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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Easiest Bedtime Story Ever

So last night I was trying to think of a way to help Jubilee (almost two years old now) chill out. See, bedtime has been a little rough this last week (ever since she started consistently climbing out of bed).

Last night I put Jubilee in bed and she immediately swung her leg up to climb out. I knew if I turned around to get a book, she'd be dangling from the rail in no time.

"Hey, did I ever tell you the story of Spot??!?" I don't remember if this was exactly how I started the story, but it was something like this. Including my best ever attention-all-preschoolers voice.  The voice worked so well, in fact, that Levi (age 4) popped his head in the room.

As I started telling the story of one of her favorite board books, I could see she was loving it. She knew this one. Levi came and settled himself down in the room to listen.

Shortest bedtime story ever. Easiest story ever! Do you know how many times I have read her favorite books to her? I've certainly lost count.

Retelling a favorite book was such a hit that I went on to tell several more. Levi counted and told me that I did six in all. (The number of stories he gets at night is important to him.) I honestly don't remember! I was just looking at the bookshelf and picking favorites that I knew would work. I had to reject favorite concept books (a counting book is a little less exciting without the items to count) but I still had a good handful. Here are the ones I remember retelling: Where's Spot by Eric Hill, Rocket Town by Bob Logan, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.


I didn't tell the stories word-for-word, though I probably could have. Instead of aiming for accuracy, I was telling them quick and silly to distract Jubilee from her intention of climbing out of bed. I'm pretty sure my very hungry caterpillar ate some bananas, which is totally apocryphal.

Related: 5 Board Books that are Great for Groups also 6 Books to Give at Baby Showers

My storytelling was successful, and the baby-love soon settled down for the night. (After I kicked her brother out of the room, and sung a lot of favorite songs, and breathed calm breaths in hopes that she would be hypnotized by them). Let's not talk about how bedtime went tonight. Maybe I shoulda tried the same trick.

So, what do you think? Will you try this with your kids? Have you tried it already? Or maybe you've tried some other storytelling tricks? Leave a comment below.

Jacob says that he thinks this bedtime story hack would not have worked so well with Benjamin (age 6). I agree. He would have been very indignant and insisted on a REAL bedtime story. But for the preschool crowd? I highly recommend it!

Related: Benjamin helped me review Rocket Town when he was only three years old.

Also related: My e-book to help parents jump-start a storytelling habit with kids, Story Club, is undergoing another round of edits right now. So exciting! Visit the Story Club main page here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Design Mom Book: review and giveaway [closed]

Photo by Jacob Stewart for Everead
Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

What a great book! I tagged its pages in three different categories throughout, as you can see. I'll tell you all about it! But let's begin at the beginning.

Reading this book was a lot of fun. I requested it from the publisher, Artisan, because I love reading Gabrielle Blair's blog: Design Mom. I would say if you like the blog, it is a safe bet you will like the book. The book isn't exactly like the blog. The book reminds me most of Design Mom posts like this one, about Christmas stockings.

I love her blog and I loved meeting Gabrielle.

But what if you don't already read Design Mom? Let me tell you more about the book.

It is very conversational in tone. It is a pleasure to read, and feels like a chat with a friend. The only problem with that is that it wasn't *actually* a conversation so I couldn't ask the author to tell me MORE! I mean, I could have read double as much. Wanting moremore stories, more detailswas my only complaint with the book. And that's not really a complaint, it's a compliment.


I loved the photos, all gorgeous and lovely, even when they didn't suit my personal design tastes. Some photos took up a whole two-page spread! A feast for the eyes. This reading nook looks so inviting . . .

This is the kind of lovely photography we are talking about.
Photo by Seth Smoot, styling by Kendra Smoot for Design Mom.
The book is all about designing your home to meet your family's needsassuming you have kids. That's cool because I have kids (currently ages six, four, and one). The Blair family has six children ranging in age from high school to preschool. (You may know them from my favorite online video series, Olive Us.) Because she has kids in a wide spread of ages, Gabrielle can share from experience needed contingencies for older kids, for younger kids, and for when older and younger kids need to work together in a space.

Each room detailed in the book is broken down into snippets of advicesometimes one page, sometimes a two-page spread. At times the advice is very concrete: "Let Your Coats Come Out of the Closet" is a snippet in the section of the book about the entryway. It makes a case for displaying your coats in your entryway, instead of keeping them in a closet. Other times, the advice Design Mom gives is quite abstract: "Aim for Function + Beauty" is a section dedicated to a formula for getting rid of clutter and surrounding yourself with items that will bring you joy and make your life easier.

Now, let me tell you about my sticky notes.

Thought about cropping this photo but then the dalmatian on the floor just matched so perfectly...

The purple notes mark pages I want to talk to my family about. Conversations to Have or Things To Do Immediately. They are things like "Choose Dinnerware that will Grow Up with Your Family"our dinnerware is definitely not coming with us when we move this summer, so I know replacing our dinnerware is an impending project. And I know I need to tell Jacob, so that he won't be surprised by that. Another example that I have tagged is a Do-It-Yourself project of making a "You are Special Today" plate. We had one of these when I was a kid, and it was the best! I definitely want to have one of these in my house, and don't want to shell out for a replica of the one I grew up with. I've looked into it, and . . . no. I'm not much of a DIYer but all the projects in this book are super simple and practical. I've already used tips from the "Foolproof Tricks for Styling Your Bookshelves" and "Simplify Your Bedding" sections. (EDITED TO ADD: I have now completed two projects from the book, which you can see here and here!)

The pink notes mark pages that I found myself thinking about when I wasn't reading the bookgreat ideas that I thought I could put into practice once we move to Connecticut, or just concepts I found myself mulling over while eating my morning bowl of cereal. For example, "Storing Artwork and Homework" is often on my mind at breakfast, because I sit and stare at the pile of stuff on top of our craft dresser as I munch. Gabrielle's advice from the section on task lighting came to mind when I was squinting over a project. And the Fabric-covered Bulletin Boards look so easy that I want to make several for our new place, once we get there. But I'm absolutely not hanging anything new on my walls nine weeks before we move.

The little mantra that this book gave me and which has been playing in my head ever since is, "Do what works now." It is reminding me to not tackle projects like the bulletin boards yet. It tells me not to give away the couch until we're a little closer to our moving date. And it is inspiring me to go whole hog for rearranging the furniture to shift where the library books belong, so that they belong right next to the couch where they always end up anyway.

The yellow notes represent times that I gave myself a pat on the back for already being awesome. By that I mean that these were the parts of the book where Gabrielle suggests doing something that I'm already doing. "Rotate the Toys" and "Don't Hide the Hamper" were sections I could have written myself, having learned those lessons from experience. "Play the House Librarian" is also marked in yellow because, well, that's pretty much my favorite thing to do. (You can find my posts about building a high quality home library for kids here.)


I'd say if the idea of Design Mom: How To Live With Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide intrigues you or appeals to you, go for it! It's $21 on Amazon right now. It's the same price at Barnes and Noble. (Yes, those are affiliate links. If you purchase after clicking them, I will earn a small commission from the bookseller.)

Good grief, I like it enough that I'm going to give a copy away!
(Not my copy. My beautiful annotated copy. It's miiiiiine. And signed.)

Read about when I met Design Mom

[This giveaway is now CLOSED, but you can still sign up here for future giveaways] If you would like to enter the giveaway, I'll need your email address before April 22, 2015 . It's infinitely easier to contact a winner when I've already got an email in hand. And the most private and convenient way for me to get that is for you to subscribe to my email list, below. I promise I won't bug ya. You can read more about my email list here. You can read the full giveaway policy here. Those who already subscribe are also eligible to win.



You should get a  confirmation email from me via MailChimp. Confirm your subscription and you know you are entered.

Now tell me your thoughts! What questions do you have? Leave a comment, below.

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To be clear: I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher with the understanding that I would review it here. I am not being provided with a copy to give away.** I'm just going to buy a copy for someone who wants it. I'll probably use my own affiliate link. Ha!

**update: Artisan has graciously sent a copy for our winner. Congrats to Jenni Livingston! And many thanks to Artisan.
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