Having spontaneous fun with the kids on St. Patrick’s Day

One thing that helps balance our family out from the daily grind is to come up with spontaneous skits like this. So many people are so concerned about their image on social media and what people think of them. We have found that acting silly like this keeps the kid inside of us alive and reminds us not to care so much about what others think.

Do something crazy and spontaneous with someone you love today.


Creative punishment for kids

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The boys couldn’t get along playing basketball. So instead of playing ball, I had them write reports on presidents and present them to us today. They learned about the history and hopefully how to play nicely with each other. If not, there are still 41 presidents for them to write reports about. Ironically, not one fight broke out when we made Mabry Rushmore.

DIY No Sew Fleece Nap Mat Cover

Let me say this simply…the last couple days I have been struck with a case of “mommy meltdowns.” One minute I am fine and the next minute I look around at all the home projects piling up and I start to weep. Any other moms suffer from this?!? My car is a victim of post road trip nastiness. The garage/art studio has turned into a junk yard. Our landscaping is so overgrown it looks like a Bengal tiger should be pouncing out at any moment. The list goes on and on. My kids can help with some of the chores but honestly sometimes it just makes more work for me when they “help.” I keep reminding myself that school starts very VERY soon. Within the next couple of weeks all THREE of my kids will be going off to school. Yes, that is correct. I said all THREE kids. Whoop, whoop! I have graduated to a new stage of motherhood. Sawyer’s preschool is only for 10 hours a week, BUT that is 10 hours a week to check things off my to-do list…KID FREE.
I am channeling my focus on back-to-school prep and choosing to ignore my home “to-do” list until my new-found freedom arrives. So with that being said, I decided to make Sawyer a DIY no-sew nap mat cover for preschool this morning. This was a project that I could get done with the “help” of my kids…and let’s just say I had A LOT of help. We ventured out to JoAnns to pick out all of our supplies.  There was no shortage of no-sew fleece! The options were endless.  Sweet Sawyer was so excited with her choice of Frozen themed fleece.  Her joy made me smile.

Can you cut? Can you tie a knot? If so, you qualify to make a no-sew nap mat cover!


-1 nap mat  (I bought mine at Target)

-1.5 yards (length) of no-sew fleece to be used for the front and back of the nap mat. (JoAnns had a great selection).

-1 yard (length)of no sew fleece to be used for the blanket.



1. Cut the 1.5 yards of fleece into two equal sections.  Stack on top of one another.

2. Lay nap mat on top of the stacked fleece. Trim fleece so there is 4 to 5 inches of fleece bordering the mat.

3. Place nap mat in between to two layers of fleece. Cut 1″ fringe, 4 to 5 inches deep, all around the stacked fleece except for the top part. Cut corners out.

4. Tie the top piece of fringe and bottom piece of fringe together along the length of the sides and bottom.

*Ignore the top of my mat.  I didn’t trim it before I took the picture. However, this picture shows what the sides and bottom should look like once tied. I guess I am my own rule breaker.

5. At the top of the mat, cut the top piece of fleece straight across. Do NOT cut the bottom piece.

6. Tuck the bottom piece over the nap mat and under the top piece of fleece. This step is to make it easy to slid the mat out for when the cover needs to be washed.img_5106-3


7. Poke the fringe out of the side knots and tie to a piece of fringes.  Do this on both sides of the mat. The cover is finished!img_5107

8. Flip the nap mat over so the bottom piece of fleece is now on the top.

9. Lay the remaining 1 yard of fleece on top of the covered nap mat. Leave 4 to 5 inches of fleece hanging off on one side and the bottom. On the other side of the nap map, trim the remaining fleece so that 6-12 inches are left.

10. Cut 1″ fringe along the side and bottom 4 to 5 inches deep. Cut the corner out.  You only need to fringe the bottom part until you reach the end of the covered nap mat.  Once you reach that point, cut the fleece as if you are cutting out a corner. See picture.

11. Tie the “blanket” fleece fringe along the one side and bottom to the nap mat cover’s fringe to attach the blanket. See picture in step 4.

12. Covered nap mat COMPLETE. ✔️ Good job!

I think it’s safe to say that Sawyer LOVES her new nap mat.  Hopefully she will be a good napper at school.

As for now, my case of “mommy meltdowns” has subsided. My to-do list CAN wait until the kids are back to school. Until then, I will wear pretend blinders while in my post-roadtrip car, junk yard garage, or jungle-like front yard and hope that no tiger pounces at me.tiger-in-the-grass-jane-schnetlage




Don’t Lose Your Marbles!

*This post is for mommas who are looking for ways to reward their kids for good and helpful behavior.
Larson got a marble in his jar!!

What’s a “Marble in a Jar,” you ask?
It’s the reward/discipline system I use for our kids and they LOVE it. It’s amazing how powerful a bag of @dollartree marbles can be for motivating these kids!
How it works-

1. Each kid gets two jars. I recommend two different shaped jars so they know the difference between the two. I have found it helpful to write my kids’ name on their jars so they don’t get mixed up.

2. Fill one of each kids’ jar with 50 marbles. This jar will serve as the ‘bank.’

3. For every good, positive, helpful deed they do, they can earn one marble to put in their ‘earned’ jar.

4. Marbles can be taken away and put back into the ‘bank’ for disrespectful, rude, or negative behavior. (The kids do NOT like when they lose a marble!)

5. Once all 50 marbles are moved from the ‘bank’ to the ‘earned’ jar, I give my kids a $5 bill. So, each of the 50 marbles equals $.10 each.

6. When the kids have earned their $5, simply transfer the marbles back to the ‘bank’ from the ‘earned’ jar and start over.

What you will need:
– 2 jars for each kid. I recommend transparent jars so it is easy for the kids to see their progress. Glass jars look nice and can pass as home decor.

– 50 marbles for each kid

– Dry erase or permanent marker to write their names on the jars.

– $5 bills

Got Strawberries?

Every Spring we look forward to picking strawberries from our strawberry patch. What started out as a potted plant several years ago ended up dominating our whole garden. I had no idea strawberry plants multiple! Most Mabry plants don’t live long enough to reach their full potential due to neglect or abuse.  

Our kids love picking the strawberries…who am I kidding, so do I! With so many strawberries what’s a person to do? Make Strawberry Fruit Rollups. It’s so easy!
* 1 pint fresh strawberries, diced

* sugar (enough to sweeten)

* fresh lemon juice (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees F.

2. Line a large baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.

3. Place strawberries in food processor until blended.

4. Add enough sugar to sweeten and a splash of lemon juice( if desired).

5. Pour into prepared pan and spread out into a thin, even layer.

6. Bake for 4 hours or until the center is set.

7. Remove from oven and let cool.

8. Carefully peel up the fruit roll-up and place the sticky, smooth side on parchment paper.

9. Cut to size so that you have an even rectangle to work with. (I usually cut off the edges of the fruit rollups since they are usually crunchy and uneven.

10. Cut into 2-inch strips and roll-up firmly.

11. Store in airtight container.
They are BERRY🍓easy to make. 
#strawberry #diy #greenthumb 

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but these words change the world

Remember the old saying our parents told us to recite as kids when someone said something mean to use: “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me?” This phrase was reportedly first published in March 1863. And since then, everyone who has said it, or believed it, was wrong. The words we use, whether positive or negative, have a measurable impact on our lives and how we view ourselves and the world around us. This can have major implications on how lives are shaped, especially for those raising kids. Here is a simple experiment I did with my kids that confirms the undeniable truth that words (and thoughts) create our perception of the world around us.

We planted a sunflower seed, took half an apple and placed them each on their own plate labeled with words. One plant and apple had nothing but positive words like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The other plant and half of the apple were set on a plate where we wrote negative words like: hopeless, chaos, disgusting, liar and confused. We also added color and fun stickers to the “good” cup and purposefully left the “bad” cup plain and boring.


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Several times a day we would walk up and say nice, loving things to the good plant and apple and said nothing but negative, harsh words and phrases to the not-so-nice plate. It went a little something like this…

After 10-days here are the results of our experiment.


The one on the left is the bad plate and the one on the right is the good plate. As you can see, the bad plate just has a small stem coming up and the apple is half gone (I’ll explain that in a second). Notice how the good plate’s plant is well on it’s way to sprouting a real sunflower and the apple is fully intact. It should be noted that when you think, act, or talk negatively, the rules of quantum physics (and common sense) dictates that bad things are more likely to happen. That’s exactly the case in this experiment!

The reason the stem is barely visible in the bad cup is that Austin ended up breaking it. Although it wasn’t as big and healthy as the good plant, it was a little longer originally. Additionally, the reason there is only half an apple is because our house cleaner ended up setting the bad plate down on the ground and put the dog food bowl on it. It only took a few seconds before our dog Finley scurried over to eat what he could before I caught him. The house cleaner could have easily set the good plate down that the dog could have eaten and Austin could have just as easily broken the stem of the good plant, but that wasn’t the case. The natural laws of the universe confirmed that destruction and bad karma is more likely to come to those things surrounded with negative energy.

Do you ever feel like you’re caught in a rut in one or more areas in your life? I challenge you to look beneath the surface to see if what you’re telling yourself, or what others are telling you, come from a place of love and compassion or hatred and jealously. I can definitely see that there have been times when I have stunted my own growth by all of the negative self-talk I was doing.

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In conclusion, applying the simple principles of this experiment to your daily life can have life-altering effects. Whether you’re planting a garden, trying to get pregnant, mending a relationship or dealing with a chronic health issue, the power of positive reinforcement, love and self compassion can, and do, play a large role in the ultimate outcome. Try showing those around you and, especially yourself, more love and compassion and watch how things come to life.

Change your words; can change the world!

Eat, Drink, and ENJOY Life…Because God Says So!

Not too long ago, I would lay in my bed weeping as I begged God to perform a miracle. My family was falling apart because addiction had entered our home and the demon-ridden disease was trying to demolish what God had put together. My heart was breaking as I saw my dreams of a healthy marriage and family life being crushed. Was God not hearing my prayers? If God knows everything, didn’t he see what was happening in our home? Why wouldn’t he just make the insanity stop? Clearly, an intense spiritual battle was going on and the Mabry’s were losing…so it seemed. I wanted to run. I wanted to disappear. I didn’t want to live in the nightmare that entrapped me for over a decade any longer. However, my heart was telling me the opposite. I can’t explain it, but God somehow kept delivering clear messages to me to stay strong, put my spiritual armor on, fight the fight, and in the end it will all be worth it. So I remained faithful to my marriage, and to God, even when there seemed to be no relief in sight.

Dressed in my invisible (thank goodness) armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), I made the choice that there was absolutely no way the devil was going to win the battle. No matter what life handed my family, I was going to obey God, make the most of every situation, be true to myself, and enjoy life as best I could! So I have hung on to Ecclesiastes 8:15. If there is one thing the devil doesn’t want to see or hear, it’s probably my family laughing together because he has given us so many reasons to cry and be resentful. By making these choices, my husband and I decided to start our blog in hopes to inspire others to laugh more and worry less…and that’s how Mabry Living was born.


With that being said, here is one of the ways we recently ate, drank and enjoyed life according to God’s word. Back in October we won a one night stay at a local hotel at a silent auction supporting our son’s school, Oak View Elementary. With the expiration date quickly approaching, my husband called and booked a room at the local Hilton Garden Inn. We packed our bags and loaded the car. However, a Mabry family road trip (even if it was just a 10-mile drive) wouldn’t be complete without some tacky window paint.


The traffic and weather cooperated and we miraculously didn’t have any potty accidents. We unloaded the car, checked in, and lugged the bags up to the room. Sometimes I find it amazing how much is required for a one night stay! Do you like my Spiderman backpack?


One of the first things we had to do was to break in the pool! Can you relate to this…you can stay at an expensive resort with gigantic pools filled with waterfalls and fountains (which we’ve done), but sometimes kids just need a simple, indoor rectangular pool to be happy. Our boys were able to use their imaginations to come up with fun games to play. Seeing them freely express themselves without all the hoopla of a fancy pool made my heart smile!


John was sweet enough to run out and pick up dinner for us in the pouring rain. John and I had a dinner from Siam Pad Thai and the kids got spoiled with McDonald’s. Only on rare occasions do they get to eat McDonald’s.  We transformed the hotel lobby into a fine dining experience, leaving our mess for the lucky staff to clean up…sorry guys.


After dinner we went up to the room so we could continue our family battle of Yahtzee from our Spring Break trip two weeks ago. Somehow, Austin, our youngest, always takes first place and I’m always stuck in last. I don’t even try to lose, I just do. Everyone got a Yahtzee but me. This mom can’t catch a break! With all the work and love I pour into this family you think they’d let me at least come in third place. Not fair!


Then it was time for John to wrestle the boys on the bed. The boys’ absolute favorite thing in the world is wrestling with their daddy. While wrestling Austin, we noticed an object in his mouth. What could it be? Just then Larson noticed the stone in our set of  Easter Resurrection Eggs, which represents the stone of Jesus’ tomb, was missing. We had finally solved the 2,000 year old question of who moved the stone…it was Austin.


What family trip would be complete without a baby waking up screaming hysterically in the dead of the night? Well, consider our trip complete because that’s exactly what Sawyer did. I snapped this picture of John trying to ignore the commotion. Typical Dad behavior. If you look closely, you can see my profile and Sawyer’s blue sleeve touching John’s head. This is where the “Drink” part of Ecclesiastes 8:15 comes in – we needed extra coffee the next morning to overcome our baby hangover which started abruptly at 5:43 a.m. After feasting on our complementary breakfast at the hotel at 7 a.m., the boys wanted to go for another swim. So at 7: 30 a.m. we were already at the pool. Surprisingly, no one else was there at that hour! John and I might as well have gone swimming with as much as we got splashed simply trying to soak our feet in the hot tub. At first glance, the hot tub picture may look like it was professionally taken. But the finger covering the right side reveals our sweet Larson took it.
We shot upstairs for the boys to quickly change before we had to check out of the hotel. What could possibly go wrong, right? Apparently, Austin’s bathing suit wasn’t quite done swimming. I found this gem of a discovery as I walked in the bathroom to find Austin dipping his swimsuit in and out of the toilet. I mean, why wouldn’t this be happening? Got to love sweet Austin’s incessant need to twist a simple task of changing clothes into a messy adventure filled with hotel toilet water. I sat Sawyer in the crib to clean up Austin’s mess. Before I could get back to her she had conveniently found a coffee creamer laying close by and decided to use it as a pacifier. At least she wasn’t crying! Just a typical Saturday morning with the Mabry’s.

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When October rolls around again next year and I’m on the prowl at the silent auction looking for amazing deals, I will have to see if I choose to bid on another hotel room. Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast making Mabry memories but this mamma likes her sleep, and sleep was not an important part of this staycation according to the kids. Yet, we did have fun obeying God’s word.  We ate.  We drank. We enjoyed life. Most importantly, we went home with happy, yet tired and exhausted, hearts.

Life is hard. It’s easy to feel defeated, especially when you see everyone’s best moments on social media. When you are thrown curve balls in life, I urge you to stand tall, dress in God’s armor, and pull out all of your Godly military weaponry that you may not even know you have within your soul. Fight to find God’s purpose through life’s trials and do NOT let the enemy take away your joy. In between spiritual battles, I highly recommend that you find time to eat, drink, and enjoy life! Remember, the devil despises laughter and happiness. I have found those two skills to be some of my most powerful secret attack mechanisms for conquering the devil’s plan. Whatever your battle is or how long it lasts, always remember that God’s angel army is right by your side protecting and fighting for you.