Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our At-Home Read-to-Me Summer Reading Mission

Because mission sounds cooler than "program" or "goal" . . . .

I was too late looking into a summer reading program of some sort for my kiddos (primarily, the toddler).   They both (at the ripe old ages of 28 and 10 months) love books anyway but I want to keep encouraging (err . . . bribing? possibly?) that love.  They're to little yet to be reading to themselves in a legitimate manner. My 2 year old will hunker down in her bed looking at multiple books for minutes. (And anyone with a 2 year old knows that minutes are awesome units of time. 2 minute time out. 10 minutes to bed. 30 minute "rest". Just a minute.)

Since taking on more classes and having all of the household duties on my shoulders while my Marine has been gone I've totally slacked on reading. After putting them into their beds the other night I grabbed a book on trains and sat in the floor and read to them. All the jabbering, the attempts at distracting themselves from much needed sleep, and the occasional shrieking death-howls were put to an end as I began to quietly start into the first paragraph. The parrot-like toddler clung to my words and the baby stared sleepily through crib slats at the colorful pictures -- both mesmerized.

**Hello, dummy (thinking to myself) why you no read more?! Dang it! LE SIGH**
(yes, I've started thinking "le sigh" as a term inside my head. i just did it again. ugh.)

Anyway, this sparked a last minute search for a program for them. Perhaps something with an award system exists?


Too late for most things. Some info was far too vague. Others were aimed to the 4+ crowd.

I decided to devise a plan to keep me engaged with a goal of reading MORE. Now, I'm not going from reading 0 books to 2-3, personally. We're going from reading 4-5 times (minimum of two DIFFERENT books, if I'm lucky) a day to aiming more for 10. Given the longevity of most children's books, this is really only a minimum of 30 minutes (3 per book) and anywhere up to a couple conglomerate hours of reading.

When's the best time to read to them?

Whilst the toddler is on the mini-potty; before nap and bedtime; during lunch or breakfast; whenever the TV quota is met (heh heh); anytime at all.

First stop: LIBRARY. (the Rogers Public Library, to be exact)

We have a TON of books. TONS. We've read them all multiple times. ALL. Multiple. Yes.

So I found a couple I'd never read and a couple I remember reading when I was little. We went through all of them moments after returning home from the library the other day and we've read them many times since.

This is great.

BUT . . . I suck. SO . . . I need visual reminders.

Maybe a piece of paper on the door? Boring.

A list on the fridge? So 1990s.

Sticky note on the computer with a running list of read and un-read books? Yeah, right. Like I'd keep it up. hahaha


Pretty colors. Construction paper + Scissors = Strips of Rainbow

That's all fine and dandy. I'll write the titles and authors on each strip as we read. I can totally glue them to another sheet of paper and hang it up on the fridge or an obvious wall space.

(The boring police are flickering their annoying LED lights now.)

Hey look . . .

A cup sitting on the shelf being totally lazy and unhelpful. TO WORK it goes! I'll stick strips of paper with book titles into the vase as we read. Our mission: fill it until it's full.

This is our At-Home, Read-to-Me Summer Reading thingy.

So, there ya have it. 5ish more weeks until I'm back to my courses. Hopefully we can get the vase FULL of  slips. By using the library, I can decide which books I want access to on our shelves at home,  which I prefer to avoid, and which were sufficient

Another thought: for older kids assign a monetary value to each slip. 25 cents. Don't be crazy. If you read 20 books that's . . . money. Calculate it yourself. It's late and I've had a long day.

Now GO! Motivate your kiddos to be nerdy little bookworms instead of nerdy little computer viruses!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tanyard Creek Trail + a Hello

There's been NO extra time for this blog with all we've had going on.

#1 MY HUSBAND (mine, my man!!) is now a United States Marine. That's right. With a heck of a lot of determination, support from my family and our friends, and lots of hand written letters we BOTH made it  through the crazy three months of boot camp. He graduated Private First Class. I didn't die. Pretty awesome. There were lots of obstacles for both of us -- mental, physical, emotional -- but we did it. He graduated from Parris Island at the end of June. The whole experience has been pretty incredible.

In other news, if you're looking to go back to school I need to recommend looking into NWACC. Northwest Arkansas Community College has been pretty amazing for me. If there are no surprise bumps in the road I'll graduate from there next year with my associate's degree. Best part: It's ALL been online. I had a lot of support there while my husband was gone (he left in the middle of spring semester and I started a couple of summer classes before he was done). It's honestly got to be one of the best opportunities for people going back to school, with family's, or with other important obligations (military or full time job or stay at home mama for example). I just have to slide that recommendation in there.

In more recent, less crazy . . . I did some googling trying to find something fun and FREE for us to do around here on a Sunday. Eureka Springs is on our list of places we want to go back to but gas + food + spending money wasn't going to fit into our budget. We've been to the new art museum in Bentonville once, kids in tow. Um, no. Not doing that again. We'd all ready been to the drive-in and the same feature was showing as before. The pool at our complex was crawling with teenagers. No thanks. Anyway, I did some googling. Honestly I don't remember how I came across it but there was a link for a nature trail in Bella Vista. Oh ok, quaint little walk. Why not?

Who knew THIS was in Bella Vista?

Whoever did know, you totally suck for not telling me. There is a simple route but there's also an easy hike of about 2 miles with lots of overlooks, a couple waterfalls, and plenty of swimming holes. Beware, we definitely saw at least one cottonmouth and one copperhead sunning. Don't let them stop you from seeing this hidden Arkansas site though.

If you take the main Bella Vista exit (town center) going north turn left and keep driving. It's on the left near a set of little homes and a golf course. You should be able to see a sign for "Tanyard Creek Nature Trail". There's a parking lot, picnic tables, restrooms, and even a dog water station. (Yes, it's also good-dog friendly. Dogs on leashes who are cleaned up after are totally welcome. Our new pup enjoyed himself.)

Total win.

We're looking forward to going back this fall after some rain has filled the creeks back up.

I make fun of Arkansas all the time but sometimes the Natural state shows me a thing or two.