National Family Literacy Day – Reading as a Family

National Family Literacy Day - Reading As A Family (2)

Happy National Family Literacy Day!

(November is also National Family Literacy Month!)

I love reading and writing. I have since I was a kid. My kids don’t share that love quite yet, but I’m hoping as they age and I phase out their 21st-century technology (I’ve already put their iPads and the TV into storage), they will read and write more often. I am really trying to make weekly trips to the public library happen. I just wish the library didn’t have so many toys. Kids might be more interested in choosing books if they didn’t have a gazillion other things to do at a LIBRARY.


In the summer, it’s so hard to get the kids to do anything even remotely related to school – and they associate reading and writing with school, which is…boring, of course. But I always have them sit down before bed and I read them a book or two, then have the older kids each read a book. They like that because it’s like being a teacher – showing the class each page and making funny noises.

In the fall, winter, and spring, we read at bedtime, and now that their devices are gone, in the mornings before school, on the weekends instead of morning cartoons, and I also have a pile of books in the car for Hannah for the forty-five-minute car-line wait. We will be reading and writing a lot more this season. We had snow in October this year, so I’m expecting an extremely cold, snowy winter.

I’m starting a habit of having the kids practice writing after dinner before they get ready for bed. It doesn’t leave much time on weekdays, but on the weekends, we get a bit more creative, with crayons, colored pencils, and other tools to make it fun. Because honestly, most of the time, it’s like pulling teeth trying to get them all to sit down and write.


I read to them upstairs while they are getting ready for school and at the table in the kitchen while eating breakfast. Avery will read to us in the car on the way to and from school/Target/etc. I try to get them to read at the library, but as I said above, too many toys.

After they have been bathed and dressed for bed, they gather their favorite blankets and pile onto my bed for story time before bed. I usually just read them the library books we picked out the Saturday before since two out three kids don’t like chapter books (there aren’t any pictures to look at in chapter books).

I have them write at the desk in Avery’s room or the dining room table. Hannah and Lauren practice letters and numbers, and I have Avery pick a prompt a day to write about (some personal, some fictional, some seasonal). I try to have her write more than a few lines, and focus on her spelling and keeping her letters all about the same size.


Books about Moana, Elena of Avalor, Elsa and Anna, Daniel Tiger and pretty much any other character are all things they love to read. I make it a habit to check the library’s online catalog for certain characters and books the week before we go, so things our library doesn’t have can be ordered from the neighboring libraries. Avery also loves learning about different things like dinosaurs, rocks and minerals, cats, and horses. I try to get them to each choose a fiction and a nonfiction book every time, but sometimes, characters win out. As long as they read it, I don’t mind! We also practice sight words with flashcards any time we can fit it in.


I do not like reading nonfiction. At all. I like fiction – especially the paranormal kind. The Mortal Instruments series, Clockwork series, Harry Potter (of course) and Matt Archer series (one of my all-time favorites). I have over 500 books in my Kindle app, but honestly, I only read a few of my favorites over and over. It’s comforting (just like how I watch Supernatural and iZombie over and over. Never get tired of it.)

I also write paranormal fiction. Bigfoot, vampires, werewolves/shifters, and my current work in progress, about Nordic mythology (lots of research for that one, so it’s pretty slow-going). I’ve never finished anything and I’ve never shown my work to anyone. I don’t think I ever will, just because I don’t want to be judged. That may change if I ever finish something worth publishing. We’ll see.


It’s also National Stress Awareness Day. I read because it calms me down. Reading helps me fall asleep (and it gives me something to do in the middle of the night when I just can’t go back to sleep). I read because it’s the only thing I’ve done for the past twenty-five-ish years that remains constant (except for the two years after Hannah was born when I just could not read anything to save my life. It was a sad two years, book-wise.)

National Family Literacy Day - Reading As A Family (2)

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When To Write | NaNoWriMo Prep Month

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | NaNoWriMo Prep, NaNoWriMo Tips, Successful NaNoWriMo


But seriously, the way to win NaNoWriMo is to hit your word count every single day. Set a time and put it in your phone, planner, whatever you use to keep yourself organized.


If you want to write 50,000 words in 30 days, then you need to write 1,667 words a day. How long does it take you to write 1500 words? That probably depends on your level of inspiration during that session. I know I can’t write 1,667 words in one shot.


I am aiming for 2,000 words a day. It’s a nice, round number and much easier to divide up. 1,000 words twice a day, 500 four times a day.


Have some time between classes? Use it to get a few hundred words down. Have to sit in the car line for an hour at your kid’s school (like me…)? Perfect time to do some writing. What else can you do besides scroll mindlessly on social media? Can’t sleep at 2 am? Write. That’s usually when the best ideas strike me. Honestly, I’ve been having such vivid dreams, I may start writing about them at 2 am.

If you are going to be writing somewhere you won’t have access to your laptop or computer, make sure your device (phone, iPad, whatever) has the same program you are using on your computer. I use Google Drive and Google Docs since I’ve had so much trouble with Word losing my stuff.

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | Part One

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | Part Two | Your Writing Space

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | NaNoWriMo Prep, NaNoWriMo Tips, Successful NaNoWriMo

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Your Writing Space | NaNoWriMo Prep Month

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | NaNoWriMo Prep, NaNoWriMo Tips, Successful NaNoWriMo

Some have desks in roomy offices, well-lit and gorgeously decorated. Some curl up on the couch with a tattered blanket and a chipped mug of coffee. Still, others prefer not being in their own home. For me, I sit on my bed with a notebook and pen, and my phone. Supernatural or some other show of the week is playing in the background (currently finishing up Season 11, then 12, in preparations for Season 13).

On the days when my kids are at school or elsewhere, I sometimes like to go to the local Starbucks or Caribou (I like the coffee better at Starbucks, but the atmosphere at Caribou). Being an introvert, I don’t like leaving my house much, but I need a change of scenery every now and then.


If you can hit your NaNoWriMo word count each day while sitting at your kitchen counter, awesome! Figure out where you are most productive and go there. There are countless places to write: public library, college library, the park, your backyard, coffee shop, your living room floor. Wherever is comfortable for you.


Gather everything you need, wherever you decide to write. Heading to the coffee shop? Remember your charger for whichever device you use, a bottle of water for when the coffee runs out (does that ever happen, though?), something to write on, any notes you have for your novel. Be prepared! Do you have a favorite candle or essential oil blend? I like the new Seattle Coffee House candle from Bath & Body Works. My favorite essential oil blend? I like Purification and Lemon. Peppy and bright!)


Turn off your wifi, turn on some music or whatever helps you tune out the noise around you and get to work! If your kids are home, try to write when they are napping or at bedtime. Mine are in school most days, so that’s when I write and do my homework. When my kids are home, mom’s off electronics. Got a pet?

Read the first post in the series here

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | NaNoWriMo Prep, NaNoWriMo Tips, Successful NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo Prep Month

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | NaNoWriMo Prep, NaNoWriMo Tips, Successful NaNoWriMo

Summer flew by and winter is coming! NaNoWriMo is also upon us – it will be here before you know it. Normally, I am a total pantser, meaning on November 1, I open Google Docs and start typing. I usually have no idea what my story will be about, who my characters are or the theme. I do know the genre – YA Paranormal or Supernatural FanFic. **Update: I just found a YouTube video from the amazing Rachael Stephen explaining why we shouldn’t label ourselves pansters or plotters. Go check it out!** That’s all I do. Until now. I’ve decided to start planning my story now. Why? Because I have so much going on in my life that I just don’t have time to wing it and I know I won’t hit any sort of goal without a plan.


NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a month-long writing challenge. The goal is to write a novel that’s 50,000 words in length. You can write other things (short stories, poetry, songs, etc) but you are considered a NaNoWriMo Rebel (but that’s cool!) I’ve participated for quite a few years. Last year, I only hit 19,000 words because I had the worst case of strep ever, and got psoriasis from it.


Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing my tips and tricks for successfully completing NaNoWriMo. True, I have never completed NaNoWriMo, but I have learned things along the way that will be helpful to both me and you (I hope!)

If you haven’t already signed up on the NaNoWriMo site, do it – it’s free and easy! We can also be writing buddies – encouraging each other to reach our goal!


I am choosing to go big – 50,000 words in 30 days. It CAN be done. It HAS been done (just not by me). I’ll be breaking up my daily word count (2,000 words) into more manageable pieces, which I’ll cover in another post later on. I am also leading the Come Write In local events at the Public Library this November. So far, it’s just me. And that’s ok. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and I don’t really know any other local writers.

Good luck! Get writing!

Part Two can be found here.

Part Three can be found here.

NaNoWriMo Prep Month | NaNoWriMo Prep, NaNoWriMo Tips, Successful NaNoWriMo

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National Online Learning Day

National Online Learning Day - Beth Gets Brave | Online Learning College, Online Learning Tips

Today is National Online Learning Day! As a single mom, my time is precious. All of my “free” time goes to my kids, but getting my degree is also really important. Not just for me, but for my kids. Sitting in class all week does not give me much time with my kids, so I chose to take some online classes.

Half of my credits come from online classes this semester. I’ll be able to see my older kids off to school every day, and also take my youngest to her first year of preschool (and also pick her up). I’ll be able to take her to the park for a picnic lunch after school and be home to get the big kids off the buses. *I realize this is not how it is for all parents in school (or work) and I am grateful every day that this worked out.*

Here are some tips that are helping me:

Use Your Planner

I’m using an inkWELL Press planner and writing in every single due date for each class. They make it easy on me – all of my assignments for all of my classes (I’m taking four – two all-online, two hybrids) and have color-coded each class. I also set reminders on my phone to hop online and reply to classmates. That’s a big part of the grade, so I make sure to go above and beyond what’s in the syllabus. Lastly, I printed out some of my assignment trackers and filled in as many assignments for each class as I could.

Get to Know Your Instructor

I emailed both of my instructors (four courses, but three are taught by the same instructor) in the first week of school to introduce myself and let them know a little about me. I also email them if I have any questions about the assignments. Also, know where to get help with the online classroom. My college’s tech department sends out emails about online tutoring and who to contact about issues.

Schedule in Your Class Time

Take online classes as seriously as you do your in-person classes. I block out hours each day to work on each class. I had tried to use Google Sheets and Google Calendar for this, but writing it down in my planner worked better for me right now. When you’re “in class” try not to scroll Facebook or post to Instagram. You probably wouldn’t do that in front of your instructor, so don’t do that while you’re scheduled to work on your assignments.

Do The Assignments as Soon as Possible

I’m a hardcore procrastinator. But school is very important to me, so I make it a priority to get a head start on assignments if I can. In my online classes, some future weeks are locked, so I can’t see exact assignments, but I know enough to at least get started in a chapter, taking notes or outlining.

Take Breaks When You Need To

You can still have fun! I try to have all my work done by Friday so I can enjoy the weekend with my kids. Don’t forget self-care!

National Online Learning Day | Beth Gets Brave

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Ways to Curb Stress Eating | When You Just Want to Eat That Donut

Ways To Curb Stress Eating | Beth Gets Brave

**I feel Iike I need to add a little disclaimer up here before I get going. I am not a doctor, nor any sort of health professional. I only know what works for me in regards to stress eating. Consult a doctor if you need to. Also, I’m not telling you to skip meals or not eat anything ever! Eat when you are hungry and recognize when you are not.**

It’s no secret that I have a lot going on in my life right now. (Well, it’s kind of a secret. I don’t really get into specifics.) And with that comes enormous amounts of stress and anxiety, on top of my usual stress and anxiety. My formal diagnosis is moderate social anxiety, moderate anxiety, and mild depression.

I’ve been a stress eater for most of my life. It didn’t help anything that my mom bought lots of junk food so it was always there. When I got in trouble (or feared getting in trouble) I’d sneak a bag of Cheetos into my room. Or a can of soda. Or just snack constantly all day.

Up until a few months ago, I did the same, off and on. It wasn’t good for my weight, skin nor my health. During the worst of my situation, I stopped eating most days. Barely getting enough water. Anxiety and fear cause me to overeat/eat when I’m not really hungry, but they also cause me to stop eating and avoid food altogether.

I’m getting my stuff together not only for me and my own health, but for the three little copycats that live with me. I’ve been noticing that my kids are starting to sneak snacks when they really shouldn’t be hungry. Here are some thing that work for me when I want to eat all the things.

Drink a glass of water

You can put some lemon in it, ice, berries, essential oils – whatever you want. For me, I like ice and a straw. I feel like I drink more water using a straw (less work maybe?) I’ve heard that sometimes when you think you are hungry, you really just need water. I aim for 200oz a day, but usually top out at around 140-160oz. Get a pretty water bottle if you need to. I have a 64oz Rubbermaid water container that I have on my desk to fill my 24oz water bottle with when I’m running low.

Know your triggers

I talked about this above. Mine are fear and anxiety. It is brought on more often when my kids are gone. I tend not to eat much, if at all, on those days. I know as time goes by, those days will get easier to deal with, but for now, I set reminders on my phone to eat a snack or two. Some get triggered by anger. Others sadness. Figure out what it is for you and learn how to deal with it in another way.

Try meditation

I recently downloaded the Headspace app to get rid of the tight, painful feeling in my chest (Gabby Bernstein says that’s where I keep all of my fear, anxiety and stress.) I’ve done several (short 3-5 minute) sessions since then and I think it’s working? I’m not quite sure yet. I’m definitely going to add this to my morning routine, since I’m up at 5 am anyway. There are several other mindfulness/meditation apps. I encourage you to try them out and find one that works for you. So far, I’ve only used free ones. (In all honesty, I kind of love the voice of the narrator on Headspace…)

Which brings me to…


Get outside if you can. It’s nearly winter here in northern Minnesota, so I’m trying to go for more walks. I’ve never been a runner, but I may take up jogging next spring. Also, try some yoga. There are some yoga workouts in the Sworkit app that I’m going to start incorporating to my bedtime routine – and I’m also going to get my kids involved. I’m finding lately that excercise is the answer to quite a few of my worries.

Get a new habit

Emotional/stress eating is pretty much a habit. So to break it, you need to replace it with something else. I’m replacing mine with exercise and drinking water. I use the nifty little habit tracker in my inkWELL Press planner each month.

InkWELL Press Planner
Photo via inkWELL Press

Call someone

If you really just feel like eating everything in your house, pick up the phone and call (or text, if you hate talking on the phone like I do) someone who can cheer you up but also not shame you if you do end up eating that whole tub of ice cream in one sitting.

Just Don’t Buy Junk Food

It’s cheaper, in the long run, to just leave the crap at the store. Buy the little squares of dark chocolate, some chocolate covered almonds, fruits, veggies, whatever sorts of healthy things you like and stock your house with those.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you happen to eat that king-size candy bar, oh well. It was just one. Realize that you can choose to try again. Make a better choice next time. It will be ok!

Ways To Curb Stress Eating | Beth Gets Brave

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First Day – 3rd Grade and 4th Grade

I can’t believe it’s the first day of school already! I blinked and summer was over. I think we did most of the things on our list, except camping. We just didn’t get around to that. We ended up going swimming more than I thought we would and hit up the park a few times a week. I took these photos the other day, while we were having a picnic at the park. I don’t know what they will wear for the first day of school, but I know it will involve a jacket since it’s supposed to be in the 60s.

First Day of School 2017

Avery is really excited about learning about science (especially dinosaurs) and getting lots of homework. (Ok, I made that last one up.)

Lauren is excited for recess, of course, so she can be on her beloved monkey bars. I’m hoping she gets some homework this year, too. It will be good for her.

Hannah doesn’t start until September 11th, so I’ll be sharing her photos (and a group shot!) next week!

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Currently Reading in September

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave

I don’t have much free time these days, but in between assignments, and in the middle of the night, I like to read. I’ve been working on these books for awhile but I’m hoping to finish them this month.

To Be Read

The first is Lord of the Shadows. (You can google these. I don’t have affiliate links or anything.) I started reading the Mortal Instruments series a few years ago, and just don’t want their storylines to end. I had a hard time getting back into this particular story but it’s picking up.

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave (4)

Caraval. I will admit I have not started this one yet. It’s sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read it. It’s super popular on Twitter and Instagram, in the different book/writer/author/instragrammer circles. It sounds really interesting though!

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave (4)

This is another one I’m having trouble getting into. I think it’s because it’s not my preferred genre (I like a little more…supernatural…flair to my books). But look at the cover! So cute!

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave (4)

The Universe Has Your Back. Wow. I’m only a few chapters in, but I may have to buy this book so I can highlight the crap out of it. I’m taking so many notes, and have done some of the meditations. It’s time to make a change, and I welcome it.

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave

My She Reads Truth Bible (I am linking this one just so you can see how pretty they are. There are a few cover colors to choose from and each book has a handwritten quote or drawing at the beginning.) I need peace. I am craving peace. But I am still so lost. I am hoping to join a Bible Study at my local church this fall to help me understand what I’m reading and apply it to my life.

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave (4)

What’s on your fall reading list?

Currently Reading in September - Beth Gets Brave

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Assignment Tracker | Free Download

Free Assignment Tracker - Beth Gets Brave

Free Assignment Tracker - Beth Gets Brave

It’s the end of the second week of school for me. I found myself needing a little more help in the assignment-organization department. So I took a break from writing papers and created a little download to help keep things tidy. I printed out quite a few (I have four classes) and was able to write down several weeks’ worth of assignments on each page for each class. I stuck them in my binder for easy reference.


You can get one too, by signing up at the link below! (Thanks, by the way!)

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First Day of College | Hopes & Fears

First Day of College | Hopes & Fears

I’m finally doing it – going back to school. I’m more than a little nervous – about all sorts of things. Will I be able to handle it? Can I really be a single mom going to college full-time? Can I write all the papers, take all the tests, give all the presentations? Probably. Actually, my therapists say “YES. YOU CAN. AND YOU WILL.” So I guess I’ll be fine 🙂 I need to do this.

I’m in a different place now than I was 12 years ago. Yeah, I’m single again, and I’m definitely not looking for a relationship, just like last time. But I have three kids depending on me now, looking up to me and how I deal with school. I’m hoping to find a desk we can all use after school, during homework time. Neither kid had homework last year, which didn’t sit well with me. So I’m hoping that their teachers this year assign them some sort of work we can do together. Setting up a good homework routine is high on my list of to-dos in the first month of school. Setting goals will be KEY in my being successful.

On a lighter note, school supplies! I first noticed them at Target the first weekend of July. It took a lot of restraint not to buy everything right then. And the stuff in the Dollar Spot? So cute! I think I’m going to have to rearrange the living room soon to make a “school spot” and decorate it. I ended up buying four black and white notebooks (on sale 4 for $3). That’s the extent of my school supplies, other than my ridiculously overpriced used textbooks. I’ll buy more when I know what I need. *Note to self – you need a flash drive!

I’ll be using my inkWELL Press Academic Planner for this school year. I have been using it since the end of July and it already holds my older kids’ school schedule and Hannah’s preschool schedule. I go back and forth on which pens I use. Sometimes, I use InkJoy Gel pens (despite the bad reviews – I have never had an issue with any of mine), sometimes the Sharpie pens. Most of the time, I just use a pen from the bank, the doctor or a hotel. I don’t think I’ll get all fancy with my study notes like everyone on StudyBlr though. Way too time-consuming.

As I go through my school year, I’m hoping to learn some tips and tricks to share with other single moms who are in school or want to go back but are hesitant. I put off my dreams for twelve years because I was told I was just a mom and that’s who I had to be. I wasn’t “allowed” to do anything else. I could have hobbies, sure. And I did, like  photography, writing and reading. I didn’t think I could ever contribute anything meaningful to society, or accomplish goals other than washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning up vomit. I have goals (some are pretty lofty!) and I can still be a mom – a good mom – while living out my dreams.

None of the links are affiliate links. I don’t do that at this time. I just genuinely love the products!

First Day of College | Hopes & Fears

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