Climbing The Family Tree – Free Printable

Climbing The Family Tree -

Family dinner with Superman’s side is 20 people.

I kid you not.  It’s a beautiful, loud, loving group, and when I first started coming as a newlywed, it was terrifying.  🙂  Family is so important, and we want our kids to grow up with deep and lasting relationships with our family – not just the 5 of us, but the whole big clans on each side.  Giving our kids a heritage of family ties?  Priceless.  To encourage this, I thought it would be fun to have this month’s family date day be a whole week of learning about and celebrating family.

Climbing the family tree, so to speak! 🙂

We started with a list of questions which we emailed out to the gang, and then we got to tabulate the results.  What followed was the fun of celebrating each of the unique people that are part of our lives forever.

Doesn’t that sound fun?  If you want to join us, read on!

Here’s where you start:

  • Email/Interview your victims loved ones.  My email said something like:

“Hi guys!  Alaina is going to put together a fun report about her family tree, and we need your help!  We are going to study YOU this coming week.  Can you pick a couple of questions to answer, and reply back so we can tabulate the results?  Stay tuned for an update after this week!  Thanks a million!


  •   Favorite Breakfast foods
  •   Favorite Lunch foods
  •   Favorite Dinner foods
  •   Favorite Desserts
  •   Favorite Thirst Quenchers
  •   Favorite Kid’s Book
  •   Favorite Way to Relax
  •   Favorite Songs
  •   Favorite Movie
  •  Favorite Movie Munchies
  •  Anything else you want to add! ????”

We got such fun answers (to maintain family confidentiality, we can’t divulge the super secret results, but some of them were silly, some were expected, and some were surprising!)  You never know what you’re going to find, and it is so fun to celebrate the family that you have.

  • Now that you have all the results, put it together in one place – I recommend a binder.  You can print off one of these pages for each person: Climbing The Family Tree About Page, and just fill in each of the blanks.  The kiddos can draw a picture of the loved one, or one of the things that the loved one enjoys, and BAM!  You have a special, personalized book that will become a family treasure for years to come.

I’m over at EvenHeroesHaveBeds today…join me for some tree climbing, heritage-celebrating fun!

Family Matters -

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Secret Agents – Operation: Random Kindness

Secret Agents Operation Kindness -

In a place and time where entitlement and selfishness are rampant, we think it’s so important to regularly practice kindness towards others, especially as a family.  This month’s date is ridiculously simple and easy, and the kids love the sneaky aspect of being a “secret agent”!

We’re going to spy school for the day.  So strap on your .007 persona and some shades, and pay close attention!

Secret Agents

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is as follows:

continue reading over at (but first make sure you’re not being tailed!) 🙂

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Favorite Things Date


Favorite Things -

Hey ladies, it’s been a good long month since we chased pirates, and 2 weeks since we put the art in heart.  Are you ready to love on that family some more?  I hope so, ’cause this is going to be FUN.

You know, sometimes I think that my family just really needs to know that I like them.  You know?  Oh, sure, I love them.  But their sweet little hearts sometimes just need to know that their mama likes them.  Appreciates their quirks and personalities and interests.  And Superman?  He likes to hear it and see it, too.  You get my drift.

So, without further ado…

It’s Favorite Things date day, girl.

It’s all about their favorite things.  This will be a completely unique date, because of course, every family is going to have a whole different jumble of favorite things.  I’ll tell you what we did, and then you can get creative and spoil them with a special day!!!

We started off with their favorite breakfast…who can resist fun pancakes with chocolate?


I made a princess, a dinosaur, and a lion – just in case you were wondering.  🙂


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And, of course, I needed a “J” pancake for my Superman – because my Joe is my favorite person.  If you knew him, you’d understand.  Seriously.


Then, after chores, we went outside hunting puddles.  So much fun…I may have even splashed in a few myself! 🙂


Then, we went to the playground.  We were all muddy within 3 minutes (in fact, I seriously doubt it took that long), but hey…when you’re little, mud is another favorite thing.

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Three adorable little faces…definitely 3 of my favorite things!

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And then home for lunch.  PB&J by special request.  They’re pretty easy to please.

Favorite Things Date -

Nap time was next, which is not their favorite time of day, but ranks pretty high up on my special meter.


Who doesn’t love “brown paper packages tied up with string?”

(Little gifts for everybody was a grand total of $10.  Like most young families, we are all about cost sensitive around here.) 🙂

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Then, we had one of Joe’s favorite dinners, and after the kids went to bed, Joe and I started on Season 2 of Leverage.  My sister in law got us addicted to it.  Thanks, Amy! 🙂

So there you go…easy peasy, and by no means Pinterest-perfect…but lotsa loving for these special people!  Now, it’s YOUR turn!

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Chasing Pirates

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If I grabbed your calendar and looked for blank space this week, I would bet Captain Hook’s hook that there’s precious little time unaccounted for.  Am I right?  We are already scheduling dinner plans with people for mid-March.  C-R-A-Z-Y.  And yet, as part of my New Year’s resolutions, I am making intentional plans to regularly shower my family with love (and grab as many other willing participants along the way as possible!)  Loving my man and our little tribe of Oompah Loompah’s takes effort, but boy is it worth it!  Last month we had a LET IT SNOW DATE and 2 weeks ago, my friend Stef at EvenHeroesHaveBeds wrote about her BOWLING FOR CHOCOLATE date night.  (Bowling?  Chocolate?  What’s not to love, right?)

This week, it’s all about pirates.  Hidden treasure, snapping crocodiles, a treasure map – oh, and lots of yummy food and silliness, too.  (We’re not talking about anything elaborate, here.)


Just decorate the table with some fun tropical-ish colored party supplies.  You could always get some fun printables and let the Oompah Loompahs go to town and decorate (or, if you don’t mind going the easy route, you can use fresh fruit to decorate like we did.)

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Enlist help to decorate a box for the treasure chest, and another HUGE box for the Pirate ship.  (We love Amazon Subscribe and Save for so many reasons, not the least of which is the mammoth boxes we receive on a monthly basis!)  🙂  Let your tribe go to work with paper and glue, markers, crayons, stickers – whatever!  If you don’t have a big box, you can always use couch cushions, or pillows, or anything your wild imagination can come up with!

Now, you’ll need something to go into that treasure box.  I ordered the kids each a fun book, but you could do a small toy, or a sweet treat, or anything else you know they would love!

Alaina got a Tinkerbelle book with a CD, which was a big hit!

And JoJo – who alternates between pretending to be Peter Pan himself, or the crocodile that chases Captain Hook – got his own copy of the immortal story. *happy two year old sigh*

Hide the treasure chest somewhere that your little pirates won’t find it, and make a treasure map.  It doesn’t have to be accurate in any way, just use fun names like “Hook’s Cove” and “Crocodile Lake” and so on.   Then tear up the treasure map and place one piece under each dinner plate.

See how cunning this is?  They have to work together to get the treasure!  🙂  (Insert sneaky mom laugh here.)  And yes.  You’re welcome!  😉

So now that the table is set, the ship is decorated, the treasure is hidden, and the map is distributed, it’s time to head to the galley and “starrrrrrt” cooking!

You can make any number of fun piratey foods, but we settled on barnacles and squid and island fruit.  (Also known to landlubbers as fried rice and chicken teriyaki on toothpicks and the fruit on the table.) Hey, it’s all in how you sell it, right?

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(A word of caution: I would strongly recommend removing the toothpicks before allowing your little pirates to serve themselves!  No one wants to go the E.R.!)

After everyone eats, it’s time to bring out the (wait for it….)


(You can get ’em on Amazon, which is easy, but they are WAY less expensive at Wally World or a dollar store.)

Everyone gets a sticky hand, and stands outside your designated pirate ship.  The last players to not stick their hands to the ship get tossed overboard to the crocodiles!!!   It’s a very silly game, but the kids loved it!  Until, of course, it digressed into an even funnier game of trying to whack each other with the sticky hands…but hey.  It’s all about great memories, right?  🙂

Then treasure chest hunting!

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(Please don’t judge my messy house!)

You can finish up with an appropriate pirate movie like Peter Pan: Diamond Edition (if you’re not independently wealthy, borrow it from the library like we do!)  🙂

And after the little pirate rascals are tucked into their hammocks, you and the hubs can go on your own treasure hunt!

This site contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.  Thanks in advance for your support! 🙂

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A Foot Washing Life

A Foot Washing Life -

Remnants of the cornstarch and conditioner play doh littered every flat surface within a 5 foot radius of the table.  It obscured the table, the chairs, and was spread generously over the floor I had swept mere hours earlier.  I picked up, and wiped down, and found myself crouched under the table with a little mountain of play doh crumbs that softly wafted the scent of strawberries and cream.  Staring somewhat sightlessly at the mess, I found myself ruefully reflecting on the truly endless nature of a homemaker’s job.

“It never ends, Lord.”  I whispered.

And I heard Him whisper back to my heart, These are the feet I want you to wash.”

It puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?  If Jesus wants me to wash stinky little feet and chase wriggly little people and clean up play doh crumbs, what of it?  I cannot be Mother Teresa, but this…this, I can do.  Serving my sweet family, giving what I can when I can to others?  Yes, I can do this.  It isn’t glamorous, but isn’t it necessary?  Who would do it, if not me?

It’s not mindless drudgery when it’s the ministry I’ve been given.  This ministry of little things and little people, little tasks, little sacrifices, little acts of faithfulness…it’s little bits and pieces fitting together into a master mosaic of beauty.

Our character is revealed in the little things, Jesus said.

Wiping fingerprints off smudged glass?  Scrubbing the nastiness of half a week’s worth of use off the toilet?  Bleaching garbage cans that reek of poopy diapers?

Foot washing, people.  And that’s okay.

Because I walk in the footsteps of a King who was not too proud to cradle calloused, smelly feet in the hands that span the cosmos.

“Go,” He said, “And do likewise.”

And when the weariness comes, and the smell and the dirt overwhelm, it’s His love that spans the cosmos-wide gap between who we want to be and who we find ourselves to be, supplying all that we need for life and godliness.

The how to and the why of that next foot we are washing …is Jesus.

This site contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.  Thanks in advance for your support! 🙂

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