Summer Fun at the Jones Center for Families

**FDC Disclosure: This year I’m an ambassador for the Jones Center for Families, which means I get to do cool stuff there and tell you all about it! I’ve been compensated for writing this post, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think the Center is awesome. You should check it out if you live in Northwest Arkansas or are visiting for the day.

Summer Fun at the Jones Center for Families

Beach Ball - Summer Fun at JCF - kimberlymitchell.us

As a teacher, I can’t tell you how happy I am summer is finally here. Don’t get me wrong. I loved teaching (most) of my pre-K students this year, but those last few months felt pretty long.

But now it’s SUMMER! And it’s time for summer fun, with or without the kiddos, and the Jones Center for Families has a great slate of activities for everyone to enjoy.

Let’s cut to the chase. Summer is all about swimming and the Jones Center has you covered.

Swimming at the Jones Center

The Jones Center has a junior Olympic pool and a leisure pool with a pretty kickin’ slide the kids (or you) will love. They also have extended swim hours. Family hours are:

Monday:
4:30pm – 8:00pm
Tuesday – Saturday:
12:00pm – 3:45pm & 4:30pm – 8:00pm
Sunday:
1:30pm – 4:45pm

The best thing about the Jones Center pool? No need for sunscreen since it’s completely indoors. Score.

For the adults: I love swimming, but I especially love it when I can swim laps without having kids jumping in and out of the pool or splashing me. The Jones Center offers plenty of adult swimming options.

Monday – Friday: Lap Swimming
8:00am- 1:00pm
4:30pm – 7:45pm (Limited Lanes)
*No lanes available Wednesdays [6:30-7:30]
Saturday:
12:00pm – 7:45pm
Sunday: 
1:30pm – 4:45pm

The Center also has swimming lessons through the Razorback Aquatic Club for kids ages 3-17. For adults, they’re holding an evening Learn To Swim Class for beginners and a Masters Swim Class for adult swimmers who want to improve their skills. (Heads up, this is an early one!)

Ice Skating at the Jones Center

Jones Center Ice - Summer Fun - kimberlymitchell.us

So swimming isn’t really your thing, but you’re still looking for a way to stay cool this summer? Why not hit the ice. The Jones Center has the only indoor, year-round ice rink in the area and it is cool, in every sense of the word.

Don’t know how to skate? The Jones Center has you covered with its Learn to Skate Classes for both kids and adults. This summer they’re also hosting two levels of Skating Camps. The beginner level starts June 13th and the advanced June 27th. If you’re looking for a more casual experience, the rink offers a variety of hours for recreational skating. Check the schedule for available skate times.

Swimming and ice Skating are what the Jones Center are known for, but there are many other fun opportunities to get yourself and the kids out of the house and moving this summer. Here’s just a few of them!

Unique Fun at the Jones Center

Kid Fit – You want to work out, but you have the kids with you. Kid Fit is for you. It allows kids to work out with their parents. You get to model how important exercise is and they get to burn off some energy. Win-win. Kid Fit is for kids ages 4-9 and their parents and classes are held on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. (Bonus: It’s only $3/session or free for members!)

First Friday Kids Night – Put this one on your calendar. Beginning July 1st, each first Friday of the month, the Jones Center will hold an energy-pumping kids only event that includes obstacle courses, games, pizza and a movie. From 6-10 p.m. your kids are entertained and burning off some energy while you’re out (or in) enjoying some well deserved time off.

obstacle-course-Summer Fun - kimberlymitchell.us

Summer Fun for FREE at the Jones Center

Who doesn’t love free activities? These free events are happening all summer long!

Yoga in the Park – Every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. bring your mat and enjoy free yoga classes outside of the Jones Center next to the Farmers Market.

Movie Nights – Watch family friendly films for free on the big screen! Check the schedule for dates and movie titles. There are several scheduled for June. strawberries-Summer Fun - kimberlymitchell.us

Farmers Market – The Springdale Farmers Market is in its 20th season this year. The market is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. all summer long. You can combine a workout at the center with a quick shopping trip for healthy, locally grown food and goodies!

If I talked about all the fun opportunities at the Jones Center, this blog would be far too long. Check out thejonescenter.net and follow the Jones Center on social media to stay up to date on the latest fun events. Memberships start at the incredibly low price of $5/month, but most of these opportunities are open to non-members for a small fee and it’s well worth your time to check it out.

Have a great summer!

Summer Feet - Summer Fun - kimberlymitchell.us

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Tales of Yemen: Politics over Tea and Cookies

Globe - Politics over Tea and Cookies - kimberlymitchell.usIf you want to make Americans uncomfortable, mention politics or religion and watch the room fidget. You only have to look at the current presidential race to feel the awkwardness of American politics and see the deep divides it creates. And religion? That’s a topic better left to another blog post.

When I moved to Yemen, I quickly learned that these two subjects, nearly taboo in polite American conversations, are the same topics most often broached in first conversations in the Middle East. In fact, not discussing religion or politics with a guest in your home might be considered rude.

I wasn’t prepared to offer deep thoughts on American intervention (or interference) in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, or support or defend then President Bush’s war on terror, but these questions were the ones most often posed after the chai ahmar (red tea) and cookies had been consumed during afternoon visits with neighbors and friends.

Tea and Cookies - Politics over Tea and Cookies - kimberlymitchell.us

I’d been in Aden for roughly four months when Saddam Hussein was captured, sentenced and hanged. I vividly remember the afternoon I learned of his capture.

My fellow teacher, Vlad, dashed into the teacher’s room and breathlessly told me, “They got him.” I looked up from a grammar book I was perusing. “Who?” I asked. It was a steamy, Aden afternoon and I was battling a desire to nap. “Saddam Hussein,” Vlad gasped. I dropped the book.

We ran to the computer lab to pull up any information we could find. (Pre-Twitter days, but the internet still had plenty to report). Needless to say, my students were full of questions and opinions that night. They wanted to know if I thought Hussein deserved death, and whether George Bush hadn’t committed the same sorts of crimes in waging war against Iraq. Ironically, I had a student in class named Saddam Hussein (I’m not making that up), who took a lot of teasing that night, too. Eventually, he changed his name.

These were tough questions, and I didn’t feel completely comfortable discussing them, but I tried to push through my American upbringing and join in the debate. It’s not that my students didn’t agree that Hussein had been a brutal dictator, but they were uncomfortable with the idea that the U.S. could roll into any country, conduct a war, and drag that leader out of a hole in the ground for public trial. To be sure, they had cause to worry. The U.S. was (and still is) carrying out drone strikes against suspected Al-Qaida militants in a region east of Aden. Saudi Arabia and Yemen - Politics over Tea and Cookies - kimberlymitchell.us

Occasionally we’d hear the military jets leaving Aden on flights to observe that desert area and, I suspect, feed information to their U.S. partners. Perhaps their uncertainty also stemmed from the fact that their behemoth neighbor to the north, Saudi Arabia, is also a U.S. ally. There is little love between Yemenis and their northern neighbors, for too many reasons to cover in this post. It came as no surprise to me when the Arab Spring in Yemen resulted in a civil war partially influenced by Saudi Arabia and other outsiders. My students’ fears we spoke of on that long ago day are, in many ways, coming true.

Though I found the political questions challenging, I had to admire the openness with which my hosts asked these questions. They honestly wanted to know my thoughts as an American. I should also say, I never felt condemned by them, even when we disagreed or debated. They agreed that leaders can be separated from those they lead. In fact, the phrase, “Bush no good, but you, we like,” was a pretty common utterance. Evidence to the fact that meeting someone face to face and having an open dialogue is a far cry from the politically slanted, hate or fear fueled news we ingest every night.

I often wished (and still do) that every American could have the same experience I did and sit down to discuss politics with my Yemeni neighbors over a steaming glass of tea and chocolate filled cookies.

Arab Tea - Politics over Tea and Cookies - kimberlymitchell.us

Wouldn’t the world be a different place if we could?

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Valentine’s Day Giveaway Winners!

Valentine's Day Giveaway - Hello February - kimberlymitchell.usWow, what a great Valentine’s Day Giveaway response. Thanks to everyone for your comments on the blog. February is a much loved month! Now, to the winners!

Leigh B. is the winner of the Blog Post giveaway.

Jaime M. is the winner of the #vdayhunt giveaway on Twitter/Instagram.

Thanks again for participating and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Don’t forget to try #asweetpairing of Ghirardelli chocolate and Josh Cellars wine this weekend, or any day!

Ghirardelli - Hello February - kimberlymitchell.us@JoshCellars - Hello February - kimberlymitchell.us

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