Friday, March 26, 2010

Ellie's First Date . . .

. . . with her Daddy.

David and Eleanor heading to the Daddy/Daughter Dance at school.

She wore a corsage.
He wore a boutonniere.
It was pretty darn cute.

Raving about Readeo: A Review and Giveaway

Last weekend, my kids read books face-to-face with their eighteen month-old cousin who lives in Boston. And it all took place on the computer using Readeo.

I know, this sounds a bit confusing at first. I felt that same way when I met with Chicago dad Coby Neuenschwander a few months ago and he told me about his new website.

Now that I've had a chance to use the site, I think that the best way to describe it is Skype meets Kindle for kids -- users can read books online while viewing each other face-to-face. Great idea, don't you think?

Here is how Readeo works. You create a profile for your family and invite friends and relatives to join you as Guests on the site as well. Then you can peruse the "shelves" and choose books to read alone or using "BookChat."

The "BookChat" feature of Readeo is the truly amazing part. The book appears on the screen with beautiful and clear graphics. Then there is a video window that shows your face and another window showing the face of whoever you are reading with (say Grandma or Dad when he is on a business trip).

This format allows the users to connect and share a true reading experience. My kids were mesmerized by the vivid graphics in the actual books and it was fun to be able to see my niece's reaction as she was seeing and hearing the very same thing.

It took me a few minutes to navigate around and figure out how to invite others to join and then connect up on the site. Once I got that part set up, the rest of the experience was a breeze. My nearly six year-old daughter was able to choose books and get started all on her own.

Currently, Readeo offers a nice selection of books (some titles we were familiar with and others were new to us). At this point, the book selection is not huge but Coby assures me that plenty more books are being added -- including 20 new titles being introduced in the coming weeks.

I think that Readeo is something that all families could use, whether they have out-of-town relatives or not. Obviously, this is a unique opportunity for kids to connect with far-away family members that the telephone simply can't provide. Kids can also use the site to choose any one of the books in the library and read independently. The person on the other side of the screen doesn't have to live miles away -- my kids would be totally tickled to share bedtime reading with their cousins who live just a few blocks away.

If you want to try Readeo out and see for yourself, you can do so for free. Here's how: both parties should sign up as Guests and try a BookChat together using the Book of the Month.

Readeo is a new sponsor here at A Hen and Two (now Three) Chicks (you can check out their ad on the right-hand sidebar). I am excited to announce that Readeo is giving a one-year membership to Readeo to one of my readers (Member accounts are $49.95 through the end of March - regularly $99.95 annually or $9.95 monthly).

To enter, leave a comment on this post. If you follow Readeo on Twitter, that will earn you another entry. Become a fan of Readeo on Facebook and you'll get one more entry. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. All entries must be received by midnight CST on Monday, April 5, 2010. I will choose a winner using and notify that lucky individual on Tuesday, April 6th. If I don't hear back from the winner within 48 hours of my email, I will choose another winner.

So go enter! Good luck! [Amended to add: If you don't have contact info in your Blogger profile, please leave your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Going Places

The Spring issue of Going Places Magazine is available now. This publication is a must-have for parents looking to fill the calendar with inexpensive family activities. I use mine weekly.

I wrote two stories in this issue: one about some local green resources that your family might not be aware of (like One Seed Chicago and the Kilbourne Organic Greenhouse) and another about a simple scavenger hunt you can plan to get your kids to notice the welcome changes that spring is bringing to Chicago.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Sports Authority

Brendan has started calling our backyard
"The Sports Authority."

I am not sure why.

When we get home after school, he announces, "It's time for the sports authority, Ellie."

And that means that we are going to play baseball, soccer, football, basketball and maybe even kickball before dinner.

Every day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Every Day is a Good Day

One of my favorite parts of each day is dropping Ellie off at school in the morning.

We pull into the kiss n' fly line and she can't be bothered to wait for a teacher to come to the car door. After unbuckling herself, she LEAPS out of the car and SKIPS and HOPS and RUNS towards the school.

"Goodbye Mom! Goodbye Brendan! Goodbye Colin! Have a great day. See you after school," she EXCLAIMS without looking back.

As she BOPS along in her pink coat, pink hat and pink backpack, she SMILES and WAVES effusively at her teachers and classmates.

She RUNS through the doors, only occasionally looking back at us for one last wave before she LEAPS up the stairs and into her classroom (her goal is to be the first person into the classroom so that she can help her teacher pass out the morning work so she is always in a hurry).

Meanwhile, I lurk and linger in the kiss n' fly line (to the frustration of those parents behind me). I don't want to miss the magical sight of this little force of nature as she starts her day. So I watch until I can't see her any more.

And then I wish for just an ounce of her overflowing joy so that I too could remember to BOUNCE and SKIP and SMILE my way through the day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Boy

I saw this child standing in my living room today.

He is so much more boy than baby now.

Still the most handsome guy in town though.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guest Blogging at Sprout for Parents

I am excited to be blogging over at Sprout for Parents this month.

Their theme for March is "Angry Lions and Snuggly Lambs." Keeping with that theme, I shared some of my tips for diffusing even the most ridiculous temper tantrums. Have a look at my article here -- and take a minute to check out this fun and informative site.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On Kids, Commercials and "Diego" Carrot Sticks

I was interviewed for a story on the Medill News Service about the link between childhood obesity and advertising.

You can read me ranting about fruit snacks and all of the other garbage that companies try to sell your kid here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just Make your own Shamrock Shakes

I recently read a post on ChicagoNow about the collective outrage over the new Shamrock Shake from McDonalds. Apparently, this conconction lacks flavor, has a weird consistency -- and also comes with whipped cream and an unwanted cherry.

New recipe or old, I am not particularly interested in McDonald's Shamrock Shake when I could make my own at home -- without all of the mystery ingredients that come with the fast food version.

Folks, we are just talking about ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, a few drops of green food coloring and a blender. You can do this at home. Your children will be delighted. Here is my take on a green peppermint shake in my March column for Chicago Parent.