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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Books I Love: Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (1963) is a staple of many homes, classrooms, and imaginations of former children. I, myself, owned a copy of the book as a child. My copy--in fact--was so well loved that it no longer exists, and after several years, I forgot about the book entirely. And though it is not the most relevant piece of media, it shaped my childhood understanding of imagination, and deserves to be my first entry of the "Books I Love" series.

WildThings-cover.jpg (960×860)

This leads me to 2009, when--while sitting in a local movie theater--I saw the following trailer for a book I had forgotten long ago, featuring an awe-inspiring theme song (both are linked below).

As excited as I was for the film adaptation, I waited until it was released in the $1.50 theater before going to the movies. And once it was finished, I couldn't remember why I thought it was so important to wait. The movie warmed and broke my heart. First of all, the voice cast (James Gandolfini, Chris Cooper, and Catherine O'Hara, to name a few) managed to turn the "wild things" into a lovable and fearsome set of characters who seemed to have an almost familial-style love for Max. Catherine O'Hara's voice is the voice I now hear in my head when I read the line "We'll eat you up we love you so" to my preschool students.

Trailer, "Where The Wild Things Are" (2009)


Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" was the song featured in the movie trailer, and I instantly fell in love. I actually got the idea to write this blog because I recently stumbled across a mix-CD I burned several years ago, which included "Wake Up." As I listened, I remembered the movie trailer, then the movie, and finally the book that started it all. And these are the kinds of memories that I want to keep as long as possible. I want to share them with my son some day. I listened to the song continuously for the next half-hour of driving just reliving the sweet, dreamy feeling I experienced the first time I heard it.

"Wake Up" by Arcade Fire (2008)


Lastly, as a sort of "P.S." to this article, apparently Alt-J's song "Breezeblocks" was at least in part an homage to Sendak's work. Obviously referring to the "urge to run away" from a loved on--not so much about the cheating and possible murder. The video is definitely worth a look.

I can't wait until my Sweet Baby is old enough to be able to read this book with me. I can see so much of Max in my son--the unintentional destructiveness and little-boy wildness, and the book's message of never-ending imagination evokes a warm feeling I can't wait to pass along.

This was never intended to be a blog for reviews, or critiques, but rather as another way for me to document all of the songs, movies, books, pictures, etc, which helped shape who I am, and brought me countless hours of joy during my childhood. As such, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane.

CHALLENGE: At some point this week, think about and find a favorite book from your childhood. Then comment below. I'd love to build a library for my son and I need suggestions :)


Sincerely,

Your Devoted Friend

When Life Gives You Lemons...


So, there we were...minding our own business, paying bills, making ends meet, and BAM--we're homeless. Hyperbole aside, it happened over the course of two weeks because our *dripping with sarcasm* super-cool landlord realized that he could rent the house for far more than he was getting from us. 


So, here we are...living with my grandmother in her upstairs apartment, desperately trying to save enough money for my Dear Man, myself, our beautiful baby boy, and our 3 dogs to get a new place.

At first, I was predictably upset and scared, but truthfully, it's not all bad. In fact, there are a few very important lessons I've learned as a result of this upheavel:

1. Stop romanticizing and buckle down
2. Income minus future planning equals "actual" income
3. Enjoy each moment for what it is, not what you want it to be
4. "More" makes you tired, not happy


Lesson 1: Stop Romanticizing and Buckle Down


While we were living in our rental property, we behaved as though we were going to live there forever. We didn't overly worry about savings, we made repairs to the house out-of-pocket, and we planned for a life we couldn't realistically afford. Our finances--and our dreams--needed a harsh wake up call. Ideas do not equate to ownership, and are useless without a solid plan to achieve your goals.

Lesson 2: Income - Future Planning = Actual Income


Yes, what you just read is correct. Dear Man owns his own "Start-Up" business for which he cannot yet take a salary, so we decided to only take my income into account. In the interest of transparency, my income is divided between 3 part-time jobs (preschool teacher, program coordinator for a local non-profit, and church nursery worker), and totals $2,200 for 10 months out of the year. The 2 months that preschool is on Summer Vacation, I only make $1,300 per month. 

What's the equation all about? I decided that we would pay ourselves first.

Right now, $100 per month will go to building our $1,000 emergency fund. An additional $400 per month goes to our standard 3-6 month emergency fund. Right now, Sweet Baby's savings account is comprised of all of our $1 bills and change that we scrape together and deposit at the end of every month. Doing the math, that means we don't have $2,200 to work with, but rather $1,700 ($800 in my Summer months). This is a big shout-out to Dave Ramsey and David Bach who outlined simple, logical, doable plans for the Average Joe who wants to live without financial fears.

That's Us!!!

Lesson 3: Enjoy Each Moment For What It Is


Fun and relaxation are now an important, and coveted commodity in our home. Whether we're talking about a free community event, or a chance for a family outing to the grocery store, it's not just the mindless spend-fest it used to be. Our son is 11 months old--big and beautiful--and all I want is for him to grow up happy. So maybe some of this living in the present is related to guilt that we feel, but who cares? In the end, he's only going to see how hard his parents worked, how grateful they were for the work, and how much he is loved.

Lesson 4: More Makes You Tired, Not Happy


My typical day before we moved consisted of taking my son to Preschool with me, having my Mom watch him while I went into the non-profit office for a few hours, pick up my son, cook dinner/play with Daddy, put Sweet Baby to bed, and crash. Guess what? Nothing's changed, except for my attitude. Now I care and appreciate the time with my son, the work that provides us with money for food, and the family that has supported us through our challenges.

Working towards shared family goals (financial or otherwise) is energizing!

We take great pride in watching our debt decline, our savings increase, and our lives declutter. Each month, we grow stronger as a family and take a few steps towards the future we want.

CHALLENGE: This week, think about whether or not you are putting your family first. If you aren't saving the way you want, is there a bill you don't need? If you don't spend enough time together, is there an activity you don't need?


Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted Friend