Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer of 2016 Library Tour: Grover Beach

Summertime: a season for getting out and doing things! In summers past, I have filled mine and my son's days up with activities, play dates, and outings. Looking back on them, though, nothing really stands out as memorable. 

This year, I decided to give our summer a theme. We are currently saving money to buy a house, so I had to keep our theme on a budget. I played around with a few ideas, but couldn't settle on one that would be inexpensive and meaningful, until I thought of one of our favorite places to go: the library! 

After a quick search, I discovered there are fifteen libraries in our county alone. That amounts to one or two library trips each week; plenty to keep us busy and entertained. Plus, libraries are free!! 

Today's blog post features our first stop: the Grover Beach Community Library.

It's an independently run, volunteer-based community library. What it lacks in space, it more than makes up for with personality, starting with its vibrantly blue front door:

When you step inside, it feels like childhood! I was immediately transported back to my youth, when my mom and grandma used to take us to our local library.

This library is sectioned off with different rooms: one for adult literature, one for adult non-fiction, one for Teen Readers, and a quaint little room for the wee ones:

My son did not have any trouble finding books he wanted to check out! 

And, for his little cousin, she found a comfy chair in a quiet corner to sit and ponder life's mysteries:

The library also offers Toddler story time once a week, "Read with Rover" sessions, as well as a Summer Reading Program. And, those are just the youth offerings!

Close to home and ties to the community, this was the perfect place to start our Summer of 2016 Library Tour!

Keep an eye out for our next stop...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Chasing Crickets: A New Year's Reflection

With the New Year upon us, I wrapped myself up in a blanket of nostalgia after my son fell asleep. Earlier in the month of December, I came upon an old basket of hand-written letters and cards, some dating back to my undergrad days at Cal Poly:

As eager as I was to meander through these memories, I saved them until New Year's Eve when, with a glass of red wine and a chunk of dark chocolate, I could revisit these memories as 2015 came to an end.

Over the course of two hours, I laughed and cried and remembered. What a gift to have saved all these hand-written expressions of affection from people who have left an indelible mark on me, even those I didn't realize had.

One letter, in particular, touched me. It was from someone named Chris, though his last name escapes me. It took some dusting of cobwebs to remember exactly who this Chris was, but once I cleared out that little corner of my mind, I could see him clearly, always smiling! Chris was my neighbor when I lived in Morro Bay while attending Cal Poly, so the letter had to have been written sometime in the nineties.

What struck me about his letter was the relevance it has on my life today. He shared an experience he had with a cricket. Here is a snippet of that story:
"I was in the kitchen and I heard the cricket again, just as close as the last time; and, like the last time, when I turned to pinpoint its location, I found that its noise shifted with my movement. I finally got the idea and checked my shoulders before I started doing circles again. WHAT DO YOU KNOW?! The cricket had been on my back the whole time! Pretty cool, huh? Just like a lot of things we search for. The answer/solution/goal is often right there, biting us on the nose (or back!), and we spin around in circles following a call or a wild goose chase. I hope you find those things that you search for this week and the following weeks to come."
I was in my twenties when this story came to me and, as I reflect on its significance almost twenty years later, I can see how I spent most of my adult life spinning around in circles chasing those elusive crickets. Time and time again, I sought external affirmation and worth but, as with Chris' cricket, it had been with me the whole time. I didn't really see it until I became a mother. Once I birthed my son, I realized how could I bring something so precious and valuable into this world and not be worthy!?!

Reading the rest of my letters and cards, I realized that I had surrounded myself with very insightful, spiritual people during my college years, but I wasn't ready to learn from their wisdom. I had to find my own wisdom through experience. Now, though, I can appreciate the lessons these people taught me and only hope I can plant similar seeds of insight in those I encounter.

As 2016 unfolds, I hope to always remember the cricket I am chasing is inside of me. I wish I could remember Chris' last name so I can try to find him and thank him for this insight almost two decades later...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Day 7: New Wrapped Christmas Book & Nighty Night North Pole

Today's activity and book were two-in-one:

I found this little gem for $4.00 at Marshall's! It has buttons that light up the picture at the top. It is breathtaking!! And, I don't feel like I'm spoiling my child by letting him open a present before Christmas :-)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Day 4: Avila Valley Barn and The Animals' Christmas Eve

 On Day Four of our 25 Days of Christmas Activities, my son, our dog, and I went to Avila Valley Barn. It is one of our favorite places to visit, especially during the holidays!

The grounds around the parking lot are beautiful, so we walk our dog first (we don't take her in because we don't want her to scare the farm animals :-)

Once inside, the grounds are beautifully decorated for the holidays:

And, there are animals to feed. For just $1.00, you can get a bag of veggies to feed to the animals:

My son's favorite part of Avila Valley Barn during Christmas are their Christmas trees:

Tonight's Christmas book is one of my favorites: The Animals' Christmas Eve. It's the story of Jesus' birth told through the eyes of barn yard animals in flowing prose:

Here's my son sounding out the title:

After typing my blog title, I realized how perfectly the activity and book match! It wasn't planned :-)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Day 3: Christmas Tree Lot and King of the North Pole

This morning, my son turned around our Christmas Activity card to discover a trip to the Christmas Tree Lot. 

We waited until it was dark because it is best under their Christmas lights. Bundled up and hot cocoa in hand, my son and I, and sweet Sammy Sue, took a walk through the forest...

...until we came upon Santa Claus...

....and a herd of cows?

To make this night even more memorable, we got rained on! No umbrella, no rain jackets, so by the time we got home, we were cold and wet. I threw my son in a warm bath and then we retired to bed for our bedtime story.

Tonight's book was B's choice: The King of the North Pole. I'll admit, it isn't my favorite Christmas book, but he loves it, so I read it with as much animation and excitement as I do my favorite Christmas book (see tomorrow's post for mine :-)

He cracks himself up just taking a picture walk!

Day 2: Ornament Shopping and The Christmas Mouse

Tonight, my sister took her three grand kids and my son to Ace Hardware so they could each pick out a special Christmas ornament. Every year, I have chosen a special ornament for my son, but this year marks the start of a new tradition:

Some hot cocoa and balloons after shopping:

When we got home, he placed his ornament on the little tree on his side of the bed. It holds special meaning this year because it has a doggie on a Christmas bell that looks like our Saint. This will be our first Christmas without our boy:

After the excitement of hanging our ornament, it was late, so we chose a short board book, The Christmas Mouse:

Even though these activities are meant to slow down the holiday season, some nights require a quick read, so we have a few of these little board books on hand :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Day 1: Holiday Craft Night and Little Critter

Day One of our 25 Days of Christmas Activities, we launched the holiday season by hosting a holiday craft party for my son and his cousins. After running off some steam outside, we made ribbon Christmas trees:

Though they didn't quite turn out like the one I found on Pinterest, the kids had fun making them:

For snacks, I melted white baking chocolate for the kids to dip pretzel sticks and roll in Christmas colored sprinkles:

It was the perfect way to get the kids in the mood for the holiday season.

After everyone went home, my son and I started our annual 25 Nights of Christmas Books tradition. Every night during the month of December, my son and I read a different Christmas or Winter-themed book. I started this tradition his first Christmas. Over the past four years, we have added to our collection and made wonderful bedtime reading memories.

I like to start the month off with a fun book, with one of my son's favorite book characters, like Curious George or Little Critter. Tonight, we read "Little Critter Merry Christmas" by Mercer Mayer:

I'd say we had a fantastic start to our holiday season :-)