The Sunday Salon – Books and Brats

Ahhhh, the end of a very long week.  Happy Sunday!  Today I’ve broken my post up into two sections, for those who would just like to read about books rather than all the nonsense that goes on with my kids.  So the first section is books, and the second section is brats.

Reading:

imageDB-5.cgiI finished Her Fearful Symmetry yesterday, which is set at Highgate Cemetery in London (adding to the creep factor of the book).  My thoughts as I turned the last page were, “What?!  That’s IT?”  I know there has been much gushing from bloggers over this book, but I haven’t read the posts (only skimmed).  I haven’t decided what I think of the book yet.  Until the very end I was expecting and waiting for a confrontation between two of the characters that never took place.  And I was disappointed by that.

After the moody gloomy feel of HFS I wanted something distinctly different, so last night I read the first few chapters of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer (which, so far, has nothing to do with cemeteries).  So far I like it.  It kind of reminds me of another book I read and enjoyed recently, The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum.  The main character has n309236similar issues (youngish, social life revolves around work, lost her mother at an early age, distant relationship with family, health issues in immediate family bring everyone together, etc.) but I’ve only read maybe 35 pages so who knows where it all will go.  It’s set in Southern California, where I live, so that part is really fun for me.

Coming up this month from the TBR pile are Who By Fire (because the guilt is getting to me), Goldengrove (for an upcoming tour), In a Perfect World (also for a tour), Olive Kitteridge (book club pick for Oct) and The Angel’s Game (for the RIP IV Challenge).

This afternoon, Sheri and I are going out for a drink together while our collective kids attend a pool party/ BBQ for their youth group.  I include this in the “Reading” section because we always talk about books and blogs when we get together!  She’s been working hard on several BBAW panels, but the panel work is complete (the voting begins next week) and she desperately needs to wind down after all that blog reading!

What are you reading this week?

Home and Kids:

This week was interesting.  My oldest started junior high and her emotions have been all over the map!  The first day she was all YAY! and I LOVE SCHOOL!  The second day she was grumpy, SO tired, and even simple questions like, “What’s wrong?” were met with major attitude, i.e.  “Nothing!  WHY DO YOU ASK?!”  We gave her a wide berth.  Days 3-5 brought everything from tears to elation.  I never know what to expect after school.  Hopefully this transition phase will be brief and she will settle into a routine soon.

Already she has homework and already we’ve argued about it.  She has to draw an island to scale on graph paper with 10 different physical features (bay, isthmus, peninsula, etc.), name all the different features with creative names and then color it all in with colored pencils.  She was given until Thursday to complete it and wanted to wait until next week to start it (probably Wednesday night).  She is the Princess of Procrastination (I’m the Queen!)

I wanted her to work on it over the weekend because she’ll have other homework next week, plus when you’re given a week to complete an assignment, the teacher’s expectations are likely pretty high (and this is an honors class).  You can’t just slap something together the night before.   She also has to label a map with all 144 countries of the world, then color that in.  Thankfully she started that on Tuesday and only has a dozen more countries to identify before she can start coloring.  But she wanted to relax and play Club Penguin all morning.  I took away computer until she did a minimum of 30 minutes on the project.  “That’s not fair, Mom!”   The school year fun begins.

What should I wear?

What should I wear?

My younger daughter starts 5th grade at a new school on Tuesday.  She is super excited and doesn’t seem to have any anxiety over being the new girl at school.  She has 2 friends at the school so I’m hoping it will all be very easy for her.  She put on a fashion show for us last night to try to figure out what to wear on the first day.  I think she has settled on black shorts, black Vans with white polka-dots, and a purple peace sign shirt that has a little scarf that goes with it.  With the weather in the 90s, she definitely doesn’t need the scarf, but it “totally makes the outfit” which, of course, is much more important than being comfortable.  At least I talked her out of the skinny jeans and the pink fleece hoodie-that would have been a sweaty combo!

Tonite, dad comes home from a 4 day business trip to Kansas City.  The kids will be at an end of summer party for their youth group, and Sheri and I are going out.  Tomorrow will be a relaxing day of swimming and BBQ’ing at my parent’s house, but it will be an early evening because IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT.  YEAH!

Happy Back to School Week!

The Film

The paper came home with the fourth grade girls yesterday- the one that says they’ll soon be watching “the film”.

“Mom!  You have to sign this!  We’re going to see a film about growing up and I can’t watch it unless you sign!”  She is excited, of course.  

My 4th grader is immature physically and in every other way.  She watches Spongebob, reads Goosebumps, and believes in the toothfairy.  She is blissfully unaware of fallopian tubes and sperm and fertilized eggs.

On the one occasion I tried to discuss menstruation with her, she did not want to hear it.  She knows a little bit about it from an American Girl Book her sister has shared, but not in great detail.  She’s in denial (just like her mother) and would prefer not to know.

My little girl is 10 years and 4 months old.  Aunt Flo came to visit me for the first time at 11 years and 2 months, the summer after 5th grade.  I was at Girl Scout camp and truly thought I must be dying.  I knew nothing.  I hid my messy underwear in my duffle bag and didn’t tell anyone.  My mother made that lovely discovery when I got home from camp.  We never talked about it, but some ‘supplies’ magically found their way to my bathroom.  I remember she also handed me a book called Growing UP a couple days later, with lots of information about a woman’s cycle, and a single paragraph about intercourse.  I read that paragraph in horror and fascination, checking the dictionary for unfamiliar terms, and discussing it with a neighbor girl who was equally horrified and fascinated.  

I can’t keep my daughter from growing up, but I can spare her the fear and embarrassment of not knowing what is going on when the time comes.  I just didn’t think the time would come so soon.  She may not want to hear it, at least not from me, but she definitely wants to know what’s in this mysterious film that only the girls in her class get to watch (no boys allowed!).  And I’ll take her along to pick out the products she’ll need and answer all her questions.  

At least she won’t ever have to wear a sanitary belt.  Raise your hand if you don’t know what I’m talking about (go ahead, make me feel reeeeeeally old!).

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)

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?

Spinning on my Hamster Wheel

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like a hamster in a wheel- busybusybusy but not getting a whole lot done?  That has been my day.  I look at my to-do list and realize I can’t completely cross off anything on it.  What the heck have I been doing since I woke up 8 hours ago (in the pitch black darkness at 6:15 am)?

Well, let’s see.  I read a few blog posts, woke up the kids, got them ready for school, made them french toast, pleaded with them to hurry up and eat, said goodbye to the hub and kids and hustled them out the door.  Checked in with my gym partner who is sick and can’t meet me.  That’s fine since I am getting over a cold myself.  

Next I ran the vacuum to suck up all the dog hair from our golden retriever, who is a shedding machine.  Then I folded up the towels in the dryer, moved kids’ clothes from washer to dryer, and started a load of hub’s clothes.  After that I emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up the mess from breakfast. Got sick of doing KP so I left the pots in the sink and took a break.  Scanned my email inbox.  Answered a couple emails that couldn’t wait.  Made my bed (but not the kids’ beds), took a shower- realized I’d left the clean towels downstairs, so dripped out to the hallway to the linen closet for a towel. Dried my hair, got dressed, etc. Sat down to pay bills at the computer but answered a few more emails first, and fixed a page on the TLC website.  I purposely avoided Facebook, Twitter, and my blog stats.  

Feeling pretty good about not getting too sidetracked, I got through the first 5 or 6 bills without breaking a sweat.  Things were going well until I opened up the bill from Southern California Edison and nearly had a heart attack- it was more than triple what it was last month!  And we’ve been actively trying to conserve energy!  Certain there was some mistake, I spent 15 minutes on hold (hanging up clothes from the dryer while I waited), then trudged outside to read my meter for the customer service person.   It was a meter-reader error (whew!), so I went back to finish paying bills but my session had timed out, and I hadn’t submitted all the bills I had paid, so I had to start completely over.  Grrrr.

Before I finished my bill paying the school called.  “Youngest daughter is sick, can you come get her?”  Grabbing my keys, I left and didn’t realize until I got there that once again, I didn’t submit the payments, and my online banking session would time out before I got back, and I’d have to do it all again- right after taking my little girl’s temperature, fixing her some lunch, setting her up on the couch with the remote control and a blankie and a box of Kleenex and a glass of water.  Finally sitting down to the computer, I answered a few more emails and paid the bills a 3rd time (and actually submitted them).  

Which brings us up to now.   Just realized I forgot to start dinner in the crockpot and kicking myself over it.   

Older daughter gets out of school in 15 minutes.  I’ll have to rouse Miss Sickypants and drag her with me while I run her sister to the library for a book she needs for school.  We’ll also stop at the pharmacy for some children’s Motrin, and the post office to mail off Raych’s Bookcharming.com prize that she won from me a couple weeks ago (sowwy). It’s always a joy to have a whiny sick child along on errands!  After that we will be embroiled in homework, and before long I’ll be staring into the frig wondering what the heck to make for dinner.  Then I’ll cook it, serve it, and clean up from it.  And tomorrow I’ll do it all over again.

What didn’t get done:

2 book reviews 

recruiting for the tours I’m coordinating

the dog missed her walk

the kids’ beds are unmade

my laundry (kids’ and hub’s are done but still need to be put away)

pots and pans are still in the sink

 

Hope your day has been more productive than mine!

One Last 100K Celebration Giveaway: Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble

9780061122194Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope you are canoodling with your honey and staying warm!

For this final 100K Celebration Giveaway, Danny from HarperCollins looked over my blog and thought my readers would be interested in the book Things I Want My Daughters To Know by bestselling author Elizabeth Noble!  It seems appropriate since I talk about my preteen girls so much.  

There will be a Book Club Girl On Air show occurring online on Tuesday, February 17th, at 7 pm with Elizabeth Noble on www.authorsonair.com.  It’s an interview with the author where book club members can call in or write in with questions about the book.  Pretty cool!

6a00d8341c9ac653ef010536f1eeee970b-120wiHere’s a little information about the book:

How do you cope in a world without your mother?

When Barbara realizes time is running out, she writes letters to her four daughters, aware that they’ll be facing the trials and triumphs of life without her at their side. But how can she leave them when they still have so much growing up to do?

Take Lisa, in her midthirties but incapable of making a commitment; or Jennifer, trapped in a stale marriage and buttoned up so tight she could burst. Twentysomething Amanda, the traveler, has always distanced herself from the rest of the family; and then there’s Hannah, a teenage girl on the verge of womanhood about to be parted from the mother she adores. 

But by drawing on the wisdom in Barbara’s letters, the girls might just find a way to cope with their loss. And in coming to terms with their bereavement, can they also set themselves free to enjoy their lives with all the passion and love each deserves?

This heartfelt novel by bestselling author Elizabeth Noble celebrates family, friends . . . and the glorious, endless possibilities of life.

My Daughters, My Loves

My Daughters, My Loves

Sound good?  For a chance to win a copy of Things I Want My Daughters to Know, leave a comment by Saturday, February 21st, telling me something that YOU’D like your daughter (or future daughter, or niece, or random young girl) to know.

As for me, there are a million things I want my girls to know, not the least of which is how to behave themselves!  But also how much I love them and how much being their mom has changed me forever.  Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!

Wordless Wednesday: Hippie Hair

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Before & After

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Feel My Butt

Conversation on the way up to bed after American Idol last night-

K:  Mom!  Mom!  Feel my butt!

Me:  Excuse me?

K:  You have to feel my butt!

Me:  Why?  What’s wrong with your butt?

K:  It’s hard!  Really really hard!

Me:  What do you mean?

K:  Just feel it!

Me: (feeling her butt)  Wow!  It’s like marble!  Have you been working out?  Doing lunges on the playground at recess?

K:  (giggles)  No, just the usual stuff.  Climbing on the playset and playing tetherball and stuff like that.

Me:  Well whatever you’re doing, it’s working.  You’ve got Buns of Steel!

K:  Let me feel your butt!

Me:  WHAT?  No, really, that’s ok..

K:  Just let me feel it!  Turn around..

Me:  Well wait ’til I clench up..

K:  It’s not hard!  It’s jiggly!

Me:  I wasn’t ready!  I wasn’t clenching!

K:  Dad, come feel my butt and Mom’s butt!

Dad:  What??!!

K:  I’ve got Buns of Steel, and Mom’s got Buns of Jello!

Review: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

51be1lrnnnl_sl500_aa240_ The School of Essential Ingredients is a lovely new book by Erica Bauermeister. With intimate tables and soft lighting, heavy linens and crystal, glossy hardwood floors and fabulous aromas drifting out of the kitchen, Lillian’s is a place to celebrate, propose, and announce.  It’s the kind of restaurant that will surprise and delight, with personal attention from Lillian herself and creative meals that leave all of your senses satisfied. 

On Monday nights, Lillian teaches a cooking class at the restaurant.  Eight students make their way to class, coming through the side gate and following the golden glow to the kitchen in back, where they will learn to cook from a woman who knows how to inspire her students to create food from the heart and from their memories rather than from a recipe. 

Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different student, alternating between reflections of their past and what is happening in the present, how they found their way to the class and how they get to know the other students.  Lillian seems to know just what her students need to learn, and the lessons transform not only their culinary skills but also their lives. 

Reminiscent of Garden Spells and Like Water for Chocolate, there is a bit of magical realism to the book- but just a touch- not overdone at all.  Abuelita is the woman who helped a young Lillian get her mother’s attention through cooking, who taught her to understand what is essential in each situation and what is not.  She shows her how food can evoke memories in a person, how you can bring about certain moods, certain behaviors and certain feelings with different types of dishes.  Lillian learns well and is able to pass that particular brand of culinary magic on to her students.  When they make a white on white cake, it brings back remembrances of the early days of a marriage for two of her students, a spicy tomato sauce brings thoughts of an Italian childhood for another, and a decadent tiramisu acts as the catalyst for a new romance in two more. 

Bauermeister’s vividly detailed descriptions of food leave your mouth watering and put you right into Lillian’s kitchen.  The writing is richly textured, lush and sensual.  It is really quite beautiful.    This is a debut novel but felt like it was written by a wise old soul.    

To give you an idea of the gorgeous flavor of the writing, and the beautiful imagery, here are a couple of passages.  I read an uncorrected proof of The School of Essential Ingredients, so the finished book may differ slightly. 

From page 23:

 At home Lillian opened the bag and inhaled aromas of orange, cinnamon, bittersweet chocolate and something she couldn’t quite identify, deep and mysterious, like perfume lingering in the folds of a cashmere scarf. 

From page 35:

 Set between the straight lines of a bank and the local movie theater, the restaurant was oddly incongruous, a moment of lush colors and gently moving curves, like an affair in the midst of an otherwise orderly life.  Passersby often reached out to run their hands along the tops of the lavender bushes that stretched luxuriantly above the cast iron fence, the soft, dusty scent remaining on their fingers for hours after.

From page 158:

The air was beginning to fill with the sweet spiciness of roasting corn, the soft whispers of the tortillas flipping, then landing on the grill, the murmured conversation between Abuelita and Antonia, something about grandmothers, it sounded like.  Chloe placed the tomato on the chopping block.  She was surprised to find how much affection she had for its odd lumpiness.  She tested the point of the knife and the surface gave way quickly and cleanly, exposing the dense interior, juices dripping out onto the wooden board, along with a few seeds.  Grasping the knife firmly, she drew it in a smooth, consistent stroke across the arc of the tomato, a slice falling neatly to one side.

See what I mean?  The whole book is like that!  I just opened random pages and easily found wonderful examples.  My only complaint about this book is that there are no recipes, however that makes sense since Lillian is teaching her students to cook without using recipes.  Still, it would be nice to know how to make these dishes- or to know what essential secret ingredient to add to tonight’s dinner to make my children behave and my husband pay attention!  

If you like good fiction and good food, The School of Essential Ingredients, which will be released tomorrow, is the perfect combination of the two.  I realize I’m gushing here, but I loved the warm little world within these pages, and was sorry to leave it.  

The author’s website can be found HERE.

Calling All Moms of Bratty Children- HELP!

buc_145I love my children.  I’m sure you love your children too.  But I don’t always like them.  Lately I’ve been wondering at what age you can tell your kid to shut the hell up?  Seriously, the mouth on my kid.  Ugh.  

Over the weekend L. got herself a dish of ice cream and went in the family room to watch a movie.  She got mad at her sister K. because she dared to sit in “her” spot to watch tv.  I don’t know about your house, but we don’t have assigned seating.  She asked K. to move, to which she responded, “No.”  Next she yelled, “That’s my seat!  You know I always sit there!” To which K. responded, “Too bad.”  So then she sat on her.  K. pushed her off.  L. started screaming, saying “You hurt me!  You’re so mean!  GET OUT OF MY SEAT!”  Which is when I stepped in. 

I took her dish of ice cream and sent L. to her room.  She refused to go.  I told her if she didn’t go, she’d lose tv and computer for the whole next day.  She screamed, “I DON’T CARE.”  I then had to bodily remove her from the room (not that difficult really since she only weighs 64 lbs.)  She stormed up the stairs with me right behind, then slammed her bedroom door in my face.  I made a mental note to have her dad remove her door from the hinges when he got home. 

I gave her a couple minutes to cool off before going in to talk to her.  I guess I didn’t wait long enough because she yelled, “GET OUT!”  Hmmm.  I asked her why she was so upset- what’s the difference if you sit on the love seat or the couch to watch tv?  She said, “You don’t understand, and you always take K.’s side.  You love her more.   You’ve never loved me!”  I said, “What are you talking about?”  And she insisted that I always play favorites, that K. always gets her way, it’s not fair.  Okaaaaaay.  I calmly said, “You know that’s not true” and she screamed, “YES IT IS, Mrs. M—!  You don’t love me like a real mother!  You’ve been faking it since the day I was born!  I can see in your eyes that you don’t love me!”  I said something like, “Call me mom.  Don’t call me Mrs. M–.  That hurts my feelings.”  And she said, “How do you like it, Mrs. M–?  You hurt my feelings when you take K.’s side about EVERYTHING!”  I said, “Stop calling me Mrs. M—“ and she said, “Mrs. M–, Mrs. M–, Mrs. M—“ in a sing songy voice.  She might as well have flipped me off.

I had to leave the room- for her own protection, because I wanted to wring her skinny little neck.  Ugh, she pisses me off!  She’s so stinkin’ defiant! 

I just keep thinking, what am I doing wrong?  Where did my sweet little girl go?  This kind of stuff goes on way too frequently in my house.  Sometimes my children make me feel like such a loser parent. 

Needless to say, she’s on restriction.  She lost her bedroom door indefinitely, tv-computer-phone-iPod for a week.  I insisted on a written apology, which was actually pretty good.  I might even frame it. 

Please tell me I’m not the only mother with a mouthy preteen.   It’s so hard not to get emotional.  Does anyone else have this problem and if so, how do you handle it?  Shipping her off to military school is not an option.