (my affiliate link). It's the newest of the veggie tales bunch and my family loved it! Your kids will think it's hysterical and there are plenty of sci-fi references to keep the adults laughing as well. References to Dr. Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, and other cult flicks won't be lost on the geeks in the family.

 It's also only an hour long, so if you do have older ones in your family it's short enough to easily do a double feature. But even as a teenager I still loved the talking vegetables. You can get the DVD from major retailers or just stream from Amazon if you want instant gratification. (also my affiliate link.)

 Either way this is a wholesome hilarious movie your family would love. What does your family do to make movie night special? I'd love to hear if you try any of these. 

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Veggies In Space in exchange for my honest review. The ideas to make movie night awesome are my own.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Catching Up On My Reading

Get ALL of these eBooks for 1 LOW Price! One Week Only!

So, at the beginning of the year I joined Jon Acuff's empty shelf challenge.  I've posted one book (hangs head in shame) This is my big "catch up" post where I tell you what I've been reading lately.  Because I have been reading, just not posting :)

Over the past 2 weeks I've read a TON of homemaking books that are a part of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle  so I can give an honest opinion of their merit.

Without further ado, here are my favorite books from the bundle, which can be ordered now through Monday April 28 2014, here.

How to Manage Your Mouth - A 30 Day Wholesome Talk Challenge

How To Manage Your Mouth: If you are a human being you need to read this book.  If you are a human being who cares for young children, you need it even more.  I love how Connie uses scripture and humor at every turn.  It's an easy read that I sat down and finished in one sitting, but it can be used as a daily devotional as well.

It's Me or the Coupons
It's Me Or The Coupons: These coupon tips work, and they are simple too.  I sat in on a coupon seminar (yes they have coupon seminar) several years ago and the same techniques that Beth shares in this book are what I learned there.  The tips and tricks WORK, I know first hand.  If you don't know where to get started with coupons this book is an excellent place.

Blog At Home Mom: This book is a must read if you are a work at home mom, who blogs.  My blogging and my mothering were so out of balance a year ago, this book deeply convicted me.  Christin uses plenty of scripture and is very encouraging.  I highly recommend.

101 Independent Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

101 Independent Activities For Toddlers: An excellent resource for moms with toddlers, but invaluable for moms who are also trying to homeschool older children as well.  Sometimes the littles just need something fun to do, this book has excellent ideas.
The Best of Visionary Womanhood Volume Two
The Best of Visionary Womanhood Volume 2: There are some chapters in this book that are absolute gems, and invaluable to wives and moms. But...... there are some philosophical and theological differences I have that prevent me from giving a whole hearted approval of the book.  Keep in mind though it's written by homemakers who are living their Christian faith and have a ton of experience, that in and of itself has great value.
The Homemaker's Guide To Creating The Perfect Schedule: I liked the first section of this book, but I LOVED the second section that dealt with scheduling the homeschool day.  I came away with excellent tips I had never thought of that will be a huge asset to us in the future.

The Sweeter Side of Candida: If you're on a limited sugar diet, this cookbook will be a treasure.  Not only do the recipes look fantastic (even if they are sugar free), there are also excellent tips for cooking with sugar substitutes.  

How To Build a Strong Christian Home: 5 years ago, I would have absolutely loved this book.  I definitely think it's more for a woman who is newer in her marriage or newer in her faith.   I could also see it's benefit for someone who wants to deepen their commitment to Christ in their family but doesn't know where to start.  What I do really like about it is the authors tone of love and not judgement.

So there's my empty shelf catch up.  I'll probably be posting some reviews on Amazon too in the near future. If you haven't checked out the bundle, you must.  It's an incredible value and sure to be a blessing.   

Sale Ends Monday April 28 2014, be sure to check out all the details!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

3 Sources For Free Phonics Videos

Okay not to brag, but my three year old is reading (albeit not very many words). What's truly shocking about this was I wasn't even trying to teach her.

She's been picking it up from 2 things, me teaching her older sister, and phonics based T.V. shows and videos we watch.

I won't go as far as saying she's a budding genius, but it's apparent she's a little sponge with propensity for words.  So today I'd love to share some of our favorite phonics videos, because, well ummmm, I guess they work.

Here's a Hooked on Phonics playlist.  The songs and videos are a bit slower paced, which I actually prefer as a mom.  Somehow I reason that slower paced means, they'll learn and not be distracted by the cartoonishness of the video.

We also love the videos on  This website seriously can't be beat.

We love Starfall website for the great free reading program.  However it use flash, means it doesn't run on iPAD. Fortunately, with the help of a free app, you can access the website - fully functional like on computers #kidsapps #freeapps
(Pinterest source)

And finally the phonics videos and games on are other huge favorites in this house.

Interactive Whiteboard Games | PBS KIDS  This site is GREAT for use on the smart board!!
(Pinterest Source)

Of course I'm sure the videos have helped all my kids work on their reading, but I'm also sure videos aren't a replacement for books and reading together as a family.  

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Teaching The Value of Life To Little Ones, And a Perfect Book For Spring

I had the awesome opportunity because of a successful book launch for the ABC's of Freezer Cooking  to attend the Allume Blogging Conference in South Carolina.  I had an amazing time.  

I was able to meet some fabulous bloggers, get connected with some wonderful charities and learn about some awesome books being released by Christian publishers.

It was when I was speaking with a representative from B&H publishing that I learned the story of Angie Smith, the author of "Audrey Bunny."  I immediately started crying and the rep offered to send me a free copy to review on my blog, and one to give away too. Apparently the representative assumed if I cried simply from the back story and synopsis of Audrey Bunny, I'd probably review it favorably.  She was right. 

What makes this book so special: I was initially drawn to this book because of the artwork by Breezy Brookshire, whose blog I've followed on and off for awhile.  Her illustrations remind me of my mother's for one, but they absolutely capture the joy of children in a tender realistic way.

In the book there is a little bunny with a mark over it's heart.  The bunny waits in the toy store, afraid it will spend it's whole life at the bottom of the stuffed animal barrel because of it's imperfection, until a little girl falls in love with the sweet bunny.

The bunny attempts to hide the mark from the little girl whenever they play, only to later discover it was because of the imperfection she chose him.

My children loved the story the story from the first time I read it to them.  In fact my daughter has a bunny that's holding a carrot over it's heart (like the bunny in the book who was always trying to hide it's mark behind something) she's named Audrey that immediately became a favorite toy after reading the book.

What's truly wonderful about the book though is the fact it opens the door to discuss how God made us all, and knit us together in our mother's womb.  In fact there is a discussion section in the back of the book as well.

Why I started crying when talking to the B&H representative:  The story is incredibly sweet yes, but that's not why I started crying at Allume.  I started crying because the whole reason why Angie Smith wrote Audrey Bunny was because she had lost a baby to a horrible heart defect.

While pregnant she was told her child wouldn't survive long after birth.  Rather than terminating the pregnancy she carried her baby.  She felt her baby move in her body, she grew to love her baby, she and her family celebrated the life of her child even though it was terribly brief.

She loved her daughter Audrey because of her heart defect, not in spite of it.  Having dealt with 3 miscarriages, this is why I started crying in front of a complete stranger.  

You can enter the giveaway below, or buy the book on Amazon.

The Giveaway:  I have one hard copy of the book, and for fun I'll also send a sweet little stuffed bunny (one I bought myself) with it.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Almost Time To Tap Your Trees!

So it looks like warmer weather *might* be on it's way.  While much of the nation is gearing up for an ice storm, Michigan might actually have temperatures above freezing next week.

Say what?  How does that happen?

I feel bad for all of you who will be digging out of your driveways, believe me I do.  But let's just say I've dug out of our driveway enough times this winter thankyouverymuch.

The whether is getting just a little warmer, which means it's about to be perfect for tapping maple trees!

Once the whether in your area stays over freezing in the day, but drops below freezing at night the sap starts flowing, and you can start tapping.

So if you're interested in tapping Maple Trees, be sure to check out my other posts, and sign up for the newsletter to get your free eBook.

How To Tap Your Trees (It's easier than you think and it doesn't cost a lot of money)
How To Turn Sap Into Syrup
How To Can Maple Syrup

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Do You Need Help With Daily Devotions?

I have a free devotional book for those of you who are (or become) subscribers to my newsletter.

If you've been looking for a quick timeless devotional take a minute and subscribe.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Place For the Homeschool Mom

Okay so here's the deal.  For those of you who don't know me, I am a moderately funny, former educator, turned blogger, author and stay at home homeschooling mom of 3 wonderful kids.

I also have big dreams.  And I don't mean kind of big dreams like sing the national anthem at a Tigers Game (although I'd totally love to do that), I mean knock your socks off only God himself can fulfill them kind of dreams. One of these dreams just so happens to be writing a novel with my husband.  This is "the" book.  The one that wormed its way into our brains and won't let go.  It's the book I'll actually be sending to agents.

I have literally taught every age level from pre-kindergarten, to elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college, and even senior citizens professionally.

I'm no longer teaching professionally and I've started the journey of homeschooling with my own children and there are times when I'm bursting with ideas and other times when I'm overwhelmed.

Long Story Short Lessons From Ivy is getting a little face lift.

 Before it was mostly my ramblings of motherhood and every day life.  Moving forward I'd love to create a community for other homeschool moms like me, and plenty of encouragement.  Oh and a truck load of free Printables ;)

Here's the deal, this blog post is just to let you know what's going on.  I'm not re-launching the website for a few months yet, maybe as many as 6.  For the moment I'll simply be sharing posts and printables I hope will be a blessing to other homeschool moms.

So if that's you, take a minute and subscribe if you haven't already.

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