Saturday Snapshot(s)

My youngest daughter, Kelly, and her BFF have the kind of effortless friendship that I always wished I would find as a kid, but never quite did.  They’ve known each other since they were babies and their time together is filled with laughter, inside jokes, imaginative ideas, and non stop conversation.  They make their own fun and don’t need to be entertained.  I love listening to them talk and laugh- they are hilarious. Last Saturday, as they played on the beach, I read Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister in between watching my daughter’s joy at being with her friend.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.  It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.

Sunday Salon, November 6, 2010

What?  Activity on my blog??  Shocking, I know.

Also shocking- my oldest became a teenager this week.  I am the mother of a teenager. This is.. unsettling.  Moreso because she was doing teenager-ish things all weekend.  On Friday night her junior high band played with the high school band at the high school’s football game.  She tried to leave the house wearing eyeliner- I made her take some of it off (the black line under her eyes) because I just can’t stand her looking older than she is.  Naturally she got mad, talked back, stomped around and ranted about how “everyone wears it,” but then finally took it off.  Her “friend who is a boy” (NOT a boyfriend!!) wanted to go to the game, too, but didn’t have a ride, so she begged me to pick him up and I finally agreed.  (My husband said, ‘What the heck is this, a date?”)  On Saturday night she went out to a movie (PG-13, of course!) with a group of kids (all teenagers) and stayed out past 11 pm.  Today she’ll be competing in a swim meet.  Right now she is sleeping until the last possible minute- typical teenage behavior and NOT typical of her as she has been an early riser since birth.

My head is swimming with the fact of my kids growing up so quickly.  I swear they were just babies, recently, but by December 2011 I will be the mother of TWO teenagers, yikes.  It feels like they got old overnight.  I know there are many parenting joys still ahead, but I am mourning the end of their childhoods.  I’m sure there is a silver lining someplace (more reading time for me as my kids need me less??) but it is certainly bittersweet.

Speaking of reading.. I’ve been doing some here and there in between running the newly minted teenager and her ‘tween sister to all their various social engagements and activities.  I finished ROOM by Emma Donoghue this week; I loved it and immediately passed it on to my mother.  It would make such a great book for discussion with my book club but alas, we only read paperbacks, cheapskates that we are, so that will have to wait a year or so.  But at least if my mother reads it we can talk about it right away.  It’s one of those books that begs to be discussed.  I also finished Dear Mrs. Kennedy for my TLC Book Tour stop tomorrow and  Dracula, My Love by Syrie James for our book club discussion next week, and started reading our December selection, People of the Book by Geraldine March.  The teenager is reading The Miles Between by Mary Pearson and my ‘tween is reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

I hope you all enjoyed your extra hour of sleep last night.. have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday and a great week!

I Like and I Don’t Like

I’ve been tagged by my sister, who is not really my sister but who shares the same first and last name as my sister (I’ll shutup now), the beautiful and talented Karen Harrington of Janeology and Scobberlotch fame.  I haven’t done a non-bookish meme in a long time but this one couldn’t be easier, and it made me think about the small things I enjoy and am grateful for on a daily basis.

The rules:  Fill in the blanks after each bold word and tag 3 friends.  Even I can do that.

I like book blogger get togethers.

I like Nature Valley Sweet and Salty peanut granola bars.

I like clean sheet day.

I like walking with my friend every morning.

I like when someone else makes dinner.

I like the peace in the hour before my family gets out of bed.

I like taking pictures of my kids.

I like watching American Idol.

I like Jim and Pam (and baby Cecelia Marie!).

I like the beach.

I like being outside.

I like eating dinner together when everyone is home.

I love hearing my girls laugh and get along with each other.

Today was a chance for a new beginning – a do-over.

I hate snobs.

I hate going to the dentist.

I hate feeling overwhelmed.

I hate termites.

I hate dishonesty and fuzzy values.

I hate when teachers give boatloads of homework.

I hate selfishness.

I hate seeing my daughters in pain.

I (secretly) like to eat lunch by myself (I borrowed this one from my “sister”- we are so much alike!).

I love when my family is happy and everyone gets along!

Okay… To the following three people, tag! You’re it!  Tell me what you like & don’t like (or tell me to take a hike!)

Wendy from Caribousmom

Care from Care’s Online Book Club

Susan from Suko’s Notebook

Review and Giveaway: Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me by Donna Corwin

Parenting is a process, and when we know more, we can do a better job.  Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me: Preventing or Reversing Entitlement in Your Child’s Attitude by Donna Corwin is a book I wish I’d had 10 years ago (for the preventing part) but thankfully, according to Corwin, it’s not too late for the reversing part.

Often I’ve wondered why my kids expect “stuff” without having to earn it.  Why they think they deserve to get every new thing that comes out and why they think it’s so unfair when their demands aren’t met immediately.  In short, we’ve created little monsters and contributed to their feelings of entitlement by offering too much praise (over inflating their little egos) rather than encouragement (contributing to more healthy self esteem) and by overindulging them instead of delaying their gratification.  The blame lies squarely on my shoulders (and my husband’s) and this book has opened my eyes.

Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me is all about setting limits and discovering your parenting goals and priorities.  It’s about teaching responsibility, about giving real attention, about showing our kids the true meaning of love (and that it can’t be bought).  It’s about supporting your kids but not rushing to fix everything for them, about letting them find their own solutions and solve their own problems.  It’s about taking back control and not allowing your children to suck in all the advertising and media images they are bombarded with on a regular basis, about teaching them about money and morals and manners and how to be charitable.  The book showed me the reasons why I’ve behaved a certain way (rebelling against my own parents’ parenting style) and how I can turn it around.  All in all, this was exactly the reality check I needed.

This book is full of really valuable information and useful advice.  If you are a parent with kids who feel like they are owed the world just because they live and breathe, please do everybody a favor and get this book!

I reviewed Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me as part of its TLC Book Tour.  I’ve got two copies to give away, courtesy of the publisher. Please leave a comment by midnight on March 15th for a chance to win!

How to Drive Your Mother Bonkers in 9 Easy Steps

Watch me drive my mom crazy! It's so easy!!!! Rah! Rah! Rah!

1.  Late at night, announce that you must wear your cheer uniform to school the next day for pictures.  Be sure the uniform has been worn for two days straight, has a mustard stain on the front, and is crumpled in a ball under your bed.

2.  Play the song Tick Tock on high volume 500 times in a row.

3.  After your shower each morning, leave your wet towel on your bed.  Don’t forget to leave your pajamas on the bathroom floor, preferably in a puddle of water.

4.  Offer to help your sister do something, than complain, scream, and cry when she doesn’t want your help.  Slam your door.  Refuse to come out of your room.  Stomp around.

5.  Spend two hours working on 4 math problems.  Tap your pencil repeatedly.  Sigh heavily.  Get up to find an eraser and get mad when you can’t find the one shaped like a dog.  Doodle.  Whine.  Sigh some more.  Beg for a break and snacks.

6.  Save all the REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF THAT CANNOT WAIT for when mom gets on the phone.  Interrupt at least 3 or 4 times per phone call.

7.  Don’t clean your guinea pig’s cage for a month, until the smell is overwhelming and no one can get near your bedroom without a gas mask.  Ditto for the frog’s aquarium.

8.  Take up tap dancing.  Practice a lot.  This will work best if you have wood or tile floors.  If you can practice your cheers while tap dancing.. even better.

9.  Ask for a hard-to-find brand of shoes.  Beg for them every chance you get.  Be sure to tell your mom that everybody has them.  Negotiate and make a bunch of deals until she breaks down and goes to three different stores to find them.  Decide after wearing them twice that you don’t really like them that much after all.  Announce that you only wanted them because your friends had them and you didn’t really like them in the first place.  Duck and run when Mom’s face starts to turn purple.

See?  I told you it was easy!  Please feel free to add your own tips and advice in the comments.

I am always looking for good suggestions!

Friday Blabber

Hello out there..  I felt like doing a Sunday Salon style post, but since it’s only Friday I’ll have to call it something else.  Friday F F F F.. ok, no “F” word is leaping out at me..  we’ll just call it Friday Blabber.

Life has been so crazy around here.  My mother in law was hospitalized a week ago and my husband flew across the country to be by her side.  She’s still in the hospital but is doing much better, thankfully, and is expected to go home this weekend.  Hub will stay until Sunday (such a mama’s boy :-o)

My 12 year old has been a total pill this week, fighting with me about EVERYthing.  She got braces Wednesday and her mouth is sore.  Apparently this has heightened her emotions to new highs.  Every stray thought and feeling is magnified, everything is SO unfair.  It’s exhausting for me!

My youngest has been whiny and clingy, complaining relentlessly about Daddy being out of town.  WHEN is he coming home?  WHY does he have to be there?  He’s been gone since Sunday.  Last night she was so unhappy about it and mad at him that she refused to talk to him on the phone, and then sobbed about how other daddies are home every night.  It’s not fair!

Calgon, take me away!

I love the Olympics but they have seriously cut into my reading (and sleeping) time.  I got so caught up watching Shawn White and the other snowboarders last night that I never looked at the book in my lap.  And the skaters!  Wow!  I’ve been staying up so late, and falling asleep with the TV on.  Why is it on so late??

I’ve been reading Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott.  Totally terrifying if you are the mother of soon-to-be teens.  They have this whole secret world full of lies and deception and risk taking..  drugs, boys, drugs, sneaking out, more drugs.. and yet it all looks so pretty on the outside.. good grades, part time jobs, polite to adults, keeping up appearances.  I vow, right now, to be the nosiest mom of teens ever, up in my kids’ “bizness” at all times.  I will read diaries, I will search pockets, I will have internet controls, I will read their text messages and Facebook pages, I will give drug tests, I will call teachers, I will know the parents of their friends, will constantly ask questions and keep tabs on them.  I will not be their BFF, I will not look the other way, I will not make excuses, I will give consequences, I will not believe their lies or buy their BS.  How else can you protect them?  See, I remember high school, and I remember what I was like.  My mother didn’t have a clue.  I will not be clueless.

Aren’t you glad you’re not my kid???

On my nightstand are A Reliable Wife for my March book club meeting, and Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me (non fiction about demanding children- who better to review that??).  Also I’ve got two books on their way to me- HarperCollins is sending the new Lionel Shriver called So Much For That (I still can’t get We Need to Talk About Kevin out of my mind years later!).  Then there’s a historical fiction novel about the Donner Party called Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton (from the author).  I’m really looking forward to that one.

On Monday 2/22 we will be discussing Keeping the Feast with author Paula Butturini for our Winter Reading Series here at Books on the Brain.  Paula will join us ‘live’ for an hour (5pm PST) to answer questions and talk about her book.  Please drop by if you’ve read the book, or if you’re thinking about it!  Oh, and my giveaway of American Rust will run through Sunday at midnight.. leave a comment for a chance to win.

This weekend will have us delivering girl scout cookies to the neighbors on Saturday, and then my book club will meet to discuss The Weight of Silence on Sunday.  And then Daddy comes home (woo hoo! cue the angels!). Maybe I’ll leave town for a day or two so he and the kids can become reacquainted :-).

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

If you feed them, they will grow..

Apparently my daughter’s feet grew.  Overnight.  While she slept.

This morning she announced, “Mom, I can’t go to school.  My shoes don’t  fit.”

Me:  “You have lots of shoes.  TRY A DIFFERENT PAIR!”

Her:  “I did.  None of them fit.”

Hmmm.  They must have fit yesterday, because she went to school.  She wore shoes.  Why didn’t she tell me when they were just starting to feel snug?  I don’t know.  I guess she thought I would let her stay home, or perhaps go to school in flip flops, but no.  Not happening.

A couple pairs of shoes were just purchased in December, 5 or 6 weeks ago, and she had wiggle room.  They’ve barely been worn.

“Mom, when we get shoes, we need to get pants too.  Everything is short.”

Couldn’t this growth spurt have taken place before Christmas?  She could have gotten lots of clothes under the tree!

Oh well, we’ll be shopping this weekend, searching for bargains, because I have the ‘no money after the holidays’ blues.

But this is what we’ll do with our old shoes..

Sports Chalet is asking for people to donate your old shoes, (gently worn shoes), to those in need in Haiti. It’s so simple, just drop off your old shoes at the nearest Sport Chalet Store, which collects to the end of the month.

Tell your friends and the people in your neighborhood – help spread the word.

SOLES 4 SOULS program

For store locations nearest you call 1.888.9CHALET or go to www.sportchalet.com.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Have your kids outgrown their shoes?  Donating your gently worn shoes is a good way to help that doesn’t cost a lot, and a nice way for your kids to do something for the kids who’ve lost everything in the Haiti earthquake.

Off to scour the ads for sales…

The Sunday Salon: January 17, 2010

Good morning!  I hope it’s bright and sunny where you are!

In  Southern California we are bracing ourselves for a MAJOR WINTER STORM!  Take cover!  There may be some rain!  I might not be laughing about this a week from now, but when the weather forecasters cry wolf a few times, and the major storm ends up being a few sprinkles.. well, let’s say I’m a bit unimpressed with the warnings.  We’ll see.  Right now it’s sunny, the sky is a brilliant blue, and the only clouds I see are high and fluffy.  But they are moving pretty fast, so.. hmmm.

Today was supposed to be our parent/child book club meeting day, hosted by me, but my oldest has strep throat.  I almost made her go to school on Friday (another one who’s always crying wolf) but she seemed a little warm and listless and had a miserable attitude so I let her stay home.  Later I saw that her throat was inflamed so we went to the doctor.. he said it was viral and to go home and give her Motrin.  But then last night she spiked a high fever and her throat was bright red, so we ended up in the ER for several hours, and she got a shot of penicillin.  Now my husband has a sore throat.  Good times!

I’ve spent some time this morning going through our pictures for Sheri from A Novel Menagerie’s Beautiful Baby pet photo contest.  We have so many that it’s hard to decide what to submit.  She’s having consolation prizes for most humorous and best personality so I’m thinking of entering one of these, rather than the standard “beauty” shot.. tell me what you think:

Where is everybody? Who wants to play with me?

What's THIS? A new pet in the house?

Well, she smells pretty good. Maybe we can be friends.

As for reading, I’m about 2/3rds of the way through both U is for Undertow and American Rust.  I’m usually a one book at a time woman, but I’d left “U” in my car one night and didn’t feel like going out to get it, so I started American Rust and haven’t put it down since. Wish I had a team of people to raise my children, make my meals, do my laundry, clean my house, and shop for me so I could just read read read in my free time.  Wait..I need another me!  I need a wife!! Ha Ha.

What are you reading this weekend?  I hope you all have a wonderful day and a great week!  Thanks for stopping by Books On The Brain.

The Sunday Salon – January 10, 2009

Happy Sunday, everybody.  I’m sitting in my family room that is flooded with bright sunlight trying to wrap my head around the fact that this is January.  We’ve had blue skies and temps in the mid to upper 70s for over a week.  While it’s not unusual to have a day like that in January in Southern California, an entire week is weird, even for us.  We are enjoying it by getting out to ride bikes, visiting the beach, etc.  Typical January activities, right?  (I apologize to all you frozen-over mid-westerners for rubbing it in!)

This past week has been a whirlwind for us, trying to get back into a normal routine after the loosey-goosey schedule of winter break.  The Hub’s been in Vegas for a convention since Tuesday so the girls and I have been on our own.  I’ve gotten back to work and it’s a good thing because things had really piled up while I was off playing with the kids.  School mornings have been crazy (nobody wants to get up) and the homework battles have begun anew.  The kids have also taken to fighting over who gets to sleep with me each night while Dad’s away.  Tonight is the last night before he comes home and I think I’m going to demand that everyone sleep in their own bed.

The kids and I have been reading in the evenings.  My youngest and I are reading Fablehaven by Brandon Mull together for our mother/child book club and really enjoying it.  (My oldest is already on Book 4 of the series).  It’s the story of a brother and sister who go to their reclusive grandparents’ home for 2 weeks while their parents are on a cruise.  The home and property turn out to be a centuries-old refuge for mystical creatures (fairies, etc.) that can only be seen by drinking special milk.  Reading Fablehaven has been a great way for me to get my kids to drink their milk!!

I’m currently reading an old favorite author, Sue Grafton, and her latest, U is for Undertow.  I’d stopped reading this series a few years ago (the last one I read was M is for Malice) but I have no idea why… I LOVE Sue Grafton’s sense of humor, and this book is really fun.  My kids have caught me laughing out loud several times (it’s a mystery but her humor shines throughout).  Her sarcasm and wit just kill me and the way she intersects the various characters is really clever.  Now I’ll have to go back and read N, O, P, Q, R, S, and T to see what I’ve missed!

Tonight is book club night and it’s my turn to host our meeting.  I had my servants kids dusting and vacuuming in preparation yesterday.  The whining and complaining could be heard for miles around.  I decided to go super easy with the food and order out- Pizza Hut makes an awesome chicken fettucini alfredo so that’s what I’m serving.  No cooking!  Tonight we will discuss The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  We’re also going to watch the movie.  This is something new for us and I’m looking forward to discussing the book vs. movie.  It was such a powerful book and I can’t wait to see Hollywood’s interpretation of it.

Well I’m off to rouse the troops- the bathrooms need attention, the dog needs her pills, the front porch needs to be hosed off, the dishwasher needs emptying, clothes need to be  put away.. the list goes on.  It’s not easy being a taskmaster but someone has to do it!

Thanks for stopping by Books on the Brain.  Leave me a note and tell me what you’re up to this weekend.

Have a great week!

Babysitter’s Review: A Puppy, Not a Guppy by Holly Jahangiri

In the first of what will be a series of “Babysitter Approved” book reviews by my newly certified 12 year old babysitter in residence, here is a review of Holly Jahangiri’s new children’s book, A Puppy, Not a Guppy.

As a new babysitter, I’m always looking for ways to entertain the neighborhood kids that I sit for. Across the street are 5 year old twins who I watch sometimes.   A Puppy, Not a Guppy is a very cute book that I’m sure they will love.

The story is about a little girl named Irma who wants a puppy, but her parents won’t let her have one.  Her friend has a bunch of pets including a pregnant guppy.  When he tells her that he will have to flush the baby guppies down the toilet, she feels bad for them and agrees to take them.

At first she thinks they are boring.  They don’t do anything.  But later she discovers they are not as boring as she thought.  She thinks of one of the fish as a slowpoke but with her mom’s help decides to name him Lightning, hoping that he’ll live up to his name.  I don’t want to give too much away but I think kids will be excited to learn that a pet guppy is trainable, if you are very patient!  Parents will be happy because their kids may want a pet that’s easier to take care of.

I think little kids will really like this story because it is cute and funny.  Irma seems like a lot of kids I know.  She’s a little grumpy when her parents won’t let her get a puppy, but she doesn’t throw a tantrum and that’s a good lesson for little kids to learn.  My little sister wants a kitten and my parents won’t get her one, but unlike Irma she HAS thrown a tantrum (more than one).  Maybe guppies would be a good idea for her.  She could name one Kitty, ha ha!

The illustrations in the book are very cute- even kids as old as I am will enjoy them, especially the guppies.  And at the end of the book there are some fun and surprising fish facts- stuff even I didn’t know.

I give this book my official Babysitter Stamp of Approval.  In my professional opinion, this is a book for children of all ages!

Here I am (in the CSI hat) with my sister (in the pink hat) and the neighborhood rugrats:

You can check out other stops on this blog tour at:

Tuesday, December 8th:  Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap

Wednesday, December 9:  Life is But a Dream

The Struggling Blogger dot Com

Thursday, December 10:  Life is But a Dream

Friday, December 11:  Life is But a Dream

Saturday, December 12:  HappyMaking

Born on a Syzygy

Sunday, December 13:  Dr. Dean Pomerleau @ Fish School Blog

The Story of a Writer

Monday, December 14:   Books on the Brain

Tuesday, December 15:  Jena Isle’s Random Thoughts

SusanSmithThompson.com

Wednesday, December 16:  Tour Wrap-up at Imaginary Friends and It’s All a Matter of Perspective



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