Category Archives: Nerding Out

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Did you know that tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’s birthday? It’s also National Read Across America Day!

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Image Source: BrainInsights Blog

We’ll be celebrating by walking over to our local library – they’re hosting a FREE party in honor of Dr. Seuss with fun Seuss-themed snacks, crafts, and games! Check your local library or bookstore to see if they have anything fun happening – odds are, they do!

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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

― Frederick Douglass:

American social reformer, orator, writer, statesman, FORMER slave.

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Reading aloud to a child is one of the best things you can do to give them a head start on the road to literacy, and a child who has been given the gift of literacy has been given the gift of independence. Without fear of an overstatement, no other skill is more fundamental to developing independent and curious individuals, and independent, curious individuals are absolutely vital to a free & productive society.

It’s never too late to create a culture of literacy in your home, where it matters the most. Trips to the library {and participation in fun library events} are a great way to get the whole family involved. Plus, checking out books from the library is FREE {as long as you bring them back on time!}, so when your child gets tired of a particular book, it’s super easy and FUN to swap that book out for a new one.

This article from BrainInsights blog has some great ideas for how to get reading regularly with your little one, and also discusses why reading is so developmentally crucial for kids’ brains.

I also found a cool Pinterest board put together by the Read Across America organization – Resources for Your Event. This pinboard has fonts, clip art, classroom ideas, tips for reading aloud, and more!

How do you engage your family in reading and literacy? Give me some fresh ideas!

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The Fort Worth Central Library!

Today, Heidi & I went to the Fort Worth Central Library with her cousins … It was a blast! The place is huge and there is so much stuff to do! We hadn’t been there before, though we’d heard a lot about it.

Fort Worth Central Library

I had been intimidated about visiting this location, since it’s in the heart of downtown Fort Worth and I’m not a huge fan of messing with city streets. But it was really easy to get to! I did a little planning ahead (the street address is 500 W. Third St., Fort Worth, TX 76102).

2½ hours free parking is available at 2 nearby garages.  You can get your ticket validated at the Circulation Desk. The garages are located at:

  • 3rd Street Garage at 3rd & Taylor
  • City Place North Garage, at the corner of Belknap and Taylor streets

There are 2 hour and 10 hour parking meters around the library, with free parking after 6 pm on weekdays and on all day Saturday and Sunday.

Easy peasy. I definitely recommend you check it out!

Children’s books aside {they had an enormous selection on every subject}, the Children’s Section in the library had so much to offer the little ones.

Story Time!
The Fort Worth Library System offers FREE Children’s Librarian-led Story Time. Heidi and I attend somewhat consistently and we LOVE it!!! When we first started going to Story Time, I was surprised to discover that it isn’t just a reading time – singing, dancing, and crafts are also included! It is a great activity for kids of all ages, and Story Times are offered at various locations, on multiple days of the week.

Don’t miss this! For more information on Times and Locations, go here.

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Hands-on Learning Opportunities

If you’re looking for a good book to read, the library is definitely the place to go. But did you know that the library also has fun hands-on activities to keep kids interested and engaged?

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I don’t know how you were as a kid, but I can remember how very PAINFUL it was to try to sit still for very long! I loved exploring new worlds through books, but I also loved learning about my own world by exploring with my own five senses. Kids are designed this way on purpose & I LOVE that the Fort Worth Library seems to have taken this into consideration for the Children’s Section.

This library location had LOTS of fun hands-on exploration activities, including a little cubby fortress, kid-sized toy train, puppet booth {with a bunch of little hand puppets for a show!}, and giant building blocks.

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There is also a well-equipped arts & crafts corner for busy little hands. The library provides craft paper, crayons, safety scissors, glue, and even crafty examples to get kids started!

Technology Center

Computer stations {with fancy touch screens!} are built just for kids, and the circulation desk also offers iPads for checkout – they are loaded with learning games and kids love them! The learning games are appropriate for all ages. My 18-month-old girl was entranced!

Learning Kits for Checkout

Another very cool educational resource I discovered is located in little plastic storage containers toward the back wall on a bookshelf. I wouldn’t have even noticed them if I hadn’t sat right next to the shelf! I looked online, and the website doesn’t list it either. I feel like I found a hidden treasure!

These learning kits are like Unit Studies – they focus in on one specific topic and use several different learning approaches. Everything is contained in a little plastic tote, so it’s totally convenient for parents to bring home and explore with their kids!

Bottom line: this place is SO GREAT for parents and kids alike – it makes for a WONDERFUL afternoon {or morning, or evening} activity! Don’t miss out! Go exploring!

Gardening Resources for North Texas

I’m kind of in the hurry-up-and-wait stage of the growing season, so I’ve got a little extra time to share some of my favorite sources of information for home veggie gardening.

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Image Courtesy: RaisedUrbanGardens.com

The very best information will come from sources that are closest {most local} to your backyard garden {because they’ll be the most knowledgeable about your particular situation}, so ask around at local feed supply stores, nurseries, and landscaping/garden centers.

Aggie Horticulture has tons of great info, as well as the TAMU AgriLife Extension Service. I am an Aggie, so I may be a teensy bit biased, but I really don’t think so.

These two resources have libraries worth of information at the ready – actually, my favorite way to find the info that I’m looking for on these sites is to just google the vegetable I’m interested in and include the term “tamu horticulture” in the search box {for example, for info on growing peppers in Texas, I’d google “tamu horticulture peppers” — works every time}.

Neil Sperry seems to be the local gardening expert around here – go find his Facebook page. I’ve learned so much just reading through some of the questions and ongoing discussions on his page.

Here in the Fort Worth area, I’ve also had really good experiences with The Plant Shed and Calloway’s Nursery. Both have locations all over the metroplex and carry high-quality products and plants. The Plant Shed is very competitive with Walmart prices and Calloway’s Nursery offers workshops and extra information online. Check ’em out.

A quick tip: Avoid the big box stores. I mean, I have nothing against big box stores, it’s just that the people there won’t be as knowledgeable about the area as the guy down the road who’s been running his own garden supply for so many years.

Another quick tip: do your research. Find out which types and breeds of vegetables do well in your area. If you just grab the prettiest seed packets or transplants from Walmart and drop ’em in the ground, you might get lucky … but it’s more likely that you won’t. Just trust me – do your research!!!!!!!!!!! Which just means: poke around on the links I provided, read a bunch, and ask a bunch of local gardeners for their experience. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to 😉

PLEASE let me know if you have some sources of good information of your own! I’m really pretty new to gardening, and I’m still learning and discovering new places to find info. Share! SHARE!! SHARE!!!

{{EEK! In the process of writing this article, I discovered this: http://northtexasvegetablegardeners.com/ … clicked through a little bit and it looks pretty awesome!}}

An Encouragement for Decent Moms Everywhere

Tonight as I reflect on everything I heard this weekend – so many great mothers speaking a message of Truth and Grace for the mission of Motherhood – I’m struck with the question of why so many of us mothers (women in general, I think) spend so much time, energy, & emotion cutting each other down, when those resources could be more wisely spent encouraging one another & walking together.

Motherhood is hard! Raising civilized, well-adjusted people is a two-decade-long process, filled with pitfalls and inevitable mistakes.

Fearing judgment or harsh scrutiny, I have seen at least a few mamas isolate themselves from other women. Still others have suffered harsh criticism, even ostracism, by other women. And what for? Does it encourage or edify? Absolutely not. Or does it just give the other woman delusions of superiority in her own parenting methods? Is it an effort to lessen her own feelings of insecurity and inadequacy?

This weekend at the Mom Heart Conference, I am so refreshed just being around these other moms. We’re learning together. We’re crying & laughing together! I don’t feel judged or scrutinized or rebuked (for my many mistakes in my still-brand-new career as a mother) – I feel inspired!

How refreshing to know that other moms have kids that act like children (gasp!); how encouraging to have someone to cheer you on to fight another day!

How life-changing to be reminded that our job as mothers isn’t to create perfect automatons, it is to fight the daily battle for their minds and hearts and souls, guiding them into Life and Truth … That an excellent education means nothing without depth & quality of character.

Why can’t we walk in this all the time? Why can’t moms build each other up & support each other when it is needed most?

I think it’s time to show each other a little understanding and a lot of grace. Time to quit seeking the approval of others & time to seek the heart of Jesus.

Working on My Mommy Skills

… And also, let’s be honest – I’m having a blast & getting super refreshed at the Mom Heart Conference in Las Colinas.

Learning a little bit about discipline & a little about grace. Can’t wait to share with you!

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Exploring the Wide World of Vinyl (courtesy of Expressions Vinyl)

So I’ve NEVER played with crafty vinyl before, but I’ve seen the folks over at Pick Your Plum get really excited about it … so when I saw an Expressions Vinyl giveaway over on Marty’s Musings … I put my name in the hat, since I have friends with Cricuts =)

AND I WON!!

Yeah, that NEVER happens. But I did!

So I ordered a bunch of Black, Lavender, and Soft Pink vinyl in the hopes that I’ll eventually figure out how to cut out an airplane for Heidi’s bedroom wall.

Though I might be aiming too high since I really have no idea how to use the Cricut, much less vinyl … Anyone have ideas for how to use my loot? I’m super open to suggestions!

Time to Plant Early Spring Veggies in Fort Worth!

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Early Spring garden is planted! The broccoli and onion slips are the only visible plants right now, but soon little buds will start popping up: I’ve also planted peas, carrots, and soy beans … I’m excited to watch it grow and share my experience with you =)

I’m pretty new to raising these types of veggies – in the past, I’ve had very good luck with plants that love the heat. Peppers and tomatoes are a cinch in my raised beds. Here in North Texas, getting lots of heat over a long period of time is a pretty safe bet. But I’ve never really been “in the mood” for gardening early enough in the season to plant the early season vegetables. I’m curious to see how it goes!

On Fertilizers: I’m pretty lazy as far as gardeners go. Our soil here in North Texas is not exactly the easiest to work with, as it’s pretty heavy on the clay, so I have installed three 10’x3′ raised beds for planting food crops – DIY dirt! And while I’m not necessarily the most organic gardener (I’ve been known to use some fire ant killer at various times, and I’m not above a chemically-produced fertilizer, but I use that stuff as a last resort), I LOVE and *highly* recommend John’s Recipe by Ladybug Brand! I get mine at the local feed supply store, and I’ve also seen landscape and garden shops carry it. I have used it from the start and have never had a bad experience with it. Tomato plants seem to especially thrive on it. A little bit goes a LONG way in the home vegetable garden!

Anybody else in the planting spirit lately? I wanna know what you’re putting in the ground! What works well in your neck of the woods? What are some challenges you’ve had?