Friday, June 28, 2013

Reluctant Readers

Reading is a huge part of our lives.  My degree is in English.  My mom is a librarian.  Ben comes from a family of readers.  When we were dating and engaged we would read books out loud to each other--we still do.  We read the Harry Potter series to each other.  Reading and books are very important to us.  Of course that would translate to our kids. . . we thought.
We started reading aloud to each of our kids the day they were born.  We both felt reading aloud to kids was super important, and it is.  A great book about that is Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook.  I have used that religiously while my kids have been growing up.  Ben--their dad--reading aloud to our kids is also super important--he still reads out loud to them now even though they are 15, 13,11, and 8.  He also takes the time to read individually with Mr J.  For a boy to have his dad read to him is priceless.

Our first two kids were super readers from the start--independent readers I should say.  They both read the whole Harry Potter series on their own in 2nd grade.  Our 3rd child really seemed to have a harder time with independent chapter book reading.  Finally by 3rd grade she caught it,  "the love to read chapter books on my own" bug.  Our little man has probably been the hardest.  He loves to read, loves, loves, loves it--picture books that is.  And he loves to have his dad read to him.  They are going through all of Andrew Clements books, but getting him to read a chapter book on his own (which he is totally capable of) has been like pulling teeth!  It has been frustrating because we think, "you can do this, you love to read!  Why not read a chapter book?"  Patience is so important, and not really a virtue I possess--just being honest.

Finally, and reluctantly he has come around--or is still coming around :)  We tried The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne--which my girls loved, but he didn't like them, but then Kate McMullan's The Dragon Slayers Academy finally caught and kept his attention.  There are 20 books in that series, and he ate them up.  I was cheering super loud!  
I was worried about this summer.  He checks out bag fulls (not joking) of picture books that he reads on his own, but wouldn't check out a chapter book.  I kept suggesting, but he was not interested.  Finally at library story hour this week our children's librarian (thanks Leah!) introduced him to The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.  There are 5 books in the series and he got them on Tuesday.  It is Thursday evening, and he just finished #5.  He can't wait to check out the Beyond Spiderwick series now.

It just takes the right book, and then they are totally hooked.   So, don't give up on a reluctant reader.  Keep reading, and reading and reading, and keep looking for that right book.  I think good books for boys are harder, though, but it is so worth it and important for them to love reading.  It will bless them their whole life!

If you have any good boy book suggestions, I would love to hear them!  I am going to be posting some of my girls' favorite books this next month, so check back!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's up Wednesday--cookie pizza

I think it is really important to teach my kids how to cook.  Sadly, as they have gotten older, there isn't much time to teach them during the school year.  The summer is the best cooking time of our year. 

  Mr J and I had fun in the kitchen this week making this cookie pizza.  It is basically a huge sugar cookie topped with melted chocolate.  Yum!  
The recipe came from our favorite cookbook for kids--Betty Crocker Kids Cook!  Over the years we have  bought, checked out, and received as gifts many kids cookbooks.  But this one is hands down our favorite.  We cook from it all the time.  It is also cool that all the illustrations were done by a friend of ours, and he signed it, so that makes it extra fun.  But besides the fun illustrations, it has really good, simple, kid friendly recipes--meaning ones kids can make and adults would eat and enjoy too :)  So see if your library has a copy of this, or if you need a gift for a kitchen friendly kid or a kid you want to be kitchen friendly, I would highly recommend this!  

Cookie Pizza

1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 tes vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tes baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a large pizza pan (mine is 16 inches)

Mix egg, sugars, butter and vanilla until mixed well.

Add flour and baking soda to sugar mixture.  Stir until mixed. 

Spread dough out on cookie sheet.  Try to keep it at least an inch from the edge because it will expand a lot when baking.  

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.   Cool for about 15 minutes and then cover with sauce

Chocolate sauce 

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tab butter
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Melt chocolate chips, milk, and butter in microwave safe bowl.  Stir until completely melted.  Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Spread onto cookie and then top with M&M's or whatever you want or don't top it with anything and just enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 25

We had a little quieter week with our oldest 2 at church girls' camp.  Ben had a great Father's Day.  Miss E had another swim meet and did awesome.  I enjoyed an evening with some awesome girlfriends, and the youngest two culminated their last 2 weeks of children's theater with a play.  Whoa--busy week, but a good one.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Happy Father's Day to the best dad ever!  

The girls getting ready to head to church girls' camp.  They had fun!

Summer cooking is a big deal.  We have a lot more time to make things together.  Mr J and I made this cookie pizza--yum!  I am going to share the recipe Wednesday, so be sure and come back and visit!

Miss E working hard at her swim meet.  I am so proud of all her hard work with the swim team.

My little boy has always loved trains, and in the summer he has a lot more time to make cool train tracks.

Got together with some dear friends that I haven't seen in a long time.  Friends are such a wonderful thing!

Today Mr J and Miss E were in some kids' plays.  The last two weeks they have been doing a children's theater workshop.  Today they finished it by performing their plays.  They did a great job.  Mr J still has on his makeup :)

Thanks for visiting!  

I am linking up with Kleinworth Co and The Mom Creative.

Have a great week!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Enduring Love

To love, honor, and obey
For richer or poorer
In sickness and in health
for now and forever. . .

I just loved this!  Have some kleenex ready.  What a great example of love--true, selfless, enduring love.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's up Wednesday--broccoli salad

I love summer cookouts, BBQs, and pot lucks because I can bring this salad which I love!  I just call it broccoli salad.  It is super easy to make especially if you buy the already cooked and crumbled bacon.  Costco sells it, and I just keep the bag in my freezer for instant bacon anytime.  Love it!  You can make this ahead and let it sit in the fridge or just eat it right after making.

Broccoli Salad

1 large bunch broccoli--or I usually use 3-4 large broccoli crowns
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 of a purple onion, chopped fine (I usually use only 1/4 of an onion because they are so big)
8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, or 8 tablespoons already cooked and crumbed bacon
sprinkle on sunflower seed kernels--optional

Combine the above in a medium sized bowl.

For the dressing combine. . .

1/2 cup mayonnaise (fat free doesn't work well, but light is fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl vinegar--red wine or apple cider work well if you have them, if not just use regular
Mix well together and then pour over broccoli mix and mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for several hours.

Monday, June 17, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 24

We had a good summer week this week.  Miss E's first swim meet, a little day trip and sight seeing, and some relaxing in there too.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Miss E relaxing on the couch after a long day of swimming and children's theater.  She is a busy girl this summer!

The kids working on their father's day cards.  Making homemade cards is an important tradition in our house.

Miss E diving in for her first swim meet.  She did awesome!  

Our first cub scout!  

An exciting event in Miss A life this week. . . she got bit by a dog while running.  Oh my.  What an ordeal.  Luckily is was a very light bite, but after contacting the sheriff, owner, and getting to the doctor--what a mess!  She is fine, thank heavens!  You just never know when something (not) fun like that is going to happen!

Ben and the older girls attended the temple.

We visited some church history sites.  This is Liberty jail.   So important to have an appreciation of those that came before and all they did and sacrificed!

Met up with a sister missionary who we had known from before and we love!  It was sooo good to see her!

Thanks for visiting!

I am linking up with Kleinworth co and The Mom Creative.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Father's Day

love this video. . .

I am so grateful for all the wonderful fathers in my life--my Ben, my dad, my father-in-law, my grandfathers, uncles, my brother, and brothers-in-law.  They are all amazing men who are wonderful examples.  I am thankful for fathers who

read to their kids
ride bikes with their kids
make pinewood derby cars
jump on the trampoline
play soccer
watch races
run swim meets
make dinner
make treats
go on walks
go to the library
go to school plays
go to awards assemblies
go to 100 other kids activities
take mom on dates
are faithful
are sensitive
play the piano
get up with the baby in the middle of the night
change dirty diapers
leave love notes
call just to say hi
push the cart
go shopping
push the stroller
carry the baby
work hard
value education
value motherhood

and the list can go on and on.  Being a father is not an easy job.  They have a lot to do.  I am so grateful for my Ben who is a father just like this.  Happy Father's Day Ben!  You are amazing!  I love you!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's up Wednesday--kids' punch

The week right after school got out Mr J got to take a cooking class.  He has been waiting years to take this class.  All of his sisters have taken the class starting at the end of 2nd grade until 6th grade each summer, and Mr J was so excited he was old enough now!  He is a great helper in the kitchen!
His favorite recipe they made during the 2 day cooking class?  Kids' punch!  Yum!  It is orange juice, grape juice and club soda.   We have made it no less than 3 times since he made it in his class.

Yum!  It is a great summer drink!  The recipe can be easily cut in half or 1/4 depending upon how much you want. 

Mr J's kid punch

5 cups orange juice
5 cups grape juice
4 cups club soda

Mix well and serve over ice on a hot summer day!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 23

Another fun and busy week.  More basketball camp, more drivers education, our first pinewood derby (cub scouts here we come) and a mini vacation.   Summer is flying by and we are trying to enjoy each day.  Our weather has been beautiful!  Loving summer here!  Here is a look at our week. . .
Ben got called to play the piano in Primary at church which is the children's program.  He was practicing today, and Mr J was singing with him.  So sweet!  That boy inherited his Dad's beautiful voice!

His first pinewood derby!  Cub scouts here we come!  He got 2nd place and he was so excited!  Grandpa T helped him build his car when he was here last week.  So fun!

I had a breakfast date at McDonald's with this cute girl this morning.

The library is a huge part of our summer.  We go there almost daily.  Their summer reading theme is "Dig into Reading" and they have this cool marble track that Mr J got to do today because he read so many books.

For Mr J's birthday my uncle got him this cool LED hat with a light under the brim and then on the brim.  He got it into his head that he and his dad needed to go bike riding in the dark.  Mr J with his Komatsu hat and Ben with his head lamp.  They had a fun time.  Thanks for the hat Datus!

Went to Branson for a little vacation this week.  Mr J and his friend sitting at the theater waiting for the show enjoying his drink and treats :)

We went to the George Dyer show.  Amazing!  We all loved it!!!

Loved Silver Dollar City and the new roller coaster!

Went out on the lake boating and to a place where the kids could "cliff dive."  Mr J jumping in.  Super brave kid!  I didn't/couldn't do that :)

Miss E ready to enjoy a ride on the tube!  So fun!  

Thanks for visiting and hope you have a great week!

Come back and visit often!  I blog
Mondays--pictures from our week
Wednesdays--a yummy recipe or two
Fridays--thoughts, more pictures, whatever :0

I am linking up with Kleinworth co and The Mom Creative

Friday, June 7, 2013


I saw this on pinterest a while ago, and loved the thought.  It stayed with me as Newton happened, and then Boston.  I thought of it on the anniversary of 9/11, and then very recently Oklahoma's tornadoes which were quite close to home.  I have thought of this quote each time I have seen those things happen, and it has helped.  This week I really thought of it as I read I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree:  A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor by Laura Hillman.  That was a hard read.  It was listed as a young adult read, and 2 of my girls also read it.  Man, did we have some things to talk about.  

This wasn't fiction.  

This was real life.  

These things really happened, and it was hard to take.  I thought of this quote.  Despite the horrors, despite the unthinkable things that happened to Jews (and others) in the concentration camps, there were helpers.  This quote was so true--even in the darkest of times and places.  Look for the helpers, and you will always find them.  What a wonderful assurance and light in a very dark place.  It was great to tell my girls this quote and then talk about the helpers in this book.  It is very reassuring to know that even when people are at their worst and most inhuman, there are those that never let go of their humanity.  There are those with courage and dignity.  There are those who help.  I hope that if my children or I ever get into a scary situation, that we will be like that, that we will be the people helping.  It is an important lesson I hope my kids learn and will apply.  Reading this book helped my girls to see this lesson.  

God bless those people who are helping.  We are so thankful to you!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's up Wednesday--limeade

With the temperatures getting hotter, the cool drinks are coming back into style again.  Although my little boy would and does drink hot chocolate  Even when it is a balmy 100 degrees outside, he asks for hot chocolate at breakfast.  Love that kid.
This is Brazilian lemonade, and is one of our favorite summer drinks.  We got the recipe from Our Best Bites.  Ben always asks why it is called lemonade when there are no lemons in it--just limes.  I don't know.  I guess we should call it Brazilian limeade instead.  Either way, it is divine and tastes sooooo good on a hot summer day, which we expect a lot of those here. 

We also just like to make fresh limeade here.  My kids are excellent lemon and lime juice squeezers.  A key to getting lots of juice out of your lemon or lime is to make sure they are room temperature.  Fresh out of the fridge doesn't give as much juice as ones that have been sitting out awhile.  Our favorite limeade (or lemonade) recipe. . .

Fresh Limeade (or lemonade)

4-5 limes or lemons or a combination
6 cups cold water
1 cup sugar


Cut your limes in half and squeeze each half over a bowl or use a juicer.  Repeat with all limes until you have 1 cup juice.  

Pour juice into water and stir in sugar until dissolved.  Serve over ice and enjoy!

And I know I have posted this recipe before, but it bears repeating.  This Coconut and Cashew Granola is just divine.  I use the quick oats instead of old fashioned rolled oats because that is what I have, and I also just use regular brown sugar because I never have the dark brown sugar.  We make it and eat it for dessert right out of the bowl.  It is also divine with vanilla yogurt or ice cream, and great in the morning with milk if we ever have any left over in the morning (which we seldom do).  I know having your oven on for 1 hour and 15 minutes might not sound too tempting right now, but bake it early in the morning or late at night.  Your house will smell divine, and everyone will devour it!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 22

We began the week with a very special event.  Mr J got baptized into our church!  We had Grandpa and Grandma here for that and then Memorial day.  It was so nice to have them here!  Then the crazy summer schedule began--swim team, basketball camp, tennis camp, and driver's ed!  Hello Summer!  Here is a look at our special week.
Sunday:  Mr J got baptized into our church.  Ben baptized him.  It was a great day!  More pictures about that in my previous post.

Memorial Day--we went to the cemetary.  The older cemetery in town actually has a Civil War memorial.  It was neat.  Love all the flags.

Enjoying time with Grandma and Grandpa--singing around the piano.  

Miss E is doing swim team this summer.  She is awesome!

Our church youth group with our sister missionaries which we love!

Our basketball campers this week--Miss E and Mr J.  They had fun!

Miss E with her amazing duck tape creations!  We love duck tape at our house!  Love the purse she made!

Thanks for visiting!  I hope you have a great week!

I am linking up with Kleinworth Co and The Mom Creative.