Happy World Read Aloud Day (aka How Reading to Our Kids Impacted Our Lives)

Since today is World Read Aloud Day, I wanted to share with the impact reading to my children has had on our lives.

I have three kids. Three wonderful, beautiful, unique kids with different personalities, and different quirks.

My youngest is Abigail. Abigail is 9…and she is a champion reader. No, seriously, she’s been reading since she was 3 years old. We discovered this because one day we were walking through the grocery store and she pointed to a stuffed animal dog she wanted and she said “Love pup!” When we looked at the dog, sure enough on the tag it said ‘love pup.’ That could have been a fluke though, right? But then in that same week she was sitting on my lap as I was scrolling through Facebook and she said – ‘mom, what is a vampire?” I looked at Facebook and right there in someone’s status update they had mentioned vampires. There were no pictures or anything, and while I read books with vampires in them, I can tell you it wasn’t something regularly discussed at our house…(yet). So sure enough we started testing our 3 year old, and she was the master at reading – phonics came so easily to her. It was crazy. Up until recently her school wouldn’t let Abigail read at her actual reading level because the books (material/content) weren’t really appropriate for her age. (Side note: While I’m a parent who can make that judgment call, and should, I am thankful for rules like this since I don’t always see the books she checks out from the library there.) Abigail isn’t some super genius or anything though, in fact reading is probably the only subject she really excels at. 

My middle child is Azalyah. Azalyah is nearly 11 and she is the 2.0 version of myself. She loves to read, loves to go to bookstores; spends all of her Christmas and birthday money on books. She has one thing at her age I did not, the internet. So while I was just getting into ‘fandoms’ as an adult – she’s already found one, and will likely be on to another here soon. I can’t wait until she starts wanting to go to book signings and things with me!! It will be so much fun – but for now, her authors aren’t really at those events.

My oldest child is Elijah. Elijah is 12, and he is dyslexic. He was diagnosed in 2nd grade, though he was on an IEP since about halfway through Kindergarten because there was something obviously going on. Since I was a huge reader growing up, and it’s obviously still a passion now – finding out your kid is having real honest trouble in the area that brings you so much joy – that was hard. Elijah is the most imaginative child you will ever meet. If you ask him, he will tell you of these worlds he’s created within his head. It’s amazing. He could write his own books – and maybe one day he will, but my heart simply breaks for him that he struggles so hard to read a simple book.

Dyslexia is a little bit of a misunderstood learning disability, as far as the general population goes.

Your brain does not simply take words and flip them backwards, it’s much more complex than that. Elijah knows all his letters, all the sounds; he understands them backwards and forwards. Dyslexia takes those letters and their associated sounds and between seeing them on the page and the getting that information into the brain – somewhere the wires get crossed, and you’re trying to put the sounds in the wrong order even though you can clearly see that it isn’t written that way. This is not something that just goes away, but something that you learn to live with. For all intents and purposes, instead of learning to read conventionally, Elijah learns to read by either learning that a certain set of letters equals a word. IE: Instead of sounding out the letters C-A-T to cat, he learns that the symbol that looks like “CAT” equals the word cat. The other way would be to memorize how chunks of letters sound together and attempting to string them together in smaller chunks to get the word to come out properly.

As you can imagine, this slows down the process of reading considerably. While his classmates were reading passages and understanding them completely in 5 minutes time, it would take Elijah 15 minutes to do the same thing – and by the time he would reach the end of the passage, whatever happened at the beginning was lost to him. This kind of struggle for a kid who has extremely high comprehension levels – it just doesn’t seem right. It really isn’t fair at all. Spelling is another mountain all  it’s own…one that we are still trying to tackle.

Needless to say, we’ve spent countless working on reading (and spelling..and writing) at our house. Elijah reads a lot better now. He has had some great teachers (in the public school system, mind you!) and has made so much progress – and I can’t be more proud of him!

But reading in our house wasn’t all about being in school. My husband and I read to our kids even before all of this came up. The kids would get a bedtime story (or 8) at night before bed. We could quote Seuess like nobody’s business (Ever heard of ‘The B Book’ – one year for Elijah’s birthday Justin, my husband, wrote a song for him – and at the end of it he quotes the entire B Book.) As the kids got older we started reading chapter books and have helped our kids discover new worlds, sucha as Narnia, Neverland, Hogwarts – make new friends like Stuart Little, and Charlotte. As the kids got older still (they keep doing that) they have developed their own love for reading – yes even Elijah who struggles with it still in 6th grade and will for the rest of his life. I can’t tell you the happiness I felt the first time I caught him up after bedtime reading in his bed under the covers. I wanted to be mad and cry at the same time.

But the important part here isn’t that we read to the kids and they got to experience all these things though, it was the time spent with them that truly was the benefit. Today they still talk about how we used to gather in one of the bedrooms at night to read a chapter or two from the books, which we continued for a while after they started reading on their own. They don’t mention the countless TV shows that we sit and watch as a family, and rarely do we discuss the movies we watch either. They remember when we do things like go ice skating, or to a carnival, but what they talk about most is that time spent at the end of the day where we stopped the busyness and made them the obvious priority.

I also believe that it is because of these hours spent reading and sharing and discussing books that really made Justin and I aware of Elijah’s learning disability – because we knew he loved reading as much as we did, we knew he wasn’t lazy or over active or any other thing you could think of. I’ve heard so many people who also struggle with dyslexia say that we are ‘lucky’ we realized so early on and they wished they were so fortunate. He has, indeed gotten a lot of help and I have fought for his accommodations – and then fought again to take away some of those accommodations so that he would push himself to get better (because if you’re not careful, some accommodations become enablers…be aware IEP moms!)

So having reviewed the past decade of my life with my children and books – I have decided I miss this time, and we are going to pick out a book and read it together. They are never too old, or too young for quality time and a good book!


Anita Writes: Claire and Ethan Kiss

Claire and I sat on the couch in silence, she was slouched down with her head leaned back against the back of the couch her eyes closed in the first moment of peace since we woke up this morning. After such a crazy day of school, having it close early and trying to track down Molly, and then trekking through a foot of snow to make it back home, we were both exhausted and ready to just rest. The weight of responsibility always seemed to rest so heavy on Claire’s shoulders, it made my troubles seem so minor and insignificant in comparison and I just want to take it all away from her and encourage her to just be the seventeen year old girl that she deserved to be.

A quick glance outside revealed that the snow was still falling heavily, by morning there will likely be about three feet of the stuff. School was already cancelled, and now the wildcard was Claire’s mother, and whether she would make it home at some point. I could only take so long in that tiny closet of hers before I would go nuts. Maybe a closed and quietly locked door would keep her away but I’m not sure if it’s worth the risk. But it was best not to worry about that just yet. One moment at a time, and at this moment I really just wanted to make Claire smile.

“Hey, Molly’s asleep, let’s go out for a bit,” I say to her, standing up to go find my coat.

“Out in the snow?” she asks, her head cocked to the side and her green eyes telling me that she thinks I’m crazy.

“Yeah, why not,” I smile that carefree version of my smile that convinces people to give me what I want, “it’ll just be for a few minutes. Common!” I grab her hand and yank her up from the couch, I pull all of her body weight as she refuses to help me, but once she’s on her feet she moves to put on her boots and her winter coat.

“Grab your gloves too,” I say and walk out the door.

We walk down the street, and I spot part two of my mission; the kid who lives at the end of the street has left his sled out, just like I figured he would since he’s always leaving something out in his front yard. I walk up the yard, leaving very telling footprints in my wake, but I have no intention of stealing the sled. We’re just borrowing it for a minute or two.

With her eyes squinted, Claire starts to protest, “Ethan, I don’t …”

“Don’t start, Claire, it will be fun! Lets just have a moment of fun.” Giving in, she grins at me and we jog over to the park down the street that is at the bottom of an overpass, creating the perfect sledding hill. We cautiously make our way to the top of the hill, our feet slipping and sliding a time or two, mine especially since I’m wearing an old beat up pair of sneakers. When we finally make it to the top I sit on the orange plastic sled that is built for two, and pat the seat between my legs inviting her, “climb in.”

I didn’t anticipate how this would feel though, I didn’t think it through at all. As Claire climbs into the sled I catch her lavender scent, but when she positions herself between my thighs, her back pressed up against my front, I swear I heat up enough to melt all of the snow around us. My breath catches in the back of my throat as I attempt to push these emotions down. We are living together, we are helping each other out, never did I ever want to take advantage of this situation. But her scent and her softness and her being inside my personal space, it was beating down my reserve with each beat of my heart.

I lean forward and breath into her ear in a voice so ragged I hardly recognize it as my own, “you ready?”

Maybe it’s my imagination, but Claire’s voice is equally as strained when she responds, “yeah, let’s go.”

I nudge forward causing the sled to tip over the top of the hill and glide down quickly, air rushes by, and I feel a grin stretch across my face as my hands grab onto Claire’s waist and pull her deeper into the shelter I’ve created with my arms legs and chest. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. When we’ve reached the bottom of the hill I lean to the right, causing us to wipe out and tumble into the snow. Both of us sprawled out on the cold cloud, I look over at Claire, and she’s already looking at me, breathing heavily, the auburn hair that isn’t tucked into her hat is a dark flare across the snow and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her spreads across her face as the falling snow finds a soft landing on her cheeks, eyelashes, mouth; making me jealous.

“That was amazing!” she exhales.

“Yeah, it was pretty great,” I smile back at her. I stand up and extend my hand to help her up, “lets go again.”

“Alright!” She grabs on to my hand and I pull her to a stand which brings her much closer than I anticipated. Her body is inches from mine, and although we are heavily clothed in winter coats, I can feel her presence on every inch of my skin, its like the closet all over again. I look down into her eyes, and she is the most beautiful angel I’ve ever seen, snow sprinkled through her hair and falling all around us, creating a winter paradise that even I can admit is very romantic. So I go and do the one thing I’m not suppose to do; I close the inches between her face and mine, and I kiss her. Her lips are cold, but soft and though my eyes are closed, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. As I back away from her and slowly open my eyes to look at her face, Claire has an expression of awe in her eyes, and a mitten clad hand pressed to her mouth.

Now I know for sure that I’ve never been happier.

Anita Writes: Julie and Green Eye’d Boy

Here’s something I had considered doing more than once, so let me know what you think.  I dabble in writing.  I’m not an author, though I have started and stopped many-a-story.  Some of them are much further along, and many – like this one, just didn’t go anywhere.  Sometimes I get an idea and start writing.  Sometimes the idea is better formed and I have an outline and usually make more progress. I thought it would be fun to take some of these bits and pieces of things I’ve written and post them.  Especially the ones that I don’t think are going to be made into something real.   I believe this particular session came from sitting down with a word document and just typing away.  Please keep in mind – this is very rough, un-edited, off the top of my head type stuff.  (Check out the date…I’m sure the year is at least accurate).


August 25, 2009

It’s the first day of school.  I can’t believe it’s the first day of school.  I don’t know if I can do this, if I can face all my friends, my teachers, classes.  It’s all just too much.  I should have asked to home school.  I’m sure mom and dad would have understood, but who goes to school all their life and then decides to home schooling their senior year?

I used to dream of this day; the beginning of the end, the end of the beginning.  My childhood ending, my adult life finally starting.  But now it’s just nothing.  Life feels like nothing.  It has no meaning, no purpose.  Why do we put ourselves through this torture, through school then work, through all this crap – only to get cancer and die on everything you once considered important?  Nothing’s important.  Life’s not important, because after life there is only death.

I am still trying to collect myself as I pull up to the school.  Last year, this moment, this day would have been the day of anticipation and excitement.  I would have called Angie and Katelyn and planned every detail; what we were going to wear, how to fix our hair.  Heck, we might have planned a girl’s night and splurged on a manicure and pedicure at the mall, wasting away the last of whatever money I had made working at the movie theater in town over the summer, a job I only took the last two previous years as a way to earn enough money to fund my back-to-school wardrobe for the year to come.  The theater is perfect for me because…well, I love to watch movies.   As an employee, I got to watch all the new releases before anyone else in a special previewing session, and usually we were allowed to bring one friend.   For me, that one friend would have been my then-boyfriend, Bruce.  We’d sit snuggling into each other, as close as a movie theater arena would allow, and laugh at the movie or talk about what was going to happen next.  If the movie sucked, we’d make-out like any other normal teenage couple would. But even that has changed.  I sigh at the direction of my thoughts, and close my eyes.
This summer I never went back to the theater.  Bruce and I didn’t hang out.  I didn’t hang out with my friends either.  I sort of pushed them all out of my life.  I didn’t do much of anything but hang around the house and help my family.  This summer we stuck together like glue, because at the beginning of summer I found out that that very glue that was holding our family together was falling apart.  On the last day of school, my Junior year, my mother found out she was dying of lung cancer.  The cancer had rapidly progressed to a point that there was no way to save her.  She is going through treatment, prolonging her life, but eventually, probably within the next 12 months, she is going to die.
So while my life as I knew it before this summer is completely over, here I am trying to move forward as if nothing ever happened.  We didn’t exactly break up officially, Bruce and I, I just stopped talking to him, and he just stopped calling me.  Any normal guy would have given up a month into the summer and found something else, someone else.  So there were no expectations on my part today.  And as I push myself out of the car and toward the school, I can see that I am right in my expectations, out of the corner of my eye I catch Bruce play-fighting with Miley Michaels, a ditsy red-headed Sophomore who has a reputation for attempting to work her way through all the jocks in school.  I know I shouldn’t assume, but whatever is going on between her and Bruce, there is definitely the air of, “I’m free to play,” in Bruce’s demeanor.  No big deal though.  Like I said, I was expecting this.  
Homeroom is where I meet up with Katelyn.  “Hey, Julie!  I tried to call you last week, I needed some help with this ensemble.”  She pronounces “ensemble” with a French accent, then sobers up, “How are you doing?”  Katelyn’s eyes are sympathetic and closed off at the same time.  It’s as if she’s put on some mask, keeping herself from me.  I know I’ve hurt her by not hanging out over the summer, but really I had more important things on my mind then hanging out at the lake or going to the mall. Katelyn is sensitive, and views every rejection as a reflection on herself.
“I’m okay, I guess.  It just feels so weird being here today.”
“Oh, I know right!  We’re SENIORS, this is just so….A-MAZING!” she squeals. I draw back at her delight.  Hello, cheerleader much?
“Yeah.  Amazing.” I say.  Really I’m thinking; Uh, no.  I meant being here and not at home with my mom.  That’s weird.  I mean, here pretending everything is going to be fine.  But I don’t want to get into that right now.  Besides, that’s my life, not hers.  
“Look, I’m sorry about not calling you this summer.  It’s just been, er, well difficult lately.” I say to her.
“Hey, yeah.  I understand,” she replies, although by the tone of her voice I’m not so sure she does, “your mom and all.”  She looks at me full faced then, a flicker of my friend is revealed. “You know, I can listen well.  You can talk to me.  I DO care what’s going on with you, you know?”  
“Yeah, Katie, I know.  Thank you.”  I struggle for more words when Mr. Jackson rescues me by choosing that time to begin his welcome back speech, and handing out our class schedules.  The truth is, I had attempted to talk to Katelyn and Angie earlier in the summer, but they were too excited about what was going on in their own lives to take a minute to understand.  And really, how can I expect them to understand.  Life is perfect for them right now, on the brink of adulthood; freedom.  I admit I didn’t try very hard, no one wants to rain on that parade of excitement.  Why should I bring everyone down into depression with me anyway?

I sit there looking over my new schedule.  It seems like a lifetime ago that I worked out this schedule, planning the perfect senior year.  I’ve got some harder classes, like Calculus; and some easier ones like Choir and a Painting class.  A perfect blend of college prep courses, and classes that are perfect for “senioritis.”  I look up and over to the window, and notice someone new.  Being a smaller school everyone knows everyone else, so whenever there is a new person, it is painfully obvious.  It looked to me like this guy knew it too, as he was sitting in the far aisle looking as if he were attempting invisibility, trying to shrink up into his desk.  He had dark black shaggy hair that dipped down into his eyes, and the sides could easily be tucked behind his ear.  His shoulders were hunched over and chin tucked to his chest, but then his hand was moving rapidly over his notebook.  Whatever it was he was writing, or working on, he did so with intensity.  Then, as if he could feel me looking in his direction, he lifted his head and his eyes met mine.  He had the most wonderful green eyes I’d ever seen, but they were sad, and a bit lonely looking.  I quickly looked back down at my schedule.  I’m sure my embarrassment at being caught looking was obvious.

AnitaLoves2Read has been MIA

Hello to my faithful readers…do I have faithful readers?  I’m not even sure.  Either way, hello to anyone who just happened to meander on by!
I just wanted to take a quick moment to talk where I’ve been the last couple weeks.  I know I sort of was going pretty steady on here with my KidzKorner, Friday Favorites, Workout updates and Insecurities series in addition to my normal book reviews; all posts that I have been really enjoying, but then I dropped off the last couple of weeks.  There is a reason for my disappearance.  There is a very good reason for it.

I have mentioned on here how my husband was going to compete in Austin, TX with the PlantBuilt team.  Well the competition happened two weeks ago today – but he was gone for 5 full days. (He won 3rd in his weight class, for those of you who might want to know.)  While he was gone I missed him.  A lot.  Being married for 14 years, this was the longest time we’d ever been apart.  I know this is nothing compared to some, there are soldiers who are deployed regularly and for much, much longer periods of time.  I respect those families, especially those wives and mothers, because it was not easy.  
So for those 5 days I stayed home with our three kids, and spend a lot of quality time with them doing things like going to the local amusement park, hiking and tie dying shirts.  Just having fun in general, and watching lots and lots of movies on NetFlix (there is only so much SpyKids I can take though..yiee).  I was focused on my kids – so making sure I had a post ready to go (I did do a Friday Favorites post) just wasn’t my top priority.  Then we had a long saga of trying to get my husband home, as his flights got cancelled and his phone dying, and the big storms coming, and then just trying to find a flight and communicate with each other.  I was so, so ready for him to just get home.

Then when he got home I just wanted to make sure I spent time with him, and us as a family.  I think the biggest realization I came to while he was gone is that while we always make sure to spend time together, we sometimes forget to focus on “us” even in the little moments.  So instead of coming home from work and sitting down to read or write a blog or some other sort of social media meandering, we sat down and talked, and laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company.  Justin and I, we have a great relationship.  We always have, even during the difficult times we’ve come together as friends and husband and wife and just loved each other.  But as the saying goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and taking time out of normal life to just be and love each other has been great and refreshing.  

To sum up my thoughts; realize that all this focus we put into our online presence, and what we do with our lives – it means nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the relationships we have with those we love the most.  Cut out some of your time on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your vice is – and just go love them. 

Insecurities, Week 1: Confessions of the Wallflower

This is a new series on insecurities.  This idea was born out of some observations I’ve made of myself and the ladies around me, when it comes to who we are and how we feel about ourselves and how we feel others see us. 
When I was in High School I was kind of a wallflower.  I was in Marching Band and that in itself is a unit, so it wasn’t like I didn’t have friends, or hang out with people, I just always felt a bit on the outside of everything. I was friendly, and I’d like to think I was kind to everyone, I was just quiet and kept to myself.  In fact, I have had people who have seen me in recent years who say, “I remember you from school,” and it shocks me to realize they knew I even existed.

When I had my first real boyfriend (not just the kind in name only, but the kind where we spent quality time together, got to know each other; the relationship had a foundation), I was extremely self conscious. I was a senior, and I had very little “good” relationship practice (divorced family with a father who was living in another state doing his own thing). I felt like if he wasn’t spending every moment with me or thinking about me then the whole relationship would crumble.  I would find myself in distress and crying a lot – all of my distress was mental, nothing he was actually doing to me.  His friends thought I was pathetic and had taken to cyber-bullying me (before cyber-bullying was really a thing). I had this feeling that even though I professed to love him, that the entire thing was just going to fall apart.  And it did.  But mostly because I couldn’t let him be HIM, or let him breath a little, so he became bitter toward me, and I imagine at some point everything about me had him internally cringing.  I was THAT girlfriend.

I met my now husband, Justin, pretty soon after my ex and I broke up.  To be completely honest, even though I was very attracted to him, I was not ready for another relationship after the epic fail of the last…but there was just something about him.  We hung out with mutual friends for about three months before we officially started dating.  The difference between Justin and my ex was this:  my husband thought I was beautiful, and told me frequently.  He was patient with me when I went psyco-girlfriend on him, and took time to reassure me and explain to me plainly that I was being unreasonable (as oppose to the eye-rolls and scoffing I got before).  He genuinely loved me, and that brought out a self confidence in me that I didn’t know I was capable of.

Justin and I at his Prom 1999

Still yet, for many years I had a hard time dealing with people I didn’t know one-on-one.  I suck at carrying on a conversation with someone I just met (yet, if you don’t figure it out, then how do you get beyond that ‘just met’ stage?).  At some point someone told me they thought I was kind of a snob because I didn’t really talk to people, when reality is that I just had no idea what to say.  I talked to Justin about this, and we discussed the bible verse: A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭18‬:‭24‬ NKJV) 
I have now read this verse in a few different versions and contexts, and while I’m not sure that the above is the most accurate of translations, at the time it rang true for me worded just as it was.  It was convicting to me to know that if I was having trouble connecting with people, it was because I wasn’t being friendly.  Not that this was news, I KNEW I was bad at it, but the verse convicted me in a way that caused me to desire to change for the better.  I wanted to be friendly, so I had to get out of my comfort zone and learn to connect.

A few things that I learned along the way that helped:
1.  While there are many types of people/personalities, we all have similar insecurities.  Rejection is always one of them.  There will always be people who reject you, but usually this isn’t personal, and it really could be that said person needs/is learning the same lesson I had to.

2.  People want you to be genuine.  If you ask them about their day, listen to them talk about their day.  (And if they didn’t have a good day, they probably aren’t really looking for advice).  If someone asks you about your day, tell them.  Not every detail, and this isn’t a chance for you to complain about everything, but if it sucked, it’s okay to say so.

3.  You have to truly want to connect with someone in order to do it.  I had to overcome this obstacle.  I was afraid of letting people in because in the past I had been betrayed (father left, and years of broken promises), I had been bullied (Cyber-bullied, and to my face), I’ve had people be overly honest about my appearance (we couldn’t afford the hippest of clothes, and I had no idea how to ‘girl,’ make up, and doing my hair was completely foreign to me).  Regardless of all these things, I was shielding myself from future hurts by not letting new people in thus pre-judging them based on my past.

4.  The bible says that we are to “Love your neighbor as yourself…”  which implies, if we love our neighbor, we must first love ourselves.   – I will be touching more on this in future weeks!

I took a long time to get to the point where I felt like I could walk up to someone and be able to carry on a conversation that didn’t make me seem weird or awkward, and to be honest it still causes anxiety in me.  It is only because of some of my closer friends telling me that I don’t seem awkward or as nervous as I feel at all to realize that I had truly gotten better.  But the rewards of my effort far outweigh me being nervous or feeling like a conversation did not go very well; I have had moments where people have told me that having me walk up to with a smile and a friendly word encouraged them, or made them feel more comfortable.  I have also made several lifelong friends, while historically I would have one really good friend in my life and several acquaintances that I never got close with.  I’m introverted, I like to be alone at times, I find large crowds overstimulating; but my life is more enriched, fuller, and happier with more friends in it as well.

Liebster Award Nomination Time!

So I was nominated for the Leibster Award.  What IS the Liebster Award you ask?  I have no clue what-so-ever.  So, let’s find out shall we?  So when I google “Liebster” I find out that the word is German for “Sweetheart.”  Awww, thank you!

So the Leibster Award is basically a way for you to get to know me, and for me to get to know you. I have received 10 Questions from Alisha (Hi Alisha!!) Over at The Bohemian Housewife, and below are others that I’m going to tag with questions of my own…so lets get this thing started!  If you just happened by, I encourage you to go over and say “hi” to Alisha (linked above) and all of the Bloggers linked below.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging way back in (if my old archived blog that I happened to google just now is accurate) 2006, because I thought it was a cool idea, and I wanted to try.  My blog was based around being a parent and Christ-Follower and just about life in general.  One day I decided to review a book I had read.  That was great, so I decided to do another, and another.  Eventually I was writing a review a few times a month and somewhere in the 2006-2007 time frame an author of a book I had reviewed commented on my blog.  I could not believe an author would take the time to comment on a simple book review I had posted.  I just thought this was so awesome, so I kept it up.  By the time 2008 came around I started ILoves2read (right around the time  the Cheezburger Cats were big, thus the name) and …well, here we are.

2. How has blogging affected you life?

I went from reading a normal amount of books to reading an impressive amount of books.  Well, impressive to those non-readers around me.  Now it seems like I read on the lower side of normal among bloggers…but I’m a busy person, so you’ll have to forgive me.   The missing part of the story here is where I dropped very low in the review scene for a few years, only reviewing enough to keep my blog “active.”  Now that I’m diving back in, things have changed a lot.  Anyhow, regardless, I read a lot more.

3. If you could visit one place 100% free for a week, where would you go/What would you do?

France, because I took French in High School and have wanted to go since that time.  I’d probably trace Anna’s (from Anna and the French Kiss – which I’ve read no fewer than ten times) footsteps some before taking off on my own.  Oh, and I’m sure I’ll find some old (or new and beautiful) libraries to walk around in for a bit.  

4. Are you a Cat or Dog person?

Cat.  Always have been.  As a kid I collected cats.  NO NOT REAL ONES! (Yes, people have thought that.) I had a very wide range of nice, cute and ugly cat figurines.  Once people realized I collected them, I ‘inherited’ them from all directions.  I do not collect these things now…I’m not one for dusting, and that’s all they do; gather dust.  I’d rather chase after my two fur-babies.  The territorial, mailman attacking, love monster, Jasper (Grey and white), and the crazy kitten who thinks he’s a puppy, Jinx.

5. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written?

This one is pretty fun.  Or I could go and dig up my old “I *heart* Stephenie Meyer” blog post.  Oh, yes, I did write such a post.  I was a total Twi-hard, a part of the Lexicon and even Twilight Mom’s for a time.  Seriously though, I’m just now getting back to this, and while I’ve been blogging for quite a long time, I feel like I’m just starting again too.

6. What is your favorite book and why?

I do not have one.  I might have a favorite book of the month, but I cannot have a favorite book.  For the longest time I would have said it was The Time Traveler’s Wife, but I’ve read so many books since I read that one that if I were to read it again, I’m not sure it would still be my favorite.  For this “season” I’d say my favorite is Red Queen.

7. What makes you the happiest?

My husband.  He’s my favorite person in this world.  My kids – they are my favorite too, but Justin is still my favorite.  My relationship with Christ.  He’s not in this world, he doesn’t count as my favorite…but He’s my favorite too.

8. What is your favorite way to unwind?

Seriously?  I read. 

9. Do you have a hobby? (besides blogging)

Let’s see.  I knit and crochet.  I like to hike, and I lift weights.  My husband is a Strongman and Power Lifting competitor, in fact he’s currently training for a Power Lifting competition coming up in June in Austin TX.  He’s competing on the PlantBuilt Team (I’m so proud), anyhow, he coaches me and I do what he says.  I’ve made a ton of progress and am thinking of maybe lifting in a competition in a year or so.

10. Who is your biggest supporter?

I would say my husband, but he doesn’t give a lick about blogging, though he says he “lives vicariously” through my reading.  So I have to say my best friend, and future published author Michelle Bolanger.  We sort of support each other, and egg each other on, and laugh.   …okay, mostly we laugh.

So you’re up next!!!

Felita – Lilac Reviews 

Toni – The Write Stuff
Dani Duck – Artist Obscure
Laura – Musings of a Chocoholic Romance Author
Julie – jbarrett5

Your Questions:

1.  Name a book you could read over and over again, and what about it are you drawn to?

2.  Why did you start blogging?

3.  Describe your dream vacation.

4.  Ebooks or Paper/hardbacks?

5.  If you could pick a specific period in time to live in, what would you choose?

6. What is your Favorite movie?

7.  It’s date night, what are you doing?

8.  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

9.  If you could pick a song to be your anthem, what would the song be?

10.  If you had to choose between receiving a new book at random each week and being able to read only it, or living with only the books you currently own for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Dreams of a Book-a-holic 1

I’m not sure about you, but I have some very creative dreams, and I know a lot of them come from being such an avid reader, so I wanted to start a new meme, if you will, in which I let you take a glimpse inside my head. However I doubt I’ll be able to post this regularly on a weekly basis, because it has to do with dreams, and I can’t exactly *make* myself dream something every week/night, etc. I do regularly have vivid and weird dreams, so hopefully I’ll get enough material to keep you entertained. I’d love to hear some of your dreams as well!

Monday Night: I dreamed that my husband and I owned a café, but at this café we stocked blood, so that we would be able to serve any vampires that showed up (obviously). Well, “they” (whoever they are) caught word of our extra stock, and we were coming after us, so husband and I were frantically trying to get rid of all of our blood.

Wednesday Night: I dreamed that I was being chased by some evil guy. He was not special on his own, but he had a companion that was a ghost. Anyway, I was running the halls of what looked like a boarding school and made my way up into an attic. I decided to hide in one of the hidden away rooms up there, but as I was crouching in a dark corner I realized, there was no way I could hide even in a hidden room in a dark corner, because no matter what the ghost would be able to find me.

Writing a Book, Advice from Authors

So, I’ve been working on…something.  A story.  A book.  I have mentioned on this blog before that I get idea, and randomly start writing.  Once I had over 10 pages worth or writing, then something happened and I ended up losing half of it, I got discouraged and stopped writing.  I posted an excerpt of this story on my other blog a while back.  Anyhow, I’ve been working on something new.  Now, I do not claim to be an author, or a writer…well, not outside of writing blogs anyway.  The thing is, I love reading, and I think it’s only natural that when you love something so much to every now and then want to try it yourself.  That is what I do, but more often than not, it ends up sort of like my knitting or crochet projects; a half finished semi-decent looking whatever-it-is.  Every now and then I do actually finish a project.  Sometimes it’s a little lopsided, or not the right size.  Every once in a blue moon, I finish a project and it comes out perfect.   That sounds like the perfect seg-way to me announcing that I have finished a book and it’s perfect, doesn’t it?  Well, that isn’t what has happened….

I’m about 18 word document pages, and almost 12,000 words into a book, and from my own estimation, about a third way through with the story.  Maybe.  This time things do seem to be moving a little bit differently than any of my other creations.  For instance, the story keeps moving forward.  I haven’t come to a breaking point, or a place where I just can’t come up with what happens next.  I have pushed forward on a few occasions, and I’m positive that if I were to go back and read, especially at these points, my story has a lot of jagged edges and rough spots, but I’m very proud to have made it as far as I have.   So here I’m actually having illusions of maybe submitting this work somewhere or having someone look at it.  How have I gotten to this place in my head???  On one hand, I seriously doubt this book is anywhere near that good…but what if it was?  What if I could?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if…..dare I think it?  

As I’ve gotten involved in the blog hops and have jumped around the internet, and in the past year have been increasingly coming in contact with self-published authors and aspiring authors, and I am realizing how extremely competitive and equally hard this business really is.  I really don’t know that I have what it takes to put up with that competition.  I sort of want to try though.  But for now, I’m going to write my story, because it continues to play out in my head and I HAVE TO GET IT OUT.  It’s kind of like when I’ve got a song stuck in my head and the only way I can be satisfied is if I listen to the actual song.  I hold off for as long as possible, but eventually I’m going to pull out my iPod and find the song that has been pestering me.  That is what my book is doing to me.  Even when I have a million other things to do, I’m being called back to my word document, because…what if I can’t remember how I want said scene to play out?

So what is the point of this post, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I needed some advice on HOW to write in first person.  Hmm..that came out wrong, as I do know how to do it.  Maybe, I need advice on what is the best method for writing in first person, is more accurate.  Do you write as the story is happening, this making all the tenses present, slipping in the past when necessary; or do you write as the person is telling their story and it’s all past tense?  I’m pretty darn sure, almost positive in fact, that my current work has a mishmash of both and is going to require a major fix on my part.  I’m dreading that.  Assuming I move forward with editing that is.  But I wanted to Google to see if anyone had written any advice on writing in first person format, and what was best to do…and instead came up with an article where many authors wrote down their ten rules, or ten pieces of advice for if someone who wants to be a writer.  This has absolutely nothing to do with what I was looking for, but enjoyed it none-the-less.  So below is the link to the article (please note there are two parts) and I have highlighted a few of my favorites below as well.  I will say, however, I did not agree with some of what was advised.  In fact, most of the first one I wanted to throw out the window because some of the “don’ts” mentioned in the first ten have been some of my favorite aspects of some of my more recent favorite books.  I can see how they would become annoying if over used though.

What I found most interesting was how each author interpreted their mission a little differently.  There is advice on how to chose a topic, on writing grammatically, on how to persevere, what to do in preparation, or just simply the content.  It seems as though they all answered a different question:

Elmore Leonard: My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Margaret AtwoodHold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

Roddy DoyleDo not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

Helen DunmoreFinish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.

Geoff Dyer:  Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about ­perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of ­going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of ­postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.

Neil Gaiman: Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Anne Enright:  Only bad writers think that their work is really good.

Hilary Mantel:  Write a book you’d like to read. If you wouldn’t read it, why would anybody else? Don’t write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book’s ready.

Trendy, Trendy, Trendy

I’ve been thinking about things that have become trendy lately.  Specifically when it comes to movies, books, and music – or books, movies, and music; since one of the new trendy things is to make movies based off of young adult books.  Of course it’s obviously a good idea, anyone can look at the popularity of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises – big fat DUH!   Obviously there is something there.   Honestly, I’m completely okay with the current “trendy.”  I prefer fantasy/sci-fi (minus aliens…I’ve never gotten much into aliens – unless Will Smith is involved…but that’s only because he’s a good actor), I like romance; put the two together and I’m sold.  I guess what really has me thinking is how many people out there are banking on it.  Should I care?  Probably not – but since this stuff is turning up on every media outlet I can think of, it’s just more and more apparent that people take what is popular and suck the profit out of it until it’s dead.
This IS basic supply and demand.  We want, they give, not exactly brain science.  I think what I don’t like is being suckered.  I don’t like getting a novel, or watching a movie that has great potential; it’s got a running theme and idea that I like, etc., but it turns out to be mediocre at best.  To me, it seems as though this person/people are just trying to jump on the train and cash in.  When you are just taking something because it’s popular and trying to make it yours, it feels faked.  Not only that, but it sort of starts to turn you away from the very thing you love.  When I pick up a book and start reading, and the material is just…”eh, well, that kind of sucked,” it really does not make me excited to try new authors and new books. Hello, disillusionment! I don’t want to read “suck.”  Why waste my time when my favorite authors are putting out a least a book a year…well most of them anyway(ahem…Stephenie Meyer…where ARE you???)    In my opinion, what has made the big contenders (Twilight, Harry Potter, The Immortal Instruments, The Wolves of Mercy Falls)  so good is that it came from the imagination.  The authors/producers/writers (whoever…in most cases I’m not actually sure who all is involved) have this idea that is all their own and it turns into something wonderful.
Of all media outlets, what has surprised me the most is music.  In the past it seemed to me that music followed it’s own trend scale.  Music and other media didn’t seem to be linked so much on topic matter.  Apparently that has changed.  I recently have gotten Norah JonesThe Fall, and Plain White T’s Wonder of the Younger CD’s, and both of them included Pirates and Werewolves in their songs.  Plain White T’s even have some vampire action.  Princesses have also made an appearance.  So basically, a lot of the things that we rae reading and watching lately are making their way into the music as well.  I love fantasy..and it’s kind of neat that we are getting the cross over into music….but artists, be careful.  There is a fine line between, “hey, that’s pretty neat,” and “well, that was super cheesy.”  Both artists mentioned above have some very good songs on these CDs – so please don’t take any of that as an “I don’t like…” because I do recommend both!  It’s just that I really, really love the heart being poured into music.  I don’t care the subject matter, as long as what is being sung is a story from the heart – it’s meaningful.  Fluff us fluff, though, and this can turn people away.  Which, I’m assuming, is the opposite of what anyone would want to do.


Soooo, I read my first eBook this week. I don’t have a Nook, or a Kindle or any of those readers. I have an iPod Touch. Barnes and Noble has been giving away free eBooks for people who either have a Nook or their book application. Free Books! So of course I took advantage of the situation.

Of course the book I read was NOT one of the free ones. That would have made WAY too much sense. The book I read was City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. I had read City of Bones and City of Ashes almost back-to-back due to well times Swaptree trades. Unfortunately I did not get the 3rd book quite so easily. After reading City of Ashes there was NO WAY I was going to wait. I sat and debated about running out and getting the book at Target or Wal-Mart or where ever, or downloading the eBook. Convenience won out. I downloaded the book.

So my thoughts: eBooks aren’t nearly as annoying as I thought they would be. I was expecting that because while an iPod Touch is awesome, the screen is still a bit small. I thought the lack of a larger screen would drive me nuts. It’s so easy to “turn the page” that there was absolutely no annoyance what-so-ever. And talking about convenience, I didn’t have to carry a book back and forth to work or wherever I went. I didn’t forget the book at any of those places either. I take my iPod with me everywhere I go anyway, so naturally I had my book. While the cover of City of Glass was not bad at all, I have read books that had sort of embarrassing covers. With an eBook, there is none of that annoyance. No bulk. I’m feelin’ the eBook love.

Until……I think about how much money I spent on the book. Probably about as much as I would have paid at Sam’s Club, except now I’m stuck with the book that I probably won’t read again (it’s not one of THOSE type series that you just repeat constantly). I usually don’t mind purchasing books because if I love them, then they stay in my collection. If I like them A LOT, but don’t want to keep them, I trade. So I get a book for a book, and then some because once I have a book, that’s just another book in circulation – so really, I buy one book and actually get several (with the cost of shipping of course). So yeah, eBooks do have their downfall. Especially for me, who’s always lookin’ to keep up my habit with as little out of pocket cost as possible (and keeping it legal!)