Raising Bilingual Kids – Read Conmigo

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Read Conmigo and Latina Bloggers Connect.

I was raised in an English speaking home. And yet, somehow I am bilingual.

I don’t know what the magic formula was for me, nor do I know it for my kids. Or I’d be doing a better job of it.

Isa and Gabi know a few words. And they try to pick up more as we try to teach them.

Ema and Sara know more than they do. For some reason, Ema and Sara soak up languages. They think speaking in Spanish is fun!

Here’s how we keep it going –

Abuela and Tata

Abuela and Tata

1. Visits from their Abuela and Tata. When my in-laws visit, or we visit them, it’s all Spanish all the time. And they think it’s cool to show off what they know from the second they walk in the door.

2. We talk to them in Spanish as much as we can but since we predominantly speak English, we aren’t always successful. But luckily in this case, they are little parrots and repeat everything.

3. The twins  spend time on the iPad and watching TV and the great thing is, their favorite shows and apps are done in Spanish too! Ema loves to watch Elmo’s World and Henry Huggle Monster in Spanish on Netflix. And they practice what they learn. They’ve even learned a little French this way too.

4. Travel to Mexico if we can. Be where the language is spoken. I took Isa and Gabi when they were little and it was amazing how quickly they picked up new words.

5. Finally, we try to read to them in Spanish. Our collection of books could use a little supplementing. They are hard on their books. This is where the library helps out a lot. But in reality, there really needs to be more bilingual books for kids their age. Thankfully, I learned about the Read Conmigo bilingual literacy program that provides FREE BILINGUAL CHILDREN’S BOOKS in English & Spanish as well as online resources for children in Preschool to 5th grade.

As a registered member, you can:
• Download the Read Conmigo book collection to any tablet or smartphone!
• Receive a new book every 4 months for FREE!
• Access to the App* “Learn with Me” that reads our alphabet book to your child,
in both languages! (on Google Play and iTunes)

twin sisters
Read Conmigo, sponsored by Infinity Auto Insurance, is a parent-focused bilingual literacy campaign that encourages Hispanic parents to read to their children at home through the distribution of free English-Spanish children’s books.

Are you an aspiring author? I am! Here’s a way to get your words out for children’s literature and win!

Read Conmigo, is kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month by introducing the “Preserving our Culture through Bilingual Literacy” contest for budding Latino children’s book authors based in the Southern California area.

The contest will run through October 31, 2014. So get writing!

Participants in the “Preserving our Culture through Bilingual Literacy” contest will compete for an opportunity to have their children’s story published. The story must feature one of several Read Conmigo characters and the winning author(s) will receive $1000 in prize money. Winner(s) will be notified by November 14th.

One of 6 Characters to Choose From

One of 6 Characters to Choose From

All manuscripts must be submitted by October 31, 2014 and meet the following criteria:
•Author Profile – Must be from Southern California 18 years old or over, of Latino origin; no prior published work or writing experience necessary
•Target Reader – All submissions should be suitable for reading levels Pre-K through 5th Grade
•Language – Story must be submitted in both English and Spanish
•Characters- Story must include one or more of the Read Conmigo characters
•Word count: Minimum is 400 words; maximum length is 1500 words
To submit a manuscript and for complete rules and contest details visit www.ReadConmigo.org.

I plan on entering. Wouldn’t be awesome to win!


Reading Logs Kill Love for Reading

When I was a kid, my nose was always in a book. I lived for the Scholastic Book order thing, so I could order more and more and more! Plus the cute puppy poster that came when you ordered three books.

books with girl reading

I remember my parents and even my grandparents forcing me to put my book du jour down so I could be present with my family at dinner, or at vacation, or during family events.

“Look up,” my mom would say, when we were in the car because she was worried I would get car sick from looking down the whole time. I learned at an early age just the amount of the check looks at the horizon I needed to keep my head and tummy clear and my interest wrapped in the book.

My love for reading continued for the rest of my life. There’s never a time when I’m reading nothing. Nowadays it’s usually on my phone or ipad. But I love books.

When my oldest, Isa, was in elementary school, she hardly ever did that. Now that she’s in 7th grade, and no longer a slave to the prescribed mandatory reading logs, she reads on her own just because she enjoys it. Her favorite day was getting a new library card over the summer. She devoured books as fast as she could check them out.

Gabi is now in third grade. And she has reached the same stage as Isa did. Where reading is a form of torture. And recording the book title and page numbers she reads each night for 20 minutes. That’s it. No more than that. She can’t wait to get through it and be done.

I firmly believe that the reading logs are evil. Not only does her log need to be completed and turned in on Fridays, but I have to sign it!

Now, that’s just ridiculous. They have something called AR which I’m not even sure what it stands for, but when they complete books, the students take a comprehension test and get points for completing them. When I was a kid it was called SRA.

So, I ask you, if they have to read books to take the test, why do they also have to do a reading log and why do I have to sign it? If a student isn’t doing the reading, it would be evident in their AR tests. If they are doing it, it would also be shown by the test. And in Gabi’s case, I’d be willing to bet that she would do better on her AR if she was left to her own pace of reading and deciding how long to read each night.

I know I’m not alone here.

The worst part is, last week, we forgot about the log and she didn’t have me sign it. So, she got detention for not turning it in with my signature. And had to stay in at recess. Guess what she did during detention… READ! So, not only is she mandated to read each evening but reading is also part of the penalty for not having it done? Way to reinforce the negativity she associates with reading.

So then, she lies. We ask her, did you finish your homework? Yes. Did you read? Yes. What book did you read? Um. …

She just wants to get through her reading so she can do other things. She doesn’t care to read and will go to the trouble to avoid it. That makes me sad.

It’s just backward thinking. It’s time schools did away with the parent signed logs.

Just let the kids get excited about reading again.

I need to start reading to her again. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Harry Potter. Harriet the Spy.

We’ll get through it. Like we did with Isa. And probably will with the twins. But I’m intending to counteract the log with the love. Reading should be a joy.


Saving Money – Easy for you to say

If you’ve been around here  a long time, you will know that I’m not the best with the budgeting. But I really need to improve that more than ever.
Backstory: the ex and I agreed to child support back when we first drew up the papers. And he hasn’t kept up his end of the bargain. And lately, not even half of his end. It’s a long, stupid story, and probably won’t get better soon.
Saving Money

pennies at a time

We’d like to save up for some more important things than getting rid of all of our money every month. So, here are some things we are doing:
1. No more drive thru. Fast food is available aplenty around here. And it’s super easy to grab breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack etc. Not only is this an easy money grabber, it isn’t the healthiest.
2. Take my lunch to work. Like #1, I spend too much money by grabbing lunch every single day when if I just took the time and effort to throw leftovers in a container and a piece of fruit, not only would the money be saved but most likely calories.
3. If we spend money going out for food, it’s going to be worth it. For special occasion or at least for a place that has enjoyable and tasty food.
4. Make grocery lists. And eat before shopping. By doing this I am less likely to throw random items into the cart because either I’m hungry or I don’t know what we really need. Thanks to Emmie, I’m trying groceryIQ to help this along. Also, Fresh & Easy app because good prices, good food.
5. Make lists for Target too. Because when I go there for specific items, a $30 trip can easily turn into a $130 trip. Too easily.
6. Put $ in a saving account every paycheck. So that we can plan vacations and stuff like that. And if I get it done through payroll, I won’t miss it.
7. Only get cash from my bank atms. Because those fees add up.
8. Give myself a starbucks allowance. And not reload the card until the next month. Once I’m out, too bad Lex.
9. Cook extra on the weekends so leftovers last for a few lunches or maybe a dinner.
10. Apply for that promotion. Did that already, we’ll see what happens.
Hopefully, for the first time, we will have a cushion within a few months.
What about you? What are your saving tips?

photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via photopin cc

Disclaimer: Nothing to report. Links are here just for reference. This post brought to you by yours truly. 

Fresh and Easy for Breakfast on the Go #Giveaway

This is a sponsored post for Fresh & Easy.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

You may remember that I was at Blogher this year with a partnership with Fresh & Easy. I gave out gift cards and told other bloggers all about my favorite things from the store. And I have cards left and I’m sharing them with you! But first, let me tell you how Fresh & Easy has just made my morning life easier.

Fresh to Go right in the store

This is right in the store, so you can run in, grab your favorite, heat it up and go!

Fresh & Easy continues its transformation into a breakfast destination with the launch of several new delicious, fresh products with a twist on traditional breakfast staples designed to make breakfast easy without compromising on taste for customers on the go. I’ve tried a few of them and they are not only easy but delicious too! “Gone are the days of diet-busting drive-thru breakfast, eating on the go with Fresh & Easy is just as fast and isn’t full of artificial nasties,” said Sharon Price, Fresh & Easy’s grab & go guru. “We set out to develop more breakfast options that are delicious but not overloaded with calories, perfect for the customer looking for healthier options on the go.” The new hand-held meals make fresh breakfast on the go convenient and satisfying and join a variety of innovative selections such as grab & go omelettinis, breakfast sandwiches and meal bowls. Fresh & Easy’s breakfast selections are priced affordably from $1.99 to $3.99 and like all of Fresh & Easy’s fresh products, they are made fresh and delivered every day. The new breakfast items include: • fresh&easy Breakfast Parfait Wrap – Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and granola rolled in a sweet cinnamon wrap…no spoons needed • fresh&easy Open-Faced Salmon Bagel – Super convenient sandwich topped with oakwood smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and dill


Breakfast wraps and sandwiches, ready to go!

• fresh&easy Protein Breakfast Sandwich – Sliced turkey, egg whites and fresh spinach on a whole-wheat bagel thin, an egg-celent source of protein with less than 200 calories • fresh&easy Vegetarian Soyrizo (Chorizo) & Egg Wrap – Scrambled eggs and veggie soyrizo in a whole-wheat wrap


Omelette and Scramble Bowls

• fresh&easy Apple Cinnamon and Almond & Fig Baked Oatmeals – Two varieities of tasty whole grain baked oatmeals with sweet and fresh fruit toppings Fresh & Easy has been making its name for itself with breakfast with more than just grab & go items, earlier this year the chain introduced first of its kind Wild Oats Marketplace™ cage free eggs delivered to stores within 72 hours of being laid – so fresh they even have a “laid on” date stamped right on the shell. The Wild Oats Large Cage Free Eggs sell for $3.99/dozen.


Wild Oats yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit!

Since transferring to new ownership in November, Fresh & Easy has reinvigorated the brand and its stores with the aim of being the anytime, anyway, anywhere solution for getting healthy, convenient and affordable food including extended hours of operation – making many stores open 24 hours – bringing convenience and value to more and more shoppers.

About Fresh & Easy Fresh & Easy operates 167 stores in Arizona, California and Nevada. All of Fresh & Easy’s products, including the freshly prepared meals, are made with the highest quality ingredients and contain no artificial colors, flavors, high-fructose corn syrup or added trans fats. For more information about Fresh & Easy, visit www.freshandeasy.com and follow the company on its journey on Twitter www.twitter.com/freshandeasy and Facebook www.facebook.com/freshandeasy.     “This giveaway promotion is solely sponsored by La Primera Blog and has not been sponsored, endorsed or approved by Fresh & Easy.”

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