Today We Played.

June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear friends,

I made it nome last night at 2:30am -4:30am New York time, I was so happy-happy to be home and so happy for the trip and everything that happened over the weekend.

And so, naturally today, today McGilly and I played.  I wrote my new article on Raising a Reader and you will see it a little later this week.  Also, I have so much to share about the East Coast trip it was amazing!

But for now, McGilly and I played the day away with a big nap in the middle.  I was a little jet lagged and she, well she is 15 months old and naps are needed.  After our naps we got dressed up in our new H& M clothes and went to Riverwoods in Provo.  We played in the fountain and went in Birkenhoff’s Toy Store-awesome!  McGilly loved the baby sized grocery carts and a hot pink puppy that she could sit and bounce on–he just about came home with us.  Then we went out and visited with Great Grandma Lee and Grandma Jacque for the evening, it was great, great!  One thing though— this little one is clinging to me like her life depended on it—I don’t think I can ever leave her again…I am just enjoying it— because it will be fleeting, she won’t always want to be right by my side.

I hope you had a lovely weekend,




Wonder Woman I am not.

June 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

Dear friend,

I am sad to report I am not Wonder Woman-as much as I wish I could be I am not.  Today I just had to laugh, I had a list with 25 things on it, only about 5 are complete as of 10:09 this evening.  I always seem to be over scheduling myself.

Today when I felt myself getting overwhelmed I took a step back and realized something.  If  it is a choice between playing with McGilly and…well… anything else, I choose McGilly.  Today it took me two hours to get my ironing done, not because I lack ironing skills, but because every time I started McGilly was doing something I wanted to participate in.  During ironing she started playing with her Gloworm like she was its mom-this was the first time she has done this.  She took a sleeve I had just cut off a sweater and stuck the Gloworm down into it.  Then she cradled it in her arms and walked back and forth around my room a couple of times making a hushing noise.  Next, she laid it on a pillow that was on the end of my treadmill and then took a seat next to it and patted it and waited a minute or so and then started the pattern all over again.  She was oblivious to me watching, she was in her own little world.  It was fascinating to me, I believe it was the first time I have seen her pretend and I was amazed.  I then went over and asked to hold her baby and she let me and I gave it a kiss and she giggled-we played there on the floor for a half and hour or so and the ironing waited…as it should.

As I look at this list right now-all that I wanted to get done before my impending east coast trip with my sister-I am not stressed. Part of this list was to finalize my posts for this week and schedule them to post, complete a list of projects for my upcoming responsibilities of girls camp, and to make sure my house was spotless.  But… I did what I should have today.  I played with my munchkin…and all of my tasks will have to wait till another day.  I never thought I could be this kind of person.  I am goal oriented, creator of lists and driven to cross things off.  It’s amazing what a sweet baby can do.

So with that said, I will be back next week with lots of fun to report…See you on Tuesday.


Raising a Reader Part 2: The Magic of Read Aloud

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

From the lovely Emily at the Black Apple Shop

Dear friend,

This is such a fun post to share.  One of my favorite things in my kindergarten classroom was sitting in my rocking chair and reading aloud to my kids.  Although most often-and you will find out why as you read on-I was not sitting but engaging my kids in the book through my magic tricks.  I want to first tell you some of the amazing benefits from reading aloud to your children and then show you some magic tricks for really engaging them in that reading.  This information is from my experience and from an awesome conference I attended while in college that I took notes on.  Sadly I did not write who presented it so if you know let me know so I can thank her for all the students that have benefited from her insight.

“Reading aloud to children is the single most important activity one can do to raise a reader.”-US Department of Educations Commission on Reading


Why is reading aloud so important?

  • If done well will serve to connect reading and pleasure in the brain.
  • Teaches children the conventions of print.
  • Teaches children that print can be turned into sound that carries a story.
  • It also teaches that the message in a book is permanent.
  • And to expect that a story will make sense.
  • Enriches vocabulary.
  • Increases grammar and writing skills.
  • Improves problem solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Contributes to a wealth of background knowledge needed in all other educational subjects.
  • Improves attention span.
  • Creates empathy.
  • Improves the imagination.
  • Proven as the single most important activity for building understanding and gaining essential skills for reading success. {NAEYC}
  • And in some studies correlates with higher quality of life, longer lifespans, improved self esteem, lowers probability of imprisonment, and increases child’s probability of staying in school.
  • …and if that is not enough it is simply entertaining and F-U-N!


How can I make the most out of my read aloud time?

  1. Choose a magical book-I am not talking a book of spells but a book that you love, and that your kids can fall in love with too.  So a must is to familiarize yourself with the book-practice reading it using the following tips and remember what Mem Fox says,  “If we don’t gasp, howl, block our ears, sigh, vomit, giggle, curl our toes, empathize, sympathize, feel pain, weep or shiver during the reading of a picture book, then surely the writer has wasted our time, our money, and our precious trees.”
  2. Make it special-Have high expectations for children’s behavior but make it an environment in which the kids are comfortable to gasp, giggle, and sigh as the book lend itself.  Perhaps have a special place in your house for reading aloud or a special time or special signal to call your children to read aloud.
  3. Relish the words- pay attention to placement of words extra space, alliteration and by taking your time and loving the words you bring the words to life.
  4. More than a voice- Reading a story aloud is more than vocalizing the text.  Tell the story with your eyes, voice and even your big toe.  First tell it with your eyes {The story must be in the eyes as much as it is in the mouth-Mem Fox}  Make eye contact with your audience and know the story enough that you can look at the audience periodically.  Next with your voice {make good use of inflection, whispering, yelling, and never ever underestimate the power of a pause}, and last even enlist the use of that big toe meaning use in of your body language {move, jump, shiver, or sword fight as needed:)}.
  5. Encourage interaction-if the book contains a repeating phrase, pause once child has picked up the pattern and allow them to fill in the blank.  When appropriate ask questions to engage children in the story.
  6. Make the first line fantastic-draw them in and make sure to end with a bang!
  7. Add a third dimension- when at all possible have something tangible from the story to follow up the read aloud, Jim Trelease uses the example of having a bowl of blueberries to share when finishing Blueberries for Sal.
What books are good read-aloud books?
There is only two clear rules.  Find books you love and avoid an overabundance of dialogue-it gets tricky when reading aloud.  Some of my favorite authors and the favorites of my students are of course, Mem Fox, Mo Willems {Pigeon Books}, Judy Schachner {Skippy Jon Jones}, and many of the classics found on this list.  This list is the top 100 books every child should know.
But, one of my most favorite read alouds- one that would lead to my kindergarteners coming back as 1st graders to show me the book they checked out, or reading to me before school on the playgroud to tell me what happens in one of the books from the series we didn’t read-was during the second half of the year I would read a chapter from the The Magic Treehouse Series everyday until year end.  “No pictures with 5 year olds?!” you say-twenty six to be exact-and they loved every minute of it.  Most days I would be standing and acting out the action scenes as I read or slowing my speech as the egyptian ghost came down the hall of the tomb but they loved it.  So much in fact if I forgot I would get at least 5 hands reminding me we needed to find out what happened to Jack and Annie.
Fieldtrip to the Bookstore/ Library- One great way to find books your kids are sure to love is let them test them out first.  Let them pick out the books that look like fun and then spend some time reading to them-you will know instantly those that should be purchased or brought home, and those that should be left behind.  McGilly and I already are pro’s at this.
How often should I read aloud to my kids?
Simple Answer: As much as you can but at least 20 minutes a day.
“In education, there is a lot of theory, but the achievement and life-long benefits to 20 minutes of daily read-aloud are fact.” -Esme Raji Codell
Helpful hints to pack in more reading:
  • Store books in the pockets in the backs of the front seats of the car
  • Keep one in your bag for check out lines and waiting rooms
  • Definitely add some bath books to your bath time toys {One of McGilly’s favorites}
  • Keep track of reading using a chart or simply adding a circle or star with the books name to the back of your child’s bedroom door.  This is an idea I just heard from a friend {thanks jaime} this helps her and her kids to see how many books they have read.
  • Make it part of your routine.
There is so much more I could write but instead I will direct you to some of the most helpful of websites on reading aloud:
And last but not least just one more thought on the subject if I haven’t convinced you already on the importance of read aloud, this is from the America Reads website:
What difference can reading to a child for 30 minutes a day make?
If daily reading begins in infancy, by the time the child is 5 years old,
he or she has been fed roughly 900 hours of brain food!
Reduce that experience to just 30 minutes a week and the child’s hungry mind loses
770 hours of nursery rhymes, fairytales, and stories.
A kindergaten student who has not been read to could enter school with less than 60 hours of literacy nutrition.  No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours of mental nourishment.
If you read 30 minutes daily……the child has 900 hours by age 5.
If you read 30 minutes weekly……the child has 130 hours by age 5.
If you read less than 15 minutes weekly…..the child has 60 hours by age 5.
I truly believe from my experience as an educator and as a mother, that 30 minutes of reading each day is the best investment you can make in the future of your child.  It’s not easy sometimes but I promise it does get easier.
Have  a happy day and go read a book!

Free printable organizer for Momma Monday

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear friend,

Organize this!  I slacked a little this weekend in preparing for the weeks posts so I am a little behind but that’s okay because I think it was worth the wait.  Even if no one else thinks so, my little sis Bailey is waiting for me to post these-she wants to get all organized for Jr. High!  I can’t believe my little tiny sis who in my mind is as small as McGilly, bebopping to Dave Mathews in the kitchen, watching Cinderella over and over and over and over, and pulling some of the cutest cheesy grins will be in Jr. High this year.  I have to say I think she is the most lovely, smart and talented Jr. Higher I know…and she has approved of these printables so enjoy!

I made a binder for myself that keeps me organized- I call it my Pensieve {like from Harry Potter} I know nerdy right? It has a place for all of my thoughts so that they don’t all get jammed up in my head, and keeps me straight on things. I will quickly explain each but feel free to use them as you like {of course for personal use only}.

This is the lovely cover inspired by this wood panel painting I love. {download here}

This is a blank calendar for a monthly overview.  I use this also for my blog post calendar to sort out post ideas for the month.

 This is a page where I categorize my goals for the week or as many as I have at the moment. {download here}

 Then I take the goals from the last page and assign them a day so that if there are certain tasks that need accomplishing before others they are laid out in chronological order, there is also a place to put my post titles for the week. {download here}

I have a tab for each of the categories on the goal page and behind each tab is one of these pages, a goal breakdown page, this is where I list all the steps for that particular goal, the No. is the priority, and the completion is a date for me but could just be a check to show it’s complete.  For example, under my business tab I have a goal of printables for the shop and I have listed out all of my ideas and their status is in the completion row {to create, to refine, to print, to post}.  {download here}

This page, there is one for Monday & Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, Friday & Saturday, and Sunday + Notes, is a daily planner page.  On mine I have typed in my schedules for the week and left blank my free time, which is about 10 hours a week to work on the business, blog and creating.

 This is a list of activities to do with McGilly and cousin Abbs on Play date day and just with McGilly in our playtime.  Gross Motor- is activities in which McGilly uses big movements and muscles this is obstacle courses, kicking the ball outside, and our favorite is to make a nest of pillow, cover them with a blanket and then jump into the middle and try to climb out. {download here}

This is my meal planning/ grocery list.  I plan the meals across the top for each day B-breakfast, L-Lunch, and D- Dinner, and then write in the ingredients needed in the food categories below. Then I put this on the fridge after I have gone shopping to remind me of the meals available.  {download here}

Boolie, this one is for you so enjoy sweets-I will help you put it together next time I come down. Love ya!

And I hope you all enjoy…


Dear McGilly…

June 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

 And boy am I glad you are you.  I know that Heavenly Father knew exactly what he was doing when he sent you here.  You will probably grow up hearing this story over and over again but I thought you were a boy until I was holding you in my arms.  I thought you were Will.   I dreamed about you twice while I was pregnant, once I saw your silhouette off in the distance holding the hand of a grown man and you were about two.  Then I saw your face in another dream-same chubby cheeks, same big eyes, same daddies nose but with the short hair and my mind already made up I saw you as a boy. 

The doctor lifted you up to your daddy the first time we were able to lay eyes on you and said, “So Dad, what is it?”  Dad paused and then with joyful disbelief said, “It’s a girl!”  I was never so happy to be wrong in my whole life.  I told your dad she must have juked her brother and came in his place. 

I am tidying up the house today while you are playing with Grandma Jill and everything I pick up of yours I smile.  I love folding your little shirts, I love your little glo worm tucked into my shoe rack, I love vaccuming up the crackers smashed in the floor and I almost hate to clean your little hand prints off of the back window.  I miss you when you are gone but I just close my eyes and I can see your sweet smile and chubby little hands covering your mouth and giggling.  

This week we went to help Great Grandpa Ab clean out his room {it had become somewhat of a closet since Grandma Jackie passed away} and get him a little more comfortable place to sleep.  We ended up being there until 10:30pm and you, sweet girl, just stayed smiley and happy the whole time scuttling around and playing with everyone. 

We also continued our move into reading big girl books, this week we added another Mo Willems favorite to our list of favorites called, Pigeon Wants a Hot Dog, and Jane Yolens, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?  We read this week in your new reading cove in your bedroom, we moved some of the furniture around and now you have a little cuddle corner to sit and look at books in and play. 

We cooked Daddies favorite dessert for him for Father’s Day {Vanilla and Strawberry Pie} and you colored his wrapping paper to make it pretty.  We also stamped your handprint on Grandpa Kevin’s and Grandpa Jeff’s Father’s Day presents.  The later project ended with you and I covered in red paint, it was fun and with a dunk in the tub we were as good as new.

We had a shopping trip with Grandma Jill of Friday and a sleepover with Grandma Jacque on Saturday.  We went down to do some crafts with Bailey and she ended up needing to tend so we went and visited her at Cousin Cupcakes.  You all dressed up like princesses in your pajamas and we traced and drew Cupcake as a Pretty Pink Princess.  Since you would not lay still for us Bailey and Presli ended up tracing a Barbie and turning her into a Mermaid.  Grandma made us Barbeque and came and played with us at Cupcake’s too.

The next morning we went and saw Grandpa Jeff and Grandma Shelle and wished Grandpa Jeff a Happy Father’s Day, he loves you too much.  Max is Grandpa’s dog {a beagle} and he has a really deep bark-when he barks you just shudder and squint your eyes and then cry.  And then Max gets put outside.  Grandpa lives on the edge of a golf course so Uncle JT and Grandpa can go out and hit golf balls down onto the green.  Next time we are going to take your golf clubs so you can practice too.

After we left grandpa Jeffs we went to church and then saw Grandpa Kevin and Grandpa Ab, ate yummy food, played with Daddy’s old Matchbox cars, ate our yummy dessert, and saw a rainbow.  It was a good day, especially because we were celebrating Daddies and you have one of the very best. 

Always remember sweet girl how much we love you, to always be true to who you are-a daughter of God, with divine talents, and divine potential.  Always stay close to your Father because it is the only way to be your very best.   He knows you, knows your strengths and weaknesses and will support you in all your righteous endeavors.  He’ll always be there to help you navigate the path that is before you and he will never fail you.  His abundant blessings are all around us, within grasp, if we will only be obedient and faithful in following Him.

And I too sweet girl will always be here for you, to listen to you, to love you no matter what, and to lift you up to see who you really are, a miracle- simply put and capable of creating so much good in this world!  You have a purpose here on this Earth, as we all do, with God at the helm you can always look back and be proud of the life you have led and the choices you have made.  No one can take you  place sweet girl, remember that-only you can do that what is yours to do and only He knows all that entails.

Aren't Heber sunsets lovely?

 I love you sweet angel and always, always will,


My Prayer

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear friend,

This week during sacrament I wrote this in my notebook, the hymn we sang was “More Holiness Give Me” one of my favorite hymns.

More, I want to be more, do more, all for my Savior and the ironic thing is only he can grant me my more.  I can work all hours of the day and without his supporting arm I can never reach my more.

Heavenly Father, my prayer if for you to make more out of me.  More as a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and as your daughter.”

I went home and was looking through an old Hymn book called the Deseret Sunday School Songs published in 1909. I looked in the index and found “More Holiness Give Me” on page 294, when I went to the page the title of the song was written, “My Prayer.”

More holiness give me, more strivings within.
More patience in suffering, more sorrow for sin.
More faith in my Savior, more sense of His care.
More joy in His service, more purpose in prayer.

More gratitude give me, more trust in the Lord.
More zeal for His glory, more hope in His Word.
More tears for His sorrows, more pain at His grief.
More meekness in trial, more praise for relief.

More purity give me, more strength to overcome,
More freedom from earth-stains, more longings for home.
More fit for the kingdom, more useful I’d be,
More blessed and holy, more, Savior, like Thee.


Thanks on Thursday: the list version

June 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Dear friend,

Today I am in a bit of a hurry so here is the first 10 things that come to mind that I am thankful for:

  1. Gardens
  2. Being outside
  3. Hubby not having a tube up his nose and into his stomach anymore
  4. Sis Latimer’s talk on Sunday
  5. The songs, Nearer my God to Thee, and More Holiness give me
  6. Opportunities to serve
  7. Excited sister planning trip itineraries
  8. Talented sister who sets an example
  9. That I was lucky enough to be given my McGilly
  10. The heart of my husband
Isn’t it amazing what 1 minute and 10 things can do for your happiness level, this is the good life!
How about you, what are you grateful for?   Please do share.
PS here is our humble garden, I just pray I won’t kill it!

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