Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stuttering, and a Poop Joke

So, this is a thing I haven't said much about on the internet, but Charlotte is having a rough time talking this fall. She went from being a perfectly appropriately-fluent three-year-old this August, to... barely being able to get a thought out in September. Over just a matter of weeks, truly.

Like, complete breakdown in communication. I know this sounds weird, with her being right here - but I missed her. I didn't know what she was thinking, and she was so easily frustrated that she basically broke down into tears any time she needed to communicate a thought beyond a few words.

It sucked, y'all.

And it only took a tiny bit of googling (and a few gently concerned questions from her teachers at school) to realize her stuttering falls into the "severe" category, which sounds, well... severe.

Anyway, we took her for a speech assessment through the early intervention people (well, not them, exactly, but the county people who do that for preschool-aged kids) and it turns out yep! she stutters! badly! and she qualifies for full speech therapy through the county! So, bad and good.

They sent me away with a stack of books and DVDs about stuttering and speech disorders and how to be a parent advocate, and paperwork to start up her IEP with the school system, and suddenly WHOA this is a whole new world for us.

Okay so here's the deal. She will be fine. Speech therapy is very effective for stuttering, and Charlotte is pretty textbook in how she struggles. There are 44 phonemes in the English language, and she gets stuck on about 20 of them (yikes). She does most of the classic severe-stutterer things, like: repeating sounds at the beginnings of words and syllables (not the words themselves, which is stammering, which is something different - a more normal disfluency that isn't actually a speech problem), explosions of sound at a high volume to force some of her sounds out, and dragging out some sounds (like mmmmmmommy).

Anyway, it's a really Known Thing, this problem and its treatment. Almost all stutterers can be therapied out of it, and we should have no worries about long-term fluency. So that's not the main concern, surprisingly enough.

The main concern, apparently, is the psychological stuff that comes with difficulty in communicating. This is especially true for young kids. Learning that it takes too much effort to talk, or you will be interrupted or your words inserted for you, or that people don't have the time to hear you, or might tease you, etc etc etc - that'll eff a kid right up, and can have effects into adulthood. (Not that surprising, right?)

So while the professional therapists will do the work with her of making sounds and teaching tricks and workarounds, our job is to make sure she is heard. Like, endless patience in letting her get her words out. No interrupting her, ever. No supplying words for her. In general, convincing her that whatever she has to say is something we want to listen to, and that it's always worth the effort for her to tell us what she's thinking. We have to be very aware of our body language and facial expressions and we all (even Nathan and Anneliese) do lots of turning and facing her and kneeling down to be close when she wants to tell us something.

And y'all. It has been sort of... well, humongously relationship-changing, this pattern of really intentional listening. I know, that shouldn't be shocking. But it makes such a difference.

Anything she wants to tell me these days, no matter how silly or inane, I care about it in a way I didn't used to. She will sometimes take a full ninety seconds to tell me something like how she put Sheepie under her blanket (still bank-o-link) because it's naptime, or how someday she would like to wear a hat (?) - but if those are the things she wants to tell me, then make no mistake: I WANT TO HEAR IT. It's no small thing, the effort and energy it takes her to talk! And she is using it on me! It's an honor to listen to it. It really is. And that's never how I've thought about preschool chattiness before. Um, to say the least. Ha.

Okay anyway that's not what I meant for this post to be about.


So, she's actually doing way better now. Ranking every day on a scale of 1 to 5 helps overall progress, and overall progress is good. And that's just with what we are doing at home which has seemed to improve her confidence, which  often means she talks more - which all counts as practice. When we get into the meat of the speech therapy over the next couple of months, I imagine it will get even better than the improvement she's already made.

There are some days that are still turrible, but there are some that are good -- so good that she talks like most any three-year-old would, like what we remember from this summer, and we get a little giddy at her sweet voice and happy easy chattiness.

All that to say, she was doing some great talking one night, and these days that means we bust out the phone to get it on video... and then she told a poop joke. Sigh.


(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

(Still worth it for her tiny voice, telling me something! Anything! Worth it.)

(And, secretly bursting with pride anyway. Such! Good! Talking!)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving + Birthday

We spent Thanksgiving down at Lake Wateree with Mark's dad and stepmom, which was exactly as chaotic as expected and exactly as tasty as expected, too. We drove down with Ali on Wednesday and spent the night with all four kids, then Nick and Barbara (and Mark's stepsister Emily and her family) all got there on Thursday.

At one point we had Opa and Oma on the couch with all the grandkids to pose for pictures, and it went something like this:

-- which mostly cracked us up. (Why do we never remember to take pictures til someone is walking out the door and someone else is desperate for a nap?)

On the drive home, we stopped at a Waffle House for dinner (these travelers are thankful for some places being open on Thanksgiving, although you probably won't convince me it's necessary for, like, Macy's to be) and we had a cold little booth and Charlotte was super upset and really struggling* to say what she needed, but once we got past that and ate some waffles and perked up, we all said what we were thankful for, and it was kind of great.

I love my family so much.

Also, it's Marky's birthday today! And I am thankful for him, most of all.


{insert a million heart emojis here}
{and maybe a turkey one}
{and another heart for good measure}

Happy birthday Mark! You are my most very favoritest, ever! And happy Thanksgiving everyone!

*post for another day, coming soon

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hippie Bullsh!t Coffee and Other Quick Takes

1.) I bought some hippie bullsh!t coffee at Fresh Market a few weeks ago. I got sucked in because I had a taste for cold caramel coffee in a bottle, and the packaging is so pretty! Good font choice! Matte labels! And on the side there is a funny blurb written by someone admitting to be a blurber! It was all very enchanting, except it said things about how it doesn't have any of those "nasty chemicals" in it like other coffee (YES IT ACTUALLY SAID THAT), and I could not have rolled my eyes harder. Y'all! Once again, brief lesson: everything has chemicals. Everything is made of chemicals. Nothing but chemicals actually. Yes. EVERYTHING. Full stop.

But despite my eye rolling, and knowing it would not actually make me "focus" in any "natural" way, I bought it and drank it and it was delicious. Excellent use of one dollar next time you're at Fresh Market. Hippie bullsh!t coffee: RECOMMEND.

(Children who photobomb coffee pics for blog post: not included.)

2.) Mark took Charlotte to a park a few weeks ago, and in case you were wondering if she only likes to take selfies with me? Nope. Girl loves a good pic with Daddy too. I mean, who wouldn't? He's a pretty awesome human.

3.) We started a thing last month with a friend and preschool classmate of Anneliese's, whose big sister gets dropped off at school before his mom takes him to church on a route that goes right past our bus stop, at the exact time we are outside waiting on the bus. Which means Nathan and I did a lot of waving at them as they drove by, until we realized hey! Anneliese could just... get in their car, and save me a trip of loading up the babies and taking her to school.

So that's the story of why there are now two kids at the bus stop with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays (those are the days only Anneliese goes). They both love it. It's fun.

4.) When I was in Minnesota I got the worst chapped lips of my life, I think. I was using lip balm, just not enough I guess, or not often enough. One night when I was home I needed some and didn't have any in bed, so I asked Mark for his out of his night stand, and the next morning, I kid you not -- MY LIPS WERE HEALED. Like, almost completely better. Overnight. A second night and they were as good as new.

I can't believe the small fortune I have spent in the last decade on fancy lip balms, when REGULAR OLD CHAP STICK is basically a miracle balm. Y'all! Buy this! I am now officially a chap stick evangelist. Recommend.

5.) My new identity as a Kindle user is coming along. I like it. It is handy. It was especially handy for traveling. And for reading in the evenings in bed when my doctor-designed Sleep Plan (capital S, capital P, it is a PLAN) dictates that I should not have lights on. And e-ink is safe reading in the evening hours of dimness. Anyway! Guess who else likes the Kindle?

Our library website has a great page where you can sort the children's e-reader books they have, by topic and grade level. So that means Nathan can see a berjillion book choices, and two clicks sends them to our house in minutes. For free! LIVING IN THE FUTURE IS SO GREAT Y'ALL. In related news, I think someone might be getting his own (very basic) Kindle for Christmas, since someone's mommy is tired of sharing.

6.) Speaking of Nathan and reading, he picked out this book from the dollar spot at Target a few weeks ago:

Yep, that's Moby Dick. Most boring book in the history of books and English. (I love Melville, but I freaking hate that book.) Anyway all he saw was chapter book! one dollar! sperm whale on the cover! and he had to have it. It's a thing I would never say no to, of course, so he bought it and read it and then sent Another Nathan this adorable email about it and oh my lands.

This is why we let kids read adaptations of boring books we hate: because it's surprising that a whale would eat someone's leg, and he's guessing the whale must have been a girl. WELL.

7.) Still speaking of reading, I read this last week and found it just delightful. A lady who loved the Little House books visits all the sites in real life, and finds some disillusioning and some lovely.

This isn't the best LHOTP travel guide you can find, nor the best biographical info, but it doesn't intend to be either of those things - just a funny thoughtful lady traveling to Little House sites and writing about it, from her perspective. Really fun book.

8.) One last book thing! Another Nathan and I, unbeknownst to one other, both checked this book out of our respective libraries last week. A book about friends and influence and I mean... haaaaa okay universe. Good one.

9.) We let the kids try for a three-way sleepover last week. Usually this is just a Nathan/Anneliese thing, every Friday night, but Charlotte always wants to join, and so we let her try. We had done it once before and it was fine, but this one was doomed.

This photo was taken pre-doom. It was super cute until it wasn't.

10.) It got very cold this week, and the girls look very cute in their cold weather clothes. That is all.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three Somethings Cheerful (And A Bonus 1990s Mark/Erin Story)

Look, I can be cheerful. Three times, even! Ready?

1.) Anneliese sang in chapel choir again last week. She was as adorable and delighted as the first time.

And what's sweeter than a choir full of four-year-olds anyway?

Anneliese is tall* so in the back row, to the right.


*Side story: one of Mark's first memories of interacting with me was when we were taking some group picture for school (band! fine! it was for band! we were at BAND CAMP okay?) and they told us to stand by height and I hopped up into the back row, because apparently part of my self-image is that I am tall? And apparently I am actually... not that tall? (I feeeeeeel like I am tall.) 

So anyway Mark watched as they moved me down a row and then down another and then apparently it happened again (!) later in the school year and he kept wanting to yell at me (in his best Seinfeld-to-George "you're bald" voice): YOU ARE AVERAGE! But he didn't, because he is Mark, and that is just not a very Mark thing to do. But! He does like to bring up this story every time I mention that I am tall, which is apparently still fairly often. Because I am! I mean, not a giant! But fairly tall! Really! 

2.) Charlotte has a new purple peacoat. In my opinion (as the shopper), it is perfection.


3.) Nathan was telling me some story the other night about something that happened at a Boeing parts factory (I don't even know) and he thought it was the best most hilarious mishap ever, and even though the story was actually suuuuper boring, his perfect smile and giggling about it enchanted me anyway.
lampshade on head?

I'm glad I got a picture though so I never have to get him to tell me that story again though. Yawn.

(Y'all hush, I am a good mom, take a seat and stop clutching your pearls.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

I am Over the Cell Phone Shaming

Okay apparently I have more crabbies to get out. This one has been brewing for a while.



So suddenly (well, gradually) everywhere in my life, there are signs prohibiting cell phone use in x or y or z situations. My OB's office has them in the waiting room. So does our pediatrician's office. Actually almost every medical provider I can think of. Also, waiting in line to vote. Restaurants where one might procure takeout, or feel like eating a quiet lunch alone.

And the new director of the girls' preschool requested in her back-to-school letter (yes, months ago, yes I am still annoyed) that parents refrain from cell phone use while we drop off and pick up our kids. Her reason? Not because it slows down pickup/lines (which I could allllmost understand), but because our little ones are excited about their days! And want us to listen to them!

Ummmm y'all, did I just get parenting shamed about my phone? Not cool.

Of course it's nothing new, the whole "dear mom on her iphone at the playground" open letter trope is done and re-done and done again. Phone shaming isn't news. I think I'm just officially... over it.

Look, I get to determine which ways and times are good for ME and MY kid to communicate. MOST people are not ignoring their kids at school pickup to text or tweet (any more than if they are having a real human conversation with a fellow parent or a teacher or flirting it up with the cute dad in the hallway), but if they were, and their kids learn that sometimes mommy is talking to someone else and it'll be their turn in a sec (because OTHER PEOPLE ALSO EXIST), then... that is okay.

Also, if you're the kind of parent who is legitimately ignoring your kid at a time that is legitimately harmful or hurtful to said kid, then that is not a PHONE issue, that is a HUMAN issue, and people blaming the phone is a cop-out.

ALSO. If I am waiting on YOU, I get to use my waiting time how I want. This goes for waiting in preschool pickup times and medical offices alike. I'm sure it would be more CONVENIENT for the doctor if, when he came into the room, I was standing with bated breath, questions at the tip of my tongue, children patiently silently nearby. But, dear physicians of America, YOUR convenience and time is not more important than mine* (it isn't! I promise! it really isn't!) and if I have to wait twenty minutes for my appointment, I will treat that time as MINE. If, after my loooong wait for you, you have to hold on four seconds for me to put my phone away when you come in, YOU WILL SURVIVE.

(Again: having patients who cannot or will not disengage from their phones for a whole appointment, or who miss their name being called when they are distracted, or whatever - those are HUMAN problems, not PHONE problems.)

My friend A'Dell wrote last year that her take is: anywhere it's socially appropriate to read a book or magazine, it should be socially appropriate to use a phone. Lines, waiting rooms, airport lounges, traffic jams, etc.

Actually you should just go read that whole post because I basically agree with every word, and she is such a good ranter. Get on board, folks. The future is now, etc etc.

*No really. It isn't.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Minnesota, Take Two: The Cold Version

Hey, I went to Minnesota to see Another Nathan! He's still pretty super.


If you're reading in this corner of the internet, it's because you want to know my opinions, right? Just in general? So here are some of my opinions on some Minnesota things.

1.) The snow. I was there for their first snow! And yeah, I'll say it: it was delightful. Well, after Nathan and I got past our initial trepidation about driving in the snow (the last time either of us did that was this bad day), it was delightful. Lovely and pretty and even though that is some effed up kind of something, to have snow in November, knowing it isn't MY winter staring me down for the next five months made it totally enjoyable and pretty.

(My kids are very taken with pictures of Nathan's backyard. Christmas trees! Ha.)

That being said, the weather, except for the prettiness of the snow, was way too freaking cold for me. Just no, Minnesota. Come south for winter, all ye weary cold people of the midwest.

2.) Another Nathan's new house. Since I was there in August, Nathan bought a house! And moved. Again. (!!) So, this is what he looks like in his new house. (He looks the same.)

The house is beautiful and bright and big and has lots of rooms and a pretty office and good windows and a fun open kitchen, and a giant bathtub with a jets, where I got to sit and soak and watch the snow fall and read my book and nobody (NOBODY) came in to ask me for a snack or to help them wipe. I KNOW.

3.) His church. Still lovely. Also, look how pretty it is in the snow!

Anyway the people are so warm, and the service is really nice, and I got to sing in his choir, which was an oddly displacing thing -- a thing I know so well, yet in a new place with new people, oddly familiar and strange at the same time. (Also his choir people apparently asked him if I had ever seen snow before, zomg adorbz.) Also oddly familiar yet strange: me, flopped on a pew, reading my phone and waiting for him to practice. (Horizontal on a row of choir chairs, hence the angle.)

I love to hear him play, and it's fun to see him be in charge of his own program and kinda kick ass at it. Also, the part where we go to lunch and overthink/overtalk everything from worship is freaking fantastic too.

4.) Nadia Bolz-Weber. So you might remember that part of the reason we picked that particular reason for my trip is that Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is a sassy and brilliant Lutheran pastor, was speaking in Minneapolis (at Mr. David's church, actually!) - and I very much wanted to see her in real life. And we did!
I'm not super good at paparazzo pics in these situations.

She was full of really smart and lovely ideas -- which she presented in a random mish-mash of an order, maaaaaybe just sort of as they occurred to her? which I'm sure was frustrating for the people planning the event -- but for me, I was glad to sit in the pew and just listen and think. I thought she was great. I will buy any book she writes in a hot minute, and I would love to hear her actually preach in worship sometime too.

5.) The Mississippi River. I still have an odd fascination with this river, and praise be to Mr. David for knowing that and walking us an extra block to go see it even though it was ridiculously cold and windy. (It was like 15, with the wind chill. That's nothing for Minnesota. How Another Nathan will get through this winter I don't even know.)
It turns out I cannot take a pic in the cold without *looking* really cold.
Southern blood, y'all.

6.) The Mall of America. Excellent. Beautiful. Way less overwhelming/crowded/chaotic/tacky than I was picturing. And shopping is always fun.

Also! They were only at the verrrrry beginning of their Christmas decorations. Two big trees had just gone up, but no decorations or anything else. For a giant mall who could have (and many did) start this crap before Halloween, I am super pleased that they didn't. Good job, Mall of America. *emoji applause*

Also the lego store was insane slash awesome LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL WALL OF LEGOS.

(If anyone tells you that when they become a parent, they will be immune to learning to love the things that their kids love, just roll your eyes at them and walk away, okay? Legos are aweome. Ditto dinosaurs and rainbows and Daniel Tiger toysies.)

7.) Tinytown Sarah. Hey so here's a random thing. Another Nathan moves to a tiny town in Minnesota, and it's actually not very far from Sarah's own tiny town, and that means we got to see each other! And I got to see baby Olive! Who is one of the very best babies on the internet. We had coffee and we chatted and we laughed and we braved the wind chill to take selfies and she didn't even call me a wimp about the weather or anything! And she is just as kind and funny and lovely to talk to as I remembered from the first time I met her. Internet friends turned real life friends who live close in the midwestern wilderness to your other real life friends: RECOMMEND.

8.) The Dundas Target. A++ for a clean bright shiny neat Target existing in the snowy vastness of small town Minnesota. In Target was one of the handful of times Another Nathan and I lost our bearings for a sec and thought we were in Raleigh and nothing had changed, and we had to shake ourselves, like hahaaaaaomg no we are somehow walking around his college town in MinneEFFINGsota. Target makes it feel like our friendship still manifests exactly as it always has, except (even though we don't love admitting it), it of course doesn't.

But then, nothing's existence manifests exactly as it always has. Friendships, and parenting relationships, and how we feel about God and books and celebrities and life and our spouses and ourselves -- it's all always in flux, isn't it? I don't know what to say about that, because I don't know if the notion terrifies or comforts me, but yeah there it is.

Relatedly (and I feel sheepish admitting this now, because it seems dumb and naive in hindsight), I think I thought that the Transition part would be the here part, the saying bye and watching my best friend move away -- but it turns out the Transition persists. That in some ways I am still grieving our old Raleigh life while feel also excited and proud for him in his new one, and there are days when having those two things side by side, existing in tension with each other, feels complicated. I think maybe I just needed to see that with my own eyes, up there in his new life, and name it, so that I can feel okay about the days that still feel off or floundery.

But it's lovely for us to know (still be learning?) that the meat of our friendship, what makes us, us -- is still there, totally. And that sitting in a comfy chair in a coffee shop together and dreaming big dreams about each other's families and careers, honest confessions about parenting and relationships and job fears -- those are things you just want and need your best friend for, and sometimes no one else will do.

So I think what we have learned here today is that thinking about the Dundas Target makes me be all bloggy existential about life and friendship? Okay then! Good times!


So, yeah. We had a good visit. Dear friends are just.. great.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Things That Annoy Me About November

I am back from Minnesota and it was fun and it was cold and I will have updates and pictures later but for now I need to RANT. Because I should like November (it's my birthday month, and isn't everyone always a little bit partial to favoriting their own birthday month?) but I'm starting to like it a whole lot less than I used to. It used to be full of lovely changing leaves and some sense of calm before the holidays. But now, it's... eh. I don't know. 

Basically everything is pissing me off.


1.) At the top of the list is the Christmasification of November. I haaaaaaaate it. I know I sound like a get-off-my-lawn old person by saying it didn't used to be like this, but... IT DIDN'T USED TO BE LIKE THIS. Not that that in itself is a reason to resist a cultural shift, of course. But this is a shift that I'm scared will make me exhausted of Christmas before it even gets here, and Christmas is special! I want it to feeeeeel special. I am feeling protective.


I'm not one of those people who will go so far as to avoid Christmas music during Advent, or get cranky about putting up the tree or decorating -- for me, the excitement of those things IS part of the mental and emotional preparation for Christmas, and it doesn't feel in conflict with Advent -- BUT I will be cranky if we do it before Thanksgiving-ish. I just will. If Christmas has become a thing that takes TWO FULL MONTHS, then it's too much. That's more than 15% of the year! Just no.

Actually, wait. That's not fair. I take part of that back, a little. Everyone can be excited on their own timelines, of course. Just don't push me into it too.

It's more than just not liking it. All of the decorations and jungle bells and songs starting up on my birthday (or earlier!) makes me feel legitimately rushed and panicked and anxious.

Let me bottom-line this before anyone calls me Scrooge: Don't. My resistance to earlier-every-year Christmas is not because I hate the cheer but because I love it, the music and the food and the shopping and the bustling malls and the chill in the air and the holiday beverages. All of it. I don't want to get sick of it or numb to it before it's even here.

In related news, I bought a package of coffee today with a snowflake on it and then I got home and hated myself. Not facetiously. Yes really. :(

Okay, moving on.

2.) Movember. I don't even understand this. Mustaches? Perfectly normal men looking like scruffy porn stars? Is this a fundraiser or something? I am good at the internet, and yet! This irritates/confounds me every year. Is it even cool anymore? Can we just stop?

3.) Faux-gratitude all over Facebook. I'm all for people being thankful. But these normal-status-updates-masquerading-as-thankfulness really grind my gears. They're SO OFTEN just smug or passive-aggressive or even passive agressive. (I'm thankful my x person did x thing and doesn't do y thing like other people. Oh shut it.)

I would like to start a movement where people directly email/text/call/write people they're thankful for, or SHARE some possession or abundance they have, if they're thankful for it (instead of just being smug about having it), and anyone who humblebrags under the guise of thankfulness comes before a jury of peers. Post something about thankfulness when you MEAN it. If that just so happens to be every single day during November and zero single days in the rest of the year, fine, I will try to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I am also giving you some shady side-eye.

(It can be for another day, but we also need to have a discussion about how "blessed" is not the same as "grateful" and there is a place for both words, but if you use them interchangeably, you're very likely putting people off -- read: hurting them -- by implying you have something they don't because God loves you in a way God must not love them. Gross, right? Let's please stop that too.)

4.) NaNoWriMo NaBloPoMo (etc) I have no idea what all those acronyms actually are, but they all drive me nuts, and I cringe to even admit this because I legitimately don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but y'all, that is TOO MUCH TO READ. I love that people write! And every day! But can we each pick a DIFFERENT month to do it all? Like, hey, everyone pick a month in the season you were born, if you want to do a write-every-day project. Because if EVERYONE does it in November, it means there are TOO many posts to read, and I get overwhelmed with my feedly and I don't even try, and LOOK AT MY SAD FACE NOW. (Actually, I take that partly back too. The people working on a novel every day for a month, you keep on keeping on. That, I'm okay with. Full steam ahead, aspiring novelists. It's only the daily blogging that overwhelms me.)

5.) It's dark. Not that I dislike an extra hour of sleep in the morning, or moving the clocks back an hour closer towards what my own internal night-owl clock would like, but dang it sucks that it's so dark within an hour of Nathan getting off the bus. I know, I know, it balances out, whatever. But for the first few weeks when darkness creeps in early, it sucks.

Here is a picture of Nathan and some leaves at the bus stop, because all complainy things aside, November is still pretty gorgeous, even on wet mornings.


Wow, that's a crabby post. Sometimes I just need to be crabby, folks.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Great Puppy Catastrophe Challenge

As this post goes up, I am (hopefully!) sleeping laaaaaaate on a Friday morning in a warm bed in the cold great white north of Minnesota (it better not be white, but when I checked the forecast I saw a snowflake and pretended* not to see it) (*tweeted about it, pretending not to see it, while actually freaking out a little bit). A weekend away! Y'all, it has been rough here for the last few weeks. I need it. And in the meantime, here have a blog post about Nathan being in a play!

Yes, a play. Nathan. OUR Nathan. IN A PLAY.

(I wish Mark and I had posed for a selfie a few months ago when Nathan told us he wanted to pick drama as an elective. Because... what? Conversing with other people is not the most natural thing for him anyway, but... on a stage? In front of other people? We were something close to shocked.)

But it has been great! He not only had lines, he had a lot of them! And he did them well! Apparently there is something to be said for budding thespianism to turn a kid into a more confident public speaker? We'll take it.

(And we remain grateful for a school with cool choices like this. A safe place for a kid to try something new that he/we otherwise never would have pursued or even suggested.)

Anyway, his class play. It was written and acted and decorated and designed by second graders, which is pretty clear once you know the basic plot synopsis, which is something like this:

There is a king of Candy World.
The king's jesters give him some puppies for his birthday.
Some robbers steal the puppies, luring them away with bacon.
    (Nathan was the head robber.)
Some secret police spies already knew who took them.
The find the robbers and arrest them.
They decide who keeps the puppies by hosting a trivia game show.
    (Go back and read that last part again. A GAME SHOW.)
The king and his jesters win the puppies back!
They outlaw the robbers to Planet Bully.
They shoot them there on a rocket.
But rocket trouble lands them back in Candy World.
The robbers go to prison instead. FOR LIFE.
The end.
Cast photo. (Yes, Nathan seems somewhat tiny these days.)

So, yeah. It was something. (Anneliese was riveted. She and Nathan discussed the finer plot points and character details afterward. She clearly understood it better than Mark and I did.)

And then we went out for frozen yogurt and Nathan re-lived the most important and taxing parts of his role. Yes really. *ahem* drama queen *cough cough*

Can we all just agree that when he wins his first oscar, we'll be glad I wrote this blog post?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 1st

So, hey, I had a birthday!

There is not much exciting to tell about it, but it was actually a lovely sort of low-key day. I slept (somewhat) late, had a morning choir rehearsal, had a sweet brunch with Mark and the kids, spent most of the afternoon snuggling and reading, which is exactly what I wanted, and then went on a fantastic date to a vietnamese-asian-something-type seafood restaurant in Chapel Hill.


"Charlotte told me what to write,"
Nathan explained (rolling his eyes).
A lady in choir made finger cookies, which were FAR to reminiscent of
the snow adventure horrible finger situation for me to actually stomach.

We also shopped some for a new wedding/engagement/anniversary/whatever ring, to replace the one I lost on the cruise this spring. I can't make myself pull the trigger just yet, it's a weird mix of exciting and lovely and also SO SAD (no ring will ever be the one he put on my finger at our wedding) but there is one that he loves that we feel good about, so that will probably be happening soon.

Oh! And my dad sent me flowers as per his tradition.

I'm sure a lot of dads send flowers on their daughters' birthdays, but I'd like to think my flowers make me smile more than other people's, because the whole thing started when I was five and my dad brought home apology flowers for my mom but since it was my birthday I assumed they were for me (red roses! HA!) and I guess my dad couldn't bear to tell me they weren't, so he went with it, and then the next year I was so excited/expected to get flowers again that it turned into a Thing. And he's sent flowers for every single birthday since then, including the two years I was living in Europe on my birthday. There is something really fun and adorable about your dad tracking down a florist in a foreign country to wish you a happy birthday. (The internet was not then what it is now, y'all. Just trust me. It was a sweet and impressive feat.) Anyway it's a fun tradition and it makes me smile every. single. year.

(I just went and looked, and somehow this a story I have never told in a blog post before, WEIRD WHY NOT ERIN?)

Also! Marky got me a Kindle paperwhite! I am new to the world of e-reading, so y'all tell me what I need to know to become a kindle person, okay? Right now I'm not a kindle person. But I can be! I want to be! It is better than packing stacks of books when I travel, for sure! Right now I mostly only use kindle as a phone app, for reading trashy romance novels. Smut, basically. So a real kindle is like my version of big-screen smut! Yeah I said it. Anyway it's beautiful and I want it to be for more than that so help me!

And the size of this thing is just perfect. So much smaller than a tablet, so much bigger than a phone. It's like... a BOOK! (Duh, Erin.) (I am easily impressed.) The size sort of delights me.

A fun part of my new kindle was texting with Kelley in India for pointers on connecting it to my library account. What, doesn't everyone contact your friends in the third world to help with their first-world problems? (Yes, yes actually, we do.)

Anyway. I digress. Happy birthday to me! And yes, the leaves changed just in time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rainbow Reading Levels

Nathan made me a few bookmarks a couple of weeks ago, color-coding reading levels according to a rainbow system. Want to hear all the levels? Of course you do.


Red - books a grownup reads to you
Orange - picture books you can read with help
Yellow - picture books you can read yourself
Green - chapter books with pictures
Blue - chapter books with no pictures
Purple - Harry Potter books

Well. I mean. There you go.

(As you can see, I am on purple level, because I kick ass at reading. As long as I do it quietly, apparently.) (?)

(The child loves a good System, what can we say?)