Monday, March 31, 2014

The Narcism Epidemic

I just finished the Narcissism Epidemic. Talk about scary! The book explores how we are raising a generation of the most narcissistic kids in history. I really related to the examples given in the book. 


*We are treating our kids like royalty as we worship at the Altar of High Self-Esteem at All Costs.
*We are pampering them with every gift, toy, and lavish party possible which we instantly pin and share via social media as we create a cult of mini celebrities.  
*We are so worried that our kids will be hurt that we refuse to teach them how to lose gracefully i.e. every kid gets a trophy/ everyone is a winner. 
*We overpraise our kids for being smart and then blame the teacher rather than the student when lack of effort leads to a poor score. This is the result:

Here is a quote from the book: 

"Understanding the narcissism epidemic is important because its long-term consequences are destructive to society. American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy. We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with 11 trillion dollars of government debt), phony feelings of being special among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). All this fantasy might feel good, but, unfortunately, reality always wins. The mortgage meltdown and the resulting financial crisis are just one demonstration of how inflated desires eventually crash to earth."

I recommend that every parent pick up this book as soon as possible. It really opened my eyes. You don't need to agree with everything the authors say to quickly realize that we are on the wrong track as a society. The book also gives practical advice as to what we are parents can do differently.

One idea: Praise effort and not innate ability.
(See Tiff's great post on not calling your kids smart here.)

Other ideas:
Teach your kids that it is not always about them.
Promote humility.
Say No.
Don't always allow choice.
Encourage empathy.

Happy Reading! And remember that when you call your darling little 3-year-old a "Prima Donna"--- you don't really want her to grow up to be one!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Hope for Alexa

This is my beautiful niece Alexa. Read her story below. If you can donate even $5 to her surgery expenses, it would be greatly appreciated.

For quite some time Alexa, has been experiencing severe stomach and abdominal pain. It has taken about 2 years, but we finally have a definitive diagnosis, learning in September that she has genetic pacreatitis, a very rare disease that is hard to diagnosis in large part because of its rarity. "Normal" tests for pancreatitis do not reveal the disease. With this diagnosis it has been recommended that she have a surgery called a Total Pancreatectomy with Autoislet Transplantation (TP-AIT). Essentially this surgery requires the total removal of her pancreas, separation of the insulin producing islets within the pancreas, and implanting these islets within the liver so that even though her pancreas will be removed (and with it her body's ability to produce digestive enzymes), she would still be able to produce insulin, saving her from the additional effects of diabetes. There are only a few places in the country that can perform this type of surgery.

For those that know Alexa you know that she absolutely loves music! She literally lives and breaths it! She has more music on her itunes than I ever thought possible. She has been almost completely home bound and most times even bed ridden for about a year and a half now, and music has been one of her best remedies for her pain- to help her keep her mind off of it a bit. Alexa has missed her entire junior year of high school and now half of her senior year. She is 18 years old and has never had the opportunity to go on a date or to a school dance or to do any of those things that high school girls love, and yet she remains close to the Lord and trusts that He is watching over her and everything will be alright someday. 

Donate below!

If you live in Utah, you can come to an amazing benefit concert in Alexa's behalf. See all the details on this flyer. Any donation amount will get you into the concert on April 17th at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. You just need to write how many people are coming to the concert in the comments on your donation.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Country Day: Germany

Welcome to another post in our Country Day series. You can find our other country posts on Russia, Italy, England, France and Africa here. We are proud of our German heritage in our family. My maternal grandfather Walter Seiter immigrated from Germany as a young man and my grandmother Alice worked hard to keep this German heritage alive in her children and grandchildren. I am excited to share these activities with my kids.

German Foods

Try some yummy German Sausage or Bratwurst. You could even add Sauerkraut, although I have to confess it isn't my favorite. Sorry Grandpa!

Make some German Pancakes.

Eat some delicious Black Forest Cake. Here is a recipe from the Brown-eyed Baker.

Throw a party with some Chocolate and Cheese Fondu. Fondu is my favorite party food. Set out a blanket on the floor and go to it. German sausage and pretzel rods are our favorite things to dip in Cheese Fondu. And you can't go wrong with strawberries and bananas in chocolate!
Find some great kid friendly recipes here.

German Crafts

Lederhosen Boy
He is so cute! Now I just need to make a little goatherd girl to go with him.

Nutcrackers from Popsicle Sticks
I think this ornament would look so cute hanging from my Christmas tree. It would really celebrate our German heritage and remind us of Grandma's Nutcracker collection.

Candy Cottages

Make a candy house for Hansel and Gretel using graham crackers as a simple and easy base. I love these houses created by Ducks in a Row. Who says that they just have to be for Christmas time?

Cuckoo Clock

Sing Hickory Dickory Dock and practice counting along with telling time with this fun clock. I like how it uses Roman Numerals.

German Games


  • In English, this is called “Hit the Pot.” This is a traditional German game small children play. Hide a pot containing a small present or piece of chocolate. The child who is “It” closes his eyes or is blindfolded and is given a wooden stick. He crawls on the floor, banging the spoon on the floor until he finds the pot. Spectators can help by shouting “hot” or “cold." When he finds the pot, he gets to keep what is inside. The pot can be hidden again and the game replayed for remaining children.

I love how this cute family celebrated Oktoberfest with Hit the Pot and other fun games. Can't you just picture the boys shouting out Halt! with their funny german accents. 

Read about it at: Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings


  • This “chocolate eating” game is another traditional favorite. Wrap a bar of chocolate in several layers of newspaper and tie with ribbon. Place the chocolate in the center of a table along with a hat, scarf, mittens, fork and butter knife. Each player rolls the die once, trying for a six, and play proceeds clockwise. If a player rolls a six, he puts on the hat, scarf and mittens and attempts to open and eat the chocolate with the fork and knife until another player rolls six and takes over. This fast-paced game continues until all the chocolate is eaten.
This game has even been adapted to include in a Girls Camp based on the movie Frozen. I really like this idea.

Unwrapped Game

German Music
Listen to the music of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Then make music of your own!
These are two fun musical instruments I have made with my students and my own kids.

Wooden Harmonicas

Water Glass Xylophone

Put on the music to the Flight of the Bumblebee and let your children dance with homemade Ribbon Wands. I think making some in yellow and black colors would be so much fun.

This is a fantastic movie to teach about Beethoven. You can usually find it in Library Movie Collections.

German Books

Great to Read Aloud!

For older readers:

For younger ones: 

 German Movies

I know The Sound of Music is more strictly Austrian but it is a great introduction for younger children to the occupation of Nazi Germany. 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief are certainly for older children but will prompt some great discussions with your kids when you think they are ready. 

Of course, most of Disney's Fairy Tales began with the set of traditional folk stories compiled by the Brothers Grimm so I had to include some of those!

This is an old movie but an awesome adventure about two families escaping from East Germany into West Germany with a hot air balloon. It is well worth seeing.

I hope you enjoy this roundup of fun German activities. Auf wiedersehen! Pin It

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I just finished reading the book The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman.

Buck is the real life Horse Whisperer who inspired the movie with Robert Redford.

His story is also told in a documentary called Buck as well as in his book.

This movie was recommended to our family by a gifted social worker named Ted.

Since hearing about this movie, I have learned firsthand about the power of horses for therapeutic healing. Two powerful programs near my home in Highland, Utah have impacted my family for good. One is Courage Reins.

It is a therapeutic riding center for children with all kinds of disabilities. One of my daughters is currently volunteering there as a side walker. She gets to walk beside the horse and the disabled rider during their lessons. She is loving this experience.

The other program is Bridle up Hope. This amazing program was began by the Covey Family to honor their daughter Rachel.

The goal of Bridle up Hope is to assist adolescent girls who are struggling with low self-worth or depression. They sponsor qualified girls who receive 11 free riding lessons. One of my daughters has been participating in this program and hopes to continue as a volunteer.

Just reading the book was so inspiring. Buck himself overcame severe abuse in his childhood to become a man of gentle strength and wisdom who is gifted in working with horses that have been abused. Here is one of the parenting gems that I gained from this book:

Sometimes you'll work with colts that may be a little bit the way I was, kind of looking for an adventure when time permits. These colts are not bad, they don't want to be bad, and they're not trying to make things bad for you. They just might need a little something to do. They don't need to be whipped, or knocked down, any more than I did as a kid. They just need to be directed, or better yet, redirected. Punishing a horse for doing something wrong is no solution. A kick in the gut solves nothing. You will be further ahead of the game if you redirect him where you would like him to go. This was the first example in my life of a person making the wrong thing difficult, and the right thing easy, as opposed to making the wrong thing impossible through intimation. {My foster parents} gave me an understanding of what real love was about, what devotion mean, and how a lesson can be shared, not dictated.  (The Faraway Horses pages 53-54)

I am looking forward to watching the documentary as well. Ted, the social worker I mentioned, uses this movie as he works with teens who are struggling to make positive choices in their lives. He says that the messages they gain from this movie are life-changing.

Are you a horse lover? Do you need to be?

P.S. My daughters and I recently finished The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Another very unusual story about horses that made for a fascinating and compelling read. Loved it!

Buck Brannaman

Courage Reins

Bridle Up Hope

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Letter of the Week {Xx}

Here is the next installment of our letter of the week series-- the letter Xx. The letter X can be challenging. It is so easy to identify but hard to think of what activities to do with this letter.  Check out the great things we came up with below. See all the rest of our letter of the week posts here.

Snack Ideas

How about making some hot cross buns!

Or look at all the cute X ideas at Cookie Cutter Lunch.

I love the Taxi Dog and books about X-rays are always fun.

My favorite is this cute X-ray Fish Activity by Red Ted Art.  And look at this adorable Q-Tip Skeleton.

Instructions for this simple handprint x-ray activity can be found at Almost Unschoolers. 

Learning Activities

Try this Criss Cross Chalk Game.
Draw a large letter X on the pavement with chalk then have the children position themselves on the end of each line. They have to run along the X without bumping into each other at the intersection.

Play a game of Tic Tac Toe.

Follow a Treasure Map- X Marks the Spot.

Make an X on a piece of paper with Painters Tape. Then completely cover the piece of paper with paint. Let the paint dry and remove the tape to reveal the hidden Letter X below.

Practice playing a xylophone. You could even play musical chairs using a xylophone for the music. Let the kids take turns.

Set up a doctor's office and have the kids practice taking x-rays. You can make a simple x-ray machine by cutting holes in a cardboard box and gluing cut outs of bones on the front.

The Measured Mom has instructions for making this amazing x-ray light box. Wow!

Free Printables

Find your Letter of the Week tracing worksheets here.

Find your Alphabet Flashcards here..

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