Family Fun – Make Your Own Pizza Night

family fun make your own pizza

I love spending time with the kids and creating opportunities for family fun. I’m always trying to think of ways to create quality time with them. Quality time doesn’t always have to mean doing something big or expensive. We do pretty regular family game nights and movie nights, along with a smattering of other activities. (Check out my Geocaching post for example.)

But even when doing a chill family night in, people need to be fed! So I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and do a make your own pizza night! Everyone can experiment with putting different toppings on different slices, or just go ahead and make their good old favorite style of pizza.

By getting everyone involved in cooking dinner, you create a sense of togetherness while also creating a sense of independence and fostering living skills. Sitting around the table making pizzas, also creates a general light heartedness amongst everyone. Maybe it’s the casualness of the food – or maybe it’s the fun of not having to agree on what to make and eat. Whatever it is, it is the perfect time to talk and joke and just generally enjoy each other’s company.

It does involve a little prep, but it’s pretty simple.

If you have the time to make the pizza crusts too, more power to ya! There are many advantages to that. But to make it quick and easy (because those hungry bellies DO need to get filled), you can easily buy pre-made pizza dough.
So you’ll need dough, sauce, and any toppings you have on hand.
My kids like cheese so, even though I don’t eat it, I bought cheese for them. Things like spinach and mushroom are pretty easy because they’ll cook down enough on their own when you cook the dough. I had some broccoli and cauliflower on hand. The kids like when I saute it, so before we began I sauteed it. It was one more step, but one more I thought would pay off in child vegetable consumption. It’s up to you if you have time or want to include something that would add steps like that. Maybe leftovers would be a great option.

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

I love seeing them experience a bit of independence in a life skill. It gives them confidence.

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

They crack each other up!

family fun pizza night - vegan pizza

I make mine vegan with no cheese. And I love veggies!
My camera conveniently died before I got a picture of the kids’ pizzas.

But the dough had directions to cook for 12 minutes. So once we got finished, I slid them in the oven (the kids’ first) and then we were able to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. And play games and hang out while eating pizza.

Learning, bonding, and eating. Le sigh…

family fun make your own pizza
Pin me!
Continue Reading

Make Family Dinnertime Work for You

Family Dinnertime

We’ve all heard that kids who eat dinner with their families:

  • get better grades
  • are less likely to do drugs
  • have higher self esteem
  • have an increased chance of graduation
  • have a lower risk of childhood obesity
  • etc, etc.

It seems like everyone is always touting the benefits of family dinnertime. But you are busy! You work late. The kids have sports after school and play rehearsal in the evening. There’s hours of homework to be done and dishes in the sink. So how are you expected to do this whole family dinner thing too on top of it all?

Firstly, don’t stress over it and don’t beat yourself up. There are ways to make it work for everybody.

It doesn’t have to be dinner.

A lot of the benefits of family dinnertime come from the sense of togetherness it brings, not solely from the food.
So if you tried to find a day that would work for you but there just isn’t one try a different meal. Maybe in the morning everyone leaves at the same time, so you could plan to have breakfasts together. Or after Saturday morning soccer games everyone gets back home at thes same time so you could arrange to do Saturday lunches every week. If that doesn’t work either, try a snack time before bed.
Food is an easy excuse to gather a family around a table, but if there really is no way to schedule a meal together, any kind of regular family time that allows for or facilitates conversation and togetherness can provide many of the same benefits.

Keep it stress free with easy meals.

Dinner doesn’t have to be gourmet. Trying to create entire fancy meals can be daunting and stressful. If you are stressed out during mealtime, you and your loved ones will probably not receive the full benefits of being together. Make it easy.
That Taco Tuesday we mentioned? An easy meal to throw together. The kids can even help rip the lettuce or take toppings to the table. Another favorite of ours is simply veggie sandwiches or wraps with homemade fries. Baked potatoes with lentils, veggies, or even just broccoli are great. Soups are easy to make. Rice bowls are quick if you make the rice ahead of time. Know simple recipes that everyone likes and keep simple foods on hand.
Meal planning can also help with this. Make ahead meals, slow cooker meals, things that are ready for you when you walk in the door are wonderful. One way that I make meals easy when I know we have a crazy week coming up is by utilizing a meal delivery service. Purple Carrot is one I use and highly recommend. (Read my review here.)

Get everyone involved.

The kids can help cook. They can also help clean up. They can put their dishes in the sink at least if they are really little and the older ones can put them in the dishwasher. The more people pitch in the easier it becomes for all.FamilyFamily Dinner - Make it Work for You

Pick a day and schedule it.

If you can’t have family dinner everyday, find a day during the week that people are home or at least, less busy. Maybe your kids don’t have anything scheduled for a certain day or your spouse can come home early one day. Dedicate that day to family dinners and let everyone know they are expected at the table.

Make it an event.

My kids love the idea of Taco Tuesday. That is an event they would never miss.
Often, on Fridays, we have picnic night. In the winter, when we can’t go outside, we put blankets and a tablecloth on the floor and have an indoor picnic.
My cousin has 4 daughters and 6 grandkids. He loves to cook out so the whole family – kids, grandkids, husbands, and boyfriends all get together and have a big family dinner on the weekends. It’s such a beautiful event with so much love and energy in the air that everyone looks forward to it and can’t wait to get together.
Big or small, making an event of it makes it fun for everyone.

Family Dinnertime Pin
Pin Me!

How do you find time for family bonding?

Continue Reading

Break the Pattern! | Stress Management

break the pattern | stress management

“I dropped my cereal. I stepped in a puddle. My socks are wet. I don’t like these I didn’t have time to do my hair properly. And I can’t find a headband!” My daughter began to sob in my car as she began her Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day type of tirade. I felt like I was looking at the me from certain parts of my life in the past. I knew where this could be headed. So I had to do something about it.

Not many people know this but I’m a pretty big Tony Robbins fan. And in the recent documentary I Am Not Your Guru, he reiterates one of his techniques which is to “break the pattern.”

My daughter was creating a pattern in her head. She was looking for all of the bad things that happened to her that morning. And I was afraid that she would continue to look for the bad things that happened to her during the day and just be miserable.

So I thought I have to break the pattern but how?

Tony Robbins uses humor a lot and sometimes adult language among other methods (but for some reason that’s what popped into my head in the moment) neither of which would work in this situation. Mostly because, while I think I’m hilarious, my kids don’t always feel the same way.

So I said “Man that seems like a lot of bad stuff that happened already this morning. Now tell me something that happened good this morning.”

She got quiet. She had to change her thinking. I did it. I broke her pattern.

“Anything, even the littlest thing. The weather. Do you like the change in weather?”


“Okay tell me something else then.”

“Well I wasn’t mad when I woke up.”

“You woke up on the right side of the bed. I’m happy for that!”

“No I didn’t. . . I woke up on the left side.” Humor! She had now broken her own pattern and was creating a new one. “I have three tests today.” I asked her if she knew what was going to be on the test and she said yes. “So you’re prepared!” I exclaimed. She agreed and continued to tell me about the tests and the classes. By the time we got to school, she hopped out of the car with a smile on her face and walked into school standing pretty darn tall.

Have you ever seen yourself or someone you love start that negativity spiral? Break it! Try to pull them out of that funk before it becomes a pattern that hangs over them like a dark cloud.

  • Use humor.

    Making someone laugh can begin to break through that negativity and open a door for further conversation.

  • Surprise!

    The element of surprise can change a person’s thinking by figuratively knocking them off balance. It has the power to stop people in their tracks. Then there’s the opportunity to change their focus.

  • Physical Activity.

    Movement, changing your body’s position in space can change your perspective both literally and figuratively. Go for a run. Do mountain climbers. Drop and give me 50. Or whatever. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine – feel good chemicals. Plus when I finish exercising, I always feel slightly more accomplished. Like I can check something off of my to-do list or like I’m worth taking some time to take care of myself. This is also a great long term strategy. (See more below.)

There are also long term strategies to help you naturally improve your abilities to deal with stress.

  • Physical Activity.

    Regular physical activity can improve sleep, mood, concentration, and memory. It can help to handle stress and increase daytime energy. Over time, some studies even show that regular exercise could help symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Just make sure to check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

  • Practice Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness involves staying in the present, allowing things to happen without judgment. There is mindfulness meditation (see below), but you can also use mindfulness in your everyday tasks. Stay in the moment. If something bad happens. It’s okay to experience, to feel upset, but then let it go. Because right now is the only time you can experience right now. So why waste it worrying about the past or the future. (Of course that’s not to say you can’t mourn or grieve, that is important. Or do tasks that will improve your future – everything you do right now should be for a better future, but enjoy doing it, not fretting about it.)

  • Meditation.

    You can meditate. Trust me you can. So many people say that they can’t, but I don’t know anybody whose mind can be in so many different places at once as me. Seriously for months, I would sit down to meditate and write stories in my brain, my head would go as far as to make up my own songs or greeting cards. I would think about work, school, the kids, something funny. And of course the never ending to-do list was running like a loop in the background the whole time. It’s okay if it feels like you are just always thinking. (Kind of how I’ve always said I do my best writing in the shower. It’s a time when things slow down and my mind just feels free to roam.)When your mind has a mind of it’s own, it’s okay to observe that thought. But then let it go. Don’t judge it. Just release it. Bring your focus back to your breath or intention. It takes time. Start with something small like 5 or 10 minutes a day. It didn’t take long before I began to see a change in my ability to handle stress and to have internal happiness, not dependent on external forces. I learned to slow down and process where I was in the moment. I’m not perfect, but progress is progress.

  • Practice Self Care.

    It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact it’s just the opposite. If you don’t take care of yourself and are already hanging on by a thread, one more stressor could make it snap. Take care of yourself. Build yourself up so no single event can knock you all the way down.

break the pattern | stress management pin
Pin me!

Don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter!

Continue Reading

Breakfast Quinoa – Easy Breakfast Ideas

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

Easy breakfasts that are also healthy, filling, and delicious are like gold in our house. They are what make our morning routines run smoothly.

This recipe for breakfast quinoa is not only all of those, but it is nice and warm for these colder mornings. It can also be a make ahead meal or as a bulk meal – you can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge and warm it up with some more milk (or make the quinoa and add the ingredients in the morning. And it’s good for a backup plan meal because it uses ingredients I generally have stocked while still being plant based – not processed! After a nice big bowl of this, I feel like I’ve given myself and the kids a good start to the day!

This can be made the night before or made in the morning with fairly little fuss. It does take about 15 minutes to cook quinoa but it’s fairly low maintenance. So I can start waking the kids up once I’ve turned the heat down. Just make sure to set a timer and don’t forget it’s on the stove!

Breakfast Quinoa with BerriesEasy Breakfast Quinoa

1 cup water the
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup-1 cup frozen berrie
maple syrup (approx 1-2 Tbsp)
almond milk (about 1/2 cup)
cinnamon (approx 2 tsp)

*Easy Breakfast Quinoa Recipe*This is generally enough for my kids and myself. I’ll often double it and then keep whatever’s left for the next day. It will be super pink from absorbing the liquid and might need an extra dash of milk if you like it a creamier consistency the next day.

Make it:
Boil 1 cup water.
Rinse off the quinoa and add it to the boiling water.
Turn the temperature down, cover your pot, and let the quinoa sit for about 15 minutes or when the water has been absorbed and you can see the “tail” separating.
Add the frozen berries when the quinoa is still warm, mixing them in to melt them.
Stir in the maple syrup (to desired sweetness), almond milk (to desired consistency), and cinnamon or other spices (to desired flavor).


Let me know what you are loving for breakfast these days!

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

Don’t forget to sign up for the Mom is Such a Newsletter. Stay up to date with tips and tricks for making healthy living an easy part of your everyday life And receive your Ultimate Guide to Your Perfect Evening Routine!  Sign up here!

Continue Reading

Geocaching – Free (Outdoor) Family Fun

I had heard of Geocaching years ago.

It’s one of those things that I think sounds so cool, I vow to put on my bucket list (I even put it on my Free Out of the Box Date Night Ideas post!), and then I just don’t actually do anything about it. Those are just the kinds of things, though, that I rely on to keep my family active and interested.

Over Thanksgiving break, I knew I had to think of something cool for us to do as a family. That’s when Geocaching popped into my head again. I could take the kids! It’s would be like treasure hunting. And who doesn’t like treasure hunting? That has to be fun and earn me a couple cool points!

I downloaded the Geocaching app a few days ahead of time. I’m glad I did. It gave me time to log in (apparently I had registered my e-mail address yearsssssss ago) and see what caches are nearby. So the deal is that the free version of the app only gives you access to the information for the easy finds. That was just fine for us since we are just beginning.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading

Cardboard Halloween Gravestones

We made these super last minute last year. I hastily posted them anyways, but here’s an updated repost in a semi timely manner.  We are remaking new ones this weekend. They are so simple, fun, and free (or inexpensive depending on the status of your children’s paint stockpile).

Last year I got boxes from the kitchen at my office. They stocked up on sweets at Costco so I grabbed the boxes before they hit the recycling bin.  This year we’ve had a fair amount of deliveries, shipments, and moves so there seems to be cardboard everywhere. We just grabbed some.

Continue Reading

Where Have I Been?


I’m baaaa-aaaack!  I know I’ve been entirely MIA for the longest time. I attempted a couple times to come back or repurpose other things (okay thing) I have written to keep myself relevant but I simply couldn’t keep up. Why? Well because Chaos complete and utter Chaos (yes, with a capital C).

My dad came home from the hospital in April. He had had a stroke in February. My mom and I were trying to make sure we visited him everyday, kept up with the social worker and the therapists, made sure the bills coming in were paid, did his laundry and brought it back on time for him to have clean clothes, and make plans for when he came home. We thought we were overwhelmed. Then he came home.

That man has always been mean and needy, but add a stroke, a few brain injuries, the inability to bear weight, and incontinence, and I guess anyone would be meaner and needier. But I’ve worked in health care, memory care, etc before in the past and never dealt with someone quite like this. But my mom and I were making it work. At least we had each other. If I had to take the kids somewhere, she watched him. If she had to go to a meeting, I watched him. And when we got frustrated, we could commiserate.

Mother's Day 2015
Mother’s Day 2015

Then she got sick.

After a week or two of feeling absolutely horrible, she finally agreed to get blood work done. That night the phone rang. It was the lab technician saying GO TO THE ER RIGHT NOW! I took her and she was immediately rushed to another hospital with an oncology ICU.  I told my brother and drove into town that night.

So I spent a lot of time trying to visit her in the hospital and still rush home to take care of my father. (There was one weekend that they were both in separate hospitals – he was diagnosed with a 100% blocked LAD, as well as 5 other blocked branches, and a 70% long block in his right coronary artery.) I wish I had had more time to spend with her in the hospital before she got too sick.

We received a call that she was in remission and we were all so excited. Even though she had been unresponsive for a couple weeks, she was in remission!!!  But then we found out about several other viruses she had contracted due to the chemo weakening her immune system. These were viruses that could not be treated. And the doctors said it was time for us to make the call to pull life support. That was the hardest night of my life. It was horrible. But I am trying not to remember her like that.

After that, there was still the funeral to plan. And my dad’s 24 care to attend to. He didn’t like me to be on the computer and had a hard time letting me sit down with the kids at the table 20 feet away as opposed to hovering over him the whole time. I do love my dad, but he called the police on me one time for picking my daughter up after school. And told me I have to wait until my brother comes back for Christmas to have a shower.  So stressed and overwhelmed ALMOST begin to describe how I felt.

It felt like not only did I abandon my home, my blog, and my dreams, but it felt like I abandoned and failed my kids and fucked up their summers (and part of their school year) if not more.

I just moved my father into a BEAUTIFUL skilled nursing facility. So now I can at least spend time with the kids, sleep during the night, and get life back on track. I’m still being called to go to the nursing home on a daily basis, but I think soon that will settle a bit too…let’s hope.

Regardless, I’m here now. And YOU are stuck with me! 🙂
(Please, please be stuck with me!) 


(p.s. my love and interest in health and sharing that health has grown due to my experiences and I am going to be working on a new professional blog. It’s not ready yet, but if you want a sneak peak you can check out the About Me and my first post about my September Favorites here and here. Keep checking back to both sites as some big changes will be coming soon!)

Continue Reading

Zoodles! – A Quick & Easy Family Friendly Meatless Monday

So I know I haven’t been around much lately.  It’s been a rough few weeks.  There have been a lot of serious illnesses and ailments in my family. (Not the kids – thank goodness!) But it has meant a lot of running around from one hospital to another, from one doctor to another, from one obligation to another. We end up eating on the road or coming home exhausted and don’t feel like cooking.

When my dad first had his stroke, I swore that I would do everything in my power to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Maybe we can’t always control what happens to us (although our lifestyle does have the ability to either mitigate or increase risk factors), but we can potentially improve our ability to rehab.  I quickly got overwhelmed and that resolution slipped as quickly as I had made it, but I know intellectually that that is when you need to take care of yourself even more.

Needless to say, I’m going for super quick, super easy, kid friendly meals I can throw together and clean up quickly.

Enter: Good Ol’ Fashion Zoodles! Man we love zoodles!



  • 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash
  • Vegan marinara sauce
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes  (**we tell you how I do this below, but I usually have them ready ahead of time)
  • SPIRALIZER (I’ve heard people say they use a vegetable peeler in place of a spiralizer, but I have not tried)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Insert the zucchini into the spiralizer and turn.  It works best if you apply some pressure, but not too much.  The kids love to help turn the crank and watch the curly-Qs come out.  

Catch the noodles on a cookie sheet or bowl. Then watch the kids fight over who gets to eat the core of the zucchini/squash that comes through. Making ZoodlesMaking Zoodles!

You can stop here and eat them raw if you would like. Or if you would like to sweat them out in the oven, place the cookie sheet with all of the zoodles in the oven for 20 minutes on 200.

Making Zoodles!

Top with the marinara sauce and roasted tomatoes.


And enjoy!  (Don’t forget to marvel at how awesome it is to see kids shoveling veggies into their adorable little faces!)

Making Zoodles!Spiralizing Squash

Now for the Roasted Tomatoes:

My kids don’t like to eat tomatoes.  I’ve finally gotten my daughter to the point that she will eat them thinly sliced on a sandwich/wrap/or even taco.  I don’t know why so many people don’t like tomatoes.  I find them cool and refreshing.  Anyways, I discovered that my kids will eat them roasted, plus they are so good in so many recipes this way.  So I get a bunch of cherry tomatoes, save some for wraps and roast the rest to be used throughout the week.


Cherry tomatoes
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Half or even quarter the tomatoes if they are bigger.  Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on them.

Put them in the oven for about 15 minutes on 400.  They are so delish when they are done!

Continue Reading

Meatless Monday: Portobello Cheesesteak

There are so many reasons to add a meatless meal night to your usual meal plan. It can have benefits for the environment, your health, the animals, and even your budget! I don’t want to be all preachy preachy so if you are interested in reading about Meatless Monday in more detail you can check their website out and more in depth reasons to start Meatless Monday here.

Okay, so yeah, you’re a knowledgeable mum. You’ve probably heard about Meatless Mondays about a zillion times by now. But “GIVE ME A HEALTHY RECIPE THAT THE KIDS WILL ACTUALLY EAT!” Hold on! Don’t freak out. I got you on this one. I have a kid-friendly, meat-free recipe that is so easy to throw together. Hold onto your hats! You wouldn’t even believe how good this next one is.


Meatless Monday: Portobello Cheesesteaks


Portobello Cheesesteaks are so easy to make! And they seem to be universally accepted. My kids love them. And I have made them for meat eaters before who quite enjoyed them and still ask for more. Couple that with the fact that they are super easy to make and I consider them to be a huge win.  Here’s how I make them.


Portobello Mushrooms – I use for for our family of 3.
Green pepper (optional)
A1 Sauce (or other steak sauce)
Hot dog buns or rolls
Olive oil (optional)
Cheese (optional)

What I Do:


  • Wipe the portobello caps, remove the stems, and scrape the gills out.  Slice the peppers into strips and marinate in the steak sauce. Set it aside. If you have time to let it sit over night even, the portobello will soak up more and more of the flavor in direct relation to the amount of time it is in the sauce.
  • Slice the peppers and onions into strips. Saute on the stove on medium or medium-low with a bit of olive oil or water.
  • After 10 minutes (or to desired tenderness), turn the heat up to medium and add the mushrooms and A1 sauce. Cover.
  • Toast the buns in the toaster or oven.
  • After about 5 minutes, the mushroom/onion/pepper mix should be ready. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the mixture into the buns. Serve with whatever sides you have available.
  • Be prepared to make more and more because everyone will want seconds!

Bon appetit!

Continue Reading

April/May Lifestyle Favorites

April Favorites - momissuchanerd.comI want to mention that I don’t consume just to consume. I would never buy or recommend a product that hasn’t actually improved our lives in one way or another. So these items are really ones that I can truly say have made a difference.

  1. Prepworks by Progressive Stainless Steel Herb Ball
    I love this little strainer ball. I ordered it when I was looking for a way to use loose leaf tea. I looked through a bunch of different products and this is the one I finally settled on. I didn’t realize how big it was, but now love the size because I can use it to make pitchers of iced tea all summer long. It just clips right on the side of a pitcher, so you can poor in the hot water, let it steep, and then cool it down. Add some fruit and you have the perfect pitcher of iced tea!
  2. Gear Beast Running Belt
    My car got hit on the side of the road and was in the shop for a couple months. During that time, I figured out that our new place is only a couple of miles or so from the kids’ schools. So I used it as an excuse to start running again. I would run to the school and then walk back with the kids. But I was running WITH MY PURSE! It was crazy, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be prepared. Finally, I ordered this running belt and while it looks small, I am able to fit my phone, ID, keys, and a snack in it. So I am so prepared!

  3. Thug Kitchen Cookbook
    I was given this cookbook by my brother and sister-in-law-to-be (that’s a lot of dashes). And I absolutely love it! I have cooked a number of meals out of it and I keep it propped up on my counter. I love the food. It is great and my new go-to. It is also amazing kitchen art. It’s so cool and a good reminder to “eat like you give a f*ck.”
    April Favorites -
  4. Zoob Racers
    I work full time from home and my son only goes to Kindergarten until 11:40 (plus I take care of my dad in the afternoons and evenings). So sometimes I need my son to be able to entertain himself. I do print out worksheets, put out craft projects, books, flash cards, etc, but sometimes a toy that he is able to play with by himself is a huge help. Plus I think that while I love to play with my kids, sometimes it is good for them to learn how to entertain themselves. Anyway, my mom gave my son these Zoob Racers for his birthday and they fit the bill perfectly. They are easy enough for him to do on his own (he’s 6) and he can either follow the instruction booklet or use his own creativity.
    April Favorites -
  5. My DIY Lattes
    So this is not a product, but it has revolutionized my mornings. I cannot keep spending money or other resources on picking up my Caramel Soy Lattes. My mom had instant coffee packets in her cupboard that she did not like and wasn’t going to use. So she let me have them. I decided to attempt to make my own version of a latte. I used the coffee packets (I know nothing about coffee, please let me know in the comments what kind of coffee you recommend), almond milk, and coconut sugar. I use about equal parts coffee and almond milk, whisking the almond milk on the stove to make it bubbly. I sweetened the coffee with the coconut sugar and then added the milk to it. I’ve started making them in mason jars. It fits just perfectly.
    DIY Latte - momissuchanerd.comDIY Latte - momissuchanerd.comApril Favorites -

You can watch me babble about them here if you would like:

What products have helped change your life recently?



***Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in the post. Should you use them, it will be at no extra cost to you, but will help support this blog.***

Continue Reading