Monthly Archives: November 2011

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving …

All month, the kids and I have been studying and thinking about holiday traditions. We’ve read the Thanksgiving story from Core Knowledge, we’ve colored turkeys, and pilgrims, and Native Americans, and we’ve thought about the things that we are thankful for. In the meantime, I’m trying to forge my way through the process of creating holiday traditions. If you are a single mom, like I am, or have small/limited/far-away family, again like I do, you might understand what I mean. 🙂

Three years ago today, my mom passed away, after a 13-month battle with lung cancer. She was 50. Little Goose was eighteen months old. That’s her in the picture above … with a 2-month-old Little Goose, and 5-year-old Amazing K, my cousin’s fantastic daughter. The awesome guy in the picture is my dad, now known as The World’s Best Papa.

When my mom went Home, any semblance of holiday traditions we might have been holding on to went with her.  There is a large, extended family on my mom’s side, including Amazing K … but they all live far away, and we can’t celebrate the holidays together in the way we all would like to most of the time.

And I … am not so good at coming up with some of this stuff. I want Little Goose to grow up with traditions, and fun, and a sense of belonging and family. Tomorrow, we will celebrate with dear friends, and I love that. I love that sometimes the people we choose to have in our lives become another definition of family.  It’s a theme I strive for in my storytelling, as well.

But … I also want some traditions that are ours, in the tiny, little family that we have. And I need some help. 🙂 What are some of your favorite/unique things you do to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season that we could do — one busy, distracted Mama, and one precious preschool girl?

Breaking Dawn broke mine …

Or at least my pre-dawn. 😦

This is a rant, and this is NOT a spoiler-free zone. You’ve been warned.

I’m just going to admit it. I am a 34-year-old well-educated mom who, yes, bought tickets to the midnight screening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, and went out into the darkness with one of my mom BFFs, all excited to see this latest installment. No, we didn’t dress up in our old bridesmaid dresses, or even our white makeup and black cloaks (even if we’d wanted to… everything in either of our houses that resembles any of that stuff has long been confiscated — and ruined — by little girls).

And … I was crushingly dissapointed. Really, I need a coffee IV today for that? About halfway through the wedding, I started wondering if the whole thing was a practical joke aimed at Twilight fans, like  maybe the director and the actors were literally making fun of the people sitting there in the audience.

Not that those of us sitting in a theater at midnight to watch a teenager marry a sparkly vampire don’t deserve a little ribbing… I just thought it would come from other sources than the film itself.
While there are some decent moments … the actual wedding ceremony itself is quite beautiful, most of the movie leaves much to be desired.

Gone is the subtle humor of the first three movies. The only few glimpses of that we see in this movie are from Billy Burke’s portrayal of Charlie. (I, for one TwiMom, am Team Charlie all the way). His speech at the wedding is the one truly sweet, purposefully humorous moment of the entire movie. (Whichever editors left the rest of the wedding speeches in should be forced to sit and watch it on repeat for days).

There are two other moments in the movie worth watching. The first is when Edward watches Bella come out of the bathroom in a revealing negligee and he falls over laughing, and the second is when he “hears” the baby inside her for the first time. The rest of the movie made me want to pull my hair out.

I get that the source material may have been a bit challenging to work with. Breaking Dawn is far and away my least favorite of the Twilight books. There were plenty of moments in it, though, that could have been fun and fanciful to watch on the big screen. And director Bill Condon ruined nearly every single one of them.

The best parts of the books and the other movies, in my opinion, are the tender little moments that happen between Edward and Bella. I’ll tell you now that the engagement scene in Eclipse surpasses the honeymoon scene by leaps and bounds in terms of sweetness, emotion, and even passion. Heck, the scene in Eclipse where she cuts her finger and he kisses it has more tenderness and genuine connection than any scene in Breaking Dawn, with the possible exception of the scene where he’s kissing her swollen belly — and the audience is overly shorted on that one.

The thing is, I didn’t go into the movie expecting Oscar-worthy material. I didn’t intend to leave thinking “wow, my life was changed by that two hours.” I had realistic expectations, I thought. I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief, and just immerse myself in the rich world of fantasy love. And I just … couldn’t.

I thought that Kristen, Rob, and Taylor did as nice a job as they could possibly have, given a lackluster script and a director who clearly has no love for the story. Billy Burke, for his part, stole the show in the scenes where he appeared. Everyone else… well, it might have been more entertaining (and no less like a self-parody) had all of the actors been replaced by muppets. Or CGI wolves whose internal conversations we can hear.

Eclipse left me craving more time with Jasper, Alice, and Emmett, but all three characters are nearly nonexistent in this installment. And don’t even get me started on Renee, who completely ruined every scene she was in.
I am one disappointed – and tired – mommy today.

Oh… and if you were planning on breaking out the cloaks and makeup in your support of the Volturi — so prominently featured in all of the promo clips and trailers (every single one of the trailers is far superior to the movie) — you, too, will be sadly disappointed. You’ll need to stay in your seat through most of the glaringly obnoxious flashing red and white credits to even see the Italian vampires.

It’s November….

Yes, I realize I’m a bit behind the times. Definitely had an off-week (or two!) in terms of posting and writing. Strep has been circulating in our little house, and I’m pretty sure it finally hit me yesterday. With a tired and cranky Little Goose who is already going through this lovely four-year-old phase of arguing and whining about EVERYTHING, I haven’t gotten much accomplished. 🙂


So, rather than coming up with some fever-induced topic, I thought I would share one of my favorite “November” books.

In November, by Cynthia Rylant



I have read this book to my second graders every year for the last several, this year I’m sharing it with my daughter and the preschoolers I teach at home.

This is a beautiful, richly illustrated book about the quiet magic of this time of year. The images Cynthia Rylant creates in the minds of her readers are priceless, and Kastner’s illustrations are perfect.

“In November, the trees are all standing sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still.” (p. 8)

If you happen to be a teacher, this book is a must for your classroom library (as are most of Rylant’s books). It’s also perfect for sharing with your little ones at bedtime if you’re a parent, and if you’re a writer, you should own it purely to study the craft of Rylant’s descriptions and the soft emotions she evokes with her words.


And … for those who are curious. 🙂

Book Two progress so far: 44,143

I very much want to break 50k this week!