Daily Summer Schedule

Daily Summer Schedule www.RadMomCoolKid.com

It is DAY ONE of our summer and I have some goals, people.

1. My children will not forget everything they learned over the school year
2. My house will be clean
3. My children will not waste the summer watching tv and playing video games
4. We will do fun things and remember them

Soooo, I made them a daily summer schedule. No screens* of any kind until the following have been done:

Daily Jobs –

brush teeth
say prayers
make bed
get dressed/put away pajamas
tidy bedroom
tidy bathroom
tidy living room
comb hair
read 30 minutes
practice math* This is the exception to the rule because it saves a whole lot of paper. My kids like ABCya! and XtraMath
practice piano 30 minutes
free time to play, read, draw, etc. 2 hours

Weekly Jobs – these are spread throughout the week and divided among the kids, some happen daily, others once, twice, or three times per week

tidy rec room
kitchen counters
sweep kitchen
tidy entry
trash + recycling
vacuum bedroom
vacuum rec room
sweep living room
vacuum stairs + hall

We are also hoping to do several activities each week that get us out of the house or help the kids learn/get better at life skills:

national parks
state parks
local parks
library programming
city programming
summer movie express
kids bowl free
swim at the pool
go on a drive
local nature centers
ice cream outings
Smithsonian museums
bake and cook
paint and draw
jobs for hire – I made a list of jobs they can do this summer to earn some money. We will have some lessons about saving, spending, donating, etc.

That TV is such a sneaky time sucker, isn’t it?! “One more show?” “This only has 7 minutes left, can I finish it?”

I don’t want my kids to look back and not really remember what they did all summer. I want them to learn new things, use their imaginations, explore, and progress. We are setting some guidelines and rules about our TV, laptops, phones, and Noa’s DS so we can be sure to get as much life out of this summer as possible.

Do you limit screen time over the summer?

6 Ways to Enjoy our National Parks with Kids – Kids to Parks Day

This post is sponsored by National Park Trust.

National Parks with Kids www.RadMomCoolKid.com

This Saturday, May 21st, is the 6th Annual Kids to Parks Day! To celebrate we are giving away a fun prize pack here on the blog and sharing 6 ways you can enjoy our beautiful National Parks with kids. You can participate this weekend by pledging to bring your child to a local, state, or national park on May 21st. Register here and you might win some great prizes!

6 Ways to Enjoy National Parks with Kids

1. Junior Ranger Program

Yellowstone Junior Rangers www.RadMomCoolKid.com

Many of the National Parks have Junior Ranger packets available. They are only a few dollars or sometimes free. They do an amazing job of helping kids get a broad experience of the park and learn some interesting facts and history of the park. Once the packet is complete the kids are sworn in as Junior Rangers and they receive a patch or pin for their efforts.

Yellowstone Junior Ranger Program www.RadMomCoolKid.com

TIP: The programs we have done (Yellowstone, Fort McHenry, Harper’s Ferry, and the National Mall) take a solid amount of time. Plan for a few hours, especially if you have several kids in different age ranges.

2. Journal – Write, Draw, Photo

I gave my kids blank notebooks before we visited Yellowstone so they could make notes about animals they saw, draw pictures about the day, or paste in pictures they took.

3. Picnic

There is nothing better than a picnic with a national park as the setting. Some parks have restaurants or convenience stores but we often pack a cooler with snacks and food to save some money. Be careful to clean up after yourself. Do not leave trash or food. Keep our parks and the animals that call them home safe and healthy! If you don’t see a trash can, keep your trash in your car or pocket until you do!!

4. Every Kid in a Park Program

Every Kid in a Park www.RadMomCoolKid.com

This is a great program for 4th graders across the United States. Each 4th grade student has access to a free National Park Pass. These passes allow the student and their family free access to the national parks and monuments for one year! If you have a current 4th grader or would like information about the program, check it out here.

5. License Plate Game

This is a really fun way to make the most of parks that have large parking lots or lots of road to drive. We write down all the states and leave a section for international vehicles. We check the states off as we see them. It is amazing how many different plates there are out there! It’s one of our favorite road trip games.

Looking for more games to play on the road? Check out our list of 15 here!

6. Explore

Explore Fort McHenry www.RadMomCoolKid.com

It has been my experience that kids and their imaginations don’t need much to have an amazing time no matter where they are! Each park has something special and unique – find it and experience it! It might be an amazing hike, colorful geysers, or enormous trees. Take it all in!

Fort McHenry Junior Ranger Program www.RadMomCoolKid.com

Today we are giving away two great books to one lucky reader:

Kids to Parks Day www.RadMomCoolKid.com

Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure

My girls LOVE the book about Buddy! We visited Yellowstone two summers ago and one of our best memories is getting stuck in a bison jam :) We were on our way to see Old Faithful one of the mornings and ended up stuck in a super long line of slow-moving cars. We had no idea what the hold up was. It took some time but eventually we found out what was causing all the traffic – BISON! They were everywhere. All over the road, the sides of the road, in the river along the road! There were several park rangers keeping them safe and helping the traffic maneuver the animals without disturbing them. It was so fun to see all the cute babies with their mamas and families. It was the best traffic jam I’ve ever been in and the kids often say, “Hey! Remember when we got bison jammed?!” I think that experience was more memorable than Old Faithful or any of the other amazing things we saw those few days!

National Geographics Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition

Noa has been eating up the National Parks Guide. He loves informational books like this and has been telling me the parks he would like to visit some day. When we plan road trips, large or small, I love finding national parks along the way. The parks are all so unique and it’s so fun to take some time to check them out, even if it’s just a few minutes or miles. This book has a map of the US with parks and monuments across the country.

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Isca is Eight!


Our sweet Isca recently turned eight years old! She is soooo kind and good and we love her like crazy! And I hope those little chin dimples never go away.

A few special things about her right now:

– She loves to dance and was awarded a scholarship to attend a summer intensive for this year. She is very excited to attend but a little nervous because she will be one of the youngest dancers there and it will be rigorous. I hope she has a good experience. It is local so she will come home each night.

– She is a READER!! Her favorite author is Roald Dahl and she is currently collecting all his books. Matilda is one of her favorites. She just finished The BFG and is dying to see the movie when it comes out this summer! She is also working on reading the Book of Mormon. Her goal is to finish it this month.

I’ll have to get her birthday party pictures edited and organized soon – it was book themed and she had lots of her girlfriends over for lunch, cookies, and some fun activities!

– She is great at puzzles. We have several jigsaw puzzles and a few brain teaser puzzles that she loves to do.

– She has been saving her money like crazy and has just earned enough to buy an American Girl doll. She wants to get the 2016 Girl of the Year, Lea Clark. A trip to the AG store is in our near future!

– Isca was baptized into our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) just over a week ago. She was so excited that morning! Her baptism was at 11am and at 9am she asked me if we could just go and do it right then, she couldn’t wait any longer! Right as she came out of the water I wrapped her up and helped her into the bathroom to change. We shared the biggest hug and she was just beaming. She said, “I feel so GOOD! My whole body feels so GOOD!” We were lucky to have my mom and step-dad and Luke’s parents come from out of state to support her. We also had many friends from church and a dear friend from Isca’s school class in attendance.


Luke was able to baptize her and then confirm her a member of the church. In the LDS church we wait until the age of 8 to baptize because we believe that little children are without sin. Around age 8 they understand right from wrong and can start to grasp the concept of the Atonement and how it applies to them.

Luke and Isca

Luke’s mom spoke a little about baptism before Isca was baptized and my step-dad spoke about the Holy Ghost right after. Isca was welcomed into the children’s program, called Primary, by the Primary President and was then welcomed into our ward (congregation) by a member in the bishopric (each ward is watched over and led by a Bishop. He has 2 counselors who support his efforts and help). His welcome was so warm and full of love. Everyone could feel how much he loves the Gospel and how much he loves serving our church members. Isca’s piano teacher played the piano and my mom was the chorister. Noa gave the opening prayer and Luke’s dad gave the closing prayer.

Briton and Isca www.RadMomCoolKid.com

After the baptism we invited everyone back to our house for lunch. It was so nice to have our home full of so many people who love our family.

Baptism Luncheon www.RadMomCoolKid.com

Here are some special pictures I took of Isca at the Washington, D.C. LDS Temple a week or so before her baptism. She is wearing my dress from when I was her age!



I just love watching my kids get older and bigger and learning more about their personalities. A little sad that they aren’t my tiny little babies anymore but so happy to see them growing and finding the things that make them happy!

Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage

Contains affiliate links, not a sponsored post

Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage www.RadMomCoolKid.com

This Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage is one of our favorite weeknight meals because it is super easy to make, lasts two nights, and everybody in the fam likes it!

As the kids have gotten older the after-school activities have gotten more intense. Between piano, dance, soccer, cub scouts, and activity days we are always headed somewhere. Wednesday night is the crazy night where we have multiple activities going on and no time to make dinner. We ALWAYS make a big meal on Tuesday so we can eat a healthy, home-cooked dinner at some point during the craziness that is Wednesday!

Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage www.RadMomCoolKid.com

Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage

1 lb. penne pasta (we like this mini version)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1-2 carrots, sliced thin
4 oz. mushrooms (our kids are shroom-phobic so we either dice them super small so they don’t notice or cut them in big slices so they can pick them out)
4 cloves garlic, minced (we love garlic)
1/2 lb. Italian sausage (we buy a package with 5 links, divide it, freeze half)
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 jar pasta sauce
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Boil pasta in a large pot until al dente. Reserve 1/2 c. pasta water, drain pasta.

While pasta is cooking:

Cook sausage in a large, oven-safe skillet. Break the sausage into bite-sized pieces with a spoon as it cooks. When it is cooked through remove and reserve it in a bowl.

In the same pan, saute onion, carrots, and mushrooms in olive oil over medium high heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds.

Add cooked sausage to vegetables, stir in sun dried tomatoes, pasta and pasta sauce.

Top with cheese and place in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

This meal is great with a big green salad and some yummy bread. We usually buy a loaf of French bread from WalMart – it’s about $1 for a huge loaf that lasts our family of 5 for 2 meals!

*A note about the oven-safe skillet – Luke and I are still using the set of Belgique stainless steel, copper bottom pans we got for our wedding. They are great quality and we use every pan in our set often. We have a 12-piece set similar to this set, except ours has copper bottoms, like this set. When it comes to pots and pans you get what you pay for – the steep price tags up front are worth it, though, as our first set has been used daily since 2003 and is still in perfect condition!

We recently started collecting some Calphalon hard-anodized pots and pans and I’m very happy with the quality, too.

Road Rippers Dancing Car – VW Beetle

Road Rippers Dancing Car - VW Beetle www.radmomcoolkid.com

We recently received a Road Rippers Dancing Car from Toy State to review. They sent us the VW Beetle!

You may remember Noa’s review of Toy State’s Nikko VaporizR 2 here. This time Isca and Hollis were excited to check out their Road Rippers Dancing Car!

As you can see, the girls had a lot of fun playing around with the buttons! This toy is recommended for children ages 3 and up. Isca is almost 8 and Hollis is 4.5. It is definitely too young for Isca and while Hollis likes it I don’t think it is a toy that she will actively seek out to play with regularly. From my perspective this toy is probably most suited for kids who have very recently turned 3 or children who might be attracted to the lights and sounds of the buttons. I’m not sure why it isn’t recommended for kids under 3 because there isn’t much to it – lights, sounds, and it bounces up and down to music.

You can look for the Road Rippers Dancing Car collection at Toys R Us.

Marshmallow Oatmeal Caramelitas

Contains affiliate links.

Marshmallow Oatmeal Caramelitas www.radmomcoolkid.com

Once upon a time we were snowed in for a week…and I cooked and baked for daaaaaaaays. And thank goodness because I made these Marshmallow Oatmeal Caramelitas and our lives have been forever changed. That sounds dramatic but I’m not kidding. These things are so good. The combination of the gooey caramel, melty chocolate, and creamy marshmallow is perfect against the oat and butter cookie base. Just make them already.

Marshmallow Oatmeal Caramelitas www.radmomcoolkid.com

Marshmallow Oatmeal Caramelitas

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
40 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
10-12 large marshmallows, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl: melt butter. Whisk in sugar, molasses, vanilla until smooth. Add flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and stir to combine.

Spread half of this mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Press it flat and set remainder aside. Bake 10 minutes.

In a large microwave-safe bowl: combine caramels and cream. Heat for 1 minute, stir. Repeat until the caramel has completely melted.

When the crust is done, remove from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Pour the caramel sauce over the chips. Place marshmallows all over the top of the caramel sauce. Top with the reserved oat and flour mixture.

Return pan to oven and bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned the center is bubbling.

Let the bars cool completely before slicing. You can speed up the cooling process by putting them in the fridge for a few hours but they are very hard to slice if they get too cold! You can store them, covered, at room temperature.

Marshmallow Oatmeal Caramelitas www.radmomcoolkid.com

Green Chicken Chili with Wayfair

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid.com

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid

We are just starting to return to normal after experiencing our first major blizzard. It was a long and crazy weekend (we got 31 inches – check out my Instagram for pics and video of the storm) but we made the most of being snowed in for 5 days by cooking, baking, and playing TONS of board games. Today, I’m teaming up with Wayfair to share a really yummy and easy recipe for green chicken chili. It feeds a crowd, is very forgiving if you need to substitute ingredients, and you can freeze the leftovers!

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid

This recipe started out from a slow-cooker recipe I clipped from a magazine years ago. It was not very great because everything slow-cooked itself straight to mush. I recognized the potential though so I started making it on the stove. It was good but it wasn’t until the store was out of a few ingredients and I had to get creative that it turned into something really worth sharing.

Green Chicken Chili
Serves: 12-14
Time: 2.5 hours, includes prep and cook time

3 small yellow onions, diced
2 Cubanelle peppers (can substitute any medium sized mild pepper), diced
2 Anaheim peppers (can substitute any medium sized mild pepper), diced
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can Great Northern Beans, drained
1 14 oz. can Navy Beans, drained
1 14 oz. can Cannellini Beans, drained
22-30 oz. can corn, drained*
28-30 oz. green chile enchilada sauce*
15 oz. salsa verde*
3 tsp. cumin
2 c. chicken stock, add more if needed
6-8 chicken tenderloins, grilled, cubed
cilantro, chopped
lime wedges
sour cream
tortilla chips

Saute onions and peppers with salt and pepper in olive oil until onion starts to brown. Add garlic and cook one minute.

Add beans, corn, enchilada sauce, salsa verde, cumin, chicken stock, and chicken. Simmer over very low heat 2 hours, adding more chicken stock if needed.

Serve with cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

* These amounts can vary depending on what can and jar sizes your grocery store has available. The last few times I’ve shopped for ingredients I have used varying amounts. Try to stay withing a few ounces of what I’ve suggested and it will turn out great! A note on the corn – it really adds some sweetness to the chili. We use a lot because we have kids and it helps cut the heat for them. Use less to start, you can always more later!

Green Chicken Chili www.radmomcoolkid

Let’s Celebrate with Bridgewater

Let's Celebrate with Bridgewater www.radmomcoolkid.com

Today I am so happy to celebrate Bridgewater Candle Company reaching their goal to provide 5 million meals for hungry children through the Light a Candle Feed a Child program!

Light a Candle Feed a Child

When you buy a candle in the Light a Candle Feed a Child program a portion of your money is donated to Rice Bowls, a non-profit organization. Rice Bowls uses each donation to provide 3 meals for a hungry child. In 2015, they reached the milestone of providing 5 million meals to hungry children around the world! The candles included in the program are the Small and Large Jar Candles, Mingle Candle Tins, and Inspirations for Life Tall Jar Candles.

Let's Celebrate with Bridgewater www.radmomcoolkid.com

Let’s Celebrate

To commemorate the milestone, Bridgewater has introduced a new fragrance – Let’s Celebrate! This scent is fresh and fun with notes of strawberry, mandarin, mimosa, honeysuckle, gardenia, buttery vanilla rum, sandalwood, and musk. It will leave you feeling happy and energized. Let’s Celebrate is available in small jar, large jar, votive, reed diffuser, sachet, wax bar, home fragrance oil, and auto vent clip.

Bridgewater is offering one lucky reader a fabulous Let’s Celebrate Package, valued at over $80. The winner will receive: 1 Large Jar Candle, 1 Small Jar Candle, 3 Votives, 1 Reed Diffuser, 3 Sachets and 2 Auto Vent Clips!

Enter below and be sure to answer the question:

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This contest is open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Must have a U.S. shipping address. No purchase is necessary to win. Contest will be open from 1/13/2016-1/17/2016. Winner will be notified via email. Winner has 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Perfect Last Minute Gift for Girls

Last Minute Gift for Girls - Printable! www.radmomcoolkid.com

Christmas is THIS week! Are you ready?!

I just have to pick up a pair of tights for Isca, some sketching supplies for Noa, a bag of oranges for stockings, and ingredients for Christmas dinner and dessert. I’m going to make a croquembouche. It will either be amazing or a total disaster. I don’t want to get cocky but I’m a pretty good cook so I’m leaning toward amazing…but once upon a time this happened so stay tuned.

Anyway, I wanted to share a great last minute gift for girls with you all. The thing I love about it most is you probably don’t even have to leave your house to put it together… I’m talking about our printable paper dolls!

Last Minute Gift for Girls - Printable! www.radmomcoolkid.com

Tips for Printing

I prefer to print the cover and dolls on card stock. The dolls need to be sturdy enough to hold the clothes and accessories. You can also laminate them with a laminator or you can seal each doll between clear contact paper. Both of these steps are optional – they will just make the dolls more durable. Once you purchase the download you can reprint the dolls as often as you like so no worries if you don’t protect them!

Print Multiple Times

Once you purchase this download it is yours to keep forever! You can print and reprint as often as you’d like. That means you can reprint one page if you made a mistake or lost an outfit. You can also print several copies as party favors or gifts. Personally, I am printing two packs as Christmas gifts for my daughters, Isca (7) and Hollis (4). We will probably print them out for birthday party gifts for friends this year, too!

Last Minute Gift for Girls - Printable! www.radmomcoolkid.com

As our Christmas gift to all of you we wanted to give you a coupon code for the Girl Pack which is good for 25% off through 12/25/2015! Just type in LASTMINUTE2015 and you’ll be good to go! You can also shop my Amazon store for paper doll supplies and accessories you might not have around your house!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody!

Gift Guide: Books

Contains affiliate links. Some products included in this guide were given to me for review.

Gift Guide Books

I have put together a gift guide with some of our favorite books we’ve read and learned from this year. Many of them are classics but they are books my kids have read over and over or haven’t been able to put down! I’ve also included some new coloring books we have available in our shop now. They are easy to print at home and fun to work on for children and adults!

Bambert’s Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Paper Doll Series: Girl Pack by Kailyn Cano

Adult Coloring Series: Zentangle by Kailyn Cano

Parent/Child Coloring Series: Animals by Kailyn Cano

Parent/Child Coloring Series: Zentangle Animals by Kailyn Cano

Jillee Bean and the One Good Thing by Jill Nystul and Samantha Hollister

The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering by Valerie McKeehan

Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert

Matilda by Roald Dahl

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis

The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis

You can find all our gift and style guides by clicking on the picture below!

Holiday Gift and Style Guides www.radmomcoolkid.com

Rad Mom Cool Kid

Rad Mom Cool Kid