[email protected]How to be a Stay at Home Mom without losing your mind

Taking a Young Family Camping for the First Time


    It’s daunting to consider taking a young family tent camping! It took us about a year to work up to it. Last summer, we bought a family-sized tent. We had also gradually acquired a few random camping items: a lantern, wedding-gift sleeping bags (that zip together!), marshmallow-roasting-sticks, but the idea took a long time to germinate before we took action. Living in Tennessee, summers are hot and muggy, and we did not relish the idea of living outdoors for several days. So we didn’t. September seemed like a good idea though. We were ready for some outside sanity-restoring time and adventure! When I was a kid, my parents took us camping. They loved it and had all the gear from camp stove to fishing tackle and everything in between. Their king-sized pickup truck (with a camper shell over the back) would be packed to the gills and we’d head into the mountains for vacations. Looking back, it’s amazing how much I didn’t learn about how to prepare for a camping trip. I should have watched and helped my mom more… sorry mom! So here we are, a family of five with kids ranging from crawling to first grade. They’ve never been camping, and we decided it’s time. Here’s what we learned: First, make a reservation We heard that campgrounds fill up, and it would be horrible to gather up all that energy and preparation to be turned away. Since we had the flexibility to go mid-week in September, there was plenty of …

LauriTaking a Young Family Camping for the First Time

Connecting with a Middle Child

baking together

It’s so easy to skip the middle child.  They’re born into a sharing, compromising world, and are often conditioned to wait their turn, while the enterprising eldest explores first.  I am a middle child, so I may be particularly sensitive to this in my own children, but I still find it easy to focus most of my energies on the oldest (who is most capable, simply by age) and the youngest (who is most dependent).

Yesterday afternoon, while my oldest was playing outside with new friends, I suddenly had an opportunity

LauriConnecting with a Middle Child

Simple Baby Registry

Simple Onsies

Each mom will have her own variation of this, but as a mom of three and nanny of many, here is my simple list of necessities.  I’d love to hear some of yours!

LauriSimple Baby Registry

My Favorite Playdough Recipe


I’ve tried quite a few play dough recipes, and many are too sticky, too slimy, smell funny, or crystallize.  This one is fantastic!  It’s nice and elastic, smooth, and not crumbly.  It lasts for months. It’s cheap and easy. My kids love it and as a side benefit: if they eat it, it won’t hurt them.

LauriMy Favorite Playdough Recipe

Toddler Masterpieces, and how to create them

Painting 3

My little ones love to paint, but a sweet painting quickly turns into mud, doesn’t it?!  My favorite tip for painting with toddlers is to stick with one color family.

If we group colors into mixable sets, the result is always pleasing.  


    LauriToddler Masterpieces, and how to create them

    “Mommy, can I send a message?”


    If you have an iPhone, your children probably love to use the Emoji* picture language to send messages. Mine do!  I try to make a point of it being a privilege, and warn the receiver (usually daddy or grandma) that a little person is sending this message (though it might be obvious!).  

    It is so fun to watch their pre-reading skills in action

    Lauri“Mommy, can I send a message?”

    Hooked on Cooperative Games

    Forbidden Island

    ​I love board games.  I grew up playing Scrabble and MonopolyYahtzee and Tri-ominos.  Classic games.  But I’m awfully competitive and emotional, quite a wreck of a combination!  I remember my mom saying she cried when she’d lose, but I’m pretty sure it was actually me who cried.  A lot.

    I still hate losing!  Early in our marriage, we tried playing chess together, but I couldn’t enjoy the game.  Too much pressure, too much tension (and I think I always lost). I also remember teaching Settlers (a great game!) to some friends, but the competition was so intense that the game wasn’t even fun.  Thankfully, we’ve stumbled into Cooperative Games!

    Cooperative Games require players to work together to beat The Game, rather than each other.  Perfect!  

    LauriHooked on Cooperative Games

    A Lifesaver: Book Time

    Reading Together

    aving taught in both preschools and kindergartens, I observed that there is a lull after lunch.  Things wind down, and as kids get our their resting mats, they get books to read until Teacher shuts off the lights.  Why not do this at home?  


    LauriA Lifesaver: Book Time

    All-Time-Favorite Baby-Gear Purchase: Ergo


    When I was a nanny before Elise was born, Fletcher outgrew the Baby Bjorn at 6 months, and walked at 10 months. He was a strong little guy, and wanted to perpetually follow big sister, but even those strong and stout babies still have to be lugged everywhere!  By the time he was one, I started asking for suggestions from moms I met out and about: at the park, the library, music class. The Ergo, I heard, would answer my need. The Ergo Baby Carrier is a soft backpack/front-pack/side-pack designed to be comfortable for both mom and child. Their weight rests on the hips and not the shoulders, and they ride low on the back (as opposed to being lifted up to shoulder height).  There is no metal frame adding extra weight, and it can be adjusted for the child to ride on front, back or side.  To side-carry, the straps must be re-attached differently, so I typically have used it in front or back mode. Learning to mount a small child by oneself is a bit harrowing at first, but soon becomes second nature.  And as they get a little older, the toddler learns how to get in, so they will insert their little foot where it goes, and shift their weight at the right time. I know there are studies about the benefits of “baby-wearing”, for the bonding and development of the infant but I speak only from experience.  I find it quite pleasant to strap on my darling …

    LauriAll-Time-Favorite Baby-Gear Purchase: Ergo