The Library is the Thing

Hello all!! How is summer? Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves and spending lots of time with your family and friends. I know we are!!

So you all know we bought our first home in May after months of looking and searching for the perfect place.

Now we’ve landed in the beautiful town of Okemos, just east of E. Lansing and Michigan State. As we slowly transform this house into our own forever home (you can see more pics and follow the progress on my new blog:     2 Sisters 2 Houses) we are also exploring our new neighborhood and all it has to offer.

One of the biggest selling points to this girl? We are just down the street from the local Capital Area District Libraries Okemos branch!!!

I know, right? We live down the street from the library?! How perfect and awesome is that?

The CADL library system is incredible. It boasts a whopping 13 branches throughout Ingham County and hosts nearly a dozen programs throughout the system every single day.

We frequently visited the Downtown branch when we lived at our old place, but were excited to check out our local branch just shortly after moving in. So the whole family strapped on sneakers and we took a walk to the Okemos Library.

Right when you walk into the library you are greeted by the circulation desk and children’s area. Talk about making kids feel welcome! The girls ran right into the place and made themselves at home on the block table.

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And our timing was impeccable (which rarely happens) as we arrived just in time for the Kids Reading to Dogs program. This was one of Cedella’s favorite activities last summer at my old library in Hazel Park (or Grandma’s Library as the girls call it), so I was so happy to know that our local library offered a similar program. There were several therapy dogs and a crowd of kids waiting to read to them. It was so great to see such a well-attended program!! We even ran into some friends from Holt that had come just to read to the dogs.

Sadly, Cedella was a little bit shy, and it takes her a while to warm up to new places. So she opted out of reading to the dogs in order to play and read with her Dad and Izzie.

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But the most exciting part of the trip? Cedella chose to get her first library card! That’s right. 4 years old and she insisted on getting her own card so she could check out her own Rainbow Fairy books. She even ‘signed’ her name on the form. So. Cute.

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And though we’ve been driving over an hour each way to go to the Hazel Park library to assist Grandma Linda with her Summer Reading Program every Tuesday, we can’t wait to start spending more time at the Okemos library.

But in order to keep our incredible CADL system open and able to offer such great programs they need our help. Tomorrow, Tuesday August 5th, is the primary election vote. It also happens to have a couple of very important ballot initiatives that require turn-out and positive support. CADL needs your help. Please consider voting YES to renew their millage. More information can be learned HERE.

The CADL system is 90% funded by a local tax millage. This means that state and federal dollars count for very little of what makes CADL great. What makes our libraries so fantastic is local dollars and support.

Even better? The millage rate is not set to increase, it’s merely a renewal on the same millage rate that has been in place since 2006. In a time when all prices and taxes seem to be rising, isn’t it refreshing to know that the CADL system can operate on the same amount they have since 2006?! Knowing how hard it is to balance a library budget from seeing my co-workers have to make tough financial decisions, I give the CADL director a lot of credit in this department.

A lot of people think that by voting ‘no’ to renew this millage they are somehow ‘saving’ on their taxes. And perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they will save a few hundred dollars a year on their taxes. But what does that money equate to?

At $300 in millage dollars per resident per year?

$24.95/new hardcover book = 12 new books

$17.95/new children’s book = 16 new books

$19.95/new DVD movie = 15 new movies

$34.95/new digital audiobook  = 9 new audiobooks

OR…

$300/year for UNLIMITED NEW EVERYTHING!!

That’s right. Unlimited. You can read as much as you want. You can watch as many movies as you like. You will never tire of reading the same story to your kids every night, because you can always have exciting new stories. For purely the access to new and up-to-date materials, the millage is worth passing.

But for all the other resources available at the libraries? Your dollar goes so much further.

It is a safe and quiet place for kids and teens to read, do homework and hang out.

There are hundreds of resources for job seekers, resume writers and the unemployed.

Need something to do? Attend a concert, a movie or a storytime. For FREE!

Internet service gone down or need a higher speed WIFI connection? They’ve got your back.

I can’t stress enough how invaluable our libraries are. They are more than just stacks of antiquated books and paper. They are living breathing community centers full of information, resources and activities.

If you haven’t considered voting or always forget, please let this serve as a reminder to do so. Voting at a local level is so important and really does effect and change your town for better or worse.

So vote YES tomorrow to renew the CADL millage!! Pretty please with sugar on top!!

How We Do Spring

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones then you know the words of House Stark: Winter is Coming. Well this year in Michigan Winter came. And kept coming. And felt like it was never going to leave. Feet upon feet of snow fell. Everything was covered in a thick crust of salty ice. The Cold had a tendency to creep right into your bones and take root, never really leaving, no amount of blankets or layers or pair of socks could break its hold.

And through this mind-numbing, bone-chilling, soul-sucking Winter, we were house hunting.

It’s almost ridiculous to think about now. Michael and I (and occasionally the girls too), trudging about on a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon. Walking precariously over unsalted walks in search of our Forever Home. Thinking about it now, we’re a bit crazy, aren’t we?

Slowly. Very slowly, the days began to lengthen. The sun began to melt the glaciers of ice on every curb and street corner. And suddenly it was 50 degrees and it felt like the Sun was a brand new thing. Something we had forgotten, that we had been missing for too long.

As soon as that first thaw took hold we broke out of our frozen ice palace and headed out to do all the things we couldn’t during the Winter That Almost Never Ended. It didn’t bother us if there was snow on the ground as long as we could wear cool hats, warm coats and the sun was shining.

Here’s some of the things we did to say goodbye to Winter and welcome to Spring..

1. Just got out and walked. Usually to visit Dad at Spartan Spirits.

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2. Even if it was still cold we joked around on Sandy the Pony at Meijer. Sometimes 2 or 3 rides at a time if there wasn’t anyone waiting.

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3. Birthday Parties (like this one for our friend Claire)!! Especially if there were crafts involved. A few hours at a birthday party made us forget that it wasn’t summer yet.

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4. Bike Riding on the Deck. At the old house we didn’t have a yard and with a pretty busy sidewalk and street out front, so we rode around on the deck a lot. Don’t forget your helmets folks! Can’t be too safe!

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5. We went to the Potter Park Zoo with our friend Kierce. And you know what? Apparently the lions were sick of Winter too and were super vocal in their complaints about it.

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6. We hung out at the library music and story time with our friends Nia, Mia and Imani.

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7. When in doubt and super bored. Go visit Dad at Spartan Spirits, build a beer case Castle and play!

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8. We got out to walk and play on the swings as soon as possible. Someone can never get enough of the swings!

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9. We visited the farm when all the baby lambs were born and got to feed them.

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10. One day the magnolia tree next door was blossoming and the next day the snow was falling. Didn’t matter. We played outside anyways.

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11. And when the weather cleared again, we blew bubbles and played for hours on TeTe’s stoop in Hamtramck.

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12. For weeks Izzie carried her Doc McStuffins bag around with her to give mobile checkups to all those in need.

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13. Take in a baseball game! Just don’t forget your blankets, it’s Michigan after all. My MIL Becky invited us to a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game. So BIL André and his lovely girlfriend Merissa came into town and joined us for a night out. So. Fun.

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14. Take the kids to see Sesame Street Live. Cause Elmo and Big Bird can pretty much make every day look like a sunny day and sweep all the clouds away. It was Izzie’s first show. She wasn’t nearly as enraptured as Ella and Anna though.

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15. Field Trips!! In the midst of all the packing, closing, cleaning and schlepping boxes to our new house Preschool helped keep Cedella busy and engaged. I couldn’t pass up a chance to go to the MSU Horse Farm. She absolutely loved it there. Even if the stalls were a bit stinky for her taste.

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Despite all the excitement we managed to sort, purge, bag, box, donate, transport, sell or move all of our worldly possessions to our new home.

And somewhere along the way Winter stayed gone. Now it’s nothing but blue skies, hot days and mosquitoes. But we’ll talk about those little buggers another day.

How’s your spring been going? Any big plans for summer? Family vacations around the corner? Tell me all about them in the comments!!

 

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Here Comes Santa Claus

What a week. It’s been sad and trying to say the very least. Sad for any one with a heart. So incredibly unimaginably hard for the people of Newtown.

Despite this sadness the holiday season marches on. Cheerful Christmas tunes in every store. Lights twinkling in front yards. Rolls of wrapping paper being cut and taped into sweet surprises. It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Perhaps the best thing we can do to honor those sweet babies that lost their lives is to continue to live ours. To celebrate their youth and the significance their loss has had on our national discourse. Perhaps they will be more than just the most important people to their families. Perhaps they will become symbols of peace. Symbols of change. May they rest in peace.

Saturday, the day after such a devastating tragedy, was the annual Crafts with Santa program at our library. One of my Mom’s popular and wonderful kid’s programs of the year. Kids and their parents come to make a bunch of crafts then they can visit with Santa, take photos and each child gets a book. And it’s all FREE. Best. Program. Ever.

This year was certainly busy, but it had the highest volunteer rate of any Santa day yet. So much so that I didn’t have to ‘man’ a table. I was free to walk about and visit with old friends and take tons of pictures. It’s at once so relaxing because I can enjoy myself (as much as anyone with two children under 3 can enjoy themselves at a chaotic event). But it’s a bit sad to realize that my Mom can handle all these programs without me. Not because the library staff isn’t great (they are) but just because we put all these things together ourselves for so many years, and she doesn’t need me anymore. :(

After crafts came the real magic. Santa time.

Being VIPs of the library means that we got to answer the staff door when Santa came a knocking. And this Santa? He’s brilliant. A real snowy white beard and the long white hair to match. And he has the most kind and twinkling eyes. So mischievous and yet sweet.

Cedella got a chance to say hi and shake hands and talk to him for a while before she had to get her Christmas dress on and before Santa had to make his entrance. The perks of being a library brat, right?

I get to play elf to Santa for the afternoon with my friend and old co-worker Mary. And yes, I say lines from Elf in my head the entire time.

It feels great to watch all the different children come and sit (or scream) on Santa’s lap. Listening to what they want for Christmas is hilarious and oh so sweet. And our Santa’s response is always so kind and yet doesn’t put the parents on the hooks for things they don’t have the inclination or the funds to buy.

Our Santa never brings live animals “because they don’t fly so well on the sleigh”. And expensive electronic items “are very popular so they may not make it, but may I bring you some surprises instead?” What kid says ‘no’ to surprises from Santa? Not a one.

When at last all the kiddies were done with their Santa lap-sitting it was our turn.

Time for Isora to finally meet the Man in Red.

It didn’t go so well…

And even though she got a chance to warm up to him before it can time to sit on his lap, Cedella wouldn’t sit with him. But she did stand next to him as long as I was holding her.

And then this happened…

Santa “And what would you like for Christmas young lady?”

Cedella: “Presents”

Santa “What kind of presents?”

Cedella “All of those…” pointing to the entire cart full of wrapped books for the library kids.

And with that Santa chuckled and Cedella got shy and our visit with Santa was over.

After a very welcomed trade with her little friend Avery, Cedella scored a Tinkerbell book. And sat right down in the middle of the library to read it. (That’s her proud librarian Grandma right behind her).

I couldn’t let their sweet dresses go to waste. So I snapped a few pictures of them with the library’s gorgeous tree. I love this one of them looking at each other…

And there’s my sweet angels with their whole lives ahead of them and so many Christmases to come ::deep breath::

And my sweet Izzie Boo.

Seeing these pictures and knowing that their are families that won’t be celebrating the holidays with their children, whether its from the senseless violence in Newtown, the devastation of the wars in Middle East or due to the tragedy of childhood cancers and illnesses. We will be lighting a candle and praying for peace every night for the rest of the year for them. It’s not much, I know. But it’s something.

Merry Christmas to you all and to all a good night.