Tuesday, December 13, 2011

in defense of santa

I have to write this down. I'm delighted that you're reading it too, but I'm writing it down for me. Because every year I have to go through this, and re-decide what it is I believe about Christmas. I think I usually come around to the same thing, so I thought I'd save myself the trouble and write it all down this year. Then I can skip the tears and stress next year and get right to the celebrating.
I hate to admit that, if I'm honest, holidays equal stress for me. There has rarely, if ever, been a Christmas season that did not land me in tears at some point. I love, love Dani's post about Christmas time in a divorced family. It's spot on.
And then there are posts that land me in tears. It happens every. single. year. Like this one. When I read it, I absolutely agreed with what she had to say. Ugh, the consumerism, the out of control Santa-fest, the fact that Christmas should be about Jesus. I get it. I agree with it. One particularly poignant line asked how, in the minds of our children, could Jesus compete with Santa? I so agree. I felt so guilty over how much we spend on Christmas while so many in the world are suffering that I cried when I put up the Christmas tree. And then I cried while walking through the aisles of Target. It was awful. I swore off Santa.
And then I came back around to him. Because whenever I think of the holidays, and how I'll stress over the coming one, I think back to the time when I was little, watching the news on Christmas Eve and hearing the weather man say he'd spotted Santa's sleigh on the horizon. I remember lying awake in bed and thinking every creak of the house was a reindeer hoof. I remember opening gifts with my cousins, playing board games with my siblings, and wondering just how it was that Santa always knew exactly what I wanted. It was magical.
And while I hear people rant about how wrong it is to lie to your kids, I honestly don't have a problem with it. To me, it wasn't lying. It was this huge magical story that everyone was in on. Kinda like Harry Potter. (wink) Some people say that when they discovered Santa wasn't real, they thought that God wasn't real. I say that believing in Santa helped me believe in God, in miracles, in magic. I love that feeling that there's more to life than what's right in front of us, than what we can see. And as adults, we don't get that feeling often enough. So don't take it away from me at Christmas.
So my plan is to talk to Cate about Jesus every chance I get. Not just at Christmas, but always. She'll learn about Santa on her own. There are movies and songs, and trips on the Polar Express with my aunt. This year, when she wakes up on Christmas morning, there will be 2 gifts for her. It really doesn't matter to me if she thinks they're from us or from Santa. Then she'll be bombarded with gifts from other family members. And we're all going to love it.
I hope she'll learn that Christmas is about magic. It's about Jesus and family. It's about giving gifts. It's about togetherness and laughter. And if that magic includes Santa, well, I'm okay with that.
It's not very neat. It's not "We go all out at Christmas" and it's not "We don't do Santa." It's somewhere in between, so it's bound to get messy. (I never have been good at drawing a line in the sand.) I'd love to hear everyone's ideas and traditions. My ideas so far are: bake a birthday cake for Jesus, adopt an angel tree kid, buy a goat (0r some other animal) for a Worldvision family. What do you do with your family to keep them focused on Jesus and giving?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Now that I've drafted a novel, everyone's first question is, "Can I read it?" And everyone gets the same answer: an emphatic, "No." National Novel Writing Month isn't actually about writing a novel. (gasp) It's actually about writing the first draft of a novel. Mine is so messy that I'm afraid to go back and reread it. I made all the mistakes in the book (ha!) from cliches, to plot twists that lead to nowhere, to switching points of view, to clunky dialogue, to one random tangent that involved a troll (with rather nice eyes).
It's kind of like whittling a ukelele out of bark. NaNoWriMo helped me create the huge stump from which my instrument will be carved. It's pretty amazing because I conjured this huge stump out of thin air! Hey everyone, look at my stump! But it doesn't look anything like a ukelele.
So now comes the harder part: the editing. It's really scary because I'm wracked with self-doubt. Should I spend a year of my life editing something that's not good to begin with? I wish there was some magic fairy godmother that I could tell my story to, and she could tell me whether or not it is worth pursuing. What if I put in all this work for nothing?
And then the voice inside my head says, "Was there ever any writing that you've done that you felt like was 'for nothing'?" The answer is no. Every abandoned manuscript, every torn-up page of journal, has made me a better, more persistent writer. So there's nothing else to do but keep at it. Even if my lopsided ukelele ends up just living in a drawer somewhere.
But I dream of being published. Of sitting in Barnes and Noble while people bring me free vanilla lattes and I sign books. Of creating characters that people fall in love with (that I fall in love with). Of a novel that keeps people thinking for years after they've put it down. Of a story they can relate to, with noble, courageous characters they want to pattern themselves after. I'd love to be able to make a living doing what I love (whether or not it includes free vanilla lattes).
It may happen, and it may not. But the only way the dream stays alive is if I take the next step.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

life after NaNo

I did it! Fifty-thousand words in thirty days, 11,000 of which were in the last 3 days. It was an amazing, come-from-behind victory.

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I feel so proud of myself. I had no idea I had it in me, and I really feel like I accomplished something. I have to admit, though, that I'm feeling a bit of the NaNo blues. Tomorrow marks a week since I have written anything, and it's starting to wear on me. I feel so unproductive. The hardest part about writing for me is maintaining a balanced routine.

You know how when you're on a diet, and you don't eat anything but boiled kale and carrot sticks and then you go out and run three miles, and you do it for six days in a row? Me neither. But I hear, that after that, you have a bad day where your child screams for 57 minutes straight, you fight with your husband about who must have stolen your credit card and mysteriously charged a $143 purchase at Target, and you somehow manage to burn your boiled kale. And then you eat everything in the pantry. Including the week-old bag of stale Cheetos and a jar of molasses.

Not that I've done that, or anything.

I'm that way about dieting, but I'm that way about writing too. It's feast or famine. It's "I'm busy becoming a novelist for a month, so we'll eat cereal for every meal" while I write, or it's nothing. I'm left wondering what to do now. I don't want to quit writing, but I can't maintain the break-neck pace of November. And I have to work off the extra 5 pounds (okay, seven) that I put on while sitting on my ass all day, typing furiously.

So my next goal (and it may have to wait until after the holidays), is to keep a balanced life, but one that includes exercise and writing. And I have an inkling that it will be way harder than writing 50,000 words in a month.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I know I blog fairly often about Cate's sassiness. And don't get me wrong; she's got plenty of that. But maybe I focus a little too much on that because those moments make the best stories or get the most laughs. She's growing so fast, and she's starting to pay attention to what kinds of stories I tell about her. Her little ears perk up when she hears her name in a conversation. So I'm making more of an effort to note the sweet things she does. And let me tell you, there are plenty of them.

We had the most amazing morning last weekend. One of her new favorite games is playing with her kitchen dishes. She sets up her little table with the cups and plates and serves coffee to Cory and me. She adds the coffee, then the cream, and then warns us that it's hot before we drink it.

That seems like a pretty normal game, since we are both pretty heavy coffee drinkers (especially since I'm in the middle of novel-writing). I also love the not-so-normal part of the game where all of a sudden cookie monster (who she thinks is just a tad on the scary side) is found swimming in our cups and we have to run to the trash can to dump him out. Or this week, it was mini versions Dani, Eric, Jake, and Seany who were trapped in our cups, and I had to let them go so they could run off down the table.

So that morning, we played the coffee game, and we danced around the kitchen to some of my girly music. Then she decided she needed to wear her pink skirt to dance in. After we got it on, she said, "Pretty! I wanna show my daddy." I just thought that was the sweetest thing, how it's so innate for them to want to impress their daddies at this young age.

-Other sweet moments have happened during the week with little E here. E is pretty sensitive to loud noises. We went to Jump N' Jungle last week, and there was this little gang of very active and very loud 3 or 4 year olds. They kept running by and screaming, which would leave E in tears. Cate went over to him and rubbed his hair, saying, "It's ok. It's just noise. Noise not scary." Then she kissed his hand!

-Later that same day, we put him down for a nap. She always tells him, "Night, nights!" and blows him kisses. That day, she also sang him her favorite song..."La, la, la, la, Elmo's song." So sweet!

-As you know, since we moved Cate to the toddler bed, we don't always have the easiest time getting her to sleep. She's done a lot better lately with staying in her bed initially, but she almost always comes to our bed around 4 in the morning to lay with us. On one such occasion, she climbed in bed with us, and we tried to settle ourselves around her. A few minutes later, I hear her giggling. She was saying, "Paci's, mama. Paci's!" I tried to shush her, but Cory whispered that she was dreaming. I rolled over just in time to see her smiling in her sleep, dreaming about pacifiers.

-This last thing I'm labeling as "sweet" mostly because it benefits me. Let me add as a disclaimer that I do not nag when it comes to the toilet seat. So she did not learn this from me. This happened completely on her own...When Cory leaves the toilet seat up, she goes and points to it. She says, "Oh no! Don't do that, Daddy." He is quick to apologize, but she has to belabor the point by saying. "Don't DO that!" again. Once she even added, "Cate fall in!" I love it!
Here are a couple more random sweet pictures that her daddy took. You might have seen them on facebook, but I thought these edited versions were swoon-worthy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNo Week 2

My second week of novel-writing was a week of ups and downs. I was behind, but kept some momentum going. I'm quickly learning that the weekends are my downfall. On Friday I didn't write a single word because it felt like I hadn't been able to hang out with my husband all week. Everyone said the excitement would wear off in week two, but that wasn't really true for me. At the end of the first week, the novel had taken a pretty drastic turn, so I was excited to keep going to see where it would lead me. Finally, yesterday on the 15th of November, I reached the halfway point- 25,000 words. I was finally caught up.
Let me pause here to say, that the most amazing thing happened this week, and I think it is the main reason that the excitement hadn't worn off. Emileigh, my writing buddy extraordinaire, and I decided to start doing 30-minute word sprints. We set the timer on the oven in my kitchen, and pounded away at our keyboards trying to see who could get the most words in the alotted time. It was such a rush! I think we're kind of addicted, because we still try to race by texting each other even when we're not writing in the same room together. My most productive half-hour produced 995 words. I had no idea that I had it in me to write practically 1000 words in 30 minutes! It made the huge gap in where was and where I was supposed to be seem a lot smaller. Plus, some very interesting things came out of that frantic writing. It's like you don't have time to think, so weird stuff just starts exploding onto the page.
And so we began week three. After my celebration at having successfully reached the halfway point on time, I went into shut down mode today. I didn't want to look at my novel. I didn't want to think about it. I was (am) tired from staying up too late, and creatively drained. Luckily, Emileigh and I had our weekly Starbucks writing date, and she had a vanilla latte and pound cake waiting for me when I arrived. We avoided our novels (sort of) for an hour and a half while we chatted. We talked a lot about our storylines, so I think it was productive. And it was an absolute necessary recharging moment for me. I squeezed in 700 more words before calling it a night.
So, now I am behind once again (Oh sweet victory, your spoils last only a short while!), and starting to feel a little burnt out. I'll keep hammering away at it, though. I'm in too deep to give up now. And when times get rough, I have Emileigh to race me back into word-count bliss.

Monday, November 07, 2011

NaNo Week 1 Recap

Today on my seventh consecutive noveling day, I should have at least 11,669 words. Drumroll, please....no really....beat on the table or something....try not to spit on your neighbor....can you see that I'm stalling?.....10,518 words.
It took all of three days for me to get behind. I have made up some serious ground the last two days (my two-day total reaching roughly 4,800 words), and I'm hitting my stride once again.

Some things have surprised me about the process. I have had to accept the fact that it's getting really messy. When I'm under a word count crunch, I don't have time to go back and change things that no longer fit with the story as it evolves. In fact, from what I hear from experienced writers, doing so is a story killer. And now I can see why: letting your inner editor critique what you've already written is an instant creativity crusher. I go from free, sword-wielding, head-scarf-wearing, gypsy Jessica to severe, serious, black-pumps-and-business-suit wearing Jessica. And no one can create whimsical stories in a business suit. So every word stays, whether it needs to be there or not.
As a result I have three different font colors all with different significances, have demoted a main character to a minor one, and promoted a minor character to heroine. I have two different settings at the moment, that may or may not converge. I have written in first person perspective from two, no three! different characters, and then switched to third person because I wanted to tell the story differently. It's complete madness over here.
And I like it.
I'm becoming that person who gets cranky when they haven't written all day.
And I like it.
Week two, prepare to be squashed. You will yield to my crafting prowess and beg for mercy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

Happy birthday to my new novel! Hooray! Today's writing goal was 1,667 words and I reached...(drumroll please...) 1,701 words. Yay me.
It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, but also very satisfying. I love to begin writing assignments, and don't do so well at continuing them, so I know it will get harder. But I'm up for the challenge.
I pretty much have three units of time when I can write. These would be early in the morning before the other inhabitants of my house wake, midday when my charges are napping, and evening after Cate the Great goes to bed. I was hoping that I would get most writing done during two of these three times, and still have some time left for socializing, lounging, and general revelry. Today, it took just about every spare minute of all three times to complete my required word count(though you see I still squeezed in a blog post). So, my suspicions are affirmed...this will not be easy.

However, I loved writing at my newly-reformed writing desk by the front window in my house surrounded by some inspirational quotes that I pinned around myself. Listening to instrumental music through my headphones while pounding away at the keyboard was one of the most satisfying things I've done in quite awhile.
Now, on to day two!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

rainy day lessons

-The kids will ask to go outside at least 100 times.
-Cate will ask why the sun is still sleeping.
-They will want to play with playdough and draw with markers. When you finally feel comfortable enough to look out the window for .3 seconds, they will stick them in their mouths.
-You will feel sorry for the dog and let him in. He will need to go back out to use the bathroom and then get muddy pawprints all over the floor.
-E will try to pull his nubby little tail, and try to point at him and order him to sit even though he is eye-level with him. Clive will refuse.
-Cate will chase him around and insist that he take his bone with him everywhere he goes. She will shriek when he licks her.
-The kids will get restless and start to bicker. Cate will get a spanking for spitting on her friend. (Ew.)
-She will have to go to time out so much that E will start randomly running to the fireplace (time out spot) yelling "No! Time out!"
-This will irritate Cate so much that she'll push him down.
-They will want hot lunches and then hold on to your leg and whine the whole time you fix it.
-They will ask for ice cream (even though its 40 degrees outside) and you will acquiesce just to give them something to do.
-Their sheer joy at eating ice cream will warm your heart.
-They will try to feed the ice cream to the dog.
-The house will get relentlessly, ourtrageously messy.
-They will wrap themselves in cozy blankets in their beds and take naps without a fight.
-Instead of cleaning the outrageously messy house, you will curl up on the couch next to the snoring dog and write.
-You will feel so incredibly, undeservingly, jubilantly peaceful.

Friday, October 21, 2011


"Deadlines bring focus, forcing us to make time for achievements we would otherwise postpone, encouraging us to reach beyond our conservative estimates of what we think possible, helping us to wrench victory from the jaws of sleep.
A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form."

The quote above comes from Chris Baty, author of this book and founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In just 10 days, I am setting sail on an awesome, heart-wrenching, sure-to-be drama-filled adventure. I am participating in NaNoWriMo, which means I will be writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days through the month of November.
(Pause for collective gasp.)
It's time, folks. It's time to stop dreaming and start typing like a maniac. Since the rules of the contest state that you must begin a new novel, I will be putting my much-stressed-over manuscript aside for awhile and begin afresh.
I am hoping to get a word-count widget for the blog so you guys can cheer me along (because I have a feeling I will need much encouragement and cajoling). I love this "Month-Long Novelist Agreement and Statement of Understanding" which is included in the afore-linked book to sign:
I hereby pledge my intent to write a 50,000-word novel in one month's time. By invoking an absurd, month-long deadline on such and enormous undertaking, I understand that notions of "craft", "brilliance", and "competency" are to be chucked right out the window, where they will remain, ignored, until they are retrieved for the editing process... I also acknowledge my right as author to substantially inflate both the quality of the rough draft and the rigors of the writing process should inflation prove useful in garnering me respect and attention, or freedom from participation in onerous household chores.
I acknowledge that the month-long 50,000-word deadline I set for myself is absolute and unchangeable, and that any failure to meet the deadline, or any effort on my part to move the deadline once the adventure has begun, will invite well-deserved mockery from friends and family. I also acknowledge that, upon successful completion of the stated noveling objective, I am entitiled to a period of gleeful celebration and revelry, the duration and intensity of which may preclude me from participating fully in workplace activities for days, if not weeks, afterward.
Signed: Jessica Hendricks
NaNoWriMo Participant 2011

So that's what I need you guys for: encourage me, push me, threaten me, check in on me, and generally shame me into finishing. At the end of this thing, anyone who has written 50,000 words is deemed a "Winner" of NaNoWriMo.
And I will win.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

continuing the conversation

I love all the facebook comments I got about my food industry post. I guess I halfway expected everyone to ignore me or tell me I was crazy and paranoid. It does my heart good to know that others are thinking about these things, too.
It's really hard for me to go all the way in one direction. I'm very moderate and empathetic, I can usually see and understand most people's points of view. So it's difficult for me to discern a set-in-stone path. Some people label themselves as "thrifty" or "green" or they're all about convenience. I find that I can't be any one of these things, I have to try to balance them all. We have a fairly strict grocery budget and a toddler who subsists mostly on chicken nuggets and shredded cheese. I'm sure you guys understand.
I think it's fair to ask, with all this new (to me) knowledge, what am I doing to change?
-Organic foods and free range meats are more expensive than "regular" foods, and we are on a very tight budget (namely, one teacher salary). Mostly, I'm more aware of the options now. I know that United Market Street sells free range beef and chicken, and Sprouts has a wide organic selection as well as antibiotic-free meat. I watched the mail circulars, and when the meat at Sprouts went on sale, I stocked up. Then, when a recipe calls for something like a whole chicken, I try to spring for the free range one because the price difference isn't that big. Small steps, I know.
- I think the biggest thing I'm doing right now to change is learning to cook and reaquainting myself with vegetables. I signed up for an online program called e-mealz which provides you with a weekly menu and recipes for only $5.oo a month. It really doesn't have anything to do with going organic, but it's helping me branch out and try new things. It's helping us eat more veggies, and discover we like them. Yes, it calls for some unhealthy ingredients occasionally, but I think it's helping me in the long run because it's teaching me about flavors and challenging me to use ingredients I normally don't touch. (Shocking things like tomatos and whole chickens.) I feel like learning to cook is the first step in the process.
- I have made a date to go visit the Apple Orchard in Idalou to gather our own hometown-grown apples to make Cate some organic, homemade apple sauce. Maybe I'll even get a pie out of the deal, who knows?
- (You may want to sit down for this one.) I have not bought any chocolate for over a month now. Worldvision, a charity I trust and support, recently released this article. I was shocked to find out that about 96% of the chocolate industry uses child labor or human trafficking. The industry was given 10 years to slowly faze it out, and they have done virtually nothing. It's just unacceptable. Chocolate is a complete luxury item, and I can't have it at the expense of children's lives. (Oh but Cate LOVES M&Ms! We haven't had to throw down yet, as she is mostly fooled when I buy skittles instead. I don't know how to explain this stuff to a 2-year-old.)

I would love to hear what you guys are doing. Teach me your ways, tips, and tricks! I am a novice in this field, so I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm hoping to latch onto some garden-savvy folks so they can be my mentors. What are your favorite organic products? Where to you do most of your shopping?

P.S. I promise some cute Cate posts soon, for those of you who came to the blog and felt cheated. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

food fight

Alright everyone, here's your fair warning: It's soap box time. I tend to steer clear of controversial topics because I'm an avoider of conflict by nature, but I can't stop thinking about this. I'm pretty new to this discussion, so forgive me my ignorance. I am mostly writing this because it helps me process my own thoughts, and I really think this is important enough to share with you guys (and it will be documented for the future me as well).
End disclaimer.
On to topic: The food industry.
Most of my information comes from either the documentary Food Inc. (which is on instant watch on Netflix) or the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. There is so much outrageously wrong with the food industry, that I don't know where to begin. Poor treatment of animals and farmers, unsustainable farming methods, genetically engineered plants and animals, the amount of fuel used to ship food half way around the world, the lack of cleanliness of products, and lack of regulation by government agencies...the list goes on, and it's not pretty. I think I'll just highlight some of the more shocking things that I have learned in the past month, and if you're interested, you can read more for yourself.

1) A very small number of corporations control a very large amount of the food we eat. In the 70s, the top 5 beef packers controlled about 25% of the market. Today, the top 4 control more than 80%. We have virtually eliminated the small farm. So, the problems that I'm about to talk about are true for almost all the food we're eating- not just what's found at fast food restaurants. We're buying it at the grocery store, too.

2) The treatment of animals is atrocious. We have such a strange relationship with meat. We want it boneless, in a form that in no way resembles the animal from which it came. I am so guilty of this. I want a boneless, skinless chicken breast, and I'd prefer not to touch it before it's cooked. The problem is, cows are being packed into what the industry calls CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) where they can hardly move, they are up to their knees in their own manure, and they're being fed corn. (I'll get to this part shortly.) Then we ground them up and have literally thousands of cows in one hamburger. Nevermind the fact that it totally strips them of their cow-hood. Even if you d0n't see the cow as anything except a precursor to a hamburger, you have to be worried about the health issue. With that much manure caked onto their hides and the speedy process with which they are slaughtered, it's impossible not to get some into the meat. Read: e coli outbreaks. So what's our cure for this? We have another factory "sanitizing" meat bits with ammonia, labeling it "meat filler" and it's landing in 80 percent of fast food "beef." Grossed out yet?

Chickens have no better lives. They are owned by the corporations from the minute they hatch. They are sorted on huge conveyor belts and put into a chicken house with no windows. They never see sunlight. Additionally, they have been genetically altered so that we can have a full grown chicken in half the time it takes to grow a natural chicken. And which part is the dinner-time favorite? You guessed it, the breast. So we grow chickens with bigger breasts- so big in fact, that the chickens bones do not have time to catch up with it's fast growth, and they cannot even hold themselves up to walk. So they can't move, they sit in their own feces, they never see sunlight. When I went to the grocery store this week, I was going to buy a whole chicken. When I was looking for the right size for my recipe, I noticed they were all exactly the same size: 5.9 pounds. Every single one. That's not a chicken anymore. It's a human alteration of a chicken.

3) The treatment of farmers and workers is dismal. Farmers who partner with these big corporations get trapped in a cycle of debt that they can't escape from. They end up obligated to continue working for these huge corporations just to keep a minimal amount of money in their own bank accounts. Additionally, the huge factories that process the vegetables or meat actually send buses across the border to Mexico to collect illegal immigrants to work for them. They'll work for them for 10-12 years and then the factories will turn them into authorities a few at a time, so as not to disrupt their production. It's dispicable.

4) Corn. Oh my. You probably know that you are hard-pressed to find a grocery store item that doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup (or some other corn product). Seriously, go take a look in your pantry. I'll wait. These mega-corporations are producing mostly corn. The corn is going into everything we eat....even the food our animals eat. Cows, chickens, even fish are now eating corn. Cows do not eat corn, they eat grass! We feed them corn because it's cheap and it makes them fat fast. If it's making the cows fat fast...hmmm, wonder what it's doing to us? If the cow is not able eat healthy food (grass), I don't think their meat is going to be as healthy for us as it could be. Also, corn is subsidized by the government, so we are able to sell it for less than cost of production. That's putting a lot of farmers in other countries out of buisness (which is why those immigrants I talked about earlier are having to look for work elsewhere.)

5) Genetic modification. Short version (because this rant is getting long): we are changing food to make it more convenient, and so we can ship it all the way across the world. In return, we are getting less healthful, less tasty food. But it looks pretty. So that's nice.
Check out this quote from Kingsolver's book. "U.S. farmers now produce 3,900 calories per U.S. citizen, per day. That is twice what we need, and 700 calories a day more than they grew in 1980."
This one keeps me up at night: "In fact, all the world's farms currently produce enough food to make every person on the globe fat. Even though 800 million people are chronically under-fed..., it's because they lack money and opportunity, not bcause food is unavailable in their countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that current food production can sustain world food needs even for the 8 billion people who are projected to inhabit the planet in 2030."

Ok, so now what? I would be loath to present all these problems without some sort of solution. It sounds so hopeless, but there are things we can do. I'm beginning the process, but I have so far to go.
1) Buy organic foods, foods without anibiotics, and free-range meat. If possible, buy things that were grown/raised close to where you live. (I didn't even get into oil usage!) Admittedly, they are not cheap, but by buying only the cheapest products we are paying another kind of price. "The multiple maladies caused by bad eating are taking a dire toll on our health- most tragically for our kids, who are predicted to be this country's first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents."
2) Grow a garden! Every little bit helps, and you know exactly where those veggies came from.
3) Support legislation that encourages proper labeling of food products, and helps local vegetable (not just corn) farmers.
4) Cook at home.
5) Buy fruits and veggies that are in season, so they don't have to be shipped around the world to land on your dinner plate.

I'm tryng to practice what I preach. It's a slow process. It's a difficult thing, to change a life-time's worth of eating habits. I hope you'll hold me accountable, though.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

corn maze

The McEwens invited us along on a trip to the corn maze last weekend. It was a lovely fall morning and a charming pastoral setting, so it was only appropriate that Sam and Cate spent the entire morning running around hand in hand like this: They looked at the farm animals together, and fed the pigs pretzels when their parents weren't looking.
They made their way through the mini maze...

and did a pretty good job of keeping us straight in the big maze. (Although we did have to keep them corralled- they would have just wandered off without us if we'd let them.)

And here's sweet Emmalee, just taking it all in.Love these sweet kiddos, and their parents too!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


This was so true for me this morning. I've struggled with fitness lately. My overall activity level is just lower staying at home than it was teaching. When I was teaching, I never sat down, I sometimes jogged down the hall to catch kids or make copies, and I bustled around the classroom constantly. Staying home with two toddlers doesn't require quite so much bustling (most days).

So I've been gaining a bit of weight and feeling mopey about it. I don't think it would bother me so much if my clothes would fit, but I'm getting tired of only being able to fit into t-shirts.

I've tried some different things to get myself moving. I love to run in the morning- first thing, before anyone else is up, before coffee and breakfast. Unfortunately, I found it very difficult to set my alarm for 5 am or earlier and actually get up to run. At that early hour, I am not completely rational, and I can talk myself out of almost anything. I did it for a couple of weeks, but when Cate wasn't sleeping well I could always talk myself out of it. Then she started waking up as soon as I did no matter how quiet I was. So then I'd be frustrated that A) I didn't get my run in and B) I was up way too early with an active toddler on my hands.

Then I was introduced to Moms on the Move, a completely free stroller fit class. I have to say that I was a little skeptical. I mean, all those women singing silly songs while they do lunges at the park together- it looked pretty goofy. I gave it a shot, though, and I loved it. I'm not one of those people who ever enjoys working out. I do it because I know I need to, but I never get addicted. I never really want to. But I actually looked forward to going to stroller fit. There were different instructors, different parks, and different workouts nearly every time. It definitely met my need for variety. Plus, knowing other people were there to do it with me kept me accountable. And if that weren't enough, keeping the kids entertained kept my mind of the exercise, and it went by so fast. This class was so not for sissies, either. Those moms could kick some butt! We worked out for an hour, and I would always walk away sweaty, tired, and usually sore for a day or so. It was awesome.
But there was one problem. Poor E, he hated the whole business. He did not want to be sitting still in the stroller, and he cried and cried. I tried bribing with snacks (even candy!) and taking his favorite toys along. I tried talking and rocking the stroller. Nothing worked. Cate had a big time. She liked ordering me around and watching the other moms, but E was not going for it. So the stroller class is a no-go for now, at least for awhile. When they move indoors I may give it another shot or when E gets a little older. I just can't have him crying like that.
So today I tried something new. I downloaded the Couch to 5k app on my phone, and set out with the double running stroller. We went to the park and made several laps, and the kids were great! They enjoyed hearing my phone ding, indicating it was time to run, and then they'd both yell, "Run! Run!" Awesome motivation. When it was time to walk, we'd talk about the trees or birds or trucks and I'd dole out the snacks. It worked really well, and it ended up being a pretty challenging workout since I was pushing a good 65 pounds of kid-flesh plus another 25 pound stroller. Perhaps I have found a sustainable mommy workout routine. (crossing fingers)
Plus, when we were all done, I pulled the kids out to let them play at the playground. Cate looked up at me and said, "Good job running, Mommy."
I melted.

Picture found here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

all spice

I have a problem with spanking. I've never been against spanking, per se...you know, spare the rod and spoil the child and all that. Plus, I try to withhold passing judgment on how other people discipline their children because every child is different and requires different methods.
I've never had a problem with spanking, but I didn't want to spank my child. Well, I've said before that Cate often pushes me out of my comfort zone, and this is one of those areas. I love her, you know that. (If not, see previous post.) But I've got to be honest here, that girl is ornery. She's got a mean streak a mile long. The last week or so has been the kind of week where I'm ready to throw up my hands and give up at being a parent. (Because I don't feel very good at it right now, and I tend to quit things I'm not good at. Character flaw.) But that's the thing about parenting, you're not really allowed to give up.
This girl has a knack for finding my weaknesses- both emotional and physical. I'll give you an example of each:
Cate ran a little fever yesterday, so I thought I should keep her indoors. We stayed home all day. ALL DAY. Inside. Cory didn't get home until around 6:30, and I had had virtually no adult interaction. Plus she was really whiney. I was feeling pretty blah about myself and life in general, and Cate had just been tap dancing on my last nerve since before my alarm went off in the morning. (How is it that she always comes into my bedroom at least 5 minutes before the alarm?! Why can't I even get up early for some alone time?!) So I'll admit it, I was looking forward to bedtime, when I could just space out for a little while and hang out with my husband.
Right. We must have put her back in bed twenty times. I took away every stuffed animal she sleeps with and told her she could not watch Pingu (ugh, that's a whole other story) the next day. We thought she was asleep, so Cory got in the shower and I got in bed. Then I had to put her back to bed three more times. When Cory got out, I was rolled into a ball crying and Cate was lying in his spot. Ever the chivalrous husband, he could see something had to be done. He proceded to tell her he would spank her if she got out of bed again. And then he did.
And then he laid on the floor next to her bed until she fell asleep.
So that's my emotional example. My physical example is just that she's always elbowing me in the boob which is really painful/annoying and she's always pinching the flabby part of my belly which is really obnoxious/infuriating.

Other instances this week that may or may not have brought on spankings:
-Cate purposefully locked herself in the bathroom twice to keep me and E (the other toddler I keep) out. When I put tape over the lock, and she realized she couldn't get it off, she had a spectacular melt-down.
-When I have to go to the bathroom she races me to it, and tries to use it before me! Most of the time it's not a big deal, I just wait until she's done pretending to go and then I go. But this one time I really had to go! So I had to hold her away from me (stiff-armed) while I used the bathroom and she tried to use all her little toddler strength to get at me. Afterward, she cried for 5 min. straight, immediately stopped and then came into the kitchen and peed in the chair.
-She intentionally threw sand in a little boy's eyes at the park.
-She tried to pee on my foot, which takes some devious plotting for a girl, if you think about it.

So I don't know. Lord, help me. I've told her if she intentionally t-t's anywhere except the potty she will get a spanking. The Play-dough reward for staying in her bed works about half the time. Taking Pingu away seemed to make somewhat of an impression. We shall see.
Sometimes it's just all spice and no sugar.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

she makes me better

Sometimes, I can get into a rut. I can start thinking of how easy it was before I had a child. How I could run into the store, grab some necessity, and be back in my car before the song on the radio was over. Or I think about all of the things I could do if I didn't have a kid. I would go to Europe, or write that pesky elusive novel, or I could go camping every weekend. But it's silly, because the truth is that I didn't do those things before. And when you have kids, you find the time to do the things that are important to you.

And then God brings to mind another list. There are so many ways that having Cate has improved my life. It's astonishing really. See for yourself:

Things I wouldn't do if I didn't have kids:
- Jump on the trampoline at 8 am. (Actually, I wouldn't even have a trampoline.)
- Chase ducks at the park. (It's quite exhilarating.)
- Watch ants on the sidewalk. (Eli likes to watch them; Cate likes to stomp them.)
- Splash in a blow-up pool in the front yard with my husband.
- Weekly finger-paints that most certainly turn into whole-body paints.
- Catch all the humor in Toy Story. (Although, after watching it about 17,000 times, I think I've got it now.)
- I wouldn't say things like, "Don't lick the sidewalk!" or "Don't lick the hand rails!" (on the chairs at the airport), or "Don't lick the dog!" (Does anybody else feel me on this one?)
- I wouldn't be as friendly. One of my favorite things about being pregnant was that people at work I had never talked to, family members with whom I'd never done more than idle chatting, even strangers on the street were all of a sudden striking up conversations- and I had something to say! And it doesn't go away with kids. It's like you enter a whole mommy community and all of a sudden you have common ground with all kinds of people. It's awesome.
-I wouldn't have as many friends. I have met some really amazing moms and we keep in touch because of play dates.
-Backstory: I am afraid of flying, and have a very regimented routine to keep myself calm. I sit by the window, I stare down at the ground, and as long as I'm not rushing toward it, I feel ok. Not good, but ok. Last time we flew with Cate, she had to sit by the window (plane's rules) and she would NOT leave the window open (Cate's orneriness). So, I wouldn't have sat in the middle seat on a 3 hour flight with the window closed.
-I wouldn't have sat in the rocking chair at 3 am with her hands clutched around my neck thinking, Please, God let this never end.
She makes me a better, stronger, braver person.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

you win some, you lose some

Mimi: Did you have fun at church, Cate?
Cate: Go potty.
Mimi: Did you go tee tee in the potty?
Cate: Nooo.
Me: She had an accident right before we got there.
Mimi: Oh. That's okay.
Cate: I tee teed on my shoes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

tinkle, tinkle little star

If you don't like potty training stories, read no further. I promised myself that I wouldn't post anything on FB about potty training, and I've stuck to it so far unless provoked (Dani). But I can't help but write a little about it. I'd say I'm writing for all those moms who have yet to go through it and would like more info, or that it's for when I'm trying to tackle the same task with the next child and need some courage. Really, though, it's because it has struck such an emotional chord with me that the words are spilling out.

We had two false starts with potty training. The first time, I wasn't ready. The second time, she wasn't. She cried, begged for her diaper, and held it all in until she was about to pop. She was in break-down mode, which didn't seem like a good place to start to learn a life-changing skill. So I put everything potty related in a closet for a month where she couldn't see it. Then, when she started to show a little interest this week, I got it back out again.

Today marks day three of potty usage. She had two accidents today, but many more successes. We went to the park and spent several hours at the McEwen's house with no incidents. I was so impressed because there were so many little ones running and playing. It would have been completely understandable if she had an accident, but everytime she needed to go, she came running to tell me.

It will sound silly to all the non-parents, and maybe even to some parents, but I have never been so proud in my life. Seriously. The sweet sound of that little tinkle hitting the plastic potty inspires genuine smiles, shouts of joy, and dances. I always thought parents had to put on that show for the little ones, but it's not a show at all!

Who knew that it would be like this? That right now, there's nothing I'd rather hear than, "Mama! Teetee!"?

she doesn't ask for much

{in the car}
Cate: Moon is up!
Me: Yes, the moon is up. (If you don't repeat what she says back to her, she'll keep saying it over and over and over and over.)
Cate: I have it?
Me: (silence)
Cate: Peeeese?
Me: (stumped)
Cory: Yes, Cate you can have it. But we have to leave it up there in the sky. Is that ok?
Cate: Uh huh.

Nice one, Dad.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

two going on sixteen

Me: Do you want to go ride in the car?
Cate: Keys!
Me: I got 'em, let's go.
Cate: Cate drive.
Cate has loved Elmo from the first moment she laid eyes on him, so we couldn't help but be relieved when she took an interest in Toy Story. She would watch bits of the movie, but her favorite parts were the songs. She would have us play the scene with "You've got a Friend in Me," over and over, ordering us to dance. Then we discovered that Toy Story 3 was on Netflix instant watch, and she fell in love. She likes Buzz and usually asks, "What Buzz doin?" She brought a Woody doll home from Grandma's house and carried it around constantly for days. The amazing thing was she actually kept up with his ill-fitting hat.
But all of that was before Jessie. When the red-headed cowgirl makes her grand entrance in the movie, Cate yells, "Here comes JESSIE!" She now insists that I braid her hair like Jessie everyday. (Which is fine by me, since up to this point it was a fight to get her to let me brush her hair at all.)
When she came home from Grandma's house last night, she had a Jessie doll with her. She ran from the car to the door to show her dad. Then she slept with it. Throughout the night we could hear, "Yodel-eh-hee-hoo" and lots of other cowgirl phrases coming through the monitor.
Cate has recently become very interested in babies. She even asked to hold baby Haylah on one of our playdates. She was very sweet, hugging her and kissing her. After a few minutes, though, she said that she was "heaby" and had to let me hold her instead. She is also very fond of Emmalee. When I ask if she wants to go see Sam, she usually responds with a resounding, "YEAH! ...And Emmy too?"

And speaking of that beautiful little baby, we are so thrilled that she has helped Cate discover her future career choice!

Friday, August 05, 2011

bryan and micah- wedding edition

I don't think this wedding could have been more perfect. The weather was lovely; the beach, breath-taking; the bride, stunning; and the groom, debonair. Pluse, I kinda have a crush on the photographer. You will too, after you see these photos. the entire wedding party: I don't think I've mentioned that the picture on the header of my blog is also one of Cory's Playa pics. Georgeous, the lot of em, eh?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

let's talk about mexico

July was a month that I'd be fine with forgetting, save our family trip to Mexico. We stayed for a week, which was most certainly not long enough. The random beach shots were a little scarce this year because Cory was concentrating on wedding photos. These few were from my little camera.

This was Cate's second trip to Playa, and I think all in all, it was a little tougher traveling with a two-year-old rather than a one-year-old. She was a little harder to keep entertained, and she could open all the doors in the condo, which kept everyone on their toes. She was wonderful on the actual traveling days, when we went from car to plane to airport shuttle to plane and back to car. Her favorite part might have been chewing gum on the plane during take-off. She keeps asking to go back on an airplane, and I think it's mostly for the gum.

I have to say, though, that being the only ones with a small child on a huge family trip kind of stinks. We're up at 6:30 am everyday and by the time everyone else is finally making their way to the beach, we're heading up for a nap. I was wishing that Cody and Laura were there with August, because they'd probably be on the same schedule as us. Now that my brother's married, and Haley and Buck are engaged, I say it's time for everyone else to do their part. Start having babies!

Check back tomorrow for some wedding pics!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

she'd take colorado if...

Photo credit: pikespeaktv dot com

Looking at pictures like the one above, my chest starts to constrict a little. Couldn't you just sit on that little land peninsula forever? Couldn't you just stare at Pikes Peak and walk along the edge of the water and hike through the hills? I know I could, but I try to tell myself that even if we could move to Colorado Springs, it wouldn't be like that everyday. We'd still have to have jobs and cars. We'd still have to go to the grocery store and pay bills.

Many are asking for details as to why the Colorado trip fell through, and the truth is that it's just not working out. The short version is this: We love the mountains. We love all the outdoor activities: the hiking, biking, and skiing (well, I love skiing). And everyday the wind here blows 40 mph and dirt fills the sky, it blows a little of my soul closer to Colorado. But our family is here. And when I say family, I do mean our blood relatives, but I also mean the people in our lives who have become like family. I know if we moved, we all would miss them desperately.

So that's sort of the emotional side of the story. Here's the practical side: We were planning this trip to Colorado Springs to check it out and see if we wanted to move there. The only weekend we could go was this weekend, and we were going to take a couple of days off work so we could drive it and Cate could go with us. As the week wore on, our house went under contract after being on the market for only 9 days. There were lots of things we had to get done because of that. Then we had some car trouble, and Cory's car is still in the shop. And both of us were in complete stress-mode because we were missing work on the last week of school when we both needed to be packing up our classrooms...since both of us are leaving our schools.

So like I said, it just didn't work out.

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts about it. Right now, it mostly feels like a relief that it didn't happen. One less thing on our plate. But I know it'll come back around when the wind is blowing, and I want to go trekking up a mountain and get miles away from the noise and the concrete.

So which is more important, the people or the place?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

stay at home mom: a progression

Six more school days until summer! Amazing, right? And in case you haven't heard, when fall comes around again, I'm not going back. That means in just six days I will officially be a stay at home mom.
I've had such mixed feelings going through this decision-making process. I have agonized, prayed, talked to people who cared, talked to people who didn't care, wept, worried, and exulted. It's been exhausting, but I have some God-given peace now.
I truly feel that God has been whispering in my ear, guiding me to this decision. Otherwise, it would never have happened. This was never in the plan. Here's a short history of my work-related decision-making.

Me: Dad, Cory and I are thinking about getting married.
Dad: You better stay in school and get your degree. Don't be dependent on any man!
Me: (Eye roll)

Cory: You're planning on working, right? Cause, I'm a teacher, and well...
Me: Of course I'm going to work. Don't be ridiculous. Not only am I going to work, but I'm going to be awesome at it. I'm going to be the best damn something that ever there was. (Ok, so I didn't say that. But I was probably thinking it.)

Me: Do, do, do, da-dooo. Of course I'm going to have a baby and work. I'll have summers off. And holidays. No worries. I got this.

First August after Cate is born
Me: (weeping) Please don't make me go back! She needs me. She's part of me, and she's walking around without me. Things will never be okay again ever!
Cory to everyone else: Who is this crazy hormonal woman and what did she do with my wife?
Everyone else to Cory: (nods of agreement, eyebrows furled in we've-been-there sympathy, passing him a secret bottle of whiskey)
Everyone else to me: We know, honey. Don't worry. It'll be fiiiiiine.

Half-way through this school year:
(Lying in bed, reading books)
Me: (Nervous, wondering if I'm crazy) So, uh, Cory. I have a question for you. And you can say no and that you think I'm crazy. Really, I won't be offended. I've just been thinking, and well... I'm still not sure! So don't think I've made any decisions, so....(on and on and on)
Cory: Are you thinking of staying home with Cate?
Me: (Tears. Happy, scared, thankful tears.)

Look, I want to make it perfectly clear that I don't think that this is what every woman should do. I know there are some women who should work. And they are awesome, and their kids are awesome. I knew for certain that I was going to be one of those women. Until I didn't anymore. I have no other explanation for it other than God changed our hearts. I say "our" because it happened for Cory, too. He is not letting me stay home, and for that matter, he's not making me stay home either. He wants me to stay home. I don't know if Cate will be any different because of it, but I know for certain that I will be. I just know that it feels like yesterday we brought her home and I've turned around and she's two. I don't want to miss any more of it than I have to. Plus, I've yet to meet a mom who stayed at home with her kids and regretted it.

There's lots more to say, but I'll have to stop here. But take heart (or beware)! Much more on this topic to come, I'm sure.

Monday, May 02, 2011


"Oushide, oushide!" Cate yells anxiously, stuck on repeat until someone opens the door. I am so thankful that that 'someone' gets to be me today.

We start by blowing bubbles, which is satisfactory for all of about 30 seconds. She wants to be the one to blow them, but she always exhales upward, swooping her bangs into the air instead of streaming her breath through the bubble wand. Then she sticks the wand in her mouth.

Therefore, the soapy liquid not being useful for its intended purpose, it is instead used as sidewalk paint. Dad is away for the afternoon and it's just us girls, so I say to heck with all decorum. Let's get our hands dirty...and our legs...and our toes...and well, you get the idea.

When she finishes with the bubbles, I grab the water hose to spray off the sidewalk and water the rose bushes. When the flowerbed is encompassed in inviting, luscious mud, her toes can't stand the separation a minute longer. She digs them in like blissful little sausage-shaped worms. She keeps squealing, "Mess!" and giggling in delight.

Finally, the clothes are drenched, she's covered in mud, and she's starting to get a little cold. "Bath," she says decisively and we head inside.

I take one more sniff of wet earth before she pulls me through the door, and little footprints are left to disappear on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

egg hunt

Dustin and Ashlee invited us out to Shallowater for their church's egg hunt on Palm Sunday. It took Cate a minute to warm up to her friends. Look at that frown!

Cate found a total of three eggs...the perfect amount of candy for a two-year-old!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

cate's 2nd birthday

Cate's birthday was a smash hit. I have to say, I had so much more fun than last year. She didn't throw up this year (always a plus) and I think I just worried a lot less overall. She had a blast! She ran around in state of absolute bliss- loving all the attention and all the people.

She still wasn't super-interested in opening presents, but this hokey-pokey Elmo earned a few giggles. Sandi and I tag-teamed an Elmo cake. She did most of the work; I was like her apprentice. It took us several hours, but I had so much fun. Cory has very fond memories of the different cakes his mother made him growing up. I was so glad she was willing to take this on, because I never would have tried it without her. It was a red velvet, with a twinkie nose, cake ball eyes, and crushed oreo mouth. Blowing out those candles with Aunt B. I know this one is blurry, but it captures her mood for the evening. Awesome family
And sweet friends.
Here's one more of Cate and Grandi before they had to go home.
Happy birthday sweet, sweet girl.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

22 months

At her Christmas party eating a snowman: Cowgirl boots from Uncle Bubba:
My lil snow bunny:

Cate is 22 months now, and learns new words everyday. It's been awhile since I've done a Cate update, so I wanted to document some of the cute things she does so I won't forget them.
  • She has learned how to say please (peas) and thank you (do do). When she says please, she cocks her head to one side. If she's really excited, she'll do the "please dance" where she moves her head from side to side while saying, "peas, peas, peas."
  • She thinks "I love you" means bye.
  • She has two favorite babies named Dave and Baby.
  • She can name all of her aunts now. Previously, she called them all "B." Now she calls Bailey "B," Andrea "Aunt A," and Lacey "SiSi." She asks for them daily.
  • She has made a friend at daycare called Camie. She calles her Mamie. When we pull into the parking lot she starts saying, "Mamie, Mamie!" Today when I picked her up, Camie was sitting inside one of the toy cubbies, and Cate was poking her cheeks and saying, "Cheeks, cheeks," while Camie giggled. They were so cute! Cate's teacher says that at naptime, Cate will always go and get Camie's pacifier and put it on her nap mat for her. She loves Mamie!
  • She still loves to have skin-to-skin contact even though she's not big on cuddling these days. She likes to stick her bare belly on our bare bellies or backs. It's kind of cute, but a little unnerving when there's company over.
  • Her new favorite game is hide-and-seek.
  • One evening, Cate took a ball that we were playing with and hid it behind her back. She looked at Dad and gave him the "I don't know" sign as if to say, "Where'd it go?" Dad played along and started looking around for it. She thought it was hilarious. She kept telling him places to go look. She'd say "house" meaning her playhouse. When he left to go look there, she pulled the ball out to show me and we laughed together. Then she'd hide it again before he returned. She told him 3 or 4 places to look before she let him in on the "trick."
My little girl is growing so fast and learning so much!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I feeling a little dreamy today. The heater's out again, and I'm cuddled on the couch in my sweater and a blanket. Cate is well into the third hour of her nap. I'm feeling lucky and thankful and nostalgic and hopeful.
I'm dreaming of the future, of houses and babies, of family vacations, of beaches and mountains.
But lately I've been dreaming of the past. I finished a best-seller called The Help just last weekend, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That's poignant because it was set in the 1960's in Jackson, Mississipi. It's about a young woman who writes the "stories" of black housekeepers and nannies. I was entralled with the characters...and appalled at how they were treated.
I've also been watching Mad Men which is a Showtime series about the advertising agency in the late 50s/early 60s. So I feel sort of consumed by this time-period, and I just keep thinking that the women in these stories could be my grandmothers, and the children could be my parents. It's shocking, really, how much I take for granted- how much the times have changed.
Most of all, though, I'm just captivated by the characters. It makes me want to read the stories of my grandparents. I wish it was possible to read a blog they had written, or just peek in their diaries. Actually, I wish I could lean at the foot of their recliners while they reminisced and ran their fingers across the top of my head. I'm missing my grandmothers.
Honestly, though, people don't tell their whole stories. Not out loud anyway. I want to know not just the events of their lives, but what it did to them. I want to know the stories. I want to know the hurts and the struggles, the "I can't believe I did that"s and the "I'd do it again in a heartbeat"s. I want to know what my parents were like when they were little, what my grandparents were like when they were single and ornery. I want to know if they struggled with the same things I struggle with.
I think it's unfortunate that we get to know a character in a book so much more intimately than our relatives. I've often thought that if I could go back in time to just observe, I wouldn't choose a major moment in history. I'd go back to see what life was like for my parents before I came around.
I'm feeling a little inspired, like maybe I should take a pen and yellow note-pad and take down people's stories. I know it's hard though, for someone to be that honest with someone else. But I think that's something we should strive for.