Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's day is just around the corner. (If you need extra help, it's May 10). If you're like me, your mom is one of the hardest people to buy for. I'm always trying to think of new ideas for her gifts, and if I'm honest, I usually end up going to my default gift, a gift card to her favorite nursery. So I thought I'd give you guys a little help, if that's what you need, in the gift department. Here are a few ideas for Mom.

  • You can never go wrong with a Shutterfly photobook. If you haven't used Shutterfly before, they are one of the easiest websites to build your own photobook. I've made several of ours there and they all have turned out pretty nice. Plus, when you sign up, the always send out really great coupons. A lot of them are free photobooks. I have a coupon for you guys HERE for free shipping on all of your orders. 

  • Does your mom like to work in the yard? Does she need some new gardening tools? Something like THIS organizer that goes around a bucket, would be amazing. Or, you could just go get her a gift card from her favorite nursery or a pony pack of her favorite flowers. I never loved yard work before, but suddenly now that I have my own yard, I love to be out there. 

  • How about a spa day? I know its a little cliche, but moms really do work hard and usually don't get to be the ones being pampered. Find a nice spa to get a gift card to. If you're looking to save a little money, find a local aesthetics school, they usually offer cheaper pedicures (and much more) that are just as good as going to a spa. 

  • For the athletic mom, look into getting her some new gear. Shoes, clothes and accessories are always fun to get for working out, and it gives you more drive to get out and work hard. Here are a couple of my favorites:

                                              Roosport                                                   Contigo water bottle

  • When all else fails, get her a gift card. Where does she love to eat? Does she like movies? Does she have a favorite store? Think of your mom, think of what she loves to do and the things she likes best, then go get her a gift card and write her a nice letter to go with it. She will be able to pick out her own gift and you'll know she will love it! 

What is the best thing you've ever gotten or given for mothers day? What was the worst?

You might also like:  5 Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tips for Running with a Baby

Today I traded blogs with Tayler from The Morrell Tale. She's going to share some great things with you about running after a having a baby. I was really excited about this post from Tayler because, as everyone knows, I love to run. But, I have always struggled with running with a stroller. So here are some great tips about that from Tayler.

Hey y'all! I'm Tayler Morrell and I blog over at The Morrell Tale. Like Jenny, I love running! While in college, I did it all the time. But, it got harder the more "grown-up" I was. My first year out of college was also my first year of teaching...I was busy out of the wazoo. But, thankfully, I had less than a 10 minute commute and was still able to run a few times a week. Then, my 2nd year, I switched schools (this time, 50 minutes away!) and was teaching a new subject. I didn't know what free time was anymore! I also got what I could and couldn't do was limited. Well, we moved closer to where I teach (now a 15 minute commute), and my son is almost 10 months old!

As soon as I was given the 6-week okay, I started working out again. Preferably, I'd go running, which was very hard since we lived in a hilly area, I was still super week, and my newborn didn't like being outside in the stroller for very long. This was how it was for a few months, but I stuck with it. Then, it got cold. And there was no way I was going to take my baby boy out to go running in chilly and cold weather. Finally, in the past two months, Utah has gotten warm again, Rhys is older and loves the outdoors, and I have gotten back into running again.

But, running with a baby (running with a stroller!) is far different than running by your lonesome. So, I have some tips for you new moms who want to get back into running!

1) Make sure your running stroller's front wheel is tightened before each run!
This can be a hassle, definitely, but I've had issues with my brand-new running stroller's front wheel. Sometimes, it'll come loose, and wobble as I run. This causes the entire stroller to shake and quake and it is hard to steer. Rhys doesn't mind it too much as an almost-10-month-old, but it's rough for smaller babies!

2) Always bring a blanket for baby!
Whether it is chilly spring or hot summer, bring a blanket! I love using thin, light-weight swaddlers as blankets. It helps Rhys realize it is calm-time, it'll be there to cuddle if he is getting tired, and it helps his arms if there is a sudden chilly wind.

3) Have snacks, a doll, and a pacy!
All of these will help make the ride more enjoyable for baby. I clip the pacy on him (we've had too many times of it being sneezed out, landing on the sidewalk, and not finding it until our return lap). Baby will also be entertained and won't complain about being hungry!

4) Do not turn your iPod music up all the way!
You won't really be able to hear your baby if they start to fuss. I can't run without music, but I want to make sure I am paying attention to Rhys.

5) Know your path!
While in college, I loved going out the door and not knowing where I was headed on my run. Sometimes, my runs would be shorter or longer as a result and it was always nice to explore new places. But, since you have a baby tagging along, make sure you are familiar with your route, or at least know the distance or time it will take.

6) Plan WHEN you want to go!
If you prefer your baby staying up, go long before nap time. If you think running will help them sleep, go pretty close to nap time. I've done both, but when I go close to nap time and he falls asleep in the stroller, I can't move him out or he'll wake up! So, weigh the pros and cons.

and most importantly...

7) Be flexible!
Stop when they drop a paci or a toy. Make sure the sun isn't in their eyes and that they are warm enough. Rhys isn't always calm and patient the entire run (and I like to run for 30-40 minutes...not that long!), so I have to be willing to turn back when he gets fussy. Sometimes, they just want to get out and play. Thankfully, I have a park right next to my house, so we'll stop there and I'll get him out. Then, I'll stretch and do some (an)aerobic exercises while he crawls along and pushes the stroller. Sometimes, I just have to cut it short, take him home, and put him down for a nap, then I'll stretch and do some exercises at home.

What other tips do you have for mommy runners?

Tayler Morrell blogs at The Morrell Tale. She loves to share her experiences as a teacher, wife, and new mother. Tayler and her husband both love to cook and share their recipes often on the blog. When she's not blogging, Tayler loves to read, play videogames with her husband, watch her baby boy, run, and play soccer and volleyball.

If you want to join the blog swap next month, we link up with Kendra from Open Spaces. The more the merrier! Come join in. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blog Swap

Hey guys, Today I'm writing for Taylor over on The Morrell Tell.  She has a fun blog all about being a mom, wife and teacher with lots of other fun things in between. I'm sharing why I think having more kids is the best!
Go over to her blog and have a look! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Prayer is Like a Sandwich

Trevon and I have had the same church calling since we have been married. We've been sunday school teachers for the 13-14 year olds for over six years now. And while we have loved this calling, sometimes it gets a little stale and boring. A little redundant and frustrating. There have been Sundays where we really struggle finding a way to teach our lesson. Either our class wont participate or we just don't know where to go with the material.

Last Sunday we found a fun, great lesson for prayer. I thought it would be fun to share what we did. Maybe it will give those of you, looking for a great lesson, some ideas.

We took everything we needed to make a peanut butter sandwich. We started out dividing the class up in two groups. We happen to have four boys and four girls. So naturally, we did boys against girls. We had each group write down the steps to making a peanut butter sandwich. They only had five minutes to work as a group to do this.
When they were done with that, Trevon read the directions, while I made the sandwiches. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how they did. The girls successfully made a edible peanut butter sandwich. The boys struggled a little more. I ended up spreading the jam and peanut butter on with my fingers and then putting the wrong sides of the bread together. They had a lot of fun with this activity.  When we were done making the sandwiches, using their instructions, we explained how sometimes prayer can get a little redundant. We say the same kinds of things, do we really mean what we say in our prayer when this happens? So we taught them about being specific and genuine when you're talking to our Father in Heaven.
Next we had them work together as a class to walk me through making a peanut butter sandwich, using specifics. As I made this sandwich I explained that prayer is also like a sandwich in the order that we say them. First we address our Father in Heaven, that's the first piece of bread. Next we thank him for all of our blessings, that's the peanut butter. Then we ask Him for the blessings we need and the desires of our hearts, according to His will, that's the jam. Last we close in the name of Christ, that's the last piece of bread. When we say our prayers in this order, and we are genuine in our prayers, we feel happy and satisfied when we receive our answers. (Like how we feel satisfied after eating a sandwich).
We closed the lesson with this little poem, I found this poem on and made a cute print out from it. You can download the print out here.
The class thought it was a fun lesson and they actually paid attention to us instead of to their phones and ipads! 

What is your favorite way to teach a class?

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Pink Series 5k Review and Giveaway

It's time for the "coffee date" link up with Jenna, so I thought I'd share my running update! This last weekend, I accomplished one of my yearly goals which was to be back into race shape. I ran the Pink Series 5k in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  I was more nervous before this race than I have been for a race in quite a while. I didn't know if I was going to do better than last year or not.  My cousin ran it with me this year, I was so excited about that. She picked me up around 7 A.M. The race started at 9 A.M. and the last shuttle to get up to the starting line left at 8:30. So we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get to the starting line, warm up, stretch, and line up. And we did.
It was a pretty cold morning, but luckily this year they let us have drop bags. So we were able to layer up until we were ready to line up. Then we just put all of our stuff in a well marked bag and put it in a car to be taken down to the finish line.
When we were lining up, I got talking to a few of the other girls running it. That happens a lot with these kinds of races. You get to know a lot of people. We were talking about our goals for this race. One of them said she would probably run it in 18 guys, 18 MINUTES! That is insane fast. The other two girls were hoping around 20 minutes, still crazy fast. I can tell you right now, the one who said she was hoping for 18 minutes, ran it in 16 and won it! She's amazing. Not only did she win it, but she came back to cheer the rest of us on in the last stretch. What a great lady. Anyway, my goal was 23 minutes. The year before I ran it in just over 24.
I felt really good during the race. I could feel that my pace was really good and that I could push it harder in some spots. The hardest spot for me is almost always the last mile of any race. I think it's mostly a mind game from there for me. Going down the last hill I could feel someone too close to me for comfort so I knew I had to speed up. That's when I saw Melody (the winner) coming back up the hill. That gave me some new energy and I pushed it in. It's always great to be cheered on by another runner. And I will now always try my best to go back and cheer on the others. I finished 4th place over all, first in my age group, and I PRed by over a minute! Here are some of my thoughts on the race itself.

I have run a lot of 5ks in my life. I've run a lot of great courses and some that I didn't like so much. I feel that it's safe to say that this course is in my list of favorite races. I've met some really great ladies both times I've run this race. It's an all women's race, and a lot of women that are running it, are either cancer survivors or battling cancer right now. There is a huge variety of women running it but they are all supportive of each other and cheer each other on.

It's a really fast course. Mostly downhill. There are a few small uphill areas at the beginning but the rest is flat or downhill.  That can be hard on your knees and shins, but if you train the right way and you're ready for this race, the downhills help you so much on your time. (Like I said earlier, I PRed by over a minute this year!)

The race director makes sure the course is always well marked. They had signs with arrows and the race name on it every couple yards and they had volunteers helping point you in the right way, and stop traffic for you to pass. So basically, you're not getting lost.

This year they had pacers. Pacers are volunteers who run the race to help others keep on track for the goal time. So, lets say that you were running the race and shooting for a 25 minute time, you would follow close behind that pacer. If you're a regular racer, you know this is kind of abnormal for a 5k, but it's so awesome for those who are new to running or even for the first time runners.

Here are a few things that were in my race packet (minus the medal, I earned that). Cute shirt, car cling, coupons, bib number, and protein bar (not pictured but it was yummy).

They use top notch chip timing. And not the kind you have to tie on your shoe. Your timing chip is on your bib number. It's not even noticeable. Chip timing is the most accurate race timing you can get. Your chip is specifically connected to your bib number, and after you cross the finish line, with in a couple of minutes, you will know your time and place in the race. You can look it up online, or, in this race, they had an option for you to go look up your bib number and print your time out yourself.

When the race is over, they have fun snacks, music and the award ceremony for the winners. The Pleasant Grove race also happens to have a great little park right at the finish line. So if you have younger kids waiting for you there, they can play at the park while they wait for you and after while you mingle with your fellow runners.

Awards vary from year to year depending on the race. This year they gave a blendtec to the first place over all winners in the 5k and the 10k. They also gave plaques to the second and third place over all winners and then medals 3 deep for age group winners.

Here's the medal ceremony, my time card, and both my medals (one last year, one this year)

The Pink Series team is so great to work with. They are upbeat, excited people. They are passionate about what they do. They are quick to get back and to answer any questions they have. And it's supporting a great cause. Part of the proceeds go to a breast cancer foundation called Lifting Hearts. This is something that is close to my heart because my Mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer this last February.

This really is one of my favorite races I've run. I'm excited to share that with you! There is another Pink Series race in Park City, Utah on October 10th and the Pink Series or go HERE to sign up for yourself. Entry is $30 until June 15, then prices go up.
The pink Series Team was so awesome and willing to let me do a giveaway for them on here. So, if you're interested in running this fun, all women race, enter the giveaway for a free entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Prep For Your Race

Race prep starts long before race day. You're in shape, you've picked your race and registered for it. What else is there to do but show up?

The week before your race:
  -You want to take it a little easier with training the week before your race. Don't do anything that in your running routine that will leave you stiff or sore or injured. Plan some nice, easy runs to help keep you loose and ready for your race. But, don't take time off, try to stick to a pretty mild, normal running routine.

- Make sure you know how you're getting to and from your race and that you know what time you're going to get there. That's not something you want to stress over while you're preparing for your first race.

- Get to know the course. You could show up race day with out knowing the course well, and if it's well marked you'll still do ok. But it helps to know the course so you know what to expect and whats coming up next in the race. You'll know where to push yourself a little harder this way.

 - Relax! There are a huge variety of people running these races. Walkers, joggers, runners, elite runners, newbies etc. And every one of them all worry about coming in last or not doing as well as they wanted. These races are meant to build up communities, even though races are competitive, you're all cheering for each other. And most likely, you won't be the one coming in last.

Three days before your race:
  -The registration packet pick up is probably started by now. Go get your packet. It usually has a few goodies from the sponsors. The stuff in it entirely depends on the race and its sponsors. Usually it will have  a T-shirt and some kind of protein bar and some other small things, but it also has your bib number in it. DO NOT LOSE THAT! That is the one thing you need for the race.

  -Don't do anything new. Don't go get new shoes, don't try a new restaurant, don't go on new runs or try other new workouts. Don't try anything new. You want to be comfortable and healthy for your race. Trying new foods, drinks, or getting new shoes will only make it that more likely that you wont be ready.

The day before your race:
- Put all of your stuff in the same spot. You don't want to be forgetting anything you want or need for your race.

  -If you like to run with music, make sure your ipod (or whatever else you use) is charged and that your playlist is ready to go.

  -Go on a light (really light) easy run. Maybe a mile or two, just to keep you loose. No hills, no speed, just a light jog so you aren't too tight.

 -The most important thing you can do the night before a race, is to get a good nights sleep. Try not to stay up too late. And try to get around eight hours of sleep.

The day is here! Race day:
  -Get up at least two hours before you need to be at your race. Especially if you're not usually a morning runner. This will give you enough time for your body to wake up and for your brain, lungs and legs to all be ready to run.

  -Get to the race early. If you have to catch a shuttle, make sure your at the meeting point at least fifteen minutes before the last shuttle leaves. If you miss the shuttle, you'll have to find your own way to the starting line. And you want a good place at the starting line. You also want to make sure you have time to use the bathroom and do a little warming up.

 -Don't over dress. Most races start in the morning, and even though it's cooler in the morning, you'll be warm once you start running. And you don't want to have to undress and worry about carrying around extra clothes when you do warm up. If you do want to wear extra clothing, be prepared to go back and look for it when you're done or maybe wear some you're not super attached to so that if you don't find it, you wont care so much.
Sometimes races will have "drop bags". That means if you want to dress warm while you wait at the starting line, you can. And then when you're ready, you can leave a bag of whatever you don't want to carry at the starting line. The race volunteers will pick the bags up and take them down to the finish line for you. If that's the case, be sure to clearly mark your bag and your belongings with your name and bib number so that they can identify you easily.

 -Last minute check. Make sure your shoes are tied, your playlist is selected and you're ready to go.

Enjoy it! Races are fun, even if you're not a natural born runner. Don't stress so much, just enjoy the run. You'll be able to meet a ton of new people and hopefully make some new friends. And at the end of the day, the only one who needs to be proud of how you did is you.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Refocus on your Goals

We are almost 5 months into the new year. We are getting used to writing "2015", starting to feel the beautiful effects of spring, and so far it's been an adventure. But how are those goals you made back in January? Are they still going strong? Have they fizzled out completely?

  • Take a look at the list of goals you made at the start of the year. How many of those were actually doable goals? Have there been any that you can cross off already or that you're still working hard for? If needed, readjust your goals to make them more reasonable for you.

  • Ask your kids or spouse to remind you. If you're saving to buy an house or go on a vacation, but you really want some new shoes, ask your spouse to remind you to think before you buy. Are those new shoes really a need? 

  • Focus on one goal at a time. When you make a big list, sometimes it can be frustrating and discouraging to try to work at all of them. Pick one that you want to achieve. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds more than read more this year. Focus working out more or eating less before you go to the library to find a new book. Once you've reached that goal, maintain that progress while you focus on the other goals. 

  • Mark it on the calendar. Instead of saying you're going to run three miles this year, mark a date on the calendar that you're going to be able to run three miles by. 

  • Put reminders up around your house. If you need an extra reminder to eat healthier, remind yourself with sticky notes in the kitchen. Write something encouraging that will remind you that you're working for something. Put them where you hide your candy bars. Put one on the soda to remind you to choose water instead. 

  • Give yourself some time. It takes a lot of time to break a habit or to make a new one. It's hard to remember the big picture all of the time. Don't give up on your goals completely. It's never too late to start over on the list. So go through your goals, find the ones that you really want to focus on, and get refocused on your goals! 

How is your goal list going so far this year? Are there are you can check off?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pinterest Favorites

How many times have you looked at your pinterest boards and thought: I haven't even tried any of these? Today, I went through and found some of my favorite pins. Ones that I use over and over, that I know work!

1. First up, Creamy Garlic Pasta. This is so, super easy. It's also a one pot dinner, so clean up is just as easy. My kids love it, and we never have left overs. It's also really easy to adapt to your family, too much garlic? Just cut it in half. Try it, you'll like it.

2. Next, a little hack for popcorn lovers, like me. For a long time, I was the only popcorn lover in our house. So we rarely bought microwave popcorn because we just didn't use it very fast. So when I found this pin, I had to try it. It was so easy, and it worked. So if you don't know this trick, check it out! 

3. Because I love running, of course I have a running board, and here are some of the best tips for beginning runners I've seen. So if you're thinking about taking up running, or if you have already and need extra help, read these tips.

4. I love the foam soap from Bath and Bodyworks, but I hate spending that much money on soap...So I went to pinterest to look for an alternitive. Here's what I found, it's super easy to make your own. I've seen a couple of different recipes. Some have essential oils in them, some don't. Mine doesn't because I don't really use essential oils enough to buy them just for soap. So here is the recipe I tried, and still use because it works.

5. Last, looking for a good cupcake recipe? Try this one! Neapolitan cupcakes. I made these for Valentines day one year, and they turned out perfect. You can use the chocolate cupcake recipe for anything though. So I use this one a lot!

There are a lot of other great pins out there, What are some of your pinterest favorites?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oz Naturals review

Thanks to Brand Backer, and to Oz Naturals, I got this vitamin C serum to test and review. Here's what I think about this product:

What I like:

  • It doesn't have a strong smell. You may have read my other Vitamin C serum review a little while ago. That serum smelled and looked just like I was putting orange juice concentrate on my face. This one has no color and the smell is really mild. 
  • It feels clean. I put this on right after I shower or wash my face. It doesn't feel heavy or make me feel like I have a lot of stuff on my face. You do want to use a lotion with it though!
  • The appearance of the bottle looks nice. It looks like it's made by a good, high end company. 
  • Most of the ingredients in this product are things that I have at home. I know what they are and it's 72% organic (whatever that means)
What I don't like:
  • I'm not a big fan of essential oils in the first place. I made that known in some of my other reviews before. I think they are great for some things, but for others, I'm just not so sure. Since this is an anti aging  serum, how am I supposed to tell if it's working in a short amount of time. It might be, who knows.
  • I was hoping to have it make my face feeling smooth or something, I just can't say that I can tell a difference. Again, maybe in time I'll be able to see some kind of change. 
 If you're into the essential oils or organic thing, go for it. It's a light, easy product to use. It feels clean, not oily. It doesn't stink. If it's your thing, it's probably worth the money. If this isn't something you normally look for or use, I wouldn't buy it. 

This post is made possible by brand backer, all opinions are my own. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Love Story: Engaged

Love Story:


Trevon's version of this doesn't match up exactly with my story. But he's not the one writing it. So here is my side of how we got engaged.

We didn't wait long. We had both known for a while that we wanted to get married. Trevon got home from his mission on August 12, 2009. We had spent as much time since then as possible together. He took me "ring shopping" one day and I told him that I didn't want all that much to do with the ring. I would love it no matter what because he picked it out for me. So the shopping didn't last long.

August 27th came up, my birthday. I'd been working all day and I was looking forward to going on a date with Trevon that night. He came to pick me up, and we went to dinner. My pick. It was Gloria's Little Italy in Provo. I love italian food...and mexican food...and a lot of other food. But, the family who owns Gloria's is my dad's patient and it was a pretty new restaurant and super, super delicious real italian food. So I wanted to take Trevon there.
After dinner, we went to the dollar theater (we thought we were poor then...ha!) his pick, Wolverine. Super romantic. When the movie was over, we went to get milkshakes at Arctic Circle. We used to always get heath bar milkshakes and Arctic Circle was the only place we could get one at the time.
While taking me home, he missed the turn. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was going to take me to the park for a little while. So we went to the park, where he kissed me the first time, where we saw each other for the first time after his mission. We played on the swings, and we walked around. My back was hurting so after a little while I asked if we could sit on the bench. When my back started feeling better, we got up and started walking to the car. He stopped me, hugged me and started saying all these sweet things. Then he started pushing me away and kneeling down. I was thinking "what is he doing? Maybe his shoe is untied." Because it was weird for him to say those things and be pushing me away. Anyway, I'm sure I said something stupid like "Ok, what are you doing?" and he answered that question by asking me to marry him. And of course, I said yes wanted to say yes, but the words came out "did you ask my dad?" (We've been over this, I say stupid, weird things when I get nervous or excited). After he assured me that he had asked my dad, I did say yes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I Can Do Hard Things

 How many times have you heard someone say "well...I had a hard childhood." Or "Yeah, ______ has had a hard life."? I can tell you that this is something I've heard a lot. And, I think that in our own way, we have all had "a hard life". Life is hard. We all have trials, we all go through some crappy things, it's not fun sometimes.  No one goes through exactly the same things, but we all go through hard things. The main things is, how do we deal with the hard things?

For years I felt like my life was harder than anyone else's. I felt like everyone else had life easy because, even though they were going through something that was hard for them, they did not have to deal with what I was dealing with. After thinking this way for several years, after letting my "hard things" get me down into depression, finally something clicked. I realized that I needed to take my hard things in life, and learn from them, and grow from them, and then help others how ever I can with them.
I can do hard things.

To the single dad, trying to raise a family, work, and do everything else, don't give up. You're the only things your kids have to hold on to. Be their rock. What can you do for your kids today? What can you do for yourself? Take it one day at a time, don't worry too much about the future. And remember,

You can do hard things. 

To the women fighting breast all the people fighting any cancer, there is fantastic knowledge today that helps you in the fight. The road is rough, there will be a lot of hard days. There will be a lot of sick days. Don't give up, find the peace you need through those who love and support you. LET THEM HELP YOU! Find peace through God, know that He is there and He is all knowing. He's there to comfort you, to guide you, and to support you when you need it the most. And remember,

You can do hard things. 

To the young, stay at home mom, when the kids are driving you crazy. When you don't know why you had them in the first place. When you feel so lonely even when you're never alone. When you're exhausted and still need to wake up to feed your new, precious baby. When all you want to do is take a nap but see that the house is a mess, and need to clean it instead. Remember who you are. You're job is important. You're the only mom that your kids need, be there for them. Pray for strength and guidance. God will see you through those days. There will be a day when the house is always clean. There will be a day when you won't have to worry so much about finances. There will be a day when your kids will say nice things to each other. Hold on. Eat a piece of chocolate. And remember, 

You can do hard things. 

To the high school student, getting ready to graduate. Relationships come and go, there will be heartache, and tears. But someday you'll get it right and find the right one. You may feel stress and pressure and confusion with school and what to do next in life, but don't worry too much. Enjoy the ride, and trust that God will give you the answers you need if you ask Him for His guidance and listen for His answer. Listen to your parents, they know what they are talking about after all. Don't give up your dreams, but give up your fears. Be happy, have some fun, and remember,

You can do hard things.

We all can do hard things. We just have to remind ourselves that we can. Be brave, Trust God. Because it's through Him that we can do all things. Even the hard ones. Don't forget why you started in the first place. Don't worry about what's coming. Don't give up. You're on this earth for a reason, find out what that reason is and remember, 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easter Weekend 2015

We had a great Easter weekend, I hope you did as well. Here are a few of the details from ours:

We had General Conference. It was amazing. It's sometimes hard to listen to the talks with little kids, but the spirit it brings in our house is great either way. And the girls did pretty good listening anyway. There were so many amazing talks and I'm excited to read through them again.

We had a few small Easter egg hunts. J and M both loved them and had a great time finding all the eggs.

On Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny brought a few fun things for the girls. It's been so fun to watch M learn how these kinds of holiday's work from J. She follows her around like a cute little shadow.

We finished watching conference, and then we headed up to my grandparent's house for dinner. It was fun to visit with all the family. We always have a good time together. Then, to finish the night off, we went over to my Father-in-law's house to visit with him for a while.

Monday was Trevon's birthday. And he had spring break but he still had to work full time (being an adult sucks sometimes). So we celebrated that night by going to dinner with my parents and then coming home and watching Unbroken when the girls went down for bed.
Unbroken is a good movie, but the book is so much better! You just can't fit all of those experiences and all that information into 2 hours. But if you haven't read the book, whether you've seen the movie or not, read it! You learn so much more about Louie and about his experience in the book.

So that was our Easter. It was so nice to be able to spend the whole weekend with family.

What are your highlights from Easter?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Top 10 Children's Books to read Over and Over

Growing up, I didn't have a love for books until I was eleven and Harry Potter came into my life. After that, I was almost always reading something. I knew that I wanted to teach my kids to love books like that from the start. So when J was teeny-tiny, I started reading to her. We read books all day long. So much that we both had them memorized really quickly. And that proved a very positive thing in her language development. She knew her ABC's at 18 months and was quoting her favorite books.
With M, I have felt really bad about this, but we just haven't done as good on reading. She doesn't share that interest yet. She wants to be up and moving. But when we do get her to settle down, she brings me the books that she likes over and over again. A lot of them are the same books J loved.
So I thought I'd share with you some of the books that we love to read at our house. Here are a few of our favorites.

-We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. We have two copies of this in our house. They are both pretty warn out and loved. Both of my girls love this book. When we don't have it with us to read, we recite it and act it out.
It's a book about a family bear hunt. When they find a bear, they decide that it wasn't such a great idea in the first place. The pictures are great, the story is easy to remember and fun for kids to act out.

-I Love You Through And Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak. This one is such a cute book about every thing we love about our kids. From top to bottom and inside out. It's rhyme-y and quick to read at bed time or any other time. And it's great for helping teach kids body parts like fingers and toes. I would highly suggest getting this one for anyone with a baby or young kids.

- The Berenstien Bears and the Big Road Race by Stan and Jan Berenstien. This is one from my childhood. It's always been a favorite. It teaches colors, and it teaches about not giving up. Brother bear is in a road race against bigger, faster cars. But he doesn't give up and stop racing, even when he's in last place. He just keeps on putting. And he ends up winning the race. This is another fun, rhyme-y book that your kids will catch onto quickly.

-Stella. Any of the Stella books by Marie-Louise Gay. We found these books from the cartoon based off of them. The cartoon is darling, it's about Stella and her brother Sam and all of their adventures together. We love Stella because it teaches about how to use your imagination. Which, I feel is kind of a problem now days. All most kids want to do is play video games or on the ipads and watch TV. This book is really refreshing because it's a reminder of how much fun you can have just playing outside. Plus Stella is super smart to her little brother, Sam. And I love the sibling love they have for each other.

- Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. This is a classic that I honestly hadn't read until I had kids. But I really quickly fell in love with it. Harold decides to draw himself a quick little walk before bed time. He has a fun little adventure then draws up his bed and falls to sleep. I don't know what it is about this one but I just love it.

- Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. M loves this one because she loves all the animals. Every time the zoo sends a new "pet" she makes the animal sound. Plus, how fun would it be to write to the zoo and have them send you the perfect pet?

-Pretty Princess Pig by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple. This is another rhyme-y book and it's so cute. Princess pig is trying so hard to make the perfect tea part but doesn't notice that it's really not so perfect. Her guests are very polite not to say anything about the mess though. We scored this one at a library sale (We love library sales, $1 for a book, tons of awesome books to choose from, can't lose).

-Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss. Who doesn't love Dr Seuss? This is one from my childhood. My uncle had it memorized and any time one of us started to complain about something, he would start reciting it. It always made us stop, not really because we felt so bad for the people in the story, it was just really awesome to hear him recite it. It impressed me so much that I decided to memorize it so that when I was having a bad day, I could think about it.
While this is a little longer book and geared for a little older audience, Jay still loves it and will sit and listen to it. And someday, when she's a little older and starts to complain about how hard life is, I will recite it to her and hopefully she will buck up.

- Go Dogs Go! by P.D. Eastman. This is a fun one and an easy one to memorize. Sometimes it gets stuck in your head. This is a good one when you first start reading to your babies. We try to make it exciting in different ways. More for me than the kids, because I've read it so many times. So we make up actions to help them remember what comes next. It's really cute and fun.

- The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This is one I grew up with and I remember loving because it has little letters you can read.  "Once upon a bicycle, so they say, a Jolly Postman came one day from over the hills and far away...with a letter for..." And you get to read all the letters to the classic fairytale characters. The letters are kind of fun and whit-y.   The book is really well designed. It has built in envelopes with pull out letters in them. This is a fun one for a little older kids to read on their own, although Jay loves to look at it before bed as well.

What are some of your favorite books from your childhood, or even books you read to your kids now?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Positive Discipline: Book Review

Blogging for Books sent me this helpful parenting book a little while ago. I honestly have a lot of mixed feelings about it. It did have some helpful hints on raising your children, but I think a lot of it is not necessarily my parenting style. Before anyone goes on judging me, thinking I'm a super mean mom, let me do a little explaining.

There were bits and pieces of this book that I like and want to try in my mothering. There are also several that I have tried or that have stuck in our family. But there are some that I have either tried and it didn't work, or some that I feel are a little silly. For example:
  • Not telling your child they are smart: There is a few little paragraphs, in the chapter The Art of Encouraging, that talk about how by telling your child they are smart, it damages their motivation in learning. This is something I hugely disagree with. What I wouldn't have given growing up to hear the words "you're so smart!" told to me. I really think this is something that kids need to hear. It gives them confidence. It praises them and tells them they are doing something good by learning, why would that damage their motivation? We tell Jay she is smart all the time (I mean, come on, she knew her ABC's at 18 months old for crying out loud) and it doesn't slow her down any in the learning department.
  • One thing I did like, that we have tried using, is instead of "time out" to think about what they did wrong, we send them to their "calm down spot" with what ever lovey they need (blanket, stuffed animal, binki etc) and let them calm down before they go back to playing. This has worked off and on for us. I think it depends on what they are upset about in the first place. If they are crying because they are hungry, clearly it's not going to help to send them to calm down because it's not fixing the fact that they are still hungry. But, if they are upset because a toy is being fought over, it usually does help.
  • It talks about letting your child develop who they are by exploring. This I totally agree with. While we want to keep them safe, they need to learn. And a lot of that happens by trial and error. "What would happen if I hit the water?" It might make a mess, but they are learning. And as long as it's not hurting anything, why not let them try it out for a little bit? Along with that, it talks about redirecting your child when they are playing with something that you don't want them to. For example, if they see your phone on the counter and reach for it, try giving them a book to look at or some blocks to play with instead of just saying "No."

There is a ton more in this book. Is it good information or unhelpful? That's something, as a parent, you have to decide. There is no set way or "best way" to raise a child. It really all depends on your circumstances, who you are as a family, cultural difference, and most definitely your child. As a mom, I'm always looking for new things that might help me in raising my family. But, I also know my kids, and I know what's best for them, and what works best for them. I feel like most moms feel that way. 
If you're looking for a few new ideas on something that your child deals with (shyness, potty training, sleeping, etc) this might be a good book for you to pick up and browse through. You can find it here

Have you heard of Positive Discipline? What are your thoughts?