Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Small Memory for Remembering Purposes

I am the choir director at my church. I hold choir practice every Sunday directly following our church meetings. Two Sundays ago, my pianist couldn't be at church, but I decided we really needed to have choir practice anyway. I dragged Cole to a piano, put the music in front of him ("Ye Elders of Israel" straight from the hymnal), and said, "Can you play this?" Lo and behold, four and a half years of piano lessons are starting to pay off. He could only play one hand at a time, but it was enough to practice parts. I was a very proud mother.

From here: http://petersfamilyband.blogspot.com/2009/03/more-evidence-of-coles-amazing-talents.html

To here:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Cole Says...For posterity's sake

Cole informed me the other day that I can't post "Cole Says...," "Eli Says...," or "Rylan Says..." posts anymore because they are all too old now.

I said, "Does that mean you don't say funny things anymore?"

He said, "I still say funny things. Only I say them on purpose, not on accident."

So in memory of my children's lost innocence, I'm going to post all the funny "my kid says..." posts that made it on Facebook but not on the blog.

Eli says as we're driving past a cemetery, "Why do we put rocks on dead people?"

Cole: Pardon me.
Me: Do you have any Grey Poupon?
Cole: What's Grey Poupon?
Me: mustard
Cole: What's regular poupon?

Cole screamed because he lost a game. 
Me: Go to your room. 
Cole: No
Me: Go to your room and calm down.
Cole: No
Me: Go to your room or we won't play again. 
Cole: Fine. I'll go to my room...but I'm slamming the door!

Rylan is walking around the house singing, "Give it to me baby. Uh huh uh huh. Give it to me baby. Uh huh uh huh." You can thank his father..

How seriously do my kids take me? I said, "I only have this much patience left, and when it's gone, you're all going to bed early." Cole says, "Is it gone yet? Is it gone yet? Is it gone yet? Is it gone yet?"

Something Cole said to my friend Jessica: "I'm thinking of a word that stars with f and ends with k." Jessica: "Uuuuhhh..." Me: completely mortified. Her 11-year-old son knew the answer. (fire truck)

Rylan says, "For dessert, I want some frosting with cake on it."

Rylan says, "We need to do the hula poops because you're a very good hula pooper."

I said, "Martin Luther King Jr is one of my heroes."
Cole said, "My hero is the guy who invented Nintendo."

Cole: Which do you think is better, the Malevolence or the Super Star Destroyer?
Me: I don't know what those are. 
Cole: What??? From Star Wars.
Me: Sorry.
Cole looks as if he has just lost all respect for me.

From Eli, the king of puns:
Cole said, "How many periods are there in high school?"
Eli replied, "It depends on how many sentences you write."

I was showing Rylan a picture of the planets and said, "But Pluto isn't a planet anymore."
Rylan: "Yeah, it's a planet of dwarves."
(He meant it's a dwarf planet.)

While reading scriptures this morning, Eli read, "Father, save me from this whore." Michael corrected, "Save me from this hour. The h is silent." I couldn't stop laughing. Completely different meaning!

Rylan: I can't eat my oatmeal. I don't like raisins.
Me: Then why did you put so many in your oatmeal?
Rylan: I just learned that I don't like raisins today, Mom.
Me: Well, I'm not making you something different, so your choices are eat it anyway or go hungry.
Rylan: I choose go hungry. That's my choice.

Continuing the doodling conversation, I suggested that Cole doodle on scrap paper, and he said, "What if I consider homework to be scrap paper?"

Cole: That doesn't make any sense.
Me: Your face doesn't make any sense.
Cole: Where did that come from?
Me: Earth. Where did you come from?
Cole: Uranus

Rylan's reasoning for why he and his "girlfriend" are meant to be together: "We both have five letters in our name."

Eli says, "I always thought that when you had a baby, your stomach opened up and the baby popped out and shouted, 'Cowabunga!'"

Me: What do you think would make a party really fun? 
Cole: Getting to watch a movie that we're not allowed to watch.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


I'm sure that at some point, this is something I will regret having written, but I'm going to write it anyway because right now this is how I feel: In the Mommy Wars, working moms win.*

Being a working mom is kicking my butt - not the working part but the mom part. For two days in a row the first week I worked, I only saw my boys for an hour each day. On a third day, my school was having an open house in the evening, so I left for work at 6:00 that morning and got home at 8:15 that night. I didn't see Rylan at all that day. If I didn't know that I will get a couple months in the summer every year to be home with them again, I probably would have called the school and quit that day. Even so, I have a constant mental debate going on in the back corners of my mind about whether or not the pros of working outweigh the con of not being home with my boys all afternoon.

To this train of thought, let me add the "on the other hand" that I kept meaning to write about last semester when I was a "stay at home mom" for four months to three kids who were in school for seven hours out of every day...

On the day I dropped Rylan off for kindergarten the first time, I drove home, sat purposelessly in a silent kitchen for an hour, and said to myself, "Now I get The Feminine Mystique." After a week of waking up every morning knowing that the only thing I had on my to-do list for the day was laundry, I said, "If I thought this was all my life was going to be, I too would start drinking at 10 in the morning."**

You know that saying that having a child is like your heart walking around outside your body? During my nine years as a stay at home mom, I had one or more kids with me nearly every moment that I was awake. Three pieces of my heart walking around outside my body, but with me all day long. Then one day, the last piece of my heart joined the other two at school, spending seven hours of every day away from me, and I was left alone. And it really did feel like I was missing pieces of myself for part of every day. My heart was off at school while I sat at home.

So yes, being a working mom is hard, but when I struggle with the question of whether it's worth it to work, I remind myself of that low place I was in last fall. For now, it's worth working through.

If you've been wondering how my job is going, my answer would have to be, It's too soon to tell. The nice thing about working at a high school on block scheduling is that they start new classes in January. I only had my first semester classes for one week before the second semester started, so I was able to start fresh with the students and not have to clean up some other teacher's mess. But then we had class for three days followed by four snow days, so at this point I don't really know how things are going. Ask me again in a week.

And now, about those snow days...

snow day
snow day
snow day
snow day

*The Mommy Wars I'm talking about here are the ones where we argue about whose lives are harder, not the ones where we argue about who is a better mother or who loves their kids more. In those Mommy Wars, everyone is a loser because that's a stupid thing to argue about.

**This is a reference to a chapter in The Feminine Mystique where Friedan relates how some women used alcohol to overcome the boredom of being home all day. I wouldn't really start drinking. But I do have a bottle of vodka in my kitchen. (For making vanilla.)

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Chimney Rock

Rylan at Six Years Old
  • favorite color: blue
  • favorite food: macaroni and cheese
  • favorite dessert: ice cream with chocolate fudge and mint chocolate chips
  • favorite thing to do: play video games
  • favorite video game: SIMS 2 (on Gameboy)
  • favorite subject in school: drama ("Math is really boring.")
  • favorite book: Darth Paper Strikes Back - Origami Yoda Series

What is the meaning of life?
  • To play video games.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • A Subway man. Someone who works at Subway. (The sandwich restaurant, not the train.)

What makes you happy?
  • Giving my mom a hug.

What are you afraid of?
  • black widows, wolves, robbers, wild dogs, foxes. I'm afraid of looking behind me because I watched Despicable Me 2. When I watched Despicable Me 2, whenever I don't look behind me, I think there's a robber behind me.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
  • All the video games in the whole universe.

What is the funniest word?
  • Tessa says doo-doo a lot, so it might be doo-doo. I know what doo-doo means. Poop. Cole told me.

What is the hardest thing to do?
  • A backward somersault.

What is the easiest thing to do?
  • Definitely handstand. I can do one.

What is the best thing in the world?
  • That's easy. Playing video games.

What is the worst thing in the world?
  • Having to clean my job before I play video games.

What makes you mad?
  • When Cole twists my leg and I tell you and he says he didn't.

What is the meaning of love?
  • Hugging people. And kissing.

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
  • I would give half of it to my family. I would keep the rest. 

* Interview questions from Crappy Pictures

Friday, January 3, 2014

59 Books in 2013

I'm continuing to challenge myself to read 50 books a year. In 2013, I either did awesome (59 books!) or I cheated (based on the number of books that are children's books or graphic novels).

As part of my challenge, I pick an author to read in-depth. Last year was Margaret Atwood. This year, I chose Ian McEwan based solely on the fact that I adored Atonement. After reading five more of his books, I've got to say that for me, he's a one hit wonder. Fabulous prose, yes. Boring stories? Also yes.

I read Melina Marcheta's Printz Award-winning novel Jellicoe Road in January and then devoured every other book of hers that my library has. Then I read Jellicoe Road a second time.

This book I adored: Okay for Now: *****

So I read these other books by the same author (Gary D. Schmidt):

This book I HATED:  Gone Girl: **

This book made me think more than any other book I read this year, so I wish I could change it to a higher rating, but there were also many, many parts that I want to erase from my brain: A Visit from the Goon Squad: ***

Two series:

Some non-fiction:

I read a few graphic novel-esque books:
And the rest:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Big One Zero

Erin's birthday cake 2013

Cole at Ten Years Old
  • favorite color: green
  • favorite food: kadu
  • favorite dessert: chocolate soda from Goodberrys
  • favorite thing to do: playing video games (2nd place: working on his novel)
  • favorite video game: Super Mario Dream World (a game he saw at Target and has never actually played)
  • favorite subject in school: science
  • favorite book series: The Heroes of Olympus (Percy Jackson)

What is the meaning of life?
  • To make it to Heavenly Father.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • That's easy. My full time job would be a worker for Nintendo. My part time job would be a writer.

What makes you happy?
  • Mainly getting a 3DS, which hasn't actually happened, but I know it's going to make me happy.

What are you afraid of?
  • black holes, the end of the world

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
  •  a million more wishes

What is the funniest word?
  • foot

What is the hardest thing to do?
  • fly with only wings on your back

What is the easiest thing to do?
  • breathe

What is the best thing in the world?
  • technology

What is the worst thing in the world?
  • bad breath

What makes you mad?
  • getting stolen from

What is the meaning of love?
  • to get married

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
  • I would use half of it to buy a mansion, and the other half to buy a video game company.

*Interview questions from Crappy Pictures

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Hard Day for Dreaming

A little more than two years ago, I retired as a green blogger in part so I could spend my free(writing)time working on a novel. I've always planned to write a novel, and since the Day I Must Return to Work was looming closer and closer, it seemed like a good time to start. Two months ago, I finished the rough draft, and Michael had the manuscript printed and bound.

that time I wrote a novel

Let me tell you about this novel. It is partially based on some experiences I had in college and partially based on some thoughts I've had about motherhood and marriage, which means that the audience for this novel is very narrow - basically, people who are exactly like me. And if we assume that we are all unique individuals and that no one else in the world is exactly like us, we can conclude that I am the sole audience for this novel. So when I call it the Novel No One But Me Will Ever Read, I'm not being completely facetious.

I recognized approximately two chapters into writing it that the story had no audience and that it would never be published, but I finished it because it was something I'd set out to do. I try to console myself by describing it as a learning experience, but since my primary take-away lesson is that the type of stories I like to write (character-driven, heavy on the nostalgia) are not the type of stories most people like to read (plot-driven, heavy on the supernatural), I have to accept from the get-go that anything I write will be Novels No One But Me Will Ever Read. Spending two years on a novel just so it can sit in a drawer for the next fifty years is not exactly motivation to try again.

The title of my novel is A Hard Day for Dreaming (after a Rilo Kiley song), and the idea behind it is thus:
  1. About the time that Michael and I started dating, one of my old crushes suddenly decided that he liked me back. Every now and then, I have a dream about this boy, and when I wake up, I am always in a mood.
  2. Every young adult novel these days seems to revolve around some kind of love triangle. I'm a fan of love triangles, but one day, I started to wonder...what happens next? Bella chooses Edward, ten years pass...does she sometimes wish she'd picked Jacob? Does she regret the choice she made? (If I were stuck with Edward for all eternity, I know I would!!!) 
So my story goes like this: In college, Emma Whitacker is pursued by two boys. Ten years later, she has married one and dreams about the other. The plot of the novel flip-flops back and forth between the present (where Emma is in a mood after waking up from one of those dreams) and the past (where we get the backstory of those college years).

Right now, the manuscript is with my sister-in-law, who is hopefully putting together some solid feedback. I plan to have a couple more people review/edit the rough draft. Then I'll work up a final version to give to my mother.

This whole post feels kind of heavy on the gloom (perhaps I'm in a mood), so let me add:
  • What you don't see in that picture at the top is me feeling ridiculously over-the-top giddy about seeing 300 pages of my own words all bound up like that.
  • Despite its many flaws, I really love my novel overall, and I'm proud of myself for finishing it.
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