Hello, old friend.

Hello desk.
Hello cushy office chair.

Hello computer.

Hello assorted ornamental friends that hang out beside my speaker.

Hello pile of paperwork and assorted books, fancy homemade pencil holder and collection of favourite writing instruments.

Hello blog, twitter, favourite websites.

Hello quiet house, time to think, time to read, time to write šŸ˜€

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Summer is over. The children have all gone back toĀ  school.

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My Reluctant Reader

I love books.

I think I’ve always loved books.

When I think back to my childhood, a great number of the good times are linked in some way to books. I remember walking to my local library and eagerly searching the shelves, hopeful that there would be another offering from a favorite author.

I remember reading books about witches – there was the little witch whose socks did not match and her hat was always crooked, and books about vampires – a little vampire, who just wanted a friend (he did not sparkle). There were books about groups of friends who solved mysteries together, and books about brothers who found adventures all over the world.

My reading homework was always completed ahead of time. When told to read chapter one, I’d get to chapter three before remembering I was supposed to stop… sometimes I’d keep going anyway.

I remember learning the word ‘unceremoniously’ from “A Gift from Winklesea” by Helen Cresswell and my mother laughing with astonishment that I didn’t stumble over it at all.

I can remember getting gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas and being overjoyed that I could go spend them on new books.

Sometimes choosing which new book to buy was a tough decision. There were many variables to consider. Did I enjoy the previous one by that same author? Was I willing to risk my cash on a new-to-me author? Did the cover look good? Was the blurb on the back interesting, or did it give too much away? How many pages? Sometimes this was the only way to choose between two finalists. I’d always pick the thicker book, wanting more bang for my buck.

Ah, the joy of owning a new book, the anticipation of diving into a new story. The love of books found me at such a young age and it has never left.

And now I find myself mother to a reluctant reader… and I am dumbfounded.

You don’t want to read? *speechless*Ā Ā  *gears in brain grinding*Ā Ā  *does not compute!*

Ohhh… I see! Just not that particular book, okay what about this one? This one? This one? This? Surely there is a book here that you will want to read!!!Ā  *hyperventilating*Ā  Read something!

My boy never liked to sit in my lap while I read him a story, he was always off again before I’d gotten half way through. I’d take him to toddler story time at the library and he’d spend the 20 minutes climbing under the chairs at the back of the room. Yes, we were eventually asked to leave šŸ˜¦

In kindergarten he had the teacher who had the best record of creating early readers, he learned nothing.

By first grade I was nervous, thinking he’s supposed to be reading now, what am I going to do?

Thankfully his first grade teacher was no stranger to reluctant readers. I’m not sure how many books she tried him with week after week, but at some point she introduced him to “Skippyjon Jones” by Judy Schachner and saw a sparkle of interest.

And because of Skippyjon, my boy started to wonder if other books might be fun too.

The summer between first and second grade we read every week, every Skippyjon title from the library came home with us at least twice, along with some others that the boy was finally willing to try.

Over the years we’ve laughed along with Greg the Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants and enjoyed every tale in the Black Lagoon series. I even got him to sit through my reading of “The Twits” by Roald Dahl.

Now, with fifth grade fast approaching, my boy is still a reluctant reader. He has to be convinced, cajoled and sometimes bribed.

Reading assignments are TORTURE (for both of us!) but he has come a long way from the boy who thought book shelves were for climbing on and books themselves only good as shelters for his plastic army men.

He’s still my reluctant reader, but I’m hopeful that there’s a tiny little love-of-reading sparkle inside him, that I can coax from it’s hiding place and encourage to grow. Every day I offer up my thanks to all those wonderful authors capable of spinning such engaging tales that even my reluctant reader can’t ignore.

The endurance, and brilliance, of Lego.

When I was growing up I had (I think) the same assortment of toys as everyone else. Some were cherished possessions, loved so intensely that they eventually fell apart. Some were gifts which, while gratefully received, were not really ‘my thing’ so they gathered dust for a while before being passed on to someone else.
A very select few survived both the passage of time and the whims of their owner – I don’t like that anymore throw it away, no wait! I’ll keep it a little longer.

One of those toys that I loved enough to play with, keep in good condition, and save for my own children, was Lego.

Oh boy, how exciting it was to have enough money to go buy myself some new Lego! I loved those little boxed sets that came with a mini-figure, because when I had finished building the house/car/post office/what-ever-it-was I could take my new little person to meet my other little people.
The new mini-figure would arrive and be introduced to the residents of my little Lego town.
They all had back stories. Some were related to each other. The nice lady mayor was married to the policeman. Some had been excommunicated after doing mean things, like telling lies or stealing cars, and then allowed to rejoin the group after heroically saving little Lucy who was almost killed in a dreadful accident.
They all had their names on their backs. Not written with pen, that might rub off. Engraved with a pin. (Ouch!)
My younger self would have been upset to call a tiny plastic friend by the wrong name.

When I outgrew my Lego sets they were packed into a box and stored safely in my parents loft where they remained while I graduated college, got married and traveled across the Atlantic to a new life.
Then I had kids. And then my parents came to visit, bringing with them some of my childhood treasure including my Lego!

The little people with their names etched on their backs were divided equally among their new owners, and those new owners were thrilled.

I now have three little Lego addicts in my house. Even my oldest, who is now a very mature preteen, loves to set up her Lego house and be neighbors with her siblings and their mini-figure people.

My kids can spend hours playing with their Legos. They follow the instructions and build houses and cars, spaceships and helicopters and they also raid their stash of ‘extra’ bricks and create things from their own imaginations, like three story motorbikes and tree restaurants.

I loved Lego. My kids love Lego. Generations before us loved Lego, and the generations still to come will love Lego.
Why does it endure? Because it is simply brilliant.

You can build, literally, anything that you want to build… and then what you do with that item is entirely up to you. You can demolish your creations, but they are not broken.

I just wish the really cool giant sets didn’t cost so many dollars.

And I also wish that it didn’t hurt so much to step barefoot on a forgotten brick.

Hamish the Piper, who sits on my desk.

A brief review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Ok, so I probably shouldn’t write a review of a book I have not finished reading but honestly I just can’t bring myself to pick it up again.

My book club selected Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James for our July book because, well I think because they fell for the hype and thought it would be great to have an excuse for reading the thing.

“You’re actually reading that?!” *Scandalized facial expression*

“Yes Mom, I need to read it for book club.”

So, anyway… I got it on my Kindle (because then no one can see the cover!) and started reading… and right off the bat I disliked the main character. Skip ahead to where the female MC meets the male MC, and I didn’t like him either.

I have been unable to finish this book because I don’t like any of the main characters, there’s no real story to speak of and the sex scenes so far (I’ve only read about 60% of the book) are somewhat contrived, repetitive, unrealistic and boring. Yeah, it’s mommy porn and I said it was boring. I’m not a prude, I enjoy a good steamy scene as much as the next red-blooded female….it’s because no matter what type of book it is there needs to be a story, a plot, some direction that the author is taking you… without a story line it’s just a series of scenes!

I looked Fifty Shades up on Wiki and read that it started as Twilight fan-fic. Aaaahh yes, that explains a lot.

(Side note: I have read all of the Twilight books and although they are not among my favorite reads, and I found some parts hugely annoying, overall I was entertained.)

I’m just not enamored with the idea that if someone is beautiful enough (so beautifulĀ  you can barely look at them, oh gasp, he’s so beautiful, oh can he be real? He’s. Just. So. Beautiful!) then you don’t worry about all the things that are horrible about that person – like the fact that they are stalkers, watch you sleep at night or discover your location by tracking your phone, like the fact that they admit that they want to cause you pain (just a little bit, you’ll like it), like the fact that they demand that you keep secrets from your friends and family, like the fact that they try and control everything that you do, including what you wear and what you eat.
Not all books need to have a message but can we please not write books that send entirely the wrong message?

A review: Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale

Dark Water Rising is a well written work of historical fiction which deals with the devastation caused in Galveston, Texas by a massive storm in 1900.

Sixteen-year-old Seth Braeden is not happy when his family moves from Lampasas to Galveston, but his father is drawn by the promise of a brighter future for his sons in this bustling new city, and doesn’t want to hear any complaints. Thomas Braeden dreams of sending all of his boys to college, but Seth desperately wants to become a carpenter, just like his dad.

Seth’s uncle finds him a job building houses near the beach, but the work will only last until school starts. Seth’s spirits are lifted by this chance to prove himself. He makes friends with the other boys on the building site, and even meets a pretty girl who promises to join him for a swim on the weekend. Everything is going well for Seth and his family, and he begins to think the move to Galveston was not such a bad thing after all.

When a storm warning is issued one hot afternoon, many of the Galveston Island residents flock to the beach to enjoy the spectacle, but as the storm strengthens and the Gulf surges, excitement turns to fear.

Seth watches in horror as the ocean rises up to reclaim the land. Streets flood, buildings are destroyed and soon Seth finds himself in a battle to survive, to find his family and friends and to somehow make sense of the destruction.

Marian Hale puts the reader right into the action and Seth’s struggles become our struggles.

Prior to reading Dark Water Rising I had heard vaguely of the terrible storm which swept away Galveston, but this book makes it all so very real.

My only worry is that it may be too dark, containing too much death and sorrow for a middle school reading assignment. The descriptions of the dead bodies are quite vivid!