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Scott Lax Blog

A Novel Hat from Friend Ann Hood

Finn in Ann Hood's knitted hat
Our dear friend, Ann Hood, knitted a hat for Finn. He seems to love it beyond belief, and has been wearing it all morning.

Ann Hood is the best-selling author of THE KNITTING CIRCLE, THE RED THREAD, SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE, COMFORT, and other wonderful works of fiction and nonfiction. If you haven't read her books, short stories or essays (most recently a series in The New York Times), you should - her voice is one of a kind.

Thank you, Ann - you do so much for so many.

P.S. The hat goes perfectly with Finn's cloth diaper (there are lime-green stripes on the hat). Read More 

The Most Important Thing

Lydia and Finn, 1.27.11 (and Finn wishes a Happy Birthday to his cousin Tyler at Sundance)
"To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons."

- Marilyn French, Novelist and Feminist leader

Picture of a Dream

Finn on a handmade quilt from his Aunt Virginia
"Nothing happens unless first a dream." - Carl Sandburg

Reading to Finn

"Baby" books (published by DK)
When my son Finn, who turned two weeks old today (Happy Birthday, Finn), was about 12 weeks in-utero, I began buying him books and reading to him. So maybe his nervous system wasn't quite soothed his papa, anyway.

I kept reading to him throughout Lydia's pregnancy. The first three books I bought him were "Baby Bathtime," "Baby Night-Night," and "Baby Baa-Baa." I should have them memorized, but alas, I'm not good at memorizing. So I just read them to him.

Tonight I read them again, now that he's been in the world for two weeks. He looked me in the eye and seemed - or so I like to tell myself - interested. Not that he can understand the words, or the pictures, but he does hear the same voice that he's heard for a long time. I used to read to him when he was very active inside Lydia, and she said he seemed to settle down and, in her words, "listen."

Tonight, it seemed, he listened again. For me, for his papa, it was a deeply satisfying experience.

Earlier tonight, I picked up a library book I ordered for my future step-son, who is, at 12, an avid reader. What better way to connect to your children? Nothing can replace it. With all due respect to e-readers, turning the pages of the biography of the book I picked up at the library, or turning and reading the chunky, colorful pages of the "Baby" books... it just doesn't get any better than this. Read More 

Happiness Unchallenged

Finn and Lydia
“Happy is the son whose faith in his mother remains unchallenged.”
- Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

(My new column, "Finn in the World," is posted on THE FATHER LIFE: The Men's Magazine for Dad's Web site. click to the left.)

"Use the Active Voice" - Strunk & White's Essential Advice

Finn observing the world.
I tell students over and over and over (to quote Pee-Wee Herman) again to "use the active voice."

For example, regarding the picture to the right, you could either say, "The day Finn first rolled over on his side will always be remembered by me." It's stronger to say, "I will always remember the day Finn first rolled over on his side."

As Strunk and White say, though, "This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary."

In other words, don't fret about never using it. Or: It is not always the best way to say a thing. (The first sentence in this paragraph is active; the second passive; both work.) Learn the rule, and use your best judgement.  Read More 

Letting the Beautiful Stuff Out

Filling each other up.
"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." - Ray Bradbury

That's why I'm writing about Finn.

"Don't set your wit against a child." - Jonathan Swift

Finn & his Mommy
...But do set your love.

Cicero on Finn's First Week

Finn enjoying his first week birthday in his own way
Today is the first week anniversary of our son's birth. This isn't a food blog (to be sure) but we had soup and good bread, though Finn had his own menu. Finn did join us for dinner. This is him in his little chair - it was his first meal around the dinning room table. (And ours in a while.)

I think he was very comfortable, even if he doesn't quite reach the table yet.

Which brings me to Cicero on first efforts in writing: "The beginnings of all things are small."

If you're writing a novel or anything else and feel intimidated, write one sentence. That's what I did - I wrote the last sentence. Then I wrote the first, on the advice of a friend, and I considered my novel nearly finished. I simply took a few years to fill it in.

As for Finn, he's seemed to enjoy the family meal in his own drowsy way.  Read More 

Finn on Martin Luther King Day

Finn ready to return home from his first visit to the pediatrician (it went well).
When I became a professional writer, the first book I bought was one that contained the speeches and writings of the man whose words and deeds had such a large effect on my life, Dr. Martin Luther King. For Finn and children everywhere, Dr. King said:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Martin Luther King, Jr.  Read More