Rooms by Lauren Oliver. This was a ghost story, but a really good one. Creepy at times, though that wasn’t the main point as far as I could tell. It is more of an exploration of a family. There are a couple ghosts that live within a house, or they are the house, and they witness everything that happens when a family comes to pack up the house. It was clever and the characters were interesting.
Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. This was a really good young adult novel about a girl who is looking for her place and her people. This is a well-written and simple story. It is a coming of age story, but it is unique and creative. I liked it.
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer. As many people know, Foer wrote my very favorite book of all time, so I was very anxious for this book to come out. It wasn’t as good as Extremely Loud and Incredible Close, but it was a very good book. It is about a family on the verge of collapse, but also about the world on the verge of collapse. There were parts when I laughed out loud, and parts where I cried, and parts where I was just really confused about why I was reading it (if you’ve read it, you probably know that chapter I’m talking about). All in all, I’d say I liked this book a lot. It was hard to get through, but worth it.
Fly on the wall by E. Lockhart. Another young adult novel about a girl who is looking for her place and her people. She wishes to become a fly on the wall of the boy’s locker room, and her wish comes true. Obviously an homage to Kafka, this modern story is pretty good. Katya is a likeable, creative girl and her exploits are realistic and funny.
Big Little Lie by Laine Moriarty. I read this because I was watching the HBO show and it wasn’t going fast enough. I just couldn’t wait to know what happened and who died and who did it! This is such a good mystery book. The characters are all really interesting and the plot is so very creative. It starts with someone dying at a school fundraiser, but you don’t find out who did it or even who died until the very end. It is a difficult book because it tackles some difficult subjects. But it’s a story of women and strength and relationships. I really liked it. Both the book and the show.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in The Mortal Instruments series – a fantasy series for young adults. I actually really liked the book and found it compelling. Clary is the protagonist and she’s pretty cool, but it isn’t really the girl-power story that it could be. Maybe that comes in the later books. It’s mysterious and clever, but the dialog wasn’t super believeable. I started the second book, but couldn’t get into it. I think maybe I needed to take some time off before starting it.
Last week, I had drinks with a fellow blogger – Hannah – and we got on the topic of blogging, obviously. I mentioned that I haven’t been feeling very creative lately, on the blog and off. I have quilts that are mostly done, but they’re just sitting there. I have ideas that are forming and formed in my mind, but they’re just sitting there. I have loads of fabric and two girls who need new clothes, but they’re just sitting there (the fabric, not the girls. The girls don’t sit still).
Then, today, Facebook reminded me of a post I wrote two years ago. There is a part that stood out. Mostly because it was so shockingly true to how I’m feeling now, two years later, to the day:
…there will come a time that I’m not inspired and I don’t feel like I have anything to post. And the blog is quiet. And (I know this sounds precious) my soul is quiet. It isn’t that the work of the blog gets overwhelming, it’s more that I’m just not taking the time to create. When I’m making things, and cooking things, and growing things, I am inspired. I’m inspired to write and share on the blog. Those are the times that I feel the best and the happiest.
Wow, past Carolyn, you sure hit the nail on the head with that one.
I feel the best when I’m taking the time to create. I feel the best when I’m taking ideas and using them to create actual, tangible things. I feel the best when I’m taking the time to sit down and write.
Right now, our garden is sprouting and I’m going to take that as a sign that my creativity needs to sprout right along with it.
My to-do list is long, but at least I finally wrote it all down.
Today you’re five. Today is one of those thresholds. You are entering a whole new stage of life. Five is a big year. Five is kindergarten, loose teeth, reading, school buses, bikes with pedals, new friends, long days away from home, writing. Five is big.
Yesterday you were four and you were still a small little child. Today you are five and you look like a whole new girl to me. I have to be honest and say that my heart hurts a little bit when I look at you. You are a well-spoken, creative, brave soul. Not much of that little baby from five years ago remains. Your legs are long and strong. Your fingers are precise and careful. Your eyes are clear and focused. Your voice is loud and determined. You are five.
You are growing up quickly and it makes me miss my baby. But, Alma, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Those baby days are gone, but I’m so happy about five. I’m so excited to see all those things happen this year, but you will always be my baby.
My wishes for you this year:
You make new friends and keep the old
You are the kid in your class who welcomes everyone
You learn to read and enjoy it
You lose teeth with courage
You fall down and you get back up
You keep sitting in my lap and coming to me for comfort
The day after Thanksgiving is my favorite day because everyone catches up and starts getting ready for Christmas! Overnight it becomes socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music, and it’s okay to deck the halls with Christmas cheer. Finally.
This year we went to Northern Lights again. We made the trek with Jesse’s folks this year. We found a perfectly lovely Fraser Fir that was tall, and sparse, and green.
Jesse, with some help and encouragement from the girls and his dad, cut down our tree. It has a much thicker trunk than our past trees, and Jesse had to work quite hard to fall it.
I love this rainy, muddy, sunny, chilly annual adventure. I figure that since we live in the place where most the Christmas trees are grown, it’s worth it to go to the source and get the freshest of the fresh.
Because, just look at the sweet memories we are creating.
Back home we got the tree all decorated. When we were done, there was a pretty solid ring of ornaments right at Harriet and Alma height.
And adding the star to the top is a family affair. I love the magic of this moment, every single year.
We also got to visit Santa after church on Sunday. I seriously love this Santa (except that this year, he told the kids he’s just a helper… I was fully committed to teaching our kids that he was the real deal, but, whatever…).
I think this was the first year both girls have happily gone right up to him and jumped into his lap.
We went, of course, with Rory and Poppy. Poppy was a little unsure about the whole deal.
We wrote our letter to Santa and put it in the mailbox. Then a talking tree – Doug Fir – came up and made us all a little uncomfortable.
But, hey! It’s Christmas time! It’s Advent! Let’s be jolly!
One thing that Evynne Hollens does very well is inspire. She is such a positive person, and I appreciate how she puts out so much love and light into the world. When she does covers, she chooses songs that are uplifting, empowering, and inspiring. Her next cover is no different.
If you’ve been following her, you know that she’s been on a princess kick for a while. In fact, she’s releasing a new CD of her covers of the princess songs (and a new CD of her other covers) very soon! I think this all started – or at least sped up – when she released her Evolution of the Disney Princess video on YouTube. It has over 10 million views (WHAT?!).
I don’t want to spoil what song she’s covering this time, but I will say that she came up with the perfect idea for the video. In the video, we’ll get to see her as a few of the princesses, along with smaller versions! The song is perfect for a bunch of four year old princesses – with their energy, silliness, sass, playfulness, and imaginations.
I helped Evynne organize a group of seven little princesses to all go to her house and film the video. It was like a bomb of adorable exploded in the Hollens’ studio. I mean, really. Look at this little Princess Parade, heading into the studio:
It was so fun to be a part of the filming. Both Evynne and Merlin, her talented cameraman (and sometimes drummer), were so wonderful with the kids. They gave amazing directions and really seemed to be enjoying the hilariousness of directing seven 3-5 year-olds.
Ashland definitely got in on the direction. Or maybe he was the lighting tech. I’m not sure, but he was there and he was super helpful!
Each of the princesses got a chance to be in front of the camera. Alma went first because that’s the way she is. She is certainly my daughter, that is obvious. While the other girls were, perhaps, a little unsure of what to do, Alma just jumped right in and started hamming it up for the camera. No stage fright here.
Harriet, on the other hand, was a bit more reserved (which is hilarious since she was Elsa, the most fierce of all the princesses!). She was also the youngest. She sort of just sat there, or stood there, and shook her head. I’m interested to see what Merlin got from her, and how Evynne will edit it. But, just look at those boots peeking out of her Elsa dress. That’s so Harriet.
It was really interesting to be there, in the studio, where the Hollens film many of their videos. It all felt so exciting – the lights, the background, the music, the energy. The kids had a great time cheering each other on and playing around.
One of the highlights of the day was when Evynne would transform into various princesses. The girls would sneak up the stairs to try to catch of glimpse of Evynne as the princesses. I’m fairly convinced that the moment she came downstairs in costume each time, the girls thought it was the actual princess. They called her by the princess name, and an awed hush went over them. ‘Ariel’s’ mom even said to me, “Why did I pay so much money to meet the Princesses at Disneyland when I could have just come over to Evynne’s house?” So, Evynne, if this whole YouTube business doesn’t pan out, you have a future in doing Princess Parties! Ha!
I’m excited for this epic show-down between the pink and blue Sleeping Beauty dresses. Actually, they were very civil, but it got a bit tense there for a second.
One of my favorite moments of the day was when Merlin was telling the girls and their families the plan, and it was chaos. Everyone was playing with Ash’s toys and there were little brothers running around. Alma was so overcome with her enthusiasm that she just ran up to Merlin and gave him a big hug, despite the fact that she barely even knew him.
We all had such a fun time working on this video with Ev and Merlin! Thanks to Olivia, Elizabeth Grace, Eibhlin, Marie, Hailey, Harriet, and Alma – all the little princesses – for helping out! Thanks to Evynne Hollens and Merlin for including us! I’m sure the whole squad of little princesses will remember this day for a long, long time.
When I planned out what I’d be writing during the month of November, I had a very different post planned for today. Last Friday, I wrote about how my daughters would get to live a huge chunk of their early lives with minority presidents – a black man, and a woman. I was so sure that would be the case. Everyone was, right?
Today, I feel raw. I’ve written a few things on Facebook. I’ve shared a few things on Facebook. I’m working on processing everything. I’m not sure where I’ll go with this blog, but you’re welcome to come with me.
This morning I told my girls, “Mommy and Daddy love you so much. We have some bad news. Hillary didn’t win, and she won’t be president.” I know it was a cop-out. I just couldn’t bring myself to say the words Donald Trump will be our president.
Instead, Alma had to draw the conclusion herself and said, “So Donald Trump is the president. Well, I don’t have to listen to him.”
Harriet said, “I have an idea. We can make a trap. Donald Trump is a bully.” The Trump Trap has been a big theme in our house for almost a year. Alma has come up with many plans about how to deal with the Trump Situation. None of her plans included the White House.
When Bush won his first term, it was my first time voting for the president. My friend and I wandered around campus in a daze. We didn’t know what to do, but we figured the best idea would be to move to Italy and do yoga on a rooftop. Since that wasn’t possible, we just walked.
Last night I just listened to Hamilton and wanted to quote it all on Facebook.
“Raise a glass to freedom, something they can never take away, no matter what they tell you…”
“To the Union, to the revolution, to the hope that you provide!…”
“I remember that night I just might regret that night for the rest of my days…”
“History has its eyes on you…”
“The world turned upside down…”
“What comes next, you’ve been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead? You’re on your own, awesome, wow. Do you have a clue what happens now? Oceans rise. Empires fall. It’s much harder when it’s all your call…”
“I’ll make the world safe and sound for you. We’ll bleed and fight for you. We’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you. And you’ll blow us all away, someday, someday. Yeah, you’ll blow us all away, someday, someday…”
“‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ we fought for these ideals; we should settle for less…”
“There are moments that the words don’t reach, there is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can, and try to push away the unimaginable. The moments when you’re in so deep it feels easier to just swim down…”
“I hear wailing in the streets…”
“I stop wasting time on tears, I live another fifty years, it’s not enough… and when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?”
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I mean, we have to move on, right? We have to take this horrible moment and find the good in it, right?
We have to organize and fight and stand up and teach our children that our country matters. That the racists and misogynists don’t speak for us. That we are better. That our story is worthy of being told.
I am a woman and I just voted. I voted for a woman to become the President of the United States. One hundred years ago, that would have been laughable. Not only would a woman never be on a ballot, but women couldn’t even cast ballots. There is something so important about all this. It is imperative that we look at this and acknowledge the enormity of the situation.
I’ve always known the history of Oswald West and women’s suffrage in Oregon. I’ve always known that he was able to grant the vote to women during his term as governor. I’ve always known about Abigail Scott Duniway, and known that she was a suffragette. But I haven’t always known the full story of women’s suffrage in Oregon, and I wonder how much you, my curious reader, know. I did some research and I want to share it with you.
When Oregon’s constitution was written in 1857, it included this statement, “every white, male citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one and upwards, who shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such election…. shall be entitled to vote at all elections authorized by law.” One man, David Logan, moved to omit the word ‘male’ before ‘citizen,’ but his request wasn’t even discussed. When the 14th and 15th amendments were passed in the federal constitution, the Oregon constitution was amended to include all males as electors, but not women.
Women still didn’t count, despite efforts by equal suffrage supporters to claim voting rights for women, along with the newly emancipated black men.
In 1872, four Oregonian women took a stand and went to the polls to vote. They gave their votes to the judge, who put them under the ballot box – not in it. Their votes weren’t counted, but their act of voting was an important one, nonetheless.
The next year, 1873, Abigail Scott Duniway , one of those four brave women, founded the Oregon State Equalization Society, and my great-grandfather, Oswald West was born.
Abigail Scott Duniway wrote and published a newspaper, New Northwest, which was a widely circulated pro-suffrage publication. She also led the way for suffrage supporters in Oregon and followed the “still hunt” strategy for gaining support for suffrage. Instead of throwing parades and huge protests, Duniway and her supporters tried to influence the men in power in a more personal, quiet way. They would write letters, hand out pamphlets, and wait until the end of the campaign to make public displays for their cause.
As the family story goes, ten years later, in 1883, young Oswald West was able to hear Abigail Scott Duniway speak on women’s suffrage near his home in Salem. He remembered her looking right at him and asking, “Don’t you feel like your mother is as good, if not better, than the ordinary saloon bums in Salem?” Os, being a staunch prohibitionist from an early age, whole-heartedly answered that – yes, he did feel that way. From that moment on, his political opinions were ignited and he worked to help women win the battle for the vote.
Oregon has the distinction of having put this matter to the voters more than any other state. Oregon male voters voted on suffrage in 1884, 1900, 1908, 1910, and finally passed the amendment on November 5th, 1912 with 52% of the votes – 67,625 votes in favor, and 57,104 votes against.
On November 30th, 1912, when Oswald West was Oregon’s governor, he asked Abigail Scott Duniway to write and sign the Women’s Suffrage Proclamation. (photo of this can be see here) She drafted the proclamation and Os West, along with Ben W. Olcott, as Secretary of State, signed it.
This is a history I’ve always known. I have always been proud of this family history. I’ve always been proud to carry on the legacy of the great men who were there when Abigail Scott Duniway made her lifelong dream a reality. I’m so proud of this history that I gave my daughters middle names that honor and remember West and Olcott for the foresight and respect they showed to Oregon’s women.
Today, we get to cast a ballot that Abigail Scott Duniway, along with Os West and Ben Olcott, would be so incredibly happy to know exists. We get to vote for a woman to hold the highest office in our nation. Not only that, but we get to vote for a woman who deserves that office more than anyone before her.
One hundred and four year ago, tomorrow, Oregon’s men decided that women were worthy of the incredible right to vote. Next Tuesday, we all get to decide who will be our next president and it very well could be a woman.
It was a fight to achieve equal suffrage. It has been a fight to give women the rights that men have taken for granted for centuries. It has been a fight to get women in any office. It has been a fight to get Hillary to November (a long, hard fight that just proves her strength and resilience). It will be a fight to get her elected. When she’s elected the fight won’t stop. It is clear that we still live in a nation wrapped up in sexism. Hillary has crashed through the glass ceiling, but there are still shards of sexism laying everywhere.
As a child, I remember looking at the poster of all our presidents that was in my first grade classroom. It didn’t even occur to me that it was strange that all the presidents were white men. It was just the reality that I knew. I so much love that that isn’t the reality that my daughters were born into. They were both born while we’ve had a black president, and, hopefully, the next one will be a woman. The world is changing.
Also, I came across this lovely coincidence: There was a suffragette who was very active during the 1912 campaign who was named Harriet, but called Hattie, just like my Harriet. She was a brave African American woman “in a state that had codified black exclusion laws in its constitution. Redmond’s work for voting rights helped lay the groundwork for the Black Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.” I can’t think of a better woman with whom Harriet should share a name. Read more about Harriet Redmond here.
Oh yay! It’s November! It’s time that I get to post my gratitudes every day!
Gratitude is a big part of my life. I did 365 Days of Gratitude in 2014 and I was interviewed about it by the lovely Hannah. Every November, I take the time to photograph and post one thing for which I’m grateful. I’m pretty sure this is my fourth year practicing gratitude in the month of November.
I know that it’s important to me to begin to slow down at this time of year. September and October are both busy, hectic, loud months with school starting, routines being developed, Halloween excitement, all that. In November, we begin to pause, we begin to quiet down. We get ready for Advent and the meditation and introspection that comes with that season of preparation. It gets darker and darker as the days get shorter and shorter. Nature starts to shut down and pack up for the winter. November is just a natural time to turn inside and give thanks for those things that surround us.
So, please join me in giving thanks for the month of November. There are so many hashtags on Instagram that point to gratitude, but the ones I use the most are #30daysofgratitude to be part of the larger community of gratitude, but I also like to do my own #30daysofgratitudeATT (for And Then They…) so I can keep track of my, and my friends’ posts more easily. So, if you post some gratitude posts this month (there are no rules saying you have to do it every single day), please add those hashtags so we can all follow along with each others’ months of gratitude. I’m carolynfwilliams on Instagram if you want to follow along.