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.
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.
Today was different than other first days. The girls were excited. Our time at home was relaxed and slow. We got out of the house a few minutes later than we’d wanted. We showed up to a very full parking lot. We got some rushed photos near the school sign. We went into Alma’s classroom, where the circle time had already started. I told her to go find her name on the floor without a hug or a kiss or anything. She sat by her teacher and got to be the first calendar helper. We waved and exchanged some excited, nervous smiles. We took a grumpy Harriet out to the playground, where her class begins their day. We dropped off bike helmets and extra clothes. We showed Harriet how she can still look in Alma’s window to wave to her. Then we left. On our way down the hallway, we could see Harriet, peeking in at Alma, no longer grumpy. We walked back to campus together. Now I am sitting at a table in near silence, enjoying the solitude, looking forward to nine whole months of time that I know the kids are being enriched, socialized, educated, and loved. And looking forward to nine whole months of time that I spend by myself, thinking, planning, writing, reading, walking, or with teenagers, working, teaching, talking, learning. Man do I love the first day of school.
There is nothing worse than seeing your child’s blood on the outside of their body. If there is one truth about blood, it’s that it belongs on the inside. But, sometimes thing happen that destroy that truth.
This weekend, while camping, it was a rock that destroyed that truth. A small rock in the middle of a path, directly in front of another rock that stuck out of the ground just far enough to trip my oldest daughter.
All the kids were running laps on a path that was alongside our campsite. They ran and ran and ran. Then one of them fell and they all stopped. I don’t remember getting to Alma, but I do remember the blood. It was already pouring down her sobbing face. I scooped her up, said, “JESSE.” and don’t remember getting down to our picnic table.
I do remember exactly what went through my head:
Where is a hospital?
Head wounds bleed a lot. It’s not necessarily a big deal.
Head wounds bleed a lot. It’s not necessarily a big deal.
Head wounds bleed a lot. It’s not necessarily a big deal.
Head wounds bleed a lot. It’s not necessarily a big deal.
Head wounds bleed a lot. It’s not necessarily a big deal.
Everyone rushed to help. Devon got the ice. Heather got the band-aids and wipes. Jesse, somehow, miraculously had a pocket full of paper towels. Antonio and Drew got the lollipop. Harriet got Sarah Bear.
Thankfully the bleeding stopped pretty quickly, and we were able to see that it was more of a puncture wound than a cut. It clearly didn’t need stitches, though, in my opinion, it looked crazy how deep the wound went.
I also remember exactly the things that Alma said as I held her in my arms, bleeding:
We never should have come camping!
I don’t want a lollipop!
My sister is the best sister in the whole world.
I want to go see where I fell.
The rest of the evening was spent sitting in laps and getting extra cuddles. I watched Alma carefully for signs of concussion, even though I had no idea what the signs of concussion were. I only cried once, and not where Alma could see me.
We stayed two more nights and Alma bounced right back. The bump has gone down and the cut is healing nicely. The only wound that remains is the piece of my heart that broke along with the skin on Alma’s forehead. But that’s the thing about parenting, and that certainly won’t be the last bit of my heart that will feel my daughters’ pain.
The beauty of being a substitute teacher is the flexibility. I’ve written about this before (here and here), and I still feel the same way. I love subbing, I love middle school kids. I love it as my job, and I’m happy with how my life has taken me into this position.
Most of my time is spent doing short jobs – a day here, a day there – and I love those assignments. I love popping into a classroom and seeing what they’re working on, spending some time with the kids, but moving on.
Right now, I’m smack dab in the middle of an 8 week long-term sub job – covering for a woman who had a baby. For four weeks, I’ve been getting up everyday, going to the same school, teaching the same kids, planning lessons, grading work, and working. I love it.
Whenever I start one of these long-term jobs, it feels like I need to relearn how to work. Before it even begins I need to figure out where the girls will be everyday. It is a balancing and juggling act that takes some work, but thanks to all the fabulous grandparents, it always works out. Once I get to the school I need to figure out who to ask for what I need. I need to build a stock of snacks and other supplies. I need to recalibrate my body to only getting to use the bathroom and eat at certain times. Luckily, this time around I don’t have to figure out a pumping strategy.
Now I’m in the groove. I’ve figured the good times to pee. I have my stash of rice cakes. I have a great support system in the classroom and the office when things come up. I have my essential oils in my Essential Pouch (if you’re wondering, I have rollers of Panaway, Stressaway, Gratitude, and a salve of allergy relief trio).
I know the kids, and the kids know me. It’s always a tricky transition from sub to long-term sub in classrooms where I regularly sub. The dynamic is certainly different when I’m the main teacher, and that’s what I am until the end of the school year for these kids. I can let myself be silly, and let things slide when it’s just a day job. I have to be more serious and strict when I’m here for a few weeks. The kids are always a bit surprised in my change in demeanor.
But, here I am. Twenty days left of school. Then back to my other job as full-time mom. I have to be honest and say that I’m not as scared of summer this year. Last year I was terrified of all the unstructured, unscheduled days looming. This year, I’m excited to get back to those unstructured, unscheduled days. I’m looking forward to spending each day with the kids. I’m looking forward to getting a vacation. The word vacation definitely means more when there’s somewhere which I will vacate.
It happened again and again. I would look our my parent’s window and see them coming up the driveway. There were always two of them, always in blue suits like the people from Mathnet. We knew they were coming for us.
We would try to hide. In my parent’s closet. Under my brother’s bed. We would be almost hidden when we would sense that they were in the room with us. I would always have something – a foot, an elbow – sticking out.
They would grab me.
Then I would wake up.
I had this dream over and over when I was little. Always the same, but just a little different. Sometimes it was two men, sometimes two women, sometimes one of each. We would always hide somewhere different, but I would always be grabbed. Then I would wake up. I even had the dream once during college.
I’m pretty sure this dream is what has led to me having an irrational fear of kidnapping. I’ve always been scared of it. Once, while walking to school, my friend and I convinced ourselves that a car pulled over and offered us a flower to get in their car. Another time, I was on the school bus with a few other kids and the driver forgot we were there and started driving back to the bus barn. We were convinced we were being kidnapped.
When I had Alma I panicked because I realized that I didn’t have to just worry about myself being kidnapped anymore. Now I have to worry about my girls getting kidnapped, too. I don’t know how to present this idea to the kids. I want them to stay with me in crowded places, know not to get into cars with strangers, not wander around the neighborhood. But I also don’t want to instill my irrational fear in them.
All this because of this dream.
I should add that once, I didn’t wake up when the blue suits grabbed me. The dream kept going. I ended up on a cruise ship with a friend from preschool who had the same ice cream sundae tank top as me, eating the ice cream sundaes from our shirts. This should have convinced me that getting kidnapped can be fun. Or something.
Yesterday was your birthday and I’ve been wanting to tell you something. I write to the girls on their birthdays, but I think it’s important to write to you, too.
I have always admired you, daddy. You always worked hard to give all of us a wonderful life. You worked hard, but you were always home for dinner and present in our lives. On Sunday mornings, I would wait to see you get up, then I’d follow you to the living room so you could read the comics to me. You were always up to play in the backyard, or play a game of Pente. You came to my recitals even when it meant missing a track meet. You taught me how to ride my bike on two wheels.
One of my favorite memories of us is from a bike ride. I can remember exactly where this conversation took place, right around the corner from where I live today. We were riding ‘around the block’ and you told me that you hope I will always call you Daddy. I remember thinking that was absurd that you would even ask. Of course you’ll always be my daddy.
You have another name now. You are also Papa, and I am so glad that my girls get to have a Papa like you. They light up when they see you, and honestly, you light up, too. You are such a great grandfather. You get down to their level to play with them. You spoil them just the right amount. I know that I can count on you to take wonderful care of them.
Happy birthday, Daddy. I hope you know how important you are to me, and how much I love you as my Daddy, and as Alma and Harriet’s Papa.
6:52 – I want to remember how every single day Harriet wakes up and asks Jesse for milk in her Dora cup. I want to remember how she says Doa Bup. I want to remember how she can point to Dora and Boots, but that she’s never actually seen the show (as far as I know).
9:13 – I want to remember how this morning got away from me and suddenly I was at work and I hadn’t taken any photos of getting ready, dropping the kids off at dad’s house, getting to school, preparing the lessons, drinking my coffee. I also want to remember these fun kids. 7th graders are so entirely funny.
10:38 – I want to remember how, even as a sub, I get to teach some of my favorite lessons. The teacher for whom I was subbing didn’t have time to really prepare a lesson, but we texted about what was going on. I was happy that she was talking about heroes, and I jumped at the chance to do one of my favorite activities about the Hero Cycle. It’s not a particularly difficult activity, but it really helps the students understand the Hero Cycle.
11:35 – I want to remember this school. It’s where I did my student teaching, and a big chunk of my subbing. It has changed a lot, but it has a lot of heart. The kids are charming and funny and bright. The staff is full of some of my very favorite people. It’s also a fancy new building with lots of great things, the least of which is the instant hot water in the staff rooms. But that hot water tap was pretty great during my two day job there.
12:35 – I want to remember these days of papers to grade, lessons to teach, ideas to share.
2:32 – I want to remember the energy of kids at the end of the day. They know that freedom is soon theirs, and it’s electric. It’s like a surge, then they leave and it’s silence.
2:38 – I want to remember raindrops and windows and school buses.
4:18 – I want to remember how Alma is requesting certain songs when we’re in the car. It used to be the ‘paper song,’ also known as ‘the monkey on your back,’ officially known as “Anyone Else But You” by the Moldy Peaches. Lately it’s been “The Dreaming Tree” by Dave Matthews, which I obviously love. She asks lots of interesting questions about the song. She asks about death and about trees. She will see a tree out her window and ask if it’s the Dreaming Tree.
4:56 – I want to remember how Alma had a fever for 4 days and didn’t have much appetite. Seeing her eat a bowl of yogurt while watching Octonauts made me very happy.
5:47 – I want to remember cooking with Jesse. We make a good team, and it gives us a chance to talk and catch up after our days. I love that man, and love that we get to do this life together.
6:18 – I want to remember how this girl won’t stop dancing and singing ever, even with a 4 days fever. Tonight we had a dance party to “Everything is Awesome” because we had a family movie night and watched The Lego Movie and it’s stuck in all our heads. But it’s true – everything is awesome.
6:33 – I want to remember how much these girls love the bath. I want to remember Harriet’s curls, especially when they’re wet.
8:49 – I want to remember these tea dates with Katrina. It does my heart and soul so much good to get out of the house and spend time with her. Talking about jobs and kids and our lives is so easy and great with Katrina. We were joined by another sweet friend, Christy, when she happened to come to the teahouse to stock up. It felt good to talk and laugh and connect with these two wonderful mamas.
This is our fourth year visiting Santa at the Festival of Trees. It’s great to see him every year. This year we went with Rory and Poppy, and all four kids were (mostly) happy to go say hello. They were a little nervous, but there were absolutely no tears. I’m sure the candy canes helped.
Alma told Santa she wants a unicorn with a glowing horn (anyone have any ideas for this?). Rory told Santa he wants a Poli. Harriet and Poppy didn’t tell Santa what they want.