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Engaging Methuen Readers


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Back to school: New Year’s Resolutions for parents

I’m about to head into my sixth school year as a parent, and I’m experiencing that familiar sense of optimism and hope that accompanies this time of year. The belief that this year will be different, this will be the year that no permission slip goes missing, there is no morning scramble for missing shoes, and the year that a healthy, home-cooked meal is enjoyed and happily anticipated by all.

I’ll get over it; by October (…okay, mid-November–this is, after all, the season of optimism!) I will have abandoned my pleas to get my kids on board with my organization schemes, I’ll resort to the crowd-pleasing standby of chicken nuggets at least once a week, and I’ll be trying to convince at least one child that mis-matched socks are quirky and fun, rather than a tell-tale sign of an overdue laundry day.

While my optimism lasts, I have started thinking about the sticking points that make the school year trying, for both parents and kids. The incredible popularity of this teacher’s note about not assigning homework that went viral last week is a testament to the stress and drama that play out nightly in homes across the country. My kids aren’t even old enough to have long-term projects and work that can be procrastinated on, and we’ve already had a taste of the angst that accompanies nightly assignments. Then there are the endless newsletters, both hard copy and emailed, which bring about the to-do lists, save-the-dates, and calls for volunteers. Every afternoon’s back-pack emptying (if it gets
done at all…) leaves my kitchen table littered with stacks of paper. Especially once the days grow shorter and the calendar gets more packed with activities, keeping up with it all starts to feel a little overwhelming.

end of the year

This all entered my home on one day at the end of the last school year.

By this point in my career as a parent of school-age children, I’ve learned that the best way (or at least, an adequate way) to get on top of clutter and chaos is to plan for it, and corral it as soon as it comes in the door. Here are a few titles that we have here, that may help with getting a handle on your schedule and your stuff:

organization graphicSecrets of an Organized Mom
CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!
Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier

How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule, and Reconnect with What Matters Most
Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff
Conquer the Clutter: Reclaim Your Space, Reclaim Your Life

On top of the scheduling and the homework and the daunting task of keeping an all-white karate gi acceptably clean for twice-a-week practice, there is the need to keep these kids fed. No, I didn’t neglect to feed them while they were out of school. But with summer comes a more laid-back approach. Doritos with lunch? Sure, it’s summer! Hot dogs for dinner? It’s so nice out, of course we should be grilling!

cookbook graphicThe predictability and routine of the school year calls for a more sober approach to meal times, and a return to the cookbooks and Pinterest boards for ideas for how to bring a nightly meal to the table that will please all, come together quickly, and within a budget. Frequent use of a Crock-Pot and a good plan for meal prep on the weekends goes a long way. Here are a few cookbooks that you can find on our shelves that are geared toward school-year lunch and dinner challenges:

Beating the Lunch Box Blues
Faster! I’m Starving
Fix-It and Forget-It New Cookbook: 250 New Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes
Week In a Day: Five Dishes, One Day
Yum-o! The Family Cookbook
Quick Fix Meals: 200 Simple, Delicious Recipes to Make Mealtime Easy

Happy Back-to-School!


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Christmas in August!

christmas in augustAs a quilter and crocheter, I love the idea of making handmade gifts and cards for friends and family, especially for the holidays. Unfortunately, like most people I have limited free time, so my ideas and my reality often don’t quite mesh. Last year’s crocheted mermaid blankets for my nieces, intended for Christmas presents, finally made it into the girls’ hands around St. Patrick’s Day. A quilt for a cousin’s new baby–whose arrival I had ample time to prepare for–arrived just in time for the little one to celebrate her five month birthday.

For years, I have sworn that I won’t begin any intended Christmas present any time later than Labor Day. And every year, around Columbus Day or so, I find a great gift idea that I decide I can just whip up in the next two months. And every year, I come up empty on Christmas morning, but I make up for it with what end up being really elaborate Valentine’s Day presents.

This year, I’d like to think I’m going to do things differently. And to that end, I’ve already started to collect ideas for all the great Halloween crafts I’d like to do with my kids, the new recipes I might try for Thanksgiving, and the gifts I’ll give no later than New Year’s Day. If you would like to get a jump on costumes, cards, recipe-collecting, and gift-making, here are a few titles that I’ve found at the library–come check out our display for more great holiday ideas!

halloweenHalloween Costumes

dazzlingDazzling Disguises and Clever Costumes

cards

100 Fresh and Fun Handmade Cards: Step-by-Step Instructions for 50 New Designs and 50 Amazing Alternatives

sweet

Sweet Treats for the Holidays: Edible Creations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and More

gifts of food

Gifts of Food

simply

Simply Homemade Food Gifts

handmade

Handmade Gifts


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May is Mediterranean Diet Month

newmed

The Mediterranean Diet comes from the traditional diet of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain and features fresh flavorful produce, healthy fat, and whole grains. What’s not to like about a diet that allows you nuts, wine, and olive oil and will strengthen your heart in the bargain? Sounds like a good match with the warm summer nights we’re all dreaming of right now. Check out The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for some new recipes.

bluezones

The Mediterranean Diet is also included in the 2015 best-seller The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. Author Dan Buettner looks at the world’s longest living and healthiest people and reports on how we can  incorporate aspects of their diet and lifestyle to help us live longer and better.

Cooking with a cookbook


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Cook Book Sale!

Join us as the Friends of the Nevins Memorial Library put on a special sale of cookbooks for one day only, Saturday April 18th, 2015  from 9am to 4pm.  All types of cook books in excellent condition will be offered with the usual low prices and the great variety you’ve come to expect from our book sales.  This is a great opportunity to stock your kitchen library with new ideas. If you love cooking, look to Pat’s new and popular Cookbook Book Club.  Check out a copy of the selected book at the main desk of the library, pick a recipe (we keep track to avoid duplicates) and prepare it for the program.  We’ll sample lots of good food, talk about what worked, what didn’t, how to make it easier and healthier.  The next meeting will be on Tuesday April 21st at 7pm featuring Ina Garten (aka “The Barefoot Contessa”) recipes.