Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Summer of 100 Books

I have a goal for this summer, and that is that we will read 100 books as a family. In order to accomplish this goal, I went ahead and made a list of 100 picture books that I want to read with Hannah and Paige. After consulting some of my favorite reading blogs, Amazon and Goodreads lists and some of the award winner websites here it is. Of course I included some Dr. Seuss books, Kevin Henkes, Mo Willems (my favorite), and other familiar authors, and some CLASSIC books (Blueberries for Sal, Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny) but like I said, I'm looking for books that can become family favorites and aren't necessarily always on the list.

Anyway, here is my list so far. If you have any suggestions PLEASE add to my list! I don't care if we go far beyond 100 books but we need to get our 100 books in!

The Runaway Bunny/ Margaret Wise Brown
Witches! The absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem / Roaslyn Schanzer.
A walk in London / Salvatore Rubbino.
Balloons over Broadway : the true story of the puppeteer of Macy's Parade / Melissa Sweet
Pirate nap : a book of colors / by Danna Smith ; illustrated by Valeria Petrone.
Your pal Mo Willems presents Leonardo the terrible monster / Mo Willems.
Listen to my trumpet! / Mo Willems.
Mirror mirror : a book of reversible verse / Marilyn Singer ; illustrated by Josée Masse.
The duckling gets a cookie!? / Mo Willems.
Happy Pig Day! / Mo Willems.
 I am going! / Mo Willems.
Knuffle Bunny/ Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny free : an unexpected diversion / by Mo Willems.
Can I play, too? / by Mo Willems.
Press here / Hervé Tullet ; translated by Christopher Franceschelli.
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems
A Book of Sleep/ IL Sung Na
The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Higher Higher By Leslie Patricelli
Rhymes Round the World Compiled by Kay Chorao
Ten Tiny Babies By Karen Katz
Mr. Gumpy's Outing By John Burningham
The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle
Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Bubble Trouble by Magaret Mahy
My Garden By Kevin Henkes
The Story of Ferdinand By Munro Leaf, drawings by Robert Lawson
Frederick By Leo Lionni
Dear Zoo By Rod Campbell
The Lion & the Mouse By Jerry Pinkney
"More More More," Said the Baby  By Vera B. Williams
Harold and the Purple Crayon By Crockett Johnson
Fortunately By Remy Charlip
Millions of Cats By Wanda Gag
The Tale of Peter Rabbit By Beatrix Potter
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear  by Audrey Wood
Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs/ by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
If Sarah Will Take Me by/ Dave Buchard
Make Way for Ducklings/ by Robert McCloskey
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very bad Day/ by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz
Leo the Late Bloomer/ by Robert Kraus and Jose Aruego
Silly Sally/ by Audrey Wood
There was an Old Lady who swallowed a Fly
Animals should definitely NOT wear clothing / Judi and Ron Barrett
Drummer Hoff / Ed Emberly
Pinkalicious/Victoria Kann
Little Gorilla/Ruth Lercher Bornstein
Curious George Goes to the Hospital/ Margret Rey
Giraffes Can't Dance /Giles Andreae
You're Not So Scary, Sid! /: Sam Lloyd
Room on the Broom /Julia Donaldson
Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs? / Carmela LaVigna Coyle, Mike Gordon
Jamberry / Bruce Degen
Little Rabbit Foo Foo/ Michael Rosen
On the Night You Were Born/Nancy Tillman
I Don't Care, Said the Bear/ by Colin West
Trade-In Mother/ by Marisabina Russo
Contrary Mary/ by Anita Jeram
Where's My Teddy?/ by Jez Alborough
Each Peach Pear Plum/ by Janet Ahlberg
I Don't Want To Kiss A Llama!/ Byron von Rosenberg
Orange Pear Apple Bear/ by Emily Gravett
But Not the Hippopotamus/ Sandra Boynton
Picture This.../ Board Book by Alison Jay
Ten Little Ladybugs/ by Melanie Gerth
Hop On Pop/ Dr. S
The Cat in the Hat/ Dr. S
Green Eggs and Ham/ Dr. S
Jessica/ Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum/Kevin Henkes
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse/ Kevin Henkes
Kitten's First Full Moon/ Kevin Henkes
The Giving Tree by author/illustrator Shel Silverstein
Love You Forever/ by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw
Dancing Feet!/ Lindsey Craig (Author), Marc Brown (Illustrator)
Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes/ Salley Mavor (Author)
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh/ A.A. Milne
One Pup's Up/ Marsha Wilson Chall
Tuck Me In! /Dean Hacohen (Author), Sherry Scharschmidt (Illustrator)
LMNO Peas/ Keith Baker (Author, Illustrator)
A Balloon for Isabel/ Deborah Underwood (Author), Laura Rankin (Illustrator)
Disappearing Desmond/ Anna Alter
Swim! Swim!/ Lerch
Shark vs. Train/ Chris Barton (Author), Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)
More/ I. C. Springman (Author), Brian Lies (Illustrator)
Goldilocks and the Three Bears/ James Marshall (Author, Illustrator)
The Three Little Pigs/ )by James Marshall
Red Riding Hood/ (retold by James Marshall) by James Marshall
James Marshall's Cinderella/ Barbara Karlin (Adapter), James Marshall (Illustrator)
Cinder Edna/ Ellen Jackson (Author), Kevin O'Malley (Illustrator)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Heaven in Here

I haven't done many book reviews lately but I HAD to review this one. This book seriously changed my life. I would hope that everyone would go out and BUY it, not only to support NieNie and her family, but also to have a copy to reread and share with others.

Here is the book description:

Stephanie Nielson began sharing her life in 2005 on, drawing readers in with her warmth and candor. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, Christian (Mr. Nielson to her readers), and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.

However, everything changed in an instant on a sunny day in August 2008, when Stephanie and Christian were in a horrific plane crash. Christian was burned over 40 percent of his body, and Stephanie was on the brink of death, with burns over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months.

In the aftermath of this harrowing tragedy, Stephanie maintained a stunning sense of humor, optimism, and resilience. She has since shared this strength of spirit with others through her blog, in magazine features, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now, in this moving memoir, Stephanie tells the full, extraordinary story of her unlikely recovery and the incredible love behind it—from a riveting account of the crash to all that followed in its wake. With vivid detail, Stephanie recounts her emotional and physical journey, from her first painful days after awakening from the coma to the first time she saw her face in the mirror, the first kiss she shared with Christian after the accident, and the first time she talked to her children after their long separation. She also reflects back on life before the accident, to her happy childhood as one of nine siblings, her close-knit community and strong Mormon faith, and her fairy-tale love story, all of which became her foundation of strength as she rebuilt her life.

What emerges from the wreckage of a tragic accident is a unique perspective on joy, beauty, and overcoming adversity that is as gripping as it is inspirational. Heaven Is Here is a poignant reminder of how faith and family, love and community can bolster us, sustain us, and quite literally, in some cases, save us.

I just wanted to share some of my favorite quotes and thoughts I had.

"Maturing as a mother is a gradual, but steady, process if we let it unfold, and the decision to stop nursing before I'd originally planned to was one of my first steps. I can only do my best and that's all that matters."

"I felt myself shutting down again. I couldn't think about Christian or the children or the pain of being apart from them threatened to overwhelm me. Being awake was such a feat in itself that pushing away additional unwelcome details became a matter of survival."

"It was a moments consolation to learn that they had paused before they took the knife to my face, before they carved away the tissue that had defined my facial features, before they scraped my beauty away."

"Months earlier I had been changing diapers and now I was wearing them. This confirmed everything I'd felt about my lost abilities. I wasn't fit to care for my children as I was nothing more than a child myself. The sense of independence I considered part of my character was gone. I wasn't just asking people for help here and there because I was worn out from a long day' I was completely dependent on them for not just my comfort but my survival. The thought that I could do nothing for myself, not even go to the bathroom, haunted me and I swore I'd get strong enough to do it on my own."

"Even as the medication finally quieted the physical pain, there was no pill that could soothe the pain of knowing my baby boy didn't love me."

"I longed to feel strong again, to feel fully in control of my body. I had always thrived on accomplishments and to do lists, and now I had a list long enough to last a lifetime. For starters, I wanted to squeeze my own toothpaste, remove the cap off a pen, seal a Ziploc bag of carrots for Claire's lunch."

"Id been eager for them (her children) to start asking me for help with whatever they needed, trusting me to take care of them, believing I could help them.

"As we (Stephanie and Elder Holland) talked he told me to be proud of my scars, saying "We look for Christ's scars because they are evidence of what he did for us. They'll be the first things he shows us when we see Him again. Your scars tell a story , too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle. That God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things."

"We look for Christ's scars because they are evidence of what he did for us. They'll be the first things he shows us when we see Him again. Your scars tell a story , too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle. That God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things."--Jeffery R. Holland

This book, really Stephanie and her strength, made me want to be a better wife, mother, and all around person. As I read, I grew to appreciate my able body and the small things it can accomplish that may not be so small, that I take for granted. It made me realize the importance of staying focused on the things in life that really matter. Yesterday I happily went about cleaning my house, feeding my children, and caring for their needs. As I accomplished these things I tried to appreciate the ability I have to fold my family's laundry, clean up spills, change diapers. I also tried to celebrate in the quiet moments between me and my children and my husband and I.

Stephanie is very real and honest in her memoir. She doesn't sugar coat the immense pain, or skirt around being discouraged and down, but through her trial she never loses her faith in God and she and her husband stay strong together. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the way her family takes care of her, particularly her siblings. I am so glad to know this story has a happy ending, and while she will never be the same again, she is healing.

What a beautiful, talented person. She inspires me not only for the life she leads because she is a survivor, but for the life she led before. I cannot praise this book enough.

A Week in the life {5/21-5/28} and picture catch up

We had a good week I'm sure, although my brain cannot remember most of it.

Bachelorette, Library, Park, Date Night Friday (Watching Woman in Black), Date Afternoon Saturday (Seeing Mary Poppins at the Smith Center), Watching Downton Abbey with Adam (He likes it), Working on training for my 10k, reading an amazing book (I'll do a separate blog on it later), and Memorial day party with friends.

Now here are a bunch of pictures that I haven't posted because I'm lazy and just put them on my camera...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Week in the Life {3/14-3/20}

I have been horrible at taking pictures lately!

First of all, we learned that Adam won't be working at all this summer really. It is kind of crazy, I know that most working people work all year long and most people expect that teachers have the summer off but Adam has either been working multiple little jobs, going to school full time, or teaching either his class (when they did year round school) or summer school. This is our first summer where he will have nothing really going on except a few random classes. I am both excited and apprehensive about this (I think he is going to get super bored really quick. Plus, whenever Adam is home our whole schedule is thrown off and it's kind of a random life). Aside from my worry I am SUPER excited. It is an opportunity that most families never get so I'm going to look at it as a positive thing and we are just going to get a new routine and grow closer together as a family.

I've decided part of this is that we are going to go "offline" somewhat. We'll check off Facebook, Pinterest, and   other little time wasters. I'll probably blog about our activities and such once a week like I've been trying to do but we are going to try and spend as much time together as a family.

Speaking of going "offline" I've made it a goal to kind of do this in general. I read THIS article recently and THIS one as well. I've always been a phone talker and I probably spend about an hour on the phone every day, mostly to my mom...but get me on the phone and I can't stop myself. Hannah hates it when I talk on the phone when she is awake. She hates when I text and she is trying to talk to me. I always hated it when my mom was on the phone and now there is texting and facebook and I just don't want my children to really ever see me spacing out on the computer or texting or whatever. I want them to remember me playing with them, reading to them, making lunch in the kitchen, etc. So I'm working on it because I'm far from perfect so hopefully this summer I can do better.

This week was great. We went to storytime on Tuesday, the park on Wednesday, and Friday I spend much of the day preparing for and attending a Relief Society activity which was super fun and awesome. Saturday a bunch of sisters went to the cannery (I'm the canning specialist in our ward along with Chelsea Mann) and I realized at that point that I hadn't seen my family for three days. Saturday night I went on a HOT date with Adam Turney. I'm going to warn you right now, the details are very sexy so you may not want to read on....we went to Walmart, people.

Okay so we went out to eat and Robertos (still not sexy but we love some good Mexican food) and then remembered we had to get a bunch of stuff at Walmart (BTW--still didn't get everything!) and then we went out to dessert at our favorite Fro-Yo spot The Golden Spoon. It was nice to finally spend some time together. Paige was dying for me because--I'm not even joking--Friday and Saturday I did not see her awake for longer than one hour total. When I picked the girls up from the date Paige totally had a freak out. She was pretty mad at me and you could seriously tell. I just held her while she clung to me and angrily made desperate mad noises. We spent all day together though so I think that made up for it. Hawaii is going to be interesting.

Listen to this--Since the TV shows we watch have wrapped up their seasons Adam has agreed to watch Downton Abbey with me. I'm so stoked. We are going to start this week. Greatest husband ever.

Oh and one more thing. Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes playing with Paige between my date and the cannery. She was pretty upset so I took her upstairs, changed her, fed her, then I was attempting one on one time with her. Adam was down stairs with Hannah and suddenly Hannah yells up the stairs "Mommy, I'm taking a bath". I ran downstairs to find Adam sleeping in Hannah's princess castle (sexy) and Hannah completely naked in our kitchen sink. Yes, it was overflowing. Yes, she flooded our entire kitchen floor. Good times.

Paige can stand on her own which is awesome.

More funny Hannah sayings:

"I want to use the squeeky butter." (I can't believe it's not butter spray butter)

"Daddy, wake up! I need an outfit to match my backpack!" It was 5am and Hannah decided that Friday morning would be her first day at school. She ended up dressing herself in a long sleeve shirt and long pants which actually kind of matched.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

She Said What Part 2

I forgot to add my favorite Hannah quote last week. She's been doing AWESOME at potty training. I don't even hardly have to remind her anymore that she is wearing panties, she just takes herself. Sometimes it's annoying because she's really great at getting undressed and going potty and not so great at getting dressed and washing up, so I'll be outside a locked door and she's asking me to help but I can't get in...anyway....

Last week she came up with a creative way to ask for help. She has NEVER said "I need to go potty." Except if she's had an accident....which isn't ideal.

She came up to me and said "Mommy, I'm probably going to have an accident RIGHT NOW." So we hurried to the bathroom and no accident!

I posted this on FB yesterday but I wanted this on here too. I told her that we needed to get her hair done which she hates to sit through. So many people give me suggestions and I just want to say, "hey people, I've been doing her hair EVERY DAY since she was 4 days old." She is no stranger to this...She's always had lots of hair, she's just in a stage where she hates to sit and have it pulled and yanked on (my biggest pet peeve is when people say "my girls just KNOW they need to do it because I've taught them" well duh, Hannah always has her hair done but sometimes it's a fight...)

So because of this, Hannah always has excuses for me when it comes time to do her hair. Yesterday it was

"I don't want you to do my hair, it wants to be hilarious!" I about died. It was the funniest thing she has ever said to me!

Some other things I love that she says:

"It's pwobably___________"
"Oh, alright"
"Daddy went to schoooo" She doesn't say her L sound yet so school is schoooo

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

She said WHAT?

Hannah has been on a comedic roll lately. Everything she says and does cracks me up (which by the way...she thinks "cracks me up" is a game we play where we both hold on to an item and when the other person lets go and lets the other person fall down they have been "Cracked Up")

Yesterday in a sly way she came up and asked "Mommy, how much do you love me." She wasn't asking in a sweet way. She seriously wanted something from me and was trying to manipulate me.

Yesterday she was playing with a little boy and when he touched her hair a meltdown ensued. "KRUZ RUINED MY PRINCESS HAIR FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!" Oh boy. I pretended to fix it and disaster was averted.

This morning while I was taking a shower Paige was in the bathroom pounding on the glass screaming (It weirds her out that she can see me but can't reach me so she HATES it when I shower). I called Hannah to ask her to help her sister. Hannah came in and knelt by her SCREAMING sister. Putting her arm around her she sang "Reverence is more than just quietly sitting, it's thinking of Father above..."

I have a habit of singing made up songs to my kids. Today I was singing to the tune of Frarashaka "Time for nappy time for nappy N-A-P N-A-P" without missing a beat Hannah started singing the chorus "No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no."

Hannah keeps talking about marrying her friend Tayden. We keep telling her it's best to be friends first and not think about getting married. Out of frustration one day I told her she couldn't marry Tayden and she said "Fine I'll marry Caleb. He's bigger than Tayden and he doesn't hit me." Alright.

She loves the Smile song (If you chance to meet a frown do not let it stay, quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away). So she's incorporated the phrase "if you chance to" in her daily vocabulary. "Mommy, if you chance to give me a cup?" I don't even know what she thinks it means, but it's cute. Now that I think about it, Adam and I will often say "When you get a chance, would you mind...." mystery solved.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Week in the Life 16 {4-30/5-6}

We won arbitration. And that is pretty much my week. Stress up until the decision. Elation at the victory. As soon as I heard the news I burst out into ugly sobs covering my face. Hannah asked if I was laughing "Whats so funny Ma, why are you laughing?" It was a huge victory. I truly felt humbled and blessed.

Other than that I finished a book (The Rose Garden), ran a bunch, and played with my kids. I went to an awesome baby shower ("You going to a baby bathtub Ma?").

Yes "Ma" is now a thing. I think it's because I started calling Hannah "Han" or "Hanners" so she will sometimes call us "Ma" and "Da."

 Sorry for the naked picture...but this kills me. Look at those wrinkles. Kills me kills me kills me.

Paige says Mama. She totally know what it means too. It means "If I say Mamamamamama that lady over there runs over to me quickly and fulfills my every desire as she kisses and coos at me." So she does it a lot.

We went to Shark Reef which was fun as always. We went to a birthday party too for our little friend Veronica.

I love my girls. I love my man.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Over the years I've done several posts on teaching.

Teaching is a very misunderstood profession. It is one of the most vital in society, yet it is also undervalued and unappreciated.

I have had the great privilege to get my education, and to graduate from the UNLV Elementary Education program. Until I actually went to school for it, I had no idea the hours, the stress, the heartbreak, but most of all the feeling of making a difference in someones life. I've seen students who have literally had nobody else in their life to turn to except their teacher. Off the top of my head I can think of six teachers who greatly impacted the direction in my life and molded me to be the person I am. I can think of many students that Adam has had in the past couple years who have turned around and changed their attitudes and their outlook on life after being in his class for one year.

Unless your parent, or spouse, or child, or YOU are a teacher (someone who lives with you basically) you cannot understand what the life of a teacher is like. I stand by that 100 percent. You can certainly appreciate and love teachers, and have empathy for them, but you cannot truly understand the heart wrenching, frustrating, beautiful life of a teacher.

I used to think a teacher had an easy profession. They work from 8:00am to 3:00pm and have summers, weekends, and holidays off. What a breeze. Being the wife of a teacher, I've learned that it is more of a 6:00am-5:00pm job most days, weekends are filled with preparing or taking continuing education courses, or working a second job, or preparing for some project or test. Summers are filled with 2nd jobs and summer school. All this is alright. Except when people tell me my husband doesn't work like their husband, or my husband has it easy. I get really defensive of that. Not only because I see my husband work his tail off but because I know first hand what it is to work as a teacher.

Why am I writing all this? Well tomorrow before noon we will hear what the arbitrator has decided. We have been in legal disputes over our 2011-2012 contract since February 2011. The school district wanted to freeze all raises or to fire 1,200 teachers in the district and cut everyone elses pay. That is all well and good. We've taken pay freezes for the past three years as it is, nothing new (we've taken about 8,000 dollars loss since Adam started with the district). Cutting our pay felt a little unreasonable, especially considering the things the district had spent money on that year (for example, 700 dollar ipads for every administrator in the district...about 2,500 the math), but the biggest slam was the fact that if the district got their way, Adam wouldn't get his raise for his second masters degree that we had worked and saved for. We had paid out of pocket for this degree so that Adam could have more opportunities and more pay and now they weren't going to recognize it with their promised light at the end of the tunnel.

A year and a bit later we are still battling over the contracts. We did get the pay raise and they took the pay cut off the table but they are still fighting to cut the pay raise or fire a bunch of teachers. It may look like we are being greedy, but CCSD has been actively hiring teachers even though they've said they had to go on a hiring freeze (about 50-100 new teachers every month) and they are RECRUITING from out of state. There are currently 1,300 job openings in CCSD. It's going to be a real big slap in the face if we get a cut in pay and they continue to hire an additional 1,300 people. Guess what--the 2012-13 contract is getting ready to be you think they will fight for another slash in pay to get more people hired?

Bottom line--If we win, we keep the money. CCSD may make good on their promise and fire those teachers. Good news fired teachers...there are 1,300 vacancy's in the district right now with your jobs gone there will be an additional 1,200....just start the process again. If we loose we get another slash in pay AND have to pay back money the district has already paid us for five years in the district plus Adam's Masters+32 raise.

The district has gone on a rampage in the media, painting the teachers out to be greedy money hoarder and saying that we are only doing our job for the money, its' not about the kids. Guess what. If it wasn't about the kids the teachers wouldn't be out there doing what they are doing because it isn't about money, it isn't about having summers off, it isn't about a great schedule  because all of those things are MYTHS, ILLUSIONS, FABRICATIONS of what a teachers job is really like. THAT IS THE REAL SLAP IN THE FACE. You are telling me that my husband has poured his blood, sweat, and tears into his job for money?!?!?! You are telling people we are throwing our fellow teachers under the bus, and the welfare of the children for money? It's not about the money. It's about the RESPECT that teachers deserve. Not as teachers, as HUMAN BEINGS. Our superintendent writes emails to the teachers telling them what a great job they are doing and then writes articles in the paper about how awful the teachers in this district are for not giving up their pay. We are not children Mr. Dwight Jones. We know what you are saying "behind our back."

For YEARS teachers have conceded their pay, their time, their personal money for this district and we are FINALLY taking a stand. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I'm so nervous. I'm so nervous that I have spent hours crying, hours on my knees praying, I have been popping tums and advil left and right because my body can't take the pressure of the moment when my husband comes through the door looking defeated and deflated. I can't take people telling me "At least he's got a job." Yes I know he's got a job and I'm so grateful but the people he is working for are stomping on him and trying to bleed him dry.

If you are still reading this, I am sorry. I am just so frustrated and anxious. Tomorrow, if we loose we will be about 800 dollars a month poorer. I can deal with that. We won't be able to accomplish many of our financial goals and Adam will never see another raise as a teacher (there's always administration right? ipad anyone?) and we will be almost back at square one as we face the next few months with little to no paycheck (as they take the money Adam has earned away). We'll adjust, we will deal, but we will have been defeated by Goliath who will ask more and more of Adam, and continue to smear the good name of teacher all over the news in bad light. Adam told me that writing always makes me feel better and since I was having an anxiety attack I thought it might. My stomach is still in knots and my heart is still aching but I feel a little better. So heres to tomorrow. May the best man win.