Growing Lifelong Readers

Some of my fondest memories as a child involve snuggling up with a good book and reading for hours. I would read everywhere, and any time I could. I loved it so much my parents would have to set a timer and limit my reading so that I would do other things, like my chores, or my homework. When our family went up north to our cottage for a weekend, I would bring a book (or 5,) and sit in the screened-in porch reading for most of the weekend. When I got home from school, I would hide out in my room and read until supper time. Even in college, I would spend a lazy Saturday sprawled out on my twin sized bed in my dorm room, reading.

Reading has always been an enjoyable activity for me – something I looked forward to. But not everyone feels that way. So why do some people spend most of their lives with their nose in a book while others never, ever read? I believe it all comes down to how often a person was read to during their childhood.

My mom used to read to us almost every afternoon when we were small. As soon as we stopped taking naps, that time in the afternoon that used to be dedicated to sleep became filled with books and stories. I looked forward to that time. We read books about everything. Sometimes, my mom picked out a stack of non-fiction books about Christopher Columbus, or the Pilgrims, or slavery, or World War 2, and we would sit and read book after book, and learn so much without even realizing we were learning.

One of my favorite things we read was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Recently, I started reading them to my four year old son, Liam, and it’s amazing how much he’s come to enjoy reading, too. Every night he begs, “Just one more chapter, Mama, please?” and sometimes I give in, and we stay up past his bedtime. But I’m happy that I can give him the gift of reading, just as my mom gave me when I was small, and I hope that will stay with him his whole life, just as it has for me.

Please consider reading to your children every day. It truly is a lifelong gift.

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Fabulous Fall

Fall is here, which means it’s time for raking leaves, warm scarves and sweaters, cozy candles and delicious treats.  Here are some amazing ideas and recipes for autumn:

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Pie Croissants

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Decorating with Pumpkins

Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bread

Slow Cooker Corn and Potato Chowder

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Candles

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Porch Decorations

Pumpkin Dip

Baked Apples

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

Outdoor Party

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Apple Cider

Decorating With Pumpkins

More Decorating with Pumpkins

Chai Tea Granola

Acorn Cookies

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Acorn Wreath

Pumpkins and Candles = Beautiful

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Decorating with Candy Corn

Cute Ideas for Kiddos

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Since I am a new mother to a 7 1/2 month old son, I am always looking for new ways to make my house more “kid friendly.” Here are some wonderful and creative ideas that I found on Pinterest.
Cute Rooms:

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DIY Wedding Invitations

Two and a half years ago when I got married, we spend a fortune on very basic wedding invitations.  Today, I was browsing this site, and I found these adorable free, printable wedding invites.  If I would have known about this back when I was planning my wedding, I’d be at least $600 richer.  So I’m posting this today so that those of you planning a wedding on a budget can still have pretty invitations.

Craft Projects I’m Dying to Try – Part 2

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Craft Projects I’m Dying to Try – Part 1

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Beautiful Bedrooms on Pinterest

Today I was on Pinterest (I am SO addicted) and I came across dozens of beautiful bedrooms.  Here are my favorites:

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As you can tell, I keep going back between glamorous, modern bedrooms and fun, funky, colorful bedrooms. I just can’t decide which I like better!  I’ve been wanting to update my bedroom for about two years now.  Right now, it’s painted the color of masking tape (from the previous owner) and is so boring.  Our bedspread is white with goldish accents and the dressers are light wood.  It all sort of blends together in a kind of ugly, monotone mush.  Sounds like this might be my next project!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

As a fellow writer, Gretchen Rubin offers a lot of great advice about starting a blog, the uncertainty she felt taking the plunge and leaving her job as a lawyer to become a writer, and several pearls of wisdom on motivation.

Now certainly, motivation is a problem we all face, especially as writers.  We all want to become writers, but not all of us are willing to commit to what it takes to be a writer.  Many of us, myself included, are easily caught up in the demands of every day life and allow it to take us away from our true passion, which is of course, writing.

To be a successful writer, Gretchen Rubin mentions, you have to actually like writing.  It has to make you happy.  Otherwise, you’ll have a problem sticking with it.  People who are happy with what they do find the time to actually do it and therefore, are more motivated and successful.

As part of her happiness project, the author decides to dedicate an entire year to not only making herself happier, but to finding out what exactly makes her happy.  She focuses on work for an entire month, sharing what she’s learned.  Here’s a summary of some of her excellent advice:

-Aim higher.

-Challenge yourself by committing to something and sticking to it.

-Work smarter by boosting your efficiency.

-Focus on “now” and allow yourself to enjoy it.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.

-“Enjoy the fun of failure.”

My favorite passage in the book?  One of her “Secrets of Adulthood”:

By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.  We tend to overestimate how much we can accomplish in an hour or a week, and underestimate how much we can accomplish in a month or a year, by doing just a little bit each day. 

Reading her novel, The Happiness Project,  has really renewed my zeal for writing, and I thank her for that.  In addition, she offers a lot of great insight and tips on writing, finding a writing support group, and blogging.

If you’re looking for a book to boost your ambition and give you a kick in the pants, this might be a good one for you to read.  While the focus of the book is primarily the author’s search to define and find happiness, much of it is based around her life as a writer.  It doesn’t necessarily offer much on the craft of writing, but if you’re looking for a source of motivation, not only as a writer, but in your life in general, this will do the trick.

Write What Matters

If you don’t care about what you’re writing, neither will your readers.  This doesn’t mean you should take on only big subjects – war, peace, love, hunger, oppression.  It means that if what matters to you is the way the light falls on the bougainvillea in the morning, that’s what you should write about.  If what matters to you is the relationship between sisters and brothers, then that’s what you write about.

Write about what interests you, what you don’t understand, what you want to learn more about.  Novelist Amy Tan said, “I write about it [mothers and daughters] because I don’t understand it, because it is such a mystery to me.  If it ceases to be a mystery, and if I were an expert on it, I wouldn’t write about it.  I like to write about things that bother me in some way, that I have a lot of conflict with.”

Reread your writing to discover recurring themes and images.  Look for hints and innuendos within spontaneous or stream of consciousness writings.  If you’re bored with what you’re writing or lackadaisical about your commitment, return to the idea that birthed it.  More than one writer has been drawn off track by comments from her writing group or misdirection from a friend.  “Let nobody, your mother, your grandmother, your agent, your publisher, your producer, let nobody tell you the creator what you should do,” said Roots author Alex Haley, who invested twelve years in writing his life-changing book.

Be a passionate writer. – Judy Reeves

The Written Word

The written word preserves what otherwise might be lost among the impressions that inundate our lives.  Thoughts, insights, and perceptions constantly threaten to leave us before we have the opportunity to grasp their meaning.  Writing can keep technology-driven, fast-paced, quick-fix, ambiguity-intolerant modern life from overpowering us – and give us something palpable upon which to reflect.  Reflection slows matters down.  It analyzes what was previously unexamined, and opens doors to different interpretations of what was there all along.  Writing, by encouraging reflection, intensifies life.

– Helena Hjalmarsson