The Thanksgiving Shuffle

I think my love for Thanksgiving really began in college. I just loved getting to go home and relax from school having the excited feeling that this was the kick off to the Holiday season. Now that I am a parent I still feel that way, and I probably love it even more! I know it can be a busy time, especially for young families (and older families too!). The reason I point out young families specifically is that it seems like parents with young children haven’t set up their own traditions or special times together. Some might even feel like it is silly to set aside time just for their family when their children aren’t old enough to remember or appreciate what is happening. I encourage you though, even if your children are young, to not let your family get lost in the shuffle of larger Thanksgiving gatherings. Believe me, I fully understand and appreciate the importance of grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends that are family! Heritage and family connections are so important, and should be cherished if you have them! But spending special time with just your family, even if your children are still babies, is so important. Yep, they might not remember it, but when you look at it from a standpoint of building a relationship with your spouse and child you will never regret spending special time with just your family.

It isn’t a hard and fast rule for us, but we have made Thanksgiving a holiday that we stay home, for the most part. Even if we do need to go to a family gathering, we still find a day or evening to just have our Thanksgiving together. I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of planning and persistence, but it is totally worth it! We make our own meal, we use our special dishes, we have our own yummy treats… my kids are young but they do notice!

So, with all of that said, there is no specific plan for this week. I figure you will have plenty of cooking and baking activities of your own that your child can join in on. Tonight I am starting my mashed potatoes that I’m thinking I can put my kids to work on the mashing part. They will love that! So, get creative with the things you have to do and try to spend time with your child at the same time! If you have some time for extra activities you can do some of your favorites from the fall activity plans or catch up on some Thanksgiving activities that you maybe didn’t have time for last week!

Hopefully, this Friday I will get week 13 up for Fall. That is the last activity plan for Fall and then we will move on to Winter. There are so many fun activities coming up! I am so excited!

Happy Thanksgiving Week!


Early Science & Math: Carve a Pumpkin

Today’s early science and math activity is carving a pumpkin! Get ready for messy messy fun! My husband and I have carved a pumpkin every year since we’ve known each other, just for the fun of it. Now, we do the same with our kids, still for the fun of it, but they are simultaneously having so many experiences that are getting logged away in their little minds!


First, you’ve got to have a meeting to discuss what your pumpkins face is going to look like! There will be lot’s of indecisiveness and changing minds… but finally with some encouragement from mom and dad you will find something to agree on.

Next, it’s time to scoop those gooey, slimy guts out of the inside. Getting to see inside that sealed exterior of a huge orange pumpkin is like revealing a mystery! Plus, it’s getting in great sensory experience. Which reminds me… a lot of toddler’s and preschoolers hate things that feel slimy or make their hands messy. They may not enjoy the experience of sticking their hands in and digging it all out. That’s ok, don’t force it. Doing that part of the activity is not worth the stress for them. If that is your child, let them sit along side you and watch their pumpkin face take shape! You can talk about what you are seeing and doing, what is one the inside, how the pumpkin grows…

Obviously this is an activity that requires a lot of adult contribution… and sometimes that adult is left on their own to keep working on the new pumpkin friend…


Get your helpers back to help dig out all of the pumpkin seeds to roast for a tasty snack (we’ll have that up here soon too!)


From the science of plants and growth, to sensory, to fine motor experiences this activity has a ton of components! Plus, it will be such a fun activity for the whole family to take part in together.

Happy Playing!


Why Real. Meaningful. Family?

My blog is called Real. Meaningful. Family.

Let me tell you why…

The Real in ‘Real. Meaningful. Family.’

As I brainstormed concepts that I wanted the blog to be about, the first thing I kept coming back to was real. Real research, real advice, real activities, real life, and real with ourselves. I found myself getting to the end of a day feeling guilty because I hadn’t spent enough time with my kids. So, I’d try to fit all of my Pinterest-level cleaning, decorating, crafting, cooking, and time with my kids into an even stricter Pinterest-schedule. But until I got real with myself about what my priorities are, got rid of the stuff that didn’t matter, and got real about what I could accomplish in 1 day, it didn’t work. When I sat down and decided on the 5 or 6 things in a day that were my priority, it started to fall into place. So, what does this all mean for ‘Real. Meaningful. Family?’

Real means developmentally appropriate. In a society that has been overtaken by academic learning, ABC’s and 123’s, this is a bright spot of developmentally appropriate learning that can, and should, be embedded into your child’s regular life. Toddlers and Preschoolers are not “taught;” they experience, feel, hear, try, experiment… That’s what I will give you — opportunities to add new and simple experiences into their world and real advice and suggestions of ways to tailor those experiences to your child and your family.

Real research… not hearsay, old wives tales, or information clouded by media opinion, but the real scientific information that parents should know. All too often I hear of parents making important decisions based on false and/or misleading information, and it is my goal to eventually present current research information to make better, more informed decisions.

My real self; I’m a mom of 3 with a PhD; I’m not a photographer, chef or professional journalist.  I don’t have an editor (unless my husband counts) and I don’t have a housecleaner… my floors and windows get messy just like everybody else, and you might occasionally see that in my un-professionally staged photos!

Real information and practical advice for you to ‘get real’ too. ‘Getting real’ with myself, my priorities, and what I want out of my day has been so freeing! No longer do I feel guilty about the things that I’m not accomplishing (things that don’t really matter) and I’m able to focus on the things that do matter!

The Meaningful in ‘Real. Meaningful. Family.’

I couldn’t create a blog for moms, dads, children, and families without the content having long-term value. Time together needs to be special and set apart. Learning needs to happen in a natural way. And research and ideas need to be adaptable to your family. This, to me, is meaningful. I want the activities to offer you and your children a special time with one another, and I intend the research and information to be content you can apply to your own family. Life is short, the time that our kids are little is even shorter, so let’s make each day meaningful!

The Family in ‘Real. Meaningful. Family.’

I started all of this for my own family, and now I want to share it with yours! The family is an integral part of society with probably the hardest, but most important task of raising the next generation! By combining real and meaningful concepts, my goal is to add a deeper purpose to your life, your relationships, and your family to make it all stronger.