About Me

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I love being a mom and a wife. I've married to a man I would do anything for, and we have three beautiful children. I see so much of myself in both of them that it sometimes brings me to tears (happy ones).

I also love writing. Romance to be specific. I love the happily ever after that I believe everyone deserves. My stories aren't 'stop and smell the roses' type romances. While I believe everyone deserves happiness and true love, I know that sometimes you have to walk a hard road to find it. Those are the types of stories I like to write. The happily ever after that wasn't found, but earned. I work to earn mine on a daily basis and so do my characters. 

I am also working on a children's picture book series. Inspired (of course) by my kiddos. :)

On the non-writing front, I play acoustic guitar, sing, read like I get paid for it, ride horses, hike, paint rocks, and support a rather obsessive addiction to Pinterest.

I love to cook, which combined with my pinning addiction, leads to many experiments foisted on my unsuspecting husband and kids, mostly with good results. But sometimes, the dogs gets what the family refuses to eat. And they never complain. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Passing on Books to Your Children - Thursdays with the Author

What we teach our children lives on long after we are gone. There are many things we teach them, from tying their shoes, brushing their teeth, saying please and thank you, riding a bike to driving a car, how to be self-sufficient, etc. As parents, we can easily lose track of how many things we actually teach our children.

But in today's world of eReader, tablets, 24 hour information, and ever-evolving technology, are we missing out on some of the most important lessons? 

Like teaching your children to love the written word. Today, we don't even have to read to our children. eBook stores are full of audio books. Bookstores are full of children's stories complete with an audio CD. Cartoons are on at least three TV channels 24 hours a day. Children haven't changed. They still soak up the world around them the same way they have been for hundreds of years. But the world around them has changed. The way we parent has changed.

We don't even have to teach our children to read anymore. They learn it all in school now. We don't have to read to them either. We just turn on our tablet or phones and click the reading app that tells the story for them. Not like most of us would have time anyway. Most parents work all day, come home and scramble to make dinner, get the kids working on their homework, bath and bedtime rituals, and luckily an hour or so of alone time to try and catch up on housework. That doesn't even include extracurricular activities and sports.

But we HAVE to make time for instilling a love of the written word in the next generation of children. It doesn't even have to be YOUR children (if you don't have any). Grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins, neighbors, school kids. Today's children are LOSING the art of story telling and it's up to US to save it. I'm not just talking about just reading them books. Writing their own stories, making ones up, you making them up. A love for a world that's not their own. Feeding their creativity and imaginations. Don't say you don't have the time. MAKE the time. Don't say you don't read well out loud. KIDS DON'T CARE. Don't say your kids don't have any books they like. FIND SOME!

Here's some tips to help your kids fall in love with the written word. These can work from babies and some all the way to pre-teens and teenagers. It's NEVER too late to start.

1) Reading at bedtime. 
This will be a time-crunch for most of us. Deal with it. From the earliest age, this is one of the best habits you can make with your children at bedtime. Here's some things to try:
A) Dress up as a character from the book for story time
B) Use different voices for different characters
C) Get the whole family involved in acting out the story
D) As your kids get older, have THEM start reading to YOU

2) Make up/Tell stories
A) I have a few standard fairy-tales that I like to tell my kids like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs and Three Billy Goats Gruff. I embellish them, change them and do crazy voices every time I tell them. Sometimes my kids give me a topic to start with and I make up a story on the fly from there. I'll post one such story below.

3) Let your KIDS make up the stories. 
This can be tougher, depending on the age of the kids. Sometimes you have to give them a starting theme or help them along. Another thing we do is popcorn stories. Each person says a line in the story and it 'popcorns' to the next person for the next line. Stories can get crazy and hilarious this way. My 9 year old son likes to inject Minecraft subjects and fart jokes on his turn and my 6 year old daughter always uses princesses and ponies. When it popcorns back to mom or dad, it's a good chance to reign in the crazy and try to get the story back on track. Regardless of what they come up with, they are using their minds and being creative so let them! 

4) Get the books your kids like!
If your 5 year old is infatuated with tigers, get tiger books! If your 7 year old son loves dinosaurs, get dinosaur books. If your pre-teen is dealing with sibling issues, get the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. If your daughter loves the color pink, try the Pinkalicious books. If they have books they will love, they will literally devour them. Let your bank account take a hit on this one, it'll pay off!

5) Take your kids to story-hour or the reading program at your local library.
Reading programs are usually summer events but story-hours typically go year round. Not only will your kids be encouraged to read, they will be hanging out with other kids, the same age, that are just as excited about reading.

6) Go to author signings for children's authors.
You might have to make a drive to a bigger city for this but it's an awesome experience for your kids. Not only will they score a new, autographed book, they will be able to meet the author, ask questions, and live the general excitement that a book signing always is. James Dean and Eric Litwin, creators of the amazing Pete the Cat series, are my most highly recommended book signing you should try to attend. So far they stick mostly to Atlanta, GA area, so this might be impossible for you. All the Pete the Cat books have a song with them and it is preformed during a reading at their book signings. They also have videos of these songs on Youtube.

7) Have your kids WRITE their stories.
You will waste a million pieces of paper. You will inwardly cringe at the grammar and spelling mistakes. You'll have to hold in your sigh at the complete lack of plot and utter nonsense they write. But you WILL smile and laugh. You WILL tell them they wrote an amazing story. You WILL be immensely proud of them. Because you actually will! If your little one is too young to write, write it for them as they tell you the story. Let them draw all the pictures. Keep their adorable, chaotic stories in your keepsake box because you will pull them out when your children are all grown up and cry tears of joy as you reread them.

8) Go to the bookstore with your children, find the children's section and let them explore the wonder that is children's literature. 
Most stores have story sessions on the weekends. Plan your trip during these times for an even better experience. Don't ever go and NOT let them buy at least one book so plan with your checkbook accordingly.

9) Make your kids read the book before they ever see the movie. 
This one mostly goes for teens/preteens (Twilight, Divergent, etc) but is also good for younger kids (The Lorax, Wizard of Oz). There are SO many movies out that started from books. Your kids will never know what they're missing if they don't read the literature that inspired the Hollywood creation before they see it.

10) Let your children see YOU reading or writing. And loving it.
Nothing is going to teach them to love books and writing more than watching you be the perfect example!

So there you go! Try a few, try them all, just try! Reading and writing, and LOVING it, is one of the most important things the next generations will learn. Out of them will be our next great author, they will write the next books we can't put down, they will be the brightest and most creative imaginations in our world. Be a part of making that a reality we all live in. :)
Here's a story I made up for my kids a few months back after a torturous few weeks of my 6 year old daughter trying to pull a tooth. As soon as it came out, they were begging for a story about it.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful warrior princess known as Aubree the Fair. Not long after her sixth birthday, the young princess faced a challenge that would prove her strength and virtue.

The princess had a loose tooth and no matter how much wiggling she did, no matter how much help the King and Queen offered, the tooth refused to budge.

Princess Aubree knew she had to be brave and do everything she could to remove the vile baby tooth so her new, grown-up tooth could take its rightful place in her mouth. So enlisting the help of her trusty lion stuffed animal, Princess Aubree sat down with a magical paper towel, determined to win the ultimate battle of willpower against tooth.

Using all of her mighty strength, Princess Aubree wrestled with the stubbornly set tooth. Her muscles quivered, her hands shook from effort. Tears sprang to her blue eyes and a slight sob caught in her throat. She closed her eyes, forcing her mind to focus, and yanked with all her might.

When she opened her eyes, the tooth , the origin of the epic battle, the source of all her frustration, lay in her hands. With a shout of triumph, she held the tooth up for the kingdom to see.

The King and Queen praised her fortitude. The young Prince admired her bravery. Nobles from the far reaches of the realm paid homage to her valor. "Princess Aubree, Vanquisher of Baby Teeth!" they shouted. 

That night, the Good Fairy honored the young princess for conquering the evil tooth.  "For standing defiant and true in the face of great adversity, I reward thee, Aubree the Fair and Brave, with a coin of good fortune," the Good Fairy declared.

Aubree The Fair stayed ever vigilant, knowing that she had won the battle but the war against her baby teeth was far from over. 

The End

And for a personal touch, here's a few pictures of my hubby reading to my youngest. He HATES getting his picture taken and will probably equally hate that I put it on the world-wide-web for all to see, but I wanted to show you all how much fun it can be reading to your children. (Sorry for the blurry shot, I had to make it quick to get away with it!) 
Our daughter is learning to read so she typically starts the story by herself and we finish when she's ready to stop. Green Eggs and Ham gets rather long-winded about half-way through, so that's usually when Mommy or Daddy take over. (And side-note, my hubby really dislikes reading out loud and isn't generally a big reader at all, so it's a step out of his comfort zone to do this for his kids.)