Well, it’s been a hot minute since the last Friday Thoughts post. Sorry for waiting so long to get another one up! They really are some of my favorite posts to do…mostly because I love (love, love!) reading your comments. And I always feel like the reader who makes it to the very end of these posts deserves some massive award. Like, a lifetime supply of mail-order chocolate chip cookies or a magic wand to make all dirty dishes disappear.

2019 has hit our family full force. Not in a bad way, just in an extremely busy way with a few ups and downs and some time-filling projects, traveling, and responsibilities. I’m excited for this Friday Thoughts post to brain dump some of the things that have been on my mind! Let’s gooooo!

1. Game Thoughts: You already know me and my family are game lovers through and through. My holiday game gift guide that I post every year in November is one of my most popular posts (clearly I’m not the only one that loves card and board games!). Already this year, we’ve hit on a few games that have already become fast family favorites. I’m sure you’ll see them on my gift guide later this year, too, but I would be a very bad friend if I made you go eight more months without knowing about them!

First up is this Skull game {aff. link}. The premise behind the game is age old, and it is so super simple to learn and play. Basically, if you uncover anyone’s skull card, you lose. Plus, it’s a fast game so you don’t have to center your whole evening around one round. Love this one! Speaking of skulls, we haven’t had a ton of time for more than a couple new games, because literally all my kids want to do on Sunday nights is play Skull Kings {aff. link}, a game I mentioned in my gift guide last year. It easily ranks as one of our fave games in the history of ever. 

The other game we stumbled on and have played for hours over the last week or so is Superfight. It has an Apples to Apples/Snake Oil vibe but we all agree it is 1,000 times more fun. I bought the base game and then a few expansion packs (the green and yellow) {aff. links}. I’ve actually never heard my kids laugh as loud as they have while playing this game. It’s hilarious – you basically create character card combos that go head to head with another opponents’ character cards and you debate about who would win in a fight or challenge and then everyone votes on who would win. I find myself giggling about some of the combos during the day when I’m all by myself. (I need to get out more.) The cards in the black deck are very family friendly (I only had to pull one card out of the base deck that I wasn’t crazy about – but I haven’t been all the way through the zillion cards yet), and the green deck is particularly geared to kids. 

Also, I figured since so many of you have asked how we organize our games, I’d show you my super secret method. Here you go. Take lots of notes. It’s a pretty intricate system. 😉#sendhelp

2. Intermittent Fasting Thoughts: Anyone out there do intermittent fasting? I’ve read a lot about it and know the whys and wherefores, and some of the benefits are appealing to me. But when I tried it, I only lasted about four days (that’s kind of my track record with diet-y type things, haha, I lasted 4 1/2 days with the Whole30 years ago and consider that 4 1/2 days I’ll never get back). I was SO tired when I started intermittent fasting. Like bone-weary tired and about the worst grumpety grump mom in the universe and I just couldn’t hack it. Anyway, I’m interested to know if any of you are intermittent fasters out there! Talk to me. 🙂 

3. Screen Time Thoughts: Not only is it a challenging journey defining boundaries around screen time for kids, but, HELLO, adults (me!) struggle, too. I’m always looking for different resources to help me personally and my family as a whole navigate the murky waters of screen time/technology, and I LOVE the tips and guides over at Better Screen Time (on Instagram here). I’m using their quick guide to setting up a Family Technology Plan (not a cell phone contract!) for our family, and the self-evaluation guide for teens and phones that they have is really, really awesome.

My goal lately has been to take the “fear” aspect out of technology and screens with my kids – as in, me not parenting with fear surrounding those decisions, and instead create opportunities for us to talk about it openly as a family and create goals/plans together. Currently, my 14-, 13-, and 11-year olds all have school-issued laptops (with a pretty poor internet filter and also the realization that kids these days are much smarter than me and can get around anything), my 13-year old has an iPod touch he bought with his own money late last year with restricted access to the internet and apps, and my 14-year old has a very ancient slide phone. So…yeah, we are definitely not on the “current” end of the technology/screen time spectrum, haha, but what we do is working for us right now (including our nightly docking system and other rules), and if I’ve learned anything in this age of parenting, it is: what I do with my kids and my family is probably going to look different from other families, and any time spent comparing or stressing about that is time wasted. 

Don’t worry, I still compare and stress about it (#truth), but I’m getting a lot better. Having said that, I’ve also learned a tremendous amount from other intentional parents out there (and from resources like Better Screen Time). What resources have you found to be helpful? Any tips to share on screen time/technology with kiddos? 

4. IGTV Thoughts: Have you guys seen the videos I’ve posted to IGTV? Kind of a “Bake with Mel” series with a little bit of randomness thrown in there. Don’t have Instagram? No worries, I post them all here, too. Anyway, I have some FUN, fun videos coming soon. Later today or tomorrow I’m posting a Bake with Mel: Cream Puff vid in which I’m interrupted by a bunch of high school kids who came home unexpectedly after the high school had an emergency evacuation (everyone was ok). Spoiler alert: they were thrilled to eat cream puffs instead of sitting through history class. And, as you are reading this, I’m pretty sure, Sara from OBB is sitting with me in my kitchen filming another IGTV video that’ll be coming at you soon. This one is…well..special. Haha. We’re exploring all the trendy flavor combinations out there that people claim are lifechanging, and we are making each other try a few (I hope we don’t vomit). If you have a recipe that is tricky, scary, or a little sketchy that you want me to make on a future video to see if it’s worth it, let me know! I’m open to ideas. 

5. Teenage Driver Thoughts: We’ve officially entered this world with a permitted teenage driver. It seems a little surreal (so did that rear end accident the 2nd day of driving, yikes). But I keep reminding myself he’s gotta learn how to drive through roundabouts somehow, somewhere so it might as well be with his high strung mom. In all seriousness, I’ve surprised myself (and I think everyone that knows me) with how patient I’ve been (even if I am frantically slamming on a brake that doesn’t exist on my side of the car), and he’s doing a great job, and I’m really excited when he can finally drive himself places, and I’m sorry he has to learn to drive in a behemoth suburban, and I only have four more kids to go through this process, and someone please hold me. The end.

6. Recap Thoughts: I loved our discussion in January about positive parenting. Man, you guys inspire me so much. I can’t say that I’ve been 100% perfect in not letting anything but positivity cross my lips since then…but I have been so, so much better than in months and years past, and I think it’s making a huge difference in our home and family. I’m still determined to keep it up (even after those days I fail miserably). My friend, Nicole, shared this article in the comment thread of that Friday Thoughts post, and I gleaned so, so many great tips from it (the author has a book on the same lines hereaff. link). Her 10 tips at the end of the article are golden. Also, I just saw that Ralphie over at @simplyonpurpose (who so many of you love for parenting tips) is doing a free email course on “staying safe” or basically my alternate title: “how to stop yelling as a parent because it doesn’t work and never will.” It sounds pretty amazing.

Also, you totally blew me away with your response to the new cinnamon roll recipe I posted. I love your enthusiasm for cinnamon rolls so much, it almost makes me weepy. 

Last recap, I’m loving my new pantry about a thousand percent more than I thought I would. Honestly, it’s my favorite place. In the whole world. Not kidding. (Also, clearly not a world traveler.) My sister, Em, and friend, Deb, enlisted the help of our talented friend, Bobbi, and made me the most perfect sign for the pantry. Truer words hath never been written.

Love all of your guts! Thanks for being here. And please leave me all YOUR thoughts below. It’s my favorite part. 

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