Apps to Help Talk to Your Kids About Books

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As a certified reading teacher, literacy has always been a big part of our family life. I read to both of the boys from the time they were infants. It was a big day when NHL and JSL each got their own library card. There may have been tears in my eyes when each boy became an independent reader. I knew this would mean that our time reading together would be different moving forward.

Apps to Help Talk to Your Kids About Books

TechyDad and I are lucky that both of the boys still enjoy read aloud time. NHL and TechyDad have spent years reading Harry Potter together. JSL and I worked our way through The Magic Tree House books and last summer we began our own nightly reading of the infamous Hogwarts family. I cherish the moments when we read together. Right now, JSL and I have a great new audio book based on Star Wars that we are listening to each morning on the way to school.

Something that has been hard for me is watching the kids plow through books on their own. JSL is a voracious reader and goes everyplace with a book in his hands. I truly wish I could read  all of the books so we could talk about them. The reality is that I can’t do this. There is not enough time in the day for me to read each and every book both of the boys read while also doing my own reading.

So what have I done? I pick and choose what I read to have a surprise chat with the kids. The kids adore it and it’s fun to be able to discuss what their thoughts are on certain topics. My smartphone and several apps have been lifesavers to keep me a bit more on top of things and organized. .

I have used Goodreads for years now. What I realized recently is that it’s a great way for me to index what the kids have been reading at home and at school. Goodreads allows me to put specific book titles into a tag of it’s own. Later on, I can go to that tagged list and select the book I would like to read. The app makes it easy to do. From the My Books tab, scroll to the Add a new Shelf button. This is where I made one for NHL and one for JSL.

Using Goodreads for reading lists

When you have a new book title to add, simply type it into the search bar. Click on the title select the To Read option and mark anything else below that pertains to the title. For The One and Only Ivan, I selected that it was a book JSL has read so I am able to find it later on.

Adding a book to Goodreads list

In addition to this, my handy dandy library app is great to request hard copies of books that I am not able to find online. In addition to this, I am able to take eBooks and audio books out via online library. I am able to read them on my Kindle app, or listen while on the go using my other favorite OverDrive Media app.

Do you keep up on the books that your children are reading? I would love to hear more about how you are able to balance this with older children. As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. What are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Selecting a Word for 2016

Hello from 2016. The kids are back in school and I am sitting here in disbelief that another year has come and gone. While I blogged less in the last year, I accomplished many things with my family, advocacy, and living life. As the boys have gotten older, I am more conflicted with what I should and should not share. I have a list of posts that are waiting to be written based on our traveling and programs that we went to during the last chunk of months. In addition to this, I have a notebook with drafts of posts written. Yes, I went old school. While waiting outside for the kids each afternoon, I grabbed a pencil and paper. There’s something calming about witnessing words race onto a sheet of paper.

Many people are selecting a word for 2016. Over winter break I kept thinking about this. There is so much happening this year. NHL will be a Bar Mitzvah. My first born will therefore officially be a teen. Talk about a major kick in the gut. In addition to this, a rather big birthday is at the end of the year for me. Lots to do and eventually plan for all of that.

In addition to this, the fight continues in the world of educational advocacy. The level of disgust within NYS from parents and teachers is high. I continue to get more and more angry for my children and at the attack on my profession. None of us are giving up and we all know that simply changing the name of a policy is not fixing the problems created by the reform movement. GRRRRRR!

So, what word should I select for 2016?

Focus in 2016

I believe focus will be my word. I need to keep my mind on one thing at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed and forget the goal at the end.

Yes, in 2016, I will focus on:

  • ME! It’s time to be selfish and work on making me happy and healthy. I will make time for this because, if I don’t, it will not only hurt me, but also my family.
  • making a Bar Mitzvah that will make NHL happy. He’s working so hard I want him to smile and not worry about a thing.
  • going with the flow. I can’t control everything and I have to remember that. I’ve done better with that in some avenues like the kids and school, but need to work on other aspects.
  • traveling to more locations for day trips  or long weekends with the kids and TechyDad. We only have so many more years to make as many memories as possible. There are many museums and places within driving distance that we should explore.
  • an editorial calendar. Freelance work and life pushed some of my own writing to the side last year. I enjoy coming here to write and document things. It’s therapeutic and helps, so I must make it something I do at least a few times each week.
  • getting to TypeACon in October. It’s my favorite conference in a magical place. It’s also very close to my birthday, so it will be part of my present.
  • purging things we don’t need. It’s funny how belongings grow and multiply. It’s time to get the entire family involved and let others have things we no longer need, but they may enjoy.
  • moving outside of my comfort zone in crochet. I want to try reading more patterns and this includes the Star Wars set that I received for Chanukah.
  • reading more throughout the year. I often cluster read. While I enjoy books, I debate if I should read, watch a show, or work on a project. Audio books will on my phone when I drive and I have my Kindle app so there’s never an excuse to read for at least thirty minutes a day.

Star Wars Crochet

There are more items that I want to focus on, but this is a good start. Once again, I am going to take things one day at a time and just keep swimming. What are the items you plan to focus on in 2016?

It's Me

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Looking for Love Online

This is a no kvetching zone. So let’s get all of our oy veying out of our systems. Dating is not easy – that is a fact that I remember from long ago. This is especially true with the fast paced world that we live in. As someone that found her nice Jewish guy online over sixteen years ago, I want the same for my family and friends. From here on out, we have a mission. We shall call it Operation Heading to the Chuppah! I am working with JDate to help them to get the word out about the new JDate experience, but first I have a little story to share with you.

Operation Heading to the Chuppah

In May, my brother and sister-in-law will be celebrating their tenth anniversary. They now have two young children who add beautiful memories to their family.

How did Uncle I and Aunt M meet?

For some time, we never heard the whole story. Back during that time, people often avoided the topic of online dating websites. They were around and one in particular helped this part of my mispucha to meet. Why yes, Uncle I and Aunt M went to JDate to search for someone within the Jewish community that they were living in. They are not the only family members that have used JDate and gotten married. Several of my cousins have also successfully found their husband or wife using this popular online website. My family members are just some of the success stories thanks to JDate. JDate is responsible for more Jewish marriages than every other online dating networks combined. That’s a whole lot of simchas over the years!

TechyDad and TheAngelForever under the Chuppah

Are you or a loved one looking for someone special, but shy about taking the first step? Let me introduce you to the new JDate with a new look and easier navigation. There is a new “daily matches” featuring a simple curated view of their best matches. Tablet experience is improved and the JDate mobile apps are available for iOS and Android.

What I like about JDate is that you can narrow searches based on your personal preference. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Chabad singles will be able to set up their account to match up to the right synagogues, neighborhoods, or travel and events on JDate within their area. Thanks to JDate, there is a network of Jewish non-profit organizations working together to help people like your single brother, cousin, or nephew to find love. Of course, nothing says Happy 2016 like giving the gift of JDate to that special single someone in your life.

JDate worked with Saturday Night Live’s Jon Rudnitsky to create a hilarious video about a dating app called “Eh” to celebrate the new look.

So, who do you know that could use a gentle nudge and help setting up a JDate profile? Talk to them about the great new features and if you have JDate success stories, I would love to hear about them below. With a little Jewish guilt tossed in, may you be heading to the chuppah one day soon!

Oh and don’t forget to join us for a chat at 9 ET on Monday, December 21 to celebrate the new JDate website. Be sure to head over to Married My Sugar Daddy to RSVP for a chance to win an HTC One M9 Smartphone. Tweet you all there!

It's Me

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post where I am being compensated for sharing information about the new JDate website. Of course, all stories of successful JDate marriages in my family are true and I hope many more will follow.

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Photofy to the Rescue

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

My smartphone is pretty much the only camera that I use these days. Thanks to this, I need flexible apps that allow me to edit images. It’s also great when I can create something unique on the fly without my laptop. I have finally found something that can do all of this thanks to Photofy.

Photofy app to the rescue

This single app allows me to edit images with filters, light effects, photo mirrors, and fit them for specific social sharing size. In addition to this, I am able to add text with 90 plus fonts, make a collage, use 40,000 plus overlay options, create a Meme, and more! The latest release also has templates and geofilters available.

Photofy options

When you launch Photofy, you may select an image of your own or something else from the more photo options that pops up at the bottom. This will allow you to use stock photos and images from your social media accounts. Many, but not all of the options are free. What I adore is I don’t have to scroll through looking for something that fits. I am able to search the stock photos using a key word or theme.

Watermark on Photofy

The free version of Photofy means that your image will include an app watermark. You may select from ten options. To remove the Photofy watermark from all future creations, the cost is $1.99. I have to admit that I just may do this soon because I find myself using the app a lot and it would be well worth it.

Creating images with Photofy

While many people may be drawn to using the Meme maker, I am in love with all of the overlays. These are great to use on my own photos and the stock images that are available to  use. Once you select an image, simply click on the text and overlays open. From here, go to stickers and the elements pop up. As you can see above, I used Hanukkah as a search term. I was honestly shocked at the variety available and used them often during the last week for The Festival of Lights. When you select one of the stickers, you are able to move it around, size it, change the opacity, and sometimes switch the color.

Templates on Photofy

One of the newest features on Photofy are the templates. This is a quick and easy way to share images with already made sayings. Once again, you may search by theme or your own key words if you select to view all templates. I was quite impressed with the selection and options. This is a great way to dress up a photo for Instagram, Facebook, or to simply email to family and friends.

Photofy creations

As you can see, I have used Photofy for many different projects. It’s fun, fast, and allows me to be creative. How would you use this app to help you in your life?

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday Tales: Coloring Books by Millie Marotta

It’s no secret that I love to color. While many are starting to realize the calming effect of adult coloring, I have known this for years. What I love these days is that there are so many book options to pick from. In addition to this, I have grown to appreciate some amazing artists that make these books for us. Thanks to Sterling Books, I was able to check out and review the latest coloring books by Millie Marotta.

Adult Coloring Books by Millie Marotta

Animal Kindom: Color Me, Draw Me – Drawn by Millie Marotta – Published by Lark an imprint of Sterling Publishing –  ISBN 9781454709107 –  $14.95 – Paperback 96 pages

Tropical World: A Coloring Book Adventure – Drawn by Millie Marotta – Published by Lark an imprint of Sterling Publishing – ISBN 9781454709138 – $14.95 – Paperback 96 pages

Inside Mille Marotta books

Both of these books burst onto the scene in September 2015. I had looked at books by Ms. Marotta, but never owned one prior to this. The books are stunning on their own. I could sit looking at her beautiful art because it is calming without pulling out the coloring items. Animal Kingdom is waiting to be colored and is filled with illustrations of whales, owls, flora, and other creatures. In addition to this, there are spaces left by Ms. Marotta with cues around them to inspire your own creativity. Tropical World is filled with images of flowers, birds, butterflies, and reptiles. When I started to use this book, I tried colored pencils since that is what Ms. Morotta suggests for blending and more depth. Prior to this, I used mostly Sharpie markers in my adult coloring books. I knew this was not an option for these drawings since the book has images printed on both sides of the paper. I had to try something that would not bleed through.

Colored Pencils with Millie Marotta Books

I need to get used to colored pencils again. I also tried some gel pens. I really enjoy these because they add sparkle and it’s even more therapeutic to see the strokes of the ink as you color in the spaces. The gels pens worked beautifully on the paper in these books. They did not go through the pages and do extremely well in the small intricate spaces.

Gel Pens with Millie Marotta Books

Another item that I love, is that Millie Marotta has made a video of drawing an image from this book. It truly is fascinating to watch how she creates one of these stunning pieces of art. The process involved to make these books must be a labor or love.

If you are looking for beautiful books to gift to someone this holiday season, I would definitely recommend Animal Kingdom and/or Tropical World. Add in something to color with and it’s the perfect treat that someone may not purchase on their own.

If you could have Millie Marotta create a dream coloring book, what would it be? As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. What are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?

It's Me

Disclosure: As noted above, I received both of these books from Sterling Publishing to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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