Sunday, March 31, 2013

Here comes Peter Cottontail...

Ah, Easter. What a lovely holiday. For my family, it's a religious holiday and we mostly spend the day in church. But we also hunt Easter eggs and have a visit from the Easter Bunny. He mostly brings my kids candy, and then a present a piece. I was asked about this today-I guess that in some homes he brings bicycles and such. Not here, but then I try my best not to make holidays about gifts. Holidays, for those of you who know me, are about books and things leading up to the holiday a lot more than the holiday itself.

We have several Easter books, mostly of the Clifford/Winnie-the-Pooh/Biscuit variety. One very cute one is Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells. I always love Max and Ruby and it is a particularly funny one. Betsy's favorite is The Golden Egg by Margaret Wise Brown, also a very cute book about a bunny who happens upon an egg.

But my absolute favorite is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward. In it, a country bunny has a dream to grow up to be the Easter bunny. But she gets married, and being a rabbit, proceeds to have 21 children. She thinks that her dreams have gone, but she is in for a surprise, because she is indeed wise, and spry, and clever. And yes, I say this as someone who, at the ripe old age of 34 often feels as though my life is all planned out from here until enternity. I love my life, I love my kids, but somewhere in the back of my head there is this girl that I buried some time ago who likes to come out and play sometimes.

When I was in college, my writing was the most important thing in my life. Sometimes I happen upon things that I wrote back then, and I am stunned. I can't imagine being able to write like that again. When I met Nick, I truly felt that God took his hand off of my writing-I went from being praised for my writing to having people say, this isn't working. You are forcing it. It was a hard transition, but I finally felt that God was saying, not now. Writing isn't what I have in mind for you at this time.

And so I married Nick, and had my babies, and now I am trying to think about what I want to do with my life again. And I want to write-can I ever write that well again? I don't know. I don't even know if I should try. But I am going to spend time writing every day, beginning this fall. Like it or not-ever get paid for it or not-it is my passion and it deserves to be fed.

Anyway, I have gotten far from my topic. I am the Sunday School teacher at my church, and I did the children's sermon today, and I used the Resurrection Eggs for it. I highly recommend them-they make such an impact on the kids, helping them to learn the lesson of Christ's resurrection. You can make them yourself, mine came from Hobby Lobby and cost about $10.

Other than that, we don't do too much. We dye eggs and we have an egg hunt with the girls and my nieces. We wear our Easter bonnets to church and sing "Easter Parade" on the way to church and pretend that we are in the Easter parade.

All in all, it was a great day. I spent the day with the people I love most, and Christ is risen, and all is right with my world.

Friday, March 22, 2013

To a town called Deep Valley...

Okay, so, it's Friday and I'm reading my People magazine (and yes, I read the whole thing, cover to cover, unlike some other people in my household, who only look at the pictures, but who get mad if they do not get to look at it first).

Anyway, I'm reading the People and I come upon Michelle Williams talking about books that she reads to Matilda. And what do you think she says? BETSY-TACY!

Now, why is this exciting? Well, two things. Number one, I kind of obsess over Michelle Williams in a somewhat similar way to how I obsess over Jennifer Garner and this is just further proof that I am a lot like this beautiful, blond movie star but who is also very smart. Number two, I have been reading the Betsy-Tacy books to Betsy for almost a year, and we just finished them up a couple of weeks ago, and I have been meaning to do a blog about them. Ergo, here we go.

Betsy LOVES the Betsy-Tacy books, and whenever she is asked what her favorite book is, that is her answer. Sadly, we have been met with a lot of blank stares and only one older lady who even knew what we were talking about. So, allow me (and my best friend Michelle Williams) tell you about these amazing books.

Betsy-Tacy is how we refer to the books, simply because that is the title of the first book in the series, in which 5 year old Betsy Ray meets 5 year old Tacy Kelly and they become best friends. At the end of that first book, they meet Tib Mueller, who quickly becomes another best friend.

Betsy, Tacy and Tib is the second book in the series and it continues their friendship. It is followed by Betsy and Tacy and the Big Hill and Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. All four of these stories are available in an anthology called The Betsy-Tacy Treasury. I so recommend it! These 4 books are so wonderful for little girls! The stories are set in the the early 1900s, but the world that they inhabit somehow still fits well with our own. Betsy, naturally I suppose, loves Betsy the best. Betsy is the ring leader, always managing to dream up something new to do. Tacy is the shy one. And dear Tib is so blunt, but she never means to be mean or hurt anyone's feelings.

Now, there is a definite break in the stories after that. Betsy and I were too intrigued to stop there, but be forwarned that the next batch of books take place when Betsy is in high school, and Betsy is boy-crazy! Tacy, however, is not in the least. Of course, there is nothing at all wrong with these books, they just take a different tone than the books when they are little. The high school books are Heaven to Betsy, Betsy In Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior, and Betsy and Joe.

Then come the last two, Betsy and the Great World and Betsy's Wedding. Betsy and the Great World is my least favorite-mostly because it has very long chapters and because only Betsy is in it, without all the other characters that we have come to know and love. In it, Betsy sets sail for Europe in the months before World War I. It's a very interesting book, and it has helped Betsy to understand a bit of World War I history (which I think is always a bit trickier than WWII). But then, with Betsy's Wedding we come back full circle, with Betsy, Tacy, and Tib setting forth into new adult lives. Betsy and I were sad to see it end, but luckily the books are based on Maud Hart Lovelace's real life, so we sated ourselves with pictures of her and her daughter and their eventual life in California.

Right now we are reading Carney's House Party, which is a book in which the main character is Carney Sibley, who becomes one of Betsy's friends in high school. Then we have Winona's Pony Cart, which goes back to when they were little girls with their show-offy friend, Winona. (But we love Winona. That's the thing-even the ones that you don't like so much at first, they grow on you, just as they do on Betsy.)

Anyway, I'm hoping that because Michelle Williams has mentioned them, perhaps they will enjoy a new popularity. And, of course, I have no doubt that my own recommendation will make the books fly off the shelves with my whole, oh, 20 readers of this blog. :)

And back to Michelle Williams. I do love her. I didn't have too much of an opinion of her work until I saw the film Wendy and Lucy, and this is what I wrote in my little book that I write down every movie that I see and book that I read:

A terribly sad story about a transient young woman and her dog, who gets lost along the way. Michelle Williams gives a performance that makes you forget that she is most famous (acting-wise) for Dawson's Creek. But it is a downright depressing movie.

But the movie that I saw her in that I loved, loved, loved is Blue Valentine. That was one of those movies that got stuck in my soul and that I still dwell on from time to time. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.

Those of you who know me know that I consider Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to be my and Nicholas' celebrity couple (meaning that, if we were famous, we would most remind you of Jennifer and Ben). But as of today I am officially making Michelle Williams my celebrity best friend.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Let's Go To The Movies (you know, like the Rockettes in Annie)...

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted my own film opening. You know, where there is a very appropriate to the theme of the movie song playing over a girl getting ready to go out, or something to that effect. Before I met Nick, I actually used to put on a CD playing a song that I would like to be my movie montage. Usually it was "Dangerous" by Roxette (this was humorous, even at the time-pretend that it's irony).

So, maybe I am giving away too much about my tastes in music.

"Nothing But a Good Time," Poison. "Your Song," Elton John. "Life is a Highway," Tom Cochrane. All excellent theme songs, no?

I also had an obsession with always playing "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police on the jukebox every time I went to the Cinema Shop, our video rental store, in some attempt to seem cool to the senior boy who worked there.

I miss video rental stores. I read a very good, though a bit dry, book about them last year. I'm fairly sure that it was someone's thesis, but it made some excellent points. First it said how everyone of a certain age and older can remember how the video store started out as this little hole-in-the-wall shop where you had to get a membership card to rent movies. New Concord had two-Heavy's and Visions. Heavy's was across the street from Shegogg's IGA and it was where my father bought his first membership to a video store. It was an extremely small store with limited selections, so April and I tended to always rent the same movies.

I fell in love, love, love with this live action version of "The Wind In The Willows." I rented it pretty much every week. Once we moved on to bigger video stores, they did not have this obscure video. It became one of my first purchases in 1998 when the Watsons joined the rest of the world on the internet, and I discovered ebay.

So, anyway, Dad eventually must have seen the writing on the wall, and we secured a membership to Visions, the rental store on the other end of town with a bigger selection. It was overwhelming the first time we stepped in there. The shelves were filled with empty movie boxes, with styrofoam inside where the tape should be.

We went to Visions every week. April and I saw every movie that they had in the children's section with the exception of "The Cat from Outer Space." I don't know why, but for some reason or another, neither of us wanted to see it. One time, when we were apparently sick and unable to go, my dad went and got a movie for us. And, of course, that was the one he picked! We refused to watch it, and to this day I have never seen it.

Anyway, somewhere along the line, my best friend Michelle took me to the Cinema Shop, which had opened sometime after Visions. It was run by a professor who loved movies and apparently bought every one ever made. There were hundreds of movies there. Unfortuately, rather than the whole styrofoam box set-up, you had to just look at the covers (which were taped to pieces of plexiglass) and memorize the number that was written on the cover. Then, you went to the clerk and told him the number and he hustled to the back and found it. Granted, there were a lot of movies, and I'm sure this was the most convenient way to go about it, but it was always embarrassing if you wanted a movie that had any kind of insinuation in the title. Because the clerk had to read the title to you, to be sure that it was the movie that you wanted. It took Michelle and me years to work up the courage to rent Casual Sex?

We loved the Cinema Shop. Every Saturday night when we were in high school, Michelle, Tanya, and I would go to Pizza Hut and then to the Cinema Shop. They had rooms in the basement where you could sit and watch your movie, and that is what we nearly always did. Watching these dumb 80s movies (which was almost exclusively what we rented) with them were some of the absolute greatest times of my whole life. Because even if it sucked, we made fun of it to the point that it became funny to us.

Anyhow, to get back to Mr. Thesis' point, he said that after that came...dun dun dun...Blockbuster. And Blockbuster killed all independent video stores. Because Blockbuster was brightly lit, and colorful, and didn't carry porn, so no sleazy people were roaming around. And they carried tons of new movies, so you didn't have to wait a year to see them. Blockbuster came to Zanesville sometime when I was in high school, because it was one of my sister's many, many jobs. She liked working there because she got to see new movies before they were available to the public. She did not like working there because people were mean if they had late fees and were not allowed to rent movies until they were paid.

So...enter Netflix. Which was karma for Blockbuster, because then it died. Netflix had the great idea of never charging late fees. Which is good, because as I speak, I have a DVD beside me that I have had for a year and a half and have never gotten around to watching, but I refuse to send it back because I really do want to watch it, someday. Ah, Netflix. I loved you once.

But now I do not love Netflix as I once did. We have Hulu and I like it better. It has more options to watch now. And since all of this stuff comes through the TV, it is convenient. Netflix really needs to up its game, in my opinon. But, then again, maybe it's just trusting that some people are too lazy to return a film for 540 days, and therefore are paying for the opportunity to borrow a video for possibly years on end.

Anyway, I have digressed far from my topic, but oh well. Imagine me now, nerdy looking librarian girl, typing away, while the perfect song floats around her, telling you that she is obviously much more than she seems. How about "The Girl Gets Around" by Sammy Hagar?