If your children are anything like mine, their at-home dream routine is to wake up, play video games, and continue playing video games until they pass out. There is a remedy for this: a daily schedule. The kids might revolt without at least some time for video games, but a good day of structure also includes opportunities for learning and physical activity. My boys’ days at home look like this:
9:00 a.m. — Breakfast:
The boys get free time before 9 a.m., mostly because the 13-year-old likes to sleep in. That gives the 10-year-old a chance to play video games, so he’s happy. At 9 a.m., they are in charge of making their own breakfast, typically some combination of cereal, microwave bacon, and toaster waffles.
9:30 a.m. — Morning Walk:
It’s time for some fresh air, so we go for a neighborhood walk. Of course, we bring our dog too.
10:00 a.m. — Study Time:
If there is homework to be done, this is the time. If not, the boys can choose an alternative, such as sudoku, journaling, or crossword puzzles. If you’re at home, For the Birds Crosswords is a nice way to join in.
Noon — Lunch:
We all eat lunch together and then go for another short walk.
1:00 p.m. — Quiet Time:
The boys are expected to read for 30 minutes. The 10-year-old is into sports books like Phillip Lindsay. The 13-year-old prefers fantasy and is making his way through The Lord of the Rings.
1:30 p.m. — Learn Something New:
The boys choose an educational video to watch on YouTube (e.g., how to use Microsoft Excel); a how-to book to read, like Essential Knots; or we show them how to do something around the house, such as laundry.
2:00 p.m. — Ask Mom or Dad:
There are at-home projects that need doing. The boys can spare 30 minutes to help out.
2:30 p.m. — Free Time:
For a job well done, the kids get to do whatever they’d like, including video games.
3:30 p.m. — Exercise:
The children are expected to spend some time each day getting sweaty. This can include anything from running to playing basketball. In case of bad weather, we turn on an exercise video.
4:00 p.m. — Connect with a Friend:
Call a friend, write a letter to Grandma, send texts to a bunch of buddies—we want our boys to stay connected with the people in their lives.
4:30 p.m. — Study Time:
Here, the boys find something quiet, calming, and educational: Finish homework, read, or work on a puzzle. If they are feeling rambunctious, we’ll send them outside with a bird identification guide or Backyard Bugs to catalog what they see.
5:00 p.m. — Free Time:
If homework is finished, video games are allowed again.
5:30 p.m. — Dinner:
We always eat together at the dinner table.
6:00 p.m. — Family Fun:
We might go on a hike or a bicycle ride, play a board game, or have a Nerf war. Once a week, we even play video games together. This is our time to do something fun as a family.
7:00 p.m. — Movie:
We wind down together with a movie or a television show.
8:30 – 9:00 p.m. — Bedtime:
The boys get one more chance to read (because we love books), or they can go right to bed.
This is currently our Monday–Friday schedule. On the weekends, we let the children enjoy more time with their video games, and we do more activities together. I encourage you to find a routine that works for your family and stick to it. It helps everyone feel a greater sense of “normal” when we know what to expect each day.
Everyone could use a little extra comedy in their lives. Give yourself a rest from the daily stresses, and exercise your sense of humor. Find out what Ole and Lena are up to in two timeless joke books: Ole & Lena: Live Via Satellite and Ole & Lena: A Stud and a Hot Dish.
As we learn in Ole & Lena: A Stud and a Hot Dish, poor Ole had some health concerns after he fell down the stairs. The pain was so severe that Lena rushed him to the emergency room to see a doctor.
Ole said, “It hurts ven I touch my head, my legs, my stomach, and my chest.”
The doctor coolly replied, “Of course it does. You’ve broken your finger.”
The comedy in these books focuses on the dim wits of this infamous Norwegian duo and their continual misunderstandings. If that fits your sense of humor, you’ll love these hilarious joke books. Ole and Lena get everything wrong—from exercise to school to work and, of course, family.
Ole: Lena, you are da only woman I know dat takes an hour to cook minute rice. Who else do you know who has to ask somevun how to boil vater? And vhile ve’re at it, how many people need to look up da recipe for ice cubes?
Lena: Ole! After all da sacrifices I make to put dinner on da table…
Ole: I don’t call ’em sacrifices. I call ’em burnt offerings.
The books are based on the stage performances of Bruce Danielson and Ann Berg. The Minnesota teachers originally took on their roles to fill in between acts at a local school and community variety show. Before long, Bruce and Ann began doing their own shows at venues across the country—and they did so for more than 20 years.
Bruce and Ann adapted their ever-evolving comedy routines into books that capture the spirit of the characters and the sense of humor of the two teachers. Each book includes 96 pages of stories, jokes, visual gags (in the form of photography and Norwegian games), and more. Anyone in need of a good laugh will appreciate the content in these joke books.
Ole & Lena: Live Via Satellite and Ole & Lena: A Stud and a Hot Dish are priced at $6.95 each. They are available wherever books are sold, including bookstores, gift shops, and online retailers.
Libraries are a cornerstone of healthy and vibrant communities. They serve so many roles and meet the needs of so many people. Using data from all over California, the Panorama Project identified the state’s most requested book–that they didn’t have available–with the idea of “what are libraries and bookstores missing? What titles are their patrons really after?”
It should come as no surprise to anyone in the local library space that the title with the most unmet demand in libraries in California over the summer was a regionally focused travel guide: Tom Courtney’s Walkabout Northern California. Library patrons are looking for local travel books. They want to get out and explore their unique communities and skip the tourist traps. These are just a couple of reasons that people seek out books like Walkabout Northern California at their local library.
Published by Wilderness Press, Walkabout Northern California describes 14 walks in the wilds of Northern California, and each entry includes “a map, mile-by-mile details of the route, logistical tips on places to stay and eat, and inspirational ideas to simplify your travel and reconnect with nature’s rhythm.”
Wilderness Press books are available through AdventureKEEN’s full catalog, as well as through all the standard library distribution channels such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Wilderness Press is attending ALA and PLA this year. We are happy to help support libraries and want to make sure that our local nature and travel titles are available to everyone.
Saturday, February 22, is National California Day. The tradition of celebrating each state with its own day began in 2017. Starting on the week of Independence Day, each state was given a day by National Day Calendar®, based on the order in which it entered the union. As the 31st state (admitted September 9, 1850), California’s day falls in the 31st week after July 4. How does one celebrate? National Day Calendar suggests that you “take a tour of California and find something new to discover.” At AdventureKEEN, we think a fantastic way to do that is by tackling a few hiking trails!
Your National California Day can include a breathtaking hike to North America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls. Or traverse the McWay Waterfall Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see the unparalleled beauty of mountains meeting coastline. Explore the awe-inspiring forests and giant trees at the Redwood National and State Parks. Experienced hikers and backpackers might want to explore the challenging Lost Coast Trail.
Regardless of where you find yourself—or at what skill level of hiking—chances are good that there are beautiful hiking trails nearby, perfect for you. If you aren’t sure how to begin your National California Day outing, you’re in luck. AdventureKEEN has been helping people like you get outdoors and into nature for more than 50 years. The popular guidebooks 101 Hikes in Northern California and 101 Hikes in Southern California are great places to start.
Written by hiking expert Matt Heid, 101 Hikes in Northern California benefits readers by narrowing down the multitude of options for hiking in Northern California to the very best of the best adventures. It covers hiking trails in the northern two-thirds of the state, including nearly the entirety of the Sierra Nevada, south to Kings Canyon National Park, and the entire Big Sur region along the coast, south to Silver Peak Wilderness.
The southern portion of the state is covered in 101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad and David Money Harris. For National California Day, you can trek the diverse terrain—from desert to beach to mountaintop—on an easy stroll or overnight excursion. The guidebook covers the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, San Jacinto, and San Bernardino mountains; the Mojave and Colorado deserts; and many more iconic locales.
These guides are unique in the amount of natural history information they provide, and they include essential directions for completing a trip. Best of all, you can find hiking trails within a short drive of you; recommended outings are spread out across the entire state.
Now is a great time to get outdoors and celebrate National California Day. Countless opportunities await. And if you aren’t in California, no problem. Find a hike near you, and enjoy the Great Outdoors!
You want to choose the perfect present for your special Valentine. Flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, jewelry—maybe you’ve done that before, or maybe it seems too cliché. You need a gift that feels more personal, that suggests you took some time to pick it. For this reason and more, I love giving books—and I suggest you do the same. Following are 5 reasons why books are among the best gift ideas for Valentine’s Day or any day.
1. They Are Thoughtful
You can find books about almost anything. This makes it pretty easy to get the best books for your Valentine, if you’re paying attention. Does she have a favorite author or a unique hobby? Is there something he’s always wanted to try but isn’t sure how to get started? Think about how your special someone spends her leisurely time, and get a book that supplements that. Or maybe the right gift is a guidebook to a place that he dreams of visiting. The possibilities are endless, and the right book is always a very personal gift. It says, “I know you, and I know what you love.”
2. They Are Fun
The best gift ideas are a delight to receive. We can always use more socks, but who loves receiving a package of those? Books, on the other hand, are fun for your Valentine to get. What’s waiting beneath that cover? Will it be countless hours of entertainment? The instructions needed to begin a new adventure? Beautiful photographs that spark an imagination? It’s a thrill to flip the book open and find out.
3. They Are Inexpensive
A safe ballpark estimate for your bookish gift is $20. Of course, you can find many of the best books for less. Or you might spend more if you’re looking at larger formats, hardcover, full-color, and the like. But compared to jewelry or a dozen roses, you’re getting a great deal on one of the best gift ideas you can give.
4. They Are Practical
Every book serves a purpose. It might be to entertain or inspire. Maybe it’s to help readers find and enjoy new places. It could be to teach new skills or to educate on a given topic. By giving a book, you are giving something that your Valentine can and probably will use.
5. They Are Memorable
Introduce your special someone to a new author or series. Get him started on a hobby or her planning the next vacation. You will forever become associated with those memories. Better yet, make it a tradition. Another beautiful thing about giving books is that it’s easily repeatable: more from the same author, series, or genre locks in your association with the topic, making one of the best gift ideas even better. Bonus Tip: Write a lovely note to your recipient on the book’s title page, along with the date given, to make it a personalized keepsake.
Skip the candy shop and the jewelry store. Hopefully, you can see why the quickest path to the heart of your Valentine goes through your local bookstore.
We could argue endlessly about where to go for the best family vacation. Some might say Disneyland; others will name a national park like the Grand Canyon. You’re always right with a trip to Hawaii—and the “Garden Island” of Kauai. It combines some of the best offerings of different vacation options.
For Nature Lovers
Nature’s beauty is everywhere. The Kauai weather is tropical, so the forecast is always warm or warm and rainy—ideal growing conditions. We stayed on the south side of the island (recommended) at the end of January. Temperatures were in the low- to mid-80s, perfect for the best family vacation. Only one day brought extended rain, and it felt gloriously refreshing to be in it.
Some of the most breathtaking views are found on this island in Hawaii. The Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. A few minutes from there is the Kalalau Lookout. My wife called it “the most beautiful spot in the world.” It’s a picturesque view of the Kalalau Canyon and the ocean. A slow drive to the north end of the island brings you to the Napali Coast. It’s another spectacular spot, well worth seeing. But we spent a total of 4 to 5 hours in our rented Jeep Wrangler. If you’re on the south side of Kauai, think twice about making the trip. And to maximize your best family vacation, go as early in the day as possible.
If you love the ocean, surround yourself with it in Hawaii. We stayed at a resort on the famed Poipu Beach. It’s perhaps the island’s most popular beach because it’s sandy, clean, generally calm enough for swimming/snorkeling, and it attracts plenty of sea life. We saw humpback whales in the distance, we spotted monk seals lying in the sand, and my 9-year-old accidentally found himself swimming with a sea turtle.
One of our favorite adventures was whale-watching via Blue Dolphin Kauai. We lucked out with perfect Hawaii weather conditions. We were even luckier on this best family vacation: Our captain found the humpback whales as we were leaving port, and he stayed with them for 2 hours. Around 10 or 12 males were chasing 2 females. The captain told us that the males breach more often during mating season. Sure enough, we saw around 20 breaches!
For Thrill Seekers
If you’re an amusement park kind of person, there’s no shortage of activities. You can try helicopter rides, zip-line tours, fishing expeditions, ATV excursions, and more in Hawaii. My favorite activity on this very best family vacation was mountain tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. We floated down the irrigation system of an old plantation. We traveled in a beautiful rainforest and passed through several dark (and often long) tunnels on our way to a quaint picnic lunch.
There’s no shortage of delicious dishes in Kauai, especially if you love fresh seafood and even fresher fruit. Plus, with Hawaii’s relatively new focus on local farming, a lot of the meats—especially beef—now have that fresh, local flavor. The famous Puka Dog lived up to the hype on our best family vacation. It was so delicious that I ate there no less than four times. Brick Oven Pizza was another fantastic spot, as was Da Crack and their burritos. I enjoyed shave (not “shaved”) ice every chance I got. However, the award for best meal of my week went to the sampler platter at Chicken in a Barrel. The plate of BBQ food was under $20, and my wife and I shared it. Of course, for a combination of food, local culture, and lively entertainment, be sure to book dinner at a luau.
For Couch Potatoes
If your idea of the best family vacation is to “be lazy,” Kauai is a great place for that. You can relax on the sunny beach (perhaps even book a beachfront massage). You can find a comfy spot on the patio. Or you can remain indoors. With a cool ocean breeze always blowing in, just open the windows and enjoy—no air-conditioning needed. Go to CVS and buy the world’s best gummy bears: Island Cravings Baby Gummy Bears. Grab yourself a Mai Tai or some guava juice, and relax.
To find even more fun and adventure for your best family vacation in Kauai, check out AdventureKEEN’s popular guides like Hawaii Trails and Hawaii Wildlife Viewing Guide.