A Rhythm For Summer.

It’s my last day at school and I’ve got summer rhythms on my mind. As a teacher, of course I love a schedule. I think that most kids thrive when they know what to expect in their day. Summer is supposed to be fun though!! Throw the schedule out the window. Structure be damned!! You’re right, sort of. For me – if I go totally schedule free – it’s hard to toe the line between fun, carefree and go with the flow without losing my marbles on my three little boys. I’ve learned that the hard way. I like to meet somewhere in the middle between the rigidity of a schedule and the fluidity of free range parenting. And that’s where a rhythm comes in. What’s the difference between a rhythm and a schedule? Not much. A rhythm to me is more of a guide to your day. A schedule is more firm and typically has times.

Our rhythm may vary slightly from day to day because *hello* I still do want to be spontaneous and fun summer mom. I just don’t want my kids to wind up sitting in front of a tv all day because I haven’t thought of anything for them to do. The core piece of our summer rhythm is – in the morning we do a field trip outside of the house, and in the afternoon we stay home and get in the pool. The only firm times on my rhythm are that we need to be home from our field trip by 11am so we can have lunch and get Lukey down for a nap around noon and that dinner happens around 6pm. The other thing to remember is that my kids get up early. Like 6am early. So if your kids sleep in (you lucky duck), this outline might need some shifting to work for you!

Summer Rhythm 2023

Goals: Be flexible, have fun and live outside.

The Morning:
Work out first thing – take whoever is awake in the running stroller.
Shower and get ready before husband leaves for work.
Morning Chores
Art/Worksheets/Reading Time
Field Trip – home by 11am
Nap & Quiet Time for boys – Prep Dinner now!

The Afternoon:
Pool & Water Play
Indoor play or movie while I make dinner. Planning to do lots of grilling/easy dinners during summer, so minimal kitchen time will be needed.
Bikes, Chalk and Scooter play on the sidewalk while we wait for dad to get home from work.
After dinner walk or evening swim.

That’s it guys – that’s our summer rhythm! I think I’ll do a couple more *summer* posts this week – lunch and dinner ideas, field trips, activities/art projects, summer reading, etc. Nothing but fun with the occasional meltdown thrown in. Lol.

What about you? What do you do for summer? Any special schedules/routines you follow?

The Friday Post. [vol. 6]

Weeeeee! This week went fast, didn’t it? Or maybe it didn’t and it just went by in a bit of a blur for me. We’ve finally made it to Pizza night over here, and I can’t wait. I have a confession. I have not gotten it together enough the last few weeks to make homemade pizza. What with getting into the groove with school, I’ve just been wiped. So that dear, sweet husband of mine has been picking up pizza on his way home from work, and it’s kind of glorious? Like I don’t know what it’s going to have to come to for me to start making it myself again? I’ll probably get the urge after a few more weeks of this. But truly it’s been so nice to just be DONE. I just get to pick up my boys, go home, have a drink, and put my feet up. Such a treat. I have no reports other than that, so how about a few links from around the web?

I just finished this book and it was good! Took me a little time to get into it, but once I got to the good parts, I couldn’t stop. I think I’ll give it four stars.

Are you going to watch it?

My sister and I are having a Facetime date tomorrow night and are both making these. She starts school Monday and it’s a little farewell to our summer breaks.

The perfect little glasses.

I think I’m the Chore Jacket.

Making this for Lukey this fall, and picking the yarn up today!

All I’ve been able to think about baking lately, but I’m trying to make myself chill until at least September.

Definitely going to be recreating this in September too.

In other news, I’m going to get a little betta fish for the library, and I’m irrationally excited about it. I think I’ll name him Dewey.

What are you all up to this weekend? Anything fun? Whatever you do, I hope you kick your feet up and enjoy it!

Our Family Recipe Book.

A couple of years ago, my mom made everyone in our family beautiful bound books with recipes from the whole family. Grandma’s sugar cookies are in there, a whole bunch of my mom’s recipes (cheesecake, meatballs, crab dip, spice cake, etc etc etc.) my dad’s buckeyes & golden cadillacs (wait until the holidays roll around and I’ll talk more about those), my sister’s shepherd’s pie, my banana bread, my cousin’s mexican layer dip, my aunt’s bourbon slush. You get the idea. If it’s a recipe from the Brown family – it’s in the book. She handwrote all of the recipes, had them copied and gave each one of us kids one. A rather beautiful heirloom sort of gift if you ask me. It’s cherished and I pull it out more than several times a year. Especially on the holidays where we can’t make it home to Indiana – I just need those recipes from home.

Well, having that recipe book (my sister and I refer to it as “The Family Bible”), made me start thinking about my own family and the recipes that I make over and over again. You guys know I love to try new recipes, but there’s nothing like making a food your family knows and loves. Well, I decided to start our own family food bible. Calling it a cookbook just sounds too official, doesn’t it? And it’s not as if I’ve made these recipes up. They’re just ones we love. When I find myself reaching for a recipe more than once, or if my family especially loved it, into the book it goes. My favorite vanilla birthday cake recipe is there, my favorite biscuits, dinner rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and the like. It’s largely full of baked goods. I should probably start jotting down some of our dinners too. I’ll get there eventually!

I’ve mentioned my little recipe book several times on Instagram – usually a comment like “This is so good it’s going in the recipe book!” and I always get questions. “Tell us more!” “Where is your book from?” “What’s the recipe book?” Well, I’m sorry to break the news to you that it’s nothing very pretty or fancy at all, it’s just a blank sketchbook from Michaels. You can probably get them anywhere art supplies are sold, or any type of office supply store, but over the years, I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those precious “grab in a fire” items for our family. There’s something about a handwritten recipe, isn’t there? I use a smaller sketchbook as my gardening book too – I jot down what I’ve planted, dates, outlines, notes on how things are growing.

Do you have something like this? My sister has a binder where she prints off recipes and puts them in, and I know lots of people have little recipe boxes with cards inside. I do love this book though. Over time, I’ll tweak recipes and include notes or maybe put in some little memories. I can imagine jotting down what Charlie first bakes on his own, or Ben’s favorite pizza toppings, or that Luke would only eat yeast rolls when he was two. The cover will get worn over time and years of being pulled out for the Birthday Cake recipe and the Christmas Cinnamon Rolls, and the First Day of School Blueberry Muffins, and I think that will make it even more precious to me. Watch my boys not care at all about it when they get older. HA! Maybe their wives will. Or maybe we need to go for just ONE MORE baby, perhaps a girl?? (insert a heart attack from my husband.)

Recipes inside the Metroka Family Cookbook (so far)

  • Mascarpone Icing
  • Yeast Rolls
  • Lemon Poppyseed Bread
  • Christmas Cinnamon Rolls
  • Banana Bread
  • Favorite Granola
  • Homemade Ice Cream
  • Friday Pizza Dough
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pie Dough
  • Cut Out Sugar Cookies
  • Shortbread
  • Sourdough
  • Biscuits
  • Sandwich Bread
  • Mrs. Whitney’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy
  • No Bake Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • First Day of School Blueberry Muffins
  • Grandmama’s Blueberry Buckle

A February To Do List.

Feels a little late to be sharing this, February being a short month and it already being the 9th, but better late than never! But I can imagine this coming in handy next year when I’m looking for monthly to dos. I think I’ll share every month (but hopefully a little earlier next time!).

Now before I dive in, I should explain that I have a little monthly planning hack to help myself get more crossed off of my dreams list. Every month, I go through my calendar, and count how many weeks I have in which to fit a reasonable number of fun things. It’s generally four. So then, I have categories for things that matter to me. Baking, Treats, New Meals, Cocktails, and Home. Sometimes I change the categories, like if I want to focus on organization, for example, or marriage, mental health, physical health, the boys, outings, etc. What I’m saying is that you can choose any category you like. Then, for each of those categories I pick four things (or however many weeks we have) to do. So at the beginning of every new week during that month, I pick one thing from each of my categories and cross them off of my list. Doing my months this way makes me feel like I’m still getting to do what I love and I don’t get overwhelmed with the number of choices out there. Decision fatigue is real! Phew. Maybe I’ll have to post this little monthly planning hack again as a stand-alone post, but (drumroll please), here’s my February to do list – complete with links!


  1. Sugar Cookies with buttercream
  2. Lemon Meringue Pie Bars (I already made this and wowzas. They were so. dang. good.)
  3. Strawberry Pie
  4. Cinnamon Rolls

Treats (We usually make these on Thursdays after school)

  1. Brown Butter Rice Crispie Treats
  2. Heart Inside Cupcakes
  3. Name Cookies

New Meals

  1. Chicken and Bacon Pasta
  2. Sweet Potato Salad with Grilled Chicken
  3. Chicken Sausage Skillet
  4. Lemon Pepper Meatloaf (recipe coming soon!)


  1. Strawberry Mint Splash
  2. Blueberry Gin Sour
  3. Coconut Blood Orange Margaritas
  4. Blackberry Sage Bourbon Smash


  1. Valentines!
  2. Finish bathrooms
  3. Go strawberry picking with the boys
  4. Work on front yard landscaping

The Friday Post. [vol. 2]

In the grand scheme of fast weeks versus slow weeks – it was a fast one, but I can’t say that it’s one I enjoyed all that much. This morning, our whole street was blanketed in a thick sheet of fog. We drive down a mile long stretch of straight road to get out of our neighborhood and on my way to drop the boys at daycare (just Charlie and Ben. I’m still home with Luke.) it felt as if I was driving into oblivion with Charlie and Ben in the back chattering about where the moon might be. I’m not quite sure where the days went. Maybe I lost them somewhere up in there in the fog. And all week, despite being home with Luke and not doing nearly as much as I normally do, when the days were over I tossed myself into the couch and almost immediately fell into a deep dreamless sleep, waking around 11 when I realized I was not tucked in my bed as I should be. I’m glad it was a fast week because honestly I’m ready to move on to the next one.

Things are going full speed ahead in our primary bathroom remodel. Everything has been torn apart, and the task of putting it all back together again has started. Drywall is going up today, electrical work is done, and next week tile will start to go up. That’s when it starts looking like a bathroom again instead of an empty shell. We’ve made our picks for tile, but still have to pick up everything else. Honestly, I think it’s going to wind up looking an awful lot like the boys’ bathroom except with a shower instead of a tub and that will make for a very happy bathroom indeed. Should be done in another week and a half, just before my parents arrive for their annual February stay.

This weekend will consist of trying to get my bearings, trying to decide if Luke is well enough to go to school on Monday, and I hope lots of fresh, clean, healing air. What have you been up to? I hope you had a lovely week. How about some links from around the web?

I’m pretty sure this cinnamon toast is what dreams are made of.

Broccoli soup. yum.

My friends were all chatting about this earlier this week and now I’m obsessed. Have you tried it?

If you’re in the US – run!

I saw this dress the other day and can’t get it out of my mind.

How to be more successful and less stressed.

I’m dreaming about all the places in my house I want to stick a sconce.

Adding to my list of February cocktails.

Have a great weekend, friends! ♥️

On (Working) Mom Guilt.

Luke is sick. Has been all week. We had Monday off for Martin Luther Jr. Day, and he woke with a cough that got steadily worse through the day. Tuesday morning, I woke up at 5am for my school day as normal, got myself ready, the big boys, and then went to wake Luke up and get him ready too (he’s generally my “late” sleeper). He seemed a little tired and weepy, but I was ready to push through and was honestly in a bit of a rush to get us to school on time (I abhor being late). I was totally tunnel vision. ***MUST GET OUT DOOR*** My husband leaves later than we do, so he was holding a very limp-looking Lukey against him as I buzzed around the house barking orders at everyone then trying to morph those orders into a fun game like the toddler drill sergeant I can lean toward in the mornings. The need to run a tight toddler ship and all. Mike asked me a couple times if I wanted to stay home with Luke because he didn’t seem like he was feeling all that well. Nope! I answered. He doesn’t seem like he has a fever. He’s good. It’s just a cough. We’re going to school. My husband defers to me on these things (as he should. lol).

I was finally finished corraling everyone and everything, so I leaned in to grab Luke and I finally stopped to take a look at him. He had his eyes closed and was leaning on my husband’s chest with his arms slack at his sides. His cheeks were flushed and an audible wheeze was rattling in his chest. I felt his forehead and, of course, fever. Enter Mom Guilt. Hit me like a ton of bricks, as it tends to. He was so very clearly not ok. I was so ready to just push through and get us to where we “needed” to be at any cost, when clearly home is where he needed to be. 

I know, I know. You’re thinking – “It’s ok mama! You realized! You did the right thing in the end.” because you are my sweet, kind, supportive readers. But if you’re a parent – you know what I mean. The guilt that you’re not doing the right thing. That you didn’t immediately realize what was best for your child because you were thinking about what you “needed” to do for work. Anyway – I’ve been home all week because that cough has since turned into pneumonia. Breathing treatments, steroids, doctors visits every day and the threat of the Emergency Room if he didn’t get his oxygen levels up. Still can’t believe I almost sent him in to school like that. 💔 mom guilt of the most extreme case and gosh does it burn.

But that’s not all – on the other side…you have working guilt. I’m a teacher – an elementary school librarian – and did you know there’s a teacher shortage? There’s a substitute teacher shortage too. So while I’m out – no one is covering my classes. Teachers just don’t get their planning when they have media for fine arts. A whole week of letting down 40 teachers. No one covering my morning or afternoon duties, my lunch duty, my various extra classes that I cover. I can only imagine what they’re saying. “I wish I could take a whole week off too, but I’m here doing my job like I’m supposed to.” No, maybe they don’t all know that my son has pneumonia and he needs me, but it doesn’t stop the guilt. And it won’t be the last time I’m out this year. I’m sure of it. Just as it’s not the first time I’ve been out (we had a nasty run of RSV earlier this year, croup cough another time, and several weeks of quarantines for contact tracing at the beginning of the year).

I was chatting with Mike’s sisters and mom the other day, and his sister who has four kids and is also a teacher told me something I just really needed to hear. “You will never look back and wish that you had been working during this time. Luke needs you. I used to feel so guilty about missing school for sick kids, but not anymore. I remember missing a lot of school when ours were young. It’s just a phase.” And she’s so right! But it’s sometimes hard to tell your mind something that your heart knows. Anyway – I’m sure that Luke will be better next week, and I’ll be back at school, and in a few weeks I’ll go through this spiral all over again when he or one of the other boys picks up something else. For now, I’m going to try my best to enjoy the baby snuggles, being home, and hot coffee on tap.

An Small Idea for Prayer.

When I was probably 8 or 9 nine years old, my mom and I were in the car driving somewhere or other. I don’t remember the errand, but I will always remember something that she told me on that drive. We had to pull over to the side of the road for a fire truck speeding past us going to help someone. My mom told me that every time that happens, we should say a prayer for the people they’re going to help. Now, I have to tell you that I’m not someone who sets aside time to pray every day. We’re catholic and go to church (sporadically these days what with the current health crisis), but I spend most of the mass managing my three boys and praying that we make it to the end. lol. And of course, I send up a personal prayer when I feel like I need to, but to this day, anytime I see a see an ambulance, fire truck, or police car with its lights on, I say a prayer for the people who they’re going to help. Think of all the prayers that could be said for those people if we all started doing this. And it just means that in some small way we may be helping someone in crisis.

Do you have moments you pray? I’d love to hear. I keep thinking that the boys’ should start saying evening prayers before bed too, so maybe I’ll try to start that this week.

Making Every Day Special.

If you follow me on instagram, I’ve talked many times about a document I made several years ago after having my first son, Charlie. To give you a little background – I was just going back to work after maternity leave and felt so sad about it all. I wanted to stay home longer with him, quit my school librarian job, throw caution, our family insurance, and my pension to the wind, but I just couldn’t. But after I had a second son, and then a third, I’ve since come around to being a working mom and I’ve actually found that I am a much more balanced and happier person this way. Now…of course, I am on a teacher schedule which I highly recommend if you have kids and are looking at work options. I have summers off, long holiday breaks, I get off at 3pm every day, and I don’t take any work home (Let it be know that I often did have to bring work home my first few years of teaching and of course I have no homework, papers or tests to grade).

Ok but that’s right now – when I started back at work after that very first maternity leave, I was struggling emotionally and just with figuring out routines and how to make days meaningful when I was so tired all the time from working all day and then caring for a child all night. I would sit in my office while pumping and watch the online video feed of my son crying at daycare and I would cry too. I would get so upset about how unnatural it is to separate a mother from her child at 12 weeks when he was just so tiny and helpless and needed his mama. Phew! I’m getting emotional just thinking back on it.

Well…I soon got pregnant with a second son and decided that something had to change. I had to figure out a way to manage it all – to make childhood magical and special for my kids even if I was so freaking tired I couldn’t even think about how to get to bedtime every night. I wasn’t depressed. I was just struggling with how to do it “all”. And no one was going to figure it out for me. If I didn’t make the memories happen – they just weren’t going to happen. My husband is wonderful, caring and everything one could want in a partner for life but he doesn’t really care about having green milk on St. Patrick’s Day, God love him. I found that things were passing by without me noticing. I forgot St. Nicholas Day, I forgot to send a homemade card from the boys to my mom for her birthday, I realized my husband’s half birthday had been the week before. These things matter to me. All these special, (seemingly) silly little moments passed me by without me doing anything about it. My life was being lived. Not celebrated. And not to mention that we didn’t have clean laundry because I kept forgetting that I had to do a load of laundry every day, and I had to make dinner every night and also somehow keep the house clean and get the boys to daycare and myself to work on time?? After many weeks (or was it months?) of floundering – enter, The Document.

As a librarian, I have a mind that likes to put things into categories. (I live by the Dewey Decimal System after all). So I started to think through what things are important to me. Tradition. Family. Celebrating major and minor holidays. Baking. Acts of Kindness. Food. Having a clean house. Predictability. I am a huge believer in rhythms. If you know nothing about rhythms or the importance of routine for small children, try reading Simplicity Parenting. It’s one of my favorite parenting books and gave me so much inspiration for what I wanted my own parenting to look like. Anyway. I could go on at length about all of these ideas, but I wanted this post to serve as a little introduction to these ideas, and where Making Every Day Special came from. I especially wanted to have a place on here for this spreadsheet that I made to manage our life. It may seem a little structured and boring to you at first, but I feel like it has helped me so much in just wrapping my brain around doing “it all”. I’ll probably use this space to talk through some ideas for celebrating life every day, but now this document has a place to live!

Just click on this link to make a copy of the Making Every Day Special that will go directly to your Google Docs. If you don’t have Google Docs – Here is the Word Document.

I left my text in there to give you ideas for things we do and celebrate, but make it your own! I usually go through throughout the year and add and delete things for the new year. Delete everything that doesn’t speak to you, and add new columns for things that are important to you.

Parenting Tip #1: Check and Double Check the Crib Sheets.

I wanted to start things off right here with letting you in on the most embarrassing parenting story that’s happened to me lately… I’m not sure why this is jumping out to me as what should begin my writing career with, but here we are. My heart is set and it won’t be changed.

Let me set the scene for you. It was a Monday night (much like tonight) in the not too distant past. We had just gotten the boys down to bed, and were beginning the arduous task of cleaning the house from top to bottom. My husband is always on kitchen duty, and I am on laundry and general tidying duty. So I was sitting on the couch surrounded by my boys’ tiny folded things, listening to my audiobook when my husband called to me laughing from the other room. “Uh, honey.” “Mmhmm?” I replied, not knowing that soon my life would be irrevocably changed.

But when he came in he was holding something very small, very lacy and very…leopard print. A thong. It was my thong. Now…I am known to wear the occasional thong every now and then if my chosen outfit requires it. I am a strong proponent of the anti-VPL community. But I’m not normally a lacy leopard thong kind of gal. More sensible comfort thong with a little lace because I like pretty things. But I won’t deny it. This leopard print thong was mine. Well, I thought, nay! I hoped! to myself that maybe I dropped it from the laundry when I was carrying the basket to the couch. But those hopes were dashed when he said these next awful words, “Look what I found in Lukey’s lunchbox.” And that’s when it all became clear, friends… On Mondays I send in freshly washed crib sheets and blankets for each of the boys. My thong was found inside one of the pesky corners of Luke (our youngest)’s crib sheet and one of his kind teachers then returned it to us in Luke’s lunchbox.

It’s been a few weeks, so the memory burns a little less, but I also wonder if I am now known at the boys’ daycare as The Thong Mom. Maybe it would have been kinder for the teacher to just throw it away and I would be none the wiser? What do you think? In the end – let my mistake be a lesson to you – always check and double check the crib sheets before sending them in to daycare. Hope you guys had a great Monday! No thongs found in any lunchboxes tonight, so I’m doing just fine.

(The boys’ matching monogrammed school bags are from LL Bean. They’re the medium boat and tote and they work wonderfully for daycare trips, and when the boys turn into school age boys, they’re perfect for library book bags.)