Thursday, June 18, 2015

General Conference Rolls

General Confernce
Ever since Draco was a baby we have been making these General Conference Rolls. I love traditions. And watch General Conference every April and October is a tradition that is very important to our family. General Conference is a time for us to gather as a church and listen to prophets and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Or in other words, we gather to hear the word of The Lord. Special foods and traditions can remind us of wonderful memories.
My husband grew up with the tradition of having banana pancakes every Sunday of Conference. We would usually head over there and watch it together. Then one weekend they were going away to their cabin. My husband wanted me to make the banana pancakes for our family. But honestly, I’m not really a banana girl.
This was the perfect time to start our own family tradition. I decided to try making homemade cinnamon rolls. Our family loved them and we have been making them ever since. My kids get so excited for conference. Gandalf told me I could be on TV and make these they are that good. We also started making them Christmas morning and I usually take some to our teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. And they are also perfect for Father’s Day. I love family recipes and I love hearing my boys say they want to make these for their children.

General Confernce rolls
General Conference Cinnamon Rolls
Nutritional Information
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 525
{Source: Allrecipes}
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, room temperature
½ c margarine, melted
4 ½ c bread flour
1 t salt
½ c white sugar
2 ½ t bread machine yeast.
1 c brown sugar
1 ½ T ground cinnamon
1/3 c butter, softened
1-5oz package of cream cheese
1/2  c butter
2 c confectioners’ sugar
½ t vanilla
1/8 t salt
Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press start.
After the dough has doubled in size turn it out on a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 c butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a greased 9x13 pan. I leave my out overnight. Bake rolls at 400* for 10-15 minutes. Beat cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla, and spread on rolls. Serve warm.
I started making 24 rolls instead of 12 to cut down the carb amount after Draco was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My friend Alex gave me the tip to leave them out overnight. They taste so much better and I get so much more sleep. I also frost them as we eat them. They usually last a couple days unless we are having conference with extended family. It is easier to re-heat them that way. Re-heated frosting isn’t nearly as tasty.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it becomes a family favorite in your family too!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reading to Babies

Reading to our Babies
Something that I am passionate about it reading to children. I also love teaching my children how to read. But more important is to have them fall in love with reading. One of the best ways is to start young. I read to Gandalf when he was in my tummy. I wanted him to recognize my voice and possibly even the book I chose. (Which I have no evidence that he did) We read to him as a baby. Grady read him Harry Potter. I read him board books. Naturally he loved to read from an early age.

One time we were in our pediatrician's office and a lady approached us about wanting to read to our son. I said, "Go for it.." After the story she told us our son was very advanced. And as first time parents, we thought so too. (Gandalf's Asperger's really did help him focus intently on things he loved and he has an amazing ability to remember things) The lady in the office asked if we read to him. I replied, "Of course, daily. And usually at least 20 minutes."  (So much easier to do when you only have one child) She gave us a helpful paper that showed Developmental Milestones of Early Literacy. Gandalf, I think, was about 9 months. And she even gave us a free board book. We told her thanks and kept waiting for our appointment.


She then approached another parent with a child much older than our son and offered the same story. I wasn't trying to listen, but there was no other noise or distraction. She asked him if they ever read to their child. He responded, "No, she's just a baby..." My heart broke! Not just that this baby wasn't getting read to but the idea that babies don't need to be read to.

The more you read

I don't want to make anyone feel bad if they feel they aren't reading enough to their child. And maybe it has never crossed your mind that you should read to your child/baby. I just hope I can encourage others on how important books and reading are to our children's development. When babies hear the flow of a story they better understand language. When you label and point out objects in a book it increases their vocabulary. When you read to a child they have your attention, your focus. They are usually in your arms or on your lap. When you read to your baby they learn to love stories and literature. And our lives our blessed when we read.


If you are reading to your baby and they don't seem to love it, don't despair! Keep it simple. You don't have to read what is written. You can edit and shorten. You can just point out pictures. If your baby would rather climb all over the place and play you could read them a book while they do that. Hearing your voice and hearing the story will help them. Listening to rhythms will help them. You are doing a great job! Just keep trying. And if they only ever use the books as ramps for their cars, that is great too. Some children take longer to learn to love reading.
Reading milestones copy
For more information check out this site.
boys reading

I know reading has helped my children so much! School work is so much easier. And I love that we can share our love for reading. I love that I have to go in late at night sometimes and tell them it's time to put the book down. I love telling them, "No opening your library books till we are in the car and you are buckled!" for fear of them walking in a parking lot with their nose in a book. These are great problems to have. I love sharing stories I love with them! If you have more than one child enlist their help to read to baby brother or sister. I hope these milestones help you as you read to your children. I love asking my kids questions about the books we read. I love that all four of my children so far LOVE to read. And if it isn't their favorite thing, keep encouraging them. Tomorrow I will share some tips on raising readers...

Here is some of our
favorite books.

Raising Readers


Encouraging children to love reading is something I feel very strongly about. It is one of the best gifts I can give my child. This gift will bless them their whole life. It will give them a head start. A greater chance to thrive in school. I hope that I can share some ways we strive to raise readers in our home. I know that as we share ways to help our children everyone is blessed.

Start reading today.

Start reading to your children when they are babies. They will love listening to your voice. It will enrich their lives and teach them about language. Listen to the flow of your voice and the rhythms that can come with books will help their brains to develop more fully. It will help them learn more about their world. And it will encourage them to continue to read as they get older. For more benefits of reading to your newborn check out this quick article.
“Children whose parents read to them get a head start on language skills and literacy, as well as lovely cuddle time with Mom or Dad.” Nancy Shute
Nancy continues in this article about the importance of reading. Pediatricians are encouraging parents to start reading to their infants. I know it has helped enriched my children’s language. And it has started them on the path of being life long readers.


Have Books in your home.

I was so impressed when I read about this study. I have always tried to have a large variety of books for my children to read. I have been told often that I have too many books, which honestly I don’t think is ever possible. (I do rotate my books sometimes, especially children’s books) I have been trying to build my own personal library because I love to read. Though usually I just borrow books from the library or friends. Since having Gandalf I have been working hard on building our chapter books and classic books that will help all of my children. We need a copy of all the Percy Jackson books and Harry Potter books because all of my children are going to read them I am sure. After I have read this study I am trying even more to fill my home with good books in all varietys. I am hoping our next home we can get more book cases and have Grady’s office lined with books. And not just great children’s literature but all literature. Having a large variety will encourage my children to browse and try something off the shelf.

Go to the library.

It sounds simple enough. But it can get lost with busy schedules . And unfortunately we can’t afford all the books I want. But oh, how I wish that we could. But luckily for us we have libraries. Places we can go to get books for free. No home has to be empty of books. I love taking my kids to the library. I love seeing what books they pick out. Yoda really wanted the Amazing Almanac of American Women one time and I thought, “yeah, let’s totally get that book!” He also loves Lady Bug Girl books, which are amazing books. Sometimes that is the best way to stumble upon a great book. And I think it helps build their confidence and encourages them to grow up when they can choose their own book. I loved reading this article here. I loved the idea that a librarian could help my child in ways that I can’t. They could encourage him/her to branch out and find a whole new area of reading. Going to the library has blessed my family. It was one of the first things we did when we moved to Arizona. And I love how baby girl goes right towards the board books. Take your family to the library. You will be glad you did.


Make it part of your routine.

Children love having routines. They love knowing what will come next. One of the best things you can do to help your children go down for bedtime or even naps is have a routine. We read the scriptures, say our family prayers, brush our teeth and give kisses to baby sister and mom and dad. I usually like to read before nap time. Some times late at night my kids are so tired they don’t want to point to the dog, or say what a car says, or find the bug. I try and do my main reading with my young children before nap time. And it helps their bodies recognize that it is time for sleep. Every family is different. Do what is best for your family. Sometimes we have dad read to baby girl while I encourage the boys to get out of the shower, get on jammies, and everything else. He is gone all day long and deserves some one on one time. I love watching them read. And Grady loves that he can lay in his bed and snuggle with his girl.

Make reading part of your lives
To really help encourage a love for literature we talk about books in our family nights. Just last night we talked about examples in books of those who have shown great faith. And not necessarily  in spiritual matters. But we liken the stories and characters unto a principal. I love celebrating Harry Potter’s Birthday and making these yummy treats. One time overhead Gandalf tell Draco, “ Harry Potter isn’t real!” and Draco responded, “Then why does mom celebrate his birthday?” I love that Draco believes Harry is real.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Harry Potter comes alive because we love his story. We have wands and I have made robes. We have our birthday parties based on of books. I love that my family loves to read and wants to extend that love into their birthday parties. We have dressed up as book characters for Halloween. We watch the movies only after we have read the books. We do crafts and make recipes out of books that we love. We eat Green Eggs and Ham every Read Across America Day. We read as a family. And celebrate reading as a family.


Let your children see you reading.

I know some adults feel like it is a waste of time to read for pleasure when we have so many tasks to complete. I disagree, maybe even to a fault.  What better way to show your children that you too receive delight from a great book than to not want to put it down. One time my friend’s daughter stopped by my house back when I just had Gandalf. I was in my Pj’s reading a book. She went home and told her mom she wanted to be a mom like me when she grew up. She wanted to read in her pajamas all day long. My friend already had 4 kids and her afternoons were spent driving her kids to practices and managing homework. I loved the stage where I could read while Gandalf playing nicely with his toys. Now you don’t catch me reading as often when my children are awake. But I do love when they catch me reading. I am at the stage where afternoons are filled with practices, scouts, and homework. I try and bring my books to the park, to the long line to pick up my kids from choir or school. They see me get books from the library as well. Sometimes they will even make comments about the cover or title. And just to make sure they know that I really enjoy books we will talk about the books we read over dinner. I will tell them a little bit about the plot. I leave out war or trials I am not ready for them to know about. But it gives my husband and I a chance to share something we love with them. And let them know that reading is important, no matter how old you are.

Read out loud together.

There is something about reading a story together. I have to admit. My husband is better at reading chapter books than me. He does a much better job at the voices. But I still think I am better at picture books. I have a flow that I use and inflection at certain points that makes the story more fun. And I must admit, I am not the best at this area of reading out loud to them. I can only read a chapter at a time. I do enjoy listening to audio books together. Especially when we are traveling to California. I love hearing my boys crack up in the back row. Or Gandalf say, “No, listen Draco, this next part is so funny.” I love that we can share stories. Lately we have enjoyed Percy Jackson, Narnia Series, How to train your Dragon Series, and other great books. We just listened to The Giver. I haven’t read that since 6th grade. I forgot about some of the parts (another good reason to read them together) My boys loved the book! I have a friend who read all the Harry Potter books together out loud. When the last one came out she was concerned they might want to read it themselves. But she was happy they didn’t. What a great memory, to have listened and cried (I am assuming they cried together) with their mom and brothers. Sharing books strengthens your relationship as well. I can’t wait to read chapter books with baby girl! And I love that my children love Harry Potter! It’s so rewarding to experience again through their eyes.

Dads read too.

Sometimes children don’t see their dads read. They work hard all day and when they do come home it’s time for dinner and time to talk with their children. I love this article about the importance of fathers reading to their children, especially their sons. And I love this dads take on why it’s so important. I am so thankful for a husband who reads to my children. And with three sons I want my boys to grow up knowing books are for boys too. I also love when Grady wants to share his passions through reading. He loves reading the kids Star Wars books. And he is way more qualified to answer any questions regarding the galaxy than me. I love seeing him read Fancy Nancy in a ridiculous French accent. And reading books one might consider feminine to our daughter and sons. This post here also gives some great tips for dads reading to their kids.

Reward your children with books.

My mom was really great about this one. She would reward us for doing something by getting a book when the book fair came to our school. Or she would take us to Barnes and Noble and I couldn’t wait to get another Sweet Valley High book. I would read it right away. And try to read during dinner. I love that kind of reading!! Where you can’t put it down. My little sister will sometimes take my boys to Barnes and Noble and get them a book. Being able to pick out a book as a child is such a treat. We usually only give our kids 4 gifts at Christmas and one of those is always a book.

Summer is a great time to rekindle your love of reading. We love listening to books late at night without the worry of getting up the next morning. Make reading even more fun by building a fort or a book nook. Barnes and Noble and libraries are so great at encouraging reading through the summer. I try to encourage my nieces to read during the summer because sometimes they have so much to read for school during the rest of the year. It’s a great time to stress reading for FUN! I hope I was able to share some thing new that will help you raise readers. I would love to hear any other tips for raising readers. Or you can share your favorite book!

Happy Reading!!!

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

CLAS Ropes Course

So proud of this boy!
In our first week of Summer Vacation I gathered my four kids and headed to Utah for the week. One of my dearest friends had a special birthday and her oldest daughter (and also dear to me) graduated High School. After her graduation ceremony we headed to the CLAS Ropes Course to have some adventures.
I absolutely LOVED it!!! As an adult leader at our youth girls camp I was able to watch and encourage our girls to try hard things when we had adventure groups come and set up challenges. Leaders were able to participate only if there was time. I was always a little bummed that there was never any time. I love when our young women can participate in fun adventures. Sometimes those things are just reserved for the scouts.
Here I was able to experience some fun adventures with my children. My family was a little late as we stopped off at the new Prove City Center Temple real quick. We missed the game, or challenge, that requires the group to solve a problem through trial and error and talking it through as a team. They did a great job challenging themselves and not fighting over the problem. Then we were able to get going on the physical challenges that were available. Our graduating girl picked what obstacles she wanted to do for that day.

Earlier these girls asked if I was going to do “the ladder” and I was like, “I want to try it, but I don’t know what you are talking about…” The first challenge is a huge ladder. Huge. And each rung of the ladder gets farther and farther apart. It’s best to travel up with two people in case someone needs helps. I watched our graduating girl and our friend’s son go first. Julie told me she made it look easy. But it didn’t look easy because I know how athletic she is. They made it to the top and then got to zip line down.
I went next, and they parried me with her friend Megan. Oh, and did I mention that I was so careful to pack clothing and shoes for my boys, and things for baby girl, than I gave very little thought I what I was wearing. I  wore a shirt and some jeans. And I figured that was fine. But totally spaced on bringing my tennis shoes. I was wearing ballet flats. And my favorite pair that were at least 3 years old. No tread on the soles at all.

Helping pull their friend on  the zip line
I was able to do the first and second wrung well enough. Although next time I would prefer being on the other side as my right leg is more flexible. Megan encouraged me to use the knots in the rope to help me up climb up. That wasn’t happening with my ballet flats. I ended up using her leg to step on so I could make it up. And you remember each wrung gets harder and harder. The next level I caught a break because the wire and rope were wrapped around. I was able to put my foot in between them to lift myself up. But the last one seemed hopeless. I couldn’t used my upper body strengthen to pull myself up. I couldn’t even get my leg that high, let alone if I could pull myself up that way. And I didn’t have enough tread to use the one knot in the rope to hoist myself up.

Cheering section
Megan climbed back down (again) and offered her help. I totally couldn’t do it without her. When we got to the top we helped each other with our metal loop things and walked across a rope to the pole area where we could zip line down. It was my first time zip lining ( I have always wanted to) and I loved it. I made sure to call my kids over from playing so they could see that mom had gotten to the top.
kristie and megan
The ladder looks bigger in person

When I got down I found out Gandalf had even done some zip lining. They can attach kids (or adults who can’t climb up the ladder) and drag them back and let them go. It’s great because they can decide how high they want to go. I was so proud of Gandalf for trying a hard thing!!! At Scout-O-Rama he said he would never do that.

Draco said he wanted to go as well. But got scarred at the last minute. Then Greg, our guide who helped with the ladder part, came over and talked to him. I stepped back and let him do what he does best, putting people at ease and encouraging others to try their best. He let him hang on the line, and while holding on to his legs, walked him back and forth. When Draco was feeling comfortable he let him choose how high he wanted him to go. Draco LOVED it. And you could tell he felt really good about it.

It is good for all of us to encourage ourselves to do hard things. To try new things. And even if we “fail” or don’t make a goal we can be proud and feel good that we tried. And that we pushed ourselves. I can’t wait to go back (with the right shoes) and do it again. They also have a rock wall I want to do and the one where you climb really high and jump out to the huge ring and try and grab it. Our group also did this giant swing thing, but I passed because I am pretty sure I would throw up. I can’t even swing on normal swings without getting nauseas .


The ropes course often has scouts, families, and recovery groups use their faculties. I loved our guide and how encouraging he was, without always giving the answers. He was so patient and great with my kids. This was such a good fun expereience for them. They couldn’t wait to tell dad. And asking for screen time didn’t even cross their minds. I think this would be a great place for a family reunion. I would highly recommend this to my Utah friends or any others that would be in this area. It’s beautiful there. And working hard and encouraging others helps our relationships grow. I know I am so grateful to a cute 17 year old that I already liked, who helped me so I could do my best. It was tough, humbling, and glorious.

Here is my friends son and cousin who climbed that thing in under 5 minutes. He can scale walls that kid. I had to take that much time just to rest between levels.
Check out their website here for more information…