As a homeschooling family, we read aloud - sometimes several books - each day! Our preferred method of learning is through living books. Liv...

Why We Love Reading Aloud

As a homeschooling family, we read aloud - sometimes several books - each day! Our preferred method of learning is through living books. Living books are basically storybooks about a given topic. They can be fiction with some facts added in, or entirely non-fiction. The main thing is, they are written in a narrative style rather than in textbook format. This format tends to make the topic more interesting for all of us - reading aloud lets my children know that I think it's important and interesting enough to devote my time and attention to. I also find that I personally remember things better when there is a story to go with it. For example, we recently finished a unit study on the African savanna and one of our living books was "Magic Treehouse: Lions at Lunchtime" by Mary Pope Osborne. In the story, we learned that lions will often avoid full grown giraffes because a well-placed kick from a giraffe can kill a lion. It's easy to remember this in the context of the story - the main characters, Jack and Annie, hide beneath a walking giraffe hoping that the nearby lions won't attack them for fear of getting kicked by the giraffe.

In addition, living books provide great inspiration for extension activities. The giraffes were eating acacia leaves and we learned that acacia trees have large thorns and so giraffes have very thick saliva to coat the thorns and keep them from scratching up their insides. So that led to an experiment where we put prickly evergreen branches in a bowl of water and others in a bowl of oobleck (cornstarch and water). The thick oobleck helped coat the branches so we could more easily touch them without getting poked. Living books can spark curiosity and additional learning. "Now that we know lions are afraid of adult giraffes, is there anything else lions are afraid of?" 

So now you see how reading aloud living books helps us learn about our chosen topic of study, but that's not nearly all reading aloud does! Reading aloud is not only beneficial to homeschoolers! Reading aloud is actually most beneficial to children in the first few years of their lives, before most of us even think about schooling options. We've been reading bedtime stories for the past 9 years and will continue doing so until the kids are completely uninterested and just want to read on their own. And anytime I want to learn about a different culture, holiday, or person, I turn to picture books we can read together (that's kind of why I started the Read and Rise Book Club!). 

Here are some more benefits to reading aloud:

- Reading aloud helps build brain and language development, especially in the first few years of life

- Reading aloud builds early literacy skills: vocabulary, words convey meaning, letters form words, we read the book left to right and sentences left to right, comprehension, connections (i.e. I built a sandcastle just like in the story!)

- Reading introduces new words, ideas, concepts, and grows knowledge

- Reading aloud sparks conversations

- Reading aloud helps instill a love of reading and creates a wonderful opportunity for bonding with your children

- Reading aloud supports curiosity, imagination, and creativity

- Re-reading is just as important as reading - I know it can get exhausting to read the same book over and over and over and over, but when children want to repeat activities it means they're still learning from them! So reading the same book 10 times may be more beneficial than reading 10 different books

For children who are not Kindergarten age, I HIGHLY recommend looking into the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Many libraries have programs where they will give out prizes for completing the program. We were lucky enough to have a library who participated when my daughter was preschool age. They gave out little trinkets (like stickers, erasers, pencils, tiny figures...) for every 25 books read and a free book for every 100 read. Lil C loved going to the library with her book list and picking out prizes. We also completed the program with Squidgy, who was not even 1 when we started it! If the library in the town we moved to did the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, we would probably be doing it again with Squidgy now that he's old enough to have an idea of what's going on! At this point I'm sure he'd have gotten to 100 books at least 3 times, maybe 4! If your library does not participate, you could always ask if they'd be interested in starting or just do the program at home. If you want to make it a little extra special, you could create your own little treasure box with stickers and erasers and trinkets to give out as prizes for reading and purchase some books to give out as larger prizes. 

For more information about reading aloud and for some fun printables, please visit Read Aloud 15 Minutes.


  I've been to a lot of dance classes in my life. I started when I was 4 or 5 and continued dancing until I finished college. I was neve...

'Firebird' - Plus More! - Read and Rise


I've been to a lot of dance classes in my life. I started when I was 4 or 5 and continued dancing until I finished college. I was never super serious about it, it was just something I enjoyed doing. Being able to express music through movement just seemed so natural and beautiful. I tried tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, and acrobatics. So many different pairs of shoes, so many costumes, and stage performances. I even once performed in a mall dressed as a Christmas tree! The door was always open to whatever I wanted to try, and I never realized other children may not have had that same opportunity. 


I've been making chili since I got married almost 13 years ago and we make it every fall-winter. There's just something so warm and ...

Cardboard Mom's Chili Recipe

I've been making chili since I got married almost 13 years ago and we make it every fall-winter. There's just something so warm and comforting about it! If I had chosen a date for National Chili Day, I definitely would have chosen a day during football season - football and chili have just always gone together for us! It's a little warmer than it's been, but there's still snow on the ground outside so I think today is a perfect day for chili, even though football season is long gone.

I'm going to share my chili recipe but, to me, there is no perfect chili recipe. It's a very versatile personal kind of dish so feel free to use this as inspiration to create your own signature chili recipe! I don't even make it exactly the same every time!

Cardboard Mom's Chili


  • 1lb ground beef (or a mix of ground beef and Italian sausage with casings removed)
  • 1 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, choppped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 14-15oz can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8oz can tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (or plain BBQ sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Seasonings of choice - I usually include garlic, onion, and chili powders, cumin, paprika, oregano, and salt and don't measure :-)

Special Equipment: 
6-quart slow cooker
1. Cook ground meat in a skillet. Once it's cooked through, add it to the slow cooker.
2. Add in the onions, peppers, corn, diced tomatoes, and garlic.
3. Pour the tomato sauce, ketchup, and apple cider vinegar over the meat and veggies. Sprinkle brown sugar, cocoa powder, and seasonings over the top. Give everything a gentle stir.
4. Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for at least 3-5 hours, stirring well after an hour or two. After that, leave the slow cooker on LOW or KEEP WARM until you're ready to eat (or just eat right then if you can't wait!)
5. We like it best served with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, and a pile of Fritos for scooping.

- Sometimes I add about a cup of refried beans or a can of black beans, but my family prefers it without beans.  
- The kids don't really like spicy stuff so I leave it out now, but before they came along I used to add 1 1/2 tablespoons of pureed chipotles in adobo (it may not seem like a lot but a little really does go a long way and it adds a nice smoky spicy flavor). Now, if we want it a little spicy we just add a little hot sauce or chili sauce to our bowls after it's cooked.
- You could experiment with other ground meats - I've used venison before when we had friends go hunting and share some meat with us. I've also used veggie crumbles when making it for vegetarian friends and it's been delicious every time! 

I hope you're inspired to create your own chili recipe that your family will love!


I felt like I couldn't celebrate Black History Month without remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was such a powerful voice in the...

'Let the Children March' - Read and Rise February 2021

I felt like I couldn't celebrate Black History Month without remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was such a powerful voice in the Civil Right Movement and I greatly admire his resolve to remain peaceful no matter what was thrown at him. It can be SO hard to remain level-headed, calm, and non-violent when people are constantly attacking you, but he stuck to his values and beliefs. I know nothing positive will come from yelling at or fighting with someone and I try very hard - and sometimes don't succeed - to remain kind and calm when dealing with problems or addressing disagreements. 

What I think is really cool about the book I chose for this week is that instead of focusing on Dr. King, it focuses on the children who made a difference in the Civil Rights Movement. The CHILDREN. It's so easy to write children off as being too young to make a real difference in the world but they are so much more powerful than we give them credit for! It fills my heart every time I come across a child doing something amazing to make the world a better place. 

Featured story: "Let the Children March" by Monica-Clark Robinson

Activity: Our activity today is inspired by an amazing and inspiring young man, Michael Platt of Michaels Desserts. Michael is a teen from Maryland who in 2017 - at the age of 11 - started a baking business with a 1-for-1 model in 2017. For every dessert purchased, he donates one to someone in need. I love that it's such a novel idea that most adults would never think of! We think of donating vegetables and fruits and pasta and bread and meats to the food bank, we don't think of donating treats. But really, who hasn't felt a little happier celebrating or easing some stress with a sweet treat? Why not let everyone have the opportunity for that? 

So today, I'm giving you two activity ideas. The first is to create a Martin Luthor King inspired cupcake created by Michael Platt and continue the discussion of Dr. King, civil rights, and African Americans while sharing a sweet treat with your family! You could even deliver some extra cupcakes to friends or family that you can't get together with right now.

Sweet Potato Pie Cupcakes Article and Recipe 

Sweet Potato Pie Cupcakes Video

As an alternative, you could create a birthday kit to donate to a local food pantry. Chances are, if a family doesn't have enough money for food, their children are not having birthday parties or birthday cakes. Find out how to put together a birthday kit at Doing Good Together: Birthday Giving Project.

Some more links to inspire you:

Michaels Desserts Facebook Page

Operation Awesome - show premieres March 10 on BYUtv and follows a group of kids who hit the road to make the world a better place


I have a bonus story this week, about another inspiring woman - the first Black woman to go to space, Mae Jemison! I love her so much becaus...

'Mae Among the Stars' - Read and Rise

I have a bonus story this week, about another inspiring woman - the first Black woman to go to space, Mae Jemison! I love her so much because when she was little she wanted to travel into space and she made it happen, no matter what anyone else said! If you have a dream, I hope you find someone who will support you and help make your dream come true. As for the naysayers, just don't listen to them! This little interview with Mae where young girls get to ask her questions is so sweet and definitely worth a watch. 

Here's our bonus story:
"Mae Among the Stars" by Roda Ahmed

Activity: I thought since Mae got to blast off on a rocket up into space, it would fun to make our own rockets. But once I started searching for ideas, I found so many that I couldn't choose just one! So here are a few for you to choose from:

Last, but certainly not least, I had to include the link for NASA's 2020 Mission Perseverance Rover Landing Information because the Perseverance Rover is landing on Mars TOMORROW! Live show starts at 11:15AM PST/2:15PM EST. I have already set my alarm so we don't forget to tune in!


Since we just celebrated International Day of Women and Girls in Science , I thought it would be fitting to tie women in science into our Re...

'Counting on Katherine' and 'Hidden Figures' - Read and Rise

Since we just celebrated International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I thought it would be fitting to tie women in science into our Read and Rise theme of black history. Our focus today is on Katherine Johnson - technically she was a mathematician but given her work with NASA and invaluable contributions to getting rockets and men in orbit and onto the moon, I think she was a female STEM pioneer long before STEM was even a thing! Katherine actually passed away just about a year ago, at the age of 101! What an amazing life she lived, breaking down all kinds of barriers, for women and for people of color. She is and always will be an amazing role model and inspiration!

Featured story: "Counting on Katherine" by Helaine Becker

I'm including a second story which introduces children to Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden who also worked for NASA. This story is much longer than the first, so it may be suited for slightly older children. 

"Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly

Activity: Just like Katherine, you can help get the rocket to the moon with this simple printable coding game! Click the link below to get your free printable.

Cardboard Mom Moon Mission Coding Game

If you want to explore coding a little further with your child, Research Parent has instructions on how to code a Lego maze with free printable coding cards. Or check out these websites with free coding lessons and games.




Gong hei fat choy! That's the Cantonese Lunar New Year greeting meaning "wishing you great happiness and prosperity!" Chinese ...

Lunar New Year 2021

Gong hei fat choy! That's the Cantonese Lunar New Year greeting meaning "wishing you great happiness and prosperity!" Chinese New Year may be the most well known celebration, but the Lunar New Year is also celebrated in other Asian countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Tibet. It is also not simply a one day celebration like traditional new year celebrations; instead it begins on the first new moon of the year (today) and concludes 15 days later with the year's first full moon (February 26). Author Yobe Qiu shared a little bit about how her family celebrates Lunar New Year:

"Lunar New Year is one of the most anticipated holidays for our family. To date, we follow the tradition of preparing a week in advance to ring in all the good fortunes leading up to the new year. There are many things we do; however, we are most serious about eating all the foods with special auspicious meanings, deep cleaning our house, and wearing everything new with at least one new piece of red clothing. This tradition dates back to our great grandparents and we are very excited to pass it down to our daughter so she may learn her culture and appreciate it. To ensure the tradition continues, we published a children's book on how the Asian community celebrates the Lunar New Year!"

Yobe Qiu also has two books available for the holiday, both of which have free ebook versions in honor of Lunar New Year!

"Our Lunar New Year: Celebrating Lunar New Year in Asian Communities"

"Asian Adventures A-Z"

If you would like to listen to "Our Lunar New Year," here is a read aloud version for you!

A few other stories we enjoy when learning about Lunar New Year are:

"The Runaway Wok" by Ying Chang Compestine

"Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi" by Eugenia Chu (for more information on this book, Eugenia Chu, and a dumpling activity and recipe, head over to my book review of "Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi")

"My First Chinese New Year" by Karen Katz

I plan to check out more books this year, hopefully I will find more that mention other Asian countries as well! I'm going to use this list as a starting point - 28 Children's Books About the Lunar New Year - and will share more information and activities as I come across them!


I believe that every child is a born scientist. They spend the first years of their lives observing and investigating the world around them!...

International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021 - Let's Hear it for the Girls!

I believe that every child is a born scientist. They spend the first years of their lives observing and investigating the world around them! I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a baby who did not conduct the "what happens when I take this off my high chair tray, stretch my arm out to the side, and let go" experiment. And they don't stop after doing it once - they test it over and over to see if they get the same result each time! To build interest in science, all we have to do is nurture our children's natural curiosities. Provide things for them to observe with all senses, break apart, put together, combine, drop, throw, push, pull...I think you get the idea! Just remember, there's no right or wrong way to science - as long as everyone is safe, let them guide the experimentation!

So why the specific focus on girls and science? According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, women account for 52% of the college-educated workforce, but make up less than a third of the science and engineering workforce. Within the science and technology sector, women are more likely to be involved in life and social sciences and less likely to be engineers or computer, mathematical, and physical scientists. My goal today is to provide young girls everywhere with some real life role models from the science world as well as information on the different types of careers available in science and engineering. 

Life sciences (biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, physiology, biochemistry...)

Tanya Brown, Marine Biologist

I study how corals respond to disease. I do a combination of fieldwork (lots of SCUBA diving) and work in the lab doing molecular biology. I have always loved the water and was always that kid that was the first one in the water and the last one out and wanted to combine my love for the ocean with lab work. The biggest influence in going into science was my grandmother whose love for biology transferred to me. She would spend endless hours helping me understand biology and in the end her help made me pursue biology!

Tania Oberyszyn, Research Scientist

I went into science because I was always curious about how the body worked and what happens when parts of your body don't work the way they should. My research focused on trying to understand how sunlight causes skin cancer to develop and why men get more skin cancers than women. I loved being able to come up with different ideas about what could be happening and going into the laboratory and testing those ideas. I had a lot of amazing high school, college, and graduate students who worked with me in my laboratory and helped come up with ideas to test and then carried out the experiments. Some ideas work but many more don't. That is part of the scientific process.

For some reason some girls think that science and doing research is only for boys, but all types of science, whether it is biology, chemistry, or physics, is a wonderful opportunity for girls who are curious about the way the world works. Science is not just about working in the laboratory but also about sharing your results. You get to travel all over the world meeting with other scientists and sharing your findings. Like anything worthwhile, it takes work and perseverance but it also is just a lot of fun! 

Kristen Krip, Biochemistry Undergraduate
I always wanted to study science, but I never thought I was smart enough. I ended up getting a degree in English instead, but it wasn't what I wanted so, I went back to school. Ultimately, I want to do research someday, but dreams change as you learn and figure things out. But I'm finally done letting everyone else tell me what I'm capable of accomplishing. Passion and hard work can get you wherever you want to be. Never be afraid to ask when you need help. Show up. It's more than what most people are doing, and it will be appreciated. Never be afraid to fail and get up and try again. Failure isn't a character flaw - it's a chance to learn. 

Jenny Ballif, aka Science Mom
I have a master's degree in plant science. I have worked as a wildland firefighter and a molecular biologist, and plenty of other jobs that fall in between wearing a lab coat and wielding a chainsaw. I run an educational YouTube channel and have visited hundreds of elementary school classrooms in Southern Nevada.
I grew up near a forest and spent a lot of time outside when I was younger. My parents loved nature and science and were great about answering my questions and finding me books to read. My first experiment was making mud pies. I discovered that if I stirred mud for several minutes and added in bits of straw, then when the mud dried it would be hard like a brick. I was about 5 or 6 years old at the time, but I spent a lot of time trying different ratios of water and dirt and using different types of soil. Because I wrote down my recipe for a "very good mud pie," I count this as my first true experiment as a scientist. Some people might say that you need to go to college to become a scientist, but I believe that anyone can be a scientist if they ask questions, design experiments, and then write down what they learn. This approach of exploring our world and discovering how it works is what I love most about science. We live in an incredible universe, and there are so many great questions still waiting to be answered and incredible discoveries to be made! (Science Mom links are included at the end of this post)

Physical Sciences (physics, chemistry, astromony...)

Audrey Ragle, Beverage Scientist
I work as a beverage scientist at a specialty materials company. I primarily work with a filtration aid used mainly in beer and wine. The filtration aid I work with is composed of polyvinylpolypyrrolidone, or PVPP, which is a polymer. This polymer works by removing polyphenols from plant material, like malt and hops, improving the product's clarity. I help support customers and work in product ideation, research, and improvement.
Early on, I wanted to pursue marine biology and went to a magnet school focusing on that, but found it ultimately wasn't for me. In college, I had statistics in mind for a career, but the natural world called to me again! I ultimately graduated with a BS in geology and environmental studies. My first jobs out of college were as an environmental consultant. I became interested in home brewing and got a part-time job in a brewery tasting room that eventually bloomed into the full-time brewing science career I have today.
As you can see, STEM has always been my calling, and I've tried out a few different avenues before landing on my feet. As a woman, I've had to make a space for myself and sometimes found myself alone in the room, so to speak. It can sometimes make you wonder if you belong there, and let me say you absolutely do and then some! Don't let anything discourage you from a super rewarding STEM career!

Jackie Weiss, Scientist - BioTherapeutic Development
I always loved math and science growing up and was encouraged by my family to explore a career in the sciences, especially by my grandpa, who was an engineer. When my mom became ill when I was in high school, I was inspired to work in the pharmaceutical industry to make an impact on the lives of patients in need. I earned my Masters in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and my Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from Villanova University. While working in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 11.5 years, I have held multiple roles from growing cells in bioreactors to make medicines, developing purification processes to ensure medicines are safe to take, managing the inventory for clinical trials, to working with external business partners to make sure we can support all of the work that needs to be done to deliver new and novel medicines to patients in need.
Women in science is extremely important to ensure diversity in how companies think and tackle problems. I'm so happy to see more little girls joining the world of STEM and throwing the stigma that "the math and sciences are for men" out the door! Explore, think critically, question, challenge, and keep an open mind, and you will do amazing things!

Ulana Pedersen, Pharmacist
My reasons for choosing pharmacy as a profession were the following: 1. I wanted to be in a health care profession helping people get better. 2. I always enjoyed chemistry and math. 3. My mom was a pharmacist and encouraged me, but died before I got my pharmacist degree.
Over 40 years, the job transitioned from a somewhat technical to a much more clinical role - one of counseling/teaching patients about their medications but also one of collaborating with physicians and nurses in the hospital as part of a team. I think the "team approach" is what appealed most to me through the years. The job was "not about me" - it was about how I could contribute to the well-being of someone me, that is the true meaning of love - looking out for the good of the other...


Bianca Skvirsky, Civil Engineer
It's difficult to explain in just a few words just what I do as a Civil Engineer. I have certifications in asphalt, concrete, inspection, traffic safety, personal safety, and a professional engineering license. There are days where I'm an overpaid secretary: dealing with correcting reports, taking meeting minutes, and filing paperwork. Other days I am on-site with the main objective of getting the job done right. Location, Dimensions, Materials, Safety, and in my opinion, the most important part, is to prepare in advance what you will need to know to make sure the job is getting done properly. Having the correct set of plans, specifications, contracts, permits, utility agreements, and so forth. Any job is basically the same, there's a difference when it's drawn on a piece of paper and when it's being done in real life. That's the fun part.

Suzie Olsen, Systems Engineer
I currently work on the search and rescue system for the US Coast Guard. I am also the author of Annie Aardvark, Mathematician and the creator of STEM Spark. People who inspired me to explore STEM as a child were my parents and Sally Ride. Happy STEM-ing!

Psychology/Social Sciences

Brie Verrinder, Psychotherapist

I started my own therapy practice where I meet with kids, adults, and families when they need a little extra support or help talking about their feelings. I love my job because I get to help people and that is my favorite thing to do! 

Heather Brown Cadalzo, Occupational Therapist

I am a mother first, artist and arts educator second and then Occupational Therapist 3rdly, after returning to receive my Masters of Science. I love using both sides of my brain and I find it infinitely interesting to learn about our bodies on every level, especially neuro! As an OT, I provide patient centered interventions to improve a person's independence, after they experience a decline secondary to injury, illness, disability, or age related decline. I work with my patients in their homes to develop and work towards short term and long term goals, through functional activities and therapeutic exercises. I love going into homes and helping individuals reach their personal life goals. I love people and really enjoy finding solutions to a problem, so for me it's satisfying work and supplements my life as an artist.

Kimberly A. Gordon Biddle, Developmental Psychologist

After 28 years as a college professor, I am now an Emeritus College Professor. I mostly focus on writing textbooks and children's story books. I also make presentations and volunteer. Climb Every Mountain; Forge Every Stream; Follow Every Rainbow, 'til You Find Your Dream.

Young Scientists

Lily, 11

My favorite science topics are anything related to space and marine biology. My favorite related activities are going to marine biology camp every summer and to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC with my uncle. I would like to work for NASA when I grow up but not go into space myself.

Lil C, 9

My favorite science topics are zoology and marine biology. I've really been interested in animals ever since we got our first fish. Animals are really cute and I like looking at them! My favorite experience was interacting with Hope at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium - I got to feed her, play with her, and learn hand signals. I also love watching nature shows. When I grow up, I'd like to do something related to animals, like training and taking care of them.

Emma, 6

My favorite thing in science is anything with animals, because I love all animals, even the ones that no one thinks are cute. My favorite animal activity is to see how many I can find on a nature walk. And feeding animals like my cats or on a farm and learning about them. And reading about them. When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian, a baker, a teacher, a yoga teacher, and a mommy!

Viviana, 16

I love most science topics but am most interested in biology. I'm very interested in living things in nature, plants and animals, their environment, their behavior, and how they adapt. I never want to stop learning. My favorite activity related to biology is observing animals in the wild, or even in captive areas such as zoos, homes, and rescue shelters for pets. I'm known for being obsessed with nature that surrounds us every day, every little detail. I volunteer at animal shelters and at the zoo and am able to spend as much time with the animals or teaching others about them. I spend a lot of time outdoors and have traveled to see plants and animals all over the world. When I grow up, I want to go into either a marine biology-related career or as an environmental scientist.

Zihana, 13

My favorite science topic is genetics because I find it so interesting that genes can provide lots of information about our characteristics, personality, and can even detect future diseases we may encounter. I enjoyed learning about genetics in science class. Specifically, I enjoyed doing an assignment that allowed me to think like a scientist and discover who in the family had the mutation based on only their genes. When I grow up, I want to be a psychologist and study how genes affect mental health. I believe with more research on genetics, we can help many others struggling with mental disorders.

Marissa, 17
I love everything to do with science; especially chemistry and research. One of my favorite science experiences was staying aboard a Marine Science boat in Miami. I got to tag and take skin biopsies on sharks. I got to help the scientists with their research. I'm still not sure what I want to do as a career; but I know it will be science. There is always so much to learn and explore.

I hope this has inspired you to continue pursuing your interests in science, whatever they may be!


Virtual International Day of Women and Girls in Science Event 2021

International Day of Women and Girls in Science



Girls Who Code

Science Mom (YouTubeFacebook, Instagram, Twitter)

STEM Spark

Pink Pearl Writing


Girls Who Code Series

Ada Lace Series by Emily Calandrelli

Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro

Rosie Revere & Ada Twist Books by Andrea Beaty

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky


Emily's Wonder Lab


Wild Kratts (The Kratt Brothers wouldn't get anywhere without the inventions and support of their amazing scientists, Aviva and Koki!)

Learn coding

How to Code Picture Books by Josh Funk

CS First



We LOVE pizza at our house and while we enjoy ordering out every now and then (especially to get a Sicilian pie - I haven't attempted to...

Our Favorite Pizza Dough Recipes

We LOVE pizza at our house and while we enjoy ordering out every now and then (especially to get a Sicilian pie - I haven't attempted to make that at home yet!) most of the time we make our own. There are two pizza dough recipes we use regularly. One is crispier and much easier to bite so it was perfect when the kids were 3-4yo and not as good at biting through thicker chewier pizzeria crust. The other is fluffier and chewier and now that my kids are older, they both prefer this recipe. 

Thin Crispy Pizza Dough
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
    *This dough is great for weeknight dinners because you can make it an hour before you plan on making the pizzas or a few days earlier so it's ready to just pull out of the fridge at dinnertime!
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water (I always leave the water in the glass measuring cup). Let stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flours and salt. 
3. With the mixer on low, combine the flours and salt using a paddle attachment. Add the garlic and then the olive oil. 
4. Stir the yeast-water mixture together briefly and then pour into the flour mixture. Let the mixer run on low for a minute or two until the dough comes together and easily pulls away from the bowl. If it looks too dry, add a bit more water and if it looks too sticky, add more flour.
5. Divide the dough into two balls. If using the same day, place the two dough balls into a bowl coated with oil, cover with a moist towel or plastic wrap, and set aside. If saving for a later day, place each ball into its own zip-top bag and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Cooking directions:
1. Preheat oven to 465०F. Spread oil on two large cookie sheets and sprinkle with a little cornmeal (we've also made 4 pizzas in cake pans). 
2. Take one of the dough balls and start gently stretching it. Once it's stretched to at least 12" circumference, place in the center of the cookie sheet and gently pull the edges of the dough toward the edges of the pan until it's all stretched out and the pan is full (it will spring back a little bit, but I can usually get it to pretty much fill the pan). Repeat with the other dough ball.
3. Top the dough however you want! At the end of this post is a list of our favorite toppings.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and underside is browned.

Fluffy Chewy Pizza Dough
For our fluffy pizza dough, we use this recipe from King Arthur Flour. We've had good results replacing 2 of the cups of flour with whole wheat. We've also always cooked this pizza on the grill!

Favorite Pizza Toppings

Fresh mozzarella

Chicken nuggets


Today I have a double feature of books and I'm really excited because they transition us from January's theme of growth mindset into...

'A Thousand No's' and 'Kamala and Maya's Big Idea' - Read and Rise

Today I have a double feature of books and I'm really excited because they transition us from January's theme of growth mindset into February's Black History month perfectly! 

Our first book is "A Thousand No's" by D.J. Corchin. It is the story of a girl with a great idea who unfortunately runs into a lot of "no's." But she doesn't give up, and will a little imagination and collaboration, all of those no's turn into a yes! I think the abstractness of the book has the potential to go above some young reader's heads, but its strength lies in being vague - because there is no detail given about the girl's idea, each child has the opportunity to insert their own great idea and learn that it's perfectly normal and natural for that idea to be rejected or fail and evolve along the way. The key is to keep trying until you're proud of what you've done. One thing I want to mention is that the no's don't always have to be external - sometimes they come from you! Sometimes you're the one who says this is not working, I don't like this. It's important to view that as an opportunity for innovation rather than proof your idea stinks.

Our second book, "Kamala and Maya's Big Idea" by Meena Harris not only celebrates Kamala Harris - a woman who last month made history as the first female black South Asian vice president of the United States - but also provides a concrete example of how an idea that is faced with many no's can persevere nonetheless. "Kamala and Maya's Big Idea" recounts the story of how Kamala and her sister Maya came up with the idea to get a playground for their apartment complex's courtyard. With each no, they stepped back, re-evaluated their idea and changed their strategy until they created a beautiful playground for all the children to enjoy.

Activity: There are a few ways I thought these books could inspire little ones. 
1. Draw and write about your own great idea and (no matter how big or small!) and figure out the first step toward making it happen. Then, the next step and the next...

2. Think of a place you would like to see a playground. It could be at a local park, a school, a library, a shopping center, their friend's house...anywhere! Then draw what you would like for the playground to look like and brainstorm if you think it would be possible to put in a playground and if so, how you might go about doing it. (note: the purpose to this activity isn't in doing, it's in the planning. I think an equally important lesson to "no does not have to be the end" is "not all ideas have to come true." There have been many times I've come up with what I thought was a great idea but when I sat down to think it through, I realized that it was more effort than I thought it was worth, it was something I wasn't really interested in doing, or it just wasn't as great an idea as I originally thought! And that's ok! The important part to remember is, never give up on an idea you love because someone else says you can't do it or you're worried you'll fail - because, honestly, you probably will! But that's how the best ideas come about! Cardboard Mom wouldn't be here if my first site hadn't failed...)

3. At the end of "Kamala and Maya's Big Idea" Kamala says "I'm wondering what the view is like from the roof." What do you think Kamala might have wanted to do on the roof? Draw about it!

I hope you are all inspired to make your great ideas come true! <3


  Today is National Wear Red Day, which happens on the first Friday of February - American Heart Month. Apparently I don't have much red...

National Wear Red Day


Today is National Wear Red Day, which happens on the first Friday of February - American Heart Month. Apparently I don't have much red in my wardrobe, but I went as red as I could! Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women and it's an issue that hits really close to home with me. 

My maternal grandmother and my mother's sister passed away early in their lives from cancer. My mother had gotten genetic testing done to see if she was predisposed to cancer. The results said she - and consequently I - were not genetically predisposed to cancer, but were at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. My maternal grandfather lived to an older age than my grandmother and aunt, but died suddenly from a heart attack. And then, several years ago, the unthinkable happened. Out of nowhere, my mom felt a terrible pain in her jaw and collapsed. The doctors were never able to resuscitate her. None of us even knew jaw pain was a symptom of a heart attack!

So now I'm left with this ever-present anxiety about heart disease taking me from my family too early. While I know I can't ever control everything, there are things I can do to keep my heart healthier. I've compiled a list of helpful articles about heart health:

Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms in Women

Waist Size Matters

28 Healthy Heart Tips

Give Your Heart Health a Lift

Since the above article told me that strength training is as healthy as cardio for my heart - which I absolutely believe because I met a women who had to at least be in her upper 60s at the aquatic center a few years ago who swam and lifted weights regularly and looked AMAZING - I found these strength training exercises for women:

7 Best Strength Training Exercises for Women

And because we shouldn't wait to take care of our hearts until we're adults...

10 Ways to Keep Your Child's Heart Healthy

Stay healthy and keep those hearts strong!! <3


"My Mom...the Best Mom Ever" by Lauren Vena is an awesome reminder to all the moms out there that our kids love us for who  we are...

'My Mom...the Best Mom Ever' by Lauren Vena Book Review

"My Mom...the Best Mom Ever" by Lauren Vena is an awesome reminder to all the moms out there that our kids love us for who we are and not what we are. That is such an amazing message, and one that we all need to remember and extend to all the important people in our lives. 

I try to pass down the awareness that beauty isn't tied to what we look like, it's tied to who we are. We don't have to change what we look like to be loved and accepted. But at the same time, there's nothing wrong with putting a little more effort into ourselves! I equate it to decorating the house for a party - there's nothing wrong with the house, but the decorations make it look a little brighter and more festive. Clothes and jewelry and hair and makeup can do the same thing for us. 

The book made me think of my own mom and my grandmother and how each generation of moms changes because the "rules" of society change (I think we all help change them a little!). I never saw my grandmother wear pants but my mom never wore dresses or skirts unless she was getting dressed up. The longest my mom made it before getting dressed and brushing her hair was right after breakfast and was always fully presentable when dropping us off at school. My brother and I had cereal for breakfast almost every school day and we loved it (I think there were frozen waffles and toaster strudels occasionally mixed into the rotation :-) ). It's hard to compare my life because we homeschool, so there's rarely a rush to get out early in the morning and some days we get so caught up doing things that I don't get showered and dressed until 3pm! 

I've been trying to make a conscious effort to be in front of the camera instead of just behind it, even if I don't look perfect. The kids love me for being present with them and when I'm gone, I'm sure they'll love all the photos of what I really looked like even better than the dressed up posed ones. My message to all the moms is, make sure you get in front of that camera too! Even if your hair is a little messy or if you're in your pajamas - your kids will thank you for it!

Speaking of kids, here are some kid reactions after reading "My Mom...the Best Mom Ever":

"I think this book was good. I liked how she goes to work in disguise. She was kind of wrinkled before." - Christopher, 6

"I really like this book. My favorite part was the whole story about the mom. She sounds like a nice mom. I would like the author to know she is a good mom!" - Anthony, 10

Lil C, 8: "I though the spider part was really funny!" Squidgy, 5: "But it might still be in her bed when she goes to sleep!"

In the end, I think kids will find the story funny - especially if there are any parts that hit the nail on the head with their own moms - but it's moms that really need to hear the story.