Avoiding the Holiday Hangover

We all know the holiday hustle and bustle well. The months of October, November, and December are full of reasons to celebrate, which makes them my very favorite time of year.

There is one problem with this being my favorite time of year: I want to do ALL THE THINGS. You should see my Pinterest boards for Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Full to the brim. And having too many ideas, like I do thanks to the lovely internet, usually leads to doing too many things in an already busy time of year.

I became particularly over-zealous about holiday activities once kids entered the picture. This Advent calendar and that Christmas countdown and all the baking and crafty ideas just had to be done or my kids would be deprived of a meaningful Christmas. Yep, that’s the lie I believed. And Christmas time became stressful, not joyful.

Last year, I wanted the joy back. I didn’t want to come to the end of the holiday season and be glad it was all finally over. It is one thing to pack the season full of memories and another thing to become crazy-obsessed-stressed super Christmas mom who doesn’t take time to savor the season for herself. Memories get lost in the stress.


Avoiding the holiday hangover – where you feel like you’ve been put through the ringer instead of celebrating the birth of our Savior – starts with admitting you have a problem. No, this is not a self-help book, but I needed to wake up and see the stress I was experiencing and causing with all of my good Christmas ideas. Too much good is still too much.

The second step for me was being intentional, and more specifically, intentionally saying no. I adore all of the Advent calendars and devotions that have been created for kids and families. I will probably sharing lots of them with you. But we don’t do ALL of them every year and neither should you. Before the seasons starts, evaluate your options and pick a devotion or calendar that suits the ages and stages of your kids. Because we have two elementary-age boys and one preschooler, we may do two different devotions this year to fit their levels. That’s where I draw the line. Make your own line and stick to it!

Why do I feel the need to be so strict with myself? I’ve found that on my way to giving myself a holiday hangover, I leave no room for what God might bring our way during the Christmas season. I don’t savor the moments because I’m always trying to check something off the list. I want to breathe and notice and celebrate this magical time of year.

As I have been reading through Savor, a daily devotional by Shauna Niequist, I have been struck by the detail in which she can describe seemingly ordinary moments and, in doing so, makes them sound life-changing. All because she was really paying attention and living in that moment. These devotions have led me to see so much beauty in the daily things and I don’t want to lose that in the midst of Christmas hurry. I want these holiday moments to be more vivid, more full of life and joy. I want them to be moments that make me smile when all is said and done.

No holiday hangover for me this year. And you can choose the same. Join me in drawing a line, leaving room for joy, and savoring this Advent season!

What will you + your family do or NOT do in order to avoid the holiday stress hangover this year?


The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

5 Ways to Win the Day On a Snow Day!

I was compensated by Nestle for this post, including product to review. I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson! All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s going to happen. I just know it is. The boys are in school this year and we live in Nebraska, so we will have a snow day and I want to be prepared.

We used to homeschool, so a snow day meant a normal day of school for us, but all of that has changed this year. If the boys are home for a snow day, we won’t be doing any school work! Since snow days could pop up unexpectedly, I’m making a game plan right now so I’m not caught off guard looking for something fun to do!

When coming up with a game plan to win the day on a snow day, consider your child’s interests and activities you find fun as well! Snow days are a chance for us to enjoy unexpected extra time with the kiddos and great memories can be made.

Here are five ways we’re planning to win the day on a snow day!

Snow Day

Get Outside

We’ve had a few snow days that were just too cold for outdoor play, but as long as the wind chill is not dangerous, we’ll be playing in the snow! Now is the time to make sure everyone has snow gear that fits, sleds are out of storage, and all the supplies for snowman building are on hand. I finally bought myself some real snow boots this year, so I’ll bundled up playing with my boys!

Warm Snacks

There is nothing better in this world than coming in from playing in the snow to enjoy hot chocolate and warm cookies. I feel all cozy and happy just thinking about it right now! Stock your pantry with hot chocolate packets and make some cookie dough to keep in the freezer – this will leave more time for fun when that snow day arrives.
Jack's Pizza Snow Day Art

Art, Art, Art

Our kids love to draw, paint, color – just about anything artistic! They could spend hours being creative and that sounds like a perfect (mostly) quiet activity for a snow day. Before the cold and snow arrive, I’m checking our art supplies to make sure we have plenty of paper, paint, crayons, etc. We also have several great drawing books, like this one from Ed Emberley, that I save for days like this as something special to do. Art time can be for Mom, too! Adult coloring books are fun and relaxing – this is one of my favorites!

Movie Time

We are a family who loves to watch movies together. We often snuggle up on the couch, turn on the fireplace, pop some popcorn, and enjoy a good movie. This sounds like the perfect snow day activity to me! And sometimes we pair movie time with an…

Jack's Pizza Snow Day Picnic

Indoor Picnic

Our boys get super excited when we put a blanket down in the living room and have an indoor picnic. It’s a simple thing, but they love it so much! They also love pizza, so I have my freezer stocked with Jack’s Pizza to pull out for a snow day picnic in the living room.

Jack's Pizza Snow Day

Jack’s Pizza is a great choice for a snow day because it is easy to make, delicious, and a great value – what more could you want?!

Jack's Pizza Snow Day Pizza

It is made in the Midwest with 100% real Wisconsin cheese and a preservative-free crust, so you can feel good about gathering around a few Jack’s Pizzas on a cold, snowy day!

I’m not crazy about ice, wind chills, and dangerous roads, but these ideas still have me excited for our first snow day of the year! We will be ready for family fun as the snow accumulates!


Snow day or not, our lives as moms are BUSY. Even getting food on the table for dinner can be a challenge. This week, I’ll be talking with Jack’s Pizza for a Twitter party to share an easy way moms can win the day. Join us for the fun and you could win! Here are the details:

  • When: Wednesday, November 11 at 1 p.m. CT
  • Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #RealCheeseRealLife hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite: http://vite.io/themotherhoodchats
  • Hashtag: #RealCheeseRealLife
  • Prizes: We will be giving away four prizes to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $50 Visa gift card. Prizes limited to U.S. participants only. See official rules.
  • Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TMChatHost, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Hope to see you at the party – maybe you’ll be one of the big winners!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Hoodwinked: Truth + Motherhood

I received this book to review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are 100% my own. I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

God has been putting the word “true” in front of my face a lot lately.


It started with a new theme for our women’s ministry at church and I didn’t even know I needed to hear it. But the word served as a wake-up call to all the lies I had been believing. And the truth I was missing.

Many of the lies I’ve believed have been about motherhood. I feel inadequate. Every bad choice my child makes feels like a big flashing arrow pointing at my mistakes. Seeing another mother who seems to enjoy her children all the time brings on feelings of guilt for the times I don’t enjoy my own.

The enemy seems to know how to get under my skin the most in this area. I need more truth spoken into my life as a mom. And I have a book in my hands now that is bringing that truth.


My dear friend Ruth Schwenk (The Better Mom) teamed up with the amazing Karen Ehman to write Hoodwinked for moms just like you and me. The tagline says it all: Ten Myths Moms Believe & Why We All Need to Knock It Off. In other words, I’m ready for this book to kick all that junk I’ve been believing about motherhood straight out of my head!

If you know me, you know I’m not a big fan of “parenting” books. There is not one formula that works for all families because we – moms, dads, kids – are all so unique, and I don’t like books that claim to be that one way to “succeed” as a family.

Hoodwinked is not one of those parenting books I dread. Instead of making me feel guilty for not doing this motherhood thing one particular way, Hoodwinked points me to life, freedom, and most importantly, truth in motherhood.

Hoodwinked Recipe

I wanted to share with you just a few pieces of truth that stood out to me in this honest + encouraging book:

“Do not tether your identity to the choices of your child—whether stellar or stupid. We are not our child’s choices.”

Didn’t I just mention this earlier in this post? I’m still working on letting go of the lie behind this one, but this line was exactly what I needed to hear.

“On the one hand, we worry that we are ‘just a mom.’ On the other hand, we think being a mom should be the most fulfilling, most rewarding, most thrilling thing EVER! All. The. Time.”

This quote made me laugh out loud, but it also hit me deeply. I don’t struggle with the “just a mom” thoughts very often – probably because there is never a quiet moment to think – but I definitely have wrestled with the second part. And if motherhood doesn’t feel AMAZING, I must be doing it wrong, right? WRONG. Motherhood is not all hugs + smiles + happiness and that is ok!

“Parenting is a tightrope that requires walking carefully between patience and pushing. No child’s timing is the same.”

I needed this reminder as our kids have entered school this year. They handle school and friends in completely different ways. Each day feels a little different. I can’t follow one formula and expect the same results every day from all of our children. The tightrope is such an accurate description of how we must pay close attention to the needs of each child, balancing out waiting and pushing, moving forward and pulling back.

Moms, I feel like so many of us need to dispel these myths that have taken root in our heads as we walk through motherhood and Hoodwinked is an amazing resource to lead us to truth!

Hoodwinked is out now, so go order your copy! You will love it! Hoodwinked also has a companion bible study with a study guide and six sessions on DVD! Wouldn’t it be great to discover these truths together with other moms? What are you waiting for?!

If you’d like to connect more with the authors, check out Ruth and Karen on Facebook, and follow “thebettermom” and “karenehman” on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

What lies or myths have you believed about motherhood? How do you cling to truth?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Get Your Family Healthy with Triple Play!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Our love for running has rubbed off on our children. They have done a few races and their interest keeps growing. It has been so fun to run with them and cheer them on along the way! I am so thankful for this development because this active lifestyle isn’t the normal for kids in America these days.

Kids are spending more time than ever sitting in front of screens – TV, video games, mobile devices – and, due in part to this, 3 out of 10 kids in the United States are either overweight or obese. Children should be spending 60 minutes a day doing moderate to vigorous physical activity, but only 25% of youth ages 12-15 are actually meeting this requirement.

I’m not ok with this current trend and neither is Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

That’s why BGCA has teamed up with The Coca-Cola Company and Anthem Foundation to fight the growing rate of childhood obesity among our nation’s youth with the Triple Play Program. Through this program and partnership, BGCA clubs will build the next generation of leaders, motivating kids to be healthy through nutrition and health education, more access to healthy foods, avoidance of risky behaviors, and a lifelong commitment to fitness.


Over the past ten years, the Triple Play Program has connected with 10 million kids, sharing the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition through the program’s three components focused on mind, body and soul.

The Triple Play Program doesn’t only have an impact at BGCA clubs. Every family can benefit from Triple Play through the Parents Game Plan!

In the Parents Game Plan, you’ll find guidance for introducing a healthier lifestyle to your family, tips for setting goals, and activities to try to benefit mind, body, and soul!

My kids love games and puzzles, so they had fun with the “What’s the 411? Relay,” a true/false game about healthy eating.

I’m always looking for ways to help the boys get active and burn off some extra energy after school, so I loved the Fitness Relay idea from the Parents Game Plan!

Triple Play PushupTriple Play Pushup 2

One person starts off and does a fitness move, such as pushups or jumping jacks, and then the next person performs the move, and so on.

Triple Play Jumping Jacks

My kids love that they each get to lead and I love how active it gets them! And it’s even better when The Hubby and I join in! Pushups, jumping jacks, squats, sprints, and high knees were the picks for our boys.

Triple Play High Knees 3 Triple Play High Knees 2 Triple Play High Knees 1

These are just a small portion of the many ideas shared in the Triple Play Parents Game Plan! It is a valuable resource for families looking for ways to get healthy and active together.

Now it’s your turn: download the Triple Play Parents Game Plan and get your family moving in a healthy direction together!

How do you make healthy living a priority for your family?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Winning the Day with Jack’s Pizza!

I was compensated by Nestle for this post, including product to review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Let’s talk about football game day. We are football family, through and through. I enjoy watching the game as much as any guy and I actually want to WATCH the game.

Our kids enjoy football, but they aren’t glued to the TV when a game is on. They usually want to play some football. And eat. They want to eat all the time.

Here is our most common game day situation: Mom wants to watch the game and the kiddos want to eat. How do we make this work? What can I make them to eat quickly that will make both them and I happy?

Enter Jack’s Pizza.

Jack's Pizza Blog 5

Jack’s Pizza has been a staple in the frozen food aisle of our local grocery store since 1960. Jack’s is made with Midwestern pride and 100% real Wisconsin cheese. We picked out an original, preservative-free thin crust – another reason to love Jack’s!

Jack's Pizza Blog 6

Did you know you can grill Jack’s Pizza? Our last game day was a warm one and I didn’t feel like heating up the oven, so we just set the pepperoni pizza right on the gas grill and it cooked up beautifully with a nice crispy crust! And all of it was ready in just 12 minutes – perfect for making during halftime! We served it up with apple slices + chocolate milk – a little something fun for game day!

Jack's Pizza Blog 2Jack's Pizza Blog 3Jack's Pizza Blog 4

Can you tell how much they enjoyed their pizza? Jack’s is a favorite for families because everyone in the family loves it! We’re a pepperoni household, but we also have the cheese variety in our freezer to mix it up.

Jack's Pizza Blog 7

I’m giving Jack’s Pizza a thumbs up with Double J because the price is low (just a few bucks) and the quality is high!

Jack's Pizza Blog 1

I was totally winning this game day because the kids loved their food and I didn’t miss much of the game! Thank you, Jack’s Pizza!

What kind of Jack’s Pizza is the favorite in your house?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Just When You Think He’s Not Listening

We have that one child who seems like he never hears us the first time around. Getting his attention and holding it isn’t always easy. While he is very smart and does so well in school, sometimes I’ve wondered if anything we say is soaking in.

Do you have a child like that? Let me give you a little hope today.

IMG_0151 2

As we drove to school one morning last week, our three-year-old asked: “When do we get to be with Jesus?”

That’s a pretty deep question for 7:30 in the morning while stuck in stop-and-go traffic. I took a big breath and readied my answer, but seven-year-old Little J chimed in first.

“We get to be with Jesus when we go to heaven! And in heaven, there is no pain or sickness or sadness. It’s all happy!”

This definitely got my attention in the best way possible. Double J (our three-year-old) seemed very interested as well and his big brother wasn’t done yet.

“You get to go to heaven if you ask Jesus into your heart! Big J and I have both asked Jesus to come into our hearts so we’ll be in heaven with Him. You can ask Him, too!”

Cue the big mommy tears.

Our rides to school in the morning have been a highlight of my day. We always start with prayer and then the kids take turns picking music to listen to and sing. It feels like some calm in the middle of a chaotic morning.


But that morning last week. That morning topped them all. The child who doesn’t always listen, who seems to often be in his own little world…he has most certainly been listening. He has soaked up the true meaning of the Gospel over the years, and he was fully ready to share it with his little brother, without being asked.

His younger brother has been listening as well, because in the midst of hiding tears of joy behind my sunglasses and trying to keep my blurry eyes on the road, I heard his little three-year-old voice say:

“And Jesus is in heaven because He died on the cross and rose from the tomb!”

All those days of reading Bible stories over and over again, of memorizing verses and singing worship songs, of answering the same questions over and over again…they are 100% worth it, moms and dads. Our kids coming to know the love and saving power of Jesus is all His grace, but you are doing His good work when you share the Good News with your children day after day.


In the days following, three-year-old Double J has talked a lot about heaven and death and what he will get to take with Him. So much of this is a mystery even to us as mature Christians, so I don’t have all the answers for him. He’s pretty sad that his Duplos won’t go with him to heaven. But I love the conversation that is happening in our home, all because our seven-year-old was bold in sharing the message of salvation he has been hearing all through his young life.

All this discussion led to a few little words with big weight from our youngest earlier this week:

“Mommy, I can’t wait to be with Jesus in heaven.”

Me neither, buddy.

May we all live with the boldness, the faith, and the joy of our children, soaking up every little bit of God’s goodness.

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Pete the Cat: The Musical! {Giveaway}

This weekend, my guys will head to The Rose Theater to experience a whole new kids’ musical that debuted here in Omaha just last week and I know they will totally love it! How do I know? Double J and I got a sneak peek last Friday!


Pete the Cat: The Musical is based on the beloved character of the same name from the children’s books. He’s a rockin’ and rollin’ blue cat and, in the musical, Pete and his friends are headed to their first day of kindergarten. Their day is filled with new experiences, lots of fun, and great music!


The show covers a wide range of topics relevant to kids, particularly emotions and colors, but the music is what will captivate your whole family! While the story will appeal mostly to preschoolers and early elementary age children, the quality of the music and vocal performances are top notch and will be appreciated by everyone. It delights me so much when something intended for children is of the highest quality – they deserve the best, too!


And all of this is why we love The Rose! Great theater experiences for kids are hard to find, but not here in Omaha. With most performances running around an hour, even our three-year-old is able to pay attention to and enjoy the whole show. The Rose also adds extra special touches just for the kids: booster seats, post-show Q&A, and the most delightful atmosphere! For all of these reasons, we didn’t hesitate to get a family membership for this year and I know we will enjoy every single show.


Pete the Cat: The Musical started last weekend at The Rose, but it runs through September 27th and we want to help your family experience it! You can grab your tickets for $18 each or you can find ticket vouchers at your local HyVee for just $14 each! After getting your vouchers, you will need to make reservations directly with The Rose.

OR you could WIN four tickets to see Pete the Cat: The Musical right here!

Just leave a comment on this post telling me who you would love to take to see Pete the Cat: The Musical! For extra entries, share this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter and leave a separate comment tell me how you shared!

This giveaway will close Thursday, September 17th at noon CST to give the winner time to make reservations for the show of their choice!

Who is ready to groove with Pete the Cat? Do you already have plans to attend?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Backyard Football Therapy

Saturday wasn’t the best day for our beloved Nebraska Cornhusker football team. We were crushed by the way it all went down, losing on a last second Hail Mary touchdown and all.

Backyard Football 15

The Hubby gets all the dad points, though, because instead of sulking, as we both wanted to do, he gathered the boys and headed to the backyard for a game of football. And I took my camera out there to capture the fun.

I think it was good therapy for all of us.

Backyard Football 13 Backyard Football 14 Backyard Football 12 Backyard Football 11 Backyard Football 10 Backyard Football 9 Backyard Football 8 Backyard Football 7 Backyard Football 6 Backyard Football 5 Backyard Football 4Backyard Football 2 Backyard Football 1Backyard Football 3

Recovering from football with more football. That’s how we do it in this Nebraska house of boys.

How did your team do this weekend?


The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Back to School with OshKosh B’Gosh!

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

You may recall how my boys fell in love with OshKosh B’Gosh clothes this summer. They seriously love shopping at OshKosh B’Gosh and wear their OshKosh clothes all the time. The active clothes and graphic tees have been their favorite!

We headed back to our local OshKosh B’Gosh outlet store to do some back-to-school shopping and we were not disappointed!

OshKosh Back to School

Back-to-school season is completely different this year as we are sending our boys to school for the first time. They are going to school in style with the great shirts they picked out from OshKosh’s new Black, White, and Indigo collection!

OshKosh Little J #1 OshKosh Little J #2

Little J is in second grade and is a big fan of this glow-in-the-dark baseball tee. It is a great piece to transition to fall – long-sleeved but lightweight and super fun – just like my Little J!

OshKosh Big J #1 OshKosh Big J #2

Big J just started fourth grade and he likes to look sharp. I think he looks very handsome in this dark denim shirt that pulls from the OshKosh jeans tradition but with a modern twist. OshKosh B’Gosh jeans are well loved and always in style. I think we can say the same about this shirt!

OshKosh Double J #1 OshKosh Double J #2

Double J is home with Mommy and loving the one-on-one time, but he didn’t want to miss out on the back-to-school styles! He went with glow-in-the-dark like his big brother. This another great fall piece with a little more warmth than the baseball tee and lots of fun details!

OshKosh Crazy Boys

All three of these fabulous shirts are from the Black, White, and Indigo line which also includes jeans and comfy pants. You’ll want to head to your local OshKosh B’Gosh store to check out this line as well as the B’Gosh Blue Jeans and the World’s Best Overalls! And you can save while you shop with this 25% off coupon that is good through the end of September!

OK_Fall15 Blogger Coupon

OshKosh B’Gosh is going beyond great clothes for kids in their stores this fall. The B’gosh Jeanius Campaign is all about providing kids in need with all the back-to-school essentials – everything from clothes to books to school supplies!

OshKosh B’Gosh, alongside K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., and DonorsChoose.org, gives you as the customer the opportunity to donate a new pair of jeans or make a cash donation to a students in need this school year. All jeans donated through September 16, 2015, will be delivered to local children in need through K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, and all cash donations will be dsitricbuted to local DonorsChoose.org.

That’s not all! The Carters Charitable Foundation will match all cash donations up to $50,000 and all denim donations with a new item of clothing. Isn’t that amazing?! Give kids a leg up and donate a new pair of blue jeans or make a cash donation at the register when you head there to shop for your own kids! You can read all the details about the B’gosh Jeanius Campaign here.

OshKosh Huddle OshKosh All Three Running

OshKosh B’Gosh made back-to-school shopping a breeze for my boys and I know you’ll love everything they have in the store for your kiddos, too! Grab that 25% off coupon and run to your nearest OshKosh store!

Have you been to OshKosh B’Gosh recently? What OshKosh clothes do you love for your own kids?



The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

First Day of School 2015!

We did it! We made it through the first day of school outside of our home!

First Day of School 2015 3 Boys

If you ask the boys how it went, you will hear the same thing from both of them: AWESOME.

FullSizeRender 48

Getting ready in the morning went pretty well. Actually getting to school was a little hairy since I had no idea what traffic would be like! They were at school on time (barely), but we left earlier and took a different route this morning and that will be our go-to plan.

The boys talked pretty much nonstop from the time I picked them up and these were a few of my favorite quotes:

First Day of School 2015 Little J

Little J (very first thing he said to me): “My first day of school was AWESOME!”

First Day of School 2015 Big J

Big J: “I played kickball at recess for the first time!”

Me: “Did you eat your lunch?” Little J: “I could only finish my cheese and half my sandwich.” (That eating lunch quickly thing is going to take some practice!)

Big J: “My favorite part of the day was interviewing my teacher!”

First Day of School 2015 Double J

Double J: “Let’s go on a date to the children’s museum!”

I only cried once, right after we dropped them off. I blame The Hubby for making me emotional. But he made up for it by taking the little guy and I to Caribou Coffee to celebrate!


It was a day of new things for all of us and I’m incredibly thankful it went so well. I thought I would be annoyed by the driving time there and back, but we’re making the best of it by praying, singing, and sharing our days. I kind of love it already. And I got some pretty big hugs when the day was over. I cherished every second.

I’m sure I will have many more thoughts on this whole going-to-school adventure, but today I just want to celebrate surviving and thriving on the first day!

How is back-to-school going for all of you? Any good stories to share?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook