28 August 2014

7 Ways To Encourage Your Child To Love Reading

Hey everyone!! I'm currently heading out on an adults only trip to the beach with my Husband + my best friend and her Husband, so the blog will be taking a back-burner for a few days. However, I do have an awesome guest post for you today from one of my fabulous sponsors, Krista! Please do stop by her blog and say hello! :)


Hi Everyone! My name is Krista and I blog over at The Quinntessential Mommy. I'm a mom of 2 kids--my daughter Gia just turned 4 and my son Nicholas is 10 months. Before we started with today's post, I want to thank Mandy for sharing her space with me today. I've been a loyal reader for a while now and I'm so excited to connect with all of you!

Although I consider myself a stay-at-home mama, I teach English part time at a local college and I love it. I've always loved to read and one of my main reasons for becoming an English teacher was so that I could encourage others to read, too. (Kinda corny, huh?) So, today I'm going to share with you my top tips for encouraging your children to read, read, read--and to love it!

We all the know the dismal statistics: nearly 25% of American adults haven't read a single book in the past year. But reading is so important for vocabulary development, and it teaches kids about the world around them, about grammar and syntax and it can even help improve writing skills. And most of all, reading is fun! Here are some things you can to do to encourage your child to love reading--and a few tips to get you reading more too!

 1. Read to your kids Captain obvious here! This is one of the easiest ways to help your kids develop a love for reading. And, it's probably something you're doing already. The most common thing we do is incorporate books into the bedtime routine and that's a great start. Remember, it's never too early to introduce books. Kids as young as 6 months old benefit from a book before bed. There's also more you can do. Next time you're at the doctor's office waiting to be seen, read a new book instead of handing over your iPhone or tablet.

 2. Let your kids read to you Kids love to be the authority, so why not flip the script and ask your child to read to you? They'll likely get a kick out it. Around age 3, you might start to notice that your child is memorizing the books you're reading each night (especially if your kids are like mine and pick the same books for weeks at a time!). This memorization routine precedes reading and it's a huge developmental step! So, let them recite the book to you and call it reading and be very proud of them! If your kids not at that stage yet, get a few picture books and encourage them to make up a story based on what they see in the pictures.

 3. Go to the library Libraries are an underused resource! Most libraries have free story time or book clubs and other fun activities centered around reading, perfect for kids of all ages. Be sure to check out your local library's programs and then take your kids there. Don't worry about libraries being super quiet--the kid's room is lively and everyone will totally understand that your child feels the need to roar like a dinosaur right now.

 4. Let your kids see you reading This is one of the most important things you can do for your kids. Let them see you reading! And don't worry if you're not a big reader --you're reading this blog and that totally counts! Show your children that the iPad or tablet is for reading just as much as it is for playing games. Download the Kindle or Nook app and download some books for yourself.

 5. Use technology to your advantage. If you can read on the iPad or tablet, so can your kids! Splurge and buy 1 or 2 favorites on the iPad and occasionally read bedtime stories from there. Your kids will love the "turn the pages" of the "book" by swiping their finger across the bottom of the tablet. And, this will show your kids that technology isn't all about playing games! Also be sure to check out what technology resources your library has available. You may be able to borrow eBooks for free or even borrow a tablet if you don't have one.

 If you have older kids, let them earn screen time by reading. For every minute spent reading, they get 2 minutes of screen time to play games or watch a movie or tv show (up to an hour or whatever you're comfortable with).

 6. Be sure to find the right book. Half the battle with reading is finding something that you actually want to read. If chick lit or romance is your thing, go for it! Don't judge yourself because any reading is worth doing. Reading is an escape and if 50 Shades of Grey takes your mind off the 4 loads of laundry that need to be folded and the bathroom that needs to be scrubbed, go for it!

 The same goes for your kids: help them find a book they'll love. Your 8 year old son might not be into Judy Blume. Take him to the library and let him look around and find something that interests him. Ask the librarian for recommendations--that's what she's there for! And don't forget about non-fiction. If your kids love animals, get some books about animals. If they love comic books or magazines likes Sports Illustrated Kids, let them read those. Remember, any amount of reading is worthwhile!

 Looking for a book recommendation for you? Check out some of my favorite books in this blog post.

 7. Schedule family activities that are centered around reading! If you have older kids, set a time for the family to read simultaneously. Each person can read his or her own thing for 30 minutes. Make some fun snacks and sit on the couch and read alongside your kids.

 Or, making reading a family activity by comparing a book to a movie. Choose a book everyone will like and read the book together, as a family. Then, see the movie and talk about the similarities and differences when it's over.

 The best part about this is that it works well with kids of all ages. For the younger set try Charlotte's Web or The Cat in the Hat. For older kids, read Coraline and then see the movie.

In today's fast-paced, technology-rich world, sitting down to read a good book can get left behind. But, the benefits of reading are huge, so try to make time to fit it into your family's routine. You'll thank yourself later (and so will your kids!).

27 August 2014

End of Summer Goals

*I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

I'm having a really hard time with the fact that the end of Summer is nearing. Waaaa! I mean, there's a lot to look forward to in the Fall, but I do love the sunshine! Before the Summer started, I made a list of things, goals, that I wanted to accomplish before the fall. Luckily I was able to cross off quite a few of those things, but I'm determined to make the most of the rest of the Summer and cross a few more things off my bucket list, as well as get back on track with some things. 

Take the kids to the Ocean.
This was something I REALLY wanted to do with the kiddos this Summer. We are so lucky to live so close to the coast, and I would have kicked myself if we didn't get out to the ocean at least once! But luckily, I had a chance to take the kids to Ocean Shores & Long Beach earlier this month, and my Husband and I are going to Seaside tomorrow!!! So that's two trips to the ocean this Summer! I get to CHECK that off the list!

Finish outdoor projects.
My Husband and I put together a big list of home/yard projects in late Spring and our goal was to get most of the outdoor projects done before the end of the Summer. Well, we definitely haven't done that. So I feel like we need to scramble to get those things done before all the rain starts coming, and doesn't leave. ;-) The main thing we need to do is get the trim on our house painted! It takes forever, though!

Get back to school shopping done.
I actually thought I would be on top of this, but man, Summer has flown by and I still haven't done back-to-school shopping. I was actually surprised at the amount that Bennett needs by way of school supplies! Guess I'd better get on that. Plus, he has grown out of most all his pants, jeans and sweaters. So I will definitely need to do some clothes shopping for the big guy. 

Get my gym schedule back on track.
I've been kind of all over the place with my work outs. I used to have a very strict exercise schedule, but lately it's just been whenever I can fit it in. I really want to get back to a reliable schedule and stick to it by the end of the Summer, so by the Fall, I'll be in a good routine again.

Snack a little less.
I'll admit that I've been really snacky recently. Like, it's to the point where I'm starting to sneak handfulls of the kids goldfish crackers every time I walk by the pantry. Ugh. I was doing so well for a while, so it sucks to fall off the wagon. But I think I've found a solution to the snacking! 

Chewing gum!! A friend recommended that I just pop in some gum when I get in a snacky mood, and it's actually helped a lot! My gum of choice is Juicy Fruit! And luckily, an enormous box of Juicy Fruit gum showed up on my doorstep to sample. Pretty sure it will last me all year.

 The awesome thing, is that the new soft chew gum is sugarfree!! Which definitely makes my Husband happy, and I also feel good about giving it to my kiddos. They are at an age now where they understand what "chewing gum" is, and they will chew all day long if I let them. lol

We also got to try some of the new Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum!! It comes in Juicy Fruit Original and Juicy Fruit Sweet Strawberry, and I'll tell you what, it's delicious. Oh and I will also let you know another little fun fact about me + chewing gum. On top of helping me snack less, I leave some of this gum in my car and it actually helps me battle my road rage. If I get annoyed or frustrated on the road, I pop a piece of bubble gum in my mouth, and surprisingly, I calm down a little. Who doesn't like to blow bubbles?

I'm still working on helping Bennett learn how to blow bubbles with his bubble gum, though. It's a work in progress. :-)

What are your End of Summer goals? And what are your tricks to help yourself snack less?

26 August 2014


Just the other day, I posted an update on Bennett's development. And part of his delay, includes some issues with his fine motor skills. He's been working with a therapist in his school to help with his dexterity, but he's never ever been able to draw, color, or write very well. Nor has he ever shown any kind of real interest in it. He mostly just scribbles for a second and then says he done.

Honestly, it's been kind of discouraging. It's hard for it not to be, because as his Mother, I want him to develop and continue to grow. But I mean, you can't force your child to do something they don't want to do, you can just encourage them and continue to give them opportunities to learn.

The other day, Bennett came running up to me with the Magna Doodle in hand, yelling "Mommy mommy, look!!!! It's a...."

And before he could finish his sentence, I said "it's a Caterpillar!!!" The smile on his face was priceless. And me?? I was absolutely blown away. It may seem silly and insignificant to some, because most 4 y/o have been drawing like this for a while now. But Bennett? I've never seen him draw, or even attempt to draw anything recognizable.

This was a huge moment for him. It's like something just clicked in his brain and he realized he could draw. I would be lying if I said I didn't tear up. Because I did. This kind of thing, though small, is a big milestone for him.

Children amaze me, they truly do. I think a lot of times, all they need is the confidence to do something, and they can do it.

What I'm trying to say, is these little milestones are completely worthy of a huge celebration. I don't think we realize how huge this kind of thing can be for a child's self confidence.

25 August 2014

A bold & delicious lunch solution for the WAHM.

I know I sound like a broken record, but being a Work At Home Mom (WAHM) can be challenging sometimes. I recently got a laptop, which helps a ton with multi-tasking throughout the days. But mealtime? That can be tough. I feel like any downtime I have in between entertaining the kids, running errands and cleaning the house, should be spent working. So meals can kind of get lost in the shuffle of it all.

Sometimes I think ahead and am able to prepare something the day before and have leftovers. But that doesn't always happen. So in those other instances, what I need honestly, is an easy, quick solution. Oh and it needs to be yummy, too. ;-)

I'm one of those people that prefers a lot, like a LOT of strong flavors in my food. Not really into bland food that much. I say, bring on the spices and the kick. And I'm telling you, I found the most amazing frozen meals that satisfy both my need for a quick meal prep as well as my love for bold flavor.

I recently discovered these Chili's at home frozen meals and basically, they're my new favorite thing to pop in the microwave when I'm feeling hungry.

Here are some some fun facts about this new line of frozen meals:

 Bellisio Foods, a leading frozen foods manufacturer, partnered with Chili’s® Grill & Bar earlier this year to introduce a new line of licensed Chili’s®-inspired frozen meals — boldly flavored and deliciously prepared to enjoy at home.

 The new line of Chili’s® frozen foods is inspired by some of the restaurant’s most popular and innovative dishes. Chili’s® new line of frozen foods delivers the bold, southwestern flavors and same great taste for which Chili’s® is known, with entrĂ©es like Pepper Jack Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl.

 Chili’s® new line of frozen foods is available at major retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion, H-E-B, Meijer, Giant Eagle, Schnucks and many more. Chili’s® frozen foods is igniting innovation in the frozen food aisle — a retail category that has been frozen in time for decades, and one in which inventiveness is unexpected.

Chili’s® frozen foods let consumers treat themselves or their families to the experience of bold Chili’s®-inspired flavors — right in their own homes.

My personal favorite? The Cajun-Style Chicken Alfredo! Whoa. I was actually surprised (in a good way) with the flavor in this meal. It definitely had some kick to it, but man, it is so good. And tasted like it came right from the Chili's Restaurant Kitchen. I'm fairly confident that before the month is over, I will have tried every one of these meals. Check out all of the amazing entrees here!

Oh!! And if you're interested in trying these (which I strongly recommend!) You can grab a coupon here!

Personally, this is exactly what I need when I'm trying to cram in a quick meal while trying to get some work done throughout the days. Forgetting to eat happens all too often for me, and when that happens, by the end of the day, I get a little cranky.

What is your go-to meal as a busy parent? Or just as a busy adult?! Have you tried these Chili's at home frozen meals? They are divine!