Hold on to those precious gains!
After another school year informed by plague living, families are faced with protecting and building on some particularly hard-won educational gains over the long summer months. The Summer Slide is always a concern, but after one or two years of dealing with virtual classes, early dismissals, and kids being sent home at the first sign of sniffles, it’s going to be more important than ever to build on what our kids have learned.
One of our favorite ways to do this is to take lots of trips throughout the summer months to educational institutions, such as museums, galleries, gardens, zoos, and aquariums. How do you make the most of a museum trip? We have LOTS of experience in this department, and we are here to share our best tips to make the most of your educational summer excursions.
Know a reader? Need to get them a gift, but don't want to fall back on gift cards to their favorite book stores? We've got you! Whether you're buying for a friend, co-worker, or your book club's secret Santa exchange, this list should point you in the right direction. This list does contain affiliate links (marked with an asterisk *) , so you're helping us, too, when you use our links. Happy shopping!
Did you just marry someone in the military? Congrats! Feeling a little culture shock? You're definitely not alone! There are loads of reading lists out there for military spouses, many of which rattle off the same books over and over. Those picks are ok, but we have a few problems with them.
First, they focus on the negative parts of military life, such as deployments and death. Second, they're getting old and outdated, which admittedly happens pretty fast. When I first got married in 2011, the books were about being a military spouse in the 90's, and that was a little helpful, but not a lot, because so much had changed and many acronyms had become meaningless. Likewise, now, there are a bunch of books about being married to a service member in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military does not work the same way now as it did 15 years ago. Third, some of these lists are all about understanding your service member spouse's world, but they don't help YOU! We're all for learning about each branch's heroes, histories, and challenges, but a list of books for military spouses should help the spouses. Some of the books on our list will be specific to the military, but several address key pain points about life in general that tend to be exacerbated by the military lifestyle.
One challenge we encountered when we went to make this list is that we would not recommend the same books to new spouses as we would seasoned spouses. This list is for the new (and probably quite young) military spouse. If you're new to the military community, you might be suffering a little culture shock, homesickness, or loneliness. Even if you're adapting well, you might be struggling to explain it to your family or friends. Read on for our list (in no particular order) of great books to help you embrace your new life.
The links below are affiliate links, so we'll get a small bonus if you use them to order any of these books from Amazon, but we also have a free printable version of this list that you can take to the library!
Big changes to The Commandant’s Professional Reading List Program were recently announced. For anyone not in the know, the United States Marine Corps has a professional reading list, packed full of titles that are meant to educate Marines and inculcate them with the Corps’ values. We explained how it typically works in a previous article, but a good deal of that has now shifted, mostly for the better.
We here at Busy Nest News love a reading list, especially a list meant to develop leadership, creativity, and resilience. We believe any org can benefit from developing a reading list for its members. The Commandant’s Reading List has been updated regularly since it was established in 1989, so it’s always been one of our first stops when we’re looking for the next book in our respective self-development journeys. So what are these changes, and why are they a big deal? Doesn’t the list get updated frequently anyway? Read on for my initial analysis of the changes.
In pursuit of making great book club kits and generally improving ourselves, we read a LOT of books! We believe that you can get at least a little bit better at just about anything, as long as you keep learning about it and practicing proven techniques. We extend this philosophy to our journeys as parents, too. What if all parents took their parenting as seriously as their career or favorite hobby? To progress at work, people read books, take classes, and seek mentorships. We aren't too proud or self-assured to try these techniques to become better parents, as well.
While we're certainly not perfect, we're definitely seeing results from these efforts. One of our biggest lessons has been that we're constantly planting the seeds for future progress; real changes are rarely immediate, but they're lasting and buildable. That and, parenting is hard! Even when you're doing it right, your kid will still get mad at you. Saying "no" in the cereal aisle when your kid is two might result in a tantrum that makes you wish you'd just ordered everything online. But sticking to your "no" and enduring the tw0-year-old's rage will result in a much more subtle, but accepting, form of dissatisfaction to your "no" in the same scenario a year or two later.
All of this is to say, you've got this! And when you feel like you don't, we have books that can help. Read on for our list of our ten favorite parenting books (in no particular order). These are all of our go-to's when friends ask how we handle things. Use the links in the article to order your own copy from Amazon (we'll get a small referral payout if you do, at no additional cost to you). Bonus: we have a printable pamphlet of all ten titles that you can take with you to the bookstore or library!
When people think about military training, they usually picture some version of basic training. And why wouldn’t they? The vast majority of military movies spend a large amount of time on the protagonist getting through boot camp. Basic training is a big deal, but the truth is that it’s just the beginning (hence the word "basic"). After boot camp, the training continues in the form of schools, field ops, distance learning classes, and ongoing mentoring. But there’s one type of training that is key for developing leaders that's often overlooked by the casual observer of military life. The great news, though, is that you can use this technique to develop yourself as a leader, as well as other aspiring leaders in your team.
Why are so many military spouses turning to entrepreneurship?
Many of you who follow Busy Nest News already know that Ariel and I are military spouses. While our product (awesome book club kits) is unique, our decision to strike out on our own and blaze a trail as entrepreneurs is not. The internet has made it easier than ever for anyone to start a business or cultivate a side hustle. For military spouses, in particular, these opportunities aren’t just nice to have; they’re often essential for family stability, a sense of identity, and maintaining mental health.
That sounds pretty dramatic, but Blue Star Families has the numbers to back this up. In their 2019 survey, 38% of military spouses were not in the labor force (most not by choice). Of the spouses who reported being employed, 77% were underemployed. These numbers are very dramatic compared to the rest of the country. To learn more about why these numbers are the way they are, check out Blue Star Families’ latest survey results here.
With the unique set of challenges that come with developing a career while being married to a service member, it’s no wonder so many MilSpouses choose to start their own businesses. Here are some reasons why entrepreneurship is so attractive to military spouses.
We, like most everyone else, are stuck at home. When you live with other people, being forced to be in close quarters with each other for an extended period can become frustrating, or a fresh chance to improve your relationships. To make the most of this time, we're trying for the latter. So this week, we're looking at our relationships through the lens of the five love languages.
In case you haven't read Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages," here's a quick rundown. Chapman believes that while everyone expresses love (and craves it to be expressed to them) in their own way, these can all be organized into five groups. Chapman calls these groups the five love languages. The word "language" is really key here, because if someone tried to tell you that they love you in a language you didn't understand (like Arabic or German), you wouldn't receive the message. But, it would be possible for you to learn that other language, and then you would be able to understand the other person's message of love. That's important, because it means that while some of the love languages don't come naturally to us, there's hope that we can learn to give and receive love in them anyway.
So what are the languages themselves? There's Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Gifts. To learn more about each language, your best bet is to read Chapman's books. But to find out which is your primary (or even secondary) love language, take the quiz on Chapman's website!
Ariel and I know that between our two families, every love language is represented. So we have to work on all of them to make sure that we're all feeling appreciated while in quarantine. With small children, Chapman advises to practice all five languages anyway, since they and their preferences are still developing. And while adults have more fixed love needs, in unusual times (quarantine) or during transitional phases (around a big move, or when a baby is born), your needs might temporarily shift. All that is to say, this is the perfect time to take stock of what we and our family members need in order to feel as loved and whole as possible.
You can join us and work on the five love languages in your own home, too! From now until April 8th, 2020, we're giving away our mini kit for "The 5 Love Languages." If you don't already own the book, check out the ebook or audiobook from your local library, or get it from Amazon. You and your partner can read the book and use our discussion questions to connect with each other and the material. If you want to use our kit to do a virtual book club with friends or teammates, check out our article about how to easily run a virtual book club.
In these unusual times many of us are finding ourselves at home a lot more. Whether we’re compelled by the government, just out of places to go, or are volunteering our isolation to protect the vulnerable, we’re all a bit stuck. If you’re not working from home or homeschooling kids (or you are, but need some non-work or kid-related interaction for your sanity), you’re probably looking for something to do. Why not start a book club?
We’ve had great success with our kits being used as virtual book clubs, but awesome as they are, you can do this without our materials, too. We’ll walk you through setting up a virtual book club for your own group. Following these instructions, you’ll see how easy it is to run a club that allows everyone to participate at their leisure and gives you all something to look forward to checking on social media besides the latest virus or shelter in place memes.
1. Pick a book
You probably have a good idea what some of your friends might like to read or re-read. Our kits focus on self-improvement books, but you could pick anything! An old classic or new bestseller, as long as you and a few friends are willing to chat about it, it’s a winner.
2. Make a group
Form a secret group on Facebook. Throw a cute picture of the book you’ll be reading into the banner, and invite all your friends. Anyone who has the energy to participate and willingness to read the book you’ve chosen can accept your invite and find themselves a copy. Many libraries are closing down, but others are offering curbside pickup, and any that offer online resources (like Overdrive/Libby, RBDigital and more) still have those available. Even if you can’t leave your house, chances are good everyone can get their own copy of the book.
3. Brainstorm questions & find content
As the discussion leader, you’ve already selected the book your group will read. Read ahead of everyone else to find topics and themes that tie in. Scan the internet for relevant blogs, articles, and memes. Also, ponder some questions the group could enjoy discussing.
If you’re using one of our big kits, send the Members Only guides in printed booklet or virtual PDF to your members so they can ponder more personal questions as they read the book. They’re beautiful in print or on tablets!
4. Ask (and answer) questions
Ask the group your discussion questions! The best way to do this is to post each question as its own status, or even make it into an attractive graphic that’s easy to spot. Then, everyone can comment with their answers below when they get a chance. The “reply” feature in Facebook’s comment section essentially turns any post into a forum for that single question. It’s surprisingly organized!
Speaking of organized, a good strategy is to schedule your questions and other content ahead of time. This way you can spread it out over several days to keep things fresh for the group, and you won’t forget to post on a day that’s especially demanding. Don’t forget to answer your questions! You don’t have to be the first one to offer an answer every time, but have a response or another way of wording the question at the ready. If you want the feel of an in-person book club, consider using a video call service like Zoom.
If you’re using one of our big or mini kits, you don’t have to brainstorm unique questions! Just post the questions we provide and join the conversation.
5. Repeat with another book!
Finally, when the group has had its fun, consider choosing another title together. Even when you can all see each other in person again. This might be your new favorite way of running a book club, or a temporary measure to stave off boredom and cabin fever. Either way, we hope you’ll give it a try!
This post contains affiliate links. If you buy anything using the links in this article, Busy Nest News will get a small portion of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Expecting Better, by Emily Oster
It’s been a while since Ariel and I came across a parenting book that we just had to read. When we heard the premise of Expecting Better, by Emily Oster, we knew it bore checking out.
Emily Oster is an economist (as is her husband). In a nutshell, what economists are pros at is analyzing information, evaluating the quality, and synthesizing it into reports to help people in key positions make decisions. In Expecting Better, Oster aims to use her economist skills to breakdown the data around the most common, thorny issues encountered in pregnancy, to help you decide what's best for your family.
Some of the topics tackled include the risks around foods (caffeine, alcohol, lunch meat, sushi), medicines (birth control, pain killers, antidepressants), and exercise. Oster also details risks of and protocols around genetic testing, common pregnancy conditions (such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes), bedrest, and the options available during birth.
Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
Let's keep in touch!