Make Sure You Have Fun Every Day

Breakfast. Dishes. Laundry. Lunch. Dishes. Laundry. Clean up messes. Make dinner. Dishes. Laundry. Go to bed.

Get up next day. Repeat.

Does this sound like your life?

Yep, we’re right there with ya.

So how can we get through all the mundane tasks of the day?

Find something—even a little thing—to do for fun each day.

Make sure you have family fun each day

Need some ideas? How about . . .

1.  Turn on crazy loud music and have a family dance party for 10 minutes.

2.  Take 15 minutes and play follow-the-leader around the house. Make sure each child gets to be the leader.

3.  Take all the blankets, pillows and chairs you can find and build one big, bad fort.

4.  Tell a different joke each hour, on the hour. (Note: if you have homeschoolers, you’ll need to have many more jokes on hand than if your kids are gone all day.)

5.  Give each child a plate of toothpicks and marshmallows. See what creations you can all make together.

6.  Snuggle up under a blanket and watch a favorite TV show together.

7.  Have a family slumber party in the living room complete with a Disney flick and popcorn.

8.  Play charades. Always good for a laugh.

9.  Have a jelly bean hunt. This is a favorite in our house. Or if you don’t want to encourage the candy aspect, make up a scavenger hunt.

10. “Try not to smile at each other” game. This will make you laugh every time.

Whatever you choose to do doesn’t need to be hard or detailed or take a lot of planning. The point is to put a smile on your face every day. The days get long and boring and downright dull if you don’t find a way to put some fun in your step.

A happy heart makes light work.

If all else fails and the dishes still pile up—invite your family to do dishes with you and see who is better at a soap suds war!




God Doesn’t Ration Candy Bars

I went way overboard on the Easter candy last year.

The night before Easter morning, I filled my daughters’ baskets with various goodies I’d purchased and hid in my closet. My husband watched while I nestled crayon boxes, hair clips, bubble canisters and treats into mounds of shredded green paper grass. Then he let out a weird cackling sound—sort of a hybrid between a gasp, a laugh, and a snort.

“What?” I stepped back to admire my handiwork. Yikes. Even I was appalled at the sheer volume of sugar sitting in those baskets. Twix, Kit Kats, M&Ms, Peeps, and half-pound solid chocolate crosses—because we are a spiritual family, after all.

Talk about a junk food party waiting for a tummy to dance in.

God Doesn't Ration Candy Bars

The next day, when my girls discovered they’d hit the chocolate jackpot, I relished their hugs and giggles. I let them nosh on a few treats in the spirit of celebration. But then, like any reasonable mom, I gathered all the candy into a bag and banished it to the cupboard. From that point on, my little Twix hounds were allowed only one piece of candy per day, after lunch—if they ate enough grapes to satisfy my nutrition standards.

Cruel mother! To give a gift and then to take it back! To limit it, ration it, demand my children to earn it!

Aren’t you glad God does not do that to us?

“For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).

God loves us. So he gave us a sweet gift—his Son. That’s the reason we fill those Easter baskets in the first place. Jesus’ death and resurrection means I have eternal life. And nothing can take it away from me.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38–39).

God’s love is so much better than chocolate. We can’t possibly consume too much of it. This year, I predict that by the end of next week, my daughters will have forgotten about their Easter candy. But they will still know my love. And they will still know that Jesus lived, died, and rose for them, long after I’ve wiped their sticky faces clean.

So this weekend, I leave you with this timeless truth first spoken from the mouths of babes (i.e. my younger daughter at age two), which our family rejoices in all year round. I hope you will, too.

“Jesus alive, Momma! Jesus alive!”


Ditch the Guilt: Struggles in the Ordinary

Seriously? There is laundry to do . . . again?

The sock monster might eat the socks, but I’m pretty sure I seem to always have a laundry basket that multiplies while I’m making lunch.

Struggles in the Ordinary Chores of Family Life

Or maybe you have a family to feed. Three times a day. Sometimes I wish my children were like fish and I only had to throw ‘em a little food once a day and they’d be good for 24 hours.

I mean seriously, why did God make our bodies to function best when fed every few hours? Wouldn’t it have been easier for all of us if we just needed to eat once a day? Sure would make it easier for moms.

‘Cause then I would have more time to do the multiplying laundry and find the eaten socks.

But our ways are not God’s ways. Nope. They’re our own ideas. And no matter how much I think they are better than another option, it’s not how God made it.

God knows best. Not me.

And he has given me this laundry and this food for such a time as this. To care for my family. To show them love just as He has shown me love.

So even though I struggle with completing the ordinary tasks, I am reminded of why I do it. To whom much is given, much is required. To be a good steward of what He has given me, I need to struggle through and complete the ordinary tasks. To take care of what has been provided to me.

So as I move the laundry to the dryer, instead of griping that there’s going to be another basket of clothes to fold in 30 minutes, I’ll choose to be thankful.

Thankful that even though my kids might not have a matching pair of socks, they are loved and cared for—in the ordinary chores of the everyday.


Almond Flaxseed Coconut Cookie Bars

Oh my. These are good.

If I do say so myself.

Almond Flaxseed Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

You know how I like to experiment in the kitchen. So when our dear Maranell friends came over to play last week, I decided to whip up a batch of cookie bars before they arrived. Because what’s a play date without treats, right?

Like usual, I scrounged through the cupboard to see what healthy ingredients I could sneak into my pan, and I came up with this combo—Almond Flaxseed Coconut Cookie Bars. Plus chocolate chips because everything is better with chocolate. Think of this recipe as a classic Toll House cookie, with depth. Wow, are they ever delicious.

Almond Flaxseed Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Seriously, these Almond Flaxseed Coconut heavenlies might be my favorite cookie bars ever. And that’s saying a lot, considering I’m baking some sort of pan cookie concoction about every other week. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Almond Flaxseed Coconut Cookie Bars
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  3. 1 tsp baking soda
  4. ½ tsp salt
  5. 1 cup butter, softened
  6. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  7. ¾ cup brown sugar
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 2 tsp vanilla
  10. ½ cup ground flaxseed
  11. ¾ cup almonds
  12. ½ cup shredded coconut
  13. 2 cups chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until ground into a meal (some small chunks or slivers are fine). Also grind the shredded coconut into a finer texture. Combine the ground flaxseed, almonds, and coconut in a bowl; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flours, soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add the dry ingredients (flour mixture and almond mixture) to the wet ingredients and mix. Fold in chocolate chips.
  2. Spread the dough into a greased 15-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 20–22 minutes or until the bars just begin to turn golden. Cool slightly and cut into 2-inch squares. Delicious when still warm and gooey! Enjoy!
Haven Help Us

10 Sweet Texts to Send Your Husband

Want to show your husband he’s still the One? It might be as simple as a few words punched into your cell phone. In the middle of an ordinary, ho-hum day, let your manly man know you’re daydreaming about him with one of these sweet text messages. They’re sure to plant a Cheshire grin on his handsome face.

10 Sweet Text Messages to Send Your Husband

E-mail subscribers, if you can’t see this list in your viewer, click here to read it (and pin it!) on the blog.

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Linking up with Wedded Wednesday and Wifey Wednesday.

Bedroom Redecorating Update: Determine Your Style

So you know you want a change but what in the world should you do?

This was my dilemma about a month ago at the beginning of our master bedroom makeover.

As you may remember (or maybe you don’t want to remember) this is what our bedroom looked like. Beautiful, no?

Bedroom Makeover

Great—and I mean great—progress has been made since then. The room is still not done, but has undergone some super transformations.

And you’ll be happy to know that the laundry has been folded and put away.

At least for today.

But before I show you the progress we’ve made and some of the elements we’re incorporating into our bedroom, let me chat for a moment about how we arrived at our style decision.

The greatest help in figuring out my style: Pinterest.

Do a simple search for master bedrooms on Pinterest and you’ll have more pictures than you could look at in the next week. Ideas for every size room in every color of the rainbow.

Even though Pinterest was by far the biggest help, it was also the biggest hindrance. With so many pictures and ideas out there, it took me a good three weeks to finally, finally, FINALLY decide on how I wanted my room to look. I changed my mind four times and thankgoodnessformypatienthusband! He would quietly and politely listen as I bemoaned and considered new colors or ideas day after day after day.

Pictures I loved one day were hideous to me the next. Too many choices!

Let’s start back at the beginning with two ideas I was first considering as far as color goes. Something bold. I do like bold colors, but do I like it enough to love it every day for the long haul?

This blue is b-e-a-u-tee-ful. But would I tire of the darkness of it? Our bedroom tends to get darker after midday, so the wall color really deepens in the evening. Would I enjoy climbing into bed in a room that appeared black?

Bedroom style 1

Young House Love is one of my all time favorite blogs EVAH. A completely down-to-earth couple doing regular renovation projects and decorating that anyone can do. My kinda stuff. So it only follows that I would love their master bedroom as well. This deep, moody color is really fun and calming. Our bedroom is huge so we can get away with a dark color without the room getting smaller. But we have used gray a lot throughout our house already. Did I want to go with another shade of gray?

yhl Master Bedroom

Photo source: Young House Love 

Then the next consideration was the furniture. Did we want a matchy-matchy set or more eclectic look? I knew I didn’t want a big bold set of wood furniture in the room, leaning instead toward more of a pieced together look. So I went looking at pictures like this:

Bedroom style 2

Photo source: Blissfully Ever After

Then tastes dramatically changed and we were head-over-heels for this style. This picture is from the 2011 HGTV Dream Home. It’s the guest bedroom and awfully nice. I fell in love with the glam hotel style and wanted to make this exact room MINE. I was bound and determined.

Bedroom style 3

Photo source: HGTV 

But as always seems to happen, money got in the way. I was able to get the information on the furniture in the picture. I loved everything about it—the furniture, the wall color, all of it. But when I found out the price of the gorgeous Ethan Allen bed, I knew I certainly wasn’t going to be sleeping in a bed like that! I searched and scoured the web looking for another bed like it, but the closest match I could find after days of searching was still well over $1,000. No thank you.

Well, if I couldn’t have the bed, then I decided I didn’t love the room. So back to the drawing board and I started looking for inspiration all over again.

The very next day after giving up on “Dream House Bed,” I found these three pictures. And fell in love for good with the clean, crisp white cottage “bed and breakfast” style. It’s clean and refreshing and you can easily change out colors in pillows and accessories whenever your heart desires.

Bedroom style 4

Photo source: Interiors Designed 

Bedroom style 5

Photo source: Between Naps on the Porch

Bedroom style 6

Photo source: Georgiana Design 

So that, my friends, is where we ended up. The walls are a beautiful shade of white . . . Moonlight White in fact. I love it. It’s a crisp white with a hint of warmth in a slight gray undertone.  I’m going to save the big pictures for the big reveal next month, but here are a couple snapshots of how our style is playing out.

2 picture collage final

Are you planning any room makeovers? Are you having as much trouble trying to decide on a paint color as I did? Share your best room makeover advice or troubles in the comments, and we’ll all chime in!

How to Be a Mom and a Neat Freak at the Same Time

A note from Becky: One of my favorite aspects of blogging is connecting with other bloggers—fellow writers and dreamers living miles away who have the same frustrations, the same daily victories, and the same near-empty jar of peanut butter in their cupboard as I do.

Early in my blogging adventure, I was blessed to befriend Erica Layne from Let Why Lead. It was this post about her dream vs. reality kitchen that hooked me (read it, I laughed out loud)—and instantly I knew I’d found a kindred spirit in the fabulous and frazzled world of haven making.

Heidi and I are delighted to welcome Erica as our special guest on Haven Help Us today, where she’s imparting wisdom about a topic near and dear to my heart—purposeful parenting for the neat freak mom. Take it away, Erica!

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Disclaimer: I don’t know that I’d actually call myself a neat freak. My bathrooms routinely go longer in between cleanings than I’d like, and I don’t even remember the last time I really looked at the inside of the stove. (It’s less painful if you don’t look too closely . . .)

But clutter makes my eye twitch. (It doesn’t bother me for a second when I’m in your house. But in mine? THE EYE.)

As agitating as it is that my boys leave toothpaste lining the sink like it’s artwork, what really drives me crazy is the stuff. The millions of worksheets that come home from kindergarten. The scraps of paper from an impromptu (and unfinished) craft. The toys.

How to Be a Mom and a Neat Freak at the Same Time

If you, too, have a low tolerance for clutter, here are eight tips to appease your inner neat freak in the midst of raising children.

  1. Less is more. Every mom I know who has reduced the family toy collection has said that after the initial adjustment, her kids are fighting less and occupying themselves more. It’s counterintuitive, but it works.
  2. Select toys that they can come back to again and again and engage differently with every time. Blocks, legos, wooden train sets, play kitchens, dollhouses, etc.
  3. Consider keeping playtime in the bedroom. When my boys were younger, I began to notice that my mood was heavily affected by the mess level. Gradually, we stopped hauling toys (especially manipulative toys) out into the living areas; we moved playtime into their bedroom. I could handle their room being a creative disaster zone, as long as it wasn’t the living room!
  4. Work together to do a general pickup right before you leave the house. Alternatively, right before you start quiet time or have a meal—whatever works for you. I like doing it right before we leave so that I can feel calm when we come home and find a neat environment.
  5. Back up your words with quick consequences rather than endless reminders, which your kids are interpreting as nagging. For example, left-out shoes swiftly go on top of the fridge until your child does a chore to earn them back.
  6. Get those kids working FOR you (not against you!). The key is keeping the chore system so simple that you’ll actually follow through. :)
  7. Figure out how to trick yourself. Do you have one or two tasks that—when completed—make you feel like the house is clean, even if it isn’t actually as clean as you’d like? For me, if I vacuum and the house smells good, I can relax.
  8. Let go. Just a few weeks ago, I noticed I had given up on something I’ve held onto through five years of motherhood: I stopped cording the vacuum. I love the precision of wrapping the cord around its pegs and securing it to the vacuum. But I have three beautiful children now, and it’s rare that someone doesn’t need me. I want to choose them over the vacuum cord . . . and that’s okay.

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Erica Layne

Erica Layne writes Let Why Lead, a place for the purposeful wife and mom. She’s on a mission to help women believe that their best is good enough. If you want to live purposefully while still offering yourself plenty of grace, visit her on Facebook, Pinterest, or at

We All Have Flaws

Ever feel like you’re the only one who struggles with something?

Maybe it’s body image, or depression, or anything and everything else.

Even if you don’t want to admit it, we all have an issue or two we’d rather forget about or not deal with.

But you know what I’ve learned? Even when we’d prefer to lock our struggles in the closet, they still exist—so we might as well figure out how we can use them to glorify God.

Sunrise on the lake

Yes, it sounds strange to even say that. But really. The issues we struggle with may very well be something one of your friends struggles with, too. Or maybe it’s your neighbor down the street. Maybe you have these struggles for such a time as this—to encourage each other and feel what the other person is feeling. To point them to God through the daily challenges.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us,” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, NLT).


As I deal with my OCD each day as I have for the past 10+ years, I question God. Why in the world did I have to end up with OCD? Why do I feel this way, and why can’t I just get past it?

For now, I don’t know the answer. And maybe I never will this side of heaven.

But I have chosen to continue to live even though I have struggles and flaws. My life is far from perfect, but I can choose to either continue to try each day or to curl up in a shell and just feel sorry for myself and whittle my life away doing nothing.

But what will I miss if I choose to do nothing?

Think of all the fun and blessings you would never experience or share with your kids. We need to keep living—to keep reaching toward the goal for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t say life is going to be easy. But it does say do not lose hope.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love,” (Romans 5:3–5, NLT).


So today I choose hope. I choose to hope in my future, that maybe someday I won’t have the “flaws” I struggle with. Maybe someday they’ll be a distant memory and I’ll wonder why I ever struggled with them in the first place. I hope so.

But until then, I will keep pressing on. I will acknowledge my challenges, but I will use them to encourage others and to bring hope. I will show others that your struggles don’t have to own you, but that, with God’s help, YOU can own THEM!

Will you join me in persevering even through the tough times? Reach out to a friend if you need to talk. Find someone you can confide in. But realize you are not alone.

Everybody has something. And it’s time to bring it into the light.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him,” (James 1:12).

Photo by the lovely and talented Carol Grandlienard.

“He Is Risen” Easter Banner

Looking for a meaningful spring decorating project? Today I am very excited to share with you a fun and easy tutorial for this beautiful handmade Easter banner, compliments of my good friend Heidi Scott.

DIY Easter Banner

Isn’t it lovely? Heidi is a wonderfully talented seamstress with two young daughters close in age to my own. So while I spend nap hours writing, she spends hers sewing and creating original projects like this one. What a splendid design for displaying the spiritual meaning behind our Easter celebrations. And you can create one, too!

Here’s the full how-to from Heidi herself:

“He Is Risen” Easter Banner Instructions

I am a huge fan of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, but we really try to focus on the true story of Easter at our house (not to mention toning down the junk food!). I enjoy using banners to decorate for different holidays throughout the year, so I created this banner for the most important holiday—HE IS RISEN! I added a Celtic cross to either end for added reminder of the real reason for our Easter celebration. This is a fun and easy project using cardstock, fabric and felt. You can use scrapbook papers instead of fabric—I just happen to have an embarrassing amount of fabrics in my stash, so it’s my go-to for projects.

Supply List:

  • 6 sheets of cardstock paper
    I used off-white because it’s what I had on hand, but get creative if you want!
  • 6 different fabrics, at least 4 ½” by 9”
    A great way to use scraps, you can use 11 different fabrics (4 ½” square of each).
  • 2 sheets of white felt
    Or more cardstock, but the felt gives it a really nice 3D look.
  • ½ yd fusible webbing (Heat N Bond or WonderUnder)
    Go ahead and try to say “WonderUnder” and not giggle a bit.
  • 3 yd ribbon or jute twine, whatever your style
  • Fabric glue

I am an avid DIY-er, but I really like to keep things simple and frugal. So for the pattern for this project you just need a computer and a printer—no fancy die cut machines or templates to download. Although if you have a fancy cutting machine, go ahead and use it. I’d LOVE to see the results!

I used:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Landscape layout
  • Cambri font in BOLD
  • Size 400.

Here are the letters you need to print for your pattern: H, E, I, S, R, N. You can fit two on a page this way. For the crosses, I just used one from the clipart section of Word and sized it to approximately the same size as the letters (about 3” to 3 ½” tall).

How To:

Print each letter (cardstock works best, but regular paper will work too!) and one cross and then cut them out of the paper. These are your patterns.

Easter banner cut letters

Easter banner cut cross shape

Trace the patterns on the felt until you have all the letters you need for the words, “HE IS RISEN” and two crosses. Carefully cut out the letters/crosses and set them aside. (Hint: If you are picky about not seeing any pen marks on your letters, you can trace them right-side DOWN onto the felt. Then, when you cut them out you can flip them over and the “clean” side will be up.)

Trace letters onto felt

Cut the cardstock into (11) 5 ½” squares. Set aside.

Cut cardstock

Trace (11) 4 ½” squares onto the fusible webbing. The easiest way to do that is to cut a 4 ½” square out of cardboard or chipboard (cereal box). Then just trace 11 squares.

Trace squares onto webbing

Cut out squares, leaving a margin around your marks. You want to wait to trim it exactly until after you iron it onto the fabric.

Iron each square of webbing onto the fabric. Decide how many of each color you want and then iron on accordingly. THEN, trim around your 4 ½” square marks.

Iron squares

Peel off the paper backing and iron one fabric square onto one of the cardstock squares. Repeat until you have all 11 cards done.

Iron squares again

Now the really fun part: shuffle your cards until they are in an order you like. I like to lay the cards out in a long line, placing felt letters on as I go. When it’s the way you like, you can glue down the letters.

Easter banner glue letters

If you are using paper, you have a lot of choices of glue, even Elmer’s. However, if you are using felt, you will need fabric glue (like Fabri-tac or Eileen’s). I have tried hot glue with fabric, and I don’t recommend it. The hot glue can bleed onto the front and if you are like me, you WILL burn your fingers.

Now is a good time to think about where you are going to hang your banner. (Well, actually you should think about this first, but I sometimes do things backwards and it usually turns out.) I like to use our fireplace mantel, but you can use a large window or even a wall. To determine the length of my banner, I hung a piece of long ribbon across the mantel and let it drape where I liked it. Add about 1 ft. to tie hooks for hanging. You can always trim later!

Now, this is where I drive my type-A, engineer friends nuts. You CAN drive yourself crazy laying the cards onto the ribbon and measure precisely the distance between each card and the distance for each “space” in the word. Or, you can just set up your sewing machine and go for it.

Stitching Easter banner

Place the first cross card about 6” from the end of your ribbon. Place each card in order— about 1” between the cards and about 3” for the spaces. I think it will turn out just fine. You can always trim the ends to make them even when you’re done. Start sewing about ¼” from the edge of the card, with the ribbon tucked underneath. Be sure to sew through both the card and the ribbon. If this stresses you out, you can always put the ribbon on top and sew it that way. OR, you can glue the ribbon to back, but really, that’s the hard way to do it.

Stitching Easter banner final

10. HANG and ENJOY!
To hang, I just make a loop on each end and tie a knot. I love the removable 3M hooks for projects like this!

DIY Easter Banner

Now, stand back and enjoy your work. Each time you see it you can remember the cross, the cost and the celebration: HE IS RISEN!

Find more of Heidi’s creations on her Etsy store, Sewing by Heidi!

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Linking up with Grace at Home @ Imparting Grace.

Family-Friendly April Fool’s Day Pranks

I’ve never made a big fuss over April Fool’s Day. Most years, I completely forget about the date on the calendar until somebody pulls a prank that leaves me annoyed, embarrassed, or both.

Is it April 2nd yet?

But then last year, my girls wanted to play a trick on their dad, so I reluctantly agreed. They got a huge kick out of hiding my husband’s sweatpants, knowing he likes to change into comfy clothes as soon as he gets home from work. They followed him through the house, giggling, while he searched for his favorite sweats. It was obviously all in fun, and thankfully my husband played along. So in the spirit of harmless family laughs—because life is too serious, anyway—we present these seven silly ideas for family-friendly April Fool’s jokes.

family-friendly April Fool's Day pranks

1. Switch cereal bags so the contents don’t match the box. Then invite your kids to pour their own breakfast.

2. For dessert, serve pudding or ice cream with plastic spiders hidden inside the dish.

3. Pour nail polish onto a sheet of wax paper. Wait for it to dry—bottle, brush and all—then peel it off and place it on Dad’s dinner chair.

4. Open a snack-size bag of chips from the bottom end. Replace the chips with kale or carrot sticks, then glue the bag shut again. Offer the chips for an after-school snack.

5. Put vanilla frosting on the kids’ toothbrushes instead of toothpaste.

6. Drill a hole in your child’s apple, then insert a gummy worm. This is great fun for the lunchbox.

7. Change someone’s computer screen sideways. Hold down Ctrl-Alt and then either the left or right arrow. To turn it back to the correct position, hold down Ctrl-Alt and the up arrow.

How about you? Do you have other favorite family-friendly April Fool’s Day pranks?