Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Book that Every Mom of a Baby or Toddler Needs for Traveling

Tomorrow, I am very excited because I am taking a trip with my two girls. Unfortunately, my husband is staying behind for work purposes, so I will be braving the daunting Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with a six year old and a 13 month old all on my own.

While I fuss about my house packing, I will definitely have the book Baby Babble: A Book of Baby's First Words by Kate Merritt from Indestructibles in my diaper bag.

I found this book at a high end baby boutique in Atlanta a couple of months ago and fell instantly in love. If you have never seen these books before, find them. The Indestructibles series of books are published by Workman Publishing Company and without a doubt live up to their name.

The books are designed to be chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic, and 100% washable.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical that the books were indestructible. I have bought plenty of dog toys that say they are indestructible, but I have never found one that lives up to its marketing claims or stays intact for more than an hour.

Now, Miss J is a baby, not a dog, but that girl can love a book to death.

When I gave the indestructible book to her several months ago, she looked at it and immediately stuck the book in her mouth. However, something strange occurred. She bit down and looked at me incredulously when she was unable to grind her teeth in some squishy paper. Since that time, she has looked over the pages of this book almost everywhere we go because the book it light, can be shoved in any bag without damaging it and can be wiped down with a baby wipe. She has tried with all her might to rip it up, but has yet to be successful.

This week...
It will go with us to the beach.
It will go with us to the pool.
It will survive the airport and countless restaurants.

But, most importantly, the beautiful illustrations and bright colors will keep little Miss J entertained.

Check out the whole line of books from the publisher.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Busy [and tired] Mom's Guide To Reading Aloud

Reading aloud with my girls has been a passion of mine since my oldest was born six years ago. Nothing gives me more joy that watching their eyes light up when we read something they find interesting. However, this whole work/life balance thing, lately, has been kicking me in the butt. In fact,  I have a confession- I have been falling asleep while reading books with Miss M. It isn't because the books are boring, but sheer exhaustion has this funny way of catching up with you every now and then.

I imagine that I am not the only mom out there who has fallen asleep mid-sentence while reading to her kids. Am I? Please someone out there assure me that I am not alone.

To combat the desire to promptly fall asleep when I snuggle up with Miss M to read, I realized that I needed to think outside the box and come up with a sustainable survival strategy. These five strategies have become mission critical to keep reading interesting.

1. Diversify that portfolio- And by that, I mean change up what you are reading. If you are getting bored with a chapter book, go back to reading some picture books. Tired of all the books you own? Not a single book on the shelf you are interested in reading? Did you know that many libraries have a virtual library that you can log onto and download books onto your tablet or E-reader?  When I realized this little nugget, I really did indeed jump for joy. While the selection is not nearly as vast as going to the library and borrowing an actual book, it is a beautiful thing to be able to choose a new book from the comfort of your own bed.

Another fantastic option, if you have a Kindle Fire, is using the Kindle FreeTime App. (Just a little side note- I do not get paid what-so-ever to write my blog. Though, if someone wants to pay me, I am open to that option, but I am endorsing Kindle because I love it, not because they have hired me to blog about it.) The Kindle FreeTime App can be purchased through a monthly subscription (discounted if you have Prime) that allows your kids to have access to a select amount of ebooks, apps, and videos. You are able to set time limits for each category. But, the best part of this app is that you log them into the app and they cannot accidentally purchase anything or log off.

2. Get into character- It is really hard to not have a good time or to fall asleep when you are acting. Case in point, try to read a book in a robot voice without smiling. For some reason, I feel the need that several of the characters from the Mercy Watson books speak with a deep, southern drawl. An Emmy winning actress I will never be, but for my girls, I try my best to get into character. It is the equivalent of signing in the shower, everyone is good at method acting when it comes to acting out children's books. While on the subject of singing, if i am really trying to keep little Miss J's attention - singing books to her works wonders. I always sing a simple "doodoo doodoo" song when I get to the wordless pages of Where the Wild Things Are

3. Get blinded by science- I am biased, but sometimes, I find reading non-fiction more interesting than fiction. I am always amazed by the obscure facts writers always seems to include in the early reader non-fiction books. Non-fiction is a big push in the school with Common Core standards, and I soon realized that this is where a nerdy researcher mom can shine.

4. Read books that don't require "reading". We love books that are activity books or are wordless picture books. Right now we have been doing a bunch of the Usborne seek and find books. The challenge and puzzle aspect of seek and find books keeps my daughter engaged and usually sparks conversations. 

5. Finally, snuggle up with a good audiobook. In discovering that I could borrow books from our local library through my Kindle, I also discovered that we could download audiobooks. Audiobooks are a great alternative to reading aloud when you are dead tired. When you are stupid tired, like I have been lately, you cannot even focus your eyes on a page to read. On those nights, I snuggle up with my daughter and quietly listen to a classic read. Lately, we have been listening to several of the Judy Blume The Pain and the Great One books. The best part, is that Judy Blume is one of the readers for the books. 

I realize this is an unconventional list for reading aloud to your kids, but making these simple changes from time to time has only increased my daughter's interest in reading. 

What do you do to keep reading interesting?
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