3 ways #frozen gets it right about older sisters

You know I am the mother of a young daughter and therefore I was practically conscripted to see “Frozen” which…was not a chore at all.  In spite of the absurdly small waists and absurdly big doe eyes of the main characters Ana and Elsa, I enjoyed it immensely. I know you have all overdosed on the soundtrack and have gone back to watch it in 3D and you are SUCH a fangirl of the girl power message of the film, but, to quote Princess Anna, “Can I say something crazy?” Because I really think our heroine is Elsa. And here are 3 reasons why (spoiler alert):

1. Elsa gives up a life of interaction in order to shield her little sister Anna from harm.

This is what older sisters do. We have powers that can be used for good or evil–okay, so all of us do. By virtue of being an elder sister, though, we are endowed with a special blend of power and pressure. We pave the way for things. We break our parents in. We are the kids that they test their flashcards on, their ability to negotiate The Terms of Things with us. They tell us stuff, much of which we wish they didn’t. We overhear things and we work awfully hard, just like Elsa does, to shield our younger sibling(s) from these truths.

Anna doesn’t understand this and she gets all the sympathy when she has no one to help her build a snowman. What she doesn’t understand, of course, is that the person who can help her build the best snowman, to help her have the most fun making the coolest things, also has the power to destroy everything, and this is really really painful for older siblings. We want so much to be cool with everything, to give our sibs rides places and teach them stuff that no one else is going to teach them, but we know too much. We know the consequences and they are grave.

2. Elsa has to grieve alone, grow up alone, accept the throne alone.

Think about Princes William and Harry for a moment. Who’s allowed to be the baller? Who’s allowed to run amok in college, to keep calm and frat boy on?

Harry, right? He’s the younger one. He’s free to be. William, on the other hand, he’s no Free Willy. He has to be upstanding. Everyone knows he’s heir to the throne. He carries the burden of eldership, of mentorship. He can’t disgrace the crown in the same way a younger sibling can, a younger sibling who is not as accountable to the lineage as directly as big bro is.

Anna, as the younger sister, could conceivably have left the castle gates and pursued friendships and romantic relationships freely. Instead, we are led to believe that she stays inside the castle until Elsa’s coronation. Elsa, however, was quarantined to her room so as not to harm anyone with her powers to freeze minds and hearts.

I have felt this way for at least 3,004 years. As the oldest of my siblings and all of my cousins, I wish the I did not have to be the first one to leave home, to go to college, to get married, to have children. Okay, so I didn’t HAVE to do all those things. I could have waited, but I chose to do all those things when I did, and that was first in line (I think? Anyone else get secretly knocked up? I’ll find out somehow, I’m the oldest, afterall.) There’s just something appealing about someone else setting up shop in the Promised Land and sending you a postcard “Awaiting your arrival–xoxo, Your Older, Wiser Cousin.”

Anna is the supposed hero of the film because she saves Arendelle. But she’s also terribly hasty and impulsive and creates a whole lotta mess in her wake. Elsa abandons the kingdom, sure. But she also has the best of intentions in secluding herself because she knows a few things, like how you shouldn’t get engaged to some guy the same night you meet him at a party.

Older sisters, and maybe all older siblings, know they are under the microscope. They know their decisions can’t be rash because too many people are affected, too much residue will trickle down. Elsa is a neutral character in Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen” tale, but Elsa is rewritten as a protagonist in the Disney adaptation. In “Let it Go (The Reprise),” she tells Anna, “Go back home/Your life awaits/Go enjoy the sun and/Open up the gates.”  I just don’t think you can argue that it takes guts to live alone and it’s lonely at the top (of the mountain and the siblings pile).

3. Elsa still listens to Anna.

Her love for Anna does not trump her ability to pull rank on Anna. She listens and cares and knows that ceasing the eternal winter is her job. But she is not so arrogant as to say, “I’ve got this.” In fact, Elsa says the opposite. She doesn’t know how to cease winter. Still, she cares enough about her kingdom and her sister to leave the mountain where she is safe among her frozen sculptures to go try and remedy the deep freeze with Anna. This is also an accurate portrayal of elder sibling heroics. We know we are better with and because of our little sibs. They give us the courage to do what we need to do. They believe in us enough that we can carpe diem or carpe frozen, as the case may be.

I am forever indebted to my siblings for teaching me humility most especially, among other virtues. For loving me when I was and am undeserving. And for sitting with me in the 2nd row of “Frozen” along with my munchkins 🙂


Continue Reading

2013 #recap

Oh, hey, December 2013. Have you met months January – November of this year?

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Went to Savannah, GA (three times–yowsa!).
Attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.
Led a group of students to ATL – CNN Headquarters and World of Coca-Cola.
Started my third consecutive school year teaching.
Signed with a literary agent.
Began styling with Keaton Row.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Let us just take a moment to be thankful I am speeding ticket free for yet another year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, welcome North West! Ha. Also, Luke, Scarlett, Lois, Vivienne, James, just to name a few new blessings in our circle.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
RIP Auntie Mare.

5. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A book deal.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I really enjoyed my children this summer. I know that sounds like a non-accomplishment, but the transition from teaching to being a stay-at-home mama to two adorable punks in the death heat of Tennessee summer is something I find difficult. I planned a really great summer for us and we bonded in a significant way.

7. What was your biggest failure?
I didn’t stick to our financial budget as much as I wanted to and needed to, but I am back on track with that.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Praises be, no!


9. What was the best thing you bought?
I got Loverpants a Sunday delivery of the NYT for the year. Such a great citizenvestment.

10. What did you get really excited about?
My sister TP got engaged!
This video

11. What was the best book you read this year?
Toss up between:
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store

12. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? I change from happy to sad 2394028343 times/day.
– thinner or fatter? About the same
– richer or poorer? So much better (see also: condo albatross gone)

13. What was your favorite TV program?
Parenthood. Orange is the New Black (when is Season #2 btw?). Downton.

14. What was your favorite music from this year?

Loved seeing Sara Bareilles.
Love this video by the Killers.

15. What were your favorite films of the year?
Gatsby and, honestly, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was not the worst sequel ever.

16. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
On my 33rd birthday, I think I got a massage?

17. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

My children are actively learning how to do this thing called Being Human from watching me. And that is a humbling, sobering thing.


Continue Reading

Review: Stitch Fix

Twelve years of rocking the Catholic school uniform and this grown-up girl is taking back her wardrobe. Every Sunday I glance at the 5-day forecast and pick out my outfits for the workweek. It’s a task I enjoy; it feels creative and curatorial. I have a penchant for putting unlikely pieces together in my outfit selections.

Y’all know how I love my gig styling for Keaton Row. (Click the button on the right sidebar if you want a custom styled lookbook just for you, beauty!). Sometimes a gal wants someone to style her, though. Sometimes she wants to be Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” after the Rodeo Retail Snobbers make a Big Mistake. Huge.

Enter: Stitch Fix. On the remote chance you’re not already familiar, here’s my review of the process. My blog idol Jami Nato pointed me to this service a few months ago. I filled out the very thorough survey which makes a gal think about all the decisions and non-decisions she makes re: purchasing clothes.

Once you fill out the survey/profile thing, you input your credit card info. The service itself costs $20, but you can put that styling fee toward the purchase of the curated clothes sent your way, at a time that you designate. Brilliant, eh?

I scheduled a fix for my birthday week because, oh hai birthday cake. Maybe if I buy some new clothes I won’t eat you all. The box arrived promptly and I was so excited because how often does a box arrive that we picked out for ourselves but that is full of surprise? Oh, the 12th of never, right?


The box’s contents included the following:

Separate #1: white shirtdress $28 – although not petite, it is 100% cotton which is my preference.
Separate #2: Red skinny pants $68 – not petite but I would wear these with boots anyways.
stitchfix pants
Verdict: KEEPING ‘EM.

Separate #3: Heart sweater – $68. The fact that this struck me as something I would have begged my mom to buy me in 1986 so I could wear it to a birthday party at the rollerskating rink made me decide, probably not. When I put this sweater on, it was snug in all the wrong places.
Verdict: Sending it back.

Separate #4: Flowy skirt $68- this skirt is dry clean only which is not my preference but the fit was excellent and the piece is unique.

Verdict: Keeping it.

Item #5: My fix also contained these sweet earrings – $28. I have no need for earrings (and you can specify your needs on your survey) but I am always on the lookout for unique gifts for the lady relatives in my life.
Verdict: Sending ’em back.

Clients of Stitch Fix get 3 days to try on and decide on what to keep, what to send back with no penalty. After 3 days, I believe anything you keep, you buy. All in all, I think this is a huge merit of the service. I always feel bad that I’m cutting into someone’s commission when I buy something to take home and try on at regular retail establishments. Or I hem and haw for too long about the price. Stitch Fix forces you to try and decide swiftly, which is good for a deliberative gal like self.

Shipping of all items is free, which is a win-win. Actually, it’s probably more of a win for the client.

And to our right is the original Stitch Fixer, Baby Girl, the fashion maven herself. Even if she is on track to have 7 years of bad luck.


Continue Reading