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An 12 Year Olds Take On YouthWrite

Hi! My name is Hayden Reeve!

You might recognize my last name as I am the daughter of one of the Mamas! I am going to tell you about my experience at YouthWrite®. For a little introduction, it is a non-profit organization with camps for children who love to write. There is also a separate camp for adults who also enjoy writing! Today though, we are going to be discussing the camp for, well, youth! 

Something that I think is quite important and an absolutely excellent characteristic about YouthWrite is the fact that they have a figuratively speaking, bubble type of deal around them.

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Beyond The Books – 5 Ways To Utilize Your Library

I LOVE the library.

Give me a room full of thrillers, adventures, self-betterment, romance – you can go anywhere in a library! A while back I found out there is a lot more to my little library card than paper books, magazines, movies and cds to take home. I just had to share.

ME Libraries

With my FREE EPL card I have access to 9 Libraries across Alberta via the ME Libraries website. Why would that come in handy? Well, for example, I reside in Edmonton BUT have joined the St. Albert library. They have Pre-Loaded Audiobooks – my EPL doesn’t. These come in handy on flights, long drives etc. You just plug in your headphones and voila! Great for kids too. This access can also come in handy if you’re on vacation somewhere in Alberta! You can visit the library, take out a few things and return them before you head home. I’m sure there is a plethora of other ways this comes in handy!

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Book Review – The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

By Leah Ison

Before I dive into this review, I want to thank my family for heeding my warning to leave me alone as I read. Don’t worry, the children were fed. I always make sure to leave Goldfish crackers and water within reach. Besides, I finished this one in record time!

I don’t even know where to begin. The words remarkable and captivating come to mind, but they don’t feel worthy enough.

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Book Review – How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

By Leah Ison

“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love, ‘ he said… ‘There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.”

There have been many stories about the curse of time that have sparked the romantic in me. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Winter’s Tale and Outlander to name a few. When I came across How to Stop Time, I immediately grabbed it, not just for it’s whimsical cover, but for the excitement of possibly finding a book that will pull me away from my own curse of time as a work-at-home-mom. Take me away, I demanded!

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14 Places for Indoor Fun in Red Deer & Area

The snow is here and maybe here to stay. There’s always fun to be had outside – snowman making, tobogganing, and fort making. Sometimes having someplace to go and play inside can prevent full-on hibernation mode and expend some energy in a warm and cozy environment.

Here’s our list of places to take your kids for some indoor fun in and around Red Deer.

Red Deer Museum offers great programming for kids and the chance to have fantastic art & cultural experiences.

Red Deer Public Library. Have you looked at their calendar? With 3 branches there is something going on all the time. And if not, there’s always the books to take your kid away on a ride through their imagination!

Check out the Red Deer Recreation and Culture activity guide! The Collicutt Centre offers registered programs, drop-ins, a climbing wall and of course – the water park!

Jump 360 Red Deer offers lots of trampoline fun!

Treehouse Indoor Playground Red Deer has events, daily specials and lots of indoor fun – 11,000 square feet of it to be precise.

If you’ve got an artist on your hands, Color Me Mine has creative outlet options for your kids. They could even make some Christmas gifts for grandma and grandpa. Two birds, one stone there!

Lazerforce offers indoor laser tag for all ages.

Outside the City

You can find all kinds of fun inside Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Museum including interactive mulit-sport games.

In Blackfalds, the Red Deer Kinsmen Indoor Playspace, located in the Abbey Centre,  has 6 levels and over 2600 square feet of fun for your child 12 years and under.

The Sylvan Lake NexSource Centre features a children’s playspace & programming for the whole family.

Also in Sylvan Lake, much like the RDPL, Sylvan Library has programming for kids and of course – books!

In Penhold, the Multiplex Area offers drop in programming and special events.

There’s also the Penhold Library!

Central Parkland Parentlink runs programs and playgroups in the smaller towns and rural areas too!

Did we miss anything? Where do you take your little one to play in and around Red Deer?

10 Tips on How to Raise a Reader

By Rob Burtt

From a very young age, I can always recall my late father with a book in his hand. Whether it was a Reader’s Digest or a Louis L’Amour classic (look that one up folks), he was always reading. I know for a fact he completed all the Louis L’Amour novels (89) in a couple of years. That always amazed me.  Because of this, I’ve enjoyed reading though I am far more attracted to non-fiction rather than fiction.

As a parent of three children myself, along with their mother, we have attempted to instill in each of our kids the importance of reading from an early age. It has not always been easy because we are dealing with three different personalities but we persisted because there aren’t any negatives to becoming well read. It has been proven that it not only assists with early brain development and literacy, but also increases vocabulary from an early age and helps children develop a greater imagination and creativity.

As parents, we are our children’s first teacher so I came up with some tips, in no particular order, that might be able to assist you along the way:

  1. Have lots of books around – This might seem like an obvious one but in a world where Kindle and iBook are becoming more popular, nothing beats having a good ol’paper book around. To be more cost effective, I have purchased many at garage sales and even from Facebook community selling pages. You can usually get them for a fraction of the price. I have even bought a Groupon (the app) for a local bookstore that cost $11 for a $20 worth of books. I let my kids go and pick whatever they wanted and it was fun and memorable activity for each of them.
  2. Make it a habit – How you do this is completely up to you. The bedtime story is always great and once they are older they can read to you. I have some friends that make sure their children read each day when they get home from school before any other activities happen. Setting a “reading time” can help them understand how important reading is and will hopefully be something they look forward too.
  3. Use voices when you read to them – Does this sound scary? It’s not. Your child will not care what you sound like either. They will love it. Use different voices and even make sound effects. They will remember the story better when you and them become part of it.
  4. Utilize the pictures as hints – If your child is having a hard time with a specific word, sometimes using the pictures can help through.
  5. Stay positive and patient – As parents, we need to be supportive and never critical as they venture down this learning path. You want your child to look forward to reading so inspire them with optimism. Reading is tough so give lots of positive feedback.
  6. Have them read aloud – Having your child read aloud can not only help them retain what they are reading but assist them in understanding pronunciation and eventually, definition.
  7. Reread books/stories often – Speaking from experience, I can’t tell you the number of times I have read “I Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. But, my girls loved it so read it and read it and read it. As they got older, they read it. They say success comes from consistency so introduce new books often but never be afraid to go back and reread one you have read before. Let your children pick.
  8. Get them a journal – Hand in hand with reading is developing a child’s imagination. A journal is a wonderful way for them to learn writing skills but also ways to express their ingenuity and creativity. It doesn’t matter if they only write a few words to start. It’s a great habit to develop. Once they have journaled for a time, you can go back and them read it. Encourage them to write memories and good experiences that help them bolster confidence. They will enjoy rereading journal entries as they get older.
  9. Be an example – Letting your kids see you read is important. If they see you reading, it will encourage them to do the same. If you do set specific “reading time” for them to read daily, make sure you’re doing the same. There is power in positive example. Remember, you’re always being watched.
  10. Celebrate their successes – In my opinion, this is a critical step. You could do it by creating a poster with stickers for specific milestones. You could make it an ice cream or movie reward too. Anything goes. Just make sure you set up some type of reward system. Pinterest has lots of great ideas if you need some.

Nurturing the love and excitement takes of reading time, patience, and love. As adults, we can forget the struggles we had when we were young. Don’t give up and if you need help, there are lots of resources through local educational agencies as well online. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need help. With loving persistence, you’ll be raising a reader in no time.

Rob is a single father of three children. He enjoys playing guitar, exercising, photography, and blogging through the waters of single parental bliss. Feel free to connect with him here: 





A Better Me, A Better Mom

Have you ever been talking to your kids and stopped and thought, “Wow, I sound just like my Mother”?

I’ve had that, many times, and while I love my mom, for me, it wasn’t just the typical things. There were lots of things that made me step back.

I’ve made many choices over the course of deciding to have kids that were purposefully different than the way I grew up, as an only child, in a small town. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a horrible childhood, I was taken care of, had what I needed but I don’t want to have the same kind of relationship with my daughter that I do with my mom. I want the relationship I see my friends having. Lunches with their moms, traveling with them, hearing morsels of wisdom they learned from their mom. I made a decision; I needed to do better if I want more.

For some reason, more so than my son, I am overly critical with my daughter. I have to actually remind myself positive enforcement is good. I have a really hard time being goofy with them. With adults, I am known for my ability to make a fool of myself for the sake of making people smile but with them, it’s like I need to have my “Moms the boss” hat on all the time. I get distracted, have a hard time focusing on just them, getting down and playing with them.

Both my kids talk to me, they tell me stories about their day, I ask questions, I make a point of listening, the last thing I want is to lose this. I feel like if I don’t get better at all the other things, that’s all going to change as they grow because it’s about respect, feeling loved, not just knowing they’re loved. Knowing they can tell me anything.

Over the summer I read the book Mother’s Who Can’t Love by Susan Forward, Ph.D. To say it was enlightening would be an understatement. It was like light bulb after light bulb and I still go through my notes (yes, I’m a nerd who made notes) to remind myself of the things that hit home. I realized by reading this book that I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own. I read more books, great books, Brene Brown mostly, the end goal being a better me, hence a better mom.

At the prodding of friends, I eventually invested in myself in the way of a therapist. My first appointment was another epiphany. I cannot tell you the weightlessness I felt walking out the doors. I felt validated, I wasn’t actually a crazy person, and on top of that, like it was possible for me to have that thing I wanted most. To be the kind of mom the kids want to come home to, not just when they are small, or tweens or teens but as adults coming home for Sunday dinner.

She sent me home with a really good book that led to even more “a-ha” moments. I’ve had 2 appointments so far, work in progress. I keep reading more books, writing down when I don’t do things the way I’d like to, and trying to figure out what my triggers are.

I’ve got some good plans in place that have changed things for me, small things, but that’s the important part in all of this. To remember I won’t change overnight, it won’t be big things, it’s small steps. My kids know I’m working on myself, I’ve told them and they know Mommy goes to see someone that’s trying to help her be better. I apologize when I mess up, and I do better the next time.

I see the differences between the way I grew up and the way they are growing up. That is what keeps me going.

~ Annonymous AM