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Yeye Reviews: Anybook Reader

November 30, 2010

Reading has always been my favorite pastime. Though recent technological advancements threaten the popularity of the paper book, the AnyBook Reader by Franklin Electronic Publishers is a great way to encourage a love of reading and books in children, especially if you’re on-the-go or separated from each other. With my 6 year old niece (AD) over 600 miles away, I’d been trying to figure out how to consistently impact her literacy development and love of reading. I tested it out by recording one of my favorite childhood stories, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.

With the AnyBook Reader, AD can hear my animated reading voice complete with distinct characters whenever she has time.

The AnyBook Reader runs on 2 AAA batteries and comes with a generous pack of stickers that basically signal the Reader to playback sounds. There are pre-programmed stickers (that cannot be changed) for sounds like thunder, barking dogs, mooing cows, and laughing babies. Then, there are two other types of programmable stickers awaiting your creative flair. I used the plain white ones for the overall story reading, with one sticker for each page. I’m an enthusiastic…and perfectionist kind of reader, so when I felt like I couldn’t make it through an entire page before needing a splash of water, I used more than one sticker per page.

To record, you simply put the Reader in recording mode, tap the sticker you want to program with it, hold the appropriate button while speaking (or in my case, performing), release it when done.

Whenever the Reader touches the sticker, the programmed recording will play.

The last type of programmable stickers are feature cartoonish people faces. I look forward to seeing these sheets represent a variety of complexions; I could see myself using them to ask comprehension questions or offer supplementary information or sounds to complement places in a story.

This is one of the few reading tools that could actually enhance your relationship with your little one while promoting good reading.

Needless to say, I think the AnyBook Reader is fantastic and totally worth the effort. It allows your young reader to experience stories with a familiar voice and interact with physical books, while still incorporating tech savviness. I can’t wait to include it in my niece’s Kwanzaa zawadi (gift) package this year!

Note: I received no compensation for this post other than the AnyBook Reader to review. I love this blog and conversing with you too much to recommend something I didn’t actually believe in.

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Let’s Talk: Truth

November 28, 2010

The truth of this makes me laugh sometimes…other times it sobers me up.  That’s a lot of power and responsibility.

Yeye Reviews: Shutterfly Holiday Cards

November 28, 2010

I’ve come to love creating and sending professional looking celebration and holiday cards. When our son was born, I did our own unique birth announcements. I make high quality photo cards for birthdays, and plan to do actual cards for Kwanzaa/New Years this year instead of the online ones I’ve done in the past. Now, I’m into homemade crafts, probably more than the average woman, but don’t disparage my card making. There’s so much creativity you can bring to card making that the crafty woman in you will be satisfied (maybe overwhelmed) by the choices before long. Besides…doing photo cards allows you to make multiple cards at once for all the friends and relatives far and wide, which is particularly useful when you probably have only one arm free to work and limited time.

This year, I’m using Shutterfly to share photos, updates, and a positive message for the new year, and here’s why:

1) You can easily upload your photos from all over the place: your computer, Facebook, iPhoto, Picasa, etc.
2) There’s probably a card template to match your intention, whether quirky, religious, or elegant.
3) Though there are no Kwanzaa themed cards, I’ll probably use a template with our family colors (don’t disparage my family colors, either) with a Kwanzaa message and an edited photo with Kwanzaa imagery.

For my bloggy friends interested in creating holiday cards during this season, too, here’s how you can get 50 for FREE with Shutterfly! Feel free to spread the word.

Note: I received no compensation for this post other than an offer for the 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. I love this blog and conversing with you too much to recommend something I don’t actually believe in.

Swallowing a Bitter Pill

November 11, 2010

I don’t ask anyone for help. It’s not anything I’m particularly proud of, it just is. I could be carrying SJ in the car seat plus 4 bags of groceries and a purse/diapers bag while trying to unlock a door and sincerely respond to your offer with “I got it.”

When I reflect on those moments, I can clearly see how I look and sound like an overwhelmed toddler eager to prove she’s capable. But, in the moment, I really do believe there’s nothing the least bit ridiculous about my position.

Where does this come from? Sometimes I think it comes from me having left home at 15. Sometimes, there has to be some sort of superwoman complex at work. Lately, I’m blaming it on a fear of disappointment when someone either can’t or won’t be the support I’m seeking.

After SJ was born, I couldn’t believe how overwhelmed and tired I felt. Where labor is hard work, exclusively breastfeeding a newborn is the restless kind. When the exhaustion set in after a few days, I felt like the universe was mercilessly writing an explanation for why mother’s need each other in the sleepy achy-ness behind my eyes and in my back…I finally got it! So, I reached out to people, asking for meals and help keeping house, like in this humorous-yet-honest list from Gloria Lemay’s Birth Blog. Have I ever swallowed a pill so big? If so, I can’t recall it.

And it only kinda worked! Close friends I thought would be glad to help were elusive or suddenly silent…and it hurt. Needless to say it reinforced my unwritten (until now) policy against asking for help. I don’t want it to though. So, I’m working on being transparent with myself about the quality and reciprocity of my relationships so that I can better manage my expectations in the hopes of not completely abandoning the help seeking experiment. Part of this also means finding ways to be a more giving and helpful person myself. I’m working on being the villager for others that I seek.

Alright mamas, what lessons did you learn the hard way in the early days?

Which ones are you still learning?

Good Eats: Akara (Black-eyed pea fritters)

November 8, 2010
tags: ,

Akara – or black-eyed pea fritters – are a cultural and spiritual food from west Africa. No matter where a person is from though, they LOVE my akara. Because they’re a favorite of a friend who recently gave birth, I offered to make her some for a job well done.

They’re extremely simple, but tedious – which is why they’re a delicacy. If you’re feeling adventurous and willing to try a sure-fire recipe, turn up the music and get your lil fingers ready:

Time to skin some peas! Read more…

A Gathering of Mothers

November 4, 2010

We, the mothers,
whose wombs were their first earth and water
whose hearts and tears are theirs perpetually
who studied at the cosmos of their growing bodies
and emotional simplicity
who marveled that God saw us fit
and that we accept the challenge over and over again
whose sensitivities and baby-holding have been given duplicitous representation
who proudly fed them a simple magic from our breasts
whose hearts stir at the endless poetry in their eyes
who can remember the date and time we became the keepers of the night
calmers of the cry
and long-suffering confidants
we cannot forget even the least of these because the blood memory our children is everlasting

and

We do hereby declare that
our daughters and sons, while not infallible,
are natural
and perfectly made
and
though you may never know
the depths of their profound tenderness and need to be loved,
We want you to know that imagining them is a worthy exercise

Please do not use your words, weapons, or laws to harm them
Please keep your hatred to yourself,
or better,
chase it from your soul with haste for your sake and ours

We declare that our children
are not for sale
not for torment
their minds are not for colonization
not for self-hatred
their spirits are not for monopolies
not for predation
They are only for Love
Let them be

How Formula Won Minds with 4 Brown Babies

October 28, 2010

I could talk about and promote breastfeeding all day. The low rate of breastfeeding among African American mothers saddens me, especially because (I believe) it’s the result of marketing, misperceptions, and is largely reversible.

Today, Elita at Blacktating has a post about the family and formula company that may have been the origin of a mass shift away from mother’s milk among Af-Am mothers. Meet the Fultz quadruplets:

Born to sharecropping parents in the 40s and the first black quadruplets on record, the quads became the PET Formula Company’s entree into the psyche of the black mother. Read more…