Family Bonding Day 20: Read Together


I love children’s books, and I love to share my favorites with my kids.  It’s a great way to bond as a family that forces you to slow down.

I also love catching my boys reading when I’m not around.  Even if they are just flipping through the pages, making up words.


But ultimately, I love to read WITH my kids.  It’s so much fun…if I can get them to sit still long enough.

Reading with your kids has so many benefits.  Things such as:

  • helping them master the fundamentals of language
  • understand concepts of print (which direction to turn the pages…read top to bottom, left to right)
  • more logical thinking skills
  • help with new experiences by using a relatable book
  • enhanced concentration and skills

Check out more details here.  I know with my little ones, there were always so squirmy during reading time…I thought we would never make any progress!  I was amazed at how quickly they began to maintain focus with books and show interest.

There are SO many great books out there!  I have quite the collection, being a former elementary school teacher.  Here are some of my favorites, a “top ten” if you will.  These books get their fair share of use, which results in a lot of wear and tear.  But I suppose that’s a good thing, right?  We are still working with the little one about proper book care.


So here we favorites!  Click the affiliate links to purchase from Book Depository…free shipping!


1.  Best Interactive Book

Do Not Open This Book! is great for ages 3-10.  In it, the main character/author has not finished writing this story, and “talks” to the readers throughout the book, trying to get them to go away so he can finish.

do not open


Jace just laughs and laughs when we read this, and loves pretending to talk back to the book.


2.  Best Grandparent Book

Any recordable book!  Jace and Tanner love listening to these, and they are a great way to feel connected to relatives that live far away.

recording collage


3.  Best Book for Inspiring Creativity

Ish  by Peter H. Reynolds is a book about a little boy who keeps trying to draw a picture of a vase.  He feels so discouraged, as it is not the perfect rendering he is aspiring towards.  His little sister finds his pictures crumpled up in the trash, and is confused.  He explains that he was trying to draw a vase, but it didn’t look right.

She brilliantly replies, “Well…it’s vase-ISH.”  This unlocks the freedom for her brother to continue drawing and expressing himself, free from the idea of perfection.  A great lesson for our little ones.

ish collage


4.  Best Book for Separation Anxiety

Every had your little ones cry at the mere  THOUGHT of you leaving?  The Kissing Hand is a classic, sweet story of a little boy who doesn’t want to leave his mom when he goes to school.  She gives him a reminder on his hand of her love, and it helps his get through.  I like how you can actually apply this one by giving your kids a heart sticker to keep on their hands when you are apart.



5.  Best Silly Book

I LOVE Skippyjon Jones.  It was my all-time favorite book to read to my students when I taught first grade.  They loved the silly voices, and the adventures of a siamese cat with the mistaken identity of a chihuahua.  This is the original, but there are several additional Skippyjon books.


“My ears are too beeg for my head.  My head ees too beeg for my body.”

Seriously…you can’t NOT laugh.



6.  Best Bedtime Story

There are way too many books to vie for this category of the BEST bedtime story.  I have chosen this one purely out of sentimental value.  It was the first book that I read regularly to Jace when he was a tiny one.  Every night…we didn’t even have to look at the words, as we had it memorized.  When Tanner was around 6 months, I started reading it to him.  It’s short, which is great for little ones’ attention spans at bedtime, and has a great rhythm and rhyme to it.  As you can see, it’s gotten a lot of love.

bedtime kiss

bedtime kiss spine


7.  Best Classic

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  A little more of a possibility living in Colorado, so I have to couple this reading with lessons about never actually approaching a bear.

Jace isn’t convinced.  We frequently pretend to go on a bear hunt when on walks, quoting parts of the story and acting them out.  This book has great repetitive language for young, emergent readers.

bear hunt


8.  Best Book for Momma’s Boys (or Girls)

I Love You Stinky Face is a cute story about a boy who asks his momma, “If I was a ________, would you still love me?”  He goes through a variety of animals, such as a smelly skunk, a swamp creature, and an alien from Mars.  The responses to his wonderings are clever and cute, reminding our little ones that their momma will love them NO MATTER WHAT.

stinky face

“But Momma, but Momma, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that everybody called me STINKY FACE??”

stinky face2


9.  Best Holiday Book

Too soon?  I’m already in the Christmas spirit and we haven’t even plunged into Fall yet!  But get this one on your list to have in your house at Christmas time!  Snowmen at Christmas   is a funny book about snowmen in a town coming to life at night and doing all sorts of cold, snowman-y things while everybody snoozes.


The best part?  THE ILLUSTRATIONS.  Seriously.  It transports me into a magical, Christmas-spirit-filled town where all things are merry and bright.  The way the artist captures to illusion of light is beautiful.

snowmen pic


10.  Best Lesson Behind the Story…aka Best Tear Jerker

Have you heard of You are Special, by Max Lucado??


Every day the Wemmicks stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The talented, pretty ones always get the stars, while the ones with chipped paint who can’t do much, get gray dots.  Punchinello, the main character, is one who is identified by his flaws…and he has the dots to prove it.


One day he meets someone who has NO dots or stars.  She introduces him to his maker, and Punchinello discovers that he has value because he is loved by the one who made him.

A great message that no matter how the world evaluates us, God loves us and knows just how special we are.


photo-101 copy


What are your favorite children’s books?



Family Bonding Day 14: Flashlight Fun

Some nights we aren’t all together as a family until after dark.  So what do you do?

Make the most of it.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again:  I love our backyard.  And the boys love it too.  Last night after a late dinner, they weren’t quite ready to wind down.  It was a perfect evening, not too cool, not too hot.  We decided to go exploring in our yard a little.  Jace thought it was so fun!  He had his Thomas the Train flashlight, and Tanner had his lion flashlight.  I tried to capture the preciousness as much as I could with it being so dark outside.

*Note to reader:  Tanner’s pot belly is showing because his shirt took a yogurt bath at dinner.  You can see some of the proof on his face.


Jace had fun with the lion flashlight because when it opened its mouth, the lion let out a big “ROARRRRR!”


Here’s trusty ole Thomas, leading the way through the dark.



And one final shot of Tanner looking into the mouth of the lion.  He always was the daredevil.



When you’re short on time, there is still adventure to be had.

Check back tomorrow for a post on a great way to bond as a family when short on time:  Read together!  I’ll be posting some of my favorite children’s books that I’ve discovered through my years as an elementary school teacher.  Can’t wait!

Family Bonding Day 11: Share Their Interests

This is such a no brainer.  I love that if you really want to bond with your kids, you don’t need a creative project, or to spend hours creating this picturesque setting, incorporating multiple Pinterest ideas into one super-duper explosion of fun.

Now if you have time for that, go you! (And please share)

But if you don’t…if you’re having the week from you-know-what and you have had to reheat your coffee multiple times because you are so busy and/or scatterbrained you can’t seem to remember to drink it while it’s hot…

Come close.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

If you want to bond with your kids, go find them doing what they’re already doing, and JOIN IN.


When I did my 21 Days Unplugged, I kind of wore myself out trying to come up with innovative projects for my kids to do, lest they get bored and beg for the TV.  It wasn’t until the end of it that I realized it didn’t really matter what I planned.  All they wanted was ME.  My full attention, engaging with them in whatever activity they were currently in the middle of.

And let me tell you, they weren’t all that creative, bless their hearts.

For example, some favorites of the moment are:

  • building a block tower and knocking it over
  • pushing a train on the floor
  • walking around with a ball…sometimes throwing it…at nothing
  • putting action figures on top of block towers in an attempt to save them from destruction (now that one’s not too bad.  At least it has some dialogue)
  • hitting one of their many drums while screaming nonsense

No matter what activity they choose, they love when mom and dad play too.



Hmmm…Should I have Iron Man save the tower, or Captain ‘Merica??


Iron Man wins! (again)  Must be the last name.


And Tanner is following in Jace’s footsteps in his love for trains.


Now if you have a teenager, it might not be so simple as to join in with whatever they are doing.  I can imagine the eye rolls, and ohmygah moooommmm of some sweet 13 year old out there as her mother barges into her slumber party wanting to know “the scoop”, or “the 411″.  But maybe it can mean renting a movie (appropriate of course) that might not be your cup of tea, but you know your kid would love.  Or how about showing interest in their hobbies by throwing the football around in the backyard or listening to them rehearse for a choir concert.  Just throwing some ideas out there…that is uncharted waters for me, being the mom of a 3 and a 1 year old.

Here’s to hoping my boys always love spending time with their momma.

{Please always love spending time with me?????}


Family Bonding Day 8: The Family That Cleans Together…

This might not be the most raved about family bonding time, but cleaning is necessary!  So if it has to be done, why not do it together?

My husband’s family had Sunday “Power Hour” growing up where they would each do their part to get the house put together and ready for the week ahead.  Well, our Sunday was spent napping, so we did a Monday Power Hour instead.

I’ve been a little convicted lately about always picking up after the boys and not holding them responsible for their messes a lot of the time.  I think the perfectionist in me just wants to do it RIGHT, so I do it myself.  But they have got to learn how to clean up and take care of their stuff.


Now there are some awesome chore charts out there that are great for older kids.  Here are some at “Being the Imperfect Mom” blog with great printables galore!  For my kiddos, we are going to keep it simple.

I mean REALLY simple.  Like last minute, make something up, turn cleaning into a game, simple.

I pulled out the baskets in the playroom that their toys go into.  I grabbed a scrap piece of paper (not even a handmade chart printed on cute card stock!) and some letter stickers from my craft box.  “Ok boys, for each basket you fill up, you will get to put a sticker on your paper!  Now let’s get to it!”


Jace was all in.  He cleaned up and made up his own cleaning song, each time coming to get a letter.



We ended up doing the letters of his name, since he had 4 bins to fill up.


He got a little distracted from time to time, but overall did great and enjoyed it.  Tanner on the other hand…. He cleaned a little, played a little, cleaned a little, played a little.

When chatting with another blogger about her awesome chore charts, I mentioned that I was going to attempt this for our family bonding time one day.  I wasn’t sure if it was officially bonding, or just an excuse to get more hands to clean the house.  I loved how she said, “Anything that puts attention on your kids from parents is bonding!”

Isn’t that true??  Don’t our kids just love some positive attention?  So why don’t you incorporate your own “power hour” and make it fun!

  • Play fun music and dance around while cleaning
  • Make it a {friendly} competition among siblings
  • Sticker charts for a great job
  • Play a little laundry/toy basketball (using the hamper or toy buckets as the basket)

This doesn’t have to be the way you do chores all the time, but it is a fun way to change things up.  Plus it accomplishes two goals at once:  Clean house + Close family. :)

{PS}  We actually had a family dinner together tonight!  And I got a tripod :)  Who will win the prize for picking out all the strange elements of the picture??



Family Bonding Day 7: Day Trip

One thing I love about living in the Denver area is being able to take a day trip to the mountains on the weekend.  We decided last minute to drive up to Boulder, CO to check out the town and eat dinner (about a 45 min drive).

photo 5-6

I love doing this because it really allows for great family time.  We had such a blast exploring  a new place and just spending time together.

We walked down Pearl Street, which is this four block pedestrian mall.  There were people out with guitars, magicians, a guy with a graffiti piano playing a tune and singing, and Jace’s favorite…the girl on fire.  She had these hula hoops that were lit on fire and was doing all sorts of spins and gymnastic moves.  Jace was in awe and put a few coins in her “tips” bucket.

photo 1-12

photo 3-10

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{Jace wouldn’t stop moving for a photo op.  Typical}

After taking the tour, we ate at Cheesecake Factory.  We had a window seat with a view of all the festivities going on, which the boys loved.  Good food, good view, good conversation, good tunes (some old school John Mayer and Norah Jones…takin me back).  A fun night.

Even if you aren’t new to the city you are in, act like a tourist for the day (or night).  Go with your family and visit a place you’ve never been.  Explore.  Fall in love with your city.

It’s a great way to get some family time in.

Where is a place in your city that you’ve never been??

{Next on our list:  the aquarium and butterfly museum!}


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Family Bonding Day 4: Tackle the To-Do List

Anyone else busy?  I don’t care if you’re a stay-at-home mom, a work-at-home mom, or a work outside of the home mom.  We ALL have lengthy to-do lists every day.

For me that usually consists of the normal housework (laundry, cleaning, laundry, laundry), doing invoicing/payroll for one of my jobs, doing some kind of networking for my Noonday job, and completing some task(s) for one of the ministries in church that I’m involved in.

Today I have MAJOR laundry to accomplish, decor and food to finish up for a big women’s event at church, and some invoicing to do.  But here’s the thing about being intentional with family bonding:  You have to be intentional.

That means be intentional with your own to-do list.

If you’re not being proactive, you will likely be reactive to the situations you encounter throughout the day.  This means that a lot of times, after being swept up by the unexpected, your list of things you need to accomplish gets pushed to the end of the day.  For me, that is the only time that we are all together as a family.  I don’t want to monopolize that time running errands, or having Carter watch the boys while I get done the things I need to get done.

And let me tell you, our life looks a lot like that.  You also have to understand that my kids are young (1 and 3) and they sometimes get super whiny and needy, making it difficult to do anything but cuddle with them on the couch and eat string cheese/fruit snacks/ Cheerios.  Then Carter gets home and it’s like, “Tag!  You’re it!”  He takes over parent duties and I work.  That type of living is not ideal for us.  So what do we do?

1.  Start the night before.

I’ve found that it helps to have a game plan starting the night before.  I take out my planner (check it out here…awesome!) and make a list of the things I have to accomplish the next day.  I then allot specific times when I hope to accomplish them.  Now, you have to be strategic in the timing as well.  For instance, I know that I will not be effective getting invoicing done with the boys climbing up my office chair/legs like a gym rope, crawling on my back (yes this really happens), and squeezing their little arms through mine so they can hit my keyboard like monkeys in an attempt to make Elmo Brush Your Teeth magically appear on the screen.  So what time do I put invoicing on the schedule??  6 am.  Brutal, but necessary.

For stay at home/work at home moms, make it a goal to schedule your to-do’s before dad gets home if possible.  Check out my experiment 21 Days of a Cleaning Schedule.  It changed my life!  It’s a great way to spread out the housework so you are just doing a little each day, making the daily workload easier and leaving the weekends (prime time for family bonding) free!

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For the moms who work, do your best to not bring home too much work, even if that means staying a little later.  I know some jobs don’t require take home work, but I used to be a teacher and there was ALWAYS work.  The job never ended.  I had to make it a real priority to get as much done at work so I didn’t have to spend my evenings still on the job.  That way you have time as a family to spend together, not playing catch up with what you haven’t accomplished.

2.  Really rethink that list.  What is NECESSARY?

Some things you will have to get done.  But really evaluate what things you can either delegate or push back.  Now, I’m not promoting procrastination, but I’m also not promoting having a superwoman mentality and trying to do too much at the expense of our families.  After making that list, if you find your day crammed full of stuff, cross something off.  Just do it.

I personally like to cross laundry off the list and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but you do what makes you happy.

3.  Get it Gurl.

Laziness and family bonding don’t mix.  Unless you are bonding by lounging around watching a movie, but that’s for another post.  What I’m saying is that there is always a reason to put something off, and sometimes they are good reasons.  But if I put off doing any work all day because I’m playing with my boys (again, a good thing), I’m actually sacrificing our ability to do that as a FAMILY because once dad gets home I will be stressed and try to do everything I meant to do earlier.  Just get it done.  Even if it means plugging your kids in front of the TV (with no sheets on your bed…laundry you know) so you can write a blog…


There is no point in being an effective planner if you aren’t going to work hard to follow through.  That being said…

4.  Mamma said there’d be days like this…

We have to be realistic.  Some days our family is like passing ships in the night, with a quick hug and a kiss in an attempt to make some sort of contact before we go our separate ways.  You can make the best plans, conquer your to-do list like a warrior mom, and still end up with minimal time together as a family at the end of the day.  If your life is always like this, it might be time to reevaluate your commitments.  But if it’s just a season, or particular day, do something simple like pray together or read together before bedtime.  Then call it a day and try again tomorrow.


Ok enough writing…my to-do list starts now!  By the way, check out my Instagram for a sneak peak at the CUTEST “Caramel Apple Bar” chalkboard sign I’ve been working on!  It’s decor time for me :)



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