Suburban Soiree

Movie Night: Aladdin

Disney, Movie NightAmy WileyComment

Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place… where the caravan camels roam… where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense… it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home!

I’m here to grant your wish for a unique, delicious movie night centered around one of our all-time favorites… Aladdin. We watched the original Disney classic in anticipation of the new live-action version that comes out next week.

We did this movie night years ago when the kids were pretty little and we were excited to do it all over again. It’s been remembered as a favorite over the years and the thing that sticks with them most is that we ate sitting on the floor in our living room. That’s right! We set the coffee table, covered some pillows with black tablecloths to sit on a dined as if we were in Agrabah. This little break from routine is so fun for kids… parents too.

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I used this sparkly purple tablecloth to set the scene. Aladdin’s lamp and a treasure chest of coins and jewels added a mysterious element to the table.


Mercury glass votives held flickering tealights and these napkins topped each plate. I also splurged on this dress for my daughter!


Eating “on the floor” is just too much fun. You could also use chocolate coins for the “handsome reward.”


All we were missing was the magic carpet.


Dinner was absolutely delicious. I personally love that movie night pushes me to find recipes far outside of what I would normally cook. This night we enjoyed schwarma grilled chicken and vegetables with pitas and yogurt sauce.


I still had the recipes printed out from the last time we did this movie night. You can easily search and find something similar. As for dessert…


How ‘bout a little more baklava???

This was time-consuming, but not difficult to make. My husband and son devoured it. It’s not really my thing, but that’s okay! You can find the baklava recipe here.


This was another memorable evening and now we are all brushed up on Aladdin and ready to enjoy the new version in the theater.


This movie is one I can pretty much recite word-for-word… how about you? Will you see the new one? Happy Friday!


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Adding a Little Structure and Learning for Your Kids During the Summer

SummerAmy WileyComment

Listen. I love summer. I love the absence of a schedule, the later bedtimes and… bless it… the lack of homework. If it was up to me, we would lounge around in caftans all day and not pick up a pencil until the first day of school. Alas, I’ve learned that my kids need to stay somewhat engaged with learning in the summer months and that a little structure does a lot of good. I also need them to help out around the house because we all know things get crazy with kids home all day!

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A Little List

My kids work well off of lists. Sure, they complain… but then they start working on the tasks I’ve laid out for them. I like to use small dry erase boards to make a list of a few tasks for them each day. I put these at their homework desks which are just off our kitchen.

In the evenings I make their lists for the next day. That way, I can linger in bed a little longer the next morning and they know what is expected of them when they wake up. These lists include:

  • A household chore or two

  • A little bit of learning

  • Writing a letter to a specific person, or a person of their choice

  • An assigned amount of reading

The household chore can be anything, any time. They are not on any kind of a rotation, but based on what would help me most! These tasks are anything from unloading the dishwasher to cleaning your entire room.

In addition to a chore or two that seems pressing to me that day, I ask them to do a little “school” work. I like these workbooks for summer learning and teachers have recommended these to me as well. They are grade-specific and should only take about 15 minutes per day.

I also love to have my kids write letters on summer days. This keeps them writing and using those skills, but also is a blessing to friends and family. I print out an easy-to-read list of addresses of family members and friends for them to use. The best part is that as the letters start going out, they soon start coming back in! The recipients are always eager to return the favor and that means a mailbox surprise for the kids. We write great grandparents, cousins, and friends who have moved away. Before the kids could read and write, I had them color pictures to send in the mail.

At our spring conferences I always ask our teachers what they recommended for the summer. Without fail, they always say KEEP READING! I ask my kids to read for at least 20 minutes per day and often we do this as a family after dinner. Trips to the library help keep our reading options fresh.

Once their lists are complete for the day, they are expected to go outside and play!

Limiting Screen Time

I feel like most parents these days are fighting the battle against too much screen time. Here is how I structure this in the summer:

  • We use this device to filter content and limit time online. I cannot recommend it enough.

  • We are declaring no screen time (TV, iPads, or video games) before 3 o’clock in the afternoon. If my kids start their day on screens, they are often grumpy and reluctant to do much. I like to encourage them to get things done, be active, be outdoors, then enjoy screens when we need a little afternoon rest.

  • This year I’m adding “Technology-Free Tuesdays” which is an idea from an Instagram friend. Y’all… I can’t wait

Friend Fridays

I’m the first to admit that I’m a bad play-date mom. I really just love being at home with my kids all to myself. However, we do love our friends and want to open our home to others. So, this year I’m launching “Friend Fridays” where each kid can pick a friend to come over and play. I think this will be a real blessing. Picking one day simplifies things and we will be sure to have plenty of snacks and fun waiting.

Fruits of the Spirit

I did this years ago and I’m eager to do it again. We take the Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5 and focus on one each week throughout the summer. It’s noting too involved, but I purchased these printable scripture cards to help keep us on track. We will read the corresponding verses and try to look for ways to practice each fruit that week. It’s a helpful reminder to everyone in our household.

With all of this in place, we still have plenty of time for our favorite summer activities: trips to the pool, lounging on the porch, playing outside and eating dinner outdoors. It’s going to be here so quickly and I can’t wait!

Tuesday Treats: Summer Essentials

Tuesday Treats, SummerAmy WileyComment

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Summer is almost here and I am counting the days… well, actually the minutes until school is out and we can enjoy some lazy days at the pool. Today I’m sharing my summer essentials to help you have the best summer ever!

Beauty & Sun

This sunscreen is my absolute favorite. It smells divine while protecting you from harmful rays. Grab a bottle or two so you’re ready to hit the pool, the park or the beach. I also love this perfume this time of year. It smells exactly like you hope you smell on a summer day… a mix of tropical scents and sun. Get a bottle for yourself or as a gift for the friend who shares their beach house with you! After all your fun in the sun, you’ll want a deep conditioner to revive your pool or beach hair. I discovered this one a few years ago… it’s technically “ethnic hair care” but I love it for my color-treated blonde. It smells great, too.

Lazy Lunch

I’m always thrilled to relinquish my lunch-packing duties at the end of the school year and then I remember… they still need lunch in the summer! Ha! This quesadilla maker is my go-to for quick and easy meals. You just need some tortillas and shredded cheese. I often throw in leftover chicken, too.

Summer Looks

Summer is all about taking it easy and getting out to see friends in the beautiful sunshine. These sandals are my absolute favorite to wear on a warm day. They go with everything. Seriously… everything. They are a great investment. Plus, they are on sale! I’ve owned these sunglasses for several years and I always get compliments on them. The pop of pink makes them extra cute… another thing you can wear every single day.

Bag It Up

It’s no small feat to pack up all the things you’ll need for a day at the pool or beach so you might as well love the bag you take along. I’m loving this flamingo tote (it’s less than $20!) and this monogrammed straw bag. Don’t forget to throw these flamingo towel clips in… they are a game-changer! Lastly, this cooler bag keeps a days’ worth of snacks and drinks chilled while looking fabulous.

Shop all these fun finds plus a few bonus items here.

Here’s to the arrival of sweet, sweet summer!

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