A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Month: May 2021

Summer Bookworm Programs for Kids

Reading should NOT be a “chore” for kids!  Instead, books should open up a world of adventure.  When reading, your child may sail the ocean and dig treasures with those pesky pirates.  Perhaps they will dress in fancy dresses and dine on french pastries with Fancy Nancy.  Maybe they prefer to dress in scuba gear and do some deep sea diving to discover all of the unusual fish and corals.  How else can children do so many things in one day, one week, one summer?  It’s looking like we need to look into summer bookworm programs for kids!

Summer reading programs not only entice children to keep reading, but they offer different awards for their achievements.  While we may not want to admit it, everyone has discovered that bribery is a great motivator for kids.  Ok, maybe it’s not bribery, but it is a great way of rewarding them for setting goals and reaching them.  I’ve compiled a list of programs…and what’s even better is that they are free!

 Wait a minute….did you say FREE????

Types of Summer Bookworm Programs for Kids ~

Pizza Hut’s Book-It Program ~

It’s super easy to sign up for this fun program.  Set reading goals and once reached head on over to Pizza Hut for some FREE pizza!  Click here for easy access to register for the Pizza Hut Summer Reading Program…..  You will have 3 options to register:

  1. Homeschool parent for kids ages 4 to 12
  2. Enroll classs from PreK to 6th grade for public, private or charter school
  3. Parent of student(s) grades PreK to 6th

Once you are registered, there is a plethora of free resources such as activities, printables and reading trackers.  Seriously, this program is amazing and this Mimi thinks you would be crazy to not take advantage of all the stuff they have to offer.  We are all signed up in our family and just waiting for June 1 to roll around so we can get started!

Public Library Program ~

There are so many wonderful things about this program that has been around for…ever!  Let’s put it this way, I’m a Mimi and I enrolled my kids in this program every year when they were young.  You do the math!  😳

The INDYPL program is open to any resdient of Marion County and once again it is FREE!  (If you live outside of Indiana, be sure to look up fun programs at your local library!)  It runs from June 7, 2021 to July 31, 2021 and they provide 3 easy ways to register and track reading time of kids AND adults.  Yes, I said adults!  They offer special offerings for us big kids too!  How awesome is that?  Here are the options for registering:

  1. Create an account on Beanstack through the Apple App or Google Play Store
  2. Use the Beanstack website to register.  The link to Beanstack is right here….what are you waiting for?
  3. Sign up at your local IndyPL branch

Once you are registered for this summer bookworm program for kids (& adults), start reading and tracking the time of books read.  Older kids and adults who read to younger kids get credit for those minutes to.  The library even provides a colorful tracker that you can pick up at the library or download for free and print yourself.  They are offering a fun Discovery Bag…go check them out to learn more!

Barnes & Noble Program ~

Kids in grades 1 through 6 enroll in this program to earn free books!  A total of eight books need to be read to complete this awesome program.  The books can be borrowed or purchased.  Once they have finished reading each book, they are asked to write about their favorite part in the Reading Journal that Barnes & Noble provides.  Bring the completed journal into Barnes & Noble between July 1 and August 31, 2021 to choose a free book from the list provided.  Here is a convenient link to Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program!

Scholastic Summer Reading Program ~

Get started with this super exciting program by registering with Home Base.  Here is an easy link to the Home Base page for Scholastic!  I will say that it took me a few minutes to move around the Scholastic website to completely understand their program…but it is going to be so worth it.  I highly suggest you watch the short informative videos.  Once your child has registered with a fun avatar name he/she will be ready to go.

This program has really been updated to coincide with how our children learn today.  They can add to their own personal avatar by reading more books…I truly believe the kids will LOVE this program.  An added incentive is all of the fun games and reading they can do on site and watch their characters come to life.  I seriously think this is going to be an excellent reading source this summer!

Other Summer Programs ~

While researching all of these fun options, I have come across several others that I am still waiting to see if they are going to do a summer program this year.  They may or may not be available in your area, but if you are familiar with them, check them out.  I was surprised to see a bank offers a program for the kids.  This particular bank doesn’t exist in my area, but it helped me to realize I should check out others around me to see if they too have something available.  A list is provided for you so that you can look into them as well:

  • Books-A-Million
  • Tails & Tales
  • TD Bank
  • Lifeway
  • Half Price Books
  • Chuck E Cheese
  • H-E-Buddy
  • Amazon

I am sure there are many more than what I have shared, so now that you know there are so many options available, I hope you will check out some of the programs I have written about or look into what is available in your community.

What I have also discovered from my research is that summer bookworm programs for kids have gone above and beyond from when my kids were young.  Not only are they offering incentives for reading, but they now also offer so many other amazing resources.  They have done a lot of the legwork to make reading fun for your kids….so take advantage of all the FREE resources they are offering!

Happy reading!





The Importance of Family Traditions

Family traditions are the glue that holds families together through the years.  As you are reading this, you may recall long-established customs or you may just be thinking about a new tradition you started with your immediate family.  Regardless of the number of years you have celebrated each one, the importance of family traditions is tantamount to strong family bonding.

Small Quiz ~ ✏

Do me a favor.  Take a few minutes to set everything aside…your phone, computer, tv, game, etc.  Sit quietly for a moment and think about what family traditions you celebrate.  Think first of the holidays.  Are there traditions you do with your children that possibly your parents did with you as a child?  Have you started new ones since you have become a parent?  Let’s go a step further….write those down.

Now, let’s think about seasonal traditions.  Activities that may not tie in exactly with a particular holiday.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…write those down too.  What about nightly family rituals, such as reading a book.  There may also be weekly or monthly family traditions, such as family game night, daddy dates, or family service days.  Let’s not forget birthdays!   Are you starting to recall more traditions than you even imagined?  We cling to traditions, sometimes when we don’t even realize it.

These events have been shown to strengthen family bonds and reinforce family values.  It warms my heart when my grandchildren will ask a question pertaining to a specific holiday.  For instance, we love to put on our pajamas, make popcorn and hot cocoa and pile in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights.  We also always get Chinese takeout on the night we decorate our Christmas tree.  The grandchildren, now at ages 3 & 6, ask each year if we are going to do it again.  They remember and look forward to those special moments.

Holidays ~

There are numerous holidays:  Federal, State, Religious, Observance, and Sports.  There is a list below that includes some of the more known holidays here in the states, but it is certainly not all encompassing.   The important thing to remember about family traditions is quality over quantity.  It is so much fun to create reasons to celebrate, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your family.  There is nothing more depressing than a child that is let down because a parent doesn’t follow through.  So keep old traditions and maybe start a few new ones too!

  • New Year’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve

Nightly or Weekly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do nightly or once a week:

  • Reading a book together
  • Family game night
  • Pizza night, taco night, Italian night (you get the drift)
  • Evening walk or Sunday walk
  • Sunday special breakfast
  • Movie night
  • Family meals together…a tough one but oh so worth it!
  • Making a story up together…one person start and give a few sentences then another person takes over, etc.
  • Highs & Lows – every morning or evening have everyone tell the best and worst part of their day

Take the read aloud family challenge – such a cool idea! ➡➡Check out this fun Family Read Aloud 100 Book Challenge with journal!

Monthly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do together monthly.  Choose one day of each month and plan your activity.  Whether you do the same activity monthly or change it, start with the day and get it on the calendar!  This gives everyone something to look forward to and also helps with planning.  Stick to it!!!  This is what makes it a tradition!

  • Hiking at different parks each month
  • Zoo/Museum/Sporting Event/Play or Muscial – plan something like this for each month
  • Family service project – Work together on a monthly plan of where you can help out in the community
  • Movie Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Cook together as a family
  • Game Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Mommy & Daddy date night – let each child have special time with the parents

Random ~

  • Journal – keep a family journal somewhere for everyone to write in when they have something they need to talk about
  • Back to school day – make it special every year
  • Hooky day – everyone gets a day off for crazy fun family time

Check out this fun Family Journal with prompts that make it easy for the whole family to use ➡➡Check out the Creative Family Journal with writing prompts here!!!

This is a very small list of ideas.  Once again, choose what is most important to your family and follow through.  There is no need to have so many traditions that you are overwhelmed.  They are meant to be special times bonding the family together.

They can be simple.  Lauren loves going to the her grandparent’s place at the lake.  The kids know they are going to get on the golf cart and zoom all over.  It is something they look foward to every time.  They then head to the lake shore and take pictures.  How fun it has been to see the kid’s growth over these last few years with the same background.  Similar to using a yardstick to measure children’s annual growth on a wall.

In October, my mother puts out a large light up pumpkin.  It seems like that pumpkin has been around FOREVER!  However, the kids love to have their picture taken with Grandma every year.  Likewise, when our children were small we would take the same picture of all of the grandchildren at Easter around the same tree at their Grandma’s!  It’s a small thing, but it’s tradition!


Another fun tradition is to make food to match the color of the current holiday.  You can be as simple or creative as you like.  Believe me, the kids will have a LOT of fun with this.  I will be honest though, sometimes they turn out as a flop…these things happen.  Probably the worst one my kids remember is green oatmeal for St. Patrick’s Day…it looked just like vomit.  We laughed so hard!


Birthdays ~

Birthdays are a pretty big deal in our family.  The birthday person wakes up to a decorated bedroom door  (Check out the Birthday door idea by clicking here!), gets to choose what type of cake and dinner and also gets to choose the activity.  Deciding on the activity is the best part for me…yes, we still do it as adults!  I absolutely love to find different things to do as a family each year.  Bowling, paddle boats on the canal or hiking to lunch on the Monon have been some of my favorites.  As long as we are together, I am happy.  Now, for those of you who know Brad, it is a different story.   Nothing makes him happier than all being on the deck and him grilling!  That’s nice and relaxing too!

Schedules are hectic….times are crazy!  However, this is one thing you can make a point to do with your family.  Sometimes we simply forget about the importance of family traditions….but our kids don’t!  I hope you will share some of your family traditions below!

Hugs – Mimi


Purr-fect Cat Birthday Party

Birthday party themes are a big deal in our family.  As each year rolls around, there always seems to be a new favorite animal, superhero or fantasy figure that creeps into our world.  It is only fitting that this new love, whatever it may be, becomes the theme for that year’s celebration.  This year, Addi chose to have a purr-fect cat birthday party!

Party Dress ~

Of course, it wouldn’t be a purr-fect birthday party without a purr-fect dress!  Am I right?  Lauren ordered this adorable set from Etsy.  It was the perfect party outfit from hairbow to skirt!   She was so excited to wear it for her party…check out everything Sweet Sophia Designs has to offer below:

Sweet Sophia Designs has such adorable birthday sets! Check them out with this link!

Pre-Party Planning ~

There was quite a bit of planning ahead for this fun event.  We enjoy crafting so the time spent for these preparations was a lot of fun.  It started with collecting family cat pictures.  Lauren wanted the party to be personalized with all of the cats in Addi’s life…what a fun idea!

Cat Banner ~

Once pictures were decided upon, they were pulled up in Canva to be sized and printed.  Canva is so good for this as you can also “flip” the photo so that your front and back match up perfectly, thus making your banner viewable from both sides.  *If you are putting this against a wall, however, you will only need to print one side of each image.

The cat faces (and Addi with her kitten) were printed in black and white and then adorned with party hats from the color scheme Lauren and Addi chose.  This is where having lots of random items and paper scraps comes in handy.  We used various items to decorate the hats.  There is no rule here…let your creativity flow!

They were then strung on twine to create a banner.

Pet Adoption Certificates ~

Cat adoption certificates were also made with Canva.  Everything we made was created with the free options.  If you have not yet tried Canva, you need to!  It is such an amazing online software program.  They, of course, have even more options if you choose to pay for it, but seriously, you can do SO much with the free version!

Pet Adoption Houses ~

Pet adoption houses were made from goodie boxes purchased from Amazon.  Lauren chose the ones highlighted below and then cut a circle out for each pet to be placed in the box.   She then added other goodies in the box and topped it off with tissue paper.  What a perfect combination of craft and goody box wrapped into one!

You want to be sure that the dimensions of the box are big enough for the size of kitties you purchase.  I know this sounds silly to even mention, but how many times have you gotten caught (and frustrated) when sizes are different than what you assumed?!?

Pet adoption houses were made from goodie boxes from Amazon…check them out here!

Gummy Mice ~

These were one of the cutest and most talked about goodies included in the box.  What cat does not like mice…and what child does not love gummy candies?   Of course, Lauren searched and found the perfect gummy mice!

Get your own yummy (and slightly creeping looking) gummy mice here!

Canva once again came into play as we put several mice in little zipped baggies (also purchased on Amazon) and then created the fun label topper to staple to the top.  These were small enough that we could fit 6 labels to a page and then cut out and fold over each bag.

Adopt A Kitten Backdrop & Craft Table ~

The Adopt A Kitten Banner was made from scrapbook paper.   Stencils were used to create the letters in various color schemes of paper.  They were cut out and then glued to black scrapbook paper.  We then cut the black stencil a little larger to create a border.  This created a sturdy banner that also had a bit of dimension to stand out more.

A real cat scratch post was used to display the houses.  With this she was able to create height and make more room for the children to design their own adoption boxes.  A lazy susan sits in the center of the table with colored pencils, markers and stickers for the kids to craft with.   Yarn balls were made by wrapping different colors of yarn around decorative balls, styrofoam balls and ping pong balls.  (The ones made from ping pong balls were included in the cat boxes as a kitten toy.)

Cat Photograph Collage and Balloon Form ~

If you are like our family, you have an abundance of fur baby photos.  These were put to use for the party to create a cat photo collage banner.  The photos were strung up by the birthday presents.  The awesome 4′ mosaic number form helped to create a purr-fect backdrop for photos taken while opening presents.

Order your own mosaic number and letter forms right here!

Birthday Cake & Cookies ~

The amazinging purr-fect cake and cookies were ordered from Becky’s Cakes N Caboodles.  She is a true artist at work!  Whether you want the latest popular theme or something more personalized, she delivers!  Lauren sent her pictures of all of our cats and she got to work on these gorgeous cookies!

From different cat faces to colorful yarn balls, they were almost too pretty to eat!  But don’t believe for one minute that they didn’t get devoured!  Click here to see more of her amazing creations!!!

Cat-Themed Party Food ~

It is so much fun to get creative with food, and this party was no different.  From cheese mice on crackers to cat faced taco rings, there was something “catlike” everywhere you looked!

Cheese Mice on Crackers ~

Cut your favorite block of cheese into small triangles.  Make ears on the mouse face by cutting a slit on each side of the cheese and placing mini pepperonis in the cuts.  Place on a Ritz cracker.

Seven Layer Dip in Cat Cup ~

We drew cat faces on each cup with permanent markers.  Do this with plenty of time for it to dry so you don’t smudge when you put the dip in.   Layer the seven layers of dip in each cup.  Top with tortilla chips (We used strips as they fit in nicely).

  1. 2 cans bean dip
  2. Guacamole
  3. Mix 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup real mayonnaise & 1 package taco seasoning
  4. 2 cans chopped, pitted black olives
  5. 2 cups chopped onions
  6. 2 cups shredded cheese
“Cat” Taco Ring ~

We did the traditional taco ring, however, we added extra crescent dough for the ears and nose.  Once it was done cooking, we added chives for the whiskers and cherry tomatoes for the eyes.

Adult Side of the Party ~

Want to add a little wine for the adults…look at this fun new wine chiller.  Lauren made tiny yarn balls and froze them in the ice form….so pretty and festive!  I can only imagine all the fun that will be had with this Wine Chiller mold….the ideas are running crazy already…get yours here!

Suffice it to say, this party was an absolute hit.  Kids and adults alike had so much fun that the fun continued on for hours.  Be sure to share pictures in the comments below of your Purr-fect Cat Birthday Party!



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