Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

mr rogers.jpg

Saw ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ tonight. It was as good as I was hoping it would be. GQ and I both agreed that we weren’t the biggest Mr. Rogers fan growing up. I remember thinking the King was creepy. I definitely have memories of watching the show, but as a kid, Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street have more of a lasting impact on me than Mr. Rogers.
That being said, Mr. Rogers’ message of you are fine just the way you are was and is a message worth putting out there. I’ve read a lot of reviews where people said they ugly cried the whole way through the movie. I think people that are going to do that are either people that don’t work with kids or those who have forgotten their inner child.
There were parts that made me smile, parts that tugged at my heart, and parts that surprised me.
One of the biggest takeaways I have from this movie is how radical Mr. Rogers was when he started, and honestly throughout his entire broadcast history. While almost every other show was doing physical comedy and showing characters embarrassing themselves in all kinds of ways, he consistently kept his message the same.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone. Obviously, people familiar with Mr. Rogers will like it best, but I would think kids who have never experienced him or his show would get some good out of it, too.

10 Influential Albums – Day 2

The B-52’s Self Titled First Album

This would be another stone in my musical foundation. I’ve written about my exposure to the B-52’s before, so I’ll skip that. What I’ll do is talk about the amount of time I’ve spent dancing to Rock Lobster, the full 6:48 of it, not the shortened version. “Down! Down!!” The time I’ve spent trying name all 52 Girls. The time Glitter Queen and I had “Dance This Mess Around” played at our wedding reception because it’s just so good. How their version of “Downtown” is so different than Petula Clark’s version, and I totally want to go to THAT downtown instead of Petula Clark’s

I’ll talk about my memories of the seeing teens dance to this album and DEVO and thinking, “OH! I get it.” At the age of 9 or 10, when I saw them, and heard that music, I can’t tell you how pivotal a moment it was for me. On a podcast this morning, I heard journalist and Jann Wenner biographer, Joe Hagan say something that totally relates to this album, “just a fantastic expression or joy. If you listen to this record it’s fun and it’s funny.” He was talking about the Specials first album, but seriously, these songs on the B-52’s, that’s it.

I’ll tell you how over the years I’ve seen the B-52’s many, many times and how they always impress me, even when Cindy’s voice is failing because she has a cold, but she still is there doing the show.

I’ll tell you how I know I have an instant connection with someone when I see that they have this album, CD, digital file in their music collection.

I’ll tell you how Ramona’s doctor, the dearly departed, Dr. Yoder, had “Rock Lobster” as his ringtone and how that spoke volumes.

I’ll tell you how mustachioed Fred Schneider banging that cowbell in the song means more to me than the cowbell in “Honky Tonk Women”.

I’ll tell you how when I’m driving around listening to music I almost always think to myself, “How would this sound if it was a B-52’s song?” “Shut Up and Dance With Me” – totally could be one of theirs, Fred – “Come on, GIRL!!” Cindy & Kate harmonizing in their amazing way, “Don’t you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me”. Then the 3 of them together, “SHUT UP and DANCE with me!” It’s a logical connection to “Dance This Mess Around”.

If you have this album and you haven’t listened to it recently, go and do it. If you only know the B-52’s because of “Roam” or “Love Shack”, I’m not sure what you’ll think of this, but I hope you go listen and I hope you love it like I do. So, don’t forget, “Planet Claire has pink air, all the trees are red. No one ever dies there. No one has a head…”

What it could have been

DEVO, New Traditionalists. Man, oh, man. Those teens listened to DEVO, too and again, it just spoke to me. So weird and so awesome. I think I’ve said this before, but I tried to get a group of my friends in 7th grade to dress up in matching white shirts and white pants and be DEVO for the day. I’m pretty sure an older brother of one of the guys convinced us that it was a bad idea.

Current Favorites (fka Top 10 List)

The Cheeps

These chickens. They’re known as The Cheeps here at the Benefield Homestead. Each year Trinity School kindergarten students hatch chicks. Lots and lots of chicks. Since our last chicken experiment didn’t end up like we had planned we decided to start from scratch. I brought 5 chicks home so they could be with us and get used to us (and all the other animals) and hopefully stick around with us instead of flying the coop. Literally. We spend time with The Cheeps every day so as they get older they will not run away from us like crazy chickens, even though that’s what they are. The two white ones and Tina, the caramel colored one seem to get that idea. The two black/gray ones, not so much. It has been fascinating watching them grow. We think that one of them is developing into a rooster – the black/gray one with the growing comb on its head – that we will give to a rooster-friendly home before he starts to crow.  As summer goes on look for updates and pictures.

Keeping Kids in Motion

I have the great fortune to work at a school with some amazing PE teachers.One of them, Justin Cahill, blogs regularly about exactly what the blog is titled, Keeping Kids in Motion.
He also has a Facebook group under the same name. It currently has 921 members! People from all over submit articles, videos, and pictures of games, ideas, thoughts, questions and more dedicated to helping keep our kids, our students, ourselves active. I love his passion and dedication.

May 28 – August 7

It’s summer break, y’all! It’s awesome. I am so thankful to have this time off. I know there are some teachers that like to say that summer break has nothing to do with their decision to teach. I have no time for that. Of course, it’s not the main reason to get into teaching, but to deny that time off as an absolute reason to celebrate? Come on! This summer break I am trying something new – New Directions! I’ve made a two lists: Things I Need to Do and Things I Want to Do. Unlike years in the past when I’ve made lists of things to get done over summer, this time, I’ve included plans for getting them done. Now, I am sure that not all of them will get done, but this past school year with the help and advice of my department supervisor I started making lists of daily goals to accomplish, so I have somewhat of a habit going. To many of you this may seem like it’s common sense, well, to me it’s still a new thing. The whole planning thing has never been a strength of mine, so I’m trying to develop a new habit.

Summer Swim Season

Both of The Girls swim during summer league. Coco swims year around, but Ramona has several other sports going on, so we give her a break. I absolutely love summer swim season! I understand that it’s easy for me to love it because it’s not me going to practice and exerting all that energy, but I love it nonetheless. I have many, many great memories of my years of swim team summers. The first meet is tomorrow! TOMORROW! And sadly, Coco potentially has strep throat and Ramona is out of town on a choir tour with our church. That’s okay! We have the whole month of June for other meets. I love cheering on all of the swimmers, not just The Girls. Seeing young people with amazing strokes and skills is very exciting. I have seen some amazing swimmers over the past 8 years that The Girls have been swimming. We are at a new pool this year, so a whole new batch of swimmers to cheer on!

Good Music

The Avett Brothers, “Ain’t No Man”

JR JR, “Gone”

The 1975 – “Love Me”

Fitz and the Tantrums, “HandClap

The Lumineers, “Ophelia


I have spoken before about how I like to listen to music a lot. I still do, clearly. However, I have recently started listening to some podcasts on my way to work in the morning, and I have to say they have been very enlightening and entertaining. Glitter Queen requests me to put some on her Nano, so I have gotten some from her. Here are a few that I’ve been listening to:

  • This American Life
  • Nerdist
  • Freakonomics
  • The Way I Heard It
  • Nerdette

Freakonomics just recently had a whole month to learning to be more productive. I don’t know if there could have been a more opportune time for me to listen. (I think GQ might have requested those on purpose so I’d get hooked into them) I probably will go back and re-listen to one or two of them because sometimes it is a lot to take in at once.

Trinity School

I have just finished my second year at Trinity School. It was another phenomenal school year. It was a very challenging personal year, but my class, their parents, my teacher team, the administration, and everyone else at Trinity really helped me through a tough time. I continue to grow professionally and personally. I am excited about training opportunities coming up, and equally excited about the upcoming group of students that I will get to spend time with next school year. I am so fortunate to be part of a great school community.

So, there you go, that’s what I’m into now. It’s not 10 things this time. Maybe I’m narrowing my focus a little bit. It tends to be wide-ranging and makes it easy for me to get distracted. Hopefully, this shorter list will help me stay on task a little better this summer.

How about you? What’s good with you right now?





30-Day Writing Challenge, Day 24 (Day 23 Prompt) – My Favorite Relative Outside of My Immediate Family

So, because I am giving my students the option of doing the weekend prompts, I’m choosing to do Day 23’s prompt on Day 24. To paraphrase Mel Brooke’s, it’s good to be the teacher.

My favorite relative outside of my immediate family is my mom’s sister, Mary Alice Wood. She is my mom’s older sister and she has always done a great job of being a part of my life and now my family’s life.

When I was younger she would take me to Turtle’s Records & Tapes for my birthday and let me buy myself a record, tape or CD. She would often question my selections and look at (and read [aloud!]) the lyrics, which my parents never did, and that was embarrassing sometimes. Especially when I was really digging Adam & the Ants, “Prince Charming“. I don’t know why the official video isn’t there on You Tube, but it’s not. Anyway, she always gave me the choice to get whatever I wanted.

When I was getting ready to go to college she gave me this advice: Make sure you talk to friends, especially older friends, to find out which professors are really good and which are really the ones you to stay away from. That’s some advice that I should have taken when it came to my Southern Lit class at UGA. That class resulted in the lowest grade I ever received in writing a paper, along with the comments,”This is barely legible.” and “I don’t know how you ever made it this far writing like this.” Up until that point, I had made really good grades on all of my papers. After that, it completely knocked me for a loop and took several classes to get my writing mojo back.

As I got older, got married and had kids, Mary Alice continued (and continues) to be interested and involved with what is going on with me. As GQ developed herself into the author, Angel Lawson, Mary Alice has kept up with her releases, asking her questions, recommending her books to friends of hers, and buying copies to share with friends. She shows the same level of interest with the Girls.

I don’t get to see her as often as I would like, but whenever I do it’s always entertaining and there’s always interesting conversation. I’m very thankful for Aunt Mary Alice.

Working on a Novel

No, no, silly. I’m not working on a novel. My attention span is nowhere long enough for that. Haven’t we met? I used the title as a way to grab your attention.

I have been working on a book this summer with GQ though.  Her second novel, FanGirl! Her second one! It hasn’t even been a year since she put her first one out. She’s quite prolific.

Ever since GQ came up with the idea for FanGirl! she has wanted to get me involved.  The first idea she came up with was to have  scenes from the graphic novel that is a main part of the story mixed in with the chapter titles.

GQ asked me if I thought that I could do these illustrations.  I thought about this, and decided that yes, I could do this.  I love comics. I love drawing, but I don’t do it very often. This will give me something to focus on and what a great opportunity.

We talked about the fact that I would have to really be focused (I may have some focusing issues I have focusing issues) and stay on schedule.  She had a timeline for getting the book out by a certain date.  

After thinking about what the drawings I wanted to were I started thinking about the fact that although I love drawing, I’m not the greatest artist.  I have problems with perspective and things looking very flat and 2D. I decided that I was not going to take the responsibility of giving her crappy looking drawings to go with her story. 

I told her this, and she tried to convince me otherwise, but I stuck to my guns. We agreed that we would look around and ask some of the artist friends we have if they’d be willing. No one had time, and several people just told GQ or me that they thought I should do it.  I was very flattered, a little disappointed in myself, but still no closer to having a solution.

Flash forward to illustration issues being solved. See above for pics from the book.  For whatever reason GQ still wanted me to be involved.  I was very willing to help, but not sure what I could do.  

We agreed that I could do some of the “fixing” of the document after her editors had finished their jobs.  I can do that.  I did that. Then we go to the point of needing to converting the format from a Word file to what is needed to upload for an ebook.  

I downloaded a couple of books from Amazon about this. I read up on it, and it seemed like something that would be pretty easy. I was going to learn to use HTML (a computer code that makes the words on a Site look like actual words instead of lots of symbols with words interspersed between them. I was going to learn to use new programs to make all this flow seamlessly from one format to another. 

Well, it wasn’t hard, but there were definitely more steps involved than what I gathered from reading those books.

Not to be thwarted I continued and was successful! Now the easy part – inserting the images into the document. Wait. Did I say easy? I meant the part that made the converting the document seem like child’s play.

The steps in the books that talked about adding images were easy enough, but making that transfer from page to my fingers was not so easy.  Time and time I would try and think that it would be successful. Time and time again I would go to preview the page and be greeted with this – 
I HATED seeing that, but I saw it again and again and again.

Luckily, GQ has a computer genius(AG) bff and she was able to step in and make it work. On her computer. ARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

This goes on for a couple of days.  Back and forth with AG.  Now I know a good bit about computers. I can do all kinds of things that a good number of people can’t do.  However, there’s a wall that I come up against, and I was staring at that wall.  That. Damn. Wall.

I am staying up late trying to get this done. I had more than 20 files saved with some sort of variation of the word “fangirl” in my download folder.  I was not going to give up, but I was frustrated to say the least. We have Comic Con coming up in a few days and GQ wanted it DONE before we left.  (insert angsty “arrgh” from above here X 3)

One morning I woke up and GQ told me that AG had it fixed. For real. For good. Come to find out that we needed an Adobe program, InDesign, to get it done, and when AG put it in there it literally took 8 seconds.  Big sigh of relief.
So it got done on GQ’s schedule.  She kept her faith in me and was very understanding the whole time most of the time of the limits of my technical know-how. I am very grateful to her for including me in this process.  Her writing is a HUGE part of her, and for a while I had a hard time understanding that, but I do now, and for her to include me means a whole bunch.

Now the novel is out in both Kindle format as well as paperback. Links to both sites are up above at the beginning of this entry.  If you’re a Nook user you’ll have to wait a couple more months to get it on that reader, but it will be worth the wait. FanGirl! is a good, fun read.  Of course I have a huge bias toward the author, but I think I would enjoy the story even if it wasn’t written by my best girl.

Do yourself a favor and go get it. Well, I suppose you’d be doing GQ (and me) a favor, but it will be worth your time, money and effort.  And if you want to do another favor you could write a review on either the Amazon page or the CreateSpace page of the book.  When books have reviews more people are willing to take a chance on it. 

I’ll leave you with this.  I am currently looking into getting InDesign so that I will be able to continue to help GQ on her author’s journey.  She’s well into a new story that she got inspiration from earlier this summer when we were on a boat ride, as well as a continuation of an earlier novel.  She amazes me.

Comic Con!

So GQ and I are leaving tomorrow on a jet plane heading to San Diego for Comic Con 2012. If you’re not hip to it then the best way to describe it is a gathering of Pop Culture – TV, movies, comic books, video games, toys and more.  Here’s some shots of my first time two years ago – SDCC 2010.  

The Girls are staying behind with Grandma & PopPop hoping to get some good Cousin time in, and hopefully see the new Ice Age movie.

This is my second time going, and I’m excited SUPER EXCITED! When I got back from my first time one of the teachers I work with asked me how it was, and as I started to blather on about it she asked, “You want to live at Comic Con, don’t you?” And you know what? I do!

So, I’ve got to finish packing and try to print out the schedule so I can read it on the plane and make sure I have enough batteries for my camera and clean my man room in case the dog/house sitter decides to sleep down here b/c it’s the coolest room in the house (both types of cool).

I’ll be posting stuff as often as I can.  If I don’t come back it’s because Comic Con doesn’t make you sign something like they do at Disney World stating that “I acknowledge that I do not now, nor will I ever, reside permanently in the Magic Kingdom.” and I’ve found a way to enter that world and not come back.

That wouldn’t happen. I’d never leave the Girls, Marley and The Puppy Without a Name behind. GQ? She’d move in too if she could, so if one of us goes, we both go.

Speaking of GQ, she’s just released her second novel this year (I KNOW RIGHT?!?), FanGirl! You can get to it here – FanGirl!
I’m amazingly impressed and proud of her.  It’s a great story.  Much different from Wraith, her first novel.  It is in the YA field, and not yet available as a paperback or in Nook format, but both will be forthcoming.

Okay, peace out y’all. I’m going to finish packing and then be too excited to sleep.