Suburban Soiree


Gear Up for Shark Week!

Shark Week, Summer, Something to CelebrateAmy WileyComment

Shark Week is approaching (it starts July 28th) and as you know I love to plan ahead. I’m gearing up with snacks and supplies for us to devour the whole week. This is a perfect example of a way to bring fun into your home and shake things up. It doesn’t take much to make it over-the-top for your family… or you can host a viewing party!

Shop my Shark Week picks and get ready to prey on some serious fun…

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Beach Bucket Surprise Dessert

Tuesday Treats, Summer, RecipeAmy Wiley2 Comments

I have the most fun, festive summer dessert for you today. You serve it in a beach bucket because it looks like sand… but tastes divine! Dazzle kids and adults alike with this clever treat.


Isn’t it just the cutest? It’s super simple and delicious. This is the perfect kind of thing to serve at a summer play date, pool party, or barbecue.

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Beach Bucket Surprise Dessert


One stick butter, softened

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix

3 1/2 cups milk

12 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

2 packages of Golden Oreos

White and dark chocolate Melting wafers (my grocer substituted a chocolate baking bar in my online order and it worked just fine.)

Shell molds (like these darling ones)

Cute beach bucket (I had to have this flamingo bucket of course!)


Start by making your chocolate shells. Melt a little of each chocolate in the microwave then slightly mix a little of the dark into the white. Just barely swirl the two together, then pour into the molds. Put the mold in the refrigerator to harden. I have a random little mold from our local aquarium that I had to use twice to get enough shells. This one would work much better. The swirled effect makes them look more realistic.


Next, chop cookies very fine in a food processor or blender. This creates the “sand.” The white filling will disappear.


Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar together in a mixer. In a large bowl, combine milk, pudding, and Cool Whip. Add the butter mixture and mix well. Layer your beach bucket starting with some of the cookie crumbs, then a layer of the cream mixture. Repeat layers, ending with the cookie crumbs. Stick the sand shovel in and add the chocolate shells. Chill until ready to serve.


Doesn’t this just look like a day at the beach? Enjoy!

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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!