National Family Literacy Day – Reading as a Family

National Family Literacy Day - Reading As A Family (2)

Happy National Family Literacy Day!

(November is also National Family Literacy Month!)

I love reading and writing. I have since I was a kid. My kids don’t share that love quite yet, but I’m hoping as they age and I phase out their 21st-century technology (I’ve already put their iPads and the TV into storage), they will read and write more often. I am really trying to make weekly trips to the public library happen. I just wish the library didn’t have so many toys. Kids might be more interested in choosing books if they didn’t have a gazillion other things to do at a LIBRARY.


In the summer, it’s so hard to get the kids to do anything even remotely related to school – and they associate reading and writing with school, which is…boring, of course. But I always have them sit down before bed and I read them a book or two, then have the older kids each read a book. They like that because it’s like being a teacher – showing the class each page and making funny noises.

In the fall, winter, and spring, we read at bedtime, and now that their devices are gone, in the mornings before school, on the weekends instead of morning cartoons, and I also have a pile of books in the car for Hannah for the forty-five-minute car-line wait. We will be reading and writing a lot more this season. We had snow in October this year, so I’m expecting an extremely cold, snowy winter.

I’m starting a habit of having the kids practice writing after dinner before they get ready for bed. It doesn’t leave much time on weekdays, but on the weekends, we get a bit more creative, with crayons, colored pencils, and other tools to make it fun. Because honestly, most of the time, it’s like pulling teeth trying to get them all to sit down and write.


I read to them upstairs while they are getting ready for school and at the table in the kitchen while eating breakfast. Avery will read to us in the car on the way to and from school/Target/etc. I try to get them to read at the library, but as I said above, too many toys.

After they have been bathed and dressed for bed, they gather their favorite blankets and pile onto my bed for story time before bed. I usually just read them the library books we picked out the Saturday before since two out three kids don’t like chapter books (there aren’t any pictures to look at in chapter books).

I have them write at the desk in Avery’s room or the dining room table. Hannah and Lauren practice letters and numbers, and I have Avery pick a prompt a day to write about (some personal, some fictional, some seasonal). I try to have her write more than a few lines, and focus on her spelling and keeping her letters all about the same size.


Books about Moana, Elena of Avalor, Elsa and Anna, Daniel Tiger and pretty much any other character are all things they love to read. I make it a habit to check the library’s online catalog for certain characters and books the week before we go, so things our library doesn’t have can be ordered from the neighboring libraries. Avery also loves learning about different things like dinosaurs, rocks and minerals, cats, and horses. I try to get them to each choose a fiction and a nonfiction book every time, but sometimes, characters win out. As long as they read it, I don’t mind! We also practice sight words with flashcards any time we can fit it in.


I do not like reading nonfiction. At all. I like fiction – especially the paranormal kind. The Mortal Instruments series, Clockwork series, Harry Potter (of course) and Matt Archer series (one of my all-time favorites). I have over 500 books in my Kindle app, but honestly, I only read a few of my favorites over and over. It’s comforting (just like how I watch Supernatural and iZombie over and over. Never get tired of it.)

I also write paranormal fiction. Bigfoot, vampires, werewolves/shifters, and my current work in progress, about Nordic mythology (lots of research for that one, so it’s pretty slow-going). I’ve never finished anything and I’ve never shown my work to anyone. I don’t think I ever will, just because I don’t want to be judged. That may change if I ever finish something worth publishing. We’ll see.


It’s also National Stress Awareness Day. I read because it calms me down. Reading helps me fall asleep (and it gives me something to do in the middle of the night when I just can’t go back to sleep). I read because it’s the only thing I’ve done for the past twenty-five-ish years that remains constant (except for the two years after Hannah was born when I just could not read anything to save my life. It was a sad two years, book-wise.)

National Family Literacy Day - Reading As A Family (2)

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First Day – 3rd Grade and 4th Grade

I can’t believe it’s the first day of school already! I blinked and summer was over. I think we did most of the things on our list, except camping. We just didn’t get around to that. We ended up going swimming more than I thought we would and hit up the park a few times a week. I took these photos the other day, while we were having a picnic at the park. I don’t know what they will wear for the first day of school, but I know it will involve a jacket since it’s supposed to be in the 60s.

First Day of School 2017

Avery is really excited about learning about science (especially dinosaurs) and getting lots of homework. (Ok, I made that last one up.)

Lauren is excited for recess, of course, so she can be on her beloved monkey bars. I’m hoping she gets some homework this year, too. It will be good for her.

Hannah doesn’t start until September 11th, so I’ll be sharing her photos (and a group shot!) next week!

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Biggest Sister, Littlest Sister

Beth Hardinger Blog

Avery spent last week with Gramma at Bible School, so it was just these two home with me. They rarely get along, but without Avery, they have to find a way to play together (Thank you, Daniel Tiger, for all of your awesome songs…)

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It’s not very often Lauren gets to help Hannah with things, so she had fun actually playing the big sister role. Hannah couldn’t get up on a rock, so Lauren lifted her up. She couldn’t push the button on the fountain and drink at the same time, so Lauren helped out with that too.

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We got up early, had donuts from Cub and went to a park we rarely visit. It was empty, since it was 8am, so the kids had fun just running around and playing.

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And this shoveling contraption? Hannah couldn’t quite figure it out. So Lauren told her to sit on the seat with her and helped her shovel sand.

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It makes me happy to see them like this, even though as soon as they got in the car, they started fighting again. At least I know they love each other!

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Favorite Summer Netflix Picks

Favorite Summer Netflix Picks | Beth Hardinger Blog

Let’s face it – we can’t spend every single day at the park or the lake. We all need a break sometimes. Or it’s just way too hot and humid to be outside, or a summer storm rolls in. Whatever the reason, my kids and I have our go-to Netflix shows and movies to watch when we stay in.

Avery (8)

  • Dolphin Tale
  • Magic School Bus Series
  • Any Disney/Pixar Movie
  • Pete’s Dragon
  • Care Bears (that show has really changed since I watched it in the 80s!)

Lauren (10)

  • Sofia The First (she will be so excited when Elena of Avalor and Doc McStuffins come to Netflix!)
  • Tarzan (the good one, with Phil Collins and ‘N SYNC doing the music)
  • My Little Pony
  • Littlest Pet Shop

Hannah (3)

  • Moana
  • Zootopia
  • Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Anything her sisters are watching

The Mom (30-something)

  • Parenthood the series
  • Supernatural (currently working my through Season 1 again)
  • Parks & Rec – hands down my all-time favorite show
  • Grace & Frankie
  • Being Human (US version)

On My To-Watch List

  • The Originals – I have only seen the first season and I didn’t really pay attention
  • The Ranch
  • The Last Kingdom
  • Anne With An “E” – I’m having a really hard time with this one, because I LOVE the original so much

What do you like watching in the summer? Have any recommendations for us? 

Favorite Summer Netflix Picks | Beth Hardinger Blog

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Summer Book Club | Kids Edition

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

Samson The Piranha Who Went to Dinner | Beth Hardinger Blog

Summer Book Club | Kids Edition

This week, Avery chose a book about a piranha. Samson: The Piranha Who Went to Dinner by Tadgh Bentley. Avery’s almost 8, and enjoys chapter books (shorter ones – she hasn’t quite moved into Harry Potter territory yet), but this wasn’t a chapter book. I try to have them pick out their own books, for the most part, even if the books seem a little too easy – or a little too hard.

Samson is beautifully illustrated. He’s definitely the cutest piranha I’ve ever seen! Samson the “foodie” piranha loves to explore, unlike the other piranhas. He wanted more than just the same old thing, day after day, especially food. Samson learned that some new, fancy restaurants were opening nearby, so he ventured out to try them.

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

The best things about the book are the phrases the other fish say to Samson. A few of Avery’s favorites were: “Salty mother of mackerel!”, “Scaly Neptune’s crabcakes!”, and “For the love of smoky sea bass!”

Basically, the story is about always being yourself – being you is okay. Samson learns that if the world doesn’t have what you want – a fancy restaurant with yummy food – you do what you have to do to get what you want. You don’t have to hide what you are.

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

I found a cute activity to do along with the book! We will be trying this soon! All three of my kids loved this book!

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

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Bigfoot Days

Bigfoot | Beth Hardinger Blog

Bigfoot is real. He’s out there, man. In Remer, Minnesota, to be specific. The founder of Remer spotted some tracks in the early 1900s, which he believed were made by Bigfoot. After that, there were several sightings all around the area for many years. You can read all about Remer’s Bigfoot history here. (Seriously. Go do that. It’s really interesting!)

There are several activities planned for Saturday, July 8 in Remer.

  • Breakfast will be pancakes from 8-11am
  • For all of you runners, there’s a Bigfoot 5k at 9:30 am
  • There will be a bouncy house and games for kids starting at 10 am
  • At 2:30 pm, the MN Bigfoot Research Team will be holding a Town Hall-type meeting, complete with storytelling
  • Don’t miss the Bigfoot BBQ contest at 3!
  • Kids Bigfoot Calling Contest starts at 4 pm
  • And for the grown ups, at 10 pm, there’s a Bigfoot Calling Contest for you!

At 12 pm, hundreds of ATV riders will be departing from Remer, on the 1st Annual Cancer Sucks ATV ride. As a cancer survivor (he completed 3 years of chemo for leukemia in January), my brother signed up and will ride for cancer awareness.

Here’s a shot of Bigfoot that I took last summer, near Thunder Lake 🙂

Home of Bigfoot Remer MN | Beth Hardinger Blog

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Up North Parent

A Little Background on Up North Parent

Up North Parent was created on my 31st birthday – something positive on a not-so-good day. It was during a morning play date at the mall where we all thought it would be such a fun thing to do, and get us all out of the house – and exercising our creative muscles. Between the three of us, there are two photographers (one professional, the other a hobbyist) and a professional writer). Later that night, during a birthday pedicure, we actually bought the domain, signed for email and social media, and made this happen.

Up North Parent
I am so grateful for Becky and Laura. They have been so supportive throughout my divorce (which is still ongoing) and I am so excited to be a part of something so awesome!

A Little About Up North Parent:

We are three moms in different stages of life, providing tips, reviews and encouragement so parents can thrive in life, not just survive. We have some fun things planned for the rest of the summer! Stay tuned!

You can find us at our blog, Up North Parent, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Don’t forget to enter our giveaways on Instagram and Facebook!

Up North Parent Summer Launch Giveaway

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My Favorite Websites for Writers 

Favorite Websites For Writers | Beth Hardinger Blog

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. Fiction is my favorite, though I have done some poetry and a few songs (way, way back in the teen years…) As it turns out, I don’t know all there is to know about writing. Shocking, I know. So when I need to look up how to write a kick-ass protagonist, or whether or not I should outline my story, I go to these sites for assistance.

Favorite Websites For Writers | Beth Hardinger Blog

Helping Writers Become Authors

If you only read a few posts from KM Weiland (the author) read the posts on the Resources page. SO MUCH amazing information for new writers!


I’ve been following Kristin for a few years, back when she was She’s Novel. She recently re-branded to Well-Storied but she still has the best advice and her workbooks are very thorough and so helpful!

Bridgid Gallagher

She’s on a blog hiatus at the moment due to traveling and writing a book (seriously, go check out her Instagram!) but her blog is packed full of great tips for writers.

EA Deverell

She has one of the most comprehensive freebie libraries I have seen. All of it is GOLD!

Little Novelist

The cutest header photo and a blog with something useful in every post!

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Camp Nanowrimo July

Camp NaNoWriMo | Beth Hardinger Blog

Tomorrow is the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo. Twice a year (April and July), NaNoWriMo has “Camp”, where you can work on any writing project you want. You don’t have to have a set word count, like the NaNoWriMo in November. You don’t even have to write a novel. You could write songs, poetry, edit a work-in-progress.

I will be working on a short story that I started a few months ago. I am aiming for 15,000 words (which may not qualify as a short story, but it won’t be a full-length novel, so I don’t know what else to call it.

I don’t know how much of it I will share, if anything, but I am planning on posting weekly updates all the way through July with my writing schedule and word counts.

As of today, my word count is 1,583.

Do you love writing? You should join in!

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