Saturday, April 27, 2013


Okay, we all know that I'm a little quooky about holidays. I'm not crafty, so I don't go that route, but I do love books and movies and Peanuts specials. So they figure heavily into everything that I do.

Green week is a tricky one. There just aren't that many really amazing books about recycling. Which is sad, because of course reduce, reuse, recycle is an awesome concept that I try to adapt every day to my life. Which explains why I bought 8 bags of used books yesterday. Because I am helping the library reuse. Obviously. :)

Anyway, our Earth Day books are decent, but nothing much to write home about. Fancy Nancy, The Berenstein Bears, and My Little Pony.

To celebrate Earth Day we take a walk around the "loop," which is the road that circles Rix Mills, and we take trash bags and we pick up what we find. The girls love this. This year they made up an Earth Day song, which went something like, "We are cleaning Mother Earth, we are cleaning Mother Earth..."

Now, Arbor Day is even harder. I have searched high and low for Arbor Day books, and they do not exist. So this year it hits me-The Lorax. Why it took me this long to stumble upon this obvious selection, I don't know. But it makes the perfect Arbor Day book.

Betsy always brings home a tree from school, so we planted it. We have planted a tree every year that we have lived here, and exactly two have succeeded. It doesn't hold out much hope for this new little sapling.

However, the tree that has thrived and grown the most came from my Grandma's house, which makes me so happy every time I see it start to bloom. She allowed me to take it before she died, she wanted me to have something from her yard. It makes me smile.

Oh, and we watch "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown." I know that sounds dorky, but it's actually really cute.

At school, they planted a tree on Friday, and they asked, "What can trees do for us?" Betsy answered, "Trees can make us smarter." "How?" "Trees are cut down to make paper, and paper makes books, and books make us smarter."

Yes, she's definitely my child.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Now it's time to say goodbye...

Today I had to tell my girls that someone that we love died. My sister called to tell me she was sorry for my loss. And I cried a good bit this afternoon about it.

Nick said, "You would think that we actually knew this person!"

But, even though I have never had the pleasure of meeting Annette Funicello in person, I still knew her. And loved her. And will miss her.

I can't quite remember why I got obsessed with Annette in the first place. But we all know how I am about my obsessions, and I loved her fiercely for almost as long as I can remember.

I'm thinking that I probably first met her in Skippy peanut butter commercials. I'm positive that The Shaggy Dog was the first movie that I saw with her in it.

But I became obsessed somewhere around age 12, and I began loving beach party movies. I don't know why or how that happened, but it did, and Frankie and Annette were just the greatest things EVER.

And then I read A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, her autobiography, in 1994 when it came out. I have reread that book I think more than any other book in my life. I reread some of it last year, and I realized, like a bolt of lightning-this is where my parenting style came from. I could never really remember when or how I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, just that I had wanted to be for a long, long time. And then rereading some of the sections where she describes her family and her decision to halt her career to enjoy raising her three kids, I remembered where this idea had emerged from.

Of course, I didn't leave a career to be a mom. But I do love being a mom, and I cherish having had all of this time to really raise my own kids. Time flies so quickly, and I can't really believe that Felicity is going to school next fall, but I do know that no matter what, I was with them as much as I could be. That's not a jab against working moms-I am blessed to have been given the choice to stay home. But ultimately, for me, being at home was the best thing that I could do. I have enjoyed teaching my kids, being probably overly involved in their lives I'm sure, but for me, it's what I love to do.

Annette Funicello, as strange as it sounds, taught me that. She says (and I took so to heart) in her book that she didn't like how some parents act like parenthood is life in prison without parole. She says children don't ask to be born, and so if you are making the decision to become a parent, you are making a decision to do so for the rest of your life. She also says that she was always a parent first, and then after her children were grown, they chose to become her friends. I keep that piece of advice close when the girls are driving me crazy, when more than anything I just want to give in and say, okay, whatever, go ahead. I remember I am the parent, and I am getting one chance to help them to learn to make good choices.

And so I'm not just saying that I loved her, which I did. But she truly changed my life and made it better. I will love her always, to the moon and back.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Roger and me...

I am sad today, listening to memorials to Roger Ebert and remembering how wonderful he was as a movie reviewer.

I think that what facinates me most about Roger Ebert is the fact that my memories of him (like, I think, a lot of people's memories of him) are divided into before and after. And while that is probably true of most everyone's memories eventually, his is such a stark line. Before, of course, he was this bombastic movie reviewer, always the more sarcastic, always the one completely sure of his opinions and always sure that he was the smartest man in the room. After is who he became in the last few years of his life, robbed of his voice, and yet still able to be such a presence.

I find that amazing.

He really truly embraced media and continued to put his thoughts out there, and on rather a range of topics. He was still the smartest guy in the room. And yet...

It is sad today as I listen to so many of his reviews, and interviews, and his voice, and realize how scary the thought of losing his voice indeed must have been. To lose one of the more important ways that you communicate and make a living, to lose the ability to be so sarcastic (which rarely comes across in print as well as when spoken). I admire him.

I have always had crushes on both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. No doubt born of my love of movies, and also the fact that I only had 5 channels to watch growing up, so I tended to watch "At The Movies" pretty much every weekend. I agreed more often with Siskel and so therefore considered him the better reviewer when I was younger. I probably still do, at least a bit.

But as a teenager I began reading Ebert's reviews in the paper, and I found that he was an insightful man-more than I realized watching him bicker with Siskel. Reading his reviews allowed me to understand that one can watch a movie in the same way that one reads a book, and dig through even the silliest of movies for a deeper meaning. One in particular that I remember was his review of Candyman II, which needless to say he didn't like, but still he found mounds of images to ponder over, to take the script to task but at the same time hold up it's deeper revelations-I was just in awe.

I highly recommend two of his books that I have poured over more than once-The Great Movies and I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, which are a nice ying and yang to each other. In the first, obviously, he is gushing over his favorites (most of which I am still yet to see) and in the second, he is taking many movies to task (I've seen a lot more from that book).

All in all, he loved movies and through writing he made me love them more too. He will be missed.