And The Beat Grows Up

When I was 13, I was pretty serious.

I was pretty reserved.

I was a writer even then, spending a good deal of my time creating fictional worlds instead of living in the real one. I wasn’t a partier, or a wild child. I was responsible and level headed.

Until.

The summer of my 13th year, my best friend got me hooked on a band called Hanson. Out parents took us to a show on their first tour, and everyone joked that it would be my friend–and definitely not me–who would lose her teenage mind.

thefirst

1997.

They were incorrect. The minute the band came onstage, my world went pear-shaped and my knees buckled. And in that moment, I became something else. Call it what you will: fan girl. Teenybopper. Possessed. Whatever name you choose, I embraced it with open arms.

theposters

Me in front of my best friend’s bedroom wall, 1998ish.

And last week–20 years later–I embraced it again.

That’s right. Hanson–the high-pictched, man-child band who crooned MMMBop to crowds of hysterical girls in the 90’s–is still around. They’ve grown up, and so have their fans.

Taylor

2015

Isaac

I’ve seen Hanson a dozen or so times since that day in my youthful summer when I nearly passed out. My friend and I once drove overnight to see them in two states in two days.

2004

2004

I met them once, became completely tongue-tied and poked one of them in the stomach. It was easily one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I mean, who does that? I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from that lapse of judgement. I’ve even been to a handful of concerts with my husband, who enjoys seeing his usually calm wife lose her shit completely.

But this time was special. It was a two-night event (happily in the same place, as I am too old to do that drive all night nonsense I could pull off when I was 21) and for the first time in a decade I got to go with my best friend–the one who had been there since the very beginning.

HansonAfterparty

2015. My favorite photo from the shows.

Hanson never gained a substantial number of new fans after their initial popularity in the 90’s. No, all the people who go to see them now have been on this ride with them for a while, and we all gather when they tour. I’ve not many fans like the Hanson faithful.

There were a lot of reasons the 2 nights were amazing and emotional. My BFF scoring front row seats the second night (I still have bruises on my hips from getting pushed into the barrier by the crowd) and being surrounded by so many others who knew every word along with me certainly rank high, but I think what really hit me during the performances was that the songs they were singing were literally the soundtrack to my life. The lyrics are weaved into the fabric of my history.

Singing into hair brushes with my best friend late into the night: And even if we can’t be together, we’ll be friends now and forever, and I swear that I’ll be there, come what may. 

Sobbing when my high school sized heart got broken: In this life long love song you can love right, you can love wrong. In this love song you can love long. But if you love wrong it doesn’t mean love’s gone.

Blaring the music to stay awake driving home on weekends from college: Rock n roll razor blade, it cuts so deep, they failed to say. This rock n roll razor blade. For there’s nothing left in this town, for a rockerball rolling down.

The slow melodies my husband put on the radio on the way home from the hospital the day my father died: I’m looking for a song to sing, I’m looking for a friend to borrow. I’m looking for my radio, so I might find a heart to follow. I’ve never been just longing for your loving, I’ve never been just wearing down to nothing, I’ve never been just looking for a reason, so that maybe you’d be thinking of me. 

Soft lullabies I sang to my baby boy: I love you more than anything, than anything I do. And I’d give anything, and everything I have, just to be with you.

And finally, crying into my best friend’s shoulder just a few nights ago, because we’ve come so far in life and I’m so lucky to have someone like her who has been in my world since I was three: Cause Penny and me like to roll the windows down, turn the radio up, push the pedal to the ground. And Penny and me like to gaze at starry skies, close our eyes, pretend to fly. It’s always Penny and me tonight. 

hugs

2015. 30 years of BFF. 20 years of teenybopper.

Hearing them was like talking to an old friend, reminding me how far I’ve come. I cried. I sang until I was hoarse. I danced. Oh, how we danced.

(I did not, however, faint. Seems that I have indeed made progress).

Att 33, I’m pretty serious.

I’m pretty reserved.

But when Hanson plays a show, that fan girl will always be there to sing along.

What is your favorite band? Is there a group you have to see whenever they come to town?

My Favorite Spooky Reads

jackolantern

I usually avoid all things scary–I’m not into horror movies, scary stories or blood, guts and gore. But this time of year even I like a little spook, and I usually look for it in the written word. I find that my imagination is far better at scaring me than anything on the TV screen!

This October I’m reading two spooky books from my Fall To-Be-Read list: A Sudden Light and The Returned.

Here are a few more of my favorite reads that gave me the shivers. You won’t find too many traditional horror stories on this list–while I find writers like Stephen King to be fantastic, his books scare me so much I had to give them up.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs: Where do the freaks of nature hide? This book would have been a fairly creepy story on its own, but what made it even creepier were the old, black and white photographs in the books. Part fantasy and part reality, this book made me eager for the sequel and now the third in the trilogy.

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian: This ghost story was scary on a realistic level (the main character was a pilot who was one of the few survivors of a plane crash) and a fantastical level (pilot was then haunted by the ghosts of said plane crash). What got under my skin about this story was that the truly scary part built and built until the end, which completely threw me for a loop. If you’re looking for an unsettling ending, read this book.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe: Do I really need to explain this one? Just the thought of the heart beat makes me break out in a cold sweat.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin: My high school boyfriend made me watch this movie and…I didn’t really get it. So I read the book, and it scared the pants off me. My mind went places the movie didn’t dare go.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: I realize this is not supposed to be a horror story, but it terrified and disturbed me. The violence and the sadness that seeped through the pages…I found that I had to put the book in the freezer in the style of Joey Tribbiani from “Friends” with Little Women.

What is your favorite scary story?

It’s National Grouch Day. Where’s my Trash Can?!?

oscar

Sometimes JC, my 5-year-old son, will be having a perfectly fine day and then…SOMETHING HAPPENS.

Maybe he spills his milk. Maybe I make him clean up his legos. Maybe he sees a beetle and he really wanted to see a lady bug. The reason isn’t important. He’s 5 and that means STOMPING FEET POUTY FACE “MOOOOOOOOOOM! This is the WORST THING EVER TO HAPPEN.”

Wouldn’t you, as an adult, just love to be able to do that every now and then? Not all the time, because consistent hissy fits would make us like bratty reality stars without the giant paychecks. But once in a while, when you have a really frustrating first world problem, wouldn’t it be nice to throw down and have a legit tantrum? Here are some reasons I occasionally feel like having a grown-up melt down:

  • I’ve recently cut caffeine and sugar out of my diet, so Starbucks is a super big treat. When I go through that drive-through and take a big gulp and realize they got my order wrong, I want to pound my fists and yell “HULK SMASH!”
  • When I drag all of the clean laundry into the closet and realize last week’s clean laundry is still on the floor in a pile.
  • When I finally get to sit down to look at Instagram and I get halfway through the day’s posts and my phone does something screwy and it refreshes the feed and I have to start over.
  • 10 minutes into any workout. Once I get past that first 10-15 minutes, I’m okay. But man do I feel like whining at the beginning.
  • When nothing in my closet fits right. Anyone else have this issue? When even your favorite sweater just doesn’t work? UGH.

What makes you want to stomp your feet?

This post is brought to you by Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop link up! Go check her out. Her vlogs are a riot and will make you laugh no matter how grouchy you feel.

Time Management and NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, kindly spat out in every day conversation as NaNoWriMo, starts in a month. This will be my fourth attempt.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the short version: every November, writers all over the world try to write a novel (50,000 words–although they accept anything over 10,000 words) in 30 days. That is about 1,667 words a day.

challenge accepted

You can outline before November, but aren’t supposed to start writing until the month begins. Outside of personal satisfaction of being able to say, “hey, I wrote a novel in a month!” there are some online publishers who work with NaNoWriMo, so there is a publication possibility.

Like I said before, this will be my fourth attempt. I’ve never even made it halfway through the month without falling so far behind that there is no chance I catch up. But I’m going to try again, despite the million other things I have going on: homeschooling, editing The Goldens, shopping around another fiction piece, and that little thing called motherhood. Why even bother, you ask? Because I’ve been working really hard at time management (staying off Facebook, cough cough) and I think giving myself those daily word count goals will help.

timeManagement

No excuses!

Here are my time management goals that I’ll be working on this month so that come November, I’ll be ready:

  • I’m going to take the advice from this FastCompany article by Lauren Vanderkam and go on a time hunt: Faulkner [the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo] advises people to “go on a time hunt.” For a week, write down every single thing you do. “Get a really good idea of how you spend your time. Most people really don’t know,” he says. You putter around with the mail pile for 15 minutes while dinner is cooking. You lose 30 minutes following links your friends post on Facebook. There are apparently quite a few time tracking apps available–I’m going to do my homework on them and I’ll report back when I’ve tried a couple out. My guess on my biggest time-sucks? Second guessing my own decisions and social media. I really need to work on making a choice and then tucking it away on the book shelf of my mind, instead of revisiting it and making little tweaks that don’t really change anything. As for social media, I really just need to be careful not to get sucked into Facebook drama (I rarely participate, but I find the snarky comments addicting) and not to lose myself in scrolling through Instagram every time I post something. I think social media is important–for my blog, for interacting with readers and finding new awesome blogs, and for keeping up with family–so I’m not cutting it out. I’m thinking of instituting mental “office hours” where I give myself a block of time to browse and comment.
  • Establishing “This is When Mommy Writes” time with my son. For me to have any negligible block of time during the day to write, I’m going to need his cooperation. 
  • Outlining before November 1st. I’m terrible at outlining, but if I want to write a whole novel in a month, it’s going to be necessary.
  • I’m going to attempt to meal plan for the entire month. If I’m lucky, I do it week by week. Most of the time it happens in 3 day chunks. I feel like I spend a HUGE amount of time looking for recipes and making food during the week. Nothing to do with writing, but having a plan to feed my family will free up a lot of time.

Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Do you prep or just jump right in?

How I Wrote Our Homeschool Curriculum

I’ve done a lot of writing in my life, but I’ve never attempted an educational curriculum. I spent a good part of the summer researching home school curriculums, poring over standards and getting frustrated because I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted. Since JC is in kindergarten, I decided that I would write my own for now. Here is how I tackled–and am still tackling–it.

I pulled from my favorite methods. I love the idea of project based learning, but know that at this age, JC would happily sit and build Legos for 8 hours a day if he got to direct how his time was spent. Great for a lot of things like pre-engineering and math skills, not so hot for writing skills. I love the Waldorf method for reading…but I’m not crazy about the zero tolerance screen rule they have. I love the freedom of unschooling and being able to pick up and travel, but I need more stability than that–and my kid does, too.  I went through all the methods I had researched and plucked my favorite bits out of them to apply in my own teaching.

MonsterHS

Making our “M is for Monster” craft was a hit.

I wrote out our school year goals, derived from various standards. I have plenty of issues with the Common Core Guidelines (that’s another post entirely) but I wanted to make sure JC was at least on par with his traditionally schooled counterparts, so I used those to set a starting point. I also looked at academic standards for private schools, and from other states that consistently ranked top in education. I combined that information and made academic goals for JC based on where he’s at now and how far I think he can go this year. For example, I had to pull from higher grades for math goals for him, but he HATES putting pen to paper so I know we have a long road ahead of us in the written word department.

Writing

He balks at worksheets, but loved writing notes to Dad. If it gets him writing, I’ll take it!

I thought about how I wanted our day to go. In our house, we have a pattern but not a schedule. I would do the same things at the same time and eat the same foods every day if I could (I like my stability, people) but my husband is the complete opposite. JC falls somewhere in the middle. I love our sleepy snuggle time in the morning, so our official home school day starts around 9. That’s when we do our calendar, days of the week, letters and whatever else “desk oriented” I have planned for the day. After a few weeks, JC knows home school happens in our little learning nook and usually beats me there.

Of course, not all learning happens like that. I’m a big proponent of play and nature based education, so we spend a lot of time outside and active in other parts of the house. Home school happens all day, even if my kid doesn’t realize he’s learning. I just know JC tends to get a little obstinate and fall apart around 3:00, so we save the afternoon for reading, playing, quiet time, invitations to create, etc, and use the mornings for the focused activities.

I go a month at a time. When I first started to plan out our weeks, I got overwhelmed. Fast. So I plan in detail a month at a time, stashing activities aside for other months as I come across them. Three weeks in, I know I need an organizational system, but I’m still figuring out what is going to work best.

We get social. JC started going to a nature-based co-op last year that we adore, so I bumped it up to twice a week this year. We are lucky that we found a group so in tune with how we think! We also try to make it to some other home school group field trips in our area, but I’m discovering that a lot of the groups don’t really pick up until mid-elementary school.

Playgroup

We love our co-op.

I ask for help. To be a homeschooler, you have to be a control freak who can let go. You have to be able to take responsibility for the education your child is getting–but be able to realize that you can’t do it all yourself. I have a friend who used to be a literacy teacher and curriculum coordinator, and I send her questions daily. I find out what other parents are doing, where they’re going for field trips, and if they ever feel like burying their head in the sand (the answer is yes).

What I’m really learning is that homeschooling, like the rest of life, requires balance. It’s very time-intensive right now that JC can’t do much “self-study”, and sometimes both of us need a break to go back to just being mom and kid. And one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that we have time to do just that.

TakingTime

Sometimes you just need to snuggle and read.

Every parent is a teacher, whether you homeschool or not. What kind of educational things do you like to do with your kids?

Fall Book Lust: What’s on my Fall TBR

Fall is my favorite time to read. The chilly weather and warm drinks lend themselves to long reading sessions under a cozy blanket, don’t you think?

This summer I read a lot of fluff, which was nice–we had a lot of upheaval in our world so my reading choices stayed pretty light. But this fall I’m hoping to read a few things that are a little deeper, and I even have some nonfiction on my list.

FallTBR

What’s on your must-read list this fall?

I Read Banned Books. Do you?

Banned Books Week is wrapping up, but I couldn’t let it pass by without sharing a few things.

I read banned books. Not because they’re banned per say, but because I love to read and a lot of the books I love happen to be banned in some place or another. I read based on my preferences, and I make decisions about what my child is ready to read. For example, it is no secret that I LOVE the Harry Potter series. I can’t wait to share them with JC–when he’s old enough, and I do not believe at 5 years old he’s ready for the some of the elements, language, and themes raised in the series. And I feel like that’s MY decision to make–not someone else.There are plenty of books on the banned books list that I don’t read for whatever reason: I don’t like the subject matter or I find them offensive. But once again, I get to make this choice. Nobody else.

Voltaire

And so I support books that groups have tried to ban, because I don’t believe in censorship. A few statistics from the American Library Association about the books most challenged in 2014:

bannedbooks1

Do you avoid books that have been banned? Or do you seek them out?