Butternut Squash Soup with Organic Squash from Hometown Harvest

Butternut Squash Soup with Organic Squash from Hometown HarvestButternut Squash Soup is something I really enjoy eating. It is not a dish I have ever tried making. When I got my Hometown Harvest bag I found a nice sized organic squash tucked inside. Originally I thought, I will chop this up and sauté it with some olive oil and zucchini. My friend however challenged me to step outside my cooking comfort zone and make a soup using my [more]

Host an Eggcellent Easter Party with Oriental Trading!

Host an Eggcellent Easter Party with Oriental Trading!Easter is almost here! Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and families are gathering for some good ol' fashioned Easter fun! Make your Easter the best yet with these excellent eggcellent party decorations and crafts from Oriental Trading!  What I love about Oriental Trading is that I can put a party together easily without spending a ton of money.  I hung up the Light Blue and Lilac Paper Lanterns to add a pop [more]

Captain America The Winter Soldier: A Must See! #CaptainAmerica

Captain America The Winter Soldier: A Must See! #CaptainAmerica   Captain America The Winter Soldier is the number 1 movie in the nation and the film with the largest April box office! And for good reason too. From start to finish Captain America is packed with action, drama, and a little comedic relief.  Chris Evans, Samuel L Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson are exactly what you would expect- awesome. I will admit I wasn't always team Black Widow, especially as a kid, [more]

Our Disney World Vacation: Making Memories

Our Disney World Vacation: Making Memories After sharing with you all How to Make the Most of Your Disney World Vacation I wanted to follow that up with a more personal post. Again it took me awhile to sort through the pictures I wanted to use remember I took over 1500 and also to put into words how amazing our trip was. I still don't feel like this post can do it justice, the magic of Disney [more]

Celebrate Spring with Oriental Trading!

Celebrate Spring with Oriental Trading! Spring is finally here! After a crazy winter we all needed a little sunshine. To shake off the winter cold, we got together with some friends for an afternoon of celebrating Spring and getting crafty with fun products from Oriental Trading! After a quick lunch, I set up for our crafts and hung a few decorations just to brighten up the place. Who said you have to only decorate for birthday [more]

The Muppets Most Wanted Review and More Free Printables! #MuppetsMostWanted

The Muppets Most Wanted Review and More Free Printables! #MuppetsMostWanted  The wait is over, Muppets Most Wanted is finally in theaters!   I could say a lot about this movie. We all laughed, the adults exchanged knowing glances for certain puns and jokes, and at the end of it we were all singing and thankfully it was not "Let it Go" Bottom Line: this movie was GREAT and we want to see it again. And no I wasn't bribed with a briefcase of [more]

Tag Archives: teaching

Tips for Preventing Summer Learning Loss

Preventing Summer Learning Loss, Free Websites for Kids, 10 Free Educational Websites, Summer Boredom Busters

I hate to be the Debbie downer of your summer fun but the facts are the facts. According to the Children’s Aid Society, children lose on average 2 months of grade level equivalency in math and reading during the summer. That can cause serious issues when school starts back up. You don’t want your child to fall behind but you are not trying to audition for world’s biggest villain either. Destroying the fun of summer will not win you any admiration.

So what can you do to prevent summer learning loss without causing a mutiny and cries of Moooooooommmm you are soooooo not fair!!!

As a former teacher, I have some advice that will help stop summer learning loss without stopping the fun. It involves a little bit of trickery and a lot of coffee (for you not them) but it will work. Two for the price of one: these tips can also help combat boredom.

Sign up for the Summer Reading Program at your Local Library.

This program is free, fun, and your child gets to experience books they might not normally choose. Also included are special hands on learning events related to the theme. For instance this year our theme is “In your backyard” and one event includes an interactive meet n greet with local wildlife like turtles, lizards, and frogs.

Take Field Trips to Museums, Historic Sites, or Parks.

I like to research the places ahead of time and come up with a scavenger hunt. For my 4year old I keep it easy but for Miss Smarty Pants (she knows everything at 7) I make it challenging. 

Play Board Games.

Bring back family game night and work in some learning while you are at it.  From Candyland all the way to Scrabble and Yahtzee, there is a game for every age. Remember it’s not who wins or loses overly competitive parent… it’s about the learning.Just saying!

Embrace your Inner Chef.

Not only is this a great idea for learning moments it is also shown to have a positive effect on picky eaters. Dust off your cookbook or have the kids pick one out at the library and choose a recipe to try. I get my kids involved in every aspect of the meal. They help me shop for things at the grocery store where my youngest spots the colors and helps me count how many of each item we need. Once in the kitchen my oldest will help measure the ingredients and both of them like to taste test. I fully endorse licking the spoon!

Host a Quiz Bowl. 

Everything is more fun as a game. Focus on areas they struggle with or let them choose the topic. My daughter loves to quiz me on math and spelling. Albeit early in the morning before I’ve had time to drink my coffee. If you mess up wink wink they love the idea of being able to correct you. Why is that?

10 Free Learning Websites:

  • PBS Kidslearning games featuring your favorite characters from PBS.
  • Math ManipulativesMath Playground offers a variety of math games for older children
  • National Geographic Kids – all the education you would expect of National Geographic but presented in a fun way
  • Into The Book- Reading games for children and resources for teachers and parents. Offers tools for reading comprehension such as inferring, evaluating, questioning, and summarizing
  • Fun brainperfect for grades K-8th, offers math, reading, games, and more.
  • Switcheroo Zoo- learn about geography, environment, and wildlife while creating your own animals and habitats.
  • Seussville- learn alongside your favorite Dr. Seuss characters with games, activites, videos, and more
  • Starfall- reading resources for children beginning to those who can read on their own
  • ABCya- educational games for grades K-5th Grade
  • Fun Braineducation games, books, and comics for PreSchool thru 8th Grade

Above all Make it Fun.

I don’t want to be chain to a desk reciting times tables any more than they do! We as parents are not out to ruin their summer vacations. They deserve a break from homework and the rigors of a classroom schedule. But they do still need to be engaging their minds. My hope is that these ideas will help you and your children have a productive and awesome summer vacation!

Wordless Wednesday: What a Teacher Really Wants to Say

One teacher shares what she and other educators are really thinking. Hilarious! A must read!

What a Teacher Really Wants to Say

Directions, Please!

Honestly, sometimes I do not know what I am doing…

I am not just talking about parenting, marriage, or friendship either. No, I mean me, Ashley, and all the things that make up my life. I am literally an organizational, border line OCD person who simultaneously can be scatter brained. Not sure how that even makes sense, but here I am. But I am positive I am not the only one out there. You do not have to be exactly like me to feel lost. All you need is to wander around not really knowing your purpose in life.


Photo Credit: Katie Lyn Steel


You are looking at that picture and thinking oh great, she’s about to get deep. Let me stop right here to say, this is not going to be some super in depth philosophical essay. I am just being real with you all. Also, I really liked the picture. If you don’t ever question your purpose then kudos to you, that is awesome and you are better than I.

I am just being honest about myself and I want you to be honest too. How many of us walk around, pretending we know where we are going and what we are doing, but in truth it is just a facade? I don’t think that we intentionally go about to deceive, we just get hung up in our daily lives that we forget there is a bigger picture. The problem for me is I get so caught up in worrying about everyone else’s directions in life I lose myself in the process. We all wear many hats and there is a purpose to each one. Parents have  purpose in taking care of their children and giving them the best possible chance they can have in life. Spouses are to love and care for one another in the good and bad. Friends have purpose in being supporting, loving, and trustworthy. I know all that by heart and I am sure you do too. Whether or not I am good at them is another story (or two) entirely. The point is we know what the purpose of those aspects of life are, but what about I/Me?

Everything and everyone has a purpose in life. Mine is not just to be a mother, wife, friend, sister, etc. I think my purpose is to be the best me and wear all of those hats well. Like I said before, I don’t know for sure what it is and this is just a thought, but I think this is a great place to start. Make sense? Let me say it like this. If I put the same effort into myself that I put into everyone else, if I give myself equal time and energy I think I can have the best possible outcome for my life. If I can apply this to my life, I won’t get lost in the “Why am I here” thoughts.

A funny thing about life is, if we are doing it right, when we arrive at the end we can look back and see the blessing of the journey. So, do the best you can in the time you have, rock your many hats with pride, and please don’t forget to care about yourself. When your atttiude changes about yourself, you will notice you start to walk with more confidence and less like you are lost without GPS.


To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3: 1

Live purposefully and worthily and accurately -Ephesians 5:15

The purpose of life is a life of purpose.  -Robert Byrne

Excuse Me!?!

Over the weekend I was waiting around a crowded dance studio while my daughter was rehearsing for an upcoming recital. When I say crowded, I mean standing room only and you better hope everyone is wearing deodorant. I navigated my way over to a spot by the bathroom door. Everyone who came by politely asked to get by me. Then a mom shoved passed me to get in there. I mumbled under my breath it’s called Excuse Me. About 10 minutes later the woman’s daughter came running over to her, said I need to go to the bathroom and pushed passed her mother to go in. The mother looked annoyed and said to her daughter that was rude! I had to bite my tongue, I really wanted to say “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

I’ve heard it said kids learn more by what is caught then what is taught. Plain English; if you want your kids to mind their manners then YOU better be minding your manners. That’s true in other areas of life too: respect, language, politeness, etc. Have you ever heard your child repeat something you know they got from you? And it’s usually something you wish they didn’t hear!

Photo Credit: Little Minnow Designs

As a former teacher, I can tell you that when a child was in my class that was raised to be respectful it made a huge difference. The opposite was also true. I get a lot of compliments on my daughter and how polite she is. My son is getting there, he’s pretty good with Please and Thank You. We work in our house a lot with manners and respect. Stopping and correcting them in a loving way while explaining why we have to be polite is key. But honestly it would be all for not if my husband and I weren’t also minding our manners.

It always surprises me when people looked shocked when my children or I act polite. It is a sad world when the accepted social norm is rude, obnoxious, and selfish. Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That’s what I’m trying to do and teach, one Please, Thank You, and Excuse Me at a time.


The Tortoise and The Hare

We all remember the Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. The egomaniac spastic hare teases the tortoise who then challenges him to a race. You know the rest, the hare super confident in his abilities takes a nap mid-race and awakes to the tortoise winning the race. The moral? Slow and steady wins the race.

photo by erika-d


With all this talk of resolutions, what are you doing to make them a reality and not a dream? The hardest part is persevering because REAL change never happens overnight. Whether it’s your children’s behavior, your relationship with your spouse, or getting healthy, it all takes time. Sure there are quick fixes out there that “experts” claim work but seriously, lasting change won’t just magically happen. We don’t have a magic lamp with a genie to make everything right. And even if we did, have you ever noticed that in those stories when the wish comes true it never works out the way they intended. They end up having to change things the right way, the slow way. Bandaids work for awhile but eventually they have to come off. You can be like the hare and brag about yourself and your ability to change things or you can take a different approach. Figure out your plan of action and practical ways to execute it. Then start your race, and instead of burning out and giving up you will be able to see it through to the end. Also, reaching out to family and friends for help or support is not a weakness. It takes a strong person to admit when they need someone. Believe me, I am a type A person, and I love to do everything on my own, but that kind of mentality does not help me in life. I can tell you, my getting in shape and losing weight has been a very slow race. I still haven’t finished but I am halfway there. I had tried fad diets and pills in my past and they never worked, not for very long anyhow. Finally, I am seeing change in myself and I know it’s a lasting change. The same is true for my family and relationships. You can accomplish your goals for 2012 but you have to be willing to put in the work.

Good things come to those who wait. That doesn’t mean do nothing, it just means it won’t happen instantly. Don’t give up, you can do it!!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step -Lao-tzu



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