Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, Monday!

I sang along as I typed the Title of this blog (Mamas and Papas)!

So I'm feeling good about school. I think I got a B on my Spanish exam. I would prefer to think I received an A, but I will instead prepare myself for a B as I'm still sometimes unsure regarding accent marks and I'm pretty sure I mispelled purple.

I turned in my Hairspray paper and I feel good about that. The next two papers kind of go hand in hand and so hopefully they will flow smoothly together. I am a bit frustrated as I cannot access any of the documents on the I Drive for this assignment I have due tomorrow so I'm hoping that I can get that fixed and be able to do my work! I definitely know I can start feeling the pinch of feeling behind soon enough.

Yesterday David and I watched Percy Jackson, the Lightning Thief. It had its good parts as well as bad. I enjoyed the Gods, Hades in particular, the size of them, the special effects. The teenage actors were painful to watch especially the oh so dreadfully long longing looks between Percy and Athena's demi god daughter. I would definitely recommend it as a Rental and that's it.

We also watched Revolutionary Road over the weekend, the movie with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. I had wanted to see it though I know thoroughly regret that decision. It's such a Downer!!!

Well I'm still battling to open stuff that is due for tomorrow in English so I need to get around so I can run to Computer Lab and see if I can do it there. UGH

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Spray, You Spray, We all Hooray for Hairspray!!!

The Right Direction

Hairspray premiered on my thirtieth birthday, July 20, 2007. I was sure it was a sign—a sign that yes indeed, I was now old. I remember watching the 1988 version as a teenager and loving it. At thirty I recalled that feeling of love for the original movie and was excited about the prospect of the new version of Hairspray with an all-star cast and a hip new beat.

I watched Hairspray with my eldest daughter, Blythe, when it came out on DVD and loved every second of it. Even if you don’t like musicals, it has a type of universal appeal—regardless of the viewer’s age or gender. The humor is clever, quick-witted and well placed as it weaves its way in and out of song. It is lively, energetic and flows together from start to finish leaving me smiling and feeling optimistic. The acting is superb throughout and the dance numbers urge you to get up and dance along. The underlying meaning from the old movie is still present; acceptance and integration overcoming prejudice and segregation.

It was my favorite part of History class, the Kennedy era, the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. The bravery of people who stood up for their beliefs and refused to be trod upon leaves me in awe. Can you imagine what it must have taken for Rosa Parks to not give up her seat? Or what Martin Luther King Jr. went through to become a face recognized as a vital part of the civil rights movement? Can you imagine not being able to dance with a person of another race, or go to school with them, talk to them without fear of censure? For many it’s hard to imagine.

Hairspray is set in 1962 where an unlikely heroine, pleasantly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad (newcomer Nikki Blonsky) launches the movie with a rousing rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore” on her way to school. She dances through the streets of Baltimore, passing a streaker that lives next door (writer John Waters), and bleary eyed drunks in the bar (yes at 8 am, some people are dedicated to their craft). Stopping to shake her rump outside the bus stop, she misses the bus. She arrives at school on top of a garbage truck finishing the song in an energetic fashion.

Tracy dreams of being on The Corny Collins Show, a teen dance program similar to American Bandstand. She and her best friend, Penny (Amanda Bynes) dash home from school to dance along with Corny and the dancers identified as the council. The council introduce themselves as they sing “Nicest Kids in Town.” Amber (Brittany Snow) and Link (Zac Efron) are the show’s lead dancers and off-screen couple. Corny (James Marsden) announces that a council member is taking a leave of absence for nine months, and the station is hosting open auditions for a place on the council. Tracy skips school the following day to audition and is heckled by Amber and her mother, producer Velma VonTussel (Michelle Pfeiffer). Tracy is promptly dismissed after answering that she would indeed swim in an integrated pool, “It’s the new frontier.”

Tracy aspires to be President or a Rockette, but first she intends to be lead dancer on The Corny Collins Show! She’s got the moves to all the right beats and is put on the show by Corny himself, bypassing Velma. Tracy faces adversaries—a close minded and manipulative Velma and her mini-me daughter Amber. They are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Tracy doesn’t steal the show, Link’s affection and most importantly, the title of Miss Teenage Hairspray. After all, Velma was once Miss Baltimore Crabs, though she admittedly screwed the judges to get there. Velma is against integration—deviously attempting to steer Baltimore youth in the “white direction.”

Tracy becomes a popular dancer on the show despite Amber and Velma’s machinations. Tracy’s dad, Wilbur (Christopher Walken) starts selling Tracy memorabilia like hotcakes out of his Hardy Har Hut. Girls are buying bouffant wigs just like Tracy’s real hair and clamoring to get into detention which Tracy frequents more often than not. Tracy is all for integration and determined to knock Amber down a few notches.

True to form, a man was cast as Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother. In the original 1988 version, Divine, a popular drag queen first played the role of Edna. In the Broadway adaptation Harvey Fierstein continued the tradition. In the 2007 musical spectacular John Travolta takes the character to a whole new level. Edna is an agoraphobic laundress who has not been out of the house since the early 1950’s when she was a size 8. With little understanding of Tracy’s dreams Edna admonishes herself when Tracy lands a dancing role on The Corny Collins Show. She soon leaves the house to act as Tracy’s agent at Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway upon Tracy’s insistence (“Welcome to the 60’s”). Edna dances into the limelight at the end of the show, showing that John Travolta still has the moves and reminding us all not to get in her way when she sees a Christmas ham!

Queen Latifah’s performance as Motormouth Maybelle is inspiring. Maybelle is hostess of Negro Day, owner of record shop and mother to Seaweed and Lil’ Inez. She cringes as she thanks Negro Day’s sponsor: Napaway and I cringe with her. She is astounding as she sings “I know where I’ve been” during the march after Negro Day is cancelled; the solemnest and beauty of the song giving me chills.

Zac Efron steps into the role of Link Larkin, Tracy’s love interest, with ease from his High School Musical days. It’s nice to see a guy to whom most teen girls would give a limb to have actually go for the heavy girl who has more personality than a room filled of the attractive idiots. The only time I was disappointed in his character is when he refused to join Tracy in the march but he more than makes up for it in the finale.

This story is not only about an overweight teenager overcoming stereotypical standards to be a dancer on The Corny Collins Show but also facing adversity head on. Tracy’s character knowingly gives up her dream of dancing on television by joining the march against the station on an issue that resonates in our American history. This Musical goes there and does so marvelously. As Blythe and I watched she wondered, aloud, why the black kids and white kids couldn’t dance together. The movie opened up a conversation and led into a micro history lesson. Blythe said to me, “But Mama, we are all the same inside even if our skin is a different color outside.” It is amazing that America has come this far in forty years.

Tracy isn’t closed-minded and doesn’t see color. She enjoys life, dancing and singing. Her character is fair-minded and has depth. She says to Wilbur before the march, “I thought that fairness was just going to happen. It’s not. I have to stand up and fight for what’s right.” It makes me proud to have her as a role model for my kids rather than the unattainable and unhealthy thinness of today’s models and movie stars. Many Americans struggle with their weight, so having this chubby little vivacious girl as the forefront star of the show is refreshing!
I went back and watched the 1988 movie and winced throughout the entire monstrosity. I wondered at my mindset as a teenager and how I could have enjoyed such a movie. Hairspray, 1988 style is gritty, dirty and crass with the Amber character frequently calling Tracy (Ricki Lake) a “whore” and screaming like a banshee that Tracy “has roaches in her hair.” Tracy gets sent to detention in the 2007 version by a teacher due to hair height and in the 1988 version she gets sent to Special Education by the principal for the same infraction. She fights back accusing him of putting her in a class with “Black kids you try to hold back and retards.” I found myself poorly attempting to justify why I liked it not only to myself but to my boyfriend who looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I am almost ashamed that I held the 1988 original to such a high esteem for so many years.

The story line remains the same in the 2007 version but is much more direct in its overall message of acceptance. The musical is significant because whether you are an overweight teenager, struggling with racial inequality, or denied rights because of sexual orientation, it all comes down to the same thing: We are all human and our humanity can only benefit if we were more accepting of each other.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Process Journal for Evaluative Essay

I love writing the Process Journal, it's fun and easy once I feel the relief of having my paper just so. I'm still struggling with two words in my paper I want a different meaning on but I'm happy with it overall. The Process Journal needs to be my struggles, trials and tribulations of writing the actual Essay, the assignment requires it be 2 - 3 pages long. Mine end up being 3 pages. I hope you enjoy!

Process Journal - Evaluative Essay

I was initially excited about writing a movie review. I love movies almost as much as I love reading and I knew instantly I wanted to write about Hairspray. Hairspray is a staple in my household, my children and I watch it at least once a month and the significance of the movie is something that I feel passionate about.

As I arrived home I began thumbing through our movie collection and could not locate Hairspray. I went to the public library to get a copy and they were all checked out. I reserved a copy and hoped it would come in over the weekend. Sunday as I was grocery shopping, I traversed through the movie aisle looking for Hairspray. I found it! Immediately I placed the movie in my already over flowing grocery cart and headed home merrily.

My family and I piled on the sectional to watch the movie the first time through. My boyfriend groaned at my insistence he watch the whole movie with us. Usually it’s just the kids and I that watch it together. My boyfriend is much more interested in science fiction and horror flicks than fun musicals with John Travolta as a woman. Amazingly enough he thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I’m sure he would not admit so to any other man, but I’m here to do so for him.

I scribbled pages of notes and then looked at the Movie Notes assignments. Two to three pages I read. “Oh, fantastic!” I thought. After I concluded typing the notes out there were ten pages. Talk about overkill. I began weeding down my notes and reduced them to six pages when I looked at the time and noticed I needed to leave for John’s doctor’s appointment.

I assumed it was just a cold and was shocked and stricken with fear as the doctor’s explained he has RSV and wanted to verify he didn’t have pneumonia. The remainder of the day was spent having my baby boy get a chest x-ray, going to two pharmacies to get the prescriptions filled and stopping at a home medical store for a nebulizer. The next four days I was exhausted and thought little about my Evaluative Essay. Every four hour breathing treatments are as hard on the mother as they are on the son. After the doctor’s extended the breathing treatments to every six hours I felt refreshed and ready to begin my first draft.

I stared at the blank page. I procrastinated. I wondered why it would be hard for me to write a review on a movie I loved. I looked at other reviews of the movie… I felt daunted. Maybe the movie was too big for me to write about. A very astute man (my boyfriend) said you just want it to be instantly perfect and it’s not going to be. I know this about myself. When I hand in as second draft, it has to be as good as it gets. Maybe that’s not what a second draft constitutes by academic English standards but it does to me.

I kept trying to write and the hardest part was summarizing the movie. I knew it couldn’t be all about plot summary. I had to give my opinion. I just didn’t know where to cut and every time I started I was a page into the opening scenes. I went to the public library and picked up the 1988 version of Hairspray. The opening scene dragged for what felt like years. Okay, I know that’s an exaggeration. It did drag though as well as the rest of the movie. I was able to summarize the movie I now disliked but still was stuck on Hairspray 2007 summary.

I went to my sister for assistance. She hadn’t seen the movie. I was personally offended. After I pushed that emotion aside she suggested I email her why she should rent the movie
tonight. And so I did. The writing came easily then as I was all fired up about her not seeing it. It was exactly what I needed.

The following morning I awoke with thoughts tumbling in my head in a different tactic of writing. I hurriedly opened a new document and began typing. I went through what I had typed and still felt it was off. I went to a lunch with a friend who enjoys writing and has given me fantastic advice so far. She continued her streak of helpful guidance suggesting I number my paragraphs or outline what I want to convey. I recall in high school I was not a fan of outlining but it assisted me to a great extent in this essay.

I sat at my computer desk with a feeling of hope. I systematically moved and rewrote paragraphs, merging sentences together, taking out others. The product fit the criteria of a rough draft. Once I had that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and started revising, using thesaurus as it was my long lost friend and emailed it out to my groupies. Okay they aren’t my groupies though I like to occasionally think so and chuckle to myself. I received great ideas and revised again. A second draft for me would be more appropriately said as the fifteenth draft.

I am pleased with the essay I am handing in as second draft. I am confident that it fits the criteria of the assignment and flows well. I may be obsessive about my writing but I’ve made my peace with it. I want to succeed in English and I’m willing to put in the work to be successful.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Movie Review!

I'm finally feeling decent about my Evaluative Essay due Thursday February 18. About time. John being sick, the breathing treatments and the exhaustion was a deterrrent to my writing. With lots of help from great friends, family and boyfriend I finally feel that I'm in a really good place with my paper. I'll post it on here on Thursday or Friday morning.

Aspen and Lilly got fixed today. The house seems strangely quiet without Aspen lumbering through the house with her happy go lucky smile on her puppy dog face. I love waking up with her laying next to me, one leg on David. I'm looking forward to picking her up tomorrow morning though her pitifulness will be something comparable to the dramaticness of Grace :).

Tomorrow is also John's 100th checkup. Okay maybe not 100th but more like the 4th. I really hope they say he's better. He seems fine, doesn't cough anymore and does his breathing treatments like a pro. I know Scott and Jessica are looking forward to having the twins back and take them to the Great Wolf Lodge this weekend with Jess' family. It's been a long two weeks!

Thursday my Evaluative Essay, Process Journal, Thesaurus to Dictionary are all due in English and I have my first Spanish exam that morning! I plan on doing lots of studying for the exam tomorrow and finishing up my Evaluative Essay so it's the best it can be when it's handed in Thursday.

I finished reading PUSH by Sapphire last night and though I cringed in the beginning the book is definitely going on my highly recommended list. Another author I've been reading alot is Kristin Hannah. True Colors and Firefly Lane are my favorites but everything is really really good. Good women stories.

I sometimes struggle with how to end a blog.... Like now..... I'm tired! I got up at a bit after 6 to work on my paper.... OBSESSIVE!

I'm going to bed!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's been a busy week with John's breathing treatments, doctor's appointments, class, karate and everything else, but we are doing good and relatively on track. Friday was Blythe's first dance at school and she was so excited! It was fun, though some parts of it could be better organized. Gracie and Blythe definitely shook their groove thing throughout the 2 hour dance.

Yesterday (Saturday) I took the girls and we headed to Mamaw's and Papaw's for Great Grandma Reva's 82nd birthday and Michael's 1st birthday. I love seeing family and having everyone around. I was immensely bummed that John and therefore David was not able to come but we still had fun. I brought Aspen who acted like a psychotic dog until the last 20 minutes when she just laid around like, "What? Have I been the psycho-est dog ever?" She's so cute.

I walked in the house to see a jewelry bag on the coffee table. Oh, how I love jewelry! David gave me my Valentine's present a day early, a gorgeous diamond band (LOVE IT) and I gave him his Fossil watch also as Grace spilled the beans, then looked at me saying I'm sorry Mommy :). David said John had been asking him to look at watches all day so he kind of already knew. He liked the watch, which I was glad for... I spent 30 - 45 minutes in the store trying to pick one out... There are so many options and I don't wear a watch so it makes it all that more difficult to choose one for my honey.

We spent the evening together watching Adventures in Babysitting which I love and now want to own. I had ordered it through the library a month or so ago. They had had it but it was never returned so they had to re-order it. I remember loving the movie but had my doubts as I recently watched Hairspray 1988 and cringed throughout the entire movie. Terrible! David always teases me about my selections as we watched Best in Show together and he hated it! The kids hadn't seen it and David had forgotten almost everything about the movie, so we all really enjoyed it. I love times like that, us all on the couch watching a movie, laughing together, eating popcorn.

Mostly I love the not bickering. Or having to say the same thing over and over again. I know I need to learn to let go of that because it's not going to change and most likely will get way worse before it gets better, it just weighs on me and some times more than others. I think that's natural though!

Today we are going to have french toast and sausage for breakfast (though I need to go get bread and now another sausage since I left it on the counter all night!), quesidilla for lunch (for grace) and steak and fish with salad and bread tonight for dinner. I want to watch Hairspray all together before kids go to bed so that it can be fresh in my mind when I bunker down and get a more acceptable draft of my movie review done.

Thursday is looming in my mind on the 2nd draft of my movie review of Hairspray is due. I'm really having a hard time writing it which I don't get because I love the movie and we all know I'm opinionated :). I'm going to push forth and get it done! I have to do some Math and Spanish homework today too, just a little bit for both, but I like to try and do it continuously so it sinks in to my brain.

Oh, I started PUSH by Sapphire last night and was disturbed by Page 2. I'm only to page 33 and it's 139 pages but it's very disturbing and at the same time really really good. Push was made into that movie Precious, which to be honest I'm not sure I can see based on the book but the book is good, just shocking and so wrong what the parents did to Precious continually. So far I would suggest you read it, as an adult. I'll keep you up to date!

Well enough babbling for me for right now, have to go get my babies some sausage!


Saturday, February 6, 2010


It's Saturday and I'm exhausted! Thursday John tested positive for RSV and then we were sent to the hospital for a chest xray. It showed bronchitis but not pneumonia, thankfully! We were given a nebulizer for John with instructions of breathing treatments 4 times a day thru Friday, plus a steroid 2 times a day, when we were seen again by the doctor. We do the treatments at 7, 11, 3 and then back to 7 again. John hates the treatments. We went to the doctor yesterday at 4 and I thought for sure they would say we could go to 6 hour treatments but John was still wheezing in his chest so the dr. said every 4 hours til Monday when we get seen again. I'm thankful they are staying on top of it and of course I will do what it takes to be sure my son is healthy and sleep will come once he's healthy again!

Today my parents came and got the girls to stay over. Blythe and Grace were super excited to go stay at Mamaw's for the night. I'm hoping for a nap today. I'm so tired! David, John and I will go grocery shopping today for a superbowl feast for all of us for tomorrow. I looked online today for recipes and will be making cream cheese pinwheels, possibly jalapeno poppers, a football cheese dip, rice krispie treats (heart shaped), brownies along with chili. We should all be Stuffed!

I worked on my Evaluative Essay (movie review) yesterday a bit, looked up reviews for Hairspray 2007 edition on imdb and rotten tomatoes. I'm going to watch the older Hairpsray today and compare in my paper. I also plan on looking up actual history from Baltimore, Maryland in 1962 to see any similarities. I am nervous about writing this review, I looked at quite a few reviews last night and they are all so well written!

I'm a bit peeved at my English professor as I had emailed him Thursday before John and I went to the hospital to get the chest xray, explaining that John was sick and that I would email my movie notes and I wanted to ensure that the absence would be counted as excused vs. unexcused. In his syllabus he had said 2 unexcused absences would be marked a letter grade down. Then I emailed him later on asking if he got the message and emailed my Movie Notes that were due that day. I have heard nothing from him. So I sit here unknowing if my Process Assignment was accepted or my absence excused. I really don't get how a quick response from him would be asking too much. Well whatever I suppose, I just really hope that I can get a good grade.

I'm off to do John's breathing treatment, a few minutes late!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Cari (Holmes) Adams

The phone rang at 6:51 on Saturday morning. But I missed it. Ten minutes later I woke up and saw the blinking red light on my cell. I pushed the hair out of my eyes and groggily looked at the missed call; it read Chuck Holmes. "My father called me at 6:51? What is he thinking?" I grumbled aloud as I called my voicemail to check it.

Instead of hearing my father's hearty voice in my voicemail, I heard Sandy's, my father's long time partner. Her voice was unintelligible in my voicemail. My heart clenched as I pressed the button to call my Dad's phone back. Within one ring, Sandy's son, Jamie, answered the phone. I heard Sandy in the background, sobbing. I felt my stomach drop. I wasn't ready to hear the words he said. "Your dad's dead," Jamie choked out. "That can't be," I said, "I just talked to him two days ago, he was fine."

I sat doubled over the bed, my eyes clenched tight thinking that it's not true, it's not happening. Tears spilled from my eyes. "I'm so sorry, Cari," Sandy wailed as she got on the phone. Over and over I heard those words. I asked her to tell me what had happened. "Your dad died last night in his sleep," she said, "He was sick and I asked him to go to the doctor but he wouldn't. I told him to go. I'm so sorry, Cari. I need you to come right away. You are the only one that can make the arrangements."

I showered, tears mixing with the water that beat on my body. I slowly got dressed, feeling older than my age. I walked out my front door to the bright sun shining on my face. I flinched against the light and headed for my car. As I drove, I thought of all the unspoken questions I had for my Dad. He was the last one of his generation for his family. I had a smattering of cousins, but I didn't know how to reach them. I felt troubled that I didn't know about our heritage, our family history, what I would be able to tell my children.

The day passed as a blur. As I gathered my things to leave Sandy brought the small box out. I opened the box to find twelve bound Wisconsin Calendars and one notebook, well worn with age. I pulled one out and peered inside; they were written by my grandmother. Grandma Jo, a spitfire of a woman, who died three days after my thirteenth birthday. I recall my Dad mentioning them to me, but I had never seen them until this day.

I woke early the next morning, a crick in my neck and what felt like sand in my eyes. Sleep had not come easily nor did it last more than what felt like a few minutes. Blurry eyed I started the coffee pot and meandered to the couch. I picked up the box of journals and chronologically put them in order starting with the year 1966.

On February 8, 1966 she wrote: Chuck got A or 96% in a test at Bloomingdale school. B in Math. They said it couldn't be done, but he did it. Keep up the good work Son. I laughed aloud and kept reading. I thought for a woman that didn't finish school she wrote quite well. Thursday, April 28, 1966 circled in red: Dad had 2nd
stroke. Walked to Judy's and collapsed.
May 8, 1966: Dad died at 9:30 pm at Lakeland Memorial Hospital. I empathized with how horrible she must have felt when her father passed. I understood, that day more than I ever could have before.

It wasn't until I found my Grandfather's death certificate amongst my father's papers, that I knew different. It was he that she had referred to. They were divorced when he passed away. I wondered what it was like for her, to be a divorced woman in an era where divorce was unheard of. On October 9, 1966 another entry made me laugh out loud: Al got married. Poor Al. I didn't know Al, but I understood what Grandma Jo was saying. I've been married too.

The next journal was written in 1971. A newspaper article dated April 11, 1971 read: Recent guests at the Harry Foster home were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hambley, of White Cloud, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Foster and family of Tinley Park, Ill. Ed Webb, Josephine Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Holmes of Pullman climaxed a very enjoyable day. I had forgotten until I read this that my father was previously married. On June 6, 1971 Grandma Jo wrote: Chuck came over said Him & Arlene parted. Left his clothes. I smiled, that seemed pretty typical. My Dad was always non-confrontational.

Grandma Jo was raised in Mercer, Wisconsin, but in the 1966 and 1971 journals she lived in Grand Junction, Michigan. In 1978 she was back in Mercer and with Auggie, the man in her life I thought of as a grandfather. Throughout the years there are many entries of him and their relationship. I learned how frustrated Grandma Jo would get with Auggie by his sneaking into town for hours to get drunk. She expressed surprise when he would stay home, for once and in a few words could capture what must've been one hell of a fight. I laughed at Auggie refusing to talk to Grandma Jo for days before she would travel to visit my dad or my aunt Beverly.

The notebook began on July 17, 1979 and I picked up Grandma Jo as she traveled by bus from Mercer to Three Rivers, Michigan. She wrote of several stops along the bus route; of how outrageous the prices were, especially the hot dogs; she even made a colorful remark about an African American that joined the trek at one stop or another.

On July 21, 1979, a napkin, featuring the Peanuts character's stating: Happy Birthday in big bold colors was taped to the page. The tape, now brown in color barely held the napkin in place. On the napkin she had written: Carissa's party, Rome City, Ind. July 21, 1979. I was two years old. I turned the next page to see duck feathers barely held on by the old brown tape. The entry read: 3Rivers Park really pretty and nice. Over 300 ducks, threw them 2 loafs of bread. They had cute donkeys, 2 big owls,
raccoon, wolves, deer big & small. Carissa really enjoyed feeding the ducks. Duck feathers I found.

I clutched the journal and sat in awe for a moment. She kept these items and took the time to tape them in her journal and write about being with me. A lump formed in my throat as I read these entries and gently touched the napkin and feathers that are now over thirty years old. I was raw with emotion from my father dying so unexpectedly, having these journals and finding these entries made it all the more precious.

On May 24, 1980 she wrote of my brother being born. Another Charles Holmes. In 1981, she wrote of President Reagan getting shot and two days later receiving her Veteran's check in the amount of $131.00. April 9, 1981 she receives her state tax refund of $12.20 and wrote: Big deal.

Midsummer 1981, I read her entries about Aunt Betty getting sick, being hospitalized and having an operation. I read how Betty went to stay with Grandma often, her husband, Jack, routinely beat her. Grandma Jo is clear as day on her feelings for Jack when he got Betty thrown in jail over a drunken brawl. On July 26, 1982: Betty was operated on again. July 30, 1982: Betty heard she had cancer, no cure. May 8, 1983: Betty passed away at Noon. Mother's day. She suffered but fought. I was by her side. Thank God. She was 45 years old. I wondered how Grandma Jo felt when she wrote that. More so, I contemplated if she kept it together being that Betty was the third daughter that she buried. Gloria was stillborn and Judy was murdered in the early 1970s.

I lost track of time as I enveloped myself in my grandmother's life. As I read through each year, I read of births and deaths; marriage and divorce; Life. She wrote about waiting for unemployment, state tax checks and looking for work. I wondered how it must've been like to live with a $42 paycheck a week. She made entries about time spent with family, birthday and Christmas presents, the cost of a muffler, the weather and her love of owls. I laughed when I saw how she wrote my Dad's birthday on the wrong day on different years, as I always teased my Dad that he could never remember when my birthday was.

In April 1985, she wrote of needing to go to Milwaukee, if my cousin Kevin and his wife Liza could come and get her. The next day she penned: Kevin & Liza come.
Bev needs me. Bev back in hospital. May 9, 1985: Bev passed away. I wonder if she felt helpless watching her children die. I live in fear of something happening to my kids. I go in their room at night to reassure myself they are breathing. If I have a bad dream I go in their room as a source of comfort.

The last journal was in 1989. Grandma Jo died on July 23, 1990. I think about what her life was like that last year, as I know she was sick for a long time. The cancer took it's time to take her home. I loved my Grandma Jo, though I did not know her well. I visited with her several times before she died, but I was young and did not know about her or her life. I treasure the moments that I was able to glimpse from her life and my family's history.

We only know of our history because of the stories that are passed down through generations...without my Grandma Jo's journals, an entire family would have been lost with my father's passing. They inspired me to create a blog which I diligently write in. I now have the responsibility to continue my family legacy... I must keep memories from the past alive and create memories for future generations to look back on. The clock of life is wound only once. And no man has power to tell just what hour the clock will stop, so use your time real well. Josephine Holmes, 1979

"Bless Your Pea Pickin'


Josephine Holmes


Hiram Holmes

Josephine Holmes

Gloria Holmes

Judy (Holmes)Babic

Betty (Holmes) Babic

Beverly (Holmes) Schwartz

Carol (Holmes) Hambley


Charles Delbert Holmes

Monday, February 1, 2010

1st Literacy Narrative

Life's Literature: An Intimate Sliver

I was raised with a love of reading. I believe that if a parent loves to read and passes this passion along to their children, it will continue on for generations. One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother reading to me from a collection of well worn nursery rhymes. The multi-colored pages crackled, some ripped and frayed. My grandmother recorded me reciting "Little Miss Muffet" when I was about three years old. I still love listening to voice sounds so small and I mispronounce some words.

My mother was very close to her parents and we spent a lot of time with them when I was growing up. We ate together, read together and danced through the house to eight tracks of the Glenn Miller Band. I was nine when I realized how cancer-stricken my family was. My grandmother, Reva, a now eight-time survivor, was battling her forth stint with cancer at that time. That summer I spent hours at the quaint library that sits around the corner from my grandparents’ home. Day after day during summer break I researched cancer the dreadful disease. I came away from that experience with no fear and an acceptance that one day I would hear the words that have been spoken to many surrounding me.
My awkward early teens were spent mooning over Elvis, reading about hair bands and movie stars in Tiger Beat. My room was covered with posters, my friends and I traded them like boys trade baseball cards. It was all about teased hair, French-rolled pants and Sweet Valley High. I watched soap operas, read romance novels and made up true love stories with my little sister.

My senior year of high school I was seventeen and fascinated by criminology. I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. I devoured book after book regarding famous murders and serial killers. I wrote a lengthy paper about a famous murder and trial referred to as “The Trial of the Century.” I was spellbound by the killers’ mind, deliberateness and cockiness. Shortly after high school, I watched a movie where Sigourney Weaver played an agoraphobic criminal psychologist. It terrified me. Thoughts that had never previously entered my mind now became forefront, “When I have a family, would I really want to be a criminal psychologist? Would I live in fear of some crazed lunatic coming after myself or my family?” It was surprising to have these thoughts as having children was not a priority to me. I didn’t particularly like children, could never see myself as a mother and to this day am not fond of some.

During my early twenties I played hard and rarely gave a thought to having a family. My first pregnancy was not planned. Honestly neither of them was. I tend to joke “I’m terrible at taking pills, meet my children.” My boyfriend and I fought the night before I took the pregnancy test. Prospective parenthood scared both of us, creating a tension so acute that anything was bound to set it off. The next morning the test results read positive. The elation was bubbling up inside of me. My thoughts racing, I opened the door to the living room to share the exciting news with my boyfriend. I said the two words that would forever change our lives, “I’m pregnant.” I sat, shaking with nerves, as I awaited his response. He covered his eyes and said the four words I never thought I’d hear “You’ve ruined my life.” I was twenty five when I became pregnant with my now oldest child.

Throughout my pregnancy I read numerous books regarding what to expect during pregnancy and what to expect once the baby arrived. Week by week I could read what was happening inside my growing belly….both amazing and frightening. I was terrified of S.I.D.S. to a level of fear that is hard to explain. Any small step I could take to prevent it, I did. Suddenly I understood why my mother would sneak into my room and check if I was breathing at night.

Sunday, September 29, 2002, I was forty two weeks pregnant and miserable. I went grocery shopping with a good friend for that evening’s dinner of Italian sausage and sauerkraut. We were walking to the car when it started. A slow pain rose thru my belly and I could feel my muscles contract. I was admitted into the Labor and Delivery September 30, 2002 at 1:00 am.
Twenty two hours later I had an emergency c-section and Blythe Reva came into the world.

I can’t find the words to describe what happens when a mother holds her child for the first time. There are millions of words in the world and it’s hard for me to find any that can express the power of that feeling. The first time I held Blythe I shook, whether from a side effect of the epidural or my fear I’ll never know. That is the moment I knew what love was. Only mothers would truly know what I mean when I say that. Everything pales in comparison to holding a child that is part you for the very first time. The fear melts away and a protectiveness that will only grow takes its place.

In February 2005 I was pregnant again. A week straight I had stopped every day on my way home from work for Twinkies. Who needs EPT when you have a daily craving for Twinkies? Twenty weeks into my pregnancy I laid on the paper lined bed as the ultrasound technician applied a cool jelly on my protruding belly. Only a minute passed when she excused herself from the room. I lay there, heart clenching in my throat as I awaited the technician’s return.

Horrible thoughts darted thru my mind. “Was something wrong with my baby?” It was my biggest fear. The technician re-entered the room with news I wasn’t expecting….Twins. Two baby boys. My hysterical laughter rang through the hallways of the doctors’ office. In less than twenty weeks I would be a mother of three children, ages three and under. I immersed myself into any literature I could find on multiples. Maybe it was my interest in the two lives brewing inside me or maybe it was the fear of what would happen once they arrived.

The twins were born on October 17, 2005, surprising us all when the first baby was a girl. The second baby was a boy and he became my grandfather’s namesake. My grandfather, John Clifton, died from lymphoma when I was eight months pregnant. I didn't realize until I held them in my arms for the first time how much more a mother's love can grow.

I traded in my romance novels for nursery rhymes and Sandra Boynton books. Staying up until the middle of the night, lost in a good book was no longer an option. I sneaked in snippets while the kids took a nap or were in bed for the night. I would nod off after a few pages in, exhausted. It would take me weeks to finish a book, where now that the kids are older, it takes me a day or two.

I am always on the lookout for new authors. I rely heavily on my friends and colleagues recommendations. Many had enthused over “The Shack”. Reading the back of the book I knew it was not the type of book that I would normally read. I picked it up in Wal-mart and promptly returned it to the shelf. Later, a friend gave “The Shack” to me and I felt awkward, not wanting to accept it. It sat in my car for months.

I was out of books to read and there it sat. “The Shack” is about a father who is angry with God for the tragedy that befalls his youngest child, a daughter. The father leaps to the rescue of his two older children and in a split second, the daughter is taken. Only her red dress was found on the floor of a shack close to where the family was camping. The tears ran down my face clouding my vision during what is referred to as “The Great Sadness.” My heart clenched as I felt the pain that a parent surely would feel when a child is taken in an unimaginable manner. I recall getting out of my bed, walking softly into my children’s rooms. Kissing them gently, whispering “I love you’s” and thanking God I’d been so blessed.

The book is written in first person and it’s so easy to put yourself there. I have a child exactly the age of his youngest. My daughter also owned a red dress. A red dress that she insisted on wearing the very next day. I did not want her to wear it, so I hid it deep in my closet. My mother read “The Shack” after me and she threw the red dress away.

I have never cried so hard while reading a book. It was incredibly heart wrenching but beautiful. It was spiritual without being pushy and the views that were expressed in the book are exactly how I feel. If I had read “The Shack” prior to having children I know that it wouldn’t have affected me in the same way. I would love to re-read the book, as I think I could get so much more out of it. However, I am not sure I emotionally want to experience that level of empathetic pain again.

When I think about how my love for books has evolved throughout my lifetime, I can't help but wonder what changes will take place in my own children. I want my children to become great readers and writers. Our bookcases at home overflow with children’s books. I see the love of books already shaping their lives; when we read “Moo! Baa! La La La!” by Sandra Boynton and they sing along to the pages, when we relax at night with “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown and they each take a page to read and point out pictures, when they ask for just one more book before bed. Life changes us all; we change along with it, emotionally, mentally and physically. I cherish the memories of my grandmother reading to me out of that old nursery rhyme book and now I am creating memories like that for my own children.