09-14-2016

Dear Pinterest, I’d Like A Divorce

Dear Pinterest,

You with your oh so cute little red icon.
You with your oh so clever how-to & DIY posts.
You with your oh so charming photographs of perfect lives and speck free homes.

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It all started so innocently. Cousin Stacey expounding about all the loveliness found on your site. Friends promising it was just like cutting clippings from a decorating magazine but this way I could organize it all with just the click of a button.

But you know what Pinterest, we seem to have VAST differences in our filtering ideas, on the ‘ease it takes to create something’ and on what real beauty is.

For one, my brain filters things much different than yours Pinterest.

I doubt I’ll ever pick up a magazine with the feature article “How To Know If You’re A Toxic Parent.”

But it’s there on Pinterest every.single.time.
And my self discernment isn’t fail proof because I eventually click on the link.

Who knew that if you’ve ever looked at your children in a “I CANNOT BELIEVE You Just Did That” look, then – clearly, you are one horrible parent and your children are doomed to certain toxicity.

Or what about “Mom Teaches Daughter Valuable Life Lesson with a Tube of Toothpaste”…Can we just give it up for this lady…she clearly has far greater Parenting power than I do.

I’m not sure how katrillions of generations of mama’s ever made it before you Pinterest.
How in the world did they know how to parent?

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Mamas today are bombarded with articles such as…

Teach Your Child to Respectfully Disagree

What Not to Do During  A Temper Tantrum

How Much Stuff Do Kids Really Need

SERIOUS??? What about instead…

Just Do The Best You Can Do and Survive this thing called parenting

and clearly here in the developed world we need an attitude and materialism adjustment check.

When I was a kid, dirt + books + soccer ball = satisfied childhood. If you’re worried your children have too much stuff, then the answer is yes, they probably do. And there are some kids in your very own town who could use the excess toys your kids never play with.

{As a caveat, I’m all about parenting advice, but really, I want it from the people I live ‘real day to day’ life with. People that I actually know, trust, and most important…the people who know the real me. Your bombardments of “parenting to-do’s that I am failing” leaves me with feelings of ‘less than’, ‘never going to get it together,’ and I want to curl up in a ball and throw in the towel.}

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You & I also have a VAST difference in our understanding of the words “This crafty Christmas & Mother’s Day Gift is SOOOO easy to create”.

Yeah, I’m talking about you, Transfer Grandma’s Heirloom Banana Bread Recipe to a Tea Towel. After running around town attempting to find an old school copier that prints with ‘just the right ink’, countless hours spent scrubbing ink and dousing my house in citrus fumes, I am left with faint black scribbles on a tea towel now stained dismal brown.

Even the ornaments I try to make for Christmas are failures. Crayons don’t melt inside a glass ornament when you focus the hair dryer on them.

Half made, half sewn, fully broken, fully laughable presents abound under my Christmas tree and my family members are now experts at faking an “I love it” expression.

The worst part is, I get sucked in every time I open up your site, Pinterest. Even this morning, as I’m writing these words, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by “20 Christmas Ornaments Kids Can Make Themselves”.

It sounds so promising, but the reality is….those beautiful ornaments in the photos were probably not made by kids. They were probably made by people who have master’s degrees in using hot glue guns, people who really do have organized closets, and people who can actually make vegan fro-yo desserts taste good.

And if one more person pins Black Bean Brownies Taste Just Like The Real Thing, I may throw up.

They don’t taste like normal brownies. Serious, don’t waste your time or money on those recipes.

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And my husband, he most definitely wishes for this divorce to happen post haste. I’m pretty sure husbands across the globe would gladly unite to never again hear the words”I saw it on Pinterest and it’s so easy. I’m sure you could do it this weekend.”

The best one liner my husband has ever said, hands down, was…
“Just because it’s on Pinterest, doesn’t mean it’s to code.”

That was after an epic fail.

I mean epic burn down the house proportions.

I hotglued nautical rope to the kitchen fan light globes. It was on pinterest, afterall. What could possibly go wrong?

My husband telling me it was a fire hazard couldn’t be accurate I thought. He got the last laugh when the rope literally started falling off the light globe as the glue melted from the heat and a burnt smell took over the kitchen.   I found out later that if only I had used LED lightbulbs this wouldn’t have been a problem. But to save my husband a heart attack, I decided who needs light globes in the first place?

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Pinterest, your website is NOT REAL LIFE.

Real life is not meant to be or look perfect.

Real life is messy, it’s chaotic, it’s broken.

Perfection is a facade, the masking of our real souls.

Imperfection is being okay with our human frailty and letting others in to see that we’re really all the same. None of us have it all together. All of us use a party as an excuse to finally get that photo wall hung or dust the cobwebs off the ceiling.

True beauty is found in doing the best we can and accepting it’s okay to be imperfect.

Loveliness is found when our realness is exposed and our mess shines through.

Memories are made of the broken, ragged edges of our lives.

My Grandma Buckner’s floors, you know what they were made of Pinterest?

Green, yellow, and brown linoleum tiles, that in no way matched one another in size, shape, or design; all patched together, very randomly.

They were what she could afford (her & Aunt Budge probably found them for free, knowing their thriftiness) and while those floors were nothing fancy nor elaborate, they are recessed into the memories of my childhood. Those ugly beautiful floors welcomed children’s dirty feet, dogs named Sadie, and held up hundreds of National Geographic magazines discarded haphazardly under a vinyl orange sofa.

I can’t keep up with you Pinterest.

Consider this your official “we’re separated notice”.

But before I serve you those final divorce papers, I need to write down that recipe for those “to-die-for” gluten free chocolate chip cookies and photograph the “how-to-make” a perfect gallery artwork wall. After all, I’m only human.

jessica

 

09-07-2016

New Puppy, New School, New Frogs

September is here and change is on the way!

We have a new puppy, Sawyer, who reminds me daily of why I do not want to have another child. My ability and desire to wake up at 2:13am for bathroom breaks and just needing to be cuddled, has waned.

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We have a new school the kids adore. We miss old teachers who hold special places in our hearts but having a flexible learning schedule {Montessori} leads to a well rounded and much happier child.

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And we have frogs, frogs, frogs galore.

It’s clearly the birthing season for frogs.
Or the mating season.
Or we’ve simply gone back in time to the raining frog plague.

You can’t step toe outside the front door without accidentally shortening one’s life. {Okay, that might be a little dramatic. They aren’t in quite that stage of plethora.} However, they are everywhere. And if you are on the phone with me, there is a good chance you’ll be asking “What’s that noise” because the chirping is THAT loud. Even with the doors closed.

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Here’s to shorter days, cooler temps, and dog hair everywhere!

jessica

08-04-2016

The Ever Boring Tasks of Parenting: A Poem To Encourage When Yet Another LONG Summer Day Looms

Spaghetti splattered dishes haphazardly askew in an uncleaned sink.
Last night’s orange cheese grime caked on the metallic baking sheet.
Mold growing where apple juice resided in a pink sippy cup.
Making the 6th PB&J, of just this morning.
Bending low to wipe the yellow spotted toilet seat.

It’s the daily monotony that makes motherhood boring.

When we bend low with serving posture we see how low Christ bends to make Himself known to us.

He bends low to cleanse the mold of our messy souls.
He bends low to wipe away sobs of distress.
He bends low to open ears to cicada’s chants and noses to sweetgrass’ perfume.

Monotonous rituals of motherhood
shape us,
make us,
creates in us
the serving posture of Christ.

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jessica

07-29-2016

Friday’s TidBit

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This quote was shared during a writing workshop I recently attended and I loved how thought provoking it was.

Enjoy your weekend!

jessica

07-21-2016

The 6th Anniversary of Mat’s Death: Grieving A Suicide (or any death) Takes Time

The 6th anniversary of my brother in law’s death to suicide is this week.

As the week unfolds I am reminded what I need most during pressing times like these is to move slower.
Breathe deeper.
To give myself time to process the grief that wraps itself around you and clinches tight.

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Losing someone tragically, without warning, provides no time for the slow process of letting someone go.

Before we lost Mat, death was, for me, found most often at the end of an elderly person’s life.

Death at an old age seems natural in a way.
The body decays as we age and at a certain point our souls can’t continue on in a decomposing body.

When a 32 year old man who seemed to be thriving in so many ways is declared dead, to say it’s a tough pill to swallow is the same as saying Niagara Falls is just like that tiny creek in your backyard.

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Between “go to the pool so the swim lessons will be worth it” and  “putting up jars of peaches, tomatoes, and figs that occupy my kitchen table”…there seems little time this week to work in grieving.

I am easily overwhelmed when my to-do list stretches longer than “play at the house today”.

When I add ‘grieve for a loved one’ the list aches my soul.

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Relationships are forged over time and grieving works the same way.

We must permit ourselves time to grieve.

Time to process the sadness.
Time to process what was that will never be again.

My friend Amy who lost her mother in a tragic car accident a few years prior to Mat’s death told me…
time will never be the same for you.

Your reference point for the rest of your life will be “post this date”.

She was right.

Even now, six years later, I chronicle events in my head with Mat’s death as the marker of them all.

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It took me two years post Mat’s death before I would be able to write in a journal again.

Me, the girl who’d been journaling since pre teenage years. But to write it down meant I was committing it to reality.

When all I wanted to do was turn back time and have more time and alter reality.

In six years we’ve come so far. {There’s an entire book that could be written here in what happens in being a suicide survivor. That’s actually what they call the family members and friends who’ve lost someone to suicide. Crazy isn’t it? Usually being a survivor of “something” means you actually had the atrocity done to you. But picking up the pieces of a torn up broken into rags life is the atrocity that’s been done, the war wrecked reality you have to wade yourself through.}

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For me, losing someone tragically seems to magnify the loss.

The anniversary seems more poignant, more reminiscent.

And that’s where I find myself today, this week.

Simply needing time.
Time to be slow.
Time to acknowledge what was lost.

Reminding myself that the tomatoes desperate to be canned will be just fine if they end up being frozen instead.
Recollecting it’s okay if my children don’t perfect their swimming skills this summer.
Repeating the mantra to make time for myself so I can be a patient, compassionate, and caring mom and wife.

{There is so much more I could write & say on the subject of grieving a suicide. To sum it all up, you just feel a heavy aching in your heart that this is now reality. I even feel weird posting this. I didn’t write it to have condolences. I am just sharing because it’s what is on my heart and I want to be authentic. Plus, maybe it will encourage someone out there who is grieving a loss. And whether that loss is from a tragic death or from watching a loved one slowly slip away year after year – grieving is all the same…healing from loss requires time to experience and journey through grief.}

Love,

jessica

07-15-2016

Nice, Dallas, Minnesota, Louisiana: When will the bloodshed end?

82 in Nice, France

Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota

Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisana

5 officers in Dallas, Texas

Washing away blood stains on the sidewalks of Nice is someone’s job today.
Blood is dripping on the streets of this planet.

Where do we find solace?
How do we make sense out of any of this?

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There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us….And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. I John 4:18-21

Love is being kind, patient, tolerant, accepting, looking out for
those whose religion or views doesn’t match our own, those with skin a different pigment than our own.

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Fear invades our soul when mass killings are rampant. When we realize it could happen to us, to those we love.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise, 
in God I trust, I will not be afraid. 
What can mortal man do to me?   Psalm 56: 3&4

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When the questions arise, because surely they will.
When having faith feels like walking on eggshells.
When our daily companions are Where are you GOD? WHY? When will you intervene? WHY? 

Remember faith is not only a choice but also a gift from God.

When faith can’t be found on our own, we need to ask Him to help us have it.

There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things {even our faith in Him} and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. I Corinthians 8:6

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May the hearts of those who grieve today be comforted deeply by the words of Christ.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

jessica

07-13-2016

Photojournal of Summer 2016: Choosing Contentment in the Messiness of Life

We’ve made it to July 13th which seems equal parts miracle “we’ve survived thus far without siblings killing one another” and equal parts “where in the world has summer gone”?

Every weekend is full of friends and family visiting or taking trips of our own and I am starting to feel like we are careening on a roller coaster that won’t slow down.

Being a girl who not only wants but truly needs a lot of margin in her life, I’m feeling a bit unraveled by all this busyness.

Despite my best intentions to fill our days with minimal cost activities and trips to the beach, we’ve actually spent most week days being very lazy at home.

Just us in our pj’s. Reading books. Getting messy with science experiments. Making lego princess castles.

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Now, don’t let me fool you that it’s all roses and peaches while we lounge around.

Our house is quite messy, sibling squabbles abound, and made beds are a thing of the past – as if they were ever even in existence in my house.

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You may look at these pictures and see joy & fulfillment or you may never see further than the dirt, grime, and mess.

How you look at my pictures – how you take in your own summer – your own spot in life right now,
it’s all in your perspective.

Isn’t that what joy and gratitude are really all about?
They are a choice you make every moment of your life.

You can focus on what you don’t have or spend your moments being thankful for what you do have.

When I can’t find contentment, I pray for God to show me what to give thanks for.  There have been days, months, years when all I saw was darkness, anxiety, and fear. All my life didn’t turn out to be.

But when I pray for an eternal perspective, when I beg on my knees for Him to show me what I do have right in front of me that I never fully appreciate…
He whispers back and nudges me to find the beauty found within the dirt, grime, and mess.

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There is beauty all around you.
I hope you find some today.

jessica

happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed.
happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace, and gratitude.
~ spiritual gangster

07-08-2016

Friday’s TidBit: An Easy Trick to Reduce Acidity in Tomato/Spaghetti Sauces

When I started this blog 5 years ago, I really had no clue what I was doing.

I simply wanted to share recipes and encourage other people to live life locally.

Fast forward 5 years and there have been plenty of changes to both the way my blog looks and to how I write.

More & more I write about faith and less & less do I share recipes.

But more than anything, I have this desire to write but writing isn’t always my top priority.

I finally realized though, these thoughts in my head will never be more than just that: thoughts in my head…if I don’t do something about it and simply write.

So here’s my new goal: to write 2 blog posts a week. One post (perhaps on Tuesday’s?) will be deeper/reflective/insightful. The other post (hopefully on Friday’s) will be a fun fact I’ve learned, a quick recipe trick, a quote that was touching to me.

So there it is…perhaps writing down & publishing my goal will help me stay on track? I’ve never been great at habit setting. But if I want to be a better writer, if I want to grow as a writer, then I’ve got to take the first step and simply write more frequently.

Today’s First Friday Tidbit is all about making tomato sauce not have acidity.
Or at least lowering the acidity so it doesn’t cause heartburn.

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I grew up on a farm so it should come as no surprise that I adore tomatoes.

In my mind, summer = tomato.

There’s tomato sandwiches on biscuits for breakfast, BLT’s for lunch, and caprese salad for dinner.

Then there’s the obligatory hours spent in the kitchen canning all those tomatoes so you can enjoy them in the winter.

It’s funny how adulthood rituals are often habits we learned in childhood.

I spent every summer of my childhood canning tomatoes and I’ll probably be spending my 38th birthday this month: canning tomatoes.

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Until recently everytime I had spaghetti sauce or any dish with cooked tomatoes, the acidity would cause the worst heartburn/indigestion. A few years ago, I even went to the doctor because I was worried about chest pains. It’s a bit humiliating when she simply says: I think it’s just heartburn.

Recently at the library I checked out The Clever Cookbook by Emilie Raffa at The Clever Carrot and ya’ll….
did you know you could reduce acidity in tomato sauce type recipes by using butter instead of oil??

It’s the best discovery of 2016 for me!

Her tomato sauce recipe was so simple but SO GOOD. It’s basically just using butter in place of the olive oil I’d normally use but it changed the chemical makeup so drastically that I was licking the tomato sauce bowl clean.

I realize most of us think tomato sauce is very basic and you can’t imagine wanting to drink it. But I promise, her recipe is that good.

I used the trick earlier this week when I made spaghetti sauce and I had no problem with heartburn.

Simply use 2 – 3 TBSP of butter when sauteing onions or garlic before adding in canned tomatoes to make any tomato/spaghetti sauce dish less acidic.

It’s that easy ya’ll. Nothing complicated here in today’s Friday TidBit.

Thank ya’ll for reading my blog and being so encouraging! I hope you are able to find a cool place to be this weekend with temps in triple digits for many people. Thank God for air conditioning!

jessica

07-05-2016

Fine Art and Kids: 3 Tips for Taking Kids to an Art Museum

{Recently I was able to attend a media day for the re-opening of the Gibbes Museum of Art following their 2 year renovation. I was lucky to meet the very talented Merideth Garrigen of A Spot in Time photography. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs in this post are kindly provided by her. Thank you Merideth!}

I know you’re probably thinking…

Fine Art + Kids = NOT A GOOD IDEA

But I promise…
Fine Art at the Gibbes + Kids of any age = A great way to cool off in this summer heat

Whether a Monet or a homemade kid portrait, I love art.

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{
source for these 3 photos: The Local Goodness}

There’s just something therapeutic when you pick up a paint brush and express yourself on a blank slate of canvas.
It’s equally cathartic to walk through an art museum and ponder what the artist was hoping to convey.

But the thought of taking my kids to an art museum can easily send on heart palpitations.
Grimy hand-prints, a kid’s inside voice that closely resembles yelling, feet running down corridors of art…
Enough to make any brave mama pause for a moment to consider her sanity.

But passing on a love of fine art to our kids doesn’t have to be something complicated or evoke fear.

It’s simply being brave enough to expose them to it.

I’ve broken down our local art museum into what kids of different ages would appreciate. While these 3 tips/age ranges are focused on the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, I think they can be applied to most art museums in the country.

Take as few kids as you can, pick one exhibit to focus on, and don’t feel bad if you simply enter, enjoy some free AC, and then be on your merry way.

And parents, one note of advice: You may want to only take one kid at a time. 
{I for one can handle one loud talking, hands everywhere, feet running 8 year old. Add a feisty six year old into the mix and it’s simply too much for me on my own. Plus, kids love getting one on one attention from a parent.}

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PreSchooler Age: First Floor
Admission to the first floor of Gibbes is free! Don’t feel bad if you only enter to take advantage of the cooling air conditioning. We recently walked Duval Street in Key West and stopped in at numerous art galleries simply to get a break from the oppressive heat.

On this floor, youngsters can watch artist in residence at work, take part in kid classes, or grab a bite to eat and take out to the garden in the back.

The artist in residence program is really neat because your kids can watch artist create masterpieces and give you an opportunity to ask questions to the artists.
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Elementary Age: Second Floor

You and your kids will be entranced as you walk up marble ensconced steps to the breathtaking rotunda that was previously carpeted. Intricate details on the window trim, previously hidden under coats of paint, has now been exposed with the original walnut stain. {I could go on and on about the renovation changes – it really is amazing that the beauty of the building was there all along – it just happened to be covered up with paint & carpet for decades.}

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The second floor holds a miniature portrait exhibit – the selfies of the 1700 & 1800’s. It’s thought provoking to think before photography was widespread, miniature portraits were how family and friends were held close. In this day of Instagram feeds, realizing the time it would take for a portrait to be painted and then that portrait was your one keepsake of someone – how priceless.

This exhibit left me feeling nostalgic but also blessed to be able to take photograph after photograph of my kids.

Further into the second floor is The Mary Jackson gallery of sweet grass baskets, including a huge piece that took Jackson 3 years to make specifically for the Museum. It is her largest basket ever made. Make sure to ask the Gibbes how they hung the basket using magnets.

Teenagers: Third Floor
This new gallery space is perfect for teenagers and those wanting to reflect on deep intellectual thoughts while viewing special exhibits.

An unraveled Confederate flag. Burnt artwork. Monuments being torn down.

All things to consider as you view The Things We Carry, a contemporary art exhibit focusing on the troubled history of race relations in the American South.

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Words cannot describe this exhibit.
Allot plenty of time to process and reflect on the meaning found in these masterpieces.

We were lucky to have the Museum curator guide us through this exhibit and explain in detail each piece of art. If a tour guide is available for this part of the museum, I highly recommend it.

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So let’s go inspire our kids to be artists!

Be brave, take the kids one at a time if you can {that’s what I’ll be doing}, and check out your local art museum.

Find some AC this week & Stay Cool!
jessica

 

{A huge thanks to the Gibbes Museum of Art for inviting me to their media day. The renovations are stunning and I can’t wait to show their fine art to my children.}

 

05-26-2016

Event Calendar: Summer 2016 in Charleston

I’m one of those mamas who doesn’t believe in the last week of school, so tomorrow’s the last day before summer break for my kids.

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And right about now, I’m feeling pretty good about our summer plans.
Which primarily involves the beach, the library, and the sprinkler out back.

You see, all our summer activities hover around one common denominator: that word being FREE.

So every year about this time, I’m thinking – Okay, this is gonna be the year that I am FINALLY organized with our summer calendar. I’m going to make a master spreadsheet of all the going ons in our town and any time I feel like we are on the verge of insanity (which, in our house, normally happens a few times every day) – we can voila – look at the calendar and find something fun and different to do.

But reality looks a bit more like this…

By June 14th, only two weeks into summer break, I’ll be skirting the edges of a mental breakdown from 24 hours a day with my kids and my house will have turned into pure chaos with no hope of finding out what activites are offered that day.

So this year I finally did it!

I created a master schedule of all the free or minimal cost events for kids in Charleston!

This calendar isn’t about camps, events that require pre-registration or cost a lot of money.

Instead, this is the perfect resource for those…
“I just need to find something happening in one hour or the kids are going to drive me to bedlam” moments.

There is now a link on my homepage called Charleston Events, so you can go directly there to find it.

Please keep in mind the library has hundreds of activities all by itself if you count all their locations. So don’t throw away your Charleston County Library Summer Reading Program Calendar! There are also at least 7 places in the lowcountry that offer movies for kids & families in the summer. I’ve tried adding all the June movies for 3 of the locations and will continue to add the remaining June movies in the next week.

I hope ya’ll enjoy this and it helps you out a little this summer when you just don’t know how to entertain the kids one more day!

jessica