Monday, August 31, 2015

Best Books for Reluctant New Readers

This week Ada will be starting 4K in the afternoons. She has been looking forward to this ever since she accompanied Jake on a 4K field trip to the school forest with Aly two years ago.

While Ada will be gone in the afternoons, we'll still have a whole morning together to play and learn. Part of that learning will be practicing reading together.

Ada has successfully made it through all 5 levels of Hooked on Phonics, but not without multiple starts and stops, and a little bit of bribing.

The problem isn't that she doesn't like stories. She loves to be read to and listen to audio stories.

The problem isn't that she can't read. When she has a positive attitude she's a great reader and feels really proud of herself.

The problem is that reading isn't easy for her. She wants to be proficient but she's not there yet. Reading is hard work in those early stages.

I've read some research that says if parents make the learning-to-read process overly stressful, it can have negative effects on life-long reading habits. While I keep that in the back of my head, I also know that I can't let Ada just quit something because it doesn't come easy.

Instead, I'm trying to fun books that are easy enough to not stress her out, yet FUN to read (honestly, not a whole lot of easy reader books fall in that category).

Friday, August 28, 2015

When Mom Feels Afraid: A reflection on raising kids in a scary world

I’ve written more than one blog post about how to help your child deal with fear.  Cute ideas with nice visuals that will help them picture God’s protection over them and his loving care for them.  They are good ideas, and I have used them with my own kids (You can find them here and here).  But what I didn’t write is that I probably needed those visuals as much as my kids did.

Sometimes I feel like I must be alone in my struggle because, frankly, this is something most people don’t really talk about.  I don’t want to sound like a crazy person.  I don’t want to be “that mom”.  The one who everyone is sure her kids are going straight to therapy instead of to college…  But I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with fear that something bad is going to happen to my children.

Back before my boys were born, I was an elementary school teacher.  My most difficult year of teaching ever was the year a little boy in my 3rd grade class was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  He spent half the year in the hospital.  We were happy when he was able to come to school, but at the same time it was incredibly stressful.  I cried so many evenings over his situation, and at the same time I knew that the pain I was feeling was nothing compared with his family’s anguish.  Amazingly, this little boy pulled through numerous life-threatening complications that school year, but later passed away just a few weeks before his 13th birthday. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

3 Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies (No Cake Mix!)

We're excited to welcome back Elizabeth as our guest blogger of the day. You may remember that she shared this really adorable play food felt set :). Today she's sharing one of her family's loved cookie recipes. 

Though I typically reserve pumpkin fare for autumn alone, we often have these cookies on hand all year round because 1) they are actually pretty healthy (we regularly eat them for breakfast), 2) they are extremely fast, easy, and kid-friendly to make, and 3) they taste great as is, but “customizing” them with mix-ins makes them even better. 

Now, they aren’t the prettiest cookies, but you probably won’t have to look at them for long anyway because they disappear fast. I was inspired to make these after trying out the 2-ingredient banana cookies from The Burlap Bag, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but discovered soon after that our toddler has a possible intolerance to bananas (sad!), so I wanted to find a way to keep simple, healthy cookies on hand without bananas... these 3-ingredient pumpkin cookies saved the day. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

{Review} Kids' Treats: 50 Easy, Extra-Special Snacks to Make with Your Little Ones

Since I have a lot of little ones and we really like to cook celebration food together, this book is a sure-fire win for our family!

Written by Katie Wyllie (, this cookbook is filled with fun but not too difficult treats to make for kids' birthdays, classroom parties, or just for fun!

{Review} Sevi Magnetic Playset

{I received this playset for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are all my own.}

There is something so entertaining about making faces. I catch myself sticking my tongue out at my boys for random reasons all the time. It's just fun to try to make them laugh with a silly face.

So when I got the opportunity to check out a face making playset, I knew I was in for some fun.

And it really was.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rainbow Play Date

As I mentioned in a previous post, I polled my kids at the beginning of the summer what they would be interested in learning about. Besides snakes, one other topic was colors. So I made a rainbow play date for them! These activities are great for a day of learning about colors, for a holiday like St. Patrick's Day, or even a look at the story of Noah.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Worry Eaters: A Tool to Help Your Child Overcome their Worries {a review}

Worries are a complete and normal part of childhood.

Kids get worried and scared of all kinds of things: the dark, getting lost, a loved one dying, friendships, etc. You name it, some kid is probably worrying about it right now.

One of my kids in particular is prone towards anxiety. She's a highly sensitive kid who has an active imagination. Over the years we've equipped her with a variety of tools to help her deal with these worries and anxieties. 

We've read lots of books (a few of our lists are here and here).

We've had lots of conversations.

As she's grown older, she's been able to better understand herself and has begun to recognize the anxiety and do what she needs to do to get through it. We're super proud of her.