Friday, June 22, 2012

Dating At Home: Free Online Book Samples

Tonight is date night! 

One of my favorite things to do with my husband is go to the bookstore and browse the books and magazines. We will grab Caribbean magazines and dream about our next exotic escape from real life, which most likely won't happen until our kids move out of the house in 18+ years, since our youngest daughter is 1. But we love the torture of dreaming.

When we can't get out to go to the bookstore alone, we go to the bookstore online once the kids are in bed. We read a few free samples and then download a book to read together. 

The book sample that caught our attention most recently was Bossypants by Tina Fey. If you are a Tina Fey fan, I highly recommend this book. Here's an excerpt of her book to get a taste:

During the spring semester of kindergarten, I was slashed in the face by a stranger in the alley behind my house. Don’t worry. I’m not going to lay out the grisly details for you like a sweeps episode of Dateline. I only bring it up to explain why I’m not going to talk about it.

I’ve always been able to tell a lot about people by whether they ask me about my scar. Most people never ask, but if it comes up naturally somehow and I offer up the story, they are quite interested. Some people are just dumb: “Did a cat scratch you?” God bless. Those sweet dumdums I never mind. Sometimes it is a fun sociology litmus test, like when my friend Ricky asked me, “Did they ever catch the black guy that did that to you?” Hmmm. It was not a black guy, Ricky, and I never said it was.

"Then there’s another sort of person who thinks it makes them seem brave or sensitive or wonderfully direct to ask me about it right away. They ask with quiet, feigned empathy, “How did you get your scar?” The grossest move is when they say they’re only curious because “it’s so beautiful.” Ugh. Disgusting. They might as well walk up and say, “May I be amazing at you?” To these folks let me be clear. I’m not interested in acting out a TV movie with you where you befriend a girl with a scar. An Oscar-y Spielberg movie where I play a mean German with a scar? Yes.

We loved laughing together as we read about her personal experiences. 

Do you read with your spouse? If so, which book(s) do you recommend?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Wash Stuffed Animals

Have you ever tried to wash your child's stuffed animal in the washer? I have.

The first one never quite made it out the same. My daughter's favorite fluffy little puppy quickly turned to nappy little puppy. It was clean though... (sigh). 

Luckily, I bought a backup puppy- I buy a backup of my children's favorite attachment items (blankets, stuffed animal, etc.). 

(nappy, sad, little pups)

(New puppy, old ruined puppy)

I figured out how to wash the new puppy without ruining it. 

You will need a pillowcase and a hair elastic without metal.

Place the stuffed animal in a pillowcase and tie the pillowcase off with the hair elastic.

Throw the tied pillowcase into the washer and wash in warm or cold water. Use fabric softener.

Put the washed pillowcase/stuffed animal bundle into the dryer to dry. Dry on low.

When your stuffed animal is dry, hopefully it will look AND feel like it did when you bought it.

CLEAN! (And still fluffy and soft!)

 My daughter loves her new "Snow Puppy"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tips For Summer Reading With Your Child

Summer is a great time to read with your child. Most libraries offer a summer reading program that encourage children to read while school is out.

Besides the importance of education,  reading can also be an opportunity for you to bond, show your love for your child, and learn about him/her- how they think, what kinds of things they like, etc.

May I offer some tips for reading WITH your child this summer:
  • Pick a comfortable and clean spot to read with your child. Pick a place where distractions are limited. If your child is young, have him/her sit on your lap. If your child is older, sit somewhere where you can put your arm around your child.
  • Use different voices for different characters. This helps distinguish characters and attitudes.
  • Let your child choose the book- unless it is inappropriate. It may be boring to you but they will love reading more if they are interested in the topic. I hated being forced to read certain books in school but I loved reading the books that I got to choose. 
  • Help your child choose a book that is fun and interactive for both of you. Mix it up. Read some pop-up books, hidden object books, touch and feel books, lift-the-flap books, and finger puppet books. 
  • Get your child his/her own library card and let him/her use it often! Take your child to the library!
  • Don't rush through the book. Take time to read. Don't be a "book cheater!" Don't summarize, skip paragraphs, or pages. If you don't have a lot of time, it's okay to tell your child to pick out a shorter story.
  • Ask questions. (i.e. What do you think is going to happen? What would you do? How do you think that made (character) feel? How would that make you feel? What do you think (character) could have done instead? What did you think about this book? Did you like it? What was your favorite part?
  • Explain what new words mean and try to use them in every day life. Reread the book and ask your child what the new word means. This will help to expand your child's vocabulary.
  • If you are thinking about buying your child a gift for his/her birthday or other occasion, think about giving your child a gift card to the bookstore. It will give them an opportunity to choose their own book.
  • Don't underestimate used bookstores. We love the Berenstein Bears books but it adds up when you're forking out $4 for each book. It makes it easier to buy gently used books for one or two bucks instead.
  • Make reading with your child a habit. Start now. 

The Red Kitchen Blog has a cute, and FREE reading chart. Click HERE to view and print.