Summer Reading Parenting Tips

Tips for parents to get kids into regular summer reading routine

More than 50 million children in the U.S. have started their summer vacations and their annual break from homework, tests and assignments. Unfortunately, many of them will stop reading while having fun in the sun and experts say parents need to make sharing books a part of summer vacation and establish regular reading routines for their children.

Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, has several tips for parents to make reading a part of the summer break.

“Summer reading should be all about the parent-child experience,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Rather than having it be a chore, or a list of must-read books, summer is a terrific opportunity to build family reading experiences. Whether it’s as simple as reading with children so they can see how much adults love reading, or visiting places and doing activities tied to a book, there are a host of ways reading can help children enjoy the summer and be ready to start school in the fall.”

Here are some of the Raising A Reader tips for parents:

  • Reading often gets lost in the shuffle of summer activities such as camp, sports and vacation travel. Schedule a regular time to share books with your child and establish a regular routine to ensure reading doesn’t become a low priority and has the same importance as other activities.
  • It’s OK to let your child read e-books if he or she is comfortable using a tablet, but remember, whether it’s an e-book or a print book — especially for young children — the most important thing is to spend time together sharing the book. It’s about the experience, not the technology.
  • Make it fun. Have your child come up with a different ending to a story, play ‘what if’ with the characters or the setting, or read the book from end to beginning. Come up with fun ways to engage your child beyond the actual reading of the book.
  • Let your child choose. Books are great, but so are comic books, magazines and even educational websites such as National Geographic Kids or The Discovery Channel. Let them chase their interests and they’ll be reading more than they realize.
  • Create an outdoor reading area so the whole family can enjoy the summer weather and not feel stuck inside. Children generally read indoors, so being outdoors will create a new environment for enjoying a book and boost a child’s enthusiasm for reading.
  • Connect with other families to share books and arrange reading playdates. You can even set up a Facebook group to stay in touch and share ideas, swap books and make plans.
  • Write a book with your child about them, your family, their favorite foods or toy, their friends or whatever interests them most. Your child can draw pictures or use actual photos. If you’re worried that your child spends too much time watching TV or playing video games, have him or her tell you or write a story about their favorite TV show or video game. You can also use one of many templates available to create and print the book on your computer.
  • Invite the family pet to join the book sharing experience. Even if your child can’t read yet, have her ‘read’ the story to you and the pet. Children who can read will be able to practice their skills and children who have not yet learned to read will begin to think of themselves as ‘readers’ which is very important to lifelong learning.
  • Find books that are centered on summer activities he or she enjoys. If your child likes to go horseback riding, for example, find books about horses or stories with horses as an integral part of the plot. This will give a child a welcome change from the types of books read during the school year and better complement their summer.
  • If you are taking a trip, read books about your destination with your child before you leave. Do some research with them on the location and find things in the area they want to do while visiting. And don’t forget to play “I Spy” with road signs or license plates along the way.
  • If you are taking your kids somewhere for the day, such as a pool, the beach, a picnic or the zoo, pack a book to share and have a reading break or two during day. After an hour or so in the water, your child may enjoy 30 minutes of reading on a comfortable chair or even floating on a raft.
  • Create a summer reading challenge with family members or connect to your public library’s summer reading challenge activities. When your child meets the challenge make sure there is time to talk about the book, share the story with others and read the next book.

Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 32 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide. More information is available at RaisingAReader.org, @RARnational (Twitter) and RaisingAReaderNational (Facebook).

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Disclosure: The links in this blog post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, I will receive a small commission from Groovy Lab in a Box.

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Groovy Lab in a Box, the award-winning educational kits for kids ages eight and up that teach about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), recently announced a new partnership with Popular Mechanics.

Each month, they send out a themed box filled with investigations that are fun and hands on. The investigations culminate into an Engineering Design Challenge, where your STEMists must apply what they’ve learned from the investigations (and use their critical thinking skills) to complete the challenge. The boxes contain everything you need to complete all of the activities, including a groovy retro-themed lab notebook. The box activities are supplemented with their Beyond…in a Box web portal where your children will find videos and additional, interactive activities. Head over to Groovy Lab in a Box’s website to learn more about this great service!

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5 STEM and Maker Apps and Games

School’s out! And that means it’s time to plan for what summer activities should be on schedule. What should you do to keep your kids from the summer slide and regressing academically on their summer break? STEM and maker apps and games.

Traditionally, as the designated family vacation time, summer travel was a great way to teach kids about geography, culture and history. But what about getting your kids to invest a little bit in learning STEM, the hard sciences and math skills that are so important to quality academics and careers?

Not to worry, summer can be a great time to get you kids – especially young ones – to learn science, math and computer skills – especially while road tripping. And with new, highly successful gamification learning and apps, most kids don’t even know they are learning computer coding or physics.

STEM-based, maker movement compatible games and activities

Finding and using a few of these STEM-based, maker movement compatible games and activities can absolutely stall the summer learning slide and may even give your kids a leg up next year or even further down the road.

While you may want to spend a few minutes searching computer and STEM learning activities for the summer, here are a few ideas and options to get you started. Many of these are free – or less than $6.

1. Lego Education – get kits for hands-on building mechanized buildme-slider-9b6ec45b65253f312e6368bf3fd677b3robots and other tech and engineering marvels using Legos. And much, much more.

https://education.lego.com/en-us/?domainredir=www.legoeducation.us

2. Simple Physics – an app that allows kids to build things such as skyscrapers and bridges using real physics and engineering and calculating cost considerations.

http://jundroo.com/app/simplephysics/

3. Blokus – an easy, kid-focused app based strategy game that rewards strategic decision making and spatial awareness.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blokus/id762630884?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

4. Tynker – introduce kids to the basics of computer coding with the leading app and learning platform for coding for kids.

https://www.tynker.com/

compass unit5. Orienteering – an outside, map-based logic sport and game that’s more than a century old – teaching map skills and navigation.

http://evavarga.net/product/introduction-to-orienteering/

Today an Elephant I Will Be!

Kathy Walsh, the award-winning author of “Love is the Moon, the Sky, and the Stars”, is thrilled to announce the release of a new children’s book. “Today an Elephant I Will Be!” guides children through the process of finding peace through whimsical illustrations, charming language, and a resounding message.

“Today an Elephant I Will Be!”

Today an Elephant I Will Be

As part of the Joyohboy book series in conjunction with Peace Place for Kids, Kathy Walsh’s message seeks to show children that finding peace comes from the inside. By understanding mindfulness, learning to ask for help, and identifying what peace means to them, children lead a happier life filled with positivity.

“Connecting with peace puts the child in harmony with life,” Kathy stated. “When children connect with peace, they live a life of joy, because that is what they attract. They are able to go to that place of peace inside, no matter what is happening on the outside, and ultimately, peace is where the power lies. They are in control when they are at peace.”

 

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“Today an Elephant I Will Be!” is just one of the many books available from Joyohboy, one of the many successful mindfulness and peace ventures launched by Kathy Walsh. “My intention with creating Joyohboy is to have a space where books, meditations, and products support mindful parenting” Walsh states on her website. Joyohboy provides parents with the tools and resources necessary to help their children live a peaceful life and make an impactful change on the world.

Other books available from Joyohboy and Peace Place for Kids include “30 Days to a Mindful Home”, “Life is a Rainbow”, and “Raising Peaceful Kids”.

“Today an Elephant I Will Be!” debuted at the NY Vegetarian Food Festival on May 7th and 8th, 2016. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and can also be found by visiting www.joyohboy.com.

About Kathy Walsh

Those who know Kathy’s story will tell you that her career and position as a mindfulness expert is no coincidence. Inspired by her whimsical and influential childhood experiences, Kathy set out to live a positive life of mindfulness and peace. A master meditator and avid reader and author of mindfulness books, Kathy created a series of children’s books and meditations called Joyohboy. Boasting more than 20 years of experience working with children, the arts, and education, Kathy finds nothing more exciting than helping children and their families find a life of peace. In addition to her adventures in peace and mindfulness, Kathy also owns and operates KnockKnock Social and provides marketing and branding strategies with integrity to companies worldwide. For more information on Kathy Walsh, Joyohboy, and Peace Place for Kids, please visit www.joyohboy.com.

Five Tips to Avoid Raising Financially Illiterate Kids

“Many parents would rather talk to their kids about sex and politics than money,” says St. Louis investment expert, Matt Hall, President and Co-Founder of Hill Investment Group.

He continues, “The dangers of not being financially literate are huge. Many parents set the child up for failure by remaining silent on the topic of money, but also by helping to create a lifestyle that is unsustainable once the child is independent. We all want to build resilient little people, but the key is to be intentional about the lessons and values we talk about, teach and model.”

Some advice for talking to your kids this summer, Hall adds, ”Talk about making money, analyze costs, develop a plan and recognize the power of being responsible…these are the initial steps for success.”  He can break it down into age groups as well – from toddler to teen – but here are some tips:

  • When should a parent begin talking to their kids about money? 

A general rule of thumb is to start teaching basic money concepts when a child can count. The truth is that they’ve probably already started learning about money by watching and observing Mom and Dad’s behaviors when dealing with and talking about money. Check out this awesome link for a curriculum to follow from kindergarten to 12th grade http://pin.it/AGaKZce.
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  • How should a parent open the dialogue?

Start by making it natural. Normalize the topic by talking about it and being open regarding how you and the family will make important money decisions. Conversations can start at the check out counter or at the kitchen table, but the point is to start and then layer money talk in wherever and whenever you can.

  • Should children get an allowance?

Yes, an allowance can be considered income for a child’s first job. It’s not a gift. Make the expectations crystal clear and hold firm to paying only for top notch work. If making the bed is a basic requirement then don’t pay for it. Pay for tasks that go beyond expected chores.

  • When a child has their own money, how should they be advised to spend it?

Consider sharing experience instead of giving advice. Let your child consider making a choice instead of feeling like she might have to either go with your guidance or against it. Talk about taxes, charity and personal spending decisions you’ve made in the past. Which ones are you proud of and why? Where would you love to have a “do over.”

  • If my son wants to spend all his money in the vending machine, should I stop him?

If your son makes a conscious decision to spend all his money in the vending machine the consequence will be revealed when he can’t buy something else. One of the best ways to teach kids about the boundaries of money is for them to bump into them (in safe ways) on their own. Think of this as tuition towards a valuable lesson.

Unlike the often dry and academic investment advice provided by brokers, Hall’s storytelling is entertaining and inspirational and he has advice for all age groups including children and teens. In fact, he details his inspiring story and his evidence-based investing methods in his new memoir-manifesto, Odds On: The Making of an Evidence-Based Investor.

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Matt Hall is the President and Co-Founder of Hill Investment Group with offices in St. Louis, MO and Houston, TX. He is the lead on all strategic matters — crafting the firm’s vision, establishing its exceptional standards, and managing key relationships. Hall is forever a student of his craft and has attended the highest level of training and education tied to investment theory and practice. What’s more, Hall has led many training programs for top advisors, and founded a peer group of hundreds of advisors, called Evidence-Based Advisors, from the U.S., UK, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, and Canada.

Hall graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. He and his wife, Lisa, have a young daughter who is the star of their lives.

Learn more about Hall at matthallbook.com and connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Odds On is currently available on 800 CEO Read, Amazon and other fine booksellers. 

Rock of Ages Coming to Little Rock, July 7-24

THE STUDIO THEATRE’S PRODUCTION OF

ROCK OF AGES

JULY 7 – 24, 2016

Rock of Ages

DATES AND TIMES

Performances are July 7, 8 (Grand Opening Celebration), 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 2016

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances (July 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23) will begin at 7:30pm

Sunday matinees (July 10, 17, 24) will begin at 2:30pm

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets are $25.00 for general admission

Tickets are $20.00 for Seniors (65+), Military, and Students.

There are no assigned seats at The Studio Theatre

The box office will open at 6:30pm on performance dates and the house will open approximately 20 minutes prior to curtain.

Tickets may be purchased at eventbrite.com through the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rock-of-ages-the-musical-tickets-25747129357

We highly recommend that tickets be purchased in advance, as we cannot guarantee availability at the door.

The Lobby Bar is open before and after the show and during intermission.

Rated R for language, adult humor, and suggestive clothing.

GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION INFORMATION

Tickets for the Grand Opening Celebration (July 8, 2016) are $50 and include a catered cocktail buffet and an open bar (beer and wine) from 6:00 pm-7:30 p.m.  Following the show, a champagne toast with the cast and crew will end this amazing evening!

Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rock-of-ages-grand-opening-gala-tickets-25747038084

ABOUT THE SHOW

Rock of Ages is a rock/jukebox musical, built around classic rock songs from the glam metal bands of the 1980s, including Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, and Poison among other well-known rock bands.

The show is designed to be a hybrid experience that lies somewhere between rock concert and musical theatre.  During the performance, the performers directly address the audience.

Despite the musical’s title, the Def Leppard song of the same name is not included in the musical.

The original Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances, closing on January 18, 2015 as the 27th-longest running show in Broadway history.

On July 1, 2009, the cast set a new Guinness World Record for the Largest Air Guitar Ensemble. A total of 810 participants, including audience members and fans, shattered the previous record of 440 people playing air guitar simultaneously.

SYNOPSIS

It’s the tail end of the big, bad 1980s in Hollywood, and the party has been raging hard. Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor flow freely at one of the Sunset Strip’s last legendary venues, a place where sex machine Stacee Jaxx takes the stage and scantily clad groupies line up to turn their fantasies into reality. Amidst the madness, aspiring rock star (and resident toilet cleaner) Drew longs to take the stage as the next big thing (and longs for small-town girl Sherri, fresh off the bus from Kansas with stars in her eyes). But the rock and roll fairy-tale is about to end when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn the fabled Strip into just another capitalist strip mall. Can Drew, Sherri and the gang save the strip–and themselves–before it’s too late? Only the music of hit bands Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and more hold the answer.

ROCK OF AGES CREATIVE TEAM

Music Arranged & Orchestrated by
Ethan Popp

Book by
Chris D’Arienzo

Director
Justin A. Pike

Music Director
Chuck Massey

Assistant Director
Tanner Oglesby

Chorerographer
Sara Adams Reynolds

Stage Manager
Beth Ross

Assistant Stage Manager
Jennifer Jackson Restum

Scenic Design
Justin A. Pike

Lighting Design
Joey DiPette

Costume Design
Trent Reese

Production Assistants
Tye Davis
Antwon Staton
Shawn O’Brien
Rachel Brown

ROCK OF AGES CAST

SHERRIE CHRISTIAN – Bridget Davis

DREW BOLEY – Micah Patterson

LONNY BARNETT – Michael Goodbar

DENNIS DUPREE – Danny Troillett

STACEE JAXX – Adam Smith

JUSTICE CHARLIER – Leiloni Brewer

HERTZ KLINEMANN – Harold Dean

FRANZ KLINEMANN – Benjanmin Mills

REGINA MCKAIG – Gabi Baltzley

MAYOR/JA’KEITH – Jeremiah James Herman

JOEY PRIMO – Michael Smith

WAITRESS/CONSTANCE SAK – Hannah Fairman

WATRESS/YOUNG GROUPIE – Brooke Melton

WAITRESS – Molly Rosenthal

WAITRESS – Reagan Hammonds

WAITRESS – Casey Labbate

PIT SINGERS
Tamara Murry Boggs
Cole Chandler
Mikala Hicks
Luke Johnson

THEATRE LOCATION & CONTACT INFORMATION

THE STUDIO THEATRE
320 W. 7TH Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

501.374.2615

www.thestudiotheatre-lr.org

 
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World Productivity Day Tips

Productivity Tips by Johan Gunnars, CEO and Co-Founder of Simpliday

Don’t say yes to everything. While many people set high productivity standards for themselves, it’s necessary to be realistic about your time limitations. It’s okay to say no to requests from others—or even from yourself—and not feel bad about it. Instead, be proud of what you have accomplished and confident in the tasks you’ve chosen to prioritize.

Use your commute for less intensive tasks. Many people consider the daily commute as valuable productivity time. While that’s true, this time doesn’t have to be spent taking care of your most stressful tasks. Instead of answering work emails or crunching numbers, use the commute to check off less intensive tasks that still make you productive, such as brainstorming play-date ideas for your child, calling your mother to say hi, listening to a podcast you’ve been wanting to tune into, or even using this time to relieve some stress by singing along with the radio!

Live by your organized calendar. There’s nothing that helps you stay productive better than an organized, beautiful, and functional calendar. Seek out a calendar app that reflects your personality, doesn’t bore you with a grey and lackluster interface, adapts to your life, and allows you to easily move appointments, send meeting invites, link your emails or Facebook events, and see your list of reminders all in one place. The right calendar app will ensure that you’ll never miss an event and can take pride in your completed tasks.  (Note from Stacey: I just ordered this coloring calendar for myself.)
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Evaluate and eliminate time and money wasting relationships. Ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of marketing emails, texts or calls you receive? How about the acquaintances whose invitations you keep declining? By assessing your email inbox, friendships, and commitments, you can easily declutter your life by unsubscribing. Remove yourself from any pesky or irrelevant retail mailing lists and focus on spending your time with those you truly want to spend your time with.

Quit multi-tasking. It’s difficult in this day and age to tune out all of the distractions and focus on the task at hand. Social media, a buzzing phone, happy children begging to play, emails constantly arriving, a never-ending to-do list, or even “worker’s block” all make it tempting to jump from task to task. By putting your phone in the other room on silent, taking your email offline, or pre-arranging play dates, nannies, or a convenient nap time, you can convince yourself to quit multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time. In the end, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish!

About the Author
Johan Gunnars is an entrepreneur and CEO and co-founder of
Simpliday—Meetings, Reminders & Email in One, a new iPhone calendar app allowing users to achieve a more organized and efficient life by bringing together meetings, reminders and email in one customizable, beautiful, user-friendly app. Gunnars experience in productivity, software, e-commerce, consumer electronics, among others, leads him to focus on how companies and products can make a difference while connecting to the overall vision and strategy. Gunnars is based in Malmo, Sweden. For more information about Gunnars and Simpliday, visit Simpliday.

Tiny Prints - Flash Sale

Matcha Mini Cheesecakes

Article provided by my friends at Art of Tea. I am one of their affiliates, so if you make a purchase through one of my links, I will make a small commission. Your price, however, remains the same.
Tea GiftsIt is no secret that matcha is swiftly being recognized as a wonder tea from East to West. Much of this has to do with how much of the benefits of green tea are multiplied by the total immersion of stone ground green tea leaves.matcha

These little matcha cheesecakes are a great addition to any afternoon tea time or party. We’ve added the element of sesame seeds to compliment the elegance of matcha. (For more on Matcha, check out our Introduction.)

Matcha Mini Cheesecakes

You may choose to make the crust a day ahead, to save on waiting on time. We used our Grade A Matcha for this recipe, but it would be very nice with our Ginger Matcha.

Crust

  • 1 cup of cookie or graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted. (Keep a bit extra at room temperature for greasing the pans.)
  • 3 Tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 3 Tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted.

Filling

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons matcha powder
  • ¼ cup ground black or white sesame, powder, for dusting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease four 4” springform pans. Wrap the entire exterior of the pans in tin foil.

Grind your cookie crumbs in a food processor until they resemble a fine powder. Add butter, sugar and salt. Pulse until combined evenly. Transfer to a bowl and add sesame seeds. Mix until evenly combined.

Divide the raw crust evenly between your prepared pans. Press down on the top of each crust with the backside of a measuring cup for an even layer. Place pans on a baking sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and firm to touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

In an electric mixer, with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium high, until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and incrementally add in the dry mixture. Mix until smooth.

Add sour cream, vanilla and almond extracts. Mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix until just combined – do not overbeat.

Add the matcha powder to bowl. Stir gently to combine. Divide the cream cheese filling between the four pans. Set the well sealed pans in a shallow roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with boiling water, so that it reaches halfway up the springform pans.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. The cakes should be set, with a slight wobble in the center. Turn off your oven and leave the door slightly ajar, with the cakes still inside. Let sit for 45 minutes. Carefully remove cakes to a wire rack. Let cakes cool completely.

Refrigerate uncovered overnight, or at minimum 4 hours in their springform.

Release the cakes from the springform. Dust with sesame or matcha powder before serving.

Tea Gifts

Family Roadtrip to Bentonville



Last Friday, Anthony, Kennedy, Maya, Quinn and I loaded up the car and drove to Bentonville for the day. I had wanted to take the kids to the Scott Family Amazeum since it opened, and we finally got a free day to go. Our 12-year-old Madison was at church camp, so unfortunately she missed out this time.

amazeumAmazeum lives up to it’s name! We all had such a great time. Even though it’s geared toward kids ages 4 though 9, it has two play areas for toddlers, as well as managed to peak the imagination of our teenager. Anthony and I enjoyed watching our daughters have so much fun.

We had lunch at Crepes Paulette, a food truck in downtown Bentonville — not too far away from the Amazeum. There was a long line, but the wait was worth it. Maya got a strawberry and Nutella crepe.

Crepes PauletteAfter lunch, we went back to the Amazeum. We had 2:15 passes to the Hershey Lab. I thought we would get to play with chocolate (as in EAT chocolate) in the Hershey Lab, but instead it was an experiment about weights of items. This was my only disappointment of the day because I WANTED CHOCOLATE of course.

After we left the Amazeum, we drove back to downtown Bentonville and parked near the square. We walked to the Walmart Museum and did a quick tour through there, then walked over to Onyx Coffee Lab for a pick up me before the drive home.

It was an awesome day. We definitely want to spend more time in Bentonville — and spend the night next time; maybe even a whole weekend. There is so much to do in this bustling, little town.

Maya and Quinn conked out on the drive home. I call that a sign of a good day. asleep in the car

Please share your favorite family town to visit in Arkansas. I want to do more of these family roadtrips and welcome your suggestions.

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A Simple Cup of Tea

Article provided by my friends at Art of Tea. I am one of their affiliates, so if you make a purchase through one of my links, I will make a small commission. Your price, however, remains the same.

It’s been just over 240 years since the Sons of Liberty destroyed an entire shipment of tea, tossing it defiantly into the Boston harbor. So began the Revolutionary War. In John Adams’ letters to his wife following the Boston Tea Party, he professed his love of tea, but admitted he would be switching to coffee. Tea had become unpatriotic and coffee began it’s reign.

Needless to say, we have a complicated relationship with tea in the states.

Regardless of where it’s being consumed, tea stands apart from coffee for a variety of reasons. One of the most interesting, perhaps, is the idea of “ritual” that seems to follow tea around like a prerequisite. It may be an echo of rituals across the globe. It might also be the very nature of tea – the time it takes to brew and the variety of flavor that lends itself to a different appreciation than a cup of coffee.

We could write an entire book on all of the ancient rituals surrounding tea. Instead, we’d like to explore the rituals that exist today, everyday, that are usually left overlooked.

  1. The Children’s Tea Party: You’d be hard pressed to find a six year old who doesn’t at least know what a tea party is. It’s almost a phenomenon – what other social event do kids regularly orchestrate on their own? Childhood tea parties are not only incredibly adorable, they are also incredibly well thought out. The table is set, “guests” are gathered around, (usually pretend) tea is poured and sometimes cookies even make an appearance. Thank you Olde English Children’s Books for keeping tea parties alive.
  2. The Morning Cup of Tea: Let us be clear – tea in the morning is a different beast than coffee. A (good) morning cup of tea requires that you heat water, steep your leaves, and wait. And wait…It’s kind of a zen experience, having to wait for your caffeine. Even if you decide to go to a cafe rather than brew at home, you never quite escape the patience that tea insists.
  3. The Iced Black Tea and Lemonade: Or, as most people call them, an Arnold Palmer. (We have our own spin on that from National Lemonade Day.) This drink has knocked it out of the park over the last several years. It started with a golf hero, but it’s fair to assume that few of the 20-something’s that regularly order an “Arnold Palmer” have a clue who the man actually is. The ritual lives in routine, and it’s always refreshing to know tea can seamlessly transition into warmer months.
  4. The Sick Day Tea: “You should drink some tea.” How many people shared that sage advice the last time you had a cough or runny nose? It’s such common sense at this point, and yet you can’t get away from the suggestion. There is a conception, and a valid one, that tea has healing properties. We aren’t doctors, but the doctors we know tell us this is more or less true. Imagine that moment after a long day of work and a nasty head cold, when you take your first sip of piping hot chamomile tea with lemon, breathing in the steam. It’s truly like a breathe of fresh air.
  5. The Pot of Tea: This always feels like a big one. A full pot of tea seems to separate the casual drinkers from the die hard. Tea, typically, is a sipping drink. A pot of tea is an hour of your life that you have dedicated to tea (and usually something else, we’re not crazy, we realize you’re probably reading a book or working on a paper.) In that moment, when you fill your pot or order a full pot at the neighborhood cafe, you’ve established yourself as a “tea drinker.” In our books, that’s a pretty awesome commitment.

We invite you to join us. We invite you to share your ritual – what does it look like? How does it inform your day? Is it sweet or astringent? Are you comforted or inspired? Is it a private moment in your day, or a shared experience around a warm pot?

Tell us. Share with us. Join in and help paint the picture of tea.

Gourmet Tea and Gifts

I think it’s so fun to try different teas. A few of my favorites lately include:
Moroccan Mint Green Tea
Masala Chai Tea
Oolong Tea

What is your favorite type of tea?

Tea Gifts

A blog by Stacey Valley.