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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT

    Disclaimer: Thank you to Lake Compounce for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the park. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Did you know Lake Compounce is the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in North America?  It had its genesis more than 170 years ago in 1846..wow!  Lake Compounce is home to Boulder Dash, which has been voted the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster, as well as Connecticut’s largest water park.  It has over 400 acres of fun and is essentially like having two parks in one.  You get rides, games, food and roller coasters along with an amazing water park that is SO MUCH FUN – especially on a hot day.

    One of my favorite things about the park is how clean it is.  Plus, the lines are usually pretty quick and the staff is has always been very pleasant and helpful each time we’ve visited.  Our most recent family visit was a few weeks ago and as usual, Lake Compounce didn’t disappoint.  It’s definitely our family’s favorite go-to amusement park in the state of Connecticut.

    We like to get to the park as soon as it opens to try and avoid the mad rush.  As soon as you arrive all guests must go through a security checkpoint and bag check for safety reasons.  The lines typically move along pretty quickly although depending on the size of the crowd and time of day, the wait could be about 10 minutes or slightly longer.  Keep this in mind if you’re visiting with smaller children as they may get a little antsy.


    Once you get past security and the ticket lines, it’s time for the fun to begin!  We like to reserve island loungers on the Lake Compounce website prior to our visit.  You get 2 lounge chairs, a shaded straw umbrella, entrance to the exclusive island lounge chair area, and accommodations for up to 4 people. The island loungers are conveniently located right next to Bayou Bay which is one of our favorite attractions at the park.  The lounge chairs sit on a sandy area across from the lake making it feel like you’re spending the day at the beach.  Oh and the best part?  You can leave your belongings in the private island lounge chair area.  It’s always monitored by a Lake Compounce employee giving us peace of mind our stuff will be safe.  If you have a larger group of people you can rent a cabana.  The park currently has 5 Luxury Cabanas located lakeside by Riptide Racers, 6 Private Cabanas located by the entrance of Mammoth Falls, 2 located on the lake, and 5 located next to Bayou Bay.

    Our family likes to explore the water park attractions first, eat lunch and then head to the amusement park rides afterwards before heading back to the island loungers to pick up our belongings.  So far this year we had a chance to experience: The Dino Expedition, Croc-o-Nile, Boulder Dash, Zoomerang, Riptide Racer, The Wave Swinger and Down Time.  We also tried our hand at some the games which is always a blast.

    Lake Compounce has always catered to families with young children like ours, while offering high value thrills for the older kids and adults too.  Our kids love the variety of rides and games in the kiddie park including the Dino Expedition.  There are also plenty of seating/resting options for watchful parents and grown-ups who like to watch children ride and take photos.  The park is interesting enough and accessible enough for our family so naturally always purchase season passes for the amusement park and parking lot.  They pay for themselves on the second visit.  Season pass holders also get other perks throughout the year too like buddy passes and food/retail discounts.

    From the outside, Lake Compounce appears hidden and small, but trust me, you can spend all day inside and not get to everything.  Since they are constantly adding new attractions and features to the park, we still haven’t done everything there yet.

    Prior to our visit we read a few amusement park themed books like: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.

    A few other things to keep in mind:

    • Bring all of our summertime essentials if you plan to spend the day there: suntan lotion, bathing suits, extra clothes to change into, towels and strollers if traveling with smaller kids
    • Be prepared to walk – You’ll do a lot of walking from the moment you arrive at the park.  If you have a fitness tracker it’s a great way to rack up your step count for the day!
    • Admission for kids ages 3 and under is FREE
    • They have phone charging stations, family restrooms AND a nursing station for nursing mothers (Woohoo!)
    • Locker rentals are also available for securing your belongings
    • Shirt and shoes are required everywhere except Crocodile Cove water park.  Bathing suits are required for the water park area.
    • Outside food or drink is not allowed in the park (with exception of baby items, food allergies or other special dietary needs)

    I cannot recommend this place more!  Visit at least once to experience all the park has to offer for a fun family day adventure.

    Ready to head to the park?  Be sure to take advantage of my ticket discount by clicking here!

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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center in Southington, CT

    Spring has sprung here in the Northeast and is our area is now bursting with lush gardens and flowers in bloom. Mother Nature has certainly given us lots of rain this season so far. The rain has been great for all the plants, trees and flowers despite it dampening my mood and thwarting my plans at times.

    Two weekends ago, the kids and I had the pleasure of attending an event at Winterberry Gardens located in Southington, CT. Their 16-acre garden and landscape center is gorgeous! They have everything from native plants to unique plants all planted by certified growers.

     

    I will admit years ago I didn’t have a green thumb to save my life.  Every plant I had died. Now, I’ve learned how to take care of plants after much research, reading and watching videos online.  Now that I have Winterberry Gardens as an additional local resource that’s an added bonus!

    To help provide you with ideas for your home or garden Winterberry Gardens offers tours of their landscapes gardens and they host educational seminars. They also have a wide selection of hanging plants, trees, soil, mulch, perennials and annuals.  Oh, and did I mention they do landscaping too?  Yes, their expert landscape designers can create a plan for you that’s both stunning and easy to maintain no matter the size of your yard or budget.

    I’m so excited with the new plants I purchased from Winterberry Gardens and will be going back soon to buy more and attend their upcoming educational seminars.

    If you’re local in the area be sure to check out this amazing garden and landscape center.  It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your lawn and garden maintenance needs.  It would make an excellent educational field trip with kids and the local library (Southington Public Library) is just 10 minutes away.

    Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center
    2070 West Street
    Southington, CT 06489
    Phone: (860) 378-0071
    Email: info@winterberrygarden.com
    Web: http://www.winterberrygarden.com

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    family fun

    The Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt

    Come one, come all – because the Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt is about to begin!

    With Easter around the corner, I created a scavenger hunt and I hope many of you will participate and join in the fun!  The adventure begins on Monday, April 1, 2019 and ends on Monday, April 15th. You’ll have two weeks to try and answer as many of the questions listed below correctly.

    If you start and stick it through, by the end of the hunt – even if you don’t win a prize – you will have gotten to know me, my blog, and my family a little better.  You might even learn some things along the way or find some new book recommendations, which is always a plus!

    Does that sound okay?

    Good, let’s get going!

    What’s at Stake?

    • A $50 Amazon gift card!  This scavenger hunt is open to ANYONE in the world.  The gift card code will be emailed to the winner.

    Talk Rules to Me
    Okay – are you ready for the rules?

    1. The FIRST person to get the HIGHEST number of points by answering the questions correctly will be deemed the winner.  It could be YOU!

    2. You MUST email all of your responses to hereweeread@gmail.com in order to enter.  You must put “Eggscellent Scavenger Hunt” in the Subject line of the email so I’ll see it.  Untitled or improperly titled email messages will NOT be accepted.  All email entries must be received by April 15, 2019 by 11:59pm EST to qualify.

    3. Bonus Opportunities.  Yes, there are bonus opportunities too!  For 5 bonus entries: Comment on my last two (2) blog posts OR my last 2 Instagram posts.  For 7 bonus entries: subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

    The Spirit of the Games
    I’d like to remind everyone that Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt is for fun, for learning, and for getting to know me a little better.  If you have any questions about this scavenger hunt – pop them in the comments below the post.

    And without further ado…

    Here you go: The Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt list of questions.

    On your mark.

    Get set.

    Go!
    ***************

    1. At what age did my daughter start reading? If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may already know this. If not, search my blog post archives to find the answer.  (Worth 3 Points) 

    2. What date did I start my Instagram account? In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, my username is @hereweeread. (Worth 5 points)  Note: you’re gonna have to scroll WAY back in my feed to find the answer!

    3. What is the name of the community service project my kids and I are currently working on? Easy if you’ve been following me for a while.  (Worth 2 points)

    4. Name two sources I mention on the blog for scoring free or discounted books to help build up your home or school library. (Worth 4 points)

    5. Which author did I meet at last year’s Book Expo in NYC that had me fangirling HARD? (Worth 2 points)

    6. How many Bookface photos did I feature on my Instagram page from January 2019 to March 2019? (Worth 2 points) Note: Don’t know what a Bookface is? You can read about it here.

    7. List the titles of two (2) books I posted on my Instagram page during the month of March 2019. The titles can be any two books you choose. Worth (4 points)

    8. What is one useful tip I provide in my blog post entitled “HELP…MY KIDS WON’T SIT STILL DURING STORY TIME“? (Worth 3 points)

    9. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Twitter? Also, if you’re not already following me on Twitter, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

    10. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Facebook? Also, if you’re not already following me on Facebook, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

    11. Name one person I’ve interviewed on my blog. Hint: Interview can be an author interview or another person I’ve interviewed/featured on the blog. (Worth 2 points)

    12. Name 2 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) brands we’ve worked with in the past or featured on the blog. (Worth 4 points)

    13. How old are my children? (Worth 2 points) 

    14. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Pinterest? Also, if you’re not already following me on Pinterest, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

    15. Name 2 books you’re excited to read from my 2019 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books. (Worth 3 points)

    16. Name 1 inventor listed in my blog post entitled “9+ Black Inventor’s You May Have Missed in History Class.” (Worth 1 point)

    17. Tell me the name of one place my family and I visited on our popular Literary Road Trip Adventures. (Worth 2 points)

    18. Tell me the name of three categories I have listed in my Amazon Bookstore. (Worth 5 points)  Note: You can find the direct link to my Amazon Bookstore here.

    19. What do I have a Master’s Degree in? (Worth 3 points)

    20. Name 2 podcasts I’ve been featured on in the past.  Hint: I’ve been featured on 6 podcasts to date. (Worth 5 points)  Note: If you can only name 1 podcast you will get 2 points, not 5 points.

    21. Tell me the name of at least one (1) publisher I mention in the post entitled, “Diversity in Publishing A to Z”. (Worth 2 points)

    22. Name another publication I write for besides my own blog. (Worth 3 points)

    23. What musical instrument do both of my children play?  (Worth 5 points)

    24. In what state do my family and I currently reside?  (Worth 2 points)

    25. Which fictional tv character’s wardrobe do I fantasize about having?  (Worth 4 points)

    To enter and be in the running for the gift card grand prize, email your answers to me at: hereweeread@gmail.com.  You must put “Eggscellent Scavenger Hunt” in the Subject line of the email so I’ll see it.  Untitled or improperly titled email messages will NOT be accepted.  All email entries must be received by April 15, 2019 by 11:59pm EST to qualify.

    Enjoy the hunt! -Charnaie

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    family fun

    A Lesson in Black History on the Basketball Court: Our Harlem Globetrotters Family Day Experience

    Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by The Harlem Globetrotters and US Family Guide who provided us with tickets to the show.  We appreciate their support that allows us to share information about events we think your family may enjoy.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    This Black History Month we had the pleasure of attending a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game. We had an awesome family day at The XL Center in Hartford, CT watching The Harlem Globetrotters take on the exhibition team, The Washington Generals.

    The Harlem Globetrotters have been a staple of family entertainment throughout the country since 1926. Their creativity and genuine showmanship have excited generations of fans and created a lasting impact on American sports culture.  If you’re looking to spend some quality time together as a family and be entertained, attending a Harlem Globetrotters game (at least once in your lifetime) is a must!

    This was our family’s first time going to one of their games and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  The tricks, the comedy, the dancing, the music – they really put on an amazing show.  My favorite part of the game was the slow motion re-enactment that involved the entire audience and players.  It really looked like everything was happening in slow motion – so cool!  The kids favorite part was watching “Hot Shot” standing on top of the basketball hoop and watching “Hammer” perform the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.  So many memorable moments!

    In addition to enjoying the game, we also used our family outing as a Black history lesson.  We talked to the kids about the history of the team from the 1920’s to present day.  Since the Globetrotters are an all Black team, we also mentioned some of the racism the team faced over the years due to segregation laws.

    Overall, a great time was had by all of us.  The Globetrotters proved they are not only wonderful basketball players, but excellent entertainers too!  Their comedy is fun an family-friendly and they are crazy talented too!

    For the latest news and information about the Harlem Globetrotters, visit the Globetrotters’ official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com and follow them on Twitter @Globies.

    Your turn: Has your family ever been to a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    connecticut, family fun

    Celebrate The Harlem Globetrotters During Black History Month + Save on Tickets!

    Formed in 1926 by Abe Saperstein, The Harlem Globetrotters are legendary worldwide and famous for their one-of-a-kind family entertainment.  Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers.

    This weekend we’re taking our kids to have their first-ever basketball experience with the Harlem Globetrotters.  I couldn’t be more excited to go since it will be our family’s first Harlem Globetrotters basketball game.  I’ve always wanted to go witness their one-of-a-kind basketball artistry live in person and now we have the opportunity to go.

    I’m ready to see all of the dribbling, the dunking, and the comedy that will be on full display.  It is sure to be a family-fun experience for us all and I love that we’re going to a game during Black History Month.  What better time to go and support and all Black basketball team!  Not only will it be exciting, but also a learning experience to teach the kids about the tremendous impact the Harlem Globetrotters have had on the world both on and off the court.

    Does your family also want to pay homage by seeing this one-of-a-kind family entertainment experience live?

    Visit the Harlem Globetrotters Tickets & Schedule Page to see when they’ll be in a city near you!

    Our readers can SAVE 25% for ALL Harlem Globetrotters Games with promo code FUNFAM.

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    family fun

    Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Something for Every Member of Your Family

    Roses are red, violets are blue, here are some gift ideas that we’ve picked out for you!  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start spreading the love.  Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to let those around you know you care, and give a gift that gets remembered.  I personally like giving intentional, practical and thoughtful gifts that people will actually use and appreciate.

    Whether shopping for your partner, your child, or your favorite four legged friend, we’ve got you covered!

    For the Adult Book Lovers

    Book Beau

    We adore this book sleeve from Book Beau that helps protect your books!  Your books need some hugs and kisses, too.

    Price Range: $15 – $30 depending on the size purchased.

    Image courtesy of Book Beau

    Go on a Library Date Night

    Here’s a bookish idea for partners to try…a Library Date night.  How fun is this?  The best part, it’s completely FREE.  You can download the free printables here.  If you decide to try this on your own, tell me how it went, pretty please!  I’d try it, but this isn’t my husband’s thing.

    Price Range: FREE


    Image courtesy of The Dating Divas

    For the Kid Book Lovers

    Book-Wrapped Pencils

    Spice up your child’s reading and writing with these book-wrapped pencils.

    Price Range: $9.00 + shipping

    Image courtesy of Bouncing Ball Creations

    For the Couples or the Entire Family

    Poo-Pourri

    Roses are red, violets are blue, I love you much more when I can’t smell your poo.

    Spritz the bowl before you go & no one else will ever know.  Poo-Pourri is a blend of natural essential oils that create a barrier to embarrassing bathroom odors.

    Price Range: $4.95 – $44.95 depending on the size purchased.


    Image courtesy of Poo-Popourri

    For the Pet Owners

    Conversation Heart Rope Toy

    Because our four-legged family members like presents too!
    Price Range: $6.99


    Image courtesy of Petco

    Cat Scratching Post

    Price Range: $19.99


    Image courtesy of Petco

    For the Foodie Or Anyone Who Likes Breakfast in Bed Or Taking Baths

    Portable Bathtub Bed Tray

    Makes for a perfect gift for just about anyone!  This item is definitely on my wish list!

    Price Range: $44.99



    Images courtesy of Amazon

    For the Travel Enthusiast

    Scratch Off World Map

    These maps are a fun way to keep track of your past travels while helping you stay inspired as you plan your future trips. You simply scratch off the parts of the world you’ve been.  Fun for the whole family to plan travel trips together.

    Price Range: $19.99 – $39.99

    How to Travel the World on $50 a Day Book

    An awesome travel resource that every traveler needs in their arsenal.  This book shows you how to travel the world on a budget with an easy to follow format.  Read it to learn how to become a master traveler and navigate the world — no matter where in the world you want to go!

    Image courtesy of Amazon

    Your turn: What gifts are you giving this Valentine’s Day?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    family fun, parenting

    3 Bookish Things I’m Grateful for This Year


    Thanksgiving Day is upon us once again here in the United States – it’s my absolute favorite holiday of the year.  Not only do I love eating yummy food, but I also love spending time being surrounded by family and friends.  And what is it about Thanksgiving that makes food taste so good on that specific day?

    This year I’ve been more intentional about showing gratitude and appreciation for the things and people I have in my life.  I thought since Thanksgiving is tomorrow it’s the perfect day for me to share a few bookish things I’m grateful for this year.

    1. 50 States 50 Books
    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard me talk about the awesome community service project I’m working on with my two children.  It’s called 50 States 50 Books.

    Started in July 2018 by my children, the mission of the 50 States 50 Books project has one main mission: help close the literacy gap in America and expose more children to diverse literature.  Our goal is to collect 50 diverse children’s books for each of the 50 U.S. states and donate them to deserving schools, libraries, and other organizations throughout the country.  So far, we’ve collected over 650 diverse children’s books and donated them to 13 different states.

    We’ll soon receive a gracious 800-book donation from a publishing company which will help us complete 16 additional states.  That will take our total to 29 completed states, with 21 remaining left.

    So far the excitement and support for our project has been amazing!  We’ve been featured in our local newspaper, local television morning talk show, The Huffington Post and Moneyish.  The kids’ school even got in on the action and allowed us to have 3 donation boxes throughout the school for our book drive.

    My kids also received a Kid Kindness grant for their project from Kindness Grows Here.  The money received from the grant will go towards our shipping and supplies expenses allowing us to ship books 50 at a time to 6-8 different states.

    If you’d like to support us by sending us new or gently used diverse children’s books for kids ages 0 – 17 you can send them here:

    50 States 50 Books
    P.O. Box 992
    Middletown, CT 06457

    To make monetary donations (to help us cover shipping and shipping supplies) please visit our Go Fund Me page.  My children also have a wish list of books to choose from if you’d like to make a book donation.  You can find the wish list here.

    2. The Bookstagram Community on Instagram
    Would you believe nearly 4 years ago I had no idea what Instagram was or how to use it?  Yeah, I was a little late to joining the social media world, but now I LOVE it – especially Instagram.  Instagram is the one social media platform that I gravitated to the most and it’s where I’ve found a sense of community.

    Prior to joining Instagram, I was clueless there was this whole bookstagram community of book lovers out there like myself.  I’m eternally grateful for the kind people I’ve met and collaborated with over the years.  By sharing, networking and collaborating with others, I’ve been able to grow my audience organically to over 35,000 people on Instagram alone.  I’ve also had the opportunity to work with brands and local businesses, libraries, connect with authors/illustrators and other bloggers.  Oh, and let’s not forget all of the wonderful books I’ve found out about from other book bloggers, parents and educators!  My TBR list is SO long because there are so many amazing books out there to read.

    3. Completing My First Library Program
    In September 2018, I began my first ever library program at one of my local libraries.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had all year.  Each week we explored a different region around the world, read picture books and worked on craft projects.  The program was geared towards children up to age 6 and allowed us all to “travel around the world” through books.

    Each week taught me new lessons about things like: giving, sharing, patience, kindness, empathy, and using your imagination.  The kids also reminded me of the importance of incorporating laughter and play in your day.

    Overall, 2018 has been a good year for me and my family thus far.  With just a few more weeks left in the year, I’m excited to see the new bookish things I’ll be adding to my gratitude list in the weeks and months ahead.

    Your turn: What are some bookish (or non-bookish) things you’re grateful for this year?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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