good english

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The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections - Amanda Blake Soule You know how there are crafty blogs that make you feel like you'll never get half the stuff done in a year that the blogger does in a week?

And you know how some of those blogs are written by moms and their kids are always adorable and well-behaved and whimsical and only CUTELY mischievous and the blogger does all these lovely creative projects and has the PERFECT organizational system (held in a gorgeous "found" piece of furniture, of course) for craft supplies and whips up princess or pirate outfits for the kids at night while those little elfin children sleep, cuddling their acorn dolls and dreaming about the fairy houses they built that afternoon?

If those blogs make you feel inferior or miserable, you probably shouldn't read this book! If you can console yourself with the thought that the magazine-perfect blog you're reading is only one part of the whole story and right now one of those kids is probably cranky and tired and unphotographed, and you've learned to pick what you can use and leave the rest, The Creative Family might work for you. Maybe.

I enjoyed browsing through most of the projects -- a lot of them were things I've seen online before, but it's always nice to have them in a format that's easy to flip through -- and the pics of Soule's kids' projects were cute, but honestly, I ended up skimming most of the text; Soule's writing tic seems to be using scare quotes EVERYWHERE and they started to make me twitch after the first chapter.

There are some good ideas in The Creative Family regarding cultivating gratitude and an appreciation of nature, like the notion of having an outdoor spot that you think of as YOURS. There were a handful of ideas that would be impractical for my family to implement as-is, but with a little tweaking they'll work for us, and I think that was Soule's intention when she wrote the book, that it would be used as a jumping-off point. Then there were things like the little nature tables and baby clothes made out of adult shirts and over-complicated notions of nature appreciation -- those things just aren't going to happen for us.

In the end, I wasn't as enchanted by it as I expected to be. I guess I was looking for something more inclusive, while The Creative Family actually covers one family's experience in exploring creativity, and that family has a lot of time to do their exploring. Although my family lives smack-dab in the middle of nature, I work outside the home and I have an older child who attends school outside the home; when it comes down to it, I just don't feel like this book was MEANT for me. I'll take what I can use and move on.

(two-and-a-half stars)

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