Archive for the ‘All Things Baby’ Category

How to Cultivate a Love for Reading in Young Children

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

children reading
One of my biggest joys as a parent has been to watch my kids’ reading skills develop.

Last year, Abby participated in the local Battle of the Books competition at her school and her team won first place in the fourth grade across several elementary schools. It was a moment  that beamed with parental pride–the quiet joy of accomplishment.

Now, as I watch my 2-year-old scurry over to my lap with a stack of board books, I wonder where the path of reading will take him….


I realize there is a nature v. nurture element to reading: some of us might not be born-readers. I certainly wasn’t as a child. But, there are things you can do now for your children to nurture their love for reading, even if it’s not part of their nature.

1. Read to them early.  I think I started reading to my kids as soon as it held their attention, probably around 3 months.  Board books with bright colors and short sentences are perfect for the infant and toddler stages.


2. RhymeTime.  Even as an adult, I still love poems and stories that rhyme. When my kids were young, we read Dr. Seuss almost every night. (I think I still have Green Eggs and Ham memorized.)

Not only are rhymes fun to read and hear, but research suggests that rhyming jumpstarts a child’s reading career:

“Because rhyming words – words that have sounds in common – often share spelling sequences in their written form, children sensitive to rhymes are well equipped to develop their reading.”


3. Storytime. Your local library is an amazing resource for children, even at a very young age. Most libraries have story times for babies and young children that incorporate music, story telling, and rhymes. My kids L O V E D story time at the library. I’m thankful that such a fun (and free) activity developed their love for reading at such an early age.


Kids at Library

4. Books as Toys. Leave a basket of board books wherever you keep your children’s toys. That way, the books will catch their eye as much as the shiny, red fire trucks.

5. Develop a nighttime ritual.  Read to your kids every night before they go to bed. It doesn’t have to be anything super long. Reading is a calming activity for children and the sound of your voice will soothe them right before they go to sleep.

6. Books on CD. Once my kids dropped their afternoon nap (the horror!), they still had an hour-long quiet time in their rooms after lunch. When they were old enough to follow along (around age 3), I left books on CD in their rooms. They loved listening for the sound of the beep to turn the page. When they followed along in the book before they could read,  I think it helped them recognize words later on.


7. Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons.


 When you think you’re kids are ready, and only if you want to, you can teach your kids to read on their own with this book. I taught my oldest to read before he started kindergarten, and I swear my daughter learned just by listening along. The lessons are hands-on and only 20 minutes per day. My kids never seemed overwhelmed; in fact, they were eager to do the next day’s lesson.


IMG_4285Happy Reading!

Next week, I’ll post about our favorite books for different age levels.

What are the reading rituals in your family?

Photo Feature Wednesday on Tuesday: Liz + Iris

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

photo feature

I’ve been wanting to post these pictures for a long time, but have been bogged down with life’s to-do list. So, I’m making the most of the free time I have today to post them, since I don’t know what tomorrow holds.

This was my first spin at newborn photography, and I was sweating at the end. I call it photographer acrobatics–the twisting, turning, and crouching involved to get good shots, especially of a baby.

I’m always a little nervous about shooting indoors, since I’m not a professional and don’t carry lighting equipment with me. But there was a window in baby Iris’ room that let in the most beautiful natural light. I think the photos of Liz + Iris next to the window are my favorite shots. When I first saw them, I gasped.

newborn photography






Iris and her dad had some pretty sweet moments as well. Trent was a natural at holding her.




No newborn shoot is  complete without one photo of the baby crying, though I have to say, Iris was a champ. She was awake for two full hours and only cried once briefly. Maybe she wanted Luke’s jellybean?




Even when she cries, she’s cute.


To see the full gallery, click on the gallery below.  Or go to my Life in Pictures tab to see this gallery as well as other photos I’ve taken.


Interview with a 2-Year-Old

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now. {Hooray. Cheers. Fireworks. [enter any celebratory phrase here]}

One of my most popular posts this year was Interview with a One-Year-Old.

So, for my one year blog anniversary , I decided to interview Jonathan once again, but this time, as a two-year-old.


baby, interview, 2-year-old


Me: Hi, Jonathan. It’s good to have you back here at onNeutralGround.

Jonathan: (stares longingly at the bagel with cream cheese across the kitchen that I haven’t had time to eat yet)

Me: Uh, okay. Jonathan, I’ve been wondering: What’s it like being the fourth child? Do you like being the baby in the family?

Jonathan: Nnno.

Me: Oh, ok, really? Do you have anything you’d like to add to that sentiment?

Jonathan: Noooo.

Me: I see. Let’s move on.  What’s your favorite toy? I mean, besides the dishwasher. I know, you really like that singing puppy–you know, the one that sings Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.

Jonathan: Nno.

Me: Gosh, I could have sworn that was your favorite toy. You always smile when I turn it on.

Jonathan: Noooo.

Me: Well, what’s your favorite food then?

Jonathan: No.

Me: That wasn’t a yes-or-no question.

Jonathan: Niihhhoooooo.

Me: Um, ok. I see this isn’t going very well. Let’s see. We went to the beach this summer. I know you didn’t like it at first, but by the end of the week, you really enjoyed the water. I’ve got pictures to prove it.

beach, kids, waves

Jonathan: Nnnnnnno.

Me: You don’t like the beach?

Jonathan: No.

Me: Well, what about the sand? It’s pretty fun to build sand castles.

Jonathan: Nooooh.

Me: Well, Jonathan, I have little else to ask you. Hmm. Maybe, are you looking forward to fall? The leaves changing and all that.

Jonathan: Nnnnooooo.

Me: {flustered} Oh, you’d say “No” to anything I asked you.

Do you want a Pop-Tart?

Jonathan: Yes.

Me: Wait, what?! Can you repeat that answer?

Jonathan: No.