A Kid’s Review: Slob by Ellen Potter

31ddxnovrxl_sl500_aa240_Slob by Ellen Potter

Product Description from Amazon.com:

Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school. But he’s also a genius who invents cool contraptions— like a TV that shows the past. Something happened two years ago that he needs to see. But genius or not, there is much Owen can’t outthink. Like his gym coach, who’s on a mission to humiliate him. Or the way his Oreos keep disappearing from his lunch. He’s sure that if he can only get the TV to work, things will start to make sense. But it will take a revelation for Owen, not science, to see the answer’s not in the past, but the present. That no matter how large he is on the outside, he doesn’t have to feel small on the inside.With her trademark humor, Ellen Potter has created a larger-than-life character and story whose weight is immense when measured in heart.

I received this ARC from Penguin and before I could even look it over, my 11 year old daughter snapped it up.  Maybe it was the Oreo cookie on the cover, or maybe it was the title, but she devoured the book in less than 2 days.   It’s a YA novel meant for kids 9-12 years old.  Rather than review it, my daughter wanted me to ask her questions about it, so here we go!

What is Slob about?  Who is the main character?

Slob is about a fat genius named Owen who tries to figure out a mystery about his parents.  Owen is 12 years old and goes to middle school. 

What challenges does Owen face?  

Owen is overweight, which presents a lot of problems for him, especially in gym class, where his coach is out to get him and embarrass him.  Someone suggests he get a ‘fat exemption’ from the doctor but he decides to tough it out.  Owen wants to solve the mystery about his parents so he builds Nemesis, a radio/television that can see the past and expand on what was caught on the security footage of a camera across the street from their deli.  It’s complicated.

How would you describe the book?  What was your favorite part?

I would describe it as suspenseful.  It has both serious and funny parts.  It’s mostly a mystery. The cover is really cool.  On the cookie, where it would say “Oreo”, it says “A Novel”.  The part I liked best were the parts at school, because he helps his arch-enemy recover from a seizure, and then they become friends.  

Were the characters believable?

I thought they were.  I liked Owen but the character I found most interesting was Mason Ragg.  He has one brown eye and one milky-blue eye and half his face is always sneering due to a medical condition.  It was rumored that Mason carried a switchblade in his sock, but it turned out it was just a key carrier.  There was another rumor that he was kicked out of his old school for being a handful.  It shows that people often make assumptions based on incorrect information. Mason knew about his reputation but didn’t let it bother him.

Did you like the ending?  Is there anything you’d change?

I did.  Owen learned a lot about himself by the end of the book.  He never did solve the mystery about his parents, but maybe some things are better left unsolved.

Who would you recommend this book to?  

I’d recommend this book to middle school kids, kids who’ve been bullied, kids who are friends with a bully, kids who are different, and kids who love to read.  It’s an easy read, and not too long (208 pages).  I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.  

 

Slob by Ellen Potter will be released on May 14th, 2009.  

Sunday Salon – 4/5/09

img_2438Good Morning!  I hope everyone is feeling refreshed and relaxed today!

We woke up to a whole lot of soggy toilet paper on our lawn this morning.  Even my car in the driveway was wrapped in TP.  This is the second night in a row.. paybacks, I suppose, for my kids’ antics of a couple of nights ago when they did the same thing to their friends.  They’re excited and are calling and texting their friends to see who did this.  No one is ‘fessing up.

img_2436We had a mid life-wake up call this week.  On Thursday, my husband, a big strong man who thinks he’s still in his 20s but is really twice that, had sudden chest pain.  He said it felt like a lightning bolt through his chest and into his back that lasted for 10-15 seconds, then after that what felt like a sore muscle in his back.  I was out doing my daily 4 mile walk with a friend when it happened, but when I came home he was standing there, pale and scared.  My first thought was ‘heart attack’.  I said- we better go to the hospital, and he said- I don’t have time!  I have too much to do! But I insisted, so off we went.  

At the hospital they took him immediately (now THAT was a first!), put him on oxygen, took all his vitals, drew blood, did an EKG.  They take chest pain very seriously.  Over the course of 6 hours in the ER he had 2 EKGs, a chest x-ray, 3 blood draws, and a stress test, and it was determined that he did not have a heart attack (whew!  dodged a bullet!).  They said the problem appears to be muscular-skeletal in nature- his heart and lungs are fine. I asked if it could be a muscle pull, because the day before he had been lifting and moving furniture into his new office.  I said to my husband (in front of the doctor), “Maybe you’re a little too old to be lifting heavy oak desks, what do you think?” and he just gave me a look, like- mind your bizness, woman.  

Seriously, though- he doesn’t get enough sleep, eats crappy food, doesn’t exercise, works long hours, and is constantly stressed.  That’s a recipe for disaster at his age. I do the best I can but I can’t force him to act like an adult and take care of himself. I hope this episode will be the catalyst for him to at least think about a healthier lifestyle.  I’m not sure, though, since he’s been working in San Diego all weekend.  I can’t monitor if he’s eating, sleeping, etc. when he’s not even here!  I do know that he and a couple of the guys went out for a big steak dinner at 8 pm last night, and I’m sure cocktails were included, so..  no major changes yet. Fingers crossed for next week.

So.. reading.  Let’s see.  I finished The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady this week for an upcoming TLC tour stop.  It’s a top-notch short story collection.  Then I started Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.  I love her writing.  LOVE it.  I love being wrapped up in the little worlds her books create.  I can’t wait to see her at the LA Times Festival of Books.  She’s on a fiction panel on Saturday called Window on the World, along with authors Vanina Marsot, Muriel Barbery, and Jonathan Rabb.  

I’m also reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud to my youngest.  This child drives me crazy..  her AR reading level is the 2nd highest in her fourth grade class, yet she insists on reading the Magic Treehouse series and Katie Kazoo books.. way beneath her level.  She doesn’t like to read- to her it is a big chore, so she goes for whatever is easy.  Her teacher requires 20 minutes of reading a day as part of their homework and she wants the students to get 50 AR points by the end of the year, but the books my daughter reads are one and two points each, so she’s not even close to her 50 points.  The Harry Potter books are 12 points each but she didn’t think she’d like them- she thought they’d be too hard (almost anything is going to be harder than what she’s been reading).  I’m reading the first one to her in the hopes that she’ll get hooked, and so far it seems to be working.  I overheard her very animatedly telling my mother about the mail delivery system with the owls in HP so I guess she’s becoming interested.  

OH!  I have winners to announce!  I almost forgot!  The second winner of The Blue Notebook is Zibilee from Raging Bibliomania– congratulations!  And the (long overdue) winner of Hope’s Boy is Ti of Book Chatter and Other Stuff- congratulations!   (Ti’s in Palm Springs this weekend so she’s probably a little too busy to care about winning a book.)

Well that’s it for me.  What are you reading this week?

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!

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!!

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.   

Getting Sucked in by Twilight

images1Twilight is one of those books that, even if you haven’t read it, you know what it’s about.  It’s a phenomenon, a force, a sensation.  You’ve heard it’s amazing.  You don’t need me to tell you.

I resisted the lure of this book for months, but my preteen daughter begged and begged me to allow her to read it.  “Everyone is reading it!” she insisted.  After doing an informal survey of my daughter’s friends’ parents, it turns out “everyone” really means two.  But whatever.   She received it for Christmas, so I finally gave in, with the caveat that I would be reading it too.  

What was I expecting?  I’m not exactly sure.  I knew the story, but I didn’t think it would suck me in.  I’m a 40-something mom, after all.  I’m married.  I’m mature.  But I didn’t realize how charismatic Edward would be, how strong and powerful and gorgeous.  And Bella- so smart, so beautiful, so fragile, so klutzy.  I liked the characters right off the bat, and I had to know what would happen to them.  Would he give in to temptation?  Would she put herself in harm’s way to be with the boy she loved?

How well I remember being infatuated with a boy, when all it would take was a meaningful look to make my heart race (my husband of 20+ years has to work a bit harder than that for the same effect!)  Does he like me?  Does he think I’m pretty?  He said hello to me; what does it mean????  I remember a boy I had a HUGE crush on in the 9th grade.  If he noticed me at all it was enough to turn my insides into jello, and the “incident” would take up 3 pages in my diary.  So that is what Twilight was like for me- a trip down memory lane, except the boys I liked didn’t want to suck my blood.  At least, I don’t think so.  It was a fast, fun, absorbing, easy read.  It’s the kind of book I would have loved at age 14 or 15.  I probably would have read it several times.  I’d probably want to read the whole series.  I’d probably vow to name my firstborn son Edward.

On the other hand, as the mom of two preteen girls, I had some pretty big problems with it.  Edward’s behavior borders on stalking.  He’s totally unpredictable- nice one day and cruel the next.  He watches Bella at school.  He looks through her bedroom window and watches her sleep.  If he tells Bella to do something, she darn well better do it (for her own good, of course.  He is protecting her.)  He doesn’t like her friends and is suspicious of everyone she talks to.  He wants her all to himself.  He is frequently angry with her for no apparent reason.  He smirks when she tells him things.  He’s condescending.  He’s dangerous.  He’s fascinating.

And Bella.  She starts out as this smart, independent girl, but she ends up as the damsel in distress, many times over.  She ditches her friends, lies to her dad repeatedly, and lets her boyfriend sleep in her bed.  She deliberately puts herself in danger because she wants to be near Edward.  He warns her over and over again that she shouldn’t be with him, but she doesn’t care.  Her friend and his dad also warn her, but she ignores their advice.  She loves him.  He smells good.  It makes no difference that he’s not human.  The fact that he could kill her, and is in fact constantly fighting that very urge, isn’t a worry for her.  He is beautiful, so so so so so so so so beautiful (did I mention he is beautiful?), with his hot car, cold lips, intense eyes (golden when he’s sated, black when he’s thirsty), smooth voice, and alabaster skin.  Just the kind of guy you’d love your little girl to bring home, right?

So.  My daughter and I have both finished the book.  We both liked it, with reservations.  It opened up the floodgates of an ongoing conversation about growing up, and about boys, and respect, and how a boy should treat a girl, and what kind of relationship is healthy and what is not. Which of course is a good thing.  My daughter thought Bella acted “stupid” and said she’d never let a boy treat her like that.  Hallelujah.  But she’s just 11.  The hormones haven’t kicked in yet.  She also said something like, “Mom, it’s about vampires.  It’s not like anything like this would really happen.  It’s just a book to read for fun.”  What a smart girl I have.

Now to decide if we should see the movie..  thoughts?

Sunday Salon

imagesIt has finally happened.  Months have gone by since I was utterly consumed with a book, so much so that I read it at every opportunity and devoured it in a day.  But that was my day yesterday.

I was looking for fuel for the raging reading inferno that is my 11 year old daughter when I came across Suey’s 2008 Top 10 list.  In the number one slot for YA and JF (Junior Fiction) was Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  I’ve seen that title around so I thought I’d investigate.  After reading the description on amazon and seeing that the appropriate age was 6th-8th grade, I decided to get it.  My local library didn’t have it, but I had a $5 Borders reward to spend, so I placed it on  hold through their website and we drove over to get it.  

I’d told my kids before we went into the store that we were just going in to pick up the book and that if they wanted anything else, they’d have to use their own money (they are loaded with birthday and Christmas money but have deposited most of it in the bank).  I’m not playing the “I’ll pay you back” game anymore. In line at Borders, there were tons of gift books and Christmas clearance items stacked up, 30% off.  Things like “Animal Art” complete with colored pencils, and “How to Draw Faces”, and a “Rock Art” set with paints- just the kind of things my kids love.  And then, *cue the angels* my daughter saw a calligraphy set with markers of varying width- $7.99 marked down from $12.99.  She is fascinated by this style of writing, but I stuck to my guns and said, “You can come back with your own money.”  Having left her purse in the car, she looked at me with horror, but I said, “We talked about this before we came in, remember?”  I’m doing my best to teach them the value of a buck.  

Back in the car, she frantically went through her little purse to see if she had enough.  I reminded her about tax, which sent her into a frenzy of counting pennies.  I had to chip in 64 cents (I’m not made of stone!) but she was able to pull it all together, mostly in quarters, and she ran back in to buy her book.  The line was long so it took another 15 minutes, during which time I decided to open up Life As We Knew It.

I was immediately drawn in, but very early on I decided this wasn’t going to be a book for my daughter.  On page 5 a joke is made about a high school girl named Samantha.  Rather than call her boy crazy or promiscuous, they say, “Well, there’s always a man in SaMANtha” and then there’s a short discourse about sex before marriage.  So, no.  I don’t want my girl thinking high schoolers are running around having sex right and left, even if they are.  I couldn’t let my 11 year old read the book until I discovered just how raunchy it would get.  I’m happy to report that the incident on page 5 was the only objectionable sexual reference in the book (makes me wonder why they even put that in).

I told my daughter I wanted to look the book over a little more before she read it.  I’m not sure she even heard me as she was in rapture over her calligraphy kit and had already pulled out the pens to admire them.  “Look how cool the pens are!  Aren’t they great, Mom?”  I know she’ll value this little kit more because she bought it with her own money than if I had just put it on the counter and handed over my credit card.

Our next stop was the mall.  My girls received Claire’s gift cards in their stockings and were itching to spend them.  While they browsed and weighed the value of hair accessories vs. toe socks, I sat on a bench and read Life As We Knew It.  40 minutes later, when they emerged with their purchases, apologetic for taking so long and excitedly chatty about how they spent their $10 gift cards, it was all I could do to tear myself away.

I read in the food court while the girls stood in line at Chic-Fil-A and Sbarro.  I read while they ate and people watched.  I read while they applied makeup (“Is it ok, Mom?”  “What?  Huh? Oh, sure, go ahead.”)  I read in the car at red lights.  I got home and read while the kids ran down the street to rake leaves at a neighbors’ house ($1 a bag).  I read while my husband took the outdoor  Christmas lights down and asked, “Weren’t you planning to take down the tree?”.  I read as I answered, “Tomorrow”.    I read as I made dinner and while everyone ate.  I read while the kids did calligraphy and watched a movie and put themselves to bed.  I read as my husband made mad, passionate love to me.  Ha Ha.  Ok that didn’t actually happen, but I definitely was that distracted by this book!  I read straight through the news and Saturday Night Live, but started slowing down as I neared the last few pages, not wanting it to end.  At 12:05 I closed the book, teary eyed but happy.  

Life As We Knew It.  Great book.  Just make sure to clear your schedule if you decide to pick it up.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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?

I Hate You, Mom

I love my children.  I want them to be happy.  I want them to get good grades, have friends, be active, be successful.  I want them to be kind and respectful and responsible.  I give them lots of attention, love, and support.  I’ve read the parenting books.  I’m involved.  I’m concerned.  I want them to have a good life.

I also want them to get up, take a shower, put on clothes, brush their own hair, make their own beds, pack their own lunches, eat their breakfasts, put their homework in their backpacks, and be ready to walk out the door by 7:50 am Monday through Friday.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently it is.

I understand a little grumpiness in the morning.  We can’t all be morning people.  But what do you do with a 9 year old girl who, when you tell her to stop dragging her feet, goes even slower than before?  Who, when sent to her room to get dressed after her shower, hangs out in a damp towel for 20 minutes?  Who takes 15 minutes to simply put on her shoes?  Who can’t be bothered to put a bite of food into her mouth until it’s time to walk out the door, then complains she didn’t have time to eat?  Who, when you tell her that you’ll have to rethink the playdate she was looking forward to if she can’t pick up the pace, turns and yells, “I hate you, Mom!”?  

What, parents, do you do about that?  If you’re not a parent, please reserve judgment- no offense, but until you’ve been there, it’s not possible to know what it feels like.  And I’m quite sure your future little darling will never do this to you because you will be an amazing parent, right?  Yeah, I remember thinking that too, pre-kids.  

The playdate is history, and she’s lost tv privileges for the rest of the week.  She apologized after I asked her to (it bugged me that I had to ask!), but my feelings are hurt.  I know, I need to suck it up and not take it personally, but still..  

Where did my sweet baby go?  And the teen years are coming (I’m terrified).  Help.

The Last Girl on Earth Without a Cell Phone

My preteen daughter, 10 years old, going into 6th grade this September, frequently claims to be the last girl on earth without a cell phone.  This comment is generally met by a slightly sarcastic remark from me, such as  “You poor deprived child” or “That’s because it’s my goal in life to make you miserable” or “I’m sure you’re not the ONLY girl without a cell phone”.  Sometimes I even roll my eyes (and then I wonder where she gets that annoying little habit!)  She’s been bugging me for a couple of years to get her a phone, but lately this has intensified.  She claims I am overprotective.  Sometimes she declares I am the meanest mom ever.   But I do have my reasons.

She rarely uses the house phone- if she’s not calling people from home, who’s she going to call from her cell phone?  We have a rule- she can get a cell phone when she enters junior high in a year, or if we feel she needs one before then (if I’m dropping her off for long stretches at one of her activities- not the case right now) and in that case the phone would be for MY convenience and peace of mind- so that I can reach her when she’s away from me.  Which right now is hardly ever.  And texting is out.

My daughter’s two closest friends have phones, but I thought that was more the exception rather than the rule, and one of those girls has already had a “situation” with texting, where she was the victim of some bullying.  I feel my daughter is too young and immature to handle something like that.

So wasn’t I surprised, then, to find that in our Girl Scout troop, she is one of only 2 girls who do not have cell phones!  And of the 8 who do, 7 have unlimited texting (and the other one hates her phone for not having it and doesn’t understand why her mother won’t allow it!)  One girl is actually on her second phone already.  All this talk just gave my kid more fuel for the fire.

Am I really that far behind the times?  Do I cave to “peer pressure” from the girl scout group of parents and get my kid a phone?  Does a not-quite-11 year old girl really need a phone, and if so, WHY?

I’d love to hear from other moms.  Am I overprotective?  Mean?  Are you a mean mom, too?