Teaching Kids To Love Reading

Teaching Kids To Love Reading.

I was the kid who got in trouble for hiding under my blanket with a flashlight and reading until a ridiculous hour. So I was shocked when our kiddos did not take to reading as enthusiastically as I did.

Our eight-year-old Zoe, for instance… I took her to our cool little neighborhood library to sign up for their summer reading program. She paused at the door, staring at me with a suspicious squint.

Zoe: “Why are we here?”

Me: “We’re signing up for the summer reading program! They have these great prizes, like-”

Zoe: “I was told there would be doughnuts.”

Me: “I will get you a doughnut after we sign up.”

Zoe: “How many doughnuts?”

Me: “What?”

Zoe: (patiently) “How many doughnuts do I get to eat per book?”

This is where my cunning culinary bribe fell through. I couldn’t feed this kid enough baked goods to get her through a single multi-chapter book. Plus, I would be the size of a planet by the end of summer because there’s no way I can hold out if she’s stuffing chocolate crullers down her throat.

Nothing was working until I changed my approach.

So, here’s what I’ve learned this summer: every child has their own way. It’s my job to find the path that gets each of my Littles enthusiastic about books. Here are some different thoughts on amazing books and how to invest your little people.


Teaching Kids To Love Reading

  1. What are they interested in? So, my 8-year-old Zoe is crazed about Minecraft. I immediately ordered 3-4 books about Minecraft on I didn’t pay attention: the fonts in the books varied, they were oddly styled and hard to read. They just made her more frustrated. So we started with some of the “New World” instructions on her iPad. We read about diamond armor and the Ender Dragon. Then, we graduated into Minecraft technique posts. I read a paragraph, she read a paragraph. We were reading together… and yeah, now she’s into the Friendly Creeper Diaries.
  2. You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You: It’s actually the name of a book series, but it was an “Oh, duh!” moment for me. We always read together when Zoe was little, but now that she’s in second grade, I’d just intended to check off the books she’d read on her homework list. What is wrong with me? This is an age where she actually wants to hang with me. And it’s not even just her reading to me- it’s reading back and forth, asking questions about the story and laughing at silly things.
  3. Make It Fun: Once again, this one took me by surprise. What do you mean, reading isn’t fun? So we came up with some ideas. This summer, we’re reading in our trampoline tent dome (Editor’s note: you can find an easy DIY video for this epic little creation here.) We acted out all the dialogue in different accents. (Zoe is very proud of her Cockney accent.) We’ve listened to audiobooks together to get her excited, then re-read the book together. We’ve created her own books- writing out different stories with her clever illustrations. There are easy ready-made books here to use to create your own classics.


Here’s one of my favorite graphic novel kits. One of my favorite experiences with the twin’s 7th-grade class was creating their own graphic novels. It’s not particularly expensive and the fun of watching these kids collaborate and create together is one of my most tender memories. They created a super-hero with autism, who could move back and forth in time to solve crimes because, “For kids with autism,” said their classmate Jerry, “it’s hard for us to understand time anyway.”

The Best Books For Infants and Toddlers: Great Starts

Best Books For Children Ages 5-9

Best Books For Pre-Teens – It’s Not Too Late!


What has worked with your kiddos? What made them finally want to learn to love reading? Share! Discuss! We all need new tips and tricks.

What Do You Do When Things Fall Apart?

What Do You Do When Things Fall Apart? What do you do when things fall apart? I mean, everything in your life is in pieces? Kirk Bentzgen- owner of the massive Performance Auto- is my favorite story of how to come back when everything looks utterly bleak.

How do you come back from divorce, losing your business, losing your father and getting brain cancer? This man is a hero, and his path back is a great guidebook for all of us struggling with loss. Watch and be inspired.

Need more uplifting stories?

What happens when your flight attendant daughter can’t come home for Christmas? 

Gentle ways to care for yourself during busy and stressful times- find it here.


Do you know someone who has overcome unimaginable odds to find happiness again? We’d love to talk to them- please email me at


Four-legged Babies Need Foster Families Too…

Four-legged Babies Need Foster Families Too…

When you have a sister who is the director of the Utah Humane Society, you foster a lot of animals.

A lot.


Kitties, bunnies, an arthritic chihuahua with his leg in a cast… the list goes on. Finding “foster families” to help is important- because whether the animal is too young to go out on the floor for adoption, too sick, recovering from an injury, the clinic just doesn’t have enough room for these extra-needy little fellas. (There were over 3,000 animals at the UHS alone last year who needed foster care.) This is where a foster family comes in. You care for the animals at your place until they’re ready to be adopted. Along the way, you help the creature get used to humans by holding them and loving on them relentlessly so that by the time they’re ready for adoption, they’re super adorable.


Adorable is important, because your little foster baby is competing against dozens of other pets for adoption. Helping them put their best paw forward (sorry, my 8-year-old is cracking up over that pitiful little joke) gives them the best shot at an immediate adoption with a great family.


We hosted our first bunch of scraggly-looking kitties when my Zoe was only 4. She adored them. She loved on them relentlessly to the point that they’d look over her shoulder at me, pleading for rescue. Which I ignored. Zoe rubbed them on the face of our poor dog, Gille. (That dog is a saint.) Since then, my indomitable daughter has harrassed countless litters into civility, I’m proud to say every one of her creatures has been adopted the first day they were put out in a cage. The experience has taught our daughter about patience, empathy, and the ability to not throw up when a sick puppy throws up on her. (It happens. We go through a lot of cleaning spray and kitty litter.) I worried about how she’d handle sending the first batch back, but she was great- she gave them all a pep talk and told them it was time to, “Find your forever family. Now put yourselves out there! You can do it!”


My sister – who has a flexible moral compass when it comes to luring us into another foster episode – sent me a photo of three baby kittens.

“Ready for some kitty action?”

I texted, “Sure, Zoe’s excited.”

Turns out the pickup included three additional kitties.

“You told me three!” I texted.

Juli was unsympathetic. “You should have looked at the photo more closely. Sucker.”



So, now we’re buried in six squalling kittens. And it’s wonderful. Hopefully, my manipulative photos of our current adorable, fluffy kitties have given you a desire to foster, too. For the Utah Humane Society, reach them here. The National Humane Society can help you find your closest shelter here. (Editor’s note: this is Jimmy, my favorite. He loves to sleep on his back to expose his delightfully chubby belly and his pink paws. Admit it. You’re on Cuteness Overload right now, aren’t you?)

(All images provided by Naomi Garrow)



One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson & The Most Beautiful Bucket List Ever

One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson & The Most Beautiful Bucket List Ever. Louis Tomlinson from the band One Direction has been in mourning since losing his mother and sister this year- until he met an elderly gentleman mourning his wife. You’ll melt when you see how they’ve healed each other. You can see the video sparked from One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson & The Most Beautiful Bucket List Ever here.

Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe. This is the veggie dish that even your kids will eat.

First: did you know it’s spelled “Brussels?” I have misspelling this vegetable forever! Also, these brussels sprouts are freaking delicious. This is a tasty side dish for Easter dinner. (BTW: Cooking with Todd and the Toddler has an epic step-by-step recipe for Roasted Leg of Lamb for Easter that’s unbelievably tasty, find it here.)

Kevin Bacon’s Passing Out Blankets At The SLC Rescue Mission

(Image credit: Gage Skidmore)

Kevin Bacon’s Passing Out Blankets At The SLC Rescue Mission. Kevin Bacon was in town for the Sundance Film Festival, and he took a drive down the canyon- not to meet with the “Beautiful People,” but to hand out blankets at the Salt Lake Rescue Mission as part of his ongoing charity, Because he’s awesome like that.

You can hear the whole story here on The Todd and Erin Daily Stream.

New Resolutions Series – The Secrets To Your Success

New Resolutions Series – The Secrets To Your Success. In our New Resolutions series, if one of yours is building your career, Dan Young from PC Laptops is here to tell you how.


Imagine bringing your son from North Carolina for a holiday visit, and the high altitude here in Utah sparks headaches so violent that a trip to the ER reveals he has brain cancer… just in time for treatment. It’s a miracle. There’s a GoFundMe account raising money for his treatments, you can find it here.

You Can’t Come Home For Christmas? I’ll Come To You


You Can’t Come Home For Christmas? I’ll Come To You. When you’re new to your position, you get all the “non-popular” shifts, like the holidays. As for flight attendant Pierce Vaughan, she was unfortunately scheduled to work through Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Her dad Hal was not thrilled with this news, and decided that if she couldn’t join the family for Christmas, he would join her. So he mapped out all her flights- six in total- over the two days and booked a seat for each one.


Mike Levy happened to be on the first leg and seated next to Hal. After hearing the whole, sweet story he had to post about it on Facebook. Since then, the story’s been shared tens of thousands of times. Pierce also followed up on social media, since everyone was dying to find out how it all worked out. It was a challenging schedule, and when you’re on a “buddy pass,” like Hal was, you’re one of the first to get bumped if the flight was full. Here’s what she wrote:

“Dad’s first trip using his benefits was a success! A special thanks to all of the patient, wonderful gate agents around the country and my perfect crew. He made it on every flight and even got first class RSW-DTW (Christmas miracle).

Shoutout to Mike Levy for being a great first class passenger & helping us to understand how cool this actually is!”

I’m always filled with happiness when I see a family so devoted to each other.

5 Fresh Ways To Celebrate New Year’s Eve


(Image credit via Flickr: Simpleinsomnia)

5 Fresh Ways To Celebrate New Year’s Eve. Erin here… I have to be honest–years of hosting New Year’s Eve events as a radio “personality” leaves me with a loathing for the Big Drunken Bar Fest. It’s depressing being the only sober one in the room and trying to give away prizes to people too drunk to remember their name, much less read the teeny tiny numbers on their winning tickets.  Maybe you’re just looking for something different because you’re different–you’re a mom now, or you’re newly single.  Here’s some ideas I found poking around New Year’s Eve celebrations across the globe. (Editor’s note: stop by our page– I’ve picked out affordable options to help you enjoy all of these traditions.)


red undies

(photo credit: The Style PA)

1. Wear Red Lingerie: In Italy it is considered good luck to wear read underwear and lingerie on New Year’s Eve.  It is believed that wearing something red will give you good luck in love and relationships in the year to come.


night run

(photo credit: Peter Mooney)

2. Run: you don’t have to be training for a marathon to want to be stronger and leaner in 2019.  What better way to bring in the New Year than while exercising?  If you can run outside, bring a group of like minded friends and champagne in the water bottle.  My friend Cheryl snow shoes through the forest with her family to greet the New Year in utter, perfect silence.


jumping into the pool

(photo credit: Charlie G)

3. Jump: in Denmark they have a tradition of climbing onto a chair and jumping off at the stroke of midnight. How about going a little bigger?  Jump into a (heated) pool or body of water. Jump without fear into the New Year and all the adventures you’ll bring with it.


paying debts

(photo credit: Quazle)

4. Get Rid of Loose Ends: one of the many traditions of New Year’s celebrations in Vietnam, is a purging of unfinished business. Return all things you’ve borrowed and pay off any debts you can. Start off the new year with a clean slate.


flash paper

(photo credit: Chrls Blakely)

5. Burn, Baby Burn: pick up flash paper from a local magic shop or order online from here. Write your worries, troubles, frustrations and things you want to leave behind as you head into the New Year.  Light and throw into a big pan or barrel–they flash white light with a very satisfying “whoosh!” as your troubles disappear along with 2018.


Our personal New Year’s Eve tradition? We use sky lanterns-write down a worry or trouble you want to leave behind from 2018, and a new wish or goal for 2019. Your worries fly away to be consumed by the flame-and your wishes are marked down by Fate to come true. (Obligatory warning: we of course check with the local fire department wherever we do this to make sure we’re following local regulations.)

Go For “Good Enough” This Holiday And Be HAPPY!

Go For “Good Enough” This Holiday And Be HAPPY! When did the holidays change from “This is GREAT!” to “Oh, I hope I can make it through the holidays.” Probably around the same time we all decided we had to be perfect and only post perfect things we’ve baked, crafted or decorated on social media. Here’s our new challenge: post something imperfect and show that “Good Enough” is great. Here’s a wonderful pep talk from Dr Julie Hanks teaching us how. Make this your happiest holiday yet by embracing imperfection.


Go For “Good Enough” This Holiday. Erin here- as you can see from the picture above, these are my totally feeble Milano Reindeer Cookies- it’s a miracle the cookie company hasn’t emailed me, begging me to not make them look bad. But they were made with my 7 year old Zoe and a lot of… uh… heart. We don’t have to be perfect to be happy for the holidays. I am embracing my imperfections! (Editor’s note: If you still want to try the no-bake Reindeer Cookies, because they really are tasty, find the video and recipe here.)


Utah Signs of Summer – Halloween Stuff, Angry Bears & Poopy Swimming Pools – 7.18.19

Utah Signs of Summer – Halloween Stuff, Angry Bears & Poopy Swimming Pools.

Signs of summer along the Wasatch Front… First, Target is already hauling out their Halloween stuff. Our neighborhood pool is closed for a “fecal accident.” And there are pissed-off black bears charging at campers, and the Utah DWR says “They’re cranky because they’re hot.” Oh. Well, I feel much better about camping now. Just offer the bear gnawing on your leg a cool beverage!


Plus! Llama therapy and our most tasty salad yet- you’re going to love this salad with a deep, abiding passion. BTW: craving more summer salads? Try the glorious German Potato Salad here, and Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Vinegar here.

Asparagus and Corn Salad


  • 3 ears corn, shucked
  • 2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, whatever you like)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey (can replace with sugar or agave)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.

Add the shucked corn to the boiling water and boil for about five minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and set it aside to cool.

In the same water used for boiling the corn, add the cut asparagus for 2 minutes, just until they’re cooked – you want them to still be bright green and crisp. Remove from the pot and set aside to cool.

Once the corn is cool enough to touch, cut off the kernels and add them with the asparagus pieces to a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the corn and asparagus. Mix together and chill until ready to serve. This salad holds up beautifully for up to two days without losing its crunch.

Church Ball: Starts With a Prayer, Ends With a Riot – 7.16.19

Church Ball: Starts With a Prayer, Ends With a Riot.

We all know that “Church Ball” at the ward can be brutal – what do they call it? “The only riot that starts with a prayer.” Someone just took a case to the US Supreme Court for “excessive injury” from an LDS ward game.

BTW: have you ever seen the movie Church Ball? Very entertaining. Find it here.

It sounds like a country song- police pulled over a drunk guy in a stolen truck with an open bottle of bourbon and a gun. But wait, there’s more. So much more.

Our No AC Challenge continues – with cheating accusations – and why we don’t think the “Urban Deer” are so cute anymore. BTW: if you have some genius ideas on how to survive the searing hell of summer here in Utah without AC, we’d love to hear them! We’re giving away a $50.00 gift card on August first for one of your recommendations. Please leave a comment below.

(Cover screencap image courtesy of Halestorm Entertainment)

Why Storming Area 51 Is A Super Bad Idea – 7.15.19

Why Storming Area 51 Is A Super Bad Idea. There’s a social media push to gather all the Area 51 fans together and sort of “gang-storm” the base. Their motto: “They can’t stop all of us!” Why this is a bad idea explained on the show today.


Starbuck’s new Tie-Dye Frappuccino is this summer’s sold-out Unicorn Frappuccino – which we never tasted. Zoe and I found the Last Tie-Dye Frappuccino in the state. Taste test!


Our “No AC” Challenge continues and you’ve all given us such great suggestions! Have some to add? We’re giving away a $50 gift card for one of your clever ideas on August first. If we live that long – head here to leave a comment.


With New Orleans flooding AGAIN (those poor people!) the Cajun Navy is gearing up as another tropical storm is about to hit the coast. This amazing group made up of “Guys with Boats” is so inspiring… Also today- chess-master cheaters, Tell Me Something Good and subversive vegetables.


(Cover image credit: NotEvenAThing)

In Japan, They’re Using Rental Cars Cars For Everything BUT Driving – 7.12.19

(image credit: Pixabay)

In Japan, They’re Using Rental Cars Cars For Everything BUT Driving. Car rental companies in Japan were getting confused because consumers were renting the cars and returning them without any miles on them. You’ll never believe what they were doing instead of… you know… driving.


(Image credit: Thomas Froese)

Prince Charles just opened up his summer castle- the Castle of Mey in Scotland as a bed and breakfast! You know you want to stay there.  The reason? I mean, it’s not like he needs the money. But the region did- and he wanted to bring it to life again. Here’s the website.

Two mysteries answered…

Why you can’t drink a Polygamy Porter beer in North Carolina, and why Canadians are so courteous they’re actually lethal.


Plus! Creamy cucumber salad today. The recipe is so easy! BTW: have you tried our rather glorious Warm German Potato Salad yet? I think it’s the best of our Summer Salad Series. Find the recipe here.

Is This A Boy Scout Badge? Build A Canoe. Immediately Sink It. – 7.11.19

Is This A Boy Scout Badge? Build A Canoe. Immediately Sink It.  Who thinks this is a good idea? Two Utah Scout groups who made their own canoes from PVC pipe and tarp – you heard me – launched them on the Green River for a rapids river trip. The first one sank 100 feet from the launch site. It just gets better… or worse, depending on your point of view.


Today’s summer salad? Warm German Potato Salad with stone ground mustard and bacon. Freaking amazing. Have you missed any of our other tasty summer salads? Like watermelon and balsamic vinegar? How about corn and cotija cheese? Strawberry and spinach?


Think Salt Lake City is hot now? There’s a scary new global study out that says we’ll be hotter than Las Vegas by 2050. The last time I was there, it was 115 in May. This is bad news.

Charging $125 At The Door For Your Wedding Reception – 7/10/19

(image credit via Tumblr)

Charging $125 At The Door For Your Wedding Reception. Say you RSVP’d “yes” to attend a friend’s wedding, and when you got to the door, they charged you and your date $250.00 to get in. Would you turn around and leave or grit your teeth and hand over your credit card? Here’s the creepy new wedding trend this summer…

Today’s Summer Salad recipe is for the rather epic Watermelon salad with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese. BTW: looking for more lovely, lovely salads? Try our tasty Mexican Corn Salad. So few ingredients and a small tutorial on the joys of Cotija cheese – the recipe is here. Plus, have a look at our Strawberry-Spinach salad here.

Ewwww… did you see the viral video of that ridiculous girl peeling off the top of the ice cream container and licking it? Now, there are copycats. Poor ice cream, this is a tragedy!


When you see a big pile of illegal contraband all laid out with triumphant officers standing around it, you’re thinking some kind of a big bust, right? This one involved… trout.

(Cover screencap: Bridezillas)

Yet More Reasons To Kiss A Lot… Like You Needed An Excuse – 7.9.19

Yet More Reasons To Kiss A Lot… Like You Needed An Excuse.

Up next in our “Daily Stream Summer Salad Series,” (catchy, eh?) we’re making Mexican Corn Salad today. It’s ridiculously easy, but it was so tasty!! BTW: If you’ve missed any of our lovely, lovely salads the Spinach-Strawberry Salad is here.


If you’ve dreamt of telecommuting for work here in Utah, the state is about to be your new employer.


Also! The health benefits of kissing (like you needed an excuse.) Plus, WHY is it that women do three times more chores than men? Even in the more “progressive” countries where women make nearly equal pay and equal responsibility in the workplace, they’re still doing at least twice the chores at home as men are! The reasons why though, will surprise you.

Yay! Salt Lake City Is Hosting The National Quidditch Cup! – 7.8.19

Yay! Salt Lake City Is Hosting The National Quidditch Cup!

Welcome to the Todd & Erin Salad Series! (See how catchy that sounds?) We’re putting together a bunch of side dishes this week so you look like the Best Guest Ever for your next neighborhood BBQ. Today: Spinach Strawberry Salad. BRW: are you looking for a way to keep that super-duper expensive produce fresh? Here’s some genius tips.



Yay! SLC is going to host the national Quidditch Cup! Did you know such a thing existed? Oh, yes. In fact, we have several high-ranking collegiate teams here. Quidditch Muggle-style is a brutal mix of football, soccer, and rugby. And played by a coed team. (image credit via Wikipedia)

Dude: when you’re drunk, maybe jumping out of the boat without a life jacket to avoid the police is a bad idea… What happens when your standard drunk boater decides to “outsmart” the rangers.


Would you return a lost wallet? Would it make a difference if there was money in it or not? There’s a global study just completed by the University of Utah that might surprise you. (image credit via Wikipedia)

We Taste-Test The New M&M Flavors! – 6.28.19

We Taste-Test The New M&M Flavors!

We Taste-Test The New M&M Flavors! M&M’s have kindly sent us three of their new flavors to try- one of them is a chocolate bar. Wasn’t that the point of M&Ms, that they were in the coated candy shell? We’ll tell which is tasty, and which one you’ll spit out immediately. BTW: did you miss our last M&M flavor taste-test? Find it here.

Smoke Detectors Are Evil:

I firmly believe that smoke alarm people design them to have the battery die right at 2am so the alarm can start that horrible, endless beeping every 30 seconds. Am I right? “Cats at Large” getting tickets: seriously? A woman in Murray came out of her house to find her cat had been ticketed for lying on the front lawn. I’m not kidding. Apparently, it’s a misdemeanor to be “An Animal At Large.”

Wait, WHAT?

One poor mom was up extra early to feed her new baby and found what looked like human remains on her front porch. Ugh! Apparently, the word spread to the point where the police had to put out a statement revealing what was really on her porch. Frankly, it’s not much better in the way of an explanation.


A Scary Case of Mistaken Identity

Imagine being woken up when the police kick through your door and arrest you at gunpoint for robbing a bank. That’s what happened to Kerry Maw– except for the part that it wasn’t him. Ogden prosecutors dropped the charges with a sort of “Hey, no harm no foul, right?” attitude. Meanwhile, he spent two nights in jail and he’s out $5,000 in attorney’s fees. How would you handle something like that? How should the city handle it?

NASA wants you to name their new Mars Rover!


An Ode to a Lost Quarter Million Dollar Sports Car:

And my favorite: the story of a man who lost his $250,000 McLaren seven minutes after driving it off the lot. Seven. Minutes.


Amazon Won’t Stop Sending Me Packages – 6.27.19

Amazon Won’t Stop Sending Me Packages. So you find a box from on your doorstep. That you didn’t order. The next day, another one. Then another. All random crap like knick-knacks and home shaving kits. And Amazon won’t tell you who’s sending them. We’ll explain. Because it gets weirder.


Coming at you from Red Butte Gardens today- have you been here recently? Freaking paradise. It’s not summer for us until we visit our favorite gardens there, like the children’s gardens and the pond. For you, it’s not summer until you… what? Share! For some of my girlfriends, it’s not summer until they’ve read some spicy romance novels. Here are three of my favorite writers – you’ll love them!

There’s a scary new real estate scam that’s cost Utah over $200 million in the last year- be warned! There’s hope for even the most couch-bound among us with a new study linking music and exercise… and here’s a new one the EMTs have never heard, “I mean it! The bear shot ME!”