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Thoughts from the Fun Van

Meet Our Newest Educator Karen!

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What was your childhood ambition?

To be a teacher or a librarian.

What book are you currently reading?

Bewilderment by Richard Powers.  Next up is Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon…been saving that one until I have time to enjoy and savor it.

What was your favorite toy as a child?

I had a stuffed St. Bernard dog that I loved dearly. 

What’s one of your funniest parenting  or teaching moments?

It’s either being asked by students what dinosaurs were like when I was a child or who is my favorite super hero and then being informed that I am wrong about my choice. 

What’s a fun fact about you?

My parents used to own an orchard and I have become very particular about apples, peaches, pears, and plums.  I will only eat certain varieties at certain stages of ripeness. 
How many years have you been with the Fun Van?

I am brand new and just starting!

What did you do before working at the Fun Van?

I taught first grade for 30 years in Michigan, then moved to Arizona and worked at the Apache Junction Library as a page for over a year before joining the Fun Van team.

How Did you hear about the Fun Van?

Two of the library supervisors separately came up to me on the same day to let me know about an opening. 

What do you enjoy most about working at Fun Van?

I enjoy seeing children grow a love for reading.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Read, take walks with my dogs, travel when I can.

What advice do you have for parents?

Spend as much time as you can with your wee ones…they grow up so fast!  They won’t always remember what you did, but they’ll remember that you cared and spent time with them. 

What’s one of your favorite books or activities for your Fun Van families?

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff…I relate way too much with the mouse! 

Meet Our New Fun Van Supervisor – Penny Brumbaugh

What was your childhood ambition?  I dreamed of being an archeologist. Never quite made it, but I enjoy reading about past cultures. 

What’s your favorite fall or winter beverage? Hot apple cider a stick of cinnamon/cloves cooked in a crockpot.

What was your favorite toy as a child?  An old sheet.  I could build forts, ballgowns, a post office…a sheet was versatile. 

What’s one of your funniest parenting or teaching moments? Listening to my words come out of my children’s mouths.

What’s a fun fact about you? I once was a gymnast. Our team got 2nd in State one year.  My preferred apparatus was beam.

Do you have any kids? Yes, 5 and my 1st grandbaby due this summer.

What snack is your guilty pleasure?  Almond Roca

What did you do before working at the Fun Van? Before I became a Librarian, I was a Funeral Director. I love to help people, in that work I guided them thru their darkest hours, and helped them find hope.

What do you enjoy most about working at Fun Van? I truly love working with these gifted women.  Their dedication to helping parents is inspiring.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?  Read. Currently I am reading Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

What advice do you have for parents? Remember children learn by watching you.  Help them to identify “the problem”, and then help them solve it, don’t take on their “problems.”  Love, love, love….and when you’re really stressed say under your breath “this too shall pass.”  It’s going to be okay. 

What’s one of your favorite children’s books or authors?  Mary Norton, Roald Dahl, Joanna Cole

Bedknob and Broomstick, Mary Norton – Printed Pages and Coffee

Not So Fast, 2020!

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Here’s the thing. It is really easy to just chalk this year up as a loss and wish it away, crossing our fingers that 2021 will be better. But, I am challenging myself and hopefully all of our families as well, to not wish away this year. I had the sobering realization that life also happened this year, life that we won’t get back, life that won’t wait for things to end or change. We have been through a lot. And while I am just as eager as the rest of us to find some joy and hope in the new year, let us not be so zealous to look ahead that we miss the beauty that is right now.

Why hello there. It’s been a while since we have posted a blog up here with my thoughts. Can I be honest with you? I am pretty tired of reading/listening to everybody’s thoughts online, so adding mine here has been a struggle. I mean, what can be said that hasn’t already been said? This year has been hard? Yep. It’s been unprecedented? Didn’t think we would use that word so much did we? Chaotic, lonely, frustrating, exhausting, scary, sad, hopeful, hopeless, eventful, boring, stretching, and did I already say exhausting?

As I shared the beginning of this post with some of my co-workers (your other fabulous fun van educators), they candidly agreed that sometimes being in the moment is just, well, hard. Especially with tiny, mostly cute, and sometimes very annoying little humans constantly under your feet. So what’s a mama (or dadda, or papa, or nana…you get the idea) to do in times like these? Here are 3 ideas that I am working on doing in my life and thought I would share with you. If you chose to try any of these, please share them below. We love learning from you all as well!

  1. Snap a photo of the mess, not the perfectly manicured life you are waiting to live. It is so easy to delay taking pictures or documenting life because we are waiting for it to be perfect. Has anyone else realized that perfect just isn’t going to happen anytime soon? Don’t wait to snap a photo of the moment. This is your moment, document it, and laugh at the chaos that is right now. One day, the mess will be gone, the kids will have moved out, the noise will die down and these photos will remind you of all the hard, crazy, funny, and messy moments you lived through.
  2. Put away or turn off your phone just for a little bit. Maybe you turn it off during dinner, or you take your kids for a walk and it doesn’t come with you. Maybe, you spend the morning drinking your coffee or tea and just enjoy watching your kiddos play acknowledging that you had a hand in helping them learn all they know up until this point. Put it in a random place that you aren’t tempted to look at or hear. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, half a day, the whole day, whatever works for you. The phone will still be there when you are ready to come back to it.
  3. Pick one detail to tune into for the day and notice the diversity of those details. Notice the different types of trees in your neighborhood. Pay attention to the color of food as you make a snack for the umpteenth time. It sounds silly but it is an easy way to draw your focus to the now instead of all of the things on your list to accomplish. I never realized how many different shapes of cereal we purchase. Ahh, the little things.

Happy New Year’s friends! Here’s hoping that we get to hang out more in the new year! Keep up the good work!

Registration is Open!

Registration is now open for our classes beginning on December 7th!

Apache Junction Boo-Thru

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The Apache Junction Library will be participating in Apache Junction Parks & Rec’s Boo-Thru Event on Halloween Day! Be on the lookout for a MAP to all the stops the beginning of next week! For more information check out

October Early Childhood Training sessions

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Registration is now open for the October Early Childhood Training sessions brought to you by the AJ Library Fun Van Program. Check out these exciting sessions and register today! 

**Now when you register through Eventbrite you will automatically have the Zoom meeting information**

Tuesday October 6, 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Creating Easy, Fun and Educational Experiences at Home Part 1: 

What does it take to create an environment that allows for fun and educational learning opportunities for small children while at home? Join us as we discuss the importance of healthy self-esteem, positive discipline strategies and creative troubleshooting tips for being at home with young children. Stuck at home doesn’t have to mean stuck in a rut.

Thursday October 15, 10:00am – 12:00pm 

Creating Easy, Fun and Educational Experiences at Home Part 2: 

Learn how to engage your youngest children using interactive reading that focuses on fostering healthy brain development, using wordless books, asking good questions and using recall and prediction to encourage healthy brain and language development. Join us as we teach tips for fun, engaging read alouds that even the squirmiest of children will enjoy!

PCECC Community Health Services

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Check out these community health resources from the Pinal Early Childhood Coalition.

PCECC Family Support Services

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Check out these resources from the Pinal Early Childhood Coalition.

August 2020 Mini Connections

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Zoom Links:

Monday’s Activities:

Meeting ID: 916 7936 6134 Password: 194567

Wednesday’s Activities:

Meeting ID: 945 2975 0402 Password: 486452

Friday’s Activities:

Meeting ID: 972 4894 8864 Password: 036984