The Importance of Reading

Reading Jan 2015.jpgLast week I went to a talk by Penny Kittle sponsored by our school district on how to help your kids with writing at home. During the hour and a half presentation she spent more than half the time talking about the importance of reading.

Scholastic published a report on reading in 2014 that shows a significant drop-off in kids reading for fun after the age of eight. The numbers drop in each of the age groups bottoming out in high school where sometimes kids aren’t reading any books for fun throughout the year. Many of the kids aren’t even reading the assigned books, opting for summaries instead. This is leading to a decrease in reading stamina that is needed for college. While she didn’t address it directly, it is likely that these same kids are suffering when it comes to writing.

The study also shows that kids with access to large numbers of books read more. As a parent I have rarely said no to a request for a book (unless it is inappropriate). We are very lucky that our school library is good as well as the public library system in our area. We have access to almost any book the boys could want. When kids can pick their own books they are much more likely to read them.

Another point the study made was the importance of reading aloud with your kids and modeling reading behaviors all the way through high school. Most every night in our house we have reading time before bed. I read with Will and Jim reads with Jack, because they are at different levels. I hope that in the future we will all be able to read together.

I remember as a kid loving to read, even though I am a fairly slow reader. I would read my school books during the day but before bed we would read for fun. My mom, sister and I read the entire Little House on the Prairie series together, taking turns reading to each other. We are working hard to instill these and other habits in the hopes that our kids will benefit from reading in the long term.

What things are you doing to instill a love of reading in your children?

Ready For Anything Summer Bag

summer bag in car.jpgA few years ago I put together a bag at the beginning of summer and kept it in the car with some of the summer essential items. My thought was to be as prepared as possible for any spontaneous outings or opportunities that arise. You just never know when you get a phone call inviting you to go swimming or play at the park.

There have been a few times already this spring that I have found myself wishing I had already put together the bag, especially since I no longer carry a diaper bag or other “just in case” stuff.

If you are going to put together your own bag here are some of my essential items and then others you can choose to add.


  • Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses – These should probably be in the car year round, but they tend to add clutter.
  • Water (or water bottles) and non-melting snacks (like goldfish, craisins, pretzels or non-chocolate granola bars) – Even though we don’t tend of have the warmest of summers, my car will still get hot enough to melt anything with chocolate.
  • Change of clothes – You never know when a spontaneous water fight might break out. I usually have a complete set for each boy, including socks and underwear.
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes – These will always come in handy.
  • Flip flops or crocs – Just in case shoes get wet.

summer bag.jpgAdd-ons

  • swim bag.jpgSwimsuits, towels, goggles and life jackets – These may get to big to just keep in your car, but having a bag packed in your garage or storage closet will help for quick getaways.
  • Sports equipment – soccer ball, basketball, kick ball or Frisbee for stops at the park.
  • Picnic blanket or camp chairs – Some parks don’t have benches at all the points where the kids want to play. This way I always have the ability to be comfortable.

Once you have decided what is going to go in your bag, collect the items and decide how big your bag needs to be. I love using a big bag with compartments so things stay organized and easy to find. If you can’t find a bag like that then use Ziplocks or small containers to keep things separate.

Now you are all ready for anything summer might have in store.

I would love to hear if you have suggestions on other things to go in the bag.

Summer Bed Time

Jacks bunk bed 1.jpgAs summer approaches and the number of school days remaining close in on single digits, I have started to think about our summer schedule and what that means for bed time. In years past there hasn’t been much of a change, but I am wondering if I will be able to get away with that this year.

My kids are early risers typically. Even if they are up two hours after bed time, they usually wake up around the same time. While this is fine on occasion, when we have consecutive late nights and early mornings fuses are much shorter. So, even in the summer I have tried to keep their usual bedtime close to our standard 8 p.m. That is harder when it still looks like the middle of the afternoon outside with the long days up here in the northwest, but we try.

Some of our friends totally change their bedtime routine in the summer, allowing their kids to stay up later and sleep in. Others keep the same schedule, because their kids usually wake up early no matter what time they go to bed. Then there are those that change locations, where kids who sleep in separate rooms during the school year decide to bunk up during the summer.

This will be the first summer with the new bunk beds and the first opportunity for the boys to choose to sleep in the same room. I have been thinking about offering this to them on weeks when we don’t have early camps, or on weekends.

I just am not sure what to do about the time question. Jim and I like having the evening after the kids go to bed to watch our TV shows and spend some time together, so letting them stay up regularly gets in the way of that. However, I also recognize that Jack is getting older and may be able to handle a bit later bedtime (now he is in bed at 8 and can read until 8:30).

In the end we probably will just keep a similar schedule and try to have them in bed on most nights not later than 8:30, but perhaps we won’t be as rigid as we are during the school year. And I will leave it up to the boys if they want to try sharing a room.

What are you going to do about summer bed time?

Mom’s Skills

steffi's wedding 142.jpgMoms possess an amazing set of skills. Something happens when you have a baby and you develop skills beyond your imagination.

Here are a few of the special mom skills

· Mother finger – Allows you to shake your finger at people to get them to do what you want.

· Eyes all around your head – This way you can see everything that is happening even if you aren’t facing the kids.

· Super hearing – Moms can identify their child’s cry from miles away, even while they are having an intense conversation.

· Ultimate multitasking – There is never a time when a mom is doing just one thing. Even on weekends away we still are multitasking.

· Pack mule – A mom can carry anything needed between the car and the house, no matter how many bags or how much it weighs.

In honor Mother’s Day think about all of the special skills the moms in your life possess. Maybe you will even see a few new ones.

Sunscreen Struggle

Jack steam train.jpgFor the last several years it has been a struggle, probably better termed as a fight, to get sunscreen on Jack each day. With our natural paleness we all need to wear sunscreen.

I have tried many different methods to combat the complaining and sometimes tears that accompany the daily task, including strength of wills, reasoning and even self-application. Unfortunately there still aren’t any that are working.

You should see him when I put a squirt of cream in his hand to rub on his face. He looks like I have given him something that will melt his face off. My ultimate goal is that it becomes a habit for them that they will do each morning for the rest of their lives. Luckily Will doesn’t fight me, but I am afraid it is coming especially since he sees the way Jack acts.

Last summer on our big camping trip I discovered that he doesn’t mind the sunscreen stick as much as everything else. The only problem is it is difficult to make sure that you have good coverage with just the stick. So I have a plan for this year…

Each morning before he gets dressed he puts on a lightweight face lotion with sunscreen in it, something that is easy to rub in and will give him a good foundation of coverage especially on school days. Then I will follow that up with the stick or maybe even have him do the stick.

My hope is that I can avoid the angst and frustration on both of our parts for this basic task.

Do you have any ideas or tips on ways to get sunscreen on Jack without a fight?

Learning to Read with BOB

Will reading bob books.jpgWe have been lucky enough to receive hand-me-down BOB series books for Will. The Bob Books are a great series of books to help early readers get started.

The books are grouped into five sets of up to 12 books starting with introducing the alphabet up to long vowels. Each of the first books introduces one vowel and four consonants. The books are short so children can get read them and feel quick success.

Will and I have been working on the first books over the last few weeks. He is really enjoying his “letter books.” The letters are nice and large, so he can easily see them. We look at the new letters at the front of the book and practice the letter sounds.

He is doing a great job sounding out words and trying to listen to the sounds to figure out the words. If he gets really stuck I will help him piece it together. He is very proud of himself each time we finish a book.

These books have been a great way to get Will started on the road to reading.


The post contains affiliate links, however I have not been compensated in any way to write this post.

Advocating For Your Child: The Right Doctor

Jack NG tubeBeing your child’s advocate is one of the biggest jobs of being a parent. It is also one of the hardest jobs no matter what situation — medical, school or social.

In medical situations it is very important to find a doctor that is truly in your corner. The doctor will help you navigate situations that normally parents wouldn’t be able to do as well.

We are so lucky to have our pediatrician. She has been with us since Jack was born. She backed me up and believed me when other doctors didn’t. We have spent hours on the phone talking through all of the issues and challenges along the way. She moved mountains to get us in to see the specialists we needed to see. She will tease me about my notebooks and my questions, but she will sit and answer them all.

When we were deciding if we were going to implant a G-tube to feed Jack, our pediatrician organized a meeting with our feeding specialist, GI doctor and herself. It was so helpful to have everyone together and feel like we were finally being heard. We never would have been able to get all of those people together without her support. Years later, our boys are healthy and thriving in many ways due to caregivers like Tracy.

Your support doctor doesn’t have to be the pediatrician or general practitioner, you just need someone in your corner.

Loving Your Child

family nov 2013.jpgI have been reading The 5 Love Languages of Children. Jim and I read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts a year ago and I thought it was really enlightening.

The premise behind the books is that we all have a primary language that makes us feel most loved — while the others are important, the primary language is the key. The languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service.

While reading the book I quickly determined Will’s love language, quality time. At his age parents have to determine the child’s language by observing them and seeing what they react to the most. His love language is quality time. He prefers to be with people. He doesn’t necessarily need you to be actively participating with him, but he wants to be near you. He will bring a few toys out of the playroom and play on the floor right outside my office. If I am in the kitchen he is happy in the playroom, because they are right next to each other.

Jack was more difficult to determine. In the end I did the quiz with him, where the child reads statements and circles the one that makes them feel more loved. It turns out he is primarily physical touch with a high score for quality time too. Both make sense — he still reaches out for my hand when we a walking next to each other and he comes for a hug and a kiss before the bus leaves. He loves spending time with us no matter what we are doing — folding laundry, reading stories or building things.

My hope is that understanding the boy’s love languages will help me be a better mother and provide them love that fills their buckets.

What is your child’s love language?


The post contains affiliate links, however I have not been compensated in any way to write this post.

One Photo: Motherhood

Several weeks ago a blogger friend of mine, Katie Kavulla from Being 5, sent out a request for a single photo that represents your day as a mom. She added that it shouldn’t be the most glamorous photo staged to show what we think represent motherhood, but are reality.

It is really hard to sum up your day/life in one photo, until Will walked into my office looking like this…

Will shacket.jpg

He is wearing a shacket, shirt turned into a jacket. Jack and Will came up with the shacket one night while getting ready for showers. Every so often while I am working in my office Will comes through the door wearing something odd, singing something funny or holding something strange. I could have used this photo too, of the dog bowl hat he made earlier that same day. What a ham!

Will hat.jpg

Katie turned our photos into a post for AllParenting. It is a fun way to see what the life of a mother looks like through each person’s eyes.

Book Review: Travels with Gannon and Wyatt

IMG_7880.jpgAs a Mom of boys I am always on the lookout for good book series that will appeal to boys. It seems like many of the books written for boys are full of potty humor and silliness.

I was presented with the opportunity to read and review a new book series called Travels with Gannon and Wyatt written by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet. It is based on a web series that follows two boys on travels around the world. The books are written as journal entries that alternate between the boys. So far, two books have been published, Botswana in May 2013 and Great Bear Rainforest in October 2013, and another is due to be released in January 2014 called Egypt.

Jack, our eight year old son, has read with us the first book, Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana. It is a little bit of a stretch book, but he has really enjoyed it. I interviewed him about the book and here is what he had to say.

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt- Botswana

Did you like the book?
Yes, I liked that it was an adventure and mystery combined together.

What else did you like about the book? I liked that kids are trying to solve the mystery and save the lioness in Botswana. It was fun that it was written as a journal and both boys tell the story from their point of view. I like that they use real photos instead of drawings to relate to the story.

Did you relate to anything in the book or the characters? I related to Gannon more, because he has more questions about the people he meets.

What do you think about characters that are real kids that travel to real locations? I like it more because it makes the store feel more real. You can tell the kids have been to these locations because of how they describe them. I like reading stories that use real locations as part of the story.

Would you recommend these books to your friends and what would you say?

Yes. It is an adventure and mystery book. Gannon and Wyatt are two boys that travel around the world to help solve mysteries and have adventures.

I loaned Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Egypt to a friend’s son. He enjoys reality-based stories and nonfiction. He said

“The book was adventurous and exciting. Gannon and Wyatt are risk-taking and never give up. I can’t wait to read the next one!”

These books are a great beginning to what could become a fun series. I would recommend them to anyone with a child who loves adventure books, especially boys. I am happy to also give the opportunity to one of my readers to get copies of all three books in the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series. You can enter the giveaway below. Be sure to do it today as the giveaway ends on Sunday November 25, 2013 at midnight Pacific. a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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