I am a day late on my Reader of the Month posting this month, kids.Â Sorry about that.Â Got a little caught up in the black hole called Nana and Granddad’s house this weekend and I’m only just now able to crawl out.Â I still can’t find Bean.Â I don’t know if he made it out alive.
I’m really excited about this month’s Reader of the Month.Â I started noticing Megan’s comments on my blog a few months ago because they cracked me up.Â I knew without even looking if it was her comment because of her hysterical sense of humor.Â And then I started following her on Twitter and checking out her blog and I really loved her quirky sense of humor and her positive view on life.Â What I love most about Megan and her blog, Best of Fates, is that we actually have very little in common.Â She isn’t married, has no kids, and is about 5 years younger than me.Â But I still think that if we sat down over coffee, we would probably be able to talk for hours.Â I love meeting people like that.
When I sent Megan the questions for this post, I made a big mistake.Â I thought I had read somewhere on Twitter or her blog that she had a boyfriend and so I asked questions built around that, trying to tie in the relationship theme of my blog.Â Turns out, I was wrong.Â But, as usual, Megan made me crack up anyways.
What is your name?
Megan Wittling – Though when commenting I always go by Megan (Best of Fates) due to the countless, thoughtless mothers who dared to name their child Megan at the same time my parents had their original idea.
I’m joking, I love all the Megans of the world.
I just tend to get lost in the shuffle.
Who lives in your house?
I live in my house. I’m 24. In only 7 months I’ll be 25 and legally allowed to rent a car, completing the final stage of adulthood.
Are you in a relationship?Â If so, how long?
How did you meet your partner?
I bet you actually want to know my favorite joke. Are you ready for this?
Why was the strawberry crying?
Because his parents were in a jam.
When I want my friends to laugh in photos I tell them that joke, then they stare at me as I start laughing hysterically at it, at which point they laugh at me and I get my photo.
What is your favorite part about being in a relationship?
I’d have to say that my favorite animal is groundhogs. I’ve recently become quite close to a groundhog named Gerald, and I can tell you they’re lovely creatures.
Do you ever miss being single?
If you’re wondering what was the craziest thing I ever did, I once convinced complete strangers on the streets of Dublin to let my friends and I come back to their apartment and sleep on the floor.Â That might sound dangerous, but think about it. In this scenario, wouldn’t the creepy girl who approaches you and cajoles her way into your home be the more likely killer?
What is your job?Â Do you like it?
I have a boring office job and I love it. My colleagues are awesome, and I get a paycheck while figuring out what to do with my life.
Where did you go to school?Â What was your major?
I attended Mary Washington in Virginia, where I majored in Political Science, with a focus on the Middle East and Arabic. Roughly 2.7 seconds after graduating I realized I hated politics, and have been floundering ever since.
When did you start your blog?
I started Best of Fates in the fall of 2008.Â Returning to Mary Washington for homecoming, I learned about some blogs my friends had started and realized I wanted to try my hand at one.
How often do you blog and how do you make time for it?
I try and blog every day, and I’ve discovered that if I keep myself motivated and excited about what I’m doing with Best of Fates then I find the time.Â Also, I seldom watch TV without a computer on my lap.
Why do you blog?
I love sharing my embarrassing stories and weird point of view with strangers.
What are your top three favorite blogs (other than MC, of course!)?
I follow and love so many blogs that I couldn’t possibly choose just three – I’d feel like a bully, leaving some blogs standing against the gym wall, not picked for kickball.
What’s in your purse right now?
I don’t carry a purse, but if I started, I imagine I’d include these items:
Flowers – Ever since seeing Men in Black, I’m convinced one must greet aliens with flowers. In the unlikely event of an encounter, I’d hate to be found unprepared.
Owl – I’ve heard tell they’re wise, and I could often use some better guidance.
Bank – Money would come in handy, though tragically it seems that even my bank is empty.
Magic lamp – Though actually an oil lamp, I’m hoping in a pinch it could grant me some wishes.
Butter dish – I haven’t yet discovered why I’ll need this one day. But still I’d carry it.Â That’s called faith.
Thanks for playing, Megan! And thanks for the constant feedback and support you give me on my blog every day.Â Its been great getting to know you.
On Saturday, Bean turned eleven months old.Â We were at my parent’s house for the day, playing in their community pool with my mom and grandma.Â We had so much fun that I hardly noticed what day it was.Â But that afternoon when we got home and Bean laid down for his nap, my Mom mentioned something about starting to plan his first birthday party.
Holy crap.Â My baby is about to turn one.
Month eleven has been so stinking fun.Â It was such a “go” month for us.Â First, Bean had his first Easter…
Then, we went to the shuttle launch at 4:00 in the morning…
Then we got into a brawl at church group…
Then we went to Aunt Ginny’s wedding…
After that we went to the Disney character breakfast with our friends, Ann, Chad, and Nater Tater…
We finally put away Bean’s baby swing…
We went to our first Gator baseball game (post coming soon)…
And we ended the month at Nana and Granddad’s in the pool (post coming soon)…
April was all about adventures in our house and Bean’s age made it the perfect time to explore.Â I learned about Bean that he is hardly scared of anything – a characteristic that is sure to make the next 10 years terrifying as a parent.Â In situations where I wasn’t sure how he’d react, he was such a trooper.Â At the shuttle launch, I worried he would be scared of the noise.Â At Ginny’s wedding, I worried that all those strangers holding him would make him nervous.Â At Disney, I worried he would be scared of the characters.Â At the pool, I worried that he would be scared of the water.Â But in all those situations, Bean took a minute to get his bearings and then a smile was never far behind.
I remember the night before Bean was born, I wrote a letter to him on this blog.Â I told him the reason we were having a c-section was because he was sitting straight up in my belly, facing outward.Â It was like he wanted the very best view possible of the world.Â He was curious about all he was seeing and he didn’t want to turn head-down because he was afraid he would miss something.Â Isn’t it funny now that we are almost a year from that night and Bean seems to have really grown into that curious little bean that he was in my belly?Â I just love that about him and I know his life – and mine – will be full of adventures because he is so curious.
Because of all this new activity and exploration, Bean has no time or patience these days for meals.Â He has cut back his formula intake by almost half, hopefully in preparation for starting whole milk after his first birthday.Â And he is a complete mess in his high chair now.Â Nothing stays in his mouth anymore.Â Instead, he chews on it for a minute, then takes it out of his mouth with his hand and throws it.Â He has also started feeding the dogs when he’s eating.Â It used to be that he dropped or threw food off his tray and the dogs just happened to be there.Â But now, he actually reaches over the side of his high chair and gently hands the food to the dogs.
Needless to say, a new development in our house this month has been the use of the word, “No.”
We have started saying no to Bean now more consistently.Â Not that it matters if we are consistent or not.Â Bean thinks no means, “I dare you.”Â I try not to use the word too much because it really is becoming a game for him, but the kid is into EVERYTHING.Â He loves the dog’s water bowls most of all.Â He crawls into the kitchen and splashes in those bowls until he’s caught.Â And you would think that with two of us home with him, it would hardly ever happen.Â But at least once a day, I hear the pitter patter of little hands in the dog bowls.Â I don’t know how it happens.Â I have no explanation.Â He also loves the drawers in the entertainment console in our living room.Â He crawls over there, opens the drawer where we keep his movies, and pulls one out, waving it around until we put it in for him to watch.Â Smart?Â Yes.Â Annoying?Â YES, because we also keep remote controls in there and so half the time his little bear paw finds a remote and he starts resetting our television or DVD player.Â It really messes up Chris’ little electronic world.
But he’s not just playing with things he can’t have.Â His taste in toys is changing altogether recently.Â He doesn’t really like his hand toys and small plush things from a few months ago.
His favorite things at the moment are balls and cars.Â Anything that rolls, really.Â And whenever he is pushing something around, he makes the engine sound, “Grrrrr….”Â It is so funny.Â We bought him his first dump truck and it was love at first sight.Â I don’t think he’s put that thing down since we gave it to him.Â Its amazing the happiness that $3.97 can bring.
He also likes toys that make a lot of noise and require him to bang on them.Â He’s a big banger.Â And the more buttons and knobs, the better.Â These are the more expensive of his toys right now, so he doesn’t have too many of them.Â But with his birthday around the corner, I think our house is about to get a whole lot LOUDER.
But what he spends the most time play with are things that he can put other things into.Â I gave him an old formula box and he has carried that thing around everywhere.Â He puts his binky in there and then takes it out about a million times a day.
With all the excitement and new interest in activity-driven toys, Bean seems to have slowed down a little – maybe even regressed – on his talking.Â He was making all these noises and sounds and even saying quite a few words.Â He could say mama, dada, bottle (ba-ba), ball, and other little things like that.Â Mostly they were just sounds that he had associated with something.Â But this month, all we seem to be able to get out of him is “da.”Â Everything is “da.”Â Usually, he points to something, we tell him what it is, and then he says, “da.”Â I’m trying not to worry too much about that because I know that growth and progression happens in stages and that this is probably just a time where he’s taking more in, as opposed to sending things out.Â But I do hope he starts talking again soon!
Standing and walking are just on the horizon.Â We catch him all the time standing and playing with something, but the minute he realizes what he’s doing, he squats down again for safety.Â I think the minute he gets brave enough to let go of everything, he’ll be flying around the house.Â Though, truth be told, I’m not exactly encouraging that yet.Â Momma’s tired enough!!!Â But I don’t think it will be long now until Bean is walking through all these adventures we are taking.
Yeah, eleven months has been active and exciting and adventurous and EXHAUSTING!Â But it is definitely my favorite month so far.Â I say that every month, but I REALLY mean it this time!Â He’s so much fun right now.Â His personality is shining, his preferences are becoming more pronounced, he’s on the go and ready for anything.Â He’s never been happier.
And neither have his parents.
Last Friday afternoon, Chris, Bean, and I packed up and headed to Nana and Granddad’s for a night.Â My mom had tickets to a University of Florida baseball game on family night and so we thought we’d take Bean for his first sporting event.
First, I should pause here and explain what a monumental event this was for me.Â See, I went to Florida State University.Â And, if you’re a football fan, you’ll understand why it was incredible that I was even at this game in the first place.Â For those of you without football in your lives (and I pity you), the University of Florida and Florida State University are rival schools.Â Though, admittedly, in the past five years or so, FSU hasn’t really put up much of a fight.Â I went to FSU and my sister went to UF.Â Also, Chris’ entire family are UF alums.Â So, I get a lot of crap in my house for being a Seminole while everyone else is a Gator.
This is the family Bean was born into.Â Poor kid.
So, the fact that I willingly dressed my child in this hideous blue color is just one more example of the deep love I have for my husband and family.
We got to campus just in time for a picnic dinner.Â My dad brought pulled pork, baked beans, and potato salad.Â My favorite things on earth.Â And, apparently, Bean’s new favorites as well.
I know we probably should have given him something healthier and wholesome, like fruits and vegetables.Â But I had no choice.Â Grandparents are rebels.Â And they can’t be stopped.Â Which is why since we’ve moved to Florida Bean has experienced things like Jell-O, key lime pie, and Wendy’s Frostys.Â I have no control.
Bean also tried Nana’s homemade lemonade.Â It was like baby crack.Â He went crazy for the lemonade.Â So crazy that anytime he saw a red cup after that first sip he would lunge for it.
Tart!Â Too tart!
Well, wait a minute…
Let me try it again…
After we dragged Bean away from the lemonade and pulled pork, we headed over to the stadium.Â And it was actually really great – even if it was orange and blue.
Bean loved watching the baseball players warm up on the field, but what he REALLY loved was watching the little truck that drove out on the field and dragged the rake over the dirt.Â He watched that truck the whole time while quietly making his little engine noise, “Grrrrrr….”
And almost just as fun as the truck on the field was Nana and Granddad, who played all of Bean’s favorite games while waiting for the baseball game to start.Â Granddad is great at the “take that binky!” game.Â Bean thinks he’s so funny!
We knew we wouldn’t be able to stay too long because Bean would get tired, so we went early to watch the entire team warm up.Â Thank goodness we did that though because a minute before the first pitch of the game, the heavens opened up and poured a rainshower down on us all.Â Knowing that Bean was getting tired anyways, we decided to call it a night before the game even started!Â So, my Dad ran to get the car and we waited at the front gate of the stadium, trying our best to hide Bean from the rain.
But hiding doesn’t last long when Nana’s after your tummy sugar…
Thankfully, just before Nana could get the last of Bean’s tummy sugar, Albert the Alligator showed up.Â I was so glad Bean had been to the character breakfast earlier that week and had already seen the Disney characters.Â Otherwise, I think a giant gator might have been a little scary.
But Bean was super excited!
After Albert left, it started raining harder so we headed for cover outside of the stadium at the ticket booth.Â We were under the awning there when we heard a thud and out of nowhere a baseball came rolling off the tent and landed about 2 feet in front of us.Â One of the players had hit a foul ball right over to where we were standing!Â So, at Bean’s first baseball game – a game we didn’t even actually see – Bean caught his first baseball!Â Nana jumped on it and grabbed it for Bean Man, whose favorite things in the world right now are balls.Â It couldn’t have been more perfect!
All in all, Bean’s first sporting event was a big success.Â Too bad it wasn’t at an FSU game, but there will be plenty of time for that in the future!
One of my favorite parts about being married to someone who works in the arts is that we are surrounded by artistic people.Â Always have been.Â When Chris was growing up, he had a tight group of four guys that he hung out with.Â In high school, they were inseparable, but in college, they all went off and did their own things.Â And part of that drifting meant they all found the path that they were best suited to.
Chris pursued technical theater.
Gary went into music.
Justin moved to New York for acting.
Brett made movies and went into film.
And Robert served as a Recon in the Marines.
A few years ago, Robert passed away unexpectedly and while it was the hardest thing any of them have had to deal with, one shining ray of goodness emerged.Â The boys became ever closer.Â It was the first time I heard them refer to each other openly as “my brothers.”Â Now, through Robert, they have become a family.
And when someone in your family achieves something great, you share in that.
Last month, our friend Brett achieved something great.Â His feature film, The New Year, premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival and right out of the bag won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.Â That award meant so much to Brett because it was voted on by the people and when you’ve spent your career with your best friends telling you how amazingly talented you are, I imagine its nice to have complete strangers validate that, too.Â And as of this morning, Brett got even more good news.Â His film as been admitted to the LA Film Festival, one of the most competitive and nationally recognized film festivals.
Chris and I saw the movie over Christmas and I was so impressed with Brett.Â It is such a heart-warmingly honest story about a girl who stays in her small hometown to take care of her sick father.Â I couldn’t let such a good movie and such a great person pass by without sharing the experience with you all.Â Because I married someone who has a really unique job, I really love hearing about different career paths.Â I love knowing how people ended up where they are.Â And Brett has a great story.Â He also has a beautiful girlfriend, Lovely Linda, who has been by his side since college.Â And as someone who is married to a person fully committed to their career path in the arts, I know first hand that it can make for interesting relationship dynamics, and I was particularly interested in how Brett and Linda make it work while Brett is making movies.Â I emailed him and asked if he would answer a few questions so that I could put the interview on my blog.
Here we go…
What is your film about?
It’s called “The New Year.” It’s about a young, intelligent twenty-something named Sunny who was forced to return to her hometown to take care of her father who is dying of terminal cancer. She finds herself working at a bowling alley and living a life she never imagined for herself. With her life on hold she settles into a routine – complete with a sweet boyfriend and a best friend – but, in the meantime, she’s given up some of the things she was most passionate about. Sunny is then taken off guard when she runs into an old high school rival who is home from New York for the holidays. She finds herself at a crossroads between chasing her old dreams, or creating new ones that she never believed she would have.
How long did it take you to make the film?
I started writing the film with my sister-in-law Elizabeth Kennedy in July of 2008 and we finished editing and post production in July of 2009. We shot the film over about two weeks in January in Pensacola.
(FUN FACT:Â Brett’s sister-in-law is married to best-selling author, Joshua Ferris, one of my favorite authors.Â I begged Brett to bring me to his book signing a few years ago.Â I felt very cool.Â And then I forgot the book I was going to have signed and I had to run out and buy one at 9:00pm in Manhattan.Â And then I felt not so cool.)
Aren’t films expensive to make?Â How much did yours cost?Â And where do you get the money for something like that? (I am very concerned that all of our friends are going to starve to death and yet they continuously surprise me by being well-fed…)
The budget from start to finish was $8,000. I saved up money from a film I worked on in 2008 and spent all of that, plus credit cards, plus plus money from friends and family that were generous enough to help me out. We got so much for free, though – equipment, food, lodging – so many people helped me along the way. I couldn’t have made the film without so many people’s time, energy, money, and belief. It was overwhelming to have so many people pitch in for no other reason
than to help me.
What is the timeline like for making a movie?Â What was the timeline for The New Year?
The timeline for my film went like this:
1. I called my sister-in-law Elizabeth to pitch the rough idea and see if she would help me write a movie about a girl who works at a bowling alley in her hometown.
2. We wrote the script.
3. I finished work on “The Road” then headed straight to Pensacola to start pre-production work on “The New Year.” I basically talked to every business owner in the area to either shoot at their place of business or convince them to give me free food.
4. I then secured a living situation (Thanks to the amazing Muddie!) and got everyone tickets to come down to Pensacola.
5. After the real new year we started shooting and had the best time I’ve ever had on a film.
6. Back to NY for editing and post-production (sound mixing, color correction etc).
7. Final output and submission to festivals.
How did you get into film?Â What is that like as a career?
I work in the business but I wouldn’t say I’m “in” it quite yet. I started making films when I was really young. I made my first feature film when I was 16 with friends in Pensacola. I’ve made lots of films as I think it’s the best way to become a better filmmaker. I went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for film school and graduated with a BFA in directing. I worked in LA as a production assistant after that for about a year then moved to Brooklyn where I’ve been ever since. I got a job as a director’s assistant on a film called “Reservation Road” and then I went on to work as an assistant to director John Hillcoat on the film “The Road.” I now work with him whenever he has work. We just finished a Levi’s ad in Pennsylvania.
Otherwise, I work on my own stuff and other odd directing or editing jobs here and there.
How and when did you choose this career?
I knew as soon as I knew what a “director” actually did. I think it was in 1994 after I snuck in to see “Pulp Fiction.” I was by all
accounts too young to see that film but it really changed the way I looked at films. And, in fact, it had a hugely positive effect on my life. It was so good that it made me want to find out “Who came up with THAT?” So I found out there was this thing called a director on films and they got to tell whatever kind of stories they wanted and that – as they say – was that. I was 11 years old.
Does working in film require a lot of travel for you?Â You seem to hardly ever be home.
Working in the film industry constantly puts me out of town. I’ve been gone for up to 8 months at a time before.
What does that do to your relationship?
It’s tough on my relationship. I think, honestly, because I’m the one that’s away and working like crazy in some far away place it’s a bit easier for me. I’m distracted and don’t really have a personal life when I’m working and on a film you’re always working. I don’t really have much time to stop and think about anything other than the work. It’s harder for Linda (I think) because she has to stay behind and go about life as normal in our apartment and with our friends etc. I think it’s tougher because it’s her normal life just minus me while I’m off having completely new experiences.
So how do you guys make it work?
We talk multiple times a day and try to iChat as much as possible. So far we’ve managed to have her visit pretty regularly because all of my jobs have been in the US. There’s a possibility of the next project taking me out of the country for a while and that’s definitely an exciting/scary thought. We’d really have to figure out how to make that work. I feel like we always figure it out, though, hard times and all.
I took a lot of things away from this interview.Â First was how incredible it is that we are all made individually.Â How many people could actually live the life that Brett and Linda are leading?Â Not too many.Â But how many people could live the life that Chris and I are leading?Â Not many of those either.Â And how many can live the life that YOU live every day?Â Probably not many.Â We are all so different and I think that is just incredible.
Secondly, talking with Brett just confirmed that relationships – like people – are all so unique.Â What it takes to make one tick is never the same thing it takes to make another tick.
And finally, I was reminded after talking with Brett of how important your friendships are.Â We naturally take on traits of those closest to us, and what a responsibility that gives to the people in our lives.Â They are shaping us and helping us become who we are.Â I am so glad to have people like Brett in my life.Â He teaches me that one of the most important things in life is loving what you do and who you do it with.Â And while what I do might look incredibly different than what Brett does, I can still learn from him to be happy and to love the life I am leading.Â That is a truly uplifting friendship.