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Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

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reading

Read to me (A Giveaway!)

Sometime around 6 months of age we really started a consistent bedtime routine. Consumption of self fed foods necessitated a nightly bath (instead of every other night) and so the routine just fell into place from there: bath, a little bit of play/walk, milk, books and then bed.

I love to read (though I’ve been slacking more and more recently – does reading blogs count?) and hope Abby and Miles will too. I was a little too excited when I first saw Abby “reading”. I don’t always (read: rarely) have their full attention but I know they hear me.

There is just one problem.

We have a decent collection for a couple infants/early toddlers, but I get sick of them quickly.

About a month ago I was contacted by a representative from the app FarFaria asking if I’d be interested in writing a review in exchange for access to their app. My first thought was YAY NEW BOOKS! Then my second thought was YAY NEW BOOKS!

 

photo 1

 

Description

FarFaria is an app available on both apple and android devices. It contains over 700 books with 5 new titles added each week. It is geared for children between the ages of 2-9. Each book also contains a badge indicating reading level:

P: Pre-Readers, Age 0+
1: Beginning Readers, Pre-K – Kindergarten
2: Progressing Readers, Kindergarten – Grade 2
3: Early Fluent Readers, Grade 1 – Grade 3
4: Fluent Readers, Grade 2 – Grade 4
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In addition, the app offers stores in a variety of categories:
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Adventure Island
  • Bedtime Bluffs
  • Goodland
  • Looney Lagoon
  • Preschool Playground
  • Fairy Tale Falls
  • Mt. Make Believe
  • Classics Grove
  • Genius Jungle
  • Sing Along City (yes, its sing alongs!)

photo 2When you choose a book you are given the option to “auto play”, “read to me” or “read myself”. As the story reads (or sings), at any time you can touch the screen and a drop down menu gives you the option to pause, read again, add to favorites or exit story. Should you choose to add a story to your favorites, it is added to a list that you are able to read offline at at any time.

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Likes

  • LOTS and LOTS of books! I know I sound like an advertisement here, but with over 700 books it would be REALLY difficult to run out of stories to read.
  • Reading level labels – obviously this doesn’t apply to us yet as the twins are only 13 months old, however as a Speech Therapist I am considering using this app with some of my older kids to work on things such as reading comprehension and fluency. The level labels make it easy to find something appropriate for them.
  • Option to have the story read to your child, or to allow your child to read the story him/herself.
  • Favorites list that allows your child to read any book on that list even when you are not connected to wifi (read: car rides!).
  • Even though this app is geared towards ages 2-9, in my opinion can be used from 0-9. Its never too young to start reading to your kids.
  • App is easy to navigate and child friendly
  • All kinds of books in one place! This makes travel so much easier (and lighter)
  • Books can be viewed both in portrait (with a large picture and the words on the bottom) and landscape (words on the left, small picture on the right)
  • No ads! (I HATE ADS)

 

photo 5Dislikes

I feel the point of reviews to is to have both likes and dislikes and feel everything has at least some room for improvement. With that said, this list is probably on the picky side:

  • The fact that the app was geared towards ages 2-9 originally left me feeling disinterested because the twins are a year away from the beginning of the age range. Sure, they don’t understand how to navigate the site, but that doesn’t mean I can’t choose a story to read to them.
  • Cost – I’m cheap and usually try to download free apps. Full app functionality requires  a monthly subscription. (For what you get, though, the price seems fair)
  • Nowhere on the app describes the reading levels – I had to email the rep I spoke with to find out this information
  • The pauses between pages in the sing along category takes away from experience and fluidity when you think about singing along.

Now for the fun part! FarFaria has offered TWO 3 month subscriptions to their app. To enter, leave a comment and I will choose two random numbers. If you recently liked or click like on my new Facebook page, I will give you another entry (let me know in your comment that you did). You do not have to be a blogger to win. This giveaway ends on Wednesday at 11:59pm EST.

Try FarFaria for Free: Download FarFaria and read one story every day for free with no obligation to pay.

App Store download link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/free-childrens-books-farfaria/id491771721?mt=8

Google Play download link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.intuary.farfaria

 

Whatcha Reading?

One of my 2014 resolutions was to read more. Its honestly an odd resolution for me as I love to read, but somewhere in the mix of pregnancy and parenting its taken a back seat to other things, namely diaper changing, spit up clean up in aisle 4 and running. After this latest injury, though, I figured if I can’t exercise I could at least begin reading more again.

So far this year  I’ve read , Where We Belong by Emily Giffin and the Divergent series and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. In fact, I’ve read every book Jodi Picoult has ever written (with the exception of the one she wrote with her daughter). She even wrote a book called Sing You Home that touches on infertility. No, its no Shakespeare or The Great Gatsby (which I read in high school and did not like), and you probably won’t see me perusing the top 25 New York Times best sellers either.

Overall though I’d say my favorite type of books are Memoirs. There is something about knowing the author overcame the hardships or lived the hilarious stories that are written in these books that makes it easier to relate and find parallels in my own life (maybe once day I’ll get a chance to write one about the hilarity of twin parenting). I honestly wish we could have read more of this type of book in school, as I personally just could not get into what many think of as classics.

If you happen to be a teacher looking for good books to use in your classroom:

3 Great Memoirs for High School Teachers

Tired of assigning Huckleberry Finn year after year? These three memoirs will shake things up in your classroom while still providing age-appropriate learning and parent-friendly stories.

1: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This autobiographical tale chronicles the lives and struggles of the Walls family, a nomadic, unconventional group of poverty-stricken hippies who move across the U.S. with no great purpose. Jeannette Walls was only three when it began, and by the time she ran away from home and went off to college, she’d learned quite a lot about life, love and perseverance through every kind of obstacle. Use this book to highlight the importance of goals and dedication through adversity.

2: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Written and co-authored by Malala, the young teenager who defied the Taliban in pursuit of equal learning opportunities for girls, this memoir makes for a thrilling narrative and an even more important lesson. Buy it in bulk from a mass retailer like BookPal and pass it out to every young female student.

3: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

A favorite of classrooms and high school curriculum, Maya Angelou tells the story of her childhood with humor and grace, even as she’s describing the racism and prejudice that haunted life in the 1930s. If you’re looking for a personal, memorable account of growing up in the early South, this is it.

Bookpal has books for all ages, certainly not limited to high school.

What kinds of books do you enjoy? I am open to suggestions for the remainder of the year in order to meet my resolution 🙂

2012 Recap

Using the same format I used in 2011, a recap of 2012:
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

2012
  • Get pregnant! (darn it!) – WOO HOO!
  • PR 2 more race distances- even though I didn’t run the last 4 months of the year I still managed to pull this one off! – WOO HOO
  • Live more in the present – the jury is still out on this one
  • Take a vacation – took a mini vacation to St. Augustine – not sure if this counts.
  • Find a church- didn’t happen

2013

  • Run a half marathon distance (or race) before the end of the year (after taking 10 months off, not sure how long this goal will take to achieve!)
  • Live more in the present – I’m keeping this one with the babies coming – if I need this one I need it now more than ever as I am sure they will grow like weeds and one day I’ll wake up and wonder where the time went
  • Be the best mom I can be
  • Be flexible
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Jenny gave birth to Landon in the fall
  • Megan S. had Harper this summer
  • Jenna had Nolan in the fall
  • Tiffany is due in a few weeks (again not in 2012 but close enough)
  • Megan H. had Lucas early this year
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
  • Does Ohio count? Because its a really long drive.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
  • Job stability
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
  • January 14 – crossed the finish line of my second marathon. My favorite picture of this year was taken that day
    • me-kim-audri
    • February 20 – Bryan burns himself making fried chicken.  A trip to the VA ER is made.
    • March 11 – I learn that I have been running incorrectly – for the last 10 years. I spent the better part of the next few months trying to fix this
    • May 8 (ish) – Natalie graduates from college and we have a super fun weekend with contact paper in the process. We take pictures showing our immense maturity.faces
    • May 12( ish) – I decide to let go a little. We build a fence. We buy a new washer and dryer. We replace the downstairs floor.
    • Memorial Day – Rachel gets married. I get to be in the wedding. YAYme-and-rachel
    • July 12 – Our IUI cycle is canceled.I AM PISSED.
    • July 28 – I get my second tattoo
    • August 1 – I begin BC pills for the IVF
    • August 19- my 30th birthday. I attempted to make it big by skydiving, but it got canceled. Twice. I play a long weekend of softball tournament instead. We win. 🙂
    • September 18 – my first ever positive pregnancy test
    • October 4- we learn that both eggs stuck – we are having twins!
    • December 14 – we learn that Bubbles and Squishy are a girl and a boy!
    • December 25 – we publicly announce the boy and girl news
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  • Finishing the marathon. Even though I’ve done this once, training sucks so much out of you that I consider both a huge accomplishment
  • Finally letting go a little (see above)
  • WOO HOO we’re pregnant!
9. What was your biggest failure?
  • Spending over half the year worrying and stressing about getting pregnant. I’m not even sure how much time I wished and stressed away. (unfortunately this still holds true from the year before – though I think I did better overall this year)
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
  • Other than the standard infertility and allergies, not really.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
  • New floors!!
12. Where did most of your money go?
  • Mortgage and bills, IVF
13. What did you get really excited about?

  • Running races, pregnancy
14. What song will always remind you of 2012
  • songs remind me more of events than years. So I guess maybe Titanium.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • – happier or sadder? happier!
  • – thinner or fatter?  HA Fatter!
  • – richer or poorer? About the same
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
  • Vacations – mini or otherwise
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
  • Stress about money – everything turned out to be fine
18. How did you spend Christmas?
  •  Went to Ohio to visit my mom, dad, sister, grandfather and aunt. It may very well be his last Christmas this year. 😦
19. What was your favorite TV program?
  • Modern Family
  • Dexter
  • Sister Wives
  • Breaking Amish
20. What were your favorite books of the year?

  • 50 Shades of Grey ( I know, I know ). I was lame and did not read much this year.
21. What was your favorite music from this year?

  • The new Muse album
  • Maroon 5 – One More Night
  • Ace of Base – I resurrected this one
  • Bruno Mars – Locked out of Heaven
  • Titanium – David Guetta
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
  • The Hunger Games
  • Flight
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
  • The big 30! I was supposed to go skydiving with a friend, but it was canceled due to weather. We ended up having dinner where B and I got engaged with a few friend who could make it last minute, and spent a night downtown.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
  • You know…..nothing.
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

  • I so don’t care. I just buy what I think is cute. And on sale. Bonus if its both.
26. What kept you sane?

  • My husband
  • My friends
  • Reading
  • Running
  • Blogging
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
  • Expect the unexpected. Sometimes there just isn’t a good reason why things happen. In the end, though, I think it all turns out ok. At least it better.

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