Tagged Reading

10 Small Things That Make My Day Brighter

10 Small Things That Make My Day Brighter


Life has gotten so much busier since Jack started half-day school, 5 days a week. I truly thought life would breathe a little easier once the school year began. Although I laugh every day at my naiveté, we couldn’t be happier with the decision to send him to our small, heartfelt Montessori school. He runs right into class every day.  It makes me so proud to see him loving this new part of his life but I have to admit that I’ve felt a wave of emotions these last several weeks. My little boy is in school! Our long days together have come to an end. Sniff. Sniff. Etc. Etc.

Need a pick me up? Check out these ideas for appreciating the moment.

In times of big change and big emotions I like to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look around at all the little things that make my day brighter. The following is a list (with helpful links) of my ten favorite things of the moment.

  1. I purchased this bento box from Zulily.com nearly two years ago in anticipation of making school lunches. Am I the only one who can’t pass on a good deal?  I thought it would be a great way to eliminate Ziploc bags and even more fun to get creative with food. Boy, was that an understatement.  I’ve had a total blast (most mornings) making food fun for little dude. Sliced cheddar in the shape of tiny teddy bears was a big hit.
  2. If you want to give yourself a kick in the pants, GET A FIT BIT. The holidays are coming up. Make sure to get your letter to Santa in the mail now.
  3. After Pops gets Jack to school in the morning, it’s an absolute treat when his sister graces me with an extra hour of slumber because that means I can have my favorite breakfast-of-the-moment in solitude. There is no better start to the day than with a bowl of blueberry oatmeal and a piping hot cup of coffee.
  4. On the days that I’m thrown in the driver seat full throttle I turn to my new friend The Complete Cookie. These little vegan, kosher nutritional gems are conveniently perforated into two servings. For a full cookie it’s 16 g protein and 6 g of fiber. They have many delicious flavors but at this moment peanut butter cookie is my favorite.
  5. Two books that I would highly recommend…
    Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book. This is one of those grab in a fire things for me. It is so wonderful to look back on my babies’ lives and see what they were doing each day and how they’ve changed. This is a wonderful gift you could give to new parents. There have been many days when Albert has picked up the pen and taken over too. I love that this book is chocked full of love and so much pride. What a treasure!
  6.  Small Victories (Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace) by Anne Lamott. She is such a breath of fresh air. I laugh, cry, and ponder when I read her books.
  7. Tortilla wraps have become a bit of an obsession for me. I’m especially fond of the big spinach ones by Mission that only set me back 210 calories. The following is a quick list of what I’ve put in wraps lately; Spring mix, spinach, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, smoked Gouda cheese spread, black beans, crab cake, tuna salad, Trader Joe’s roasted eggplant dip (2 tbsp 30 calories), hummus, peppers, cucumbers, pasta salad, cannellini beans, edamame, etc. The list goes on and on. The key to a healthy, happy wrap is portion control with a variety of fillings. So yummy and for someone who gets in a rut with meals, perfect.
  8.  When I saw these Saucony tennies (found here on Amazon) on the sale rack at Nordstrom ($25!!!) I knew they were coming home with me.  My Emmaline has a teeny tiny fondness for all things shoes. I blame it on her Nana and her turquoise sequined house shoes that E has been after since birth. My Mom informed me recently that those slippers have been bequeathed to my sweet daughter. For now, she will have to slum it in these wee things.
  9. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer & Hello Light Liquid Brightener. These early mornings aren’t doing my under eye area any favors. I picked this up at Ulta for half off during their recent 21 days of beauty. A Beauty Blender sponge works really great with this product.
  10. Radio Flyer Ultimate Wagon. This contraption was a well thought out purchase for us. Sadly we have not taken it to an amusement park or major outdoor excursion yet, but those times they are a coming. We have been enjoying this as a way to wind down our evening taking a nice stroll after dinner and before we settle in to the night time routine. It’s easy enough for big boy to pull when he feels inclined and handles like a dream. Cup holders and a pouch that fits a good sized picnic are also a plus.

I would love to hear about all the little happy things that bring joy to your lives, especially on those slumpy days.








Reading is magical. Reading transforms us. Reading transforms our kids.

The Magic of Reading with our Kids


Reading is magical. Reading transforms us. Reading transforms our kids. So, it’s Friday night. I’m a freshman English teacher. I’m watching The Two Towers with my eleven-year-old daughter as we grade papers from the week. I’m physically exhausted and my brain is mush. I feel as if I’ve been run over by 166 wildebeests. (I do have 166 students; however, none of them are actually wildebeests.)

I know I’m scheduled to write a blog and I need to submit it in the next several days. I also know that my heart has been telling me to write about reading. So, I begin to think about reading.

Reading with my personal children.

Reading with the 166 wildebeests, er, students.

Reading by myself.

And here’s what I come up with.

We started reading to our children when they were born. My oldest daughter’s middle name is Scout. So, of course, during the 13 months of breastfeeding, we read To Kill a Mockingbird, among other books. I’d prop the baby on one side of the boppy, the book on the other side, and Harper Lee’s words flowed through us. Mother to child.

My husband read to her too. We didn’t have a digital camera back then (believe it or not)! So this is a picture of a picture.

David and baby Carlee reading

When the second one came along, so many things were different. I worked full time. We lived in a different house and town. We had a new circle of friends in our new place. But, the reading remained. As a working mom, I cherished and coveted our reading time in the evenings. My older daughter even got in on the act.


Daughter #2 also carries a literary middle name, Arwen, the elf princess. She is 6 now and we’re currently reading Fire and Ice, the 4th book in the Spirit Animals series. Our evening talk now centers on what our spirit animal would be if we had one. She’s got a fierce nature like one of the main characters, Meilin, and has decided she’d need Jhi the Panda to balance her ferocity. She’s probably right.

spirit animals

At school each day, I teach 14 and 15 year olds about reading and writing. Some of them have home literacy experiences much like my children, but most of them do not. I find myself wanting to mother them in their literary lives. At times, we cover what I consider developmental gaps in their reading.


“Have you read Dr. Seuss? No? Well, we must. He’s the master of rhythm and rhyme and he teaches about persistence in the face of adversity and the perils of inflexible thinking.”

“Have you read Love You Forever? No? Well, we must. It’s the story of a kid whose mom loves him–no matter the stage of life he’s in or the difficulties he causes. And, what’s really cool is at the end, he loves and cares for her. The story comes full circle. He goes home to his baby and carries on this generational tradition of love. Loving your kids is powerful stuff, folks. It changes the future.”

“Have you read A Strange Day? No? Well, we must. It’s a beautifully illustrated story that relies on pictures to help convey the message that the actions we choose to take have a ripple effect that we can’t imagine. Yeah, you could do something today that might alter someone else’s world forever!”


We fill in these gaps while we read the required 9th grade material and prepare for state mandated testing. (Click the link if you want to try your hand at taking the English I STAAR test that my students took last year!)

Finally, when I get home at night, mush-brained and sore-footed, I sometimes manage to stay awake after reading time with my kids and read for myself. Currently, I’m reading Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, at the insistence of my older daughter. I love it because I can escape into a world of dragon riders, dragons, and unlikely heroes. One of my favorite passages that I just read the other day is this…

“But what does that [language] have to do with magic?” interrupted Eragon.

“Everything. It is the basis for all power.”

And I guess that brings me to my mentally mushed, wildebeest trodden-brained, Friday-evening point.

Language is power.

When we read and write and work the magic of language in our lives and the lives of our children, it transforms them. And us.