Sunday, May 31, 2015

How to Get your Kids to Read More this Summer (and Actually Enjoy It)

As a credentialed teacher, I love books (I better right?). I also know that reading can help kids with fluency, writing, vocabulary development, creativity, and so much more. During the year and especially during the summer, I want my kids to have fun learning. After all, who wants to have to force their children to read? Here are some tips to get your kids to read more this summer.

Make a Summer Learning Pack

If your child has expressed interest in a certain book or series, you can make them a summer learning pack. Simply pick up a few books and some other items that tie into the theme. For instance, if your child likes science, you can get them a book about science experiments and an experiment kit. If they are into the ‘Magic Treehouse' Series, you might add in some binoculars with a few of the books. To make things even more fun, add in a journal, activity book, or a movie connected to the book. 

Summer Reading Challenge

A summer reading challenge is a fun way to inspire daily reading. Barnes and Noble has a program where the child records eight books they read in a reading journal. After completing and turning in the journal, kids will receive a free book from a selected list. has a summer reading challenge where students log minutes to receive virtual badges and enter to win prizes. Chuck E Cheese fans can download a reading sheet. If kids read and check off their sheet for two weeks, they can bring in the reading sheet for 10 free tokens. Finally, those in the Pennsylvania area can take advantage of Metro Bank’s $10 for reading 10 books challenge. TD Bank has a similar challenge. Of course, most local libraries should have a summer reading program too. 

Tweet this: A few tips to encourage your kids to #read this summer:

Connect Books with Movies and More

Last summer my daughter and I read Because of Winn Dixie. When we finished, we watched the movie. There are so many great books that were made into movies. Some of my favorites include:
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Jumanji  by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Robert C. O'Brien
If you ever want to check about the age-appropriateness of a movie you can go to

Along with movies, you can also make crafts and treats associated with the books. Green eggs and ham, anyone?  

If you need a reading log to help your kids record their reading, I made a printable just for you:

What do you do to encourage your kids to read during the summer? 

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Doomsday Parents

Matthew 6:34 NIV: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It starts the moment people hear you are pregnant!

How far along are you?

My morning sickness never went away.

Enjoy your sleep now because you'll never get any again.

Then, you’ll read in your dog-eared pregnancy book about all the no-nos:

You can’t take hot baths, eat sushi, or ride a roller coaster….or stuff like that. 

When you get a bit further along, the birth stories will come. 

I was in labor for 48 hours.

I pushed for 4 hours and then I had to have an emergency c-section.

And then you have the baby.

As you watch your toddler toddle, someone will remark, Just wait until s/he starts running!

When they turn two, you’ll hear how the terrible twos are nothing, it’s really the threes that are terrible.  When they turn three, you'll hear about the fearsome, ferocious foursand so one. You may have a more experienced parent remark that the toddler years are nothing compared to the teenage years. 

And, they might be right!

And, they might be wrong!

When I had one child, I had parents tell me that they were never late when they had one but with two, they were always late.

And, people told me, when you have two, you’ll do this and that differently.

Yes, having two is definitely different.  But I’m not a completely different parent and I’m also not late all the time now that I have two.  

But, it got me to thinking:  Why is everything having to do with parenting so Debbie Downer?

Why do some people think their experience has to be everyone else’s experience?

Why do some people act like having kids is the end of the world?

Tweet this: Life isn't over when you have kids. It's just different.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t share your experiences or you should sugar-coat things.  After all, blogging is all about sharing your personal experiences and ideas.  And, if you’re pregnant and looking at mommy blogs, you’ll likely to stumble upon stories about sleepless third trimesters, epidural horror stories, and birth plans that went astray.   

Yes, it happens!

Yet, if I come across a pregnant woman in the store, a stranger, I’m not going to launch into a story about how both my babies stayed in the NICU, how I had granulation tissue that didn’t heal for six months after my second, and how my son had a spinal tap when he was four days old.  

I’m also not going to gush about how being a parent is all sunshine and butterflies.  Because it isn’t….at least for me.  

In fact, I’m probably not going to say much at all….because everyone has different experiences.

My kids might be really difficult as teenagers.  I don’t know...and I don’t care because right now I’m enjoying and experiencing the stage they are in.  I’m not going to project what they are going to be like in five, six, seven or eight years.   

I’m just going to take it day by day and not worry about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

Life isn't over when you have kids. It's just different. 

What do you think? Do you know some doomsday parents?

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

7 Ways Parenthood is Similar to Life as a Celebrity

After doing laundry, helping with homework, and changing diapers, you might think that your life is rather ordinary.

But let me tell you a secret.  

Your life is a similar to a celebrity’s.  

No really.

I know as you sit there drinking cold coffee in your worn ballet flats, you might be thinking yea right. 

And even though you may not own a pair of Manolo Blahniks or have a house in Malibu, if you’re a parent, your day-to-day routine might resemble celebrity life. 

Here are seven ways I think parenthood is similar to life as a celebrity (not that I have any real experience).

Tweet this: You can't get any privacy…and other reasons #parenthood resembles life as a #celebrity

#1 I Can’t Get Any Privacy Some celebrities never get a break.The paparazzi are constantly in their faces and follow them everywhere. It’s tough for celebrities to go to the store or get some coffee without people following their every move.  Well, with two kids, I can’t get any privacy either. I mean, I never realized getting the mail was so exciting but my kids always want to follow me. And, I can hardly even go to the bathroom without two sets of eyes peering at me. 

#2 My Name, Mommy, is Often Chanted, and Sometimes Screamed People can become quite excited when they see a celebrity. Teens girls will scream or chant a celebrity’s name when they see a heartthrob. My children are always chanting my name: mommy. MOMMY, I’m hungry!  MOMMY come in my room!  MOMMY, M is peeing on the floor. Mommy, watch me! MOmmmmmmmmm-eeeeeeee.

#3 People Stare at Me It must be hard to have people constantly staring at you. I mean, I see the way people gawk at me when my three-year-old is crying on the way to drop his sister off at school. Look the other way people, he’ll be fine as soon as he gets his morning juice….don’t worry it’s organic, diluted with water, and in a BPA-free container. 

#4 People are Always Judging When people are staring, I’m pretty sure it’s because they are judging me. It might be because I’m wearing yoga pants or because my kids aren’t wearing socks today. Being judged stinks. I kind of feel for you Gwyneth P.

#5 There are Many Photos of Me Without Makeup I feel bad for those celebrities whose makeup-free faces are plastered all over magazines. The paparazzi always seem take a picture of them making an ‘ugly face’. Well, let me tell you, there are plenty of just-rolled-out of bed, no makeup pictures of me. After all, my kids like to use my phone to take pictures. As long as they don’t accidentally send it one of my social media accounts, it’s all good.  

#6 People Ask for my “Autograph” Celebrities are often asked for their autograph. People will stand in line to have someone sign a jersey or book.  However, people often ask me for my “autograph” too. Well, really they are just asking for my signature. I have to sign well-visit surveys at the doctors, reading logs, permission goes on and on. 

#7 When I Enter a Room, I am the Center of Attention When you have kids, at least little kids, you are the apple of their eye. If a celebrity walks into a restaurant, people will stop everything and stare. If I go to run an errand and then return, my children will greet me at the door and my daughter will say “Mommy, I missed you!” I can’t complain.

From time to time, it’s nice to feel like a celebrity. However, most of the time, I’m glad I’m not.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Falling into the Busy Trap

I fell into the busy trap and last week it all caught up to me. I was exhausted, mentally and physically.  

But, it was no one’s fault but my own. 

Sure, when you have kids, life is bound to be busier. Even if you don’t have kids, life can get pretty hectic. 

But I had taken on way too many freelance writing jobs. I had been volunteering more at my daughter’s school. Overall, I had been forgetting to take care of myself. 

All my choices.

Tweet this: "Stay out of the busy trap: Walk slower, breathe deeper, and inhale life."

It’s almost frowned upon to have downtime, at least in the Los Angeles suburbs where I live. It’s normal to have our children enrolled in an excess of extracurricular activities so that we are running from one practice to another. It’s normal to take on that extra job or volunteer position. 

For some people, they don’t have the choice to be or not to be busy. They have to work two jobs to put food on the table. But for some of us, it’s because we don’t know how to say no or we feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses, or we just keep adding more and more to our plate, thinking we can handle it. 

A long time ago, when my husband and I were visiting Italy, we walked through the park on a Sunday. The park was jam packed with couples, families, and friends sitting on blankets, eating, relaxing. It was a site I had never seen before….. so many people enjoying leisure time. Here people might congregate for a concert in the park or a sporting event, but you won’t usually find a park full of people just relaxing and talking.

When I have time to myself, I sometimes have trouble partaking in leisure activities. Because I feel compelled to be working. I have friends that have the same problem. When they get an hour of time, whether it’s during the day or after the kids have gone to bed, they almost feel stressed because they don’t know where to start on their to-do list.  

I almost always blog on Sunday night. But this Sunday, I didn’t. I let a few dishes sit in the sink. I went to sleep when my kids went to sleep.

And it was glorious. 

I woke up without bags under my eyes and I felt good, really good. I was more productive during the day. My mind felt clear and I ate better. 

I said, I should do this more often. This relaxing thing was nice.  

I’m not talking about being less ambitious or lazy! However, there is something wonderful about savoring a fragrant meal and enjoying each bite. And, it’s wonderful to sit on a blanket and watch the stars begin to dot the sky. To walk slower, breathe deeper, and inhale life. Most importantly, to realize that there is nothing wrong with that!

I’ve made my way out of the busy trap and I hope I can keep myself from falling back in.

Do you always feel like you are rushing? Have you fallen into the busy trap?

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Friday, May 1, 2015

For the New Mom

I became a mother for the first time, just a few days before Mother’s Day.  It has been almost three and a half years since I’ve had a newborn.  However, when I see a mom with a new baby, it all comes rushing back to me.This is for the new mom:

I see you, you with your little bundle and heavy eyelids.

You’re tired, your stitches are sore, and you feel….. different.   

The last few days have been like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

You brought life into the world. Sweet chubby cheeks, tiny toes, soft skin, all of it. The baby smell, both good and bad, has permeated your household. 

I know last night you probably almost nodded off while feeding your precious babe.  

As you sit in the bed, your chair, your couch, in the violet shadows of morning, you might think this baby thing is the best thing and the hardest thing in the world.  You might wonder how you could love anything else more. 

Or you might have different feelings. You might feel overwhelmed, like you could collapse from exhaustion. You might feel blue.  You might even want to cry. 

Or you might feel a mixture of both.  Motherhood, after all, is a roller coaster of emotions.

Some days may bleed together, as if there wasn’t a start or an end. Changing, feeding, sleeping, repeat. There might be days when you have to make a choice between sleeping or showering. 

But, some days may be amazing. The silver lining in a dark sky.  First giggles, first smiles. Fingers grabbing, feet kicking, mouth blowing raspberries.  Everyday, you’re making memories to put in your little one’s baby book, to share with your friends and family, or to stash away in your heart.

And, when you’re feeling like you’re not good enough, not mom enough, or not doing enough, remember this:

Remember this too:

Moms, you’re amazing. Not perfect, because no one is, but amazing. Tweet it:

Between the midnight feedings, rapid-fire of unsolicited parenting advice from others, and piles of laundry, it may be hard to catch your breath. But when you do, breathe in their loveliness. Soak in their wide-eyed wonder. 

Welcome to the journey of motherhood. Enjoy the ride. 

What words of encouragement do you have for new moms?

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