Writing for Babies

I have friends who are expecting — something you are always grateful to experience again if your kids are way past the cuddle, coo and carry stages. But this morning was a special treat for me. Within minutes of each other, two friends posted letters written to their soon-to-arrive children. Monica, New Mom in New York, and Chelsea, There’s No Place Like Home, both shared colorful highlights (+ a few potholes) of their pregnancies and their hopes as they wait for those two tiny miracles.

I know these letters aren’t meant for me, but I loved both dearly. So, I thought I’d share them with you.

Keith’s K & A Automotive

The Thank You Project

The Thank You Project



Dear Keith’s K & A Automotive,

Each time I make the turn from Bethel Church Road on to Covenant Road, I get a treat. Out in the never-ending sea of street, pavement and parking lots, you’ve carefully placed thriving little islands of blooming plants, trailing roses and happy greenery.

I’ve long been grateful for the unexpected joy that blooms at your business. I applauded with the Forest Acres Appearance Commission when they honored your green thumbs a few years ago. It would be so easy for a busy small business owner to ignore those small spaces or let them go wild, but you and your staff never do.

Year after year, you nurture, plant and mulch dedicating part of your busy grounds to natural beauty. What’s so compelling is that there’s no ordinance or law requiring you to make your corner pretty. But that’s just what you do, season after season.

Each year you prove you’re more than just a part of this community. It’s part of your business plan to make your neighborhood a better place to work, live and learn.

We see your commitment on the way to Harmony School every day and it’s inspiring. Thank you!



Julie Turner


The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live. 

Satchel Ford Carpool Safety Patrol

The Thank You Project


The Thank You Project



Dear Satchel Ford Carpool Safety Patrol,

In our house, mornings are busy. Sometimes we oversleep. Sometimes we don’t eat a good breakfast. Sometimes we drag our heels because we wish the day started later. Many days we start on the right side of the bed, but somehow end up on the wrong side.

Then we get in the carpool line. We crawl our way up ever so slowly to the school drive. We wait if Mr. Stillwell says wait, and finally make it to the school. Then it happens. One of you opens the backseat door and cheerfully says, “Good morning!”

Did you know those words can turn someone’s day around? There have been a few days when one of you has reminded me that it is, in fact, a very good morning.

Seconds later, as I prepare to pull away from school with my spirits a little brighter, you leave me with a parting thought as you close the car door: “Have a nice day!”

I can’t even begin to tell you how important those kindnesses are in today’s world. Even if you think no one notices, someone usually does. They may not say much or even anything about something you might have said or done in the moment but your kindness will stick with them. Maybe now they’re smiling instead of scowling. Maybe they’ll be nicer to the next person they see. Maybe their bad morning has already become the best day ever.

You may never know what happens after someone pulls away from the curb, but know kindness leaves an impression. Sometimes the impression is tiny but other times it’s very deep. Your greetings and good byes make people laugh, smile, feel happier and appreciate their day a little more than they might have minutes ago.

Thank you for the many mornings you’ve brightened for me.


Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live. 

The State Newspaper Carrier, Route C14454

The Thank You Project

The Thank You Project



Dear Paper Delivery Friend,

Every weekend my Saturday and Sunday mornings start with the same
comfortable ritual.

After I wake up way too early for a weekend, I start a strong pot of coffee. Once brewing begins, I tread out the door to get The State newspaper that’s tucked beneath our mailbox. When I venture outside, the day is just waking so the gray morning fuzz hides my pjs and bedhead. Then over several cups of hot coffee, while everyone else in the house is still asleep, I scour the newspaper section by section.

It’s a short two-day routine I cherish and I thank you for all the work you do to make it possible.

In this day and age, your ever-present ongoing reliability amazes me.

I am so grateful to have my newspaper, always put so carefully just right where it should be. Because of your work, the paper is never late, never wet and never, ever blowing through my front yard.

I know your workday must start absurdly early. So for every rainy, cold, crack of dawn Saturday and Sunday morning that you’re out there, I offer you a million thanks.

You make my day.

Thank you for all you do for me and every other subscriber on route C14454.



Julie Turner


The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live. 



In the kitchen the other day, I told Cathy this was one of my favorite Thank You Project letters so far. To take the opportunity to thank someone who had a hand in shaping you as a human being is pretty incredible. Hopefully, this letter will make it to Aris Demetrios, the oldest son of Virginia Lee Burton. She wrote and illustrated several of my absolute favorite children’s books (Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House). Sadly, she died in 1968 but her wonderful, award-winning stories live on.


Dear Aris,

My name is Julie Turner. I am a writer in Columbia, SC. I have started a yearlong project of writing thank you letters to an important group of people. Some are local, some far away. Some people I know well, and others — like you — will have absolutely no idea who I am.

I come to you by way of your mother, Virginia Lee Burton. During her life, your mother created several of my all-time favorite children’s books: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House. I read these two books time and again throughout my childhood and today read them to my own two sons, ages seven and three. Now that I am 41, I have rediscovered the important messages of the stories, especially The Little House.

What I really wanted to share with you is that I truly believe reading The Little House shaped my guiding principles.

Today, I live in a great 1950s split-level ranch house in a mature city suburb. We revel in our home’s history, and wouldn’t trade its charm and frightful rooftop R-values for anything. Our home has beautiful old wood windows and plaster walls. It’s small by today’s standards, but just the perfect size for a family of four. It has character and detailing no new home can ever match. It is our Little House.

I hope this letter in some way honors your mother for the gifts she’s given to generations of children and adults. She taught me friendship, gratitude and appreciation through her wonderful stories. I have proudly passed her books on to my own children and will again to their children someday.

The world is a better place thanks to people like Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne, and to your mother who brought them into our lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Julie Turner


The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith blog project recognizing people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. 

On my nightstand: Great Book List

Heading for a vacation soon? Need something to occupy your mind for a few hours? Here’s list of book recommendations from avid reader and friend Cathy Monetti. I can vouch for about half of these books. Excellent reads. Pick a few up for your next trip!

1) Cold Mountain
2) The Red Tent
3) On Agate Hill
4) The Poisonwood Bible
5) The Kite Runner
6) Eat. Pray, Love
7) Water for Elephants
8) Evening
9) The Year of Magical Thinking
10) East of Eden
11) Jane Eyre
12) Cannery Row
13) Cry the Beloved Country
14) A Prayer for Owen Meany
15) Colony
16) Wicked
17) The Shell Seekers
18) The Great Gatsby
19) Oral History
20) One Thousand White Women
21) Charlie Bland
22) All The Little Live Things
23) The Unlikely Lavender Queen
24) The Prince of Tides
25) The Help
26) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
27) The Happiness Project
28) A Moveable Feast
29) The Elegance of the Hedgehog
30) Born to Run
31) Olive Kittridge
32) The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
33) Loving Frank

What have you read lately and loved?

On my nightstand: Food and farming books?

Over the past few years I’ve grown more and more attracted to gardening. My neighbor Eric has years of experience in these matters and he’s been so kind as to answer my many questions and address my pruning ineptitude. I am fumbling my way toward success, which I consider a valuable education.

Eric was also integral in me learning the value and lure of fresh homegrown produce a la the Pinckney’s Produce community-supported agriculture program (CSA). We were lucky enough to get one of their weekly “shares” while they vacationed last summer and I was instantly hooked.

The share was a heaping bounty, but the two things I remember most were the corn and watermelon. I’d gotten so used to store-bought, trucked-in food that I’d lost my taste for pure, complex local, oh-so-fresh food. The corn was crisp, juicy and sweet. Really, some of the best corn I have ever had. The watermelon was tiny, but packed a punch of flavor that I haven’t tasted in years. It was a pretty alarming awakening.

Up until then, I’d never really thought about where my food came from or the fact that the side effects of mass production have dulled flavor to a ham-fisted nub. I vowed to make a go at gardening.

I didn’t enjoy much success the first year. Tomatoes: fail. Green beans: fail. Pickling cucumbers: huge success. Romaine lettuce: huge success. While there were other wins and losses over that first season, it was a great education and good foundation for year two. Year two brought me a tiny winter garden, some of the best spinach I’ve ever had, more romaine lettuce, a stab at mixed-green “fancy” lettuce from seed, new varieties of peppers. There was more exploration and less fear. It also marked my first stab at composting and harvesting rainwater to feed my little crop.

My food education also continued. I subscribed to the CSA’s winter share and learned about and tried new vegetables I wouldn’t otherwise buy. I read and highly recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a tribute to living off of what you grow and how the food you eat manages to get to your plate. Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture (more on that here) provided a surprise education on 21st century shrimp production. I am now reading Growing a Farmer by Kurt Timmermeister, which explores how one man’s love for a four-acre tract of land grew into Kurtwood Farm.

The past few years have been a great education for me. I pay more attention to food and don’t take its presence for granted. There’s something inherently satisfying about your own sweat, tears and ingenuity growing what’s on your plate. And just as important to have some idea how the rest of it got there, too.

On My Nightstand

My reading habits have steered into the business-ish aisle lately.

In January, I subjected my Book Club to this business gem: Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. I found it fascinating and many of them were actually interested enough to read it. Which is an accomplishment!

In February, a friend and I were chattering over lunch one day and she shared Gretchen Rubin’s year-long study of happiness, The Happiness Project. Dug it, too. I’d recommend this one to any woman out there who finds herself juggling wifedom, motherhood and a career. With all that going on, it’s easy to lose perspective.

Now I’m on Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. I stumbled across this one at the library last week. Just a few chapters in but liking it a lot. It’s converging a bunch of topics that I never really thought were linked: rented building,  once-robust parts of town and people’s need to amass large amounts of stuff. I am interested to see where all this goes.

If you have a book or two you’ve enjoyed lately, please share them in the comments. Always on the lookout for good reads!