Thursday, May 21, 2015

Texas Monsoon Season :: Rainy Day Activities

Monsoon: a seasonal prevailing wind in the region of South and Southeast Asia, blowing from the southwest between May and September and bringing rain (the wet monsoon), or from the northeast between October and April (the dry monsoon).

I think I'd like to apply to Merriam-Webster for a new definition.

Monsoon: a hold on to your boots because it's still raining in Texas and it's nearly June occurrence wherein nearly every river in our great state is out of its banks, yards in East Texas quiver into mush at the slightest chance of precipitation, and Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio develops a new cave tour called Discovery Aquifer.

This is not normal, folks.

I do, however, appreciate this wonderful rain and its ability to bring us out of a drought that began in 2011. I don't think I have ever been as hot as I had that summer with 40 consecutive days of at least 100 degrees. I just wish we could find a happy weather medium and stick to it.

Needless to say, it has been a wild Spring; we've had tornadoes, flash floods, an over population of mosquitoes, and an abundance of pollen. Since January, Longview has experienced 30.5 inches of precipitation, not including today's deluge or the copious amounts predicted for the remainder of the weekend. Our average yearly total is 47.55 inches. I think we may hit that mark a little early this year!

So, what's a girl to do with 2 boys who didn't get to play out their soccer season and end up with cancelled park days?

Rainy Day Activities:

1. Get creative - Make duck tape anything, paint with rain water, or even 3D print your heart out. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating, and Pinterest can help get you started.

2. Have a bake-a-thon - Bake cookies or breads, try out that newest recipe, or even prep meals for the coming weeks. Kids love helping in the kitchen.

3. Visit the gym - If you've got a membership to your local gym or YMCA now is the perfect time to dust it off and go for some exercise!

4. Talk a walk - As long as the rain is light and there's no thunder, head to the closest trail head and take a walk. Nature will surprise you in the rain. Don't forget your umbrella and rain boots!

5. Clean it out - This is the perfect time to clean out closets, go through junk drawers, and organize the garage before summer and sunshine hit, because once it's here, I won't be cleaning!

6. Catch up on your reading - Summer reading programs across the country are beginning. Why not visit your public library and check out some great spring and summer reads!

7.  Go Bowling - If you aren't signed up yet, you should be! Kids Bowl Free is a great program and it is already underway.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Giveaway :: Big Tractors with Casey & Friends and a CASE IH Toy Tractor

Now is your chance to win your very own copy of Big Tractors with Casey & Friends by Holly Dufek and a CASE IH Magnum 370 CVT toy tractor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to US residents only. Winner will be drawn randomly. Closes May 28th.

The Review is In :: Big Tractors with Casey & Friends by Holly Dufek

When my boys were younger, squeals would erupt from the backseat of our car as we passed by working farms. The machinery on site would captivate them, and they would diligently watch tractors or combines march up and down a field. I’ve often wondered if it was the sheer size of these machines, their bright colors, or even their noise that caught their attention. I think all little children are at one time drawn to these mechanical beasts.

If you’ve got a son or daughter eager to learn more about farm implements, then Big Tractors with Casey& Friends by Holly Dufek, a seasoned educator and national curriculum writer, and illustrated by Pixar “Cars” artist Paul E. Nunn may be right up their ally. Published by Octane Press, Casey & Friends is a newly created series of books designed to not only entertain, but also educate children on how tractors, combines, and other farm equipment operate. By using photographs of CASE IH equipment in real farming situations with cartoon characters, children make the connection of from farm to table.

Readers follow Casey the farmer, Tillus the worm, Big Red the Tractor, and a whole cast of cartoon equipment characters who teach important life lessons gleaned from the farm, like thinking ahead and working as a team. Each title is licensed by CASE IH and highlights a different aspect of farm equipment and technology with educational sidebars, picture glossaries, and fun farming facts for added learning possibilities.

As a parent, I find this a great resource for all the burning questions regarding farms and tractors I received from my little ones! The story is well conceived and reminds me of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books, but for farming. This style of writing is a wonderful resource for any household, especially if your children have an interest in large machinery.

One of my favorite parts in Big Tractors is the Red Tractor Timeline and the farming flashback section. Many children do not know how farming occurred before 1910 and to understand how tractors evolved is quite an interesting story. If you happen to live in the East Texas area, I highly encourage you to visit Parrott Park & Agricultural Museum in Lindale, Texas, where you can see the timeline of tractors in person.
Another feature of the Casey & Friends series is that the educational material is not “dumbed down” for children. While written with young children in mind, the books still effectively and briefly explain complex ideas to children, such as hydraulics, the advanced farming system (AFS), and power takeoff.

Currently, there are 4 books in the Casey & Friends series: A Year on the Farm (released in January 2015), Big Tractors (released in April 2015), Combines (scheduled to be released in June 2015), and Planters & Cultivators (scheduled to be released in September 2015). They books are geared for children ages 4-8 and are printed in the USA.
Be sure to visit this link for a chance to win your very own copy of Big Tractors and a CASE IH tractor toy.

Holly Dufek has spent nearly 15 years writing and working with educational curriculum for publishers such as Holt McDougal, National Geographic Education and Riverside Publishing. She holds a master’s degree in Education and lived in Kenosha, WI, with her husband, Matt, and their three children.

Paul E. Nunn is a full range artist who has worked for Disney, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street. He lives in Racine, WI, with his wife, Amy, and their two sons.
 {Please note, I was provided a copy of this novel to review by PR by the Book and Octane Press.}