The Better Way to Read to Your Kids



Published on 12/13/2012.  Photo by Julia T. Malakoff

Sometimes, while all four children are seated at the table, shoveling cheerios down their o-shaped mouths, I have tried to limit breakfast battles by reading a book.

It does not seem to matter what kind of book I read in the early hour; they all listen and concentrate on the tale at hand. With my children ranging from teen, tween and post-tot, it fascinates me that each child is able to enjoy the story, no matter what their reading level is. This has led me to think about the power of picture books and early reading comprehension. Continue reading

My Fridge Lacks Magnitude!


Published on 6/26/14

I have a new refrigerator. It is shiny and wide with French doors and sports a special kid-friendly snack drawer for easy to grab cheese sticks and Gogurts. It has a special setting for fruits and veggies and organized doors with shelves for varying sizes of bottles and jars. It even lets me know when it hasn’t been shut properly with a cool bell tone. Continue reading

Have A Ball (or two) This Father’s Day!

Baseball was never one of my most favorite sports. As a kid, I never understood the concept. I remember watching my first minor league game as a teen and rolling my eyes with boredom as the ball was hit and the players ran their bases only to get out or strike out. The problem was mine. I just did not have an understanding of the game until I became a mom of three boys. They have all taken up the sport and between my husband and I, we must spend literally hundreds of hours on the fields. It’s taken some time, but, I am now a baseball believer. It makes me chuckle to think that my sons, who all have a bit of the “ants in their pants” gene, do not mind the slower pace at times of this sport. They may fiddle in the outfield and chit-chat in the box, but, they are 100% engaged. Here’s to the all American sport of baseball! In honor of our upcoming Father’s Day holiday, I am posting a link to one of my favorite images from my new Father’s Day gallery at: Please check out the our photos and have a happy Father’s Day!

“What are We Having for Dinner?”

Menu scan

Published on 1/31/13.  Illustration by Julia T. Malakoff

As my children trickle home from school and their tummies begin to rumble, I can hear the question before it even begins to leave their mouths. With authority that they think is their birthright, they ask me, “What are we having for dinner?” Oh, how I have grown to strongly dislike this inquiry. When the question begins to form, it is not just on the lips of one child but the lips of four little mouths whining in unison. It’s a rhetorical question for sure and experience has taught me that there is no correct answer that will satisfy all eight ears. Continue reading

Trick and Treat

by Julia Malakoff

Published in the Reston Patch, 11/13/2012

It is mid- November and my kids are still munching away at their Halloween candy.  Four kids equals three king size pillowcases and one bucket full of candy left on top of my refrigerator and inside of my cabinets. Each child has chosen their own “secret” spot to hide their bounty. Nice idea, however the candy is creeping out of every crevice in my kitchen and I am ready for it to all go way. We have negotiated with our children to donate half of their candy and it will usually go to a shelter or my husband’s office, for I am sure the people in his corporate workplace must come from families where they don’t have enough sweets of their own and can’t wait to dive into our leftover treats. Nevertheless, even after half of the candy is donated, and all trading has been set aside, we still have too much for one household. I personally am not a big candy person, but, I do enjoy a well baked cookie treat. A few years back, when a cookie mood may have struck and I may have been lacking in chocolate chips, I recall turning to my kids and asking them if anyone had any chocolates in their Halloween candy collection. Continue reading

XYs learning their ABC’s with OT

by Julia Malakoff

A worksheet was sent home from my son’s school with a note from the teacher. Please have your son practice his letters every day. I remember shaking my head in confusion. My son, who was in first grade at the time, had attended three years of preschool and completed public kindergarten. We had arduously reviewed writing the alphabet, using dot to dots, coloring books and tracing letters. I had spent countless hours of one on one time with him, for he was the fortunate oldest child who had my divine attention.  In fact, in my opinion, at the time, he seemed on course and I truly did not realize that he was struggling with his handwriting at school. Continue reading

Fairy Tale Frills

I was brought up by a tomboy mom who preferred blue over pink and preached her own personal mantra of gender equality, deflating the princess spirit that may have arisen in my childhood.  My mom was all about physical fitness and boys and girls playing unisex sports equally as well. She was a child in the 50s, one of three girls; she was the oldest and paraded around the house in her cowgirl outfit, including a holster, hat and boots to match. My grandmother wanted to doll her three girls up in their puffy party dresses and pampered doos. So, when my mom had her girl, pink was out of the question. I had a yellow room, plain and simple. No frills. My clothes were colored and printed, yet pink pastels seemed to be missing from the palette. Continue reading

Catsup Cookies

by Julia Malakoff

Sitting around dinner one evening feasting on fish sticks, my daughter pulled out the giant, family sized catsup bottle. While the usual dinner chaos was filling my ears high-pitched frequencies, I tuned out by reading the back label of the giant, family sized catsup bottle. Tic Tac Toe cookies were listed as their featured recipe. Tic Tac Toe cookies, I said out loud. Hoping to redirect the noise volume, I asked my oldest son to read the recipe out loud. He proceeded to call out the ingredients and when he got to the last ingredient, one cup of catsup, he made a face and looked up to see the reaction from his three siblings. Continue reading

Dancing Dave

by Julia Malakoff

Published in the Reston Patch, Reston, VA on March 29, 2012

Date night last night at the Verizon Center was spent in a musical time warp, journeying through decades passed.  KOOL and the Gang opened the stage, all nine guys in their shiny sleek bell bottoms swinging in sync to their classic seventies tunes. I have to say, my husband and I, both in our forties, chuckled at the thought of seeing Kool and the Gang in the twenty-first century, but, the two original brothers, in their mature years, revitalized their band with a few young bloods. It was almost as if the younger singers were trying hard to keep up with the highly energized musical talent of the older generation. The music was timeless and the audience immediately fell into the magic with tunes such as Celebrate, Jungle Boogie, and Ladies Night. Continue reading