Sunday, April 29, 2012

FREE GIVEAWAY... Tickets to Parenting Conference

This Friday-Saturday May 4th-5th is the 2012 First Lady's Parenting Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah!  The cost is $10 to listen to both days' speakers, but I have 4 FREE TICKETS... and I may be able to get a few more.

CLICK HERE to view Friday's speakers and topics.
CLICK HERE to view Saturday's schedule.

Go under the "Contact Me" tab and leave your name, number of tickets, and your address ... and I'll send them your way!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Your Child NEEDS TO KNOW in Each School Grade

These books are so stinkin' FUN!  E. D. Hirsch wrote "The Core Knowledge Series" and has a book for each grade.  It includes EACH YEAR'S CURRICULUM in an easy-to-understand way loaded with colorful pictures, diagrams, age-appropriate questions that stimulate thinking, and activities.  What a great way to start preparing children and supplementing their education!  Plus you can re-learn lots of things as the parent too :)  Maybe this would be a fun resource this summer as you review a past year or get a child ready for their next grade.  The more children are exposed to ideas at home, the better able the are to retain and understand them as they learn in school.
My little boy is almost 3 so I've just started to flip open "What Your Preschooler Needs to Know" [what a 3 year old needs is to play and to know that he's loved, but it's still fun] just when we're at the dinner table or when we have 5 minutes of one-on-one time on the couch.  Yesterday we learned about the difference between insects and spiders and then made them out of play dough to show how they each have a different number of legs.  So simple, but so fun.  Then Brayden was off to play with toys which is great!  I think it's empowering as a mother to feel like you are being intentional about their education, so I hope these books INSPIRE YOU!

Just as one example, our book "What Your Kindergartner Needs To Know" includes these chapters:

Reading, Writing, and Your Kindergartner
Familiar and Favorite Poems
Aesop's Fables
Stories and Sayings
History and Geography
Visual Arts

Sunday, April 22, 2012

FREE National Park WEEK!

This week (April 21-29th) is FREE NATIONAL PARK WEEK where you don't have to pay the entrance fees!  We are so craving a family vacation so I thought some of you might be too.  CLICK HERE to see all the participating parks by state.

In one of my college courses, we learned 3 Benefits of wholesome family recreation:

1. CLOSER FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS - through having fun, meaningful experiences 
2. CLEARER SENSE OF IDENTITY - being an "outdoor family"or "musical family" ...
2. STRONGER VALUES - learning a love for God's creations or for serving others ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I think ONE-ON-ONE TIME is so important when you have multiple kids and have a lot on yoru plate.  So Brayden and I had our first ever mommy-son DATE!  The quality time and attention you can give them one-on-one is different and special.  Do something they would love.  Listen to what they want to talk about.  Laugh a lot.  Look them in the eyes.

I even got to teach Brayden to pick me some flowers for me and to "hold open" the door.  We enjoyed an Oreo shake and french fries with "red" ... his favorite.  We even quickly ran outside the little restaurant to dance to the music playing.  He was such a gentleman... except for when he spilled the entire cup of water all over me and all over the floor :)  That was our cue that it was time to go.

Enjoy some one-on-one time this week whether it's inside or outside the house!  It doesn't need to be fancy.  Even just some quality time with an older child at home while the younger one is napping means a lot.  I personally need this reminder every single day.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The BEST Picture Books!

Maybe someday we'll be able to buy all these books :), but until then... We LOVE checking these out from the library and reading at the bookstore.  You're welcome to share some of your favorites!!  Here are some of our favs:

Ok, I just have to add a few more to the post because we went to Barnes & Noble again today.  I checked out some of the books recommended on the wonderful comments and discovered some new ones!  I am so in LOVE with these books:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


By the end of the day after a long series of running errands or really stress-filled weeks, all the kids (and mommy) have a bad case of crankiness.  Running errands and cleaning the house and such are just a plain necessary part of life.  But, one morning I woke up and decided to dedicate my day to...  a day centered around the kids! ... of course still speckled with my to-dos.  

After dropping Steve off, we enjoyed a couple hours at Barnes & Noble - just anything to get out of our tiny place!  Oh my, our book store is fantastic... stocked with great children's books, puppets, building block stations, train table set, and a ton of those noisy toys that you wouldn't dare bring home.  We tried to clean up the books, toys, and blocks strewn everywhere - our kids are great at leaving lots of evidance of our presence!  After trying to juggle changing two kids' diapers, we eventually made our way to this amazing park.

Oh it was dreamy - huge pond full of ducks that waddle right next to you, green grass and trees scattered around, big blue sky, a long wrap-around walking lane, and a few fun playgrounds.  Brayden and Hailey laughed with glee as they threw those duckies every last bit of our morning snack :).  As the helicopter flew loudly over, all the seagulls swarmed around us in circles overhead.  The kids were all giggles - as I pushed them in the swings - until it was time to go!  Noticing that we were going to be late to our city's library toddler time, we were off in the car to our next adventure.  We were clapping our hands, singing, and listening to stories.  Hailey was of course toddling around waving and saying hi to everyone around.  I then tried to frantically run around gathering books to check out while at the same time trying to keep the kiddos happy and not lost!  Just then, Brayden knocked Hailey completely flat on her head twice poor girl... and the whole library heard her screams.  And I felt like knocking something over too.  Juggling my little girl with a bump on her head, my big tummy, a bag full of books, and trying to hold my little boy's hand, we eventually crossed the street and made it into the car seats once again.  

Well, after a fun morning of trying to live-in-the-moment, we were all once again a little cranky towards the end :).  BUT, laughing with Brayden that day and feeling of his hugs that night ... I felt that day had been a success (even though the house was a current train wreck).  After putting those cute kids down for the sleep they desperately needed, I scanned the family room and thought... Someday I just might miss the puzzles scattered across the kitchen table that has crusted oatmeal.  I just might miss the days when my little girl grins widely with her three teeth.  I just might miss days like this.  It's so important to remember to create MOMENTS where your children can enjoy being kids and where you can enjoy being a mother.

I adore this essay from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen (except found in my favorite book A Mother's Book of Secrets):
"Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now.  Penelope Leah. Berry Brazelton. Dr. Spock.  The ones of sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early childhood education, all grown obsolete.  Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used.  But I suspect that if you flipped the pages, dust would rise like memories... The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make.... I did not live in the moment enough.  This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs.  There is one picture of the three of [my children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one.  And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.  I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed.  I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."

So, I hope we all can remember to have moments this week getting on our hands and knees, reading books cuddled up together, and laughing out loud with our little ones... even in the midst of the craziness of the week!  What matters most is that our children know- without a doubt - of our deep love for them.  And what they crave most is YOU.

Monday, April 2, 2012

IT'S A.........

And we are SO excited!!  Hailey will have a little sis to play with!  We recently had our ultrasound so I had to pick out HER very first journal.  This is one of my favorite traditions to have journals for each of my kids  - to paste pictures, their first coloring, first hair clippings, funny stories, special strengths that we observe, how much we love them....  I keep a list on the fridge where I can quickly jot down journal entry ideas for each child, so I don't forget when I sit down to write.  Of course I wish I could write in them more, but at least we have something to work with!  CLICK HERE to get more ideas about journaling.