Category Archives: happy stuff

50 Ways to Make Today Magical (Coronavirus Edition)

Hello, magical people!  I know that many of us will be at home with our kiddos for quite a long time with the Coronavirus quarantines around the world and I thought a list of ways to make the day magical might help.  I have a master list of 100 ways to make today magical, but some of those are decidedly out right now (like visiting museums, throwing fairy parties, and probably that one about using toilet paper for fun!).

So I’ve compiled some of my favorite ways to make the day magical from over the years in a list of 50 ways to make a little magic (at home) with the kids right now.

50 Ways to Make Today Magical (at home)

1. Make pillow and blanket forts — pillow forts from the couch cushions, table forts with sheets, a clothesline fort in the back yard, or even giant forts with lengths of rope strung across the room and blankets draped over them.

2. Look through old family photos and videos.  Talk to the kids about what they were like when they were little, or what your own childhood was like.  Cuddle up, tell stories, and talk about happy memories.

3.  Watch a free streaming concert together.  MSN has All the Live Streams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis, which is being updated often.

4.  Teach your child how to make a favorite recipe.  Even little kids can learn to make simple things like sandwiches, and big kids love to learn how to cook fancier dishes.

5.  Print out some free toys!  Made by Joel offers free printables of everything from a Travel Size Paper City Paris Champs Elysees and Champ de Mars to paper slotted animals to an oscillating bird and more.  We’ve also loved the toys at The Toymaker for years.

6.  Sit down with your kids and make up lists of 10 or 20 things you each love about special people in your lives.  You can write the lists for kids who aren’t writing yet, but keep it in their words and have them add some decorations. Take a picture to text or email to each loved one.

7.  Have some fun with photo apps.  We created this fun picture of Alex with the free Photo Labs app.  Or just open up Snapchat and take some fun selfies together.  Print out and frame your favorite, if you like.

8.  Have an early morning balcony picnic and watch the sunrise together.  Get up early and grab something simple like fruit and a cup of tea and go sit and watch the sunrise together.  You can watch from your balcony, the roof of your apartment, your back yard or even a good window.  Take some time to just soak in the beauty and connect.

9.  Have a cleaning party together.  Yes, really!  Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together.  Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean.  Celebrate when you’re finished by making a fun new mess by cooking together or doing crafts.

10. Make colorful soap clouds.  If you happen to have any Ivory soap and a bit of food coloring, this is a great time to make colorful Ivory soap clouds (and learn the science behind what’s happening).

11. Waste a box of birthday candles on repeated wishes at lunchtime.  Blowing out the candles is some of the most fun of birthdays for some kids, so sometimes it’s fun to do it just because.  Just put them one at a time in a muffin, sandwich, whatever.  Light the candle, make a wish, blow, repeat!  You join in too!

12. Make puzzles for breakfast.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of toast, pancakes or french toast.  Let kids match the shapes to the pieces with the holes and fit back in.

13. Blow bubbles off the balcony or out the window.  This is especially fun if you live up high!

14. Do freeze dancing.  Put on a CD (or find some good songs on you-tube) and have the kids all dance wildly.  Every time you hit pause, they have to freeze in place.

15. Have the kids make up funny fortunes and put them in homemade fortune cookies or leave them in unexpected places like cereal boxes.

16. Play the gratitude game at dinner.  Go through the alphabet taking turns naming one thing you’re grateful for in life for each letter.  Anything counts, from artichokes to Aunt Julie.  🙂

17. Send people some laughs.  Task the kids with finding their favorite corny jokes, funny videos and other things that crack them up.  Text them to friends and family or have the kids call and tell them over the phone.

18. Cut out dozens of construction paper hearts and write a reason you love each other on each one.  Cover the windows or a door with them all, or hang them from the ceiling on lengths of yarn or ribbon.

19. Make poetry shells.  Gather up a bunch of pistachio shells, smooth rocks  or other natural objects and use a magic marker to write words on them.  Make sure to use adjectives, nouns and verbs.  For example…. I, you, we, love, wet, dogs, jumped, lick, stars…. the more words you make the more variety you can get in your poem.  Drop the rocks in a bucket, shake, and grab a handful to arrange into each line.  Make sure to add some funny words!

20. Throw a dinner party just for your family.  Put out the good china and some delicious appetizers, set the table grandly and dress the part.  Put on some music, light some candles and take your time enjoying your own company together.

21. Make up a batch of homemade playdough (white) and then hide different colors inside.  Poke a hole in the middle and add a little bit of food coloring.  Encourage kids to knead their balls of playdough and watch as they discover there’s more to it than it first appeared!  You can also do color mixing this way (make yellow and add blue to the center of one and red to another, for instance).

22. Bring snow or mud inside for the kids to play with.  Fill a big tub and give them cars, chopsticks, you name it to play with it.

23. Try circus tricks together.  See if you can juggle, balance a ball on your nose, walk a “tightrope” on the floor, clown around and so on.

24. Discover a new (old) TV series together.  This is a great time to introduce the kids to comedies that might have been before their time.  Our kiddos have really enjoyed My Name is Earl, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 99, Raising Hope and Malcolm in the Middle (note that there is sometimes mature content for little ones).  There are other great shows besides comedies too.  Smallville was a huge family favorite here (and it was on for ten years so there are tons of episodes!).  Other old shows to check out include Monk, The Great British Baking Show and Trading Spaces (though I’m not sure if that one’s available on streaming?).  Please add your recommendations in the comments!

25. Challenge the kids to make each other laugh as much as possible.  Try for all out belly laughs, snorts and the type of giggles where you can’t catch your breath.  If you can, catch it on tape to make you all laugh all over again later.

26. Go sledding or ice skating in the kitchen! Pull little ones around on towels, or have them put on socks and slip around the floor.  Older kids can pull the little ones and accidentally get some exercise in at the same time!  If you’re brave enough, give them a bucket of warm soapy water and have them “mop” the floor with their stocking feet.  My girls used to love to do this, though it can get pretty wet!

27. Start a recipe box or cookbook of family recipes you teach your child. Bake and cook them together and write each one out as you teach it to add to the collection.  Don’t know very many?  Learn together!

28. Be outrageously silly at odd times, for no reason, all day long!  Suddenly widen your eyes and say, “Oh no! I forgot to give you noisy kisses!” and scoop up your toddler.  Stick your tongue out and grin at your teenager.  Be silly as much as you possibly can.

29. Do some Pinterest-inspired arts and crafts.  Find a fun project, tutorial or bit of inspiration and sit down together to give it a try.

30. Start a paper chain of happy memories and accomplishments.

31. Have a family jam session.  Gather up instruments or make your own by filling containers with pennies and getting pots to bang on.  I love having older kids now who are great at playing the guitar and ukelele, but I also love hearing the little ones playing the kazoo or just shaking maracas.  My husband is great at playing a dozen instruments and I have a hard time even keeping a beat while clapping, but we have such fun all playing together.  Play songs you know and love, or make up songs together as you go.

32. Learn how to do The Cup Song with the kids.  Or, go old school and teach them how to do The Macarena or The Hand Jive.

33. Have fun with boxes.  If you’re getting lots of boxes coming into the house right now, why not let the kids put them to use?  Let them use them to make robots, tunnels, playhouses, you name it.  You can be fancy and help out, like the ultra-creative mama at Life as a Thrifter

Or just let the kids loose to make up their own fun!

34. Cut up a zillion paper snowflakes and decorate the house.  Paint them with watercolors to make them extra special.  Coffee filters make it even easier.

35. Have a silly word day.  Pick an ordinary word to be the silly word of the day, and anybody who accidentally says that word during the day has to do something silly.  For instance, if the silly word of the day is “car” and you forget and say it, you might cluck like a chicken or yodel.

36. Compliment each other, balloon style!  Pick someone in the room to focus on and toss a balloon up in the air.  Everybody else has to keep bopping the balloon up and keep it from hitting the ground.  You can’t bop it without calling out something fabulous about your subject though!  Think quick! See how long you can keep it up (and how many wonderful things people can think up about each other!).

37. Have an inside snowball fight!  Crumple up oodles of paper from the recycling bin and give each player a laundry basket full.  Find some good launching spots (behind the couch, behind a table…) and commence flinging!

38. Wear fancy clothes all day, just because.  We’ve had a whole stash of thrift store costumes, capes and prom dresses for years to make an ordinary Monday seem more special.

39. Start a family poem wall.  Put up a large piece of paper on a door and put a pen nearby.  Ask every family member to add a word every time he or she passes.  It can be silly or serious.  Save the finished poems in an album or scrapbook.

40. Have a paper airplane derby. You’ll find free patterns for simple to fancy planes, helicopters, rockets, frisbees and more here.  This is also a fun way to reuse old coloring pages, worksheets, scrapbooking paper and even maps.

41. Start making toasts every night at supper.

42. Bake bread together.

43. Clear out a back closet or other out of the way place to become a secret hideaway for your child.  Stock it with flashlights and lots of fun items to decorate it.

44. Play balloon volleyball.  If you have enough balloons, try some of these other fun balloon activities.

45. Do some melted crayon art.  Line a warming tray or electric griddle with tinfoil and then place a sheet of paper on it.  Let kids draw on the paper with crayons, pressing down and drawing slowly so the crayons will melt into vibrant, waxy pools as they draw.  You can use mittens to help protect little ones from getting burned, but close supervision and cautions about the heat are the best protection.  We turn the heat to around 200 for little ones and 250 for older kids (and more satisfying results).

46. Take apart a bunch of old jewelry and try to make a new artistic creation together.

47. Let the kids decorate you.  As a busy homeschooling mama of five, I’ve had many days of entertaining kiddos even when life was… interesting.  One noteworthy day when I was particularly tired and sick from morning sickness, I let my little ones decorate me with washable markers and an older child gave me a pedicure.  🙂  They had a blast and I got to rest on the couch with my feet up!

(Side note: Every week for my prenatal visit with Fiona, my doctor would look to see what kind of a pedicure I had for that visit, since my kids were so fond of giving me crazy paint jobs and they always made her smile.  I also once accidentally showed up with magic marker legs under my pants that I’d forgotten about!)

48. If you have the go-ahead to walk around your neighborhood, grab a pack of colorful sidewalk chalk and head out to make the world more cheerful (even your own driveway).  Have the kids leave happy faces, sweet notes, rainbows, silly cat faces, flowers, goofy aliens, you name it, in various places just to make people smile.

49. Learn some new games — or make them up!  We play lots of card games here but also have fun making up games.  My older kids are especially good at finding creative new games online and then coming up with homemade versions.

50. Stage a virtual talent show for loved ones.  Assemble costumes and props and then sing songs, put on clown acts, recite poems, tell jokes, do magic tricks, whatever and record it all.  Send it to a loved one who could use a smile (and save it for years later when you can all smile at the memory!).

But most of all…

Have a little fun.

Our kids are relying on us to keep them feeling safe right now, so it’s a good time to turn off the TV and just focus on staying healthy and happy at home together.

This list is literally just a drop in the bucket of all the wonderful ways to make the best of the situation right now, but I hope it gives a little inspiration.  I’ll try to be back soon with another list.

Please add your favorite suggestions to the comments!

And with that, I’m off to play Nerts with my kiddos and rustle up lunch.  Stay well.  We’re all in different circumstances and some of us may feel especially alone right now, but we’re all in this together.  It’s a good time for all of us to count our blessings, love on our kiddos, and as always — don’t forget to take good care of you.

     ~Alicia 💙

 

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Exciting News

I have happy news for our family.  Rhiannon Lee (Annalee or Anna to old time readers, Rhia nowadays) and I have published a children’s poetry book!

Poems from Under a Toadstool

It all started when Rhia showed me her mushroom doodles in her journal last year.  I fell in love with them and told her they should be in a children’s book.  She suggested that I could write poems for a book and they could be the illustrations (many, many years ago I was a poet) and we decided to collaborate.

So she gave me her drawings to scan, and every so often I would sit and work on mushroom poems (and nature poems, and related poems…).

Poems From Under a Toadstool (If Ever)

Poems from Under a Toadstool

I added a glossary to the back, since some of the poems had bigger words like biome and mycology, and space for kids to add their own poems, drawings and spore prints at the end.

Poems from Under a Toadstool (Mycology)

We were in no hurry.  It was just a fun joint project.  Then she got the opportunity to move to West Virginia for three months, and she started working extra hard to earn extra money for all of her expenses.  That lit a fire under me to get the book finished and out into the world to help her out.

The book was published last week and is available on Amazon (affiliate link) if you’d like to take a peek .  If you’re interested, you can order it through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  It would also help us out enormously if you asked your local library to carry it!

Half of the profits will go to Rhia as she embarks on this new adventure.  My half will go to support my nonprofit children’s nature magazine, Wild Kids Magazine, which costs a fair bit to host since it sees so much monthly traffic that we regularly get overage charges to our web hosting.  I offer the magazine for free to do good in the world (just like Magical Childhood), but it would be great if it didn’t cost so much to do good some months!  😉

I’m also working on putting up a free print of one of the illustrated poems for folks to print out.  Look for that soon.

Wish us luck, and wish us extra luck as Rhia heads off next week on this exciting new chapter in her life.

        

    

 

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March 2020 Wild Kids Magazine

The March 2020 issue of Wild Kids Magazine is up!

For those who are new to the magazine, Wild Kids is a free monthly printable nature-based magazine that I publish as a nonprofit way to put some more good in the world.  Each issue includes ways to learn and play in nature that month, foraging information, a weather tree to track the month’s weather, nature study pages and seasonal poems and activities.  This year, I’m including vintage nature-themed cards each month, too (so far we’ve had butterfly fairies, birds and trees).

You can check out the March issue here.

Have fun!

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Beluga Whale Fun

I happened upon a pretty incredible video that you have to see to believe today — a beluga whale playing fetch!

Now if that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.  🙂

I had to share it, and figured I might as well see if I could find some fun stuff about beluga whales for kids to go along with it.  So….

Here are a few facts about beluga whales for the kids…

  • Beluga whales are also called white whales.
  • They are one of the smallest species of whales.  Even so, they can still reach 2,000 to 3,000 pounds and 13-20 feet long.
  • Beluga whales are mammals, like us.
  • Like us, they are very social and like to be around others.  They live in small communities called pods.
  • Belugas eat fish, crustaceans and worms.
  • They live mostly in the Arctic.
  • Belugas like to talk and are nicknamed “sea canaries” because they are so vocal. They talk to each other with clicks, clangs and whistles, and can also imitate other sounds they hear.
  • Belugas love to play!  There are lots of reports of them swimming alongside boats and of playing with objects they find in the water, both in the wild and in captivity.
  • They are endangered.  They need our help keeping the oceans safe to keep them safe.

And here are some fun crafts about beluga whales

OFLC MOPS has this fun marshmallow beluga craft and some links.

 

All Kids has a darling sock whale craft.

Leenawee Great Start has a fun and simple Baby Beluga painting project.

The Iowa Farmer’s Wife has a darling paper bag beluga.

The Joy of Sharing has a sweet paper plate beluga craft.

Learn Create Love has a great beluga printable with some more info.

And lastly, thechristinejuang has a free tutorial to make these adorable stuffed belugas.

Have fun!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday! 

It’s been too long since I’ve popped in and I’m once again resolving to find a way to do so more regularly. 

So let’s start by getting back to some ways to make the day more magical.  🙂

Here are 10 ways to make a little magic this week…

1. Go on a nature scavenger hunt.  I have a free fall nature scavenger hunt printable page here that you can use, or you can make up your own.

October nature find

2.  Make a leaf crown!  All you need are some pretty leaves (nothing else!) and about five minutes to make a gorgeous leaf crown.  Here’s a short video showing how to do it.

3.  Teach your child how to make a favorite recipe.  Even little kids can learn to make simple things like sandwiches, and big kids love to learn how to cook fancier dishes. 

fiona pizza sauce

4.  Go see a free presentation.  Local libraries, museums, schools and other community centers tend to sponsor all kinds of free talks on everything from butterflies to meteor showers to prohibition.  See if you can find some upcoming talks that your kids would be interested in and go learn something new together.

alex still

5.  Make up some homemade instant hot cocoa mix.  I shared our basic recipe in the Instagram post below. You can adapt the formula to make it vegan, sugar free or otherwise meet your dietary needs and preferences (chime in if you have a favorite paleo version!).  Adjust the proportions until you find the proper ratio for your tastes and then you have your own personal hot cocoa mix that the kids can mix up when they want to warm up with something sweet.

6.  Help your child start a collection.  Kids love to collect things — any things!  Some of our kids’ favorite collections over the years have been rocks, artist trading cards, bugs and bottle caps (Jack’s favorite collection).  You can even collect non-physical things, like types of clouds you’ve spotted (check out The Cloud Collector’s Handbook for a great book for doing that!).

bottle caps

7.  Have some fun with photo apps.  We created this fun picture of Alex with the free Photo Labs app.  Or just open up Snapchat and take some fun selfies together.  Print out and frame your favorite, if you like.

alex comic

8.  Leaf a message.  Use pretty leaves to write sweet or silly messages outside and see who will wander onto them!

View this post on Instagram

#justbecause #leafamessage

A post shared by Shari (@sharizat_eats) on

9.  Make some marbleized fall leaves.  Even if you don’t have fall leaves where you live (or not right now), you can make some gorgeous ones with your kiddos.  Apartment Therapy tells you how to use shaving cream, acrylic paint and watercolor paper to make these pretty leaves.

marbelized leaves

10. Have an early morning picnic and watch the sunrise together.  Get up a little early and grab something simple like muffins and a thermos of hot tea and go sit and watch the sunrise together.  You can watch from the back yard, your balcony, the roof of your apartment, a local park, or even pulled over in the car in a pretty area on your way to work and school.  Take some time to just talk and soak in the beauty. 

photo of toddler standing near lake

Photo by Káťa Prouzová on Pexels.com

And with that, my pretties, I’m off to find some food for a hungry little girl and try to wrestle my house in order.

Have a magical week!

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Signs of Love

love-is-love-is-love-1500x1274

Here’s a sweet art project that’s perfect for the times right now.

Girls to the Moon offers instructions for how to make Signs of Acceptance to show people that you care about them and are on their side.

The site says:

What are some words you could say to let people know they are safe with you?

If you felt left out, what could someone say to you to make you feel more included?

If you could make a sign to let people know you will always accept and include them, what would it say?

This project, Signs of Acceptance, turns your favorite words, phrases, slogans, and symbols of inclusivity into beautiful pieces of art you can display at home, school or work.

Better yet: Give it to friend, a local business, or leave it in a public place for someone to find as a nice surprise!

All you need are some basic supplies like foam boards (from grocery store packaging), paper and paint.

file-nov-20-5-16-04-pm-e1479685454966-773x1030

What a great way to combine art and kindness, which we could all use a little more of right now.

file-nov-20-5-14-33-pm-e1479685592949-773x1030

If you do this with your kiddos, please feel free to post links or pics!

 

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Random Acts of Holiday Kindness

Happy Tuesday!  Sorry to be gone so long again.  There has been all sorts of mayhem in our busy little house, as always.  Once again, I’m working on finding a way to post here more often.  We’ll see how it goes!

I know that a lot of families do Random Acts of Kindness this time of year and I stumbled on this post from coffee cups and crayons that listed 24 of them to do with kids.  There are even free printables to go along with it. I especially like the idea of “candy cane bombing” a parking lot.  🙂

FCUBED has just a few RAK ideas but I really liked the idea of taping popcorn to the Redbox machine.  🙂

My friend Tiffany does her own RAK holiday fun with her kids each December and you can follow along with their sweet ideas on her blog at Harried Homeschooling Mama.

And this one isn’t random acts of kindness  but I really love the idea of 25 Days of Zen – Holiday Edition from Zen Schmen.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t worry about starting late or doing enough days.  Do a bunch of little ones in one day together, or do one a day from now on, or one total, or anything that works for you and yours.  Those of you who know me know that I’m all about letting go of guilt and perfectionism!  Just have fun with it!

Happy Holidays!  Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy the magic of the season.  🙂

 

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Don’t Let the Pigeon Make Some Crafts!

Do you have Mo Willems fans in your family?  We are huge fans of all of his books, but especially the pigeon books.

I found this adorable craft today via the Learning with Literature group Pinterest board.

With lots of other adorable pigeon ideas at the lovely blog it’s from, Diary of a First Grade Teacher.

And she led to me This and That at the Library, which had the printable to make the toilet tube pigeons.

The Learning with Literature board also had this adorable balloon craft from Shauna Lynn, along with a ton of sweet birthday ideas.

  

Even with their own cardboard bus!

So I went looking for some more pigeon fun and found this darling handprint paint craft at Mommy and Me Book Club.

And this idea for making hand puppets to retell the story, off of Pinterest (no link, just an image).

And another bus from another birthday party over at Two Little Birds and a Bug.

Then I found a Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus Printable over at Plants and Pillars.

Learning with Miss Jenny has two wonderful crafts, a popsicle stick puppet activity and a craft where kids can make their own pigeon and recommend what the next book should be called.

And then Coffee Cups and Crayons has this adorable playdough pigeon kit!

The Best Children’s Books has this tutorial for kids to draw their own pigeons.

And Libraryland has this neat printable pigeon writing activity.

 (Best answer ever, Jordan!)

And the official Pigeon Presents has all sorts of other fun, from online activities to monthly coloring pages to an 8 page teacher’s guide and more (the Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! 10th Birthday Celebration Activity Kit is especially fun!).

I know what we’re doing next week!

Have fun!

 

 

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Silly Photo Shoots!

Here’s a fun and easy way to make a little magic with your kiddos. 

Have a zany photo shoot! 

We’ve done many of these over the years and it always leads to smiles.

There are some free apps that let you get pretty creative, too.  🙂 

wacky photo shoots

Happy Wednesday!

 

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Happy Grief Bacon Day!

We’re having a different sort of holiday today.  We’re celebrating our first annual Kummerspeck (or “Grief Bacon“) Day.

The idea came to me a few days ago.  We’ve all been really fighting the blues in our family.  Winter has been long, cold, snowy and oppressive this year.  The kids have been cooped up and cranky.  I’ve been cooped up and cranky.  We’re all irritable and there’s still more waiting before things are really going to be green and warm.

Victoria had told me about a German word that literally translates to “grief bacon” that describes the weight gained from emotional eating, such as after a loved one dies or during a period of depression.   It was featured in Mental Floss’s  15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent.

We’ve talked about that natural instinct to hole up in the house with food as comfort and how it’s definitely not healthy as a general practice but how it really does seem to help when things are really feeling miserable, like after the death of pets and loved ones.

So yesterday I suggested to Daryl that we toss out my typical health-crazed ways and proclaim today a Grief Bacon Day (vegetarian members of our family can call it Grief Popsicle Day).  🙂  He was on board, so we told the kids we were going to all go to the grocery store together and load up on comfort foods that we’d all pick out together and spend the whole day together as a family watching movies, eating junk food and just indulging ourselves in a way we usually don’t.

We spent the morning cleaning together to prepare (who wants to party in a messy house?) and then spread the table with the first round of indulgences.  Jack had picked out frozen fruit so he made us dixie cup fruit sorbets to balance out the chips, dip and other junky items that others picked.  Gluten free pizza, french fries, banana popsicles, 7-up and other goodies followed. 

There’s lots more to come, including more foods and fun non-food items like puzzles and bubbles, marshmallow and toothpicks for building, more movies and crafts. 

Some days you just have to loosen your own rules and look at the big picture.  A full-out, junky family day was just what the doctor ordered.  The mood in our house has done a 180 (and the house looks better too!).

And now, I’m off to watch some more explosions and add to my stomach ache. 

Happy Kummerspeck  Day!

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