Happy, Happy


Clarient 2

Clarinet 3

Clarinet 4

Some of you don’t know Mikey plays the clarinet. And if you don’t know that, you don’t know that I went Tiger Mother on him and told him was going to play the clarinet. I strongly encouraged him. To this day, I don’t know why I was so adament about the clarinet. I played the piano for a decade and I have no real opinion on clarinets or music like jazz and soul, where you normally hear the clarinet. The best I can say is that I thought he would like it based on how much he loved the recorder in 3rd grade. He fought me. He wanted to play the trumpet or saxophone. I don’t have an opinion on trumpets or saxophone, other than saxophones remind me of a skeevy Rob Lowe in St. Elmo’s Fire. Also, Bill Clinton. The Mister calls the saxophone the lady’s man instrument.

I’m relieved to say that Mikey took to the clarinet like a fish to water. He practices for fun and has me download the sheet music of his favorite songs. He’s taught himself to play some Star Wars songs, Tao Cruz, Ode to Joy (that one by ear), and this week, Viva La Vida by Coldplay. The first thing he did when he got home from school was grab his sheet music and practice for about an hour. He scribbled, made notes, crossed off music he didn’t like, and circled areas he needs help with from music teachers.

He taps his foot when he plays. I noticed that at the school concert in April. He does that thing my piano teacher used to do, the snapping of the fingers and waving of the hand at the beginning of the piece like a human metronome. He doesn’t realize he does either. He likes me to take videos of him playing over the course of a few weeks so he can watch himself improve. He watched the videos the way a football player watches post-game films in a locker room.

The other day I had the boys and the carpool kids in the car. I asked them what their favorite subject was, but most of them said things like recess or PE. When I asked if they could go to school and learn only one subject, only Mikey changed his answer. “Oh,” he said. “That’s easy. Music.”

It’s his favorite class and I don’t know how school music instructors do it. All those instruments! All those kids! The thought of organizing a production with so many different levels of talent and interest stresses me out. Hats off to you, music teachers.

On Thursday, as Mikey was working on Viva La Vida, he started asking me about college and scholarships. I explained to him the concept, how colleges will pay for a student to attend classes if they contribute a needed talent to their school. Mikey waved his clarinet in the air and said, “Here’s my scholarship right here, mom.” I told him he would probably have to be in a marching band to get a scholarship. He did not like that idea. The idea of skipping across a field with a clarinet and a feathered hat terrifies him. (His words.)

He asked me about majors next. I explained the idea to him, which he didn’t like. He thought it was unfair that someone would make him choose between science and music. I told him he could always do a double major, and he liked the idea. (Hahaha! Music and science! Two of the hardest majors to combine!)

What amazed me is that this was the first time in 6 years that he ever considered doing something other than paleontology. Mikey is ridiculously loyal and committed. When he makes up his mind, he stays the course, so music must be important for him to consider something other than science.

This summer he is again going to music camp, though he’ll be playing on the bass clarinet this year. The band needs another bass and Mikey’s teacher thinks he can do it. Mikey also wants to take a remix class, where you learn to make mixes on your tablet. Or DJ? Or something. No clue on the technical terms. He and Nico are really inspired by Martin Garrix. It’s insane to think that boy is only 9 years older than Mikey.

Last year, I followed my instincts and ignored Mikey’s request for a different instrument. Now, he tells me he can’t imagine playing a horn–though he wouldn’t mind playing one in the future. Listening to my gut, not screwing up my kid (that I can see) by making him play an instrument he didn’t want, and watching him continuing to develop and refine his interests makes me happy, happy.

Happy, Happy | Library, Library

Student Council Gift

This past week was teacher appreciation week, and even though I have told the kids time and again that I am not a teacher, the student council included me in their round of gift making for the teachers. Of course, I was beyond touched and happy. My favorite has to be “best book mommy” and #book.

Nico’s teacher is so, so supportive of my goals to read to the kids and has really done a lot of great things with her class. We’re working on a book report where the kids are going to do a video “book review” of their book. The 8th graders will edit the videos as part of their final computer class project. It’s should be so cute!

In the meantime, I’m still reading James and the Giant Peach to the first grade. The other day I got to the part where the centipede sings a song bashing Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker to Miss Spider, who is sad because the aunts flushed her dad down the drain. At the end of the songs the narrator says the audience (James, Miss Spider, Earthworm, etc.) all clap in appreciation. When I said that sentence, the first grade started clapping! Nico’s teacher and I shared a look and laughed. So stinkin’ cute. When they left for PE, one girl came up to me and said solemnly, “Mrs. Kendall, you are a good librarian.”

This could not have come at a better time because lately I have been feeling so tired, so run down. I’ve been doing too much, eating too poorly, and not sleeping nearly enough. Summer vacation can’t some soon enough, though I will miss interacting with the kids.


A homemade present from a 7th grade girl! I will treasure it for the rest of my life. I’m using it as a bookmark for Island of the Blue Dolphins and the other day when I pulled it out of my bag to read she looked surprised and pleased that I was using it. As if I wouldn’t use it! She’s lucky I didn’t parade around the school waving it like a flag of victory.

Have a happy, happy weekend, friends.

p.s. I’m so excited book club is back in business! THANK YOU for the push. :)

Happy, Happy


I don’t know how many remember my library update post that talked about the 5th graders who like to tease me with annoying songs. Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows was a popular one for a while.

Aren’t you so glad I refreshed your memory? You’re welcome!

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping for Valentine decorations at Michael’s when I rounded the checkout line and I saw many pink fluffy unicorns. I weighed the price of a small, stuffed unicorn against the joy in torturing 5th graders with my dorktitude for all of 2 seconds before I tossed that doe-eyed horse into my cart next to the glittered hearts. Then I rushed home so I could gloat on instagram. One student, a boy, conceded the girls were going to flip, but that the unicorn needed a stage and a rainbow. I said, sure, every unicorn needs a rainbow and stage! Sadly, I don’t have that kind of time. I told him he was more than welcome to make one. I didn’t think about it again until the next week.

How awesome is this kid? I was so proud and told him so at least a million times. I just love it and it’s now on display where it’s the first thing people see when they walk into the library.

I’m so lucky to volunteer in the library. I love it so, so much. I love the kids, I love the books, I love the environment. I love that I leave my door open all the time and now the older girls come and visit me during recess. I love that they trust me enough to tell me about their crushes, frenemies, worries about grades. (“But don’t say anything Mrs. Kendall because I will just die if he finds out!”) I love that all they want are hugs and more hugs.* I love the way the younger ones get so excited when they find a book they like and how you can hear a pin drop when I read to them. I love my fancy rainbow loom ring, the pictures I get every week, and painstakingly wrapping books in clear contact paper so they’ll last longer. Seriously, I do. Methodical, brainless-but-detailed tasks are perfect for minds that don’t know how to slow down.

I especially love that while I wrapped a book under the watchful eye of a 5th grader she said, “Wow. You, like, really really care about this library and us so much. Crazy.”

She’s right on both counts.

*I only hug the girls in 5th-7th grade, but not because I think older boys don’t need hugs. On the contrary, I think they need twice as many hugs! I just don’t feel comfortable showing physical affection unless I really know the parents and they know I’m not some crazy pedobear out to destroy lives. I wrote about this some more on Facebook this morning, but let’s just say that, like Erin says in the comments, I give good side squeezes. :)

Happy, Happy

This is Mikey’s Minecraft mission report. We finally got the video to work and Mikey was able to talk without coughing too much. He’s congested in the video and a few times it’s obvious he’s holding back a cough, but I think that’s part of the charm. He doesn’t agree. Too bad! I’m thrilled I have a video with his little boy voice before it changes, and it’s congested to boot! Too cute.

A few tips from Mikey for those who want to do a project in Minecraft:

  • Always work in creative mode! Those holes you see at the end of the video are from creepers who exploded when I wasn’t in creative mode. I had to refill as many holes as possible. My mom was not happy.
  • Build with what you have. It doesn’t need to be the resource used. My mission is made of iron and bricks, but the real mission is adobe and clay.
  • Start with the biggest part, and lay down all your square stuff first. For example, I first started building from right to left, and working on the diagonal cemetery almost killed me. Then I started all over again and built the friar’s quarters and courtyards and attached the cemetery at the end.
  • No matter how your mission looks, it should be your best work. Even if some parts don’t look that great it’s still good if you tried your hardest.
  • Write a script and read it during your video. You think you will remember everything you have to say, but trust me you will forget important parts. If your mom and dad are good at Minecraft, it would really help if they flew Steve around the property while you read your script. My mom and dad are not good at Minecraft, so first I did a video showing the property and then I talked over it.
  • Build your land on super-flat mode, otherwise it will be hard to build in the mountains and stuff.
  • DON’T SPAWN PETS OR ANIMALS! I love dogs and cats, but they went crazy! I had cats and dogs all over the place and I had to chase them out of the mission before I could start filming. My mom was not happy. AGAIN.
  • Speaking of animals, I lost all my cows, pigs, and sheep! I don’t know what happened, I thought a double row of fencing would be enough to keep them inside. I guess not, because I had farm animals all over the place and eating the flowers in my courtyard. Spawn your farm animals right before you start your video!!
  • If you are trying to do a farm or something put water in between each row of plants. They will disappear if you don’t!
  • Pick a project with lots of pictures!!! Especially pictures from above!!! There was a blueprint of San Miguel in one of my books from the library, but I could have used more of the property.
  • THIS PROJECT WILL TAKE A LOT OF WORK!!!! It’s a lot of fun, and you get to play video games for school, but it’s still homework and playing Minecraft for fun is way more fun that playing Minecraft for homework!!!
  • Happy, Happy

    Mission Report

    The Mission Report is sort of done!! For the record, I don’t recommend anyone do a Minecraft mission project. Mikey disagrees with me, though now that he’s finished(ish), he admits there is a lot he would do differently. It was, for Mikey at least, an enormous amount of work. He never complained, but watching him work for hours and hours when we could have put together a $12 Mission Kit from JoAnn’s or Michaels in a quarter of that time was frustrating. On top of this, he’s been sick for the last week and couldn’t narrate his own video without a coughing fit. I had to do it in the end, not knowing what I was talking about and completely butchering the pronunciation of everything, I’m sure. Not a big deal, but this might be played at Open House. I’m not excited.

    I say the mission report is sort of done because our first cut with a camera wouldn’t import into the computer. We had to think on our feet (it was Oh Crap! o’clock by that point) and this is how we set up what is possibly the most ridiculous production ever known to cinema. See above picture. My iPad nestled in my pyrex dish organizer, on a book, then a towel, balanced precariously on my old plant stand, which is on top of our coffee table. The Mister was holding the flashlight so Mikey could read his notes while he simultaneously directed the video by making “Steve” fly around the property. This was before the coughing fits. Just imagine the Mister holding that flashlight over my shoulder for the final cut.

    Once we did that we had to figure out what to do with the video. I tried uploading it to Vimeo, but so far nothing. It might be too big? No clue. In a panic, I downloaded an app (Magisto), picked a song from my library, and let the app do its thing. It took our 7:51 minutes of video and condensed it to 2:00 minutes of Tarantino meets Fellini. Really not excited.

    Mikey is, and that’s what makes me happy. This project was his idea, he built everything, researched floor plans and aerial views of the property, read countless books (only one cover to cover, and it was very short), searched the internet for images, and even finished his written report a week ahead of schedule. He worked so hard.

    Below is the video I emailed his teacher 15 minutes ago, just so he had something to turn in on the due date. Hopefully by Sunday he’ll be able to talk and narrate the original video we took, which the Mister just told me finally imported. We are so not tech people.

    EDIT TO ADD: Mikey admitted to me this morning that he is disappointed he can’t turn in the longer version of the video. He also admitted that it bothers him that it’s my voice reading his words. He’s convinced everyone is going to think I did the project. (Sweetheart, no adult in their right mind is going to think a parent spent 37 hours in Minecraft building a mission.) I told him I understood, and that I would see if his teacher would allow him to narrate the longer video over the weekend once he can talk. I did warn him that this Mikey Narrated video would not go towards his grade, and what I emailed last night was it. Now we’re both really not excited! Haha. (What you see below is what we turned in.)

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.