Category Archives: family

coloring station

crayon centerpiececrayon centerpiececrayon centerpiececrayon centerpiececrayon centerpiececrayon centerpiececrayon centerpiececrayon centerpiece

Have you ever been in a decorating slump?  My kitchen table had been barren for months because I was tired of my usual set up, but had no clue what to put there instead.

Sometimes inspiration strikes unexpectedly, like it did when I thought up this idea.  It was nearly midnight when I remembered I had this great wooden candle holder.  I’ve had it stored in a cupboard for quite some time because  I’ve used up the candles and don’t know where to find replacements, but it’s such an interesting piece I didn’t want to let it go.  What to do?  Turn it into a crayon caddy!  Yes!  I zipped to the kitchen, so excited to put together a centerpiece that would be hands-on instead of hands-off.  An old wooden tray, a stack of printer paper cut in half, a friendly plant to fill in the gap.  I thought of adding glue sticks, etc., but decided that simpler was better in this case.

I left a little message for the kids to see the next morning, and it was funny how interested they were in my super amazing new centerpiece.  “What’s it for?” Nina was so confused.  “It’s for you kids, so you can draw at the table all the time!” I explained.  She just smiled and smiled.  My kids are always bringing paper and crayons to the table anyway, so this just made sense.  They jumped right in and colored the morning away, as if they’d never used crayons before and just couldn’t get enough!

I know this wooden candle holder isn’t something everyone has or can find, but I think this could easily be done by using pretty glass jars (think candy store style) or a row of small cups or vases.  Get creative!  And your kids will too.

We’ve had this on the kitchen table for a couple of weeks now, and not a day goes by without our little coloring station being put to good use.  If you build it, they will come–and color lots of pictures!


just being audrey

Just Being AudreyJust Being AudreyJust Being Audrey

On the set of Roman Holiday.

On the set of Roman Holiday.

Did you know that Audrey often cooked spaghetti dinners for the cast and crew after a long day of filming?

Did you know that Audrey often cooked spaghetti dinners for the cast and crew after a long day of filming?

LOVE her style.

LOVE her style.

So does Nina!

So does Nina!

Just Being AudreyDSC_1796Just Being Audrey


We’ve been super busy around here lately with end-of-year school projects.  Invention convention, research reports, mini-society and business days, art lessons for me to teach in the classroom, the dance festival, and biography book reports.  This mama is ready for summer vacation!

Both Hannah and Nina needed to do a biography book report, and I wanted to think outside of the typical Annie-Oakley-Florence-Nightingale-Marie-Curie box.  Hmmmm….how about Audrey Hepburn?  Not only is she a classic movie star, but she also (and more importantly) had a kind and giving heart.  I thought my girls could learn some good things by reading about her.  And let’s be honest, another reason I thought Audrey Hepburn would be a winner was the fact that Hannah was required to dress up like the person, and presenting to the class in first-person.  Wouldn’t she make a perfect Breakfast at Tiffany’s beauty?

Well, Hannah didn’t like my idea so much.  She still read the Audrey Hepburn books we checked out from the library and she loved them, but her Beatles obsession took over and she ended up doing her report on Paul McCartney.  So I borrowed a great Beatles wig from my mom’s crazy dress up collection and suggested she take her guitar and strum Blackbird (she can play it by heart) as she told about her Paul McCartney life in a British accent.  She looked at me with one of those “Are you kidding me?” kind of stares.  So obviously my ideas aren’t the best in her book anymore, but that’s okay.  I’ll just shed a quiet tear and move on (sniff, sniff).  She did end up wearing Ben’s black Sunday slacks with a white shirt and black tie, so it was fine.  I would’ve paid money to see her wear that wig, play the guitar and speak with an accent though!  Hannah’s friend who did J.R.R. Tolkien wore a corduroy suit jacket, brought a pipe, and strolled around the room telling about the famous novelist in a full British accent, “I smoked a pipe for years and years, became ill with a lung disease, and then I died.”  Oh my gosh!  “See Hannah?  An accent would have been SO great!” I said.  Another friend of hers did Tim Burton and of course wore black and white stripes.  How fun!

Okay, back to Audrey…at least one child still likes my ideas.  Nina absolutely loved reading this charming picture book, Just Being Audrey.  We sat on the front steps at sunset, admiring all her movie costumes and reading about all the good things Audrey did to help other people.  Such a beautifully illustrated little book, definitely one to add to the permanent collection.  Nina decided she wants to be Audrey Hepburn for Halloween this year, so I’m excited to pull that together!

Nina’s report was a small paper cube with facts written on each side, and she was supposed to put something her famous person would treasure inside of it.  Since Audrey was a ballerina when she was younger, Barbie ballet shoes seemed appropriate and they fit perfectly inside.  Ta-da!  Cross another project off the to-do list.

P.S. Another book we skimmed through just for fun was Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit, written by her son Sean.  Full of photos.  Loved it!

Just Being Audrey

avengers assemble!

Captain America and Thor Captain America and ThorCaptain America and ThorCaptain AmericaCaptain AmericaCaptain AmericaNotice that little poof of hair waving to you above the mask?  Makes me laugh.

Iron Man and Spiderman

I am Iron Man!

I am Iron Man!

I love how I can see that they are laughing beneath the masks.

I love how I can see that they are laughing beneath the masks.HulkDouble Hulk smash!


Keeping watch over Gotham City.

Keeping watch over Gotham City.

Little BatmanLittle BatmanThe Mighty ThorThorSpidermanDSC_0543web copySpidermanSpidermanSpidermanLittle Will has a serious superhero obsession.  I’ve been wanting to do some updated photos of him, and one day while driving around town the idea came to me…a superhero photo session!  Because why not?  You’re only two once.

I invited my sister Erika, because her little guy loves superheroes as well, and the more crime fighters in the city the better…in my opinion.

So there we were, Erika and I, with five little kids age five and under in tow, right in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.  I wish I had taken photos of the passersby, because I think at first we surprised them, and then I think we completely made their day.  “Yeah, Captain America!” some cheered, and “It’s Batman!!” shouted others.

The best part of the session was when we strapped on the Hulk masks.  Those little boys ran like crazy dogs off their leashes!  My nephew fully tackled Olivia, they were yelling “Hulk smash!” and Will was so into his character that he actually punched himself in the face on purpose with a giant fist!  Erika was snapping away with her iPhone, but all I could do was try not to pee my pants laughing!

Here’s one action shot I did get of the little Hulk terrors:


The girls wanted to be a part of the session, so I did a few of them too:

SupergirlBaby SupergirlThor girl

Such a fun session–in fact, I’m tempted to go for round two!  I’ll keep you posted if I do.

My sister Erika–my partner in this craziness!

My sister Erika–proud supporter of my ridiculous ideas.



chocolate chip cookies


Who needs Photobooth when you have a shiny mixing bowl?

Who needs Photobooth when you have a shiny mixing bowl?


My dessert binder is bursting at the seams...I have a serious recipe addiction.

My dessert binder is bursting at the seams…


A beautiful day with nothing on the calendar…what to do??

First a little backyard picnic (at Olivia’s request), followed by a big batch of our favorite chocolate chip cookies, that’s what!  We cranked up some seriously fun, non-Disney kid tunes (try Elizabeth Mitchell radio on Pandora) and got mixing butter, sugar and eggs like nobody’s business.  The kids discovered their funny faces reflected in my mixing bowl, and to me, that was just as great as eating the cookies (warm with a glass of milk, of course).

This recipe makes A LOT, so I sometimes freeze the dough in spoonful-sized balls for baking later.  But honestly, with five kids plus neighbor friends constantly running through my kitchen, six dozen cookies don’t last that long!

Heather’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 5 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 c. semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or use non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and stir into the creamed mixture until well blended.  Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 6 dozen.




rainy day library and art gallery

playing libraryDSC_6802webkids-art

clothespin man

Will made this little man all by himself!

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you live, but here it’s been a cold and often rainy (or snowy!) spring.  When we woke up to another grey morning, my first thought was to switch on a movie for the kids…but then I noticed all the library books in the basket and said, “Hey guys…why don’t you play library?” No complaints there! A couple friends joined in and pretty soon everyone was “checking out” books and putting them into their library totes.

Once the “library” was closed, it was time to open up the art studio and get ready for a seriously cool exhibit. With some watercolors and a handful of craft supplies, the kids definitely added some much needed sunshine to a rainy day!


endless alphabet

DSC_61471 DSC_61491 DSC_61521 I recently stumbled across this app, and I’m so glad I did!  I know, I know…we all have different limits when it comes to screen time for our kids, but honestly, I don’t mind if my kids play this one for a while.  I’ve even caught my older kids playing it here and there, just because it is so well done and entertaining.

Endless Alphabet is a free app (yay!), created by the Sesame Street folks who brought us There is a Monster at the End of This Book. Continue reading