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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thank you, Hallmark!

Have you seen the Hallmark recordable books? No, this is not a product review post. But I do love these books!

Yes, there are plenty of ways to record yourself reading a story to a loved one. But these Hallmark recordable books ended up being the only feasible option for us to be able to send to our children that are in Ethiopia, waiting for their Mommy and Daddy to come bring them home.

We sent a care package to our kids, which will get to them next week. It included a photo album, which will be the first they ever see our faces. And we also included one of these recordable books, All the Ways I Love You, (Hallmark has quite a few titles to choose from).

No, they aren't likely to understand the words being read to them (though we are hoping somebody at the foster home might translate it for them), but they will get to hear our voices. And we will be getting to read to them already! Before we even meet them! I kind of equate it to how we read to Isaac when he was still in my belly. He didn't understand what we were reading him either, but he was hearing our voices.

With these Hallmark books, there is a recording device in the book that allows you to record yourself reading it. Then you can flip a switch in the battery compartment to lock your recording. So this ensures that our voices will stay in the book we sent. And all they have to do is open the book and flip through the pages to hear us reading it to them!

I could see this being a really neat tool to use with beginner readers. They could record themselves and listen back. And as they become more fluent, they could make it fun and read in silly voices and such when they record. They could also record themselves reading and then send the book to a family member as a gift. What a great way to show off their reading skills! Maybe it could be sent to a parent serving overseas, who maybe has never heard their child read yet.

And obviously, they are a great way for friends and relatives to record themselves reading a story to a special little one in their life, and then give it to them.

I know you guys could think of some other creative uses for these recordable books too! Share in the comments section!

(I swear Hallmark is not offering me any reimbursement for this glowing review... though I would gladly accept it if they offered. Hee!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Big Sale on Reading T-shirts!

Needing to make room and simplify in our house. I have a stack of these super-cute t-shirts that are begging for a real home of their own. :) Maybe yours?

I love mine, and everybody else seems to be loving theirs too. It's my quick go-to, look-good shirt! And I hear that they are quite the compliment magnet! They also make cool teacher gifts. (Come on, you're not really going to give your kid's teacher another ornament or coffee mug this year?)

Since I don't have room to keep storing them at the moment, and would love to have them out spreading the early literacy message, I'm putting them on SALE!! $10 and it's yours! (Add $2.50 if you need it shipped to you.)

I have limited stock so grab your size before it's gone, if it's not already!

These are unisex fit tees, and run true to size. Chocolate brown color with white text on it. Oh-so cute and stylish! Click the Paypal button below to order!

Here's what I've got:
Smalls - 2
Mediums - 0 (sorry!)
Large - 0 (sorry!)
XL - 0 (sorry!)
2XL - 3


Oh! Oh! And I've got ONE of these tees left.

Only $7! It's a 2XL.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Flattered, but Annoyed

"I want Mommy!" A phrase my poor husband hears our son, Isaac, utter much more often than he he cares to. To be honest though, I'm not sure who it annoys more, him or me! We're assuming it's a stage (Isaac's 2). Praying it's a stage. But nonetheless, it's something we're forced to deal with now, till this assumed "stage" is over.

Bedtime seems to be the worst, which is so hard because my husband, like most dads, works during the day. The evening time is his one good shot each day at getting some quality time with Isaac. And boy, do I love it when my husband does bedtime!

BUT Isaac refuses for anyone but Mommy to read him stories lately. Daddy is not allowed. Auntie Rebecca is not allowed. Grandma is not allowed. Only Mommy. If you try to insist, he will throw the biggest crying fit you've ever seen. I kid you not.

Daddy reading with Isaac, back in the good ole days!

I'm flattered. Really. I mean, what a sincere compliment, right? Isn't he basically telling me, "Nobody reads a story like you read a story, Mom?" If he only had the vocabulary, that's exactly what he would say to us. It would be even more flattering if he weren't also likely to say (given the right vocab), "Nobody wipes my butt like you do, Mom." and "Nobody knows how to fix a cup of chocolate milk like you do, Mom."

So... I guess it's really more annoying than flattering. I want Daddy to have reading time with his Isaac. I think that's really important (and it's important that Mommy gets a few minutes of Mommy time once in a while). But how do you make that happen when you have a very resistant 2-year-old? Wait it out? Force it? Feels like we've tried everything else.

While you guys ponder that, I'm going to go get Isaac. I hear him waking up from his nap, and word around the Watson house is that nobody knows how pick him up out of his crib like me!

Friday, August 6, 2010

ESL Challenge

How to most effectively communicate with two children joining our family that don't speak English? That's the question that's been on my mind for a while. Now that our family has passed court in Ethiopia, we will be bringing our Amharic-speaking children home soon.

I've been talking with other adoptive families, doing research, and trying to brainstorm ideas for communication. I know it's likely our children will pick up English pretty quickly, but there will be at least a few months where we're not speaking the same language. And from my experiences with our now 2-yr-old, I know how frustrating it can be to be to try to express a need or a want and not be understood (this happens for both Isaac and Isaac's mommy and daddy!).

A few things we plan to try:

- Picture communication cards for when we're in Ethiopia, and for when we're home those first months. Someone (can't remember who) also suggested making a book with some basic communication pictures in it that I can keep in my purse for when we're out. The idea of the communication cards is that our children can simply point to the picture illustrating what they need or want, and we'll be able to understand.

- For when we're in Ethiopia (and when we're first home too, I guess), someone suggested a list of phrases like, "I'm hungry," or "I'm tired," written in Amharic with the English adjacent to it. We're hoping at least one of our children can read and would be able to point to the needed phrase, and we would have the translation right next to it. Luckily for us, we have a friend that speaks fluent Amharic and can help us with this.

- We have an Amharic phrase book that we can attempt to use as well, though I've heard that this is only somewhat helpful. From looking at the phrase book, it looks like Amharic is a bit tricky, and I think the accent is a lot of it, like most languages.

- Once home, I've considered labeling items around the house (couch, refrigerator, lamp, etc.) to help them learn to read English. Not sure how helpful this would or wouldn't be. Any opinions about this are welcome.

- We will obviously be reading a lot of books. Thanks to Ethiopia Reads, I can bring with picture books that have English and Amharic text in them. I also plan to bring some "first word" type books, as well as just some regular storybooks in English with us when we travel.

Ethiopia Reads - Donkey Mobile Libraries from ReFocus Media on Vimeo.

Adoption creates a tricky ESL situation, because it's a subtractive ESL situation, they're essentially losing their native language while learning a new one. Typically ESL situations are additive, meaning the native language is still spoken at home, and is used as kind of a scaffolding to learn the new language.

Please help me out in the comments section with any ESL tips you might have!