Friday Fast Five: Books, Buckets, and Breakfast

Let’s pretend not to notice how long it’s been since I wrote a FFF post, shall we? I’d like to say this is the start of a more regular blogging schedule, but the self-recrimination I’ll indulge in when I don’t manage to follow through may be too overwhelming. So I hope you enjoy today’s Friday Fast Five…I also hope it’s not another five months before I do it again.

1. Summer Reading Clubs: One of my favorite things about summer is lazy afternoons spent with a book. For me, reading time is a reward in and of itself. But for kids, who have so many other things tempting their time, a broader external reward system may be required. Which is why I love summer reading programs. First, check your local library-they are sure to have a great summer reading plan with lots of fun incentives. Miss A and Lil’ G are headed over to our library this weekend for their Summer Reading kick-off. The library even has a program for adults that includes raffles for e-readers and other great prizes.

Lil' G, showing off her new library card!

Though Borders is no more (our local one is still a big empty space of sad), other bookstores have great programs. Check out Barnes&Noble’s Summer Reading program. Kids get a reading journal you can print out straight from the website to keep track of the books they read throughout the summer. When they finish, they can turn it in and receive a free book from a specified list. Last year Miss A was excited to receive the 39 Clues book penned by Rick Riordan.

My favorite summer reading program for kids is the one HalfPriceBooks runs. Print out the monthly reading tally sheet and keep track of your child’s reading time. At the end of each month (June, July & August), your young readers can turn in the sheets in exchange for a $5 HPB giftcard. If you’ve shopped at HalfPriceBooks before, you know that five bucks can buy alot. Also, the tally sheets are entered in a monthly contest: the reader who logs the most book time from each age group scores a $20 giftcard. Getting my girls to love reading has a secret selfish motive,  it means they won’t bother me when I’m doing it- and we can all enjoy doing this:

2. On the topic of reading: I was recently turned on (ha! pun kind of intended) to Roni Loren’s Loving on the Edge series. I have yet to read the first in the series, Crash Into You, but bought the newly released novella Still Into You, because A:the premise of a married couple who still love each other, but have lost the passion in the scramble of daily life, and B: Roni is hosting a sweet contest on her blog right now, send her proof you purchased Still Into You, and you’re entered to win your choice of some snazzy prizes. Check it out – contest ends Tuesday, June 12th. I’d wish you luck, but I want to win too. ETA: See my quick review of Still Into You over on GoodReads.

3. Summer Bucket List on Pinterest: An admitted Pinterest-addict, I have been controlling myself and spending much less time on that visual smorgasbord (and, spending way too much time on Twitter instead-yes, I realize I’ve traded one vice for another). Which is perhaps part of the reason my newest pinboard is looking so naked. I am committed to giving my girls a healthy dose of chill out and do whatever the heck you want time (because, in this overscheduled world we live in, kids don’t get enough of that), but I also want to make some great summer memories doing cool, silly, creative, wild things. I’ve got the usual planned: time at the lake, strawberry picking, plein air painting at the botanic garden…but need some new ideas to wow ’em (and me too). If you have some fun summer activities, please let me know so I can fill my summer calendar and my lonely pinboard!

4. Plan to make the most of the summer: as a mom and a writer: Ok, so as noted above, I‘ve got the am getting a plan in place to make the most of this summer in my mom role…but how about that other role? Finding writing time is already a struggle with only 1 kid home, now that both girls will be home 24/7 (school ended today)-my time will once again be owned by two demanding redheads. Short of plugging them into Netflix all day, I need a plan to keep them active while building my word count…here are some ideas:

A- a fantastic, fabulous friend with a giant new swing set in a fenced backyard has offered to have the girls over for playdates for a few hours at least once a week. There is a Starbuck’s right down the street from her house, where I can park it and type, but still be close enough to rescue her if my kids get to be too much.

B- even though I was looking forward to sleeping past 6am since I’m not obligated to spend the first waking hour of my day making hot, brain-building breakfasts and packing trash-free lunches, I am thinking a few times a week I need to plan to get up at the usual 6am and write for at least an hour before Miss A and Lil G make their morning appearance. I’d say I’ll try and get up at 5, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

C- Break up fun days with writing days. One day a week I plan to have a “big fun” day scheduled, where I take the girls and we do something active, creative, and adventurous. Hit the stuff on my bucket list (see above). To balance that, one day a week shall be a “chill” day, when the girls can lay around in pj’s, watch t.v., play video games, raid the snack pantry, and leave Mama alone to write, write WRITE. I will leave my computer to check on them periodically, you know, when I need another cup of coffee. Knowing I have at least 1 day a week dedicated to each “goal” will help relieve some of my stress (I hope).

5. My Nutella breakfast that actually IS low-cal and healthy: So I recently discovered Nutella (I blame Pinterest) and have fallen hard for it’s wicked yumminess.  Eating an entire jar of the stuff for breakfast is not going to jive with my efforts to drop some pounds, but I have found a happy (and delicious) compromise. My new favorite breakfast: a whole-wheat sandwich thin (100 calories) or whole-wheat bagel thin (110 calories), spread with 1 tblsp of Nutella (1/2 a tablespoon on each side of the thin) this is only 1/2 a serving of Nutella, so it only totals 100 calories  (and if you lick the knife, I won’t tell). Then top each nutella-smeared thin with some fresh strawberry slices (there is only around 50 calories in a cup of fresh strawberry halves, so go ahead and pile a few extra berries on your plate to make it pretty). Did you do your math? This yummy, nutella-y, fruity, breakfast is only 250 calories.

Sweet heaven on a plate. You can save your sinning for after breakfast.

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