How did the entire summer get away from me in the blogging department?
Here's a quick run-down catch-up before I get back to my more typical (as in never predictable) blogging schedule. What we've been up to:
1). Inspire me with your summer goals! Giveaway ends Friday night. You know you want me to buy you a Vanilla Bean Frap or an Iced Caramel Macchiato. :)
2). I have a little announcement to make tomorrow. (Nope, definitely no bun in my oven!) But still very exciting!
3). I am savoring summer with Renee at Fimby again today. I am savoring the ability to take ten steps off my back deck and pick our dinner salads! Those grubs put up a brawny fight, but I think I have finally conquered! Dill, lemon thyme, romaine, flat-leaf parsley, mesclun, radishes... even a strawberry beginning to blush. What are you savoring this summer?
2. They usually have most of the books I want. It's true, if you go to the actual library to find books, the good ones won't be on the shelves. That's why # 1 is so important. Sometimes when I am waiting at the airport, I make lists of all the books that I'd love to read, because the airport book shops only keep the best-sellers and new ones. Then I take my list home and request them all. For free! Sometimes I do the same thing at Barnes and Noble.
3. I could probably homeschool my kids entirely using only library books and the internet. Seriously I could.
4. My library people are very nice. That's why I smile cheerfully every time I pay my bill. It turns out the library is only free if you bring your books back on time.
5. I can renew online. (But I rarely do, which is why I smile cheerfully at the librarians so often.)
6. They have summer reading programs for adults! You just write simple reviews of books or music you've checked out, and they draw winners each week. I have won certificates to Village Books, Katie's Cupcakes and Rocket Donuts. What's not to love about that?!
7. Summer reading program for kids too, of course, teens too. (Along with the other usuals that my kids do - Barnes and Noble, Borders, Village Books (my favorite of all the challenges), and Launching Success. The C Shop offers free snow cones on Wednesday afternoons if you show them a library book you are reading - we heart this one too. :) During the school year we do Pizza Hut's Book It too, for free pizzas each month.
8. I love that I can get cookbooks from the library to try new recipes without the clutter/commitment of buying one. Again, requesting is the best way to go about this to get the good ones.
9. The librarians have been really helpful in helping me find suitable books for Jenson (dyslexic) that have crisp font, and they have tons of audio books which are great for Jenson too.
10. They have great kits - for starting your own book club and kit boxes for preschool kids. They also have Tumblebooks to download and e-books. (Right now they work for Nooks, but soon kindles will also be compatible).
* And I just have to say... see this photo above? Those top two books in the stack are incredible! Chris Cleave is an amazing writer. I highly recommend! There is a movie version of Incendiary too (Netflix instant), but watch it only after you read the book, you'll be surprised at how it differs from the book. Great summer reading books!
Added -- I should clarify the Little Bee and Incendiary books both have some graphic/adult content, as does the movie, definitely an R rating. I didn't find it all to be totally gratuitous in the books, and really overall enjoyed the unraveling of the stories in both books. That's all, just don't want to offend anyone by mistake, I should have mentioned that right away, sorry!
We're about to start Mr. Popper's Penguins, just in time to see the movie after. My kids' all-time favorite read alouds are the Little House books. I agree with them! Do you read to your kids? What are your favorite read-alouds?
Happy Summer Reading!
The gist of what's been happening for the last month...
More experiences, less 'stuff'.
I also declared January "Use What We Have" month. The two tie in nicely together. We'll aim to not purchase anything other than complete necessities - gas, milk, and migraine pills! It's so refreshing to be content in all that we already have, rebuild our bank account after Christmas spending, and it stretches me to get creative in cooking and meal planning. I always have a well-stocked kitchen and freezer, and it's nice to use up some of that. With the exception of a little produce and milk for the kids, I am sure I can get at least 30 meals out of my pantry, if not 45.
In the past we've embarked on this for a couple months at a time, and I've made lists to remind us of all the fun things there are to do for free and with what we already have (or for just the cost of gas). I have been asked by several friends for those lists, so I am going to share them here. I'm probably not the only one cutting back on expenses and reminding the kids to be content after the holidays!
This is our own personal list, but I think much of it can be adapted or inspire your own ideas. Some are ideas for the kids, some for me, and even some dates. And in case you missed it, I am kind of a list girl. :)
Use What You Have Month
I do believe that is enough to keep us busy!
:: Happy January ::
We sat down last week, first Frank and I, then the whole family, and decided how we want our year to look for 2011. There are "marriage-betterment" goals, like *go on 25 dates, *attend a lawn concert at Chateau St. Michelle winery, *walk or run a 10K together, and a few others.
Our list of family goals is far ranging, everything from *acquire no library fines, and *no new cavities to *take a family photo each month and Keston's suggestion to *explore an island.
Everyone has a list of personal goals too - including *learning to ride a bike unassisited, *reading Harry Potter Books 1-3, *submitting writing and photos each month for consideration of publishing, and *a savings goal for each child, to list a few.
Frank and I also wrote a bucket list of sorts, though we have a different name to it. :) I read something on Zen Habits a while ago, about beginning with the end in mind. This is a great time of year to do that, looking ahead to what things you'd like to see accomplished during this year. The article I read was more along the lines of what you want your obituary to say, but I like this better for now. Frank reminded me that it is also a popular Steven Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) concept, begin with the end in mind. And of course any goal written out is far more likely to be accomplished. So we are well on our way to achieving some good family-centered things for the new year!
I've started filling in my summer calendar! For a couple years I posted summer activity ideas on my old blog. (Find them here, though some links may be outdated.) This year I've found a few more things to add that look fun, and there's something for all ages...
Mady has taken several writing and poetry workshops in this beautiful space. Now they are offering a teen drop-in art night, Tuesdays from 6-8, $10. You can find the Young Writer's Studio information and summer classes here, too.
The Junior Ranger program and others through the Birch Bay interpretive center look interesting. We have been to the small museum there on the beach and the kids enjoyed it. These programs look similar in concept to the Hovander ones that were shut down with budget cuts. We'll definitely be attending the archaeology program!
And at Village Books this week, a presentation by the Urban Pantry author. They had me at the pretty book cover and great title. I already have a friend-date plan to go.
I could spend the entire day searching around online for activities, but I should probably take a shower and enjoy the day. :) If you have other ideas, please leave a comment and enlighten everyone! Let the summer begin!
(Mady, summer 2009)
Each summer my children participate in all of the reading programs that we can find in our area. One of my kids needs that extra incentive to read, and one needs no incentive at all. In fact, last year she read so many books that she blew the competition out of the water and won the award for most books read through the public library. The public library has an adult reading program too - last year I won a $20 gift certificate to Village Books for participating! Check out the links below...
Barnes and Noble (national) Print a reading log yourself or pick one up in store. After any 8 books read, return the log to pick out a free book (they have about 20 different titles to choose from). Available for 1st-6th grade. Begins May 25th.
Borders (national) Print the form, read ten books, and return to Borders or Waldenbooks to choose a free book from one of 10 that they have pre-selected. For ages 12 and under.
Bellingham Public Library (local) Child, teen and adult programs, as well as activities throughout the summer. Great prizes that have been donated from local businesses. Last year our family received certificates to Mallard's, Rocket Donuts, and Village Books. Details coming soon from their website.
Village Books (local) Pick up your challenge form at the shop. After reading a variety of books, including poetry, historical, non-fiction and biography, plus those of your own choosing, receive a $5 gift certificate to Village Books and an ice cream cone at Collophon Cafe next door. I love this one because it stretches kids to read a broader variety of books, and because who doesn't love free ice cream? Ages 13 and under.
If you need any ideas for great reading material, a friend of mine recommended this book to me - Honey For a Child's Heart. We have Honey For a Teen's Heart as well, and use both regularly. Our's are filled with notes and underlined for books we want (meaning I want the chilren) to read. They are of a Christian perspective, but offer all types of (appropriate) books and advice for character building through books and give great advice for developing your children into reading lovers. (If you are a local homeschooler and belong to MP3, mine were covered by Star funds, and yours likely would be too.)
:: a field trip to Seattle with 50 other homeschool friends, aboard the Amtrak. We loved the 2 1/2 hour ride each way, along the shoreline. We spotted many great blue herons, beautiful scenery, and a scavenging bald eagle along the beach. When we arrived, we broke into groups and enjoyed Seattle on foot. We hung out with a favorite family - our kids all match up in age and gender. The older girls spent a good chunk at the Art Museum, while we took the younger crew to the Aquarium and a delicious Brazillian restaurant. (Oh my goodness, a new favorite place!) We wandered Pike Place, Native American art displays, and quaint shops, then headed home on the train with sore feet and views of the sunset.
:: 15 yards of dirt. Oh my. I have blisters, bruises and sore muscles, but the transformation of our side yard will be worth it! Poor Keston has the junkiest view out her bedroom window, and I set out to improve that as much as I could this week. There will be a grassy patch and a tiny garden. My first garden intended primarily for cut flowers. If only I had a before and after photo!
:: Awards Night at Awana. It was great to see all the kids with their proud parents as they received their awards for working hard all year. Mady and I have served as leaders this year, and it was touching to hear the sweet comments made about Mady and the other teen leaders, who are on such good paths with their lives. I am so proud of her! Jenson and Keston, too!
:: An 8 hour play date for Keston at a friend's house. The mom is a veteran homeschooler, and gave me great advice when I was worried a little about next year. We will be off-campus next year (no twice a week classes, but a more traditional type of homeschooling), and I wanted to make sure to provide consistent opportunities for the kids with their friends. While I know socializing isn't even a concern, I do want to give them a chance to have deep, impactful friendships. My friend's great advice, was that each Friday, she lines up a playdate for each kid for the upcoming week. So simple, yet brilliant! Just being intentional should do the trick!
:: Game Night at our house with Mady and a few of her friends. It worked out so well, we all agreed to make it a monthly event. Mady's friends are just a joy to have around the house. They are wonderfully tolerant of the younger ones! I am already looking forward to next month with them here.
:: A nice dog taking up residence at our house while her owners were away. She is such a great dog, and Jenson is so responsible with her, it has made us consider getting a dog. If only we could just have that actual dog that is already so well-trained and gentle!
:: A mountain of laundry, (seriously, a mountain), that sat unfolded all week while we had such beautiful weather and busy schedules.
Isn't it ironic that when things are winding down for the school year, it is suddenly so busy?