Guinea Pigs Are Soft As a Baby’s Butt and Other Test Responses From Seven-Year-Olds

One of the best parts of having a mother for a teacher is getting to hear about the silly things that her students do. I’m a particular fan of their writing. Here’s an excerpt from one student on their recent test on banking.

Something I would want to borrow money for is to buy a guinea pig because they are solf as a baby butt. Another reason why I would buy a guinea pig is because they look adorable. The lost reason is because they are healthy. What would you do if you could borrow money?

Soft as a baby’s butt? Too funny!

Also, she only made about two grammatical errors and two spelling mistakes, which is pretty darn amazing for a seven-year-old!

And did I mention that my mom teaches at a charter school in the inner city? Nearly every kid is on free or reduced lunch, and they don’t have access to the same materials I did growing up. Many don’t have computers or more than a few books in the house. Considering where the kids started the year, seeing them being able to write like this is phenomenal!

Still. Soft as a baby’s butt? I. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

Also, one of her students recently wrote a story called “My Dirty Shirt” about the day he got mud on his church shirt. Unfortunately, he forgot the “r” in “shirt.” That mistake has been the best one so far.

I love children so much.

I’m keeping the voting open for about a week longer on the first two polls below. I’d really like to know what people did and didn’t like about my daily posting in 2011, and what they’d like to see in 2012. Finally, you can vote at the bottom for what you’d like to see in tomorrow’s post.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Ella’s Very Bizarre Relationship With Mirrors

The readers have spoken, and with a clear majority of 66.67%, my very bizarre relationship with mirrors won tonight’s post competition.

I have to admit that I am the sort of person who looks at themselves in mirrors a lot. Like a lot, a lot. But it’s never been because I’m checking my hair or makeup.

Mostly, when I look in the mirror it’s to make a silly face. For example, a few months ago, I decided that I wanted to be able to raise one eyebrow independently from the other in order to expand my repertoire of goofy expressions. Of course like with any new expression, I need to strengthen the facial muscles so that I can do it in the most exaggerated manner possible, so every time I see a mirror, I automatically start practicing. I have been caught doing this many, many times, and I must say that people in public restrooms give you funny looks if you’re pulling faces while washing your hands.

However, it must be noted that my tendency to make weird faces at myself is a huge improvement over what childhood Ella would do. I used to–and I kid you not–have this running “tv show” with myself where I would pretend to be a newscaster or a political talk show host.

Of all the times that I have been walked in on in the bathroom, the by far most awkward experience was when someone opened the door to discover ten-year-old me still standing in a towel after a bath, talking about the weather to the mirror. We also have extensive videotape footage of me doing the same thing (but this time fully clothed) complete with “guests” to interview and “graphics” (achieved by holding a copy of the newspaper very close to the camera).

I also spend an awful lot of time observing people very carefully, so I’m always interested to know what I look like when I’m doing different tasks. If I’m writing, I often need to go watch my face or the way I do something in order to depict it properly. It’s akin to getting up to go smell coffee or touch cashmere. Also, I enjoy the humor in how ridiculous I often look, particularly when I’ve bundled to go outside in the winter–I end up looking like puffy marshmallow from the ski jacket and numerous scarves with a very small, multi colored head.

Unfortunately, in our house, the large antique mirror we have at the base of the stairs is in clear view of the window in the front door, which has led to me being caught looking at myself numerous, numerous times, which is always horribly embarrassing. I always feel very vulnerable knowing that I’ve been caught doing something wacky and a bit socially unacceptable. People who look in mirrors a lot are thought to be vain and petty, I don’t consider myself to be either, and I certainly hope that others don’t think I am.

Of course, I am sure that what I am describing is a lot less weird than it sounds in my head. Who isn’t fascinated by the reflection of ourselves. It’s only natural to want to know what we look like, and I am sure that other people enjoy making faces and pretending host weather reports.

One of the best things about being alive is knowing that you are never the only one to feel a certain way. The moment I realized that everyone else is insecure and worried about how the rest of the world is perceiving them and their actions, life got a lot easier. It reminds me of Postsecret, a project where people send in secrets on homemade postcards to a man who posts them on the Postsecret blog every Sunday. He’s always talking about how he receives multiples of almost every secret and how people find solace in knowing that they’re not the only one.

The more I think about that, the more I read, and the more I observe of others, my amount of empathy towards others and comfort with myself only increases. Things like what I do with mirrors are funny, yes, and perhaps a bit abnormal, but they’re never shameful. I like sharing eccentricities and discovering how universal and common they are.

So if you’ve managed to get this far in the post, I’d love to know what you think.

  1. What do you do with mirrors? Do you know anyone else who does the same thing?
  2. What do you think about other people sharing the same emotions and eccentricities about you? Do you think it’s true?

As I only got six votes total on these two polls so far, I’m keeping the voting open for about a week longer. I’d really like to know what people did and didn’t like about my daily posting in 2011, and what they’d like to see in 2012. Finally, you can vote at the bottom for what you’d like to see in Saturday’s post.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Five-Year-Old Ella and the Time She Got Caught on a Fence and Ripped Through Her Underpants

As I am feeling particularly goofy tonight, I thought that I would tell a funny story.

When I was a child, we had a backyard that could be accessed via a very tall (close to seven feet, if memory serves me well) wooden gate. But for the longest time, I could not figure out how to opperate it. So instead of going through the house to get into the backyard, I would climb up our neighbors’ chain link fence, grab hold of the top of our fence, and very awkwardly drop down into the yard, hopefully avoiding a hydrangea bush.

Unsurprisingly, this very bizarre and inefficient method never worked very well, and I had a tendency to get stuck in the process. Now, pretty much any five-year-old will panic in this situation, but I would also start to flail, in an attempt to get free. Normally, I would tumble down fairly easily and go on my merry way, but I once got caught by the hem of my dress on the top of the chain link fence, and somehow ended up hanging upside down, suspended by my dress and underpants.

When I finally fell face-first into some ivy, I discovered that while my dress did not appear to be harmed, I had somehow managed to rip through my underpants. However, we’re not talking a little rip around the hem, here, they actually had ripped horizontally through the crotch. It looked like a weird sort of loincloth.

Amusingly, because I was only five at the time, I just got up, walked through the house, and went to play in the backyard without mentioning the rip to anyone or changing my underpants. I cannot remember how I ended up getting rid of the underpants–whether I tried to toss them or bury them in the backyard (Person who purchased our house, please do not dig under the pine tree in the corner, or you’ll be very, very sorry. Also, there is a dead cat in a trash bag under the butterfly bush, who was layer to rest with a proper Christian funeral, complete with a eulogy, so you might not want to mess with that, either.), like I did the time I ripped and bloodied a shirt while messing about with a curtain rod and slate roofing tiles.

I wish I could say that this was the last time I ever got caught on a fence, ripped through a pair of underwear, or fell on my face, but alas it is not. Fortunately, with the exception of a very unfortunate experience in the pond at summer camp, none of these repeat experiences have been very awful.

Note: When deciding whether or not to hurdle over a fence, it should be taken into consideration that fences are often higher than they look. This especially applies to the one in the yard of my beach house. I do not know this from experience or anything.

In the spirit of democracy, and because I’m very curious to know what my readers think, why don’t you scroll on down to these three polls and vote.



And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Today in Completely Unnecessary Freak-Outs

Today in Completely Unnecessary Freak-Outs, I bring you these two stories.

To begin, Daylight Saving Time is not my friend. In fact, it isn’t anyone’s friend. It gives you jet-lag without the pleasure of traveling anywhere new, it creates confusion and missed appointments, car, work, and other accidents go up because of sleep loss, etc. I could go on for quite a while. And when I say quite a while, I mean quite a while. Like two hours or more.

When I woke up today, I panicked because the clock was telling me that it was half past one in the afternoon rather than half past noon. I managed to get my legs caught in the blankets and fall onto the floor as I tried to get out of bed as soon as possible. Starting the day with too much adrenaline, anxiety, and a bruised elbow just isn’t a good idea. And this type of incident just repeated itself for the entire day as I miscalculated times by subtracting (and sometimes stupidly adding) to both manually and automatically-set clocks.

Then, earlier today I was sitting in the study in front of the desktop computer working on my laptop because I needed two computers while I worked. However, it pretty much entirely led to me absentmindedly trying to use the desktop’s mouse to control the cursor on my laptop and freaking out when the arrow wouldn’t move. Surprisingly, I can become momentarily convinced that my computer is broken about fifteen times in one hour. I’m worried that this says quite a bit about my intelligence.

In other news, I have a brand new red coat, the first piece of non-black outwear I have owned in years. It’s got pretty buttons up the front and a belted waist. The front of it looks very vintage, but the back has interesting corset lacing, which gives it a really nice modern twist. I’m very happy, so happy, in fact, that I was wearing it around the house just for fun.

I’m thinking that this coming week may be better than last. Being able to get out of bed and be productive would be a very welcomed change.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here. I need to do it more regularly so that it doesn’t become flat for a few days, only to receive an enormous spike, indicating that I somehow magically wrote about twelve thousand words in one day.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Has a Date With Five A.M., Visits Three Schools, and Tells Funny Spelling Stories

For the past six months or so, my only acquaintance with five a.m. has been when I haven’t yet gone to bed, but today we went on a special date as waking-up pals. It was not very fun.

In typical fashion, I set seven alarms all to go off in two minute increments starting ten minutes before I was planning on getting up. I’ve become so paranoid of sleeping through things, thanks to medication that makes me spectacularly drowsy, that if it were at all possible, I would rig a contraption to create a light show and set off fireworks.

But I did not end up needing anything that would set the room on fire or look like a rave, I just rolled out of bed when the first alarm went off. And then I spent the next fourteen minutes returning to my room to keep turning off the other alarms. We were out of orange juice, but the constant charging up and down the stairs did plenty to jolt me into a state of semi-consciousness. I didn’t even fall asleep in the shower, which is some kind of record for a non-manic sleep-deprived me.

I spent about five minutes yelling at my dad to wake up and then we were out the door and to Starbucks where the barista FORGOT to put the chocolate sauce in my hot chocolate, thus rendering it undrinkable for people like me and who equally abhor and are scared of milk. (And yes, I do realize how irrational that is.) After two plus hours on the road, our day of non-stop college touring began.

I fell in love with one school, very much liked another, and really did not like the third. It was rather strange–the moment I got out of the car on campus and walked into the admissions office, I knew something was off and deeper we got into the tour, the more convinced I became. I thought that I would love it–on paper it looked fabulous–but there is a very significant deviation between college propaganda, guide books, and reality.

And a word to the wise: Even if the timing works out, going to three schools in one day is both overwhelming and exhausting. I feel rather dazed and tired and in great need of chocolate pudding.

In other news, my mom’s second-grade students were writing stories in their journals this week using their vocabulary words, and one of the kids entitled his peice, “My Dirty Shirt,” but he, amusingly, forgot shirt’s r. Sadly, these sorts of funny mistakes always seem to petter out after elementary school.

But just to show you that I’m not being uppity about my spelling capabilities (which leave a great deal to be desired), I thought I share with you these two anecdotes. Last fall, during my first AP English Lit timed essay, I panicked and couldn’t remember how to spell “exactly.” My teacher’s favorite version of mine: “akakly.”

Here’s the second one. When I was thirteen, I wrote this story where I decided to name one of the characters Byron, after Lord Byron. Unfortunately, while I could pronounce the name, I had a lot of trouble spelling it. There were many Bryons, but the piece also featured such creative spellings as “Biro” or one that looks like it may have gotten auto-corrected as “Beerun.” Though judging by the other mistakes, blaming the computer might not be justified.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

A Lousy Week and That Time Ella Made Pippa Be a Groom for Halloween

I’ve been having a very lousy week so far.

Like only wearing pajamas lousy.

Also not getting out of bed all day lousy.

And not cleaning anything up lousy.

Just lousy.

So I’ve been drowning my sorrows in cold organic applesauce (none of that sugar added junk for me), cornbread, orange juice, and miniature Snickers bars. It’s not a very healthy diet.

I’ve been doing lots of writing (and forgetting to update my word count on my NaNoWriMo account), but everything else has been entirely neglected as I stare at walls and cry.

And after that major suckage, let’s have a funny story and picture.

When I was five, I was very into marriage. But I wasn’t into it in the way that most little kids were. I was into the idea of marriage and officiating fake marriages for other kids and had no interested in getting “married” myself. I was just absolutely fascinated by how fickle my classmates’ relationships were. Marital status seemed to change every five minutes and did not at all reflect what I saw in actual marriage among adults.

Yet despite all of that, I was intent upon being a bride for Halloween. Aznd I needed a groom to complete the picture.

And that’s where Pippa factored into the equation. You see, three-year-old sisters are nothing if not good at being talked into things. So Pippa got dressed up in a little tux, and my father used my mother’s eyeliner (without asking, may I add) to draw her a goatee. I wore an actual wedding dress my mother purchased at a consignment shop that she pinned up so that I wouldn’t be constantly tripping and a lot of white tulle stitched to a white headband. Then, my father put on his white tuxedo (I will never understand why he decided that he needs both a white one and a black one) and took us trick-or-treating. Everyone thought Pippa was a boy, and it was hilarious.

The end.

As always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Soccer Boy Gets Stuck and Nearly Loses His Pants in A Water Main Hole

Once upon a time, I was eight and very opinionated. After an argument with someone in my family, I stomped outside, vowing to “leave home forever, and never ever come back, and you’ll all be sorry when I die on the streets, alone.” But of course, I didn’t get very far. I just sat down on the front stoop in my yellow striped sun-dress and pink rainboots—don’t ever say I didn’t have style—and pouted, one of those huge lower lip extension pouts. I was going to stick my lip out as far as I possibly could to prove the depth of my anger and disappointment. There was nothing model-esque about it. And I crossed my arms, narrowed my eyes, and stared out across the street.

A few minutes later, one of my neighbors, a boy close to my age (we’ll call him Soccer Boy), walked across the street to ask to borrow our soccer goal. But instead of asking me if he could use it, he started to sing “I see London. I see France. I see Ella’s underpants.” And it was true, if you’re wearing a dress, you should never sit on steps without keeping your knees together and shifting your legs to the side. I was showing my “Fabulous Fushia”—as the sparkly print on the front of the panties proclaimed—underwear off to the entire world. And if I had been upset before, it was nothing compared to now. So I drew myself up to my full height, stomped one boot, and said in a haughty voice, “I hate you.” Then, I stuck my tongue out in my most menacing manner for good measure.

He left, and I went back to my job as a professional sulker. About half an hour later, some of the “gang” (the name for my group of friends, Soccer Boy included, that lived on our block), including Soccer Boy, came traipsing up the street with tomato stakes and someone’s wheelbarrow. Soccer Boy decided that now would be an excellent time to show off for the bunch of them, but instead of racing down the street at top speed on a Segway or jumping off of the back of our neighbor’s seven-foot-tall half-pipe (yes, we did do all of that and more) or even eating tree leaves (not a good idea, not that I know this from experience or anything), he decided to pry the cover off of a water meter. (Where we lived, the water meters were buried a few feet into the ground, close to the sidewalk on every houses’ side lawn, and they had these white plates covering them. (We spent a lot of time putting things in these holes that didn’t belong there, like acorns (to grow an oak tree) and letters to the fairy gods.)) And then he proceeded to lower himself into the hole.

Eight-year-olds are very narrow, but as it turns out, not narrow enough not to get stuck in water meter holes. He was stuck almost exactly at his waist, and to prove how good of friends we all were, we decided to cover him with shredded grass and laugh. It was all fun and games, even for Soccer Boy, until it became apparent that he wasn’t just stuck temporarily. He was honest to goodness really wedged into that hole. We fetched his father, but he was too old to be able to pull Soccer Boy out, so we had to get my mother to do it. And much to his embarrassment, his pants mostly came off and his underwear looked like it was also threatening to retreat to the depths of the hole.

And that, my friends, was the sweetest revenge. I didn’t even have to do a thing. He got himself into the whole mess. And his underwear blunder was far worse than mine and involved an audience of five kids and two adults. His story has since been told numerous, numerous times, to side-hurting laughter, whereas my underwear story has probably only been recounted a total of three times and only as a preamble to his. After all, every girl ends up showing her underwear off to the world like that at some point in her life, but it takes a very special person to nearly lose his pants in a water meter hole.

Also, Soccer Boy, if you are by any chance reading this—something I heavily doubt—I’m sorry for telling this story. It was too funny to pass up. I won’t tell who you are, if you agree not to yell at me.

And with that, darling Maxwell and I wish you a goodnight from a bed that is now covered with a fancy blue bedspread I swiped from Pippa’s room. Pippa, we’ll return it when you get home; it doesn’t match the rest of my decor very well, anyway.

As always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

The Day After Snowtober

After over fifteen hours without power and a day driving around town through the snow, looking at all of the downed trees, power lines, and telephones, it’s nice to be able to use the internet and sleep in a house that is around fifty degrees. I had to wear long underwear and two pairs of flannel pajamas to bed. The floral patterns clashed in the most spectacular manner, and I throughly amused my next door neighbor when I stepped outside in the morning wearing that ensemble, a bright pink bathrobe with hearts all over it purchased when I was eight*, and flowered boots.

*I keep announcing that I will replace it, as the sleeves are incredibly short and it looks ridiculous on anyone over the age of ten, but I never do. At this point, it’s just become so amusing to me that I couldn’t care less about what other people think.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Dinner Table Conversations: Part Four

Scene: We were playing Loaded Questions, a board game that requires you to guess who gave what answer to a series of personal questions.

Mom (reading off of a card): “What historic event would you want to take credit for masterminding?”

Pippa immediately responds: Nine elev… Wait! No! Not that!

We all laugh, write our answers, and my mom makes her guesses.

As the dice are handed off to me, Pippa says: Actually I’d want to be responsible for Osama Bin Laden’s death, ’cause then I’d be like a super sloth!

Dad: Sloth?

Pippa: Yeah, sloth!

Dad, Ella, Mom: It’s sleuth!

Ella, Too Sticky Stickers, and Pink Square Tattoos

As it turns out, the special medical stickers that heart monitors use really, really hurt to take off. It’s been over six hours, and I still have pink squares where the stickers once were. Fun times.

Today, I also decided that if I ever get a tattoo–which of course, won’t happen, considering how I don’t find them very appealing and how scared I am of needles–I will not get large pinks squares all over my stomach and chest. It isn’t a good look.