Saturday, August 9, 2014

Goodbye, summer of my discontent...

It has been a pretty bad week. The end to a fairly horrible summer. When I look back on my life, 2014 is not going to contain all that many great memories.

Oh, there have been some nice memories. Most of which I share on Facebook and Instagram and such. But on the whole, lots of stuff has been fairly bad. And it culminated this week in a letter from Muskingum telling me that they wish me well, but that I should focus my job prospects elsewhere.

Or, you know, something like that. Nick would say no, that's not what it said. But it might as well have.

I've never not gotten hired for a job that I've interviewed for. I have been passed over for an interview many times. But that, while not exactly fun, is not so bad. Not getting an interview is like, you are completely not right for this job, thank you. Getting an interview, for a job that you feel quite qualified for, and then being rejected feels like, oh my goodness, you seemed like such a great fit, and then I met you and discovered that you are an ogre.

I know-that's not true. But it feels true.

I'm not posting this to make anyone feel that they need to in any way acknowledge that I am actually smart and kind and certainly not an ogre. I am posting this because I write to get my emotions out, and sometimes I make the words public for the world to share, usually when I feel like maybe someone else might benefit from them. Maybe someone else will feel comforted by the idea that I was rejected. Sort of like how Peter feels better on that episode of The Brady Bunch when Mike tells him that he has been fired from lots of jobs. (Peter unfortunately went on to never really have a job that he liked in any of the subsequent TV movies about the Bradys, but that is neither here nor there.)

To top this week off, I also forgot to take Betsy's projects into the fair. So I have a very sad little girl who won't be seeing her skirt, scrapbook, and first aid poster displayed after much hard work. I kind of suck.

So...I'm officially moving on this week. My East Muskingum calendar came today. This means that I get to spend my evening updating my planner! Kind of like geeky Christmas, I know, but it is one of my favorite things to do. Tomorrow I get to go to the fair and have wonderful fair food. And I'm listening to Michael Jackson, who never ever fails to put a smile on my face.

So, dear blog readers, I will leave you with my favorite of all Bible verses, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6

And please, if you are at the Muskingum County fair this week, know that there is a beautiful skirt, an amazing scrapbook, and a very helpful first aid poster made by a most amazing girl missing from the junior fair booth.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

This is the true life adventure of kids at summer camp...

Betsy is at camp. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram or, you know, life, you know this. I miss her like crazy. So does Felicity. And Nicholas. It's like this part of our hearts is missing. It has been the longest week ever. EVER.

All of this has me reminiscing about summer camp. Which is slightly hard for me to do, because I only ever went to camp one time. I went to sixth grade camp, which is kind of mandatory. And my partner-the person who signs up to be your buddy the whole week-bailed and did not come. So, while there are a few memories of the week that I look upon fondly, they are few and far between. I tried my best-I hiked, I tried strange foods, I even proved somewhat decent at archery. But it was a long week. In which I just mostly wanted to go home.

I'm a homebody. Always have been, likely always will be. I love being at home, curled up with a good book. That is my idea of heaven. Nothing about camp really appeals to me-sports, crafts, being outside. None of it.

Betsy eats all that stuff up, so no doubt she's had a fabulous week. She's so much like April. April loved camp so much that she basically lived there all summer, first as a camper and then as a counselor.

So, anyway, there isn't a whole lot to reminisce over. I'm doing my best to keep the movie Sleep Away Camp out of my mind. It is literally the scariest movie I've ever seen. I saw it at 12, at my best friend's house, and the damage done to my psyche was irreparable. (I watched it again as an adult, and I must say that it is a deep and amazing film for basically being a slasher film, an allegory for coming into one's sexuality and not knowing how to handle it and that it has imprinted my life in so many ways that I really can't count them all.) But still-SCARY. Terrifying.

So, instead of dwelling on that bit of gore that changed my life, we shall move onto the only camp experience that has nothing but happiness associated with it. Bug Juice. Yes, back in old 1997, when I was a senior in high school and reality shows were not really a genre outside of the Real World and Road Rules, Disney aired a show about the true life adventures of kids at summer camp. Oh, the joy. This is what camp should be. Nothing but kids struggling with cliques and crushes and figuring out who they are at 14. This I could embrace. Summer camp from the comfort of my couch.

Bug Juice makes me want to go to camp. To Camp Waziyatah, specifically. I looked it up tonight-it costs almost $2000 per week. This is helpful information. Clearly these kids are rich, rich, rich. But still-they are kids who are in that early teenagehood that I had so recently shed. Being 14 was still fresh in my mind. 14 was really hard for me. When my hormones began to come into play, I was so naive and dumb and I had basically no outlet at all for any of them, so I just became intensely depressed. The idea that being at camp, the idea that you could somehow meet other kids, kids who did not just know you as the nerdy geek who had become somewhat a gothic weirdo-it appealed to me at a deep level.

I most closely resemble Megan, who seems nerdy and kind of a loner. But she works it all out and fits in and has the happy ending that everyone in this show basically has.

So, anyway, that's the closest I can get to camp. This TV show about camp from when I was 18. It's not too shocking, I'm sure, from a girl who lives next door to her parents still. Who still would so much rather read a book about camp than actually go. But this week I'm so lucky. Because Betsy is coming home and she will be able to tell me all about her camp experience. And I'll be so proud. Because even though I'm always going to be that nerdy girl, I'm raising some amazingly cool (albeit nerdy, because I'm still me) girls.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The week that was...

What a long week! (I say that a lot, and then always feel vaguely silly about it-obviously it is always the same exact length. But my weeks feel long, mostly.)

Things that happened this week that I loved:

Mother's Day! I was awakened by very excited little girls, who gave me a trove of very wonderful handmade gifts, including very necessary things like a recipe book and coupons for hugs and taking out the trash. They also got me a beautiful necklace from Oragami Owl. The charms they chose were each of their birthstones, a ballerina (for Felicity), a softball (for Betsy), and books (of course). And then they proceeded to make me a huge bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and a very large glass of orange juice, which of course they served to me in bed. We went to church, and then had lunch at my mom's with my grandparents and my sister's family. All hugely wonderful stuff.

Softball-Betsy's team got their first official win this week, and against a very good team. Our team is so young (we have no mythical fifth graders who are somehow still 10 by official rules, which most of teams have at least 4 deep). The girls were so excited to get a win in, and softball is just fun to watch anyway.

Election Day-the girls and I voted. Of course, they don't actually vote, but they go with me and get their stickers. They know how important voting is to me. And even though the person I voted for didn't win, I want them to know that it's still so important.

Things that happened this week that weren't so great:

Legends of Oz-the girls were super excited to see this movie. Felicity loves The Wizard of Oz and all things Oz related. They enjoyed the movie, but Nick and I not so much. There wasn't anything objectionable in it, it was just kind of blah and not overly funny.

Debates about #s and whether or not they are worth anything-Yes, I know that simply putting a hashtag on something isn't the equivalent of doing anything, but ultimately it's a pointless debate. The fact is hashtags raise awareness, and focus the news. That needs to happen. And even if, in the end, it doesn't lead to perfect resolution, what does? It's better than sitting on our hands doing nothing.

We have a busy week ahead, full of softball, dancing, a birthday party, and, for me, a lot of meetings. End of the year and all. But I'm trying to marinate in the mundane, even the busy, because after all, it's all going to end far too soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A spin through Sisterland...

My sister and I are a bit odd. I say that with no malice whatever-we enjoy being odd. We are extremely close in age, only 14 months apart, and so much of our life has been spent with each other, as close to twins as one can get without actually being twins. We just always have, and likely always will, do things together. April is as close to a soul mate as I'm ever going to get.

So, both of us love, love, love to read. Where this came from, no one is sure, as my mother just hates to read. But April and I have always loved reading, and we have completely opposite tastes. April has always loved mysteries. Even when we were little, she loved Nancy Drew. Her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark, and she loves to read series of nearly any kind-though if it features a detective, so much the better.

Now, as for me, my tastes are ecclectic at best. I rarely read everything by a certain author. I am not a fan of series in general, and I am not a fan of dectective novels at all. I have authors that I really love (KATE MORTON) but I don't particularly have a favorite author persay. I like to jump around, I like to read a lot of non-fiction, I struggle mightly with the notion that I may indeed not be able to say, someday, that I have read every novel ever. (I know in my head that I can't read every book ever written, it's just in my heart that that makes no sense.)

So, naturally, April and I decided to form a book club. Of just us. And it's not a normal book club or anything. It's just us, reading a book, and then talking about it on the phone. Like I said, we are a bit different.

April picked up the book Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld, and called me and told me to read it too. Neither of us really know why, maybe because "sister" was in the title. Anyway, she and I read it and both of us enjoyed it. I had never read anything by Sittenfeld before and I took a huge liking to her style. She writes in a constant flash forward, telling you where this is headed years in the future, which makes it a bit like a puzzle that you are piecing together. This particular story, about psychic twins, one of whom is predicting a terrible earthquake, is very well laid out. At it's heart, it's a domestic piece of fiction, and as a stay at home mom, I found many of the passages laugh out loud funny and true. Ultimately the book reaches too far for my taste, but that is a criticism that I have with many, many books.

And so, having both read and liked Sisterland, we moved on to Prep, which was Sittenfeld's first novel and the book that sent her into hipster must read territory. Sittenfeld, with this novel, arrived on the scene and staked out such a cool literary perch-I enjoyed it immensely. She writes in that fast forward, which is so satisfying with such a large work. The entire book is the high school experience of Lee, who is unlikeable in nearly every sense. Lee is so incredibly annoying as a character-she isn't smart, she isn't cool, she is just so not anything at all-and I find it brave to hang the whole book on her shoulders. April, on the other hand, really disliked Prep for that very reason. She couldn't deal with a main character that she couldn't connect to. But I found that the thing that I loved is that Sittenfeld decided, yes, this is the character and stayed true to her throughout. I felt that way about both books-Sittenfeld takes her characters to interesting places, places that I wouldn't have gone, and it makes me think, what's next?

The third book that we read was Sittenfeld's The Man of My Dreams. It was written in the wake of the sucess of Prep, and is Sittenfeld's least known work. Ultimately, I did not care for it. It is written in third person, which may have been part of my issue-it's not as inside the character as the other two. But the plot line was wanting. Where Prep is this huge novel, following Lee through every decision, Hannah (the main character in this novel) is left wanting. The main plot thread is that she is in love with a boy she barely knows, and her every life decision is based on this fact. I happen to know a lot about living a life like that. But because Sittenfeld is being so intentionally sparse, you hardly get to see where she's going. April liked this one better than Prep, because, you know, she's her and I'm me.

And lastly, we dove into American Wife, which is Sittenfeld's imagining of the life of Laura Bush. Now, on one hand, the main character is such a kindred spirit to me, I couldn't help but like her. But on the other-oy. I had a huge issue with the half-fiction, half-truth that carries the entire book. It is a large burden to overcome-do I really believe that Laura Bush could have been a liberal, agnostic, pro-choice in not just policy but life woman behind that saintly glow? No. And that makes it impossible to swallow so much of the book. All of the things that I admire in Sittenfeld's other work-her constant flash forward, her unlikeable characters, her unique character choices-they are all devoid here. That said, this was April's second favorite book after Sisterland.

I find it interesting that we both thought Sisterland was the best work, and then completely disagreed on everything else. But we intend to find a new author to delve into. All the while, she is still constantly reading her series, and I am reading anything that I can get my hands on (including rereading some old classics from my day I will do a blog post about the wonder, the all out wonder, that is The Heartbreak Cafe.)

Anyhow, I do highly recommend Sittenfeld, and Sisterland and Prep especially. And, if you are weird like April, you would probably like the other ones. Or, if you are weird like me, you won't but you will read them anyway. And then I'll think that you are cool.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

9 Years Gone...

If you know me in real life, and most especially if you knew me as a teenager, then you know that I watch too much television. Or at least I used to. I still probably watch too much TV, but I watch far, far less now than I did then. But I had thought that I had reached a happy medium last year-I even wrote a blog post about how I was finally able to enjoy TV again after years of foggy mommy brain that left me unable to remember from week to week what happened.

But this year, I'm taking things off the TiVo at an alarming rate (for Neilsen rating people anyway). And last night's How I Met Your Mother may very well have done the rest in. It didn't do them any favors.

I have truly enjoyed HIMYM. I'm not 16 with no life, so I don't know exactly how it all fit together, but I'm sure that the writers always joined things up appropriately and plugged all of the holes. I love the character of Barney and I love that if I catch an old episode of Doogie, I am amazed to remember that Neil Patrick Harris is able to play both roles so well. And believeably. And really, though I'm sure in the near future this won't seem odd, but that he was able to play this horndog character and then turn around and be so fabulously gay in real life.

To be honest, I have never cared for the girl roles on HIMYM. I always felt that they were guy fantasies of girls, especially the character of Robin. The only time that I ever really cared for Robin was in the Robin Sparkles episodes. So take that as you will.

I did, however, like the mother. Even though I did not care for this season and the neverending wedding weekend, I enjoyed the bits with the mom. I settled in with Nick this morning (we watch TV together in the mornings, as his schedule won't allow us normalcy), I was excited to see the end. For Ted or Bob Sagat or whoever to say, "This is how I met your mother." And that it was at Robin and Barney's wedding, which would therefore lend sense to the notion that he started with how me met Robin. But one hour later, I was just mad. And frustrated. And feeling like I have wasted 9 years of my life watching something only to have it end all wrong.

It is somewhat similar to my feelings about The Wonder Years. Not that I feel like I wasted that time, because they are treasured classics that are amazing and wonderful-but because, when it ended, I cried and cried and cried. It was inappropriate-I do realize that Kevin and Winnie aren't real people-but it felt like someone had crushed my heart. And even though I am a grown up now, and I realize that of course the only way to end it and have it mirror any reality was to break them up, it still sucks. And I still cry every time I watch the ending.

But I'm not going to be watching old episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Even if I had liked the ending, I never watch old episodes of anything made past 2004. There is a clear divining line there-Betsy's birth-that separates my childhood from my adult self. And it is likely very pretentious of me, but I don't like to dwell on things that came after my official adulthood descended upon me.

So there. I'd rather read anyway.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday: Hollywood Studios and Pin Trading

And, we come to the end. Friday was a lovely day. We could have gotten up early to get into Hollywood Studios early, but we decided against it. First off, we had gotten so much checked off the list on Wednesday that we didn't need to see the whole park. Secondly, it was the end of the week, and we had gotten up early every day and gone to bed late every night. We just could not keep up that pace for one more day.

Hollywood Studios is a tricky park to navigate because so much of it is shows. So you are basically going from one show to another, which limits your schedule. We managed to take in Beauty and the Beast (a must see), Indiana Jones, the Little Mermaid, and the Disney Junior show. We enjoyed them all, but it makes for a long day of just...watching shows. My family loved Indiana Jones, which is odd because the girls have never seen it. The Disney Junior show was my least favorite because they make you sit on the floor and then they use rather small puppets, which seems silly since they use huge, life size characters for litterally everything else.

We had fastpasses for the cool rides-the Tower of Terror, the Rock 'n Rollercoaster, and Toy Story Mania. Just Betsy and I rode the first two and we had such fun. I am so lucky to have been with her on her first ride on an upside down rollercoaster. And the Tower of Terror is just one of my most favorite rides ever, so it was fun to share that with her.

Toy Story Mania we rode with April's family-Mallory and Betsy rode together, Nick and Felicity, Jeremy and Natalie, and April and me. We had such fun and I won! (April had me beat until the last bit, and then I beat her!) This ride is the best ride at Hollywood Studios and possibly the entire park.

That said, Hollywood Studios is in need of something. It does have cool rides-Tower of Terror, Rock 'n Rollercoaster, Toy Story Mania!, and Star Tours-and it does have some great shows-Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones, Fantasmic. However, lots of space is wasted, lots of shows are lacking, lots of rides (like the Backstage Studio tour and the Art of Animation) have lost their entire purpose since it is not longer a working backlot and studio.

My suggestion would be for them to turn some of the park into a look at vintage Disney movies. I love, love, love learning about how movies like my favorite The Parent Trap were made. No, this is not how movies are made now, but what they managed to do at the time was amazing. Especially with the animation.

And then I would amp up the Pixar connection. Toy Story Mania is so cool, and it's just all alone, drifting. Add some more interactive rides, and keep the Pixar theme.

We had lunch at the Sci-Fi Drive In Diner, which is so cool. We ate in a car, watching old previews for monster movies. We did have to pay for that ourselves, as it was not included in the quick service dining, but it was much enjoyed.

We also took a lot of time to do pin trading. I have promised to explain it, so here goes: remember back when I said that we bought a lot of pins (50 of them) from ebay. And we bought each girl a lanyard. Okay, so if you are wanting to pin trade, you put the lanyard on and start walking. Almost every Disney cast member is wearing pins, and a lot of them will beckon you over if your are wearing a lanyard. Simply look at their pins and select the one you want. Offer them any pin from your own lanyard and they will trade. I was worried that they wouldn't want some of our junkier pins, but they will take anything. We had a fabulous time trying to find cooler and cooler pins. Nick had a blast hunting down Eeyore pins.

Nick is going to make a shadow box of our pins. If we ever return, we will spend lots of time pin trading. It was such a fun memory-one that I would never have managed on my own, because I'm just too shy, but luckily the others I travel with are braver.

Another fun part of our trip that somehow I can't seem to remember to add in here is that the girls also enjoyed finding hidden Mickeys on all of the rides. We would have such a blast when we got off of rides, saying, "Did you see this hidden Mickey?" Sometimes we had a heads up and knew to look for them, but mostly we found them on our own.

Friday evening we returned to our hotel and the girls went swimming. They had been wanting to do that all week. I enjoyed being off my feet (I have managed to avoid going into too much detail about my ordeal with my knee-all you need know is that I was in a great deal of pain all week, and being at a huge, never ending amusement park is not the best place to heal-but I still had the best vacation of my life, in spite of it).

This vacation was amazing. It did not rain once all week, we had glorious Florida sunshine the whole week. We managed to do almost everything on my itinerary, and we did not argue to near the extent that I worried we might. As I'm pretty sure I've mentioned repeatedly, I can never thank my parents enough for all that they do for us. I am blessed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thursday: Happy birthday from Mickey Mouse!

So, at long last we come to Thursday. Thursday was without question my favorite day of the entire Disney week. Thursday just happened to be October 3, which is the day that my mom was born 61 years ago. And so, that was basically the entire reason for this trip-celebrating my mom's birthday.

Now, it did not start out so grandly. No, indeed. You see, Johnsons' are boy scouts. Especially Mr. Nicholas Johnson. He loves being first in line, he loves knowing that he is where he is supposed to be, at a set time. So the girls and I were up promptly at 6 AM all week, and we were always parked in the front row, waiting for the park to open. But this day, Thursday, we were under strict instructions to wait on my mom and dad, as well as my sister and her family, before going into the park, because my mom wanted a picture of all of us in front of the castle. Needless to say, we were there first. We watched the super cute opening of the park (I recommend seeing it sometime during your trip) and then the people started filing in, and we were not among them. Nick's head just about exploded.

Once we were all there, we proceeded to get *the picture.* This picture was the most important part of the day. We all had to wear Ohio State clothing for said picture. We all stood on Main Street while people filed past, smiling and none of us all looking the same direction at the same time. But we got the picture. (Later on, we realized that we should have gotten a picture in what they call "the rose garden," where there is no crowd behind you-it would have made a better shot.)

For the rest of the day, everywhere we went, we heard, "O-H!" And people knew that we were together, even when we were far apart. It was very surreal.

We didn't have much to do on this second day at the Magic Kingdom. Because we had managed to do so much the first day, there were only a handful of rides left on our list. We rode Winnie-the-Pooh, which had been closed the first day. The girls and my dad rode the Alice in Wonderland spinning tea cups. We met Alice, as well as Merida, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel. Character greetings were allowed to take up time, since we had pretty much ridden everything prior. We went to Belle's storytime, which is a very cute and interactive new "greeting."

At noon, we went to the Be Our Guest restaurant. They serve quick service for lunch, plated for dinner. We were on the quick service meal plan, so if we were going to go, it had to be lunchtime. We waited in line for about half an hour. Oh. My. Goodness. The food was delicious-expecially the cupcake that I had for dessert. It is billed as the cupcake "with the grey stuff," (like in the "Be Our Guest" song)-it was so yummy. Overall, it was my favorite dining experience, especially for the quick service restaurants.

After that, we rode It's a Small World, and took in The Hall of Presidents. Mom and Dad are great seat savers (truly, my mom has a glare for anyone who tries to hedge in on her space) and so they went off to save seats for the afternoon parade. My family went to ride The Jungle Cruise. Betsy got to steer the boat (she still thinks that she really steered it, I can't bring myself to explain that it is on a rail). We found my family right at the start of the parade, and we got another picture taken. (The photographer told us that we had wasted money on buying 2 photopasses, and that we could have bought 1 and still gotten pictures of everyone in different places-at the time I didn't believe him, but now that I have actually ordered the pictures, I see that he was right.)

The parade was wonderful, and then we headed off to the Bippidi-Boppidi-Boutique for the girls to get their hair and nails done. This was expensive-we got the package with nails and hair only, and even that was a lot-but the girls really loved it, and they did come away with a goody bag of stuff that they are still using even today. I do not reccomend getting the package with the pictures-we went and had the girls pictures taken with our photopasses immediately afterward-and that was the same thing, for about $100 less.

The girls at this point had also put their Halloween costumes on. Betsy was Pocahontas, Felicity was Tinker Bell, and Mallory was Holiday Belle. (Natalie was Snow White, but she was too little to have her hair done.) We were ready for the Not-So-Scary Halloween party. We headed off and got our entry bracelets, stopped for a quick picture with Tiana, and then April and I went and got in line for the picture with the dwarfs.

The dwarfs only come out for pictures at Halloween and Christmas. April loves Dopey and must have her picture with him every time she goes. So she and I got in line around 6 PM. They started taking pictures at 7 PM. So we sat and waited and made friends with the people in line beside us. Nick and Jeremy took the girls for dinner at Pinnochio's and brought us some closer to time.

Mom and Dad, during this interval, had gone off in search of the Dapper Dans, which was the one thing that my mom wanted to be sure and see. They found them and they sang happy birthday to my mom, which was the highlight of her trip.

Once our family came and joined us at about 10 minutes to 7, we were 5 people back from the start of the line. Promptly at 7 the dwarfs came out. Jeremy told the photographer to put April near Dopey, so it was a perfect picture.

Mom and Dad headed off to save seats for the Halloween parade, while the rest of us got in line to see the Pooh characters. They didn't come out until 7:30, so again we waited. But we had to-Nick had to see Eeyore in his Halloween costume. That picture taken, we went to find Mom and Dad, who again had staked out prime real estate at the front of the parade.

The Halloween parade starts off with the headless horseman, which is very cool. It was a wonderful parade. Then we headed over to the ice cream parlor (it is a running joke-but a true one-that my dad always wants ice cream at Disney World), got ice cream cones, and got ready to watch the fireworks. Mom and Dad finished their ice cream and left, wanting to beat the crowd. We were standing up, but a very nice couple sitting at a table turned and asked if we would like their seats. So we had prime seats for the Halloween fireworks, which are spectacular.

After that, we took the girls to several candy stations. We got pictures taken with Buzz Lightyear, Goofy, Daisy, the mice from Cinderella. We danced with Monsters Inc. people and Jessie and Woody. It was just after 11 when we started back toward the entrance, and we stopped in to see Mickey and Minnie and there was no line.

It was a long day-I'm not going to lie, tempers flared several times. But mostly, it was a great day, and I loved getting to spend the whole day with my entire family. My mom had on a button that told the world that it was her birthday, and so everyone who passed by us would yell, "Happy birthday, DEENA!" (My mom's name is DINAH, but it is spelled Dina, and everyone says it wrong.) So allow me to say, months too late, but with all the love in my heart, "Happy birthday MOM!"