Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Reading

With school getting out on Thursday of next week I thought it would be a great time to share with our friends some information about summer reading programs available for kids. Summer reading is a wonderful way to keep kids brains working over summer break and several libraries and programs across the country are trying to encourage this healthy activity by offering lots of freebies and prizes.

Barnes and Noble has a summer reading program available for children in grades 1-6. Kids write down the books they have read in a reading log with a short description of why they would recommend the book. Once they have read 8 books they can bring their reading log into a Barnes and Noble store to earn a FREE book! The program runs from May 22nd to September 4. How fantastic! More details can be found online at:  Or to print out your reading log go to:

Locally, our own Cedar Rapids Public Library has a special summer reading program available. The program runs from June 1 to July 27 and is available to independent readers up to age 12 as well as younger kids that need to be read to still. Kids earn rewards along the way and at the end of the program there will be a raffle to win a bike! Registration for the program begins June 1st and can be completed online or at a participating library. More information can be found here:

Even if you don't have a child in school and have a preschooler or toddler it is never to early to start reading and making this a fun family tradition. Developing the habit of family reading time is a great way to encourage learning at every age. With that in mind each of us in our home will have our own "reading list" this summer because after all, we all can benefit from some nice quiet time and a good book. Brent already has several books he would like to read this summer and I know I have several waiting to be read as well. My boys alone check out an average of 10 books a week from our library so I know there will be plenty of new books for us to get our hands on this summer.

Plus there are plenty of fun crafts you can do to get younger kids excited about reading. You can have them make their own bookmarks, help them decorate their own library tote bag, and lots more! You can even get books on tape or audio books for long road trips. Our kids current favorite book is a sing-along called Pete the Cat. And lucky for us the publisher has a free mp3 download available online so now I can pull it up on my phone or lap top at any time! How cool is that? Get your own Pete the Cat mp3 here:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Mommy Stuff"

When you become a parent it seems like your life become too busy for just about anything. Every second of time is important. However, every once in a while I find time to chat on the phone or catch up with a friend by email. This week I had a friend ask me what I have been up to other than my usual “mommy stuff.” I kind of had to laugh. So much of my life is centered on what makes my kids happy that I actually had to stop and think because I couldn’t recall the last thing I did that wasn’t for my kids. It took me a few minutes to get out of mommy mode and recall the last time I did something for me.

When my friend asked me what I had been up to other than mommy things, the first things that came to mind were all related to my kids. I thought of how I am having so much fun with my son Oliver at our parent-child swim lessons. I thought of what I was working on with the PTA at Thomas’s school this month. I thought of how much I enjoy playing in our backyard with Ellie every afternoon and how much I love to push her in her baby swing. I wanted to talk about all the cool finds for the kids that I found at a garage sale last weekend or what I plan on doing with the kids this summer or about our upcoming family vacation.

I do have things that I enjoy and do for myself. I enjoy photography, cooking, and have recently been very active in our church and I have even started working out at the gym. However, the first things that came to mind to describe myself were my kids. My children have become such a big part of my life that they now are part of my identity. What a powerful thing parenthood can be!

 It made me stop and think for a moment about how much my life has changed. Almost every part of my day revolves around my family and more specifically my kids. Years ago my former self would have said that this was a BAD thing. “Adults need freedom and the ability to do what makes them happy. Kids need to not be the center of the home. You have to put yourself first!”  I would have said. I would be furrowing an eyebrow at the new me. How dare I give up my independence and push aside my needs and wants. 

It is funny how parenthood can change a person and transform a person’s values. This is not to say that this is the case for other people, but for me it certainly has been a truth. Before kids (and I would even say as a new parent) I had a totally different perspective. Today my world is absolutely centered on my kids! I would give up anything and do anything to better their lives. Really important things from before seem not nearly as important. There are a lot of things that I would love to indulge in. For instance photography classes, a Kindle fire or all the new technology gadgets out there, the latest and greatest fashions, and pedicures every month. Those would be nice. When you have a family though, other things become important. Swim lessons, T-ball, family vacations, and college savings become important. Our goals as a family are to do everything to make both our lives and our children’s future better. I will give up a pedicure and latte any day to give my family the experiences that will forever change their lives. 

With Mother’s Day approaching this weekend I have to admit how much I love my family. I feel blessed to have children with unique personalities that lift me up every day. I love the way they giggle and laugh, their little wrinkles on their feet after bath time, how they explore the world, their curiosity, how they love learning new things, and all the extra cuddles and hugs I get from them (sticky fingers and all). Some days are challenging for sure, but they are always rewarding.  I love that Brent and I are walking through this journey of parenthood together. We walk through it together and we never take for granted those little blessings that we get each day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Appreciation for a POPular staff

When Thomas started school in the fall I made it a priority of mine to get involved at his school. One of the ways I have been doing that is by volunteering and serving on the PTA as co-president. It has been both a wonderful and challenging experience for me as a parent. I really love the staff and families that I have worked with over this school year. However, the staff just rocks my world!
My friend and fellow co-president Carrie agrees and we decided to do something nice for our staff. With it being Teacher Appreciation Week and all we decided to get our craft on and try our hands on these adorable soda pop goodies.
We used an easy and oh-so-cute (and free!!!) printable tutorial on this blog:
We attached them to construction paper and used a hole punch and some ribbon and string to tie the cards securely around the neck of the bottles. Instant success! We delivered them in the afternoon for our staff to enjoy a nice little pick me up because even teachers need some caffeine and sugar every now and then.
So happy to have wonderful staff and teachers at my son's school! What a POPular staff they are for us!