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!

Sunday Salon – September 19, 2010

nose in a book

And here is the age-old question.. does BBAW rhyme with Hee Haw?  Or do YOU say the individual letters B… B… A… W?

I say it rhymes with Hee Haw.

Even though I’ve taken a step back from blogging, I’d have to be living under a rock (I’m not, just FYI) to miss all the Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) excitement.  All the craze and praise has been really fun to watch!  It’s inspiring to see all the enthusiasm for blogging and books and so.. here I am again after a two month hiatus.  Thanks, BBAW, for helping me remember why I love blogging and how it’s just about the most fun you can have on a computer.  And a big enthusiastic Congratulations! to all the winners and nominees, many of whom I count among my friends.  Congrats, too, to Amy, the tireless force behind BBAW, and her hardworking team for another hugely successful awards week!

I marvel at the time bloggers put into their blogs.  I’m guessing (well, actually I know..) a lot of them don’t have kids.  Many do, of course, and it is really THOSE bloggers I marvel at the most..  I’m not sure how they keep up.  Maybe their kids aren’t as demanding as mine or don’t have tons of activities to be shuttled around to, maybe they don’t help with homework, maybe they have no friends IRL, maybe someone else cleans their houses and cooks their meals, maybe they don’t work or need 8 hours of sleep at night.. I really don’t know!  But between blogging and Twitter and Facebook, who has time for trivial stuff like laundry, grocery shopping, or in-person conversations?

I think about that.  I think about the amount of time my children spend online, time that could be spent hanging out with other kids face to face deveoloping their social skills, or time just being bored and thinking.  I remember a lot of time like that as a child- free time where I had to find something to do or where I could work something out in my head- time to be creative or at least creatively solve the problem of being bored.  This is when imagination kicks in.  My children need to be entertained, all the time, and they have zillions of options for that, with 500+ channels on cable, iPods and phones, Wii and the internet.  They can’t stand to be bored.  Which is why I regularly unplug them from everything (my favorite form of punishment, actually).  You’d think I was hacking off an arm the way they carry on about it.  But I look at it as I’m giving them a gift- the gift of boredom.  I tell them, “Go develop your imaginations!” to much groaning and foot stomping.  My husband tells them, jokingly, “When I was your age, we played with sticks and rocks!”  They roll their eyes and say, “Daaaaaaaaaaaad! That was back in the Stone Age.”  But before long they find something to do that doesn’t involve earbuds or keyboards or remotes.

But it’s hard to unplug kids when I’m always online.  I’m modeling the very behavior I’m trying to change in them.

So that’s what the last two months were about.  With my kids home for the summer, I’d work (online) while they slept in or played- I was online only as much as I needed to be. And I think that’s my new plan- no blogging in the summer or during school vacations.  I’d rather feel guilty about ignoring my blog than about ignoring my kids.  Priorities..

We had Back to School Night at my  youngest daughter’s school this week.  This is my 6th grader, my reluctant reader, the one who whines about her 30 minutes of assigned daily reading, the one I have to set a timer for just to get her to crack open a book, the one who claims to hate reading.  So imagine my shock and awe when I was told that based on her Accelerated Reader score she is reading at an 11th grade level.. what?!?!  How can this be?  That’s a full FOUR GRADE LEVEL jump over last year.  She has to get 69 reading points this semester, and if you’re not familiar with the program, let me just tell you- that’s a lot.  She’s going to have to pick up the pace considerably to make her goal.  She grabbed a book from the library called My Fair Godmother- 14 points- and started it at school but has yet to sit down with it this weekend.  The AR books I pulled out of our bookshelves for her are stacked up and gathering dust.  She wants to pick her own, which I understand, but she’s going to have to actually start reading them.

My older one would rather read than eat or do homework.  So we have the opposite problem with her.  She gets in trouble at school for reading when she’s supposed to be listening to teachers or doing her work.  She reads in the car, she reads in bed, she reads everywhere, oblivious to her surroundings.  It’s hard to get mad about it when I understand it so well- she’s exactly like me.

As for my reading, I’m currently enjoying Honolulu by Alan Brennert for book club.  I read Molokai a few years back and loved it, so was thrilled when this one got voted in.  It’s about a young Korean “picture bride” who comes to Hawaii to marry a Korean man and have a chance at a better life and education in the early 20th century.  Naturally, things don’t turn out as planned.  Most of this book is being read while sitting on the bleachers in the hot sun at the pool where my older daughter practices with her swim team 6 hours a week.  She can’t read while swimming, but if there was a way, I’m sure she’d try.

So.. we’ll see how this goes.  It’s nice to be back.  Hopefully this won’t be my last post for another two months!

What are you doing this weekend?  What are you reading?

Happy Sunday..

I’m Not Dead

goofy kid stuff

Don’t you hate it when bloggers give a bunch of reasons/excuses why they haven’t been updating their blog lately?  Yeah, me too.  So I won’t do that.

But I did want to pop in to let you know that I’m not dead.

Lots ‘o reading has been going on (books & blogs).  Just not a lot ‘o review writing.  My apologies.

I’m re-reading The Hunger Games right now for my book club.  In general I’m not a re-reader and was only planning to skim it to refresh my memory before our meeting, but I couldn’t resist. It’s like brain candy- so fun and fast.  When I read it last summer, I was completely Team Gale, but I think I’ve switched camps.  Peeta is sweeta the second time around.

The girls get out of school in about a week.  Our summer will be filled with swimming and tennis lessons, sleep-away camp for them (on alternating weeks- not at the same time.  Poor planning on my part!), a family camping trip to the Mammoth area with friends, trips to the local water park and the beach, plus lots of ‘nothing days’ to fill in with bike rides, lemonade stands, neighbor kids, reading, sleeping in, and laziness.  It’s good to be a kid, but I’m in a bit of a panic, trying to figure out how I will work from home with kids all around.  Any suggestions from other work-at-home parents?

For my reading.. this summer I plan to get to The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli, So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, How to Be An American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway, 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan, Let the Great World Spin (for book club), the Eric Clapton biography (also for book club), and City of Refuge by Tom Piazza (book club).

What are you reading this summer?

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.

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