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.

Bedtime Conversation

K:  Tickle me, Mom!

Me: { tickle, tickle }

K: (suddenly serious) Mom, if I ever get cancer, I want the kind Cade and Collin’s dad has.

Me: Oooooooookaaaaaaaaay

K:  I’m not saying I want to have cancer, but if I had to have it, I think he has the best kind.

Me:  Why is that, honey?

K:  Because he has the kind that tickles.

Me:  He does?  How do you know it tickles?  Did the boys tell you that?

K:  No, they didn’t say anything, but I heard you talking to Daddy.

Me: (suddenly understanding, and laughing too hard to breathe)  Oh, honey!  You’ll never get that kind of cancer!  (laughing, wiping tears..)

K:  MOM!  Stop laughing at me!  It’s not funny!  Lots of people get cancer!  What are you laughing about??? (getting angry)

Me:  Sweetie, you misheard me.  I didn’t say Mr. Stewart has cancer that tickles.  I said he has testicular cancer.  Cancer of the testicles.  Girls don’t get that kind.

K:  Why not?  (kinda mad)

Me:  Because girls don’t have testicles.  Only boys do.

K:  Well, that’s not fair!  I’m going to bed!  (stomps off)

An Embarrassment of Riches

I have been terrible about acknowledging blog awards in the past.  I love to get them, and I’m always very flattered and grateful, but I don’t always follow through and post about them or hand them out to others.  (I really stink at updating my blog roll too, but that’s a subject for another day.  Let’s work on one bad habit at a time, shall we?)

So it is with much love, humility, and gratitude that I accept and pass along these beautiful blog awards!

award_lets_be_friendsFrom Lisa at Books and Cooks, and from Karen at Planet Books:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

I’d like to thank Lisa and Karen for the Friends award, and pass it on to my oldest blogging friends, the ones I’ve known from day one (and in one case- even before that!):

Stephanie from Stephanie’s Written Word

Trish from Hey, Lady!

Care from Care’s Online Book Club

Jill from Fizzy Thoughts

Patti from Displaced Beach Bums

And I’d like to give this back to the friends who gave it to me, Karen and Lisa!

you-dont-say-postFrom Sheri at A Novel Menagerie:  We give and get awards for having a great blog and being a good friend.  What I want to award is to those people whose comments have meant THE WORLD to me.  It takes time to visit a blog and leave a comment.  I wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to each and every one of you who has left a comment for me on A Novel Menagerie.  Also, I wanted to recognize some special bloggers whose comments have made such an impact on me.  The “You Don’t Say?” Award is awarded to these special bloggers in hopes that they will pass the award along to 5-10 of their best commentors! 

Thanks, Sheri!  I love this new award.  Comments are so important to me and really vital to our community.  Some bloggers who always give good comments are:

Nat at Book, Line, and Sinker

Ti from Book Chatter and Other Stuff

Char from Bloody Hell!  It’s a Book Barrage!

Les from Lesley’s Book Nook

Ladytink_534 from The Movieholic and Bibliophile Blog

Jeanne at Dog Ear Diary

loveblog

 

From Drey of Drey’s Library:  The I Love Your Blog Award.  I am so honored!  Thanks, Drey!  I love your blog, too!  

 

This is a hard one to narrow down.  There are just so many. But I think I’m supposed to limit it to five, so here goes:

 

Sher from A Novel Menagerie

Alyce from At Home with Books

Jennifer from Literate Housewife

Raych at Books I Done Read

Wendy from Caribousmom

awardFrom Seaside Book Worm:  “This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.”

These bloggers go out of their way to build relationships in our book blogging community, and they are:

Trish from Hey, Lady!

Hannah from WordLily

Ana (Nymeth) from Things Mean a Lot

Jill from Fizzy Thoughts

Natasha from Maw Books

Sheri from A Novel Menagerie

Amy from My Friend Amy

Jennifer from Literate Housewife

fabulousblogaward2

 

 

From Alyce at At Home With Books:   I think the rules said that I’m supposed to pass this to five others, or maybe it said 5 to 10.. I can’t remember!   Well here are a few blogs that are fabulous, that I love and read regularly.  Let’s not worry about the numbers..

 

 

Dar from Peeking Between the Pages

Alea from Pop Culture Junkie

Anna from Diary of an Eccentric

Wendy from Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Heather at Book Addiction

Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books

Bethany at B & B ex libris

And I also want to give a shout out to my neighbor’s daughter, Cara- a new blogger and a new reader at BOTB.  Cara and her husband Reese have 3 kids, and their sons are my daughters’ favorite playmates when they come to visit their Nana next door.  Reese is battling cancer and Cara’s blogging about their journey at Better Hands Now.  If you’d like to encourage them, stop by and tell her Lisa sent you.. they can use all the prayers and good wishes they can get!

Thanks so much to all my wonderful readers and friends.  Your comments, emails, and friendship mean the world to me.  Thank you!!

Book Club Wrap Up: Book Clubs as Cheap Entertainment

Sheri, our bartender 

 

Sheri, our bartender

With our economy in the gutter, I’m looking for ways to have fun on a budget. Spring break is coming up and we have no plans to go anywhere, so we’ll be riding bikes, having picnics, going to the library, using coupons for free games of bowling, going to the beach (free for us) and anything else that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I’m constantly dreaming up bargain ways we can enjoy ourselves.  Cheap is good, free is better.  

And so it is with the book club.  For the price of a bottle of wine or, in the case of last week, a pan of chicken enchiladas, I get two to three hours of lively, inspiring conversation in a room full of adults.  We laugh, catch up with each other, eat, and talk- a lot- about that month’s book, but also about whatever else is going on, all in a relaxed, cozy, kid-free atmosphere.  Friendships with these other women have a chance to grow over time into something unlike other relationships in our lives, because we have this common bond.  The food is always delicious, and sometimes, there are margaritas.  That’s a lot of bang for my buck. 

Last Sunday my book club descended on my house, a dozen women coming up my driveway in a wave of laughter, bearing food and drink and books.  Reading is solitary but book clubs are social, and I look forward to seeing these people all month.  We sat around my very long dining table enjoying our dinner and each other.  Sheri mixed up the margs and they were unbelievable (the key is fresh everything- including limes from her backyard).  We welcomed a new member (she was the only one who didn’t partake in the margaritas, so I hope we didn’t scare her off!), finished dinner, then moved into the living room to discuss Sara’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  The book was universally enjoyed but, surprisingly, didn’t give us that much to chew on, which worked out well because this was a ‘voting’ meeting.  We needed to decide what to read this summer.  And that takes a while.

We voted on 2 new book selections from a list of 9 nominees.  Here’s the list: 

The Art of Racing in the Rain 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society 

Out Stealing Horses 

South Sea Tales 

Beneath the Marble Sky 

The Book of Bright Ideas 

Still Alice 

The Book Thief 

Life of Pi

After much discussion, we voted in Still Alice by Lisa Genova for July, a novel about a woman struck by early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel for August, a fable about the son of a zookeeper who finds himself in a lifeboat with several wild animals. 

Then some people had to leave, but others stayed for the ‘book club after the book club’ which was more informal (no discussion questions here!).  We had another drink and compared this months selection to last months, and found out which one people liked better, and why, and talked about what makes a book discussable, etc.  But then it was time to retrieve the kids from the neighbor’s house.  Sadly, our book club bubble was about to burst. 

My neighbor later said she enjoyed hearing our laughter (I guess we were a little loud!) and was surprised when she found out it was “just a book club meeting” (as opposed to some other kind of party) which proves my point.. book clubs are a great form of cheap entertainment!  

The Sunday Salon

tssbadge3It’s Sunday! Wonderful Sunday! I hope everybody had a good week.

Today my family is preparing to ship our oldest off to 6th grade camp in the mountains for a week. She is super excited. I’ve been giving the Sharpie a workout, writing her name on everything (“Does everything I own have to have my images-12name on it?” “According to your teacher, yes.”) Her biggest concern is that she won’t like the food and that she’ll be hungry, and I worry about that too since she is underweight to begin with and extremely picky. I told her she will just have to eat whatever is offered or go without. I’ve tried to adapt that rule at home but usually I cave in and let her eat something other than what the rest of us are having, just to get some calories in her. Yes, I’ve created a (finicky) monster. Maybe this week at camp will change that.

images3My book club meets today here at my house. I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon cleaning, and today I will spend a good chunk of my morning making chicken enchiladas for later. Sheri will be mixing up the margaritas (she claims to be a pro!) and then we’ll sit down to discuss Sarah’s Key. We’re sending the kids (hers and mine) and my husband across the street to another book club member’s house so the guys can watch March Madness while our kids babysit my neighbor’s 4 year old twins.

During my clean up for book club I had to move my pile of books waiting to be read and reviewed. NOT my huge TBR pile of books without deadlines, but the ones that I have committed to reviewing. I did some quick mental calculations (3 times 4, carry the 1… where the hell is my calculator???) and found that I need to read about 4,800 pages before the end of April. That doesn’t include my book for book club, to be discussed on the first Sunday in May, another 300+ pages. So that’s about 128 pages of reading daily. The problem is, I secret-keeperaverage about 50 ppd (pages per day), with occasional gusts of up to 200 ppd. But some days I don’t have time (or I’m too tired) to read at all. I think I need to start saying no to the review books for a while, before I crack under the pressure!

I signed a new client this week- Paul Harris and his book, The Secret Keeper, will be on tour with TLC beginning mid-May. I hadn’t heard about this book before, but it sounds really exciting!

This week I finished Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson (still need to write the review) and got about 2/3rds of the way through The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson. I hope to finish that tonight, unless Sheri is reeeeeeally good at mixing margaritas.

Enjoy your Sunday! What are you reading this week?

Guest Post and Giveaway: Sheri from A Novel Menagerie says, “Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!”

My book club met on Sunday and we had the great pleasure to welcome a new member, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie!  She and I met through our children last summer, who by sheer coincidence were not only in the same unit at Girl Scout camp, but in the same cabin 2 years in a row.  The chances of that are so slim- one year they went in August, the next year June, one year they were in a sampler unit, the next year a horse unit- all with hundreds of other kids.  It almost seemed that fate was pushing us together.

At first Sheri was kind of stunned that we hit it off, because she says she “never gets along with other women”.   We bonded over our children (we each have two wild preteen girls- hers are twins, mine are “Irish twins”), we both have one brother named Bill (who, by yet another coincidence, attends our church), complicated relationships with our sisters, experience with insomnia (hers, and my husbands), our OCD tendencies, and of course, BOOKS!   I showed her my blog and told her about the book blogging community.  Sheri asked a million questions.  I sent her on her way with a few extra books I had hanging around.  She went home and started her amazing new blog, A Novel Menagerie, that very day.  If you haven’t seen it, you must go check it out.  She hosts memes, challenges, contests, and reads about 5 books a week (and I’m not even exaggerating!)  She also started an online business called BookCharming.com and makes these adorable floss book marks.  She has so much drive and energy and honestly, I don’t know how she does it all!

So when she asked me about my book club, I sadly told her that it was “full”.  We had what seemed the right amount of people (12) and the club had agreed that we wouldn’t be inviting any more.  But then, in January, someone dropped out.  I mentioned it to Sheri and before the words were out of my mouth, she was saying YES!  So here she is, with impressions of her first book club meeting.  Welcome, Sheri!

Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!

My constant whining about not being in a book club was more than Lisa could bear.  Month after month, the nagging became like nails scratching on a chalkboard.  She had no choice.  Find a spot for me or listen to 11 more months of “poor me.”  I think she chose wisely…yes, she is indeed a smart girl!

So, after finagling me into the book club, I immediately purchased every book on our reading list.  I was bound and determined to know each book inside and out, be ready for any question, and be worthy of the book club.  The books arrived:

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Sarah’s Key

The Invisible Wall

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Our first meeting:  Oscar Wao.  Now, this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Of course, then it must be good.  And, it was.  But, the book was somewhat of a grueling read.  It was not an easy book to get through.  As I spewed out of my mouth in the book club meeting:  

It’s like childbirth; you are not really enjoying it when you’re going through it.  But, once it’s over with you’re glad you did it.  

That’s it.  They’re giving me das boot.  No.  Wait.  Ellen agreed.  Whew!  Let me go back in time to explain.  

So, like a little Nervous Nelly, I walked down the street with Lisa to the book club meeting.  They aren’t going to like me.  I won’t fit in.  I didn’t read the Reader’s Guide questions thoroughly enough.  I wasn’t even sure how I completely felt about the book.  I walk into Ellen’s home.  Immaculate.  Oh, I am such a sub-standard mother.  Ellen would never even sit on my couches.  I’m going to have to host my meeting at Lisa’s house.  There were a few people to meet and… (can you hear the angels singing?) WINE!  I thank God Jesus was into wine!  It’s a goodie that God makes sure is around for me!  Everything looked great.  There was food, wine, the immaculate house.  I was making conversation with whoever would talk with me.  Let’s see if I can remember all of their names (whoever I forget, please forgive me):

bc-bluebirdEllen

Diane

Elaine

Sara

Lisa

Sheri (that’s me)

Orchid

Maggie

Valerie

Tammy

So, Lisa thankfully sat by me during dinner and helped me to remember who’s who, names, etc.  The meeting soon started and Orchid (and her amazingly cool hair) led the meeting.  She read aloud.  But, she read a passage that was written in partial Spanish.  When she said the passage aloud, she said it entirely in English.  <Enter my big mouth> 

bc-sunset“Do you speak Spanish?  I mean, I can read it, but not speak it.  And, well…” (God, Sheri shut up!)

Yes, she did.  And, my inappropriate outburst led into a discussion about the foreign language in the book.  (Thank God!)  The conversation continued and it seemed like we all had something to say. 

My SELF observations:

1. I am the only dumbass who didn’t know that the splotch on the cover was the face of Oscar with a wing coming out of the back of his head.

2. I am the only idiot who thought that Oscar shouldn’t have quit on Yunior when Yunior was trying to help him lose weight.  

3. I’m the only deranged person who didn’t feel sorry for Oscar.  

4. I talk too much.

5. I don’t know enough.

6. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks my thoughts are “spot-on.”  No, that’s not a maybe.  It’s a for sure!

9780312370848My GROUP observations:

1. They were lovely women who really enjoyed this opportunity to get together and discuss their love for books. 

2. These were some INTELLIGENT chicks!

3. There is a common, invisible thread that ties them together.  They appreciate this book club and each other.

4. If I bribe them with my AWESOME Key Lime Martinis, they may let me come back again.  I hope so because I’m almost done with Sarah’s Key.

5. Lisa is my friend!

If I could only talk to intelligent women about the books I read ALL DAY LONG.  It would be like Heaven.  I wonder if I should try to find a job in the book industry.  I’m turning into a one-dimensional person… BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  Maybe I need to be in 4 book clubs… one for every Sunday.  Yes, that might cure my itch!

Thank you to Lisa for letting me smuggle my way into the group and share my neurosis with her readers.  

Sheri is donating 2 beautiful BookCharming.com Book Marks to my 100K celebration.  The first one is the Bluebird design, and the 2nd one is Sunset.  Gorgeous, right?  She’s so flippin’ talented!  This chick has skills!!  I’m going to throw in our book club’s next selection, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay to go along with the beautiful book marks.  Leave a comment by Friday, February 20th for a chance to win.

To read Sheri’s review of Sarah’s Key, click HERE.  I had to skim it because I haven’t read the book yet.  Hope I finish it before next month’s meeting!!

Ho Ho HO

I swore I’d never be one of those bloggers who apologizes for their laziness and lack of blog posts- I’m not delusional enough (yet) to believe anybody truly cares that a week has gone by since my last post- but rather than apologize I’ll attempt to explain.  

Coupled with the usual holiday crazies and being a HO I’ve felt much more foggy than bloggy lately.  The time I normally spend reading or blogging (late night and early morning) I’ve spent sleeping, planning, worrying, or eating (oink).  We’re dealing with some big issues at my house and I’ve been turning to food as a crutch and a comfort from the stress, which doesn’t really matter if I stay in my bathrobe for the rest of my life but is a bit of a problem if I want to fit into my actual clothes.  I was talking to a friend about this last night at a neighborhood party- maybe friend is too strong a word- anyway, as she nibbled on a baby carrot she said, “When life gets difficult, I turn to exercise.  I always feel better after a run.”  I wanted to slap her, but instead I smiled, nodded, and excused myself to make a second trip to the chocolate fountain. 

Opening gifts OMG!  THAT"S SO CUTE!

Opening gifts OMG! THAT"S SO CUTE!

The last week has been a whirlwind of doctor appointments (4) and party preparations.  My youngest turned 10 Saturday and we had a slumber party with 7 giggly wiggly girls.  They screamed, played games, laughed, screamed, sang karaoke, went on a scavenger hunt, screamed, and ate tons of junk food.  Why do 10 year olds respond to everything with a scream?  It started the minute the girls began to arrive.  “I GOT A GUINEA PIG FOR MY BIRTHDAY.”  “NO WAY!!!”  “OMG THAT IS SUCH A CUTE SKIRT!”  “I LOVE YOUR MONKEY SLIPPERS!!!!”  “WHO WANTS TO PLAY A GAME?”  ME ME ME!!  SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM  The one thing I forgot to buy for the party was a set of earplugs for my husband and me! 

img_1626The picture is from a game my daughter invented-Pin the Lips on the Jonas Bros.  This game elicited more screams and peals of laughter than anything else they did all night.  I have to agree that the Joe Bros are pretty cute, even if Joe’s eyebrows look like they were drawn on with a black Sharpie.  The gaggle of girlies finally collapsed into sleep around 2 am.  

The next morning we took my daughter and two friends out for a round of golf.  It was a Southern California postcard kind of day- imagine palm trees against a brilliant sun, blue skies, puffy white clouds- we were very lucky as it was the only sunny day in an otherwise cold and rainy week. 

As for this week’s reading- I finished Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe (review tomorrow) and was able to read about half of Swim to Me by Betsy Carter.  Next up- The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg.  It just seems appropriate. 

What are you reading this week?

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