Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Importance of Reading Aloud

Our wonderful friends sent us a book called The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. It's all about the importance of reading aloud to your children. Yes, it's a book about reading books. OK, OK I know. But it's actually very insightful! The book includes numerous studies that document the benefits of reading aloud to your children, and continuing to read aloud through high school. Studies show children learn to read well and are more interested in reading when they are regularly read to. They get better test scores, and get into better colleges etc. One important point the book explains is that children want to be like their parents. If your child sees you reading, he will want to read too. So make an effort to not only read to your children, but read in front of your children.

Trelease also provides a large list of age-appropriate books. The book might be worth it if only for this list alone. For Gabriel's age, the best books are picture books that rhyme or are predictable. That's why Dr. Seuss is such a hit, along with Sandra Boynton and P.D. Eastman. Until he's two years old, it's important to re-read the same selection of books to him, rather than read a huge collection of books only a few times each. Young children need things repeated to them in order for it to sink in. So I've started reading his favorite books (the ones that hold his attention) more often, and sometimes two or three times in one sitting.

Right now, we're reading to Gabriel at least 30 minutes each day accumulated. We read before naps and bedtime and at random times throughout the day. He LOVES reading time. When we stop reading he starts crying. Of course, that might be because he doesn't want to go to bed. :) During reading time, he usually sits and looks at the pictures, occasionally reaching out to feel the pages. If there's a picture that's really bright or stands out from the rest of the page, he wants to feel it. We've set up a wish list on Amazon called Gabriel's Bookshelf. It's our collection of desired books that are recommended from The Read-Aloud Handbook as well as other sources.

One of Gabriel's favorite books right now is Geena Giraffe Gets Tucked In. We've preserved the memory of this book in a video.

We have also started going to the library regularly to see if they have any good books. Sadly, I am not impressed with the selection. I've been trying to find some sort of discount book club online, where I can purchase new books for a cheaper price. No luck yet. If anyone knows of a good recourse, please share! Since I plan to buy a lot of books over the next couple of decades, I need to find a more cost effective way to purchase them. There is one site I've found that will do a search for the book you're looking for and tell you what your cheapest option is for an online purchase. If you're interested it's

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Free Birthday Stuff! Or at least very cheap.

There are so many coupons and free things to be had on your birthday. I made it my mission to enjoy as many of them as I could. I signed up for anything I enjoyed that would give me something for my birthday. There were actually so many offers, that I didn't have enough time to enjoy them all. So I picked the ones I liked best. Most of these are through email. I actually have a separate email account for stuff like this.

FREE IHOP Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity - eggs, bacon, sausage, and buttermilk pancakes (I switched out the meat for some hash browns because they are my favorite)
I started eating it before I remembered to take a picture. I was working my way through the pancakes when Richard snapped one for the blog.

FREE Starbucks coffee any size/flavor - I got a venti size of their new salted caramel mocha. After I drank half of it, I realized I forgot to ask for decaf. Let's just say Gabriel was WIRED later that day!

FREE Baskin Robins ice cream - Strawberry

FREE Auntie Anne's pretzel - BOGO

FREE Sephora Birthday Shampoo

$5 DSW coupon - I bought socks

15% off Anthropology coupon - head band

Banana Republic 15% off coupon - I actually got a better deal than the coupon, because I waited for the sale. But here's what I got. Black jeans and a belt.

Cheesecake Factory ice cream sunday - I still got a cheesecake too of course!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cakes From Before the Blog

Here are some cakes I've done before I started blogging about them.

Father's Day cake

Baby Shower

Bridal Shower

Baby Shower

Baby Shower

Gender Reveal

Baby Shower

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Playing with my camera - Cute baby shots

I'm starting to get interested in learning how to take better pictures. After all, Richard has a Canon DSLR, which can take great shots if I learn how to use it. So I looked up some YouTube videos and started learning about ISO, aperture and shutter speed. I don't really know what I'm doing. I just started playing around. Here are some shots I took.

Yes, I gave Gabriel a mohawk. :)

This is a new hat I just got him. SUPER cute!

Notice there are two baby toys on the floor, and he goes for the cardboard box. Typical.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gabriel's First Tooth!

I am SO excited that my baby just got his first tooth! Now I understand why he was so fussy yesterday. He kept waking up from his naps. I was able to get a couple shots of the little guy poking through his gums.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

8 Month Picture

Snapped this today, just to document what my baby looks like at 8 months. Chubby and cute. What's that? A book? Oh, he's a smart one too!

Gabriel is 8 Months Old Today

Dear Gabriel,

Today you turn 8 months old. Wow how time flies! I honestly can't remember what it was like when you were a newborn. The more you grow, the more your personality comes out. I love it when you see me and get a big smile on your face. You do the same thing when daddy comes home from work.

Things to note:
- You still have a bald spot on the back of your head, but it's smaller and hair is starting to grow in
- You've been "crawling" for a month, but it's the army crawl, where you pull forward on your elbows and slide on your tummy. You can get on your hands and knees, but when you want to go somewhere, it's always the army crawl.
- You're able to help us put your clothes on. You push your arms through the sleeves and your head through the neck hole.
- You've been introduced to a variety of new foods. You have even had chicken and top sirloin! Pureed, of course. You love the chicken, and I can't get it into your mouth fast enough.
- You're talking more these days. You always say "ma ma ma", "ba ba ba" and "da da da". Or you just slur a bunch of vowels together.
- You still sleep 12 hours each night (amen!) and take 2 naps during the day.
- You focus a lot more during story time. You'll sit there quietly on my lap and look at each page while I read. You especially like the stories that rhyme, so we mostly stick to those. We just started going to the library regularly, so you can have a variety of books.
- We just got back from a little vacation in Palm Springs, where you LOVED the pool. Daddy held you in the water and moved around just like you were swimming. Boy, you giggled and got a kick out of it! Once in a while you tried to put your face in the water, and started to cough. After a couple of those, you decided that wasn't so much fun.
- At the doctors office last week, you weighed 18.2 pounds! Daddy says mommy's got some guns from toting you around.

Everywhere we go, people give us compliments on how handsome you are, and we definitely agree. You like to flirt with strangers by smiling and kicking your feet. Sometimes, you'll show off some dance moves by swaying back and forth. People love this.

Happy 8 month birthday Gabriel! We love you!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Santa Monica Day Trip

Last weekend, Smithsonian Magazine was celebrating Museum Day by providing FREE tickets to any participating museum. I picked out an art museum in Santa Monica that we'd never been to. It turned into a wonderful little day trip for the family.

Before heading to the museum, we went to the 3rd Street Promenade for a little shopping while Gabriel took his nap in the stroller. They've added a fancy new outdoor mall section to the promenade. Here's a picture of the three stories of shops. I love the look with the palm trees, but I don't know what that black and white thing is. I hope it's not some sort of art piece, because I don't really like it.

After some shopping, we went to the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Upon entrance, we realized this museum is actually free every day! That's cool, but sad at the same time, because I thought I was getting something for free that normally costs money. Oh well.

There were multiple exhibits. Some we spent a considerable amount of time in and others we skipped all together. We mostly stayed away from the modern art. I think both Richard and I have a hard time understanding why two circles on a piece of paper is "art". We also noticed an alarming number of the artists seemed to gravitate toward pieces that, let's just say, were not appropriate for all any audiences. We shielded Gabriel's and our eyes and left those exhibits. Slightly disappointing, yet I wasn't surprised. Maybe it was the fact that we were in Santa Monica which made it not surprising.

One of the exhibits was a random collection of "practical art". They had several really cool chairs made of all recycled materials. They had chairs made from glass bottles, cardboard, and even quarters. This one I'm sitting in is made of corks. It was really comfy!

Another item we found was a little dog made of recycled newspaper. Isn't he cute?

I felt like I had to buy something to top off the trip. It's like a family trip to a museum wouldn't be complete without some cheep little thing from the gift shop, right? So I ended up purchasing this head massager. Oh, this thing is WONDERFUL! You move it around your head and all those little wiry things rub your scalp. It makes me want to relax and fall asleep. I love my new little gadget.