Monday, May 23, 2016

Shakespeare's First Folio

This year is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and the Folger Shakespeare Library is doing a tour of the First Folio to celebrate.  So cool.  Even cooler, Ole Miss was chosen to host one of the traveling folios, and I was SO excited.

An actual First Folio.  Here.  In little Oxford, MS!!

I found out when I was excitedly telling my co-workers about this that most people have no idea what the first folio is.  So, quick history lesson:

Shakespeare died in 1616, and in 1623 a group of his friends and colleagues printed the first ever collection of his works in one book.  The folio contained 36 plays and many plays that had previously never been published, only performed.  So, without this folio, we could have lost such great works as Macbeth and Twelfth Night (and many more).  Anyway, in 1623, around 750 copies were printed (all a little different since printing back then was done by different typesetters).  Today, around 200 of those original 750 still exist and are kept in various museums, libraries, etc.  Back in 1623,  they sold for 1 pound, but today a validated folio is sold for over $6 million, making it the most valuable book in the world.

So basically, I am a huge nerd and though I have already seen a folio in England, the fact that I could take my kids to see it here in Oxford was just too exciting for words.

At the museum, the book is surrounded by alarms and you are watched by a guard as you look at it.  You cannot photograph it with a flash (obviously) and you have to do a practice photo off to the side so the guard can verify your flash is really off.  If you so much as lightly graze the glass with the side of your arm, alarms will go off and they will evacuate the room.  If the alarms are set off too many times, the Folger Shakespeare Library will remove the folio.

So. Serious.

When we saw it, it was open to the "To be or not to be" speech in Hamlet, which is the most recognizable Shakespeare line, so that makes sense.

I was impressed with the kids - they were bored once they realized that it was just a book in a glass case, but they did understand the importance.  Brian and I could have stayed for hours, and they did not understand how more than 5 minutes was needed.  They did get stickers, though.

The University was excited to host the folio, so they set up a month of events and plays and lectures to celebrate Shakespeare.  We took the kids to see the lecture called "They fight.  Shakespeare and Swordplay" because it was put on by the drama department and professional stunt coordinators.  I figured that would be more exciting for the kids than a straight lecture - and they LOVED it.

They got to see different fighting styles from the time (like did you know "cloak and dagger" refers to a style of fighting where you literally use your cloak as a weapon in one hand and a dagger in the other?) so fun.

They even let the kids hold the swords and shields at the end.

I have loved Shakespeare ever since I first read my mom's old copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a kid.  I never understood why people couldn't make sense of it, I guess the iambic pentameter and language just clicked for me.  My favorite courses in college were Dr. Carroll's two Shakespeare ones, and I traveled to Stratford and London with Dr. Carroll to study with the Royal Shakespeare Academy.  SO amazing.  I did not have a blog back in undergrad, so here are some photos from my actual hard copy scrapbook.  Such fun memories!!
We saw Twelfth Night at The Globe!

We got to meet and work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and go backstage for their production of Much Ado About Nothing in Stratford.

Cheri and I in Canterbury Hall, our dorm room at the University of London.

Cheri and I in Oxford (the real one, not the one in Mississippi).

Cheri and I on the streets in Stratford - it was such a beautiful little town!
I am incredibly happy that working at Ole Miss has provided me the opportunity to share some of my passion for Shakespeare with my kids at a very early age.  I hope they appreciated it, and that it sparks a life-long love for them as well.  (look how tiny they are standing on the steps of the Lyceum!)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Calvin and Hobbes

Several years ago, Cheri gave Jeremy a collected version of Calvin and Hobbes comics in a big book.  It sat on his bookshelf for a long time, waiting for him to one day find the interest to peruse its pages.

About a year ago, he took that book off the shelf, and he laughed out loud literally all night long.  He simply could not put it down.  Not all kids "get" Calvin and Hobbes. Especially not all kids today. It is all about imagination, and I worry that we are not letting kids cultivate theirs enough these days.  I was SO happy that Jeremy not only "got" it, but he loved it.

The binding is starting to break, and we lost the book cover ages ago, but it is a very common travel book and Violet has even taken to sneaking it into her room to read at night when Jeremy is not looking.

Recently, though, they have started taking it to a new level. Jeremy often says words that he has only read and therefore does not know how to pronounce.  It is really cute and I love that his vocabulary is so extensive from his reading.  Nine times out of ten, when he tries out a new big word and we help him correctly say it, we find that he learned it from Calvin and/or Hobbes.

And then, one day I came home from work to see the kids in an absolute frenzy of excitement.  Apparently, they made a transmogrifier and wanted to show it to me.

Yes, a transmogrifier.

It transmogrifies things.  Duh.

Jeremy explained he saw it on Calvin and Hobbes and wanted to try it out.

Here is one of the strips on the transmogrification series:

Basically, they turned a cardboard box into a transmogrifier by writing directions on it, then you get inside, turn the dial, and turn into whatever you want.  Like, say, a little boy could become a tiger.  Crazy.

Here is Jeremy's version:

He put a lot of work into this.

Violet wrote an instruction booklet.
 Jeremy turned into a shark, and Violet turned into a kitten.  I was told to take a turn, and I was transmogrified into a cucumber.  Seriously.  It is written on there as an option.  So is "stick", "bug", "lungfish", "weirdo", "toad", etc.  My kids are so strange.

Anyway, this is the type of random kid nonsense that I just love.  They fell in love with a book, immersed themselves in that make-believe world, and found a way to make it come alive through the use of a cardboard box, a marker, and pure imagination.

Side note: Melissa - I  think Anderson would love Calvin and Hobbes if he is not already reading them - try it out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fun with Mommy (mine, not me)

I just have so many mom moments in my life now that we live closer that I feel like my cup literally runneth over.

Over spring break, and my birthday week, I took Friday off to go with the kids (saving Brian from another day at home with them both) and hang out in Memphis with mom for the whole day!

It was so much fun to know that I can drive up, spend hours upon hours with her, and drive back home that night like it is nothing.  Just totally normal to spend the day with my mom.  Ugh.  You have no idea if you have never lived 400 miles from your loved ones for 16 years what this type of freedom means.  I still feel like I have to hoard my family time like it will be taken away again.

Mom took me to get my annual haircut (I suck at self-care, let's be honest), and we let Violet get some pink streaks (temporary).  I am a bit concerned at how much she loved it, but I can also admit they looked great on her.

Then we went shopping and tried on a million dresses together.  Dani took photos of mine (because Cher Horowitz is totally right), but Mom had some amazing ones as well.  Shout-out to Jeremy who is so incredibly good-natured that he helped us pick out dresses and did not even complain.  I hit the jackpot with that kid.  Violet, on the other hand...

 I just love having girls days with my mom.

Later that weekend, my brother got two free box tickets to The Book of Mormon playing at The Orpheum and gave them to us.  Once again, holla for the ability to drive up on a Sunday night, attend a show, and get home with no problem sleeping to get to work on Monday.  I still can't even process how lucky I am.

And how hilarious is that show?!  So inappropriate, so funny, such a talented cast.  Mom and I were in stitches the whole time.  Other than that teensy little moment when I totally tumbled down the grand staircase in front of hundreds of people in the lobby (face palm), we had a blast!

This past weekend, our family headed to Memphis for my cousin's wedding (he married one of my old RAs from UT - crazy!), and we hooked up with Mom, Joey, Megan, and Dani.  It was a beautiful wedding, but not many people were hitting the dance floor.  Mom decided that just could not stand, so she grabbed me and Dani and the three of us did what we do best.  Made total fools of ourselves without a care in the world.  We danced, and danced, and danced.  My mom is so fun.  That dance floor was full of happy people thanks to us.  We do what we can.

Even when I was younger and in high school, people were surprised at the way I talk about my mom.  She really is one of my best friends in the whole world.  She is kind, sweet, creative, nuts, and FUN.  I could not ask for a better one, and I am SO grateful I am able to be so close to spend all this bonus time with her.  LOVE!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter!

We had a lovely Easter holiday this year full of fun with family!

We headed to Memphis and ended up staying the night because our monthly game night happened to fall the night before.  This way, though,we got Easter morning with my mom!  Naturally, this meant my mom bought a ton of stuff to help enhance the kids' baskets. I like to keep things simple at Easter (I simply do not understand the Facebook posts showing piles of toys and bikes on Easter Sunday.  What the heck?!) and generally stick to a book, a toy, and some candy.

The kiddos got excited to set out their baskets, empty eggs for the bunny to hide (he only used a fraction of those) and a carrot.

And the Bunny came!  Violet has been wanting a Ken doll to use as the multi-function boy/prince/dad for her doll adventures, and Jeremy is happy with all things Star Wars or Iron Man.  And books.  Always books.

They had a great time eating way too much candy. We had our litte egg hunt in the house (the Bunny hides the eggs that were in the kids' baskets the night before), and they had a lot of fun.  The golden eggs were super hard this year and they had to really work to find them.

We went to mass and Violet fell asleep on me for the first time since she was an infant.  She is massively heavier nowadays and my back was about to give out, but it was the best she has ever behaved in church, so I would have happily thrown my back out before waking the beast.

After church, my mom hosted a billion family members at her house for an egg hunt for the kiddos and a rousing game of Dirty Bunny (aka dirty santa) for the adults.  We had so many people, so much food, and so much fun.  Naturally, I got no photos, but my cousin Rachel got some good ones of the kids.

Happy Easter to all!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Uncle Butt and Aunt Megan!

A few months ago, Joey played a game on Violet's iPad and signed his name as "Uncle Butt".

A legend was born in that moment.

The Oxford Film Festival recently took place, and since my brother is all famous and stuff and helps run Indie Memphis, he and Megan came down to be VIP guests of the fest.  Now, they could have driven the one hour back to Memphis each night and morning, but then they would have missed out on all the fun that comes with an insane niece and nephew.

When they arrived, we went to a quick dinner at Newk's:

Then we headed home without them (they had a film), so the kids and I set up our plan: PRANKS!  Mostly, I was just trying to come up with something to hold off the tantrum that was bubbling up at the restaurant when they realized Joey and Megan were going to be going off on their own.  Plus, it was too delicious an opportunity to teach them some fun tricks.

So, we set up the inflatable beds and got to work.  First, we short-sheeted both beds.  This was a staple of my childhood, but I guess Cheri and I never did it to Joey, since neither he or Megan knew what it was and totally fell for it even after I told them we did it.  Suckers!  Joey's bed was filled with various bugs and weapons (plastic sword in the pillow, giant spider under the covers, etc) by Jeremy.  Violet wanted to do nice pranks, so she filled Megan's bed with every single My Little Pony we have in the house (and we have a lot of My Little Ponies).  They were SO proud.

The final touch:

In the morning, the ponies had all flown to various locations throughout the house and Vi had to find them all.  One was even on the ceiling fan - silly pony!

We hit up the square and spent some time in Square Books (I will be forever grateful that my kids love books and I can spend 45 minutes in a book store while they quietly sit and read to themselves). Uncle Joey, in true Carr patriarch fashion, insisted on buying them the books they had been reading, which was incredibly sweet.  The kids are accustomed to my tired line of not having money (in my defense we take them to the library multiple times a week to get books), so they were fine not buying anything, so the surprise of the books from Joey and Megan was really nice.

Megan also helped me give Violet a makeover.  Her poor hair is so thin and stringy that I have to cut it short at least once a year to help it thicken up.  She loves long hair, so I shamelessly used Aunt Megan and her implied awesomeness to help encourage the super fun makeover.  The fact that really swayed her, though, was that her hero, Taylor Swift, had just debuted a shorter look at the Grammy's.  Megan did so great and Vi loves her short hair!!

The kids really had a blast goofing off with their aunt and uncle.  They can be a bit overwhelming (and Jeremy punctuated their final night with us with a spectacular vomit display all over his bed), so I really really really appreciate their patience and love for our monsters.

We look forward to our next adventure with the beautiful Aunt Megan and the silly Uncle Butt!