Sunday Salon

This is the last Sunday of summer vacation. My brats kids go back to school on Tuesday, and we are all excited (mostly me!) This summer felt about two weeks too long- you know it’s time to get back to the routine when everyone is fighting and whining and just generally not getting along. Sadly we have reached that point. My kids and I have been riding an emotional rollercoaster with huge peaks and terrifying valleys and all I can do is hang on and hope I don’t puke. I’ll be doing the happy dance in the school parking lot after dropping them off in 48 hours.

We crammed as much fun into this last week of vacation as we could stand. We visited Universal Studios Hollywood for the first time (The Simpsons virtual reality ride alone is worth the price of admission!). We made one last run to the water park before our passes expire. We had 10 giggly Girl Scouts camp out in a tent in the backyard. We went swimming at Grandma’s and cooked marshmallows over a fire. It’s been a fun overload. Too much fun. A fun frenzy. I feel a little dizzy and sick. You know how you can feel sick from eating too much candy? It’s like that.

School shopping took up a lot of our time this week, too. After checking out the class lists yesterday (which brought tears to my 9 year olds eyes because she and her best friend were separated) we went shopping for school supplies. School clothes and shoes and haircuts and backpacks and lunchboxes have wreaked havoc on an already tight budget, and the supplies busted it entirely. It made me crazy to pay full price for school supplies knowing full well it would all be 60% off in a week or two. But what are you gonna do? Schools have no money and kids need all this stuff.

I did do a little reading this week, but not much. I’m still reading Sweetsmoke (click HERE to enter my giveaway)- the book is great and it’s not the book’s fault that it’s taking me so long to read it. It’s just my vida loca and my forgetfulness- I would have had a couple extra hours with it if I hadn’t forgotten to grab it on our way out the door to Universal. Luckily for me I had my new book club selection in the trunk, so I started reading that. 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson isn’t exactly a page-turner, but it’s good in it’s way. You should read it- it’s important, this book, but not enthralling. Like healthy food vs. junk food. Or like One a Day multiple vitamins. It’s good for you.

After 115 pages, I can also report that 3 Cups of Tea has one of the ickiest scenes I’ve come across in recent memory. After Greg witnesses a yak take a “huge, steaming” dump in the snow, a 10 year old girl races over and starts making yak dung patties- yes, that’s right, while it’s still oozing and steaming, she’s got her little hands in there, and pat, pat, pat, she’s making patties. Why? Because when it dries, it becomes precious fuel for their homes. Say it with me- Ewwwwwww. I kept thinking, how will she wash her hands? They have no running water, no hand sanitizers or anti bacterial soap. They’d have to melt snow over a (yak dung) fire, I suppose, so that she could wash up. And what do you want to bet she’s not sick a day in her life? Do you know how many times a day I say “Wash your hands”? My kids still get sick 3 or 4 times a year! Maybe I should send them to the back yard to make Golden Retriever dung patties.

We will be attending a wedding this afternoon. Our neighbor’s lovely 23 year old daughter is marrying her high school sweetheart. We’ve been neighbors since she was 5 years old so we’ve watched her grow up. It’s almost like one of my own kids getting married. She babysat our children from the time she was 14 until she went away to college and they adore her too. I’ve already stuffed my purse with tissues because there will be tears.

Labor Day Monday will be a day of relaxing and resting and getting ready for school. And then on Tuesday, yippee! The 1st day of school! Woo Hoo! Partaaaaaay!

Tuesday is also the beginning of our first TLC Book Tours!! We will have Kathyrn Maughan and Did I Expect Angels on tour (click here to see where she will be) along with Kathleen McCleary and House and Home (click here). We’ve also signed several new tours for October and November. Check it out!

What are you up to this weekend? And what are you reading?

Vacation Wrap Up and Winners

I love summer.  I love traveling east every year to the same lakefront location.  I love seeing the same cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, the same lifelong friends and family (my husband’s) year after year.  Really, I do.  (Just ignore all those travel brochures to Hawaii gathering dust in the magazine basket-I don’t know WHO put them there).   

Northeast Pennsylvania is beautiful.  I love the gorgeous green rolling hills and the brilliant blue sky.  I love the honeymoon phase when we first get there- when the kids are getting along and everyone is happy to see each other.  This doesn’t last very long, but it sure is nice.  I love the mist on the glassy lake in the morning, the orange daylilies, the screened in porch, the mosquitoes, the kids making a fort in the woods, ice cream at the local dairy.  I love the smell of sunscreen and bug spray and hot dogs on the grill, love the excitement the kids get over catching frogs and lightning bugs and caterpillars or spotting a deer, the thrill we all get over a big thunderstorm, the board games, the chilly nights (“good sleeping weather”), the 4th of July fireworks, the lemonade and cold beer and friendly neighbors.  I had time to read 4 books and 3 magazines while occasionally glancing up to watch my kids jump off the dock, play in the sand, catch fish in a bucket.  I love the slower pace, the low tech fun. Love it, love it all.   

It’s like stepping back in time.  The biggest story on the news during our trip was about a bear cub recovering after being hit by a truck and the latest score of the Yankees game (no, not THOSE Yankees- I’m talking about the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees!).  I’m sure there must have been other things going on in the news- in fact I remember hearing from someone at the beach that Angelina Jolie gave birth to twins and that John McCain made a stupid remark that got lots of press. Good to know that the rest of the world goes on without us while we’re on vacation.  

I picked up a new reader while I was in PA- no, not a Kindle!  A blog reader with eyeballs-my husband’s cousin (Hi, Kim!)  She’s an attorney and single mom of three gorgeous, whip-smart girls.  She mentioned at a family gathering that she’d gotten her older 2 into golfing, because each year many college scholarships for women golfers go unclaimed (after doing a tiny bit of Google research, I’ve learned that’s not exactly true-sorry, Kim!).  Anyway, my youngest overheard this conversation and also admired her cousin Maddie’s pretty pink golf clubs, so now she’s hounding me to call and find out about golf lessons.  At 9 she’s a little young to be gunning for college scholarships, I think, but pink is her color, so it’s on my to-do list for today. 

I missed my July book club meeting for The Sweet Potato Queen’s Big Ass 1st Novel (and now that I’ve written that sentence, I’m sure to get more hits from people googling “big ass”.  If that’s how you got here, sorry to disappoint you, because I don’t have what you’re looking for on this blog!!)  Anyway, everybody had fun without me- book clubber Karen made brisket on rolls and asked everyone else to bring “comfort food” which, of course, meant different things to different people-pies and sweets and many other calorie-laden goodies.  Although most thought the book was funny, the food was the highlight of the meeting. Our pick for August is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, which I had time to read at the lake, so I’m ahead of myself! 

Coming home from vacation is the sucky part.  After having my 5’10” body folded into a teeny airline seat for 8 hours or so (including all the time just sitting around on the runway), I was all crampy and sore waking up yesterday, my first day home.  I was happy to be in my own bed, but then had to face all the unpacking and laundry, 2 weeks of mail, bills to pay, groceries to buy, email and phone calls to return (sorry if I haven’t responded to you yet; I’m working on it!), an overgrown yard, a dusty van, grumpy bored children, a dog who missed us and has been really spoiled by her dogsitter (my mom), all while exhausted and jet-lagged.  Today (day 2) has got to be better, right? 

I’ll post a few vacation pictures once I get around to unpacking the camera.  I’ve also got several reviews to write, and winners to announce!  The reviews will have to wait until everyone in my home has clean underwear, but I can announce the winners right now, so here goes— 

The winners of Janeology by Karen Harrington are: 

Fightingwindmills and Jenefur!

 The winner of A Summer Affair and Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand is:

 Patti from Displaced Beachbums

 Congrats to the winners!  I’ll email you to get your contact info.

What is your least favorite part of going on vacation?  The packing?  The unpacking?  Squabbling kids? Navigating the airport?  Leave a comment and let me know!

It’s good to be home!