National Reading Month!

When my daughter started Pre-Kindergarten this past fall, she was ambivalent about anything educational.  We’d try working with her on her letters, and she’d give it a half-try.  For example, I’d draw a “T” on a piece of paper and ask her what letter it was.  Without even looking at what I’d written, she’s just spout off what ever answer came to mind.

“It’s a B!”

“No, try again.”


But then, something clicked recently.  Suddenly the alphabet makes sense, and more importantly, they’re making sense in a string.  As in words.  She’s spot reading certain words now, and actively trying to sound out letters to read words she sees at school and at home.

And it’s awesome.

It also makes me feel like patting myself and my husband on the back for reading to our kids so early and so often.

Which makes me super happy to celebrate National Reading Month.

National Reading Month.jpg

A while back, I featured Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s album Pleased To Meet You, which featured the fun and zany song “Animal Alphabet”.

In honor of National Reading Month, for one week only, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke are offering a FREE SONG DOWNLOAD! All you have to do is head over to their Soundcloud page and click the download button, now through March 25th.

There’s also an accompanying “Animal Alphabet” app available from iTunes for 99 cents from Mibblio that features an alphabet made out of animals.  A literary zoo, so to speak.

To celebrate National Reading Month in style, I’m hosting a giveaway, with not one, but TWO prizes!  One lucky winner will receive a CD copy of Key Wild & Mr. Clarke’s Pleased to Meet You.  And another winner will receive a free app download.  All you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter widget below by Wednesday, March 26th at 11:59pm EST.  Open to contiguous U.S. residents only.

Good luck and HAPPY READING!

One v. Two…

I had heard this before having Miss P, but never thought it couldn’t be as challenging as folks were telling us.  Jon and I are strong, capable people!  We can take the load of a second child!  Well, Parenting one child versus two?  It’s not just double the work, as you’d think.  It’s more like triple, or quadruple.  Some days, the energy it takes to wrangle two small ones is overwhelming.  Other days it feels like survival of the fittest.  But on those awesome days when everything just clicks along, we’re all in a great mood, and no one pitches a fit?  That’s also exponentially satisfying.
Patience in parenting.  I’ve been reading a little on this.  I came across this great website called Zen Habits, and they recently featured an article called How to Become a Patient Parent.  I won’t go in to all of it, and while it reiterates a lot of what I’ve read or thought already, it also offered some helpful tips.  I know that, in general, I need to slow down and realize that not everything has to be stressful.  Part of this means questioning what my motives are for each moment.  Am I rushing the kids because I took too much time farting around on the internet and now we’re late?  Do I want them to calm down while they’re playing and having a good time because I don’t want the noise, even though they’re not really doing anything wrong?

Out of the tips the web article mentioned, here are the ones that struck a chord, and what I’m trying lately:

  • Pretend someone’s watching. I forgot where I read this tip (a couple places, I think), but it’s effective. Pretend you have an audience. You’re less likely to overreact with your child if someone’s there watching your every move.

This one is the one that works for me lately.  Not that I’m a perfect parent out in public but then turn in to Mommy Dearest in the privacy of my own home.  But I do know that I take more liberty to just blow up at home than I do when we’re out and about, or if we have guests over.  And if I don’t want strangers seeing me react that way, why would I want my own children to?

  • How does this help? When I’m about to say something to my kids, when I can remember, I ask myself, “How does this help my child?” This helps me to re-focus on what’s really important. Yelling or getting angry rarely helps any situation.

By far, I think this one is the hardest one on the list.  If you know me, you probably know that curbing my tongue is not one of my strongest attributes.  I’m more of a microwave than a slow cooker.  React first, rationalize last.  But if I can remember to stop and ask this question, perhaps I can nip that in the bud.

  • Teach. This is something that helps me a lot. I remember that my kids are just kids — they are not perfect, they do not know how to do things, and they have a lot to learn. I am their teacher. I must be patient, and teach them how to do things — even if I’ve tried to teach them 10 times before, it might be the 11th time when things click. And remember, none of us learn things on the first try either. Find new ways to teach something, and you’re more likely to be successful.

This one also comes in handy while making dinner or fixing something around the house.   The more I can get the kids involved in what I’m doing, or what they are doing, the better things seem to go.  Especially now that Miss P is in her “I do it!” phase.  Would it kill us to be two minutes late while we patiently watch her struggle to lock the door with my keys, all the while dropping them about a hundred times?  Probably not.

  • Just laugh. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect, that we should be enjoying this time with our kids, and that life should be fun — and funny. Smile, laugh, be happy. Doesn’t always work, but it’s good to remind yourself of this now and then.

Now, this one I can do.  And I feel like I’ve been doing more of this laugther-thing lately, which is great.  Let’s face it, kids ARE funny.  They embrace life.  And have no filter.  A great recipe for comedy.  And laughing helps with that whole Happiness thing.  Fake it till you make it! 

  • Bonus tip: just love. Instead of reacting with anger, teach yourself to react with love. Your child spills something or has a messy room or breaks your family heirloom? Yells at you or gets in trouble at school? React with love. It’s the best solution.

Right on. 

In the moment…

There’s a Zen proverb that says “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Presence.  So very important, right?  In the last two days that I’ve started my Happy Experiment, I’ve found that the more present I can be from moment to moment, the less stress I seem to have.  Not a bad way to spend the day, eh?

I’ve been reading this passage every morning by the Dalai Lama:

Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

Food for thought…

The joys of reading…

I flew on a plane all by myself last night, and in a hasty, last minute decision, I grabbed about six magazines that had been crammed in to our magazine rack.  I’d saved these guys, hoping that one day I might have ten to fifteen glorious minutes to read an article or two.  Well, that time came last night.  Man, was it nice.  Sure, the articles aren’t even relevant now, having been published months and months ago.  But it felt good to read something other than A) Sally and the Purple Socks, B) my usual dose of celebrity smut, or C) something on the Internet.  Reading something more, uh, “adult” got my brain working, cleared away some of the cerebral dust that has accumulated in there, and forced me to take care of Me for a while.

I can remember reading a shitload when I lived in NYC.  Yeah, I didn’t have kids back then.  But I also had all of that commuting time on the trains and buses.  It was time granted by the forces of mass transit transportation.  Now?  I spend my commuting time behind the wheel, listening to songs about rabbits and rocket ships, joking with my two monkeys in the backseat while simultaneously fetching a fallen sippy cup.

I really need to jump back on this reading bandwagon.  Perhaps turn off the television earlier in the evening, shut down the laptop and carve out some more time to read at home. Dig in to that stack of books I have saved under my nightstand.  All of those books, collecting dust, sitting there and mocking me. 

Once I’m done with those, I’ll be on the hunt for something else.  What goodies do you suggest?