Monday, November 30, 2009

Ebeanstalk Test: Puzzibits

Back in July, I received an email from asking if I might want to join a team of toy reviewers. It sounded fun to me, so I signed up. I didn't hear anything until last month, when they told me my first toy was on the way! In the meantime, I've checked out the website, which is very user friendly. You can shop by age or developmental milestones. Ebeanstalk is dedicated to selecting good, safe baby toys and kids toys.

The first product I received was one of their Puzzibits Monster Madness (I say "first," because I'm hoping to receive many more unique toys such as this!). The first thing that I noticed is that they are made by Manhattan Toy, a brand that automatically receives my respect for producing creative toys that inspire imagination.

The other thing that impressed me, as a mom, was that these building pieces are soft and flexible. Any of you with children who enjoy building have likely experienced the joy and the pain. The joy of seeing them focused raptly on something, expressing their ingenuity as they build (in Kyle’s case either a “contraption” or a “robot.” But the pain – the pain of stepping on one of those rogue pieces left on the floor sometimes is a quick override of all the joy!

The toy is recommended for ages 6 and up. Kyle is 5 1/2, and he loves it! He does need help to hook the pieces in when they are joining one or more, but he's played SO creatively with this little pieces, from stacking them up to make "hamburgers" (yellow piece, black piece, red piece, yellow piece), to making chains, to trying to follow the patterns included to make the monsters. It has captured his attention for long minutes (perhaps even hours!). He likes it so much that we've added other Puzzibits kits to his Christmas wish list.

At Thanksgiving, we had an 8-year-old visiting who enjoys building, so I gave him the box to see what he thought. He played with them for quite a while, easily figuring out the diagrams and how to put the monsters together. He still needed a little bit of help hooking in a few of them into tight places, but he had the motor skills to be able to learn how to do it with time.

Even big sister (11-years-old) Amanda enjoyed the challenge:

This unique toy is definitely going in my list of gifts to buy for young boys, and I've already been talking it up to all the moms who have sons who love tinkering. At under $10, it's at a great price point for birthday gifts.

**I received this toy in exchange for my honest review and blog posting. I received no other direct compensation. My opinion is my own (and quite enthusiastic!).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Food on TV

As I mentioned, Top Chef is one of the few shows that I actually keep up with real-time. I love the mix of competitive creativity and real-life (staged and produced) drama.

My sister and her family visited us for Thanksgiving, and one of the things that she and her daughter wanted to do was visit Carlos' Bakery (of Cake Boss fame) in Hoboken, New Jersey. Because of other things on our agenda (and the distance), we didn't know if we'd be able to go there. Her husband had come in earlier on business, and ended up with Wednesday free, so he won the father-of-the-year award by standing in line to get in the packed store and purchasing some Carlos memorabilia, which he was able to get signed by the Cake Boss himself.

Those were some tasty treats.

These cupcakes look like your standard supermarket gross gloppy shortening-covered dry cake, but no. The cake was moist, and the frosting was decent -- not great, but okay, and the cake was fantastic.

He also bought a chocolate pecan pie (covered with powdered sugar) that was pretty darn good. The chocolate was rich and flavorful. Coincidentally my foodie friend Lee brought a pecan pie with chocolate chips to share with us at Thanksgiving. We ate hers on Thursday and saved this one for Friday. She left a couple of pieces with me, so on Friday I did a taste test. They were completely different, but both really really good.

So, should I be tuning in to TLC to watch the Cake Boss? Are there any other food shows that you watch on TV?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Run on Momentum

When I can, I like to join Jo-Lynne at sharing What I Learned This Week. This week I didn't have to go any farther than comparing Monday to Tuesday.

We are hosting a big crowd here at Thanksgiving -- 3 families plus us. My sister and her family are coming from Tulsa to visit -- for the first time.

So, I've been not only cleaning, but getting the basement ready (we have to have a place to send those 12 children on Thanksgiving Day, right?), clearing out the guest room that inevitably becomes a catch-all, and helping Amanda get her tween room into shape so that she can share it with her cousin.

Over the weekend, I made some progress, and Monday I was a machine. I cleaned. I sorted. I threw away. I barely checked email and stayed away from the computer (which explains why I forgot to post What's on Your Nightstand at the right time. I remembered once when I was on the computer, but didn't do it right then, so it totally slipped my mind until Tuesday morning).

I am mostly ready, but I have a bit more to do in addition to shopping and menu preparation, namely some more work on the basement.

So that brings me to my dilemma for tomorrow. My plan was to go to the grocery store early -- before 9:00 a.m. for sure, since shopping the day before Thanksgiving is a little crazy, right? BUT I know myself. If I tackle that excursion, I will likely lose the motivation to buckle down and work.

Today is the perfect example. I had planned to put in a couple of hours of work, but I had to/got to go to Kyle's Kindergarten Thanksgiving party for an hour this morning, and wanted to stop and get the ham and the turkey for Thanksgiving (I don't want to battle the crowd for those). Then late this afternoon, I took Kyle to get the H1N1 vaccine. So I used the time in between to catch up on some computer work (namely getting the 5 Minutes for Books Gift Guide and Giveaway ready to post -- it starts tomorrow!)

I am not a hard worker, and I'm also not one to pull an all-nighter. One of my friends tells me how she stays up until the wee hours of the morning getting her house ready when she needs to, whereas I just call it "good enough" by a certain point. I haven't changed much. I was exactly the same way in college.

So I'm thinking that I'll get to work bright and early tomorrow and then just go to the store when I'm finished. It might sound crazy, but I know myself, and I'm thinking that's the way to go, crowds or no.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Some Conversations

Yesterday, Kyle and I were having a little lunch out, and we were trying to get the lid to stay on his fountain drink. He asked if it was my lid instead, and I told him that my cup didn't have a lid.

"So you're just going to drink like Dad?" he asked, being more observant than I give him credit for. My husband has a thing against straws. He doesn't like them. So even at a fast food place when we are all lidded and strawed, he drinks straight from the cup.

< >..< >..< >..< >..< >..< >

Amanda and I were on the way home from our errands, and she was telling me how she needed some conditioner, and we should stop at Stop and Shop. I had already made three stops, and knowing that she didn't need it today, I told her no.

"Can we stop at Walgreen's or something if we pass one on the way home?"

"Yes," I quickly agree.

She laughs and says equally quickly, "We aren't going to pass one, are we?"

< >..< >..< >..< >..< >..< >

Kyle comes downstairs and observes, "What smells like dead ladybugs?"

"Ask your dad," I tell him, who is out on the back deck emptying out the dead ladybugs from the Dirt Devil hand vac.

"Why do you think that it smells like dead ladybugs?" he asked Kyle.

"Because I saw a dead ladybug, and I smelled it one time, and that's what it smells like."

So for those of you who don't live up north, in the late Fall, ladybugs become an issue. They swarm around on warm Fall days, and make their way inside. In some homes they sun themselves (and usually die) on the windows, and other times they congregate in the corners. In our home, they do both.

Ironically, this "dead ladybug smell" was recently pointed out to me by a friend who said that her husband was using the shopvac to get them off of their ceilings, and you had to be careful not to kill them, because they gave off a weird smell.

She also has a five-year-old son in her house, so perhaps he pointed this out to her?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Blank Square

Today I had a blank square in my BusyBodyBook planner.

Well, not totally empty. There was a note that Amanda has early dismissal, and Kyle didn't have school today (Since they have early dismissal for conferences this week, instead of half-day Kindergarten they are going every other day for the entire shortened day). But there were no notes about needing to pick up someone or take a dog to the vet and there were no other responsive items that I have to do even though they don't end up on the calendar like having to take a forgotten instrument to the school in the morning.

In spite of no appointments and responsibilities, I filled that blank square. Since we're having company for Thanksgiving -- both houseguests (my sister's first visit here), and people coming over for the day -- a major housecleaning is in order. So I've been working on the areas that are usually hidden -- closets, cupboards and the dreaded always-in-need of tidying basement.

I didn't get quite as much done as I had hoped, with the regular responsibilities of making meals and snacks for Kyle, laundry, dishes, and pleasant interruptions like phone calls and requests to play a game.

But I enjoyed living in the blank square. It's been a while since it appeared and I don't see much white space in the days and weeks to come.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reading South Asian Authors

The more I read, the more I recognize the gift of being able to peek into someone's brain -- either to get lost in a fictional story or cross that bridge that shares one's life experiences as memoir. It's always a privilege, but to read the life experiences of someone from another culture is an adventure as well -- exciting in the discoveries into the unknown that I am invited to make.

I "discovered" S. Krishna's Books when I was a judge for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards. She reviews great literary fiction, with a slight emphasis on cultural literature. She's also a great person to follow on twitter.

She's hosting a South Asian Author Challenge to encourage people to read books by South Asian authors, and immediately two or three books or authors that I've been meaning to read jumped into my mind. So why not make a commitment to get to them sometime in 2010?

This is a REAL challenge, meaning she wants us to set a goal and stick to it (unlike some other more flexible challenges that I have joined up). I like accountability, so I'm good with that. There are four commitment levels -- 3, 5, 7, or 10 books read in 2010.

I wrestled with this a bit. I can think of 3 books right off the top of my head that I want to read, and oftentimes when I get into a little jag of reading a new author or about a certain culture, I want more and more. But I think I'm going to stick with 3 because it is hard for me to squeeze titles in that are just for me, and I can up it to 5, so perhaps if I meet my goal in the first half of the year, I'll try to push myself to read a couple more.

So the three books or authors that came to mind immediately were:

  • Something else by Thrity Umrigar -- Ever since I read The Weight of Heaven earlier this year (linked to my review), I've been determined to read something else by the author who wrote the book that grabbed hold of me.
  • Something by Mitali Perkins -- I've read and enjoyed three of her books (Monsoon Summer, Rickshaw Girl, First Daughter: Extreme Makeover -- each linked to my reviews or brief thoughts on the book), and have been meaning to read another, either the second First Daughter book (which probably pushes the limits of this challenge a bit, since I'm not sure how much Sameera's native culture is a plot element) or Secret Keeper. I'm thinking that I'll plan to read and review Secret Keeper to coincide with its paperback release in June.
  • The Namesake: A Novel -- A couple of years ago, I got out one morning with some girlfriends and saw this film. We felt very free and intellectual getting away from the kids and seeing a foreign film in a small independent theater. I enjoyed the movie a lot. Then I started hearing about Jhumpa Lampiri (in relation to her book Unaccustomed Earth), and discovered that she wrote the the novel that the film was based on. I'd love to read it and then rent the DVD and write it up for a Books on Screen column at 5 Minutes for Books.
That's my "3 for sure," but I think because of this challenge I'll be extra-aware of other books by South Asian authors (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka). In fact, just typing "Sri Lanka" made my typing fingers itchy to search for Sri Lankan authors or books. What do I know of Sri Lanka? Absolutely nothing, that's what.

And in searching and thinking I was reminded about Abraham Verghese. As I mentioned in my review of his first novel Cutting for Stone, I've been thinking about going back and reading his memoir, My Own Country, which sort of scares me, because in my mind it's probably on my top ten best ever list of books, but what if I don't think so after a re-read? That would be number four, so I'm thinking that I'm going to stretch myself and commit to reading 5 books by South Asian authors in 2010.

Progress Report:

February: I read One Amazing Thing last month and I'm currently listening to the White Tiger on audiobook, and I have another book on the way from amazon Vine, Chef: A Novel by Jaspreet Singh. As anticipated, my eyes are now open to all things South Asian, and I think that I will easily reach my goal.

March: Finished White Tiger and read Chef (both reviewed HERE). I am reading Half-Life now, and have Secret Daughter by Shilpi Gowda on deck, which would bring me to 5, in only 3 months! I am definitely upping my goal to 7, and I'm hoping to then up it again to 10.

April: I didn't love Half-Life by Roopa Faruki, but I did read it (and posted a review at amazon).

May: I did love Secret Daughter (linked to my review). Wow. Excellent book, and an excellent read for this challenge. I specifically love the conflict of the Indian girl, raised in America, and her quest to explore and understand her Indian culture. So, I reached my original goal of five books, but I am sticking with my upped goal of 7.

August: 6th book:  I was thrilled when The Sari Shop Widow was on the kindle free list, so I snatched it up and devoured it quickly.  I've linked it to my mini-review.

Kids' Picks -- More Margaret Haddix and Look Closely

This month Kyle (5 1/2) has enjoyed the Looking Closely picture books that I previously reviewed on 5 Minutes for Books (linked to my review). As he makes more and more steps towards reading independently, I am reminded that I may have to search for alternatives other than the chapter books that Amanda always did (and still does) enjoy. He spied these books on our shelf and has requested them a few times this month. They are beautifully photographed and well-written, so I don't mind reading them at all.

Amanda loves Margaret Peterson Haddix (linked to a previous post recommending another of her novels). She just finished the first book in The Missing Series, Found. She also re-read Running Out of Time and enjoyed it just as much the second-time around.

Now she's tasked me with the quest of finding Sent (Missing Book 2).

Share what your kids are reading and find out what other kids recommend at Kids' Picks at 5 Minutes for Books the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Greek Yogurt

I was recently invited by Stonyfield yogurt to enter a contest in which I could win a yoga retreat. How cool would that be? I wrote a post over at 5 Minutes for Books called "Things that make me say 'ohm'" about how reading is a wonderful escape from the stress of everyday life. Please go read it -- and while you're there enter to win your own spa treatment package and some coupons for free Oikos yogurt!

I didn't know about that Stonyfield Organic was in the Greek yogurt business, but I am a fan of Greek yogurt. Find out more by becoming a fan:

I've been trying to eat plain (unsweetened) yogurt, as opposed to the very sweet and processed other kinds, and it definitely varies brand to brand. I had heard that Greek yogurt was good, and it is. It's thick, creamy, and not as acidic tasting as some other yogurts.

My favorite way to eat it is to add some frozen blueberries and a drizzle of honey to the Greek yogurt. It's delicious. And it just seems healthy.

I've closed comments here, but please go on over and leave your thoughts (and contest entry) over at 5 Minutes for Books.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What We Watch Together

Not watching TV almost broke up my marriage.

I exaggerate. A little. But in reality, over the last couple of years we've reduced the amount of TV we're watching. That seems like a good idea in theory, right? Less "boob tube," more books. More time to get caught up on other things. But the reality is that TV is a shared activity while books and laptops are not, so that lack of connection began to take its toll.

All that we really watch during the week are Top Chef, which I watch and Terry doesn't mind following; sports, which he watches and I totally ignore; and The Apprentice (returning with a new season this Spring I guess). On the weekends we usually rented a movie, or continued re-watching The West Wing on DVD. In the last year, we've also caught up on How I Met Your Mother** on DVD.

We had recently finished watching season 5 of The West Wing and were looking to take a break from that, so it's back to an old faithful: 24.

Like most fans, we've had our ups and downs with the seasons. But there's no doubt that it's a show that invites interaction, whether it's marveling at Jack Bauer's cell phone battery, or yelling at villains that we love to hate, it definitely has us involved.

We started watching a few years ago, and did get caught up to the current season, but we decided not to go live in January. We are too old to take the intensity and too impatient to have to wait for it to be resolved the next week. By watching the discs, we are able to control our intake, and for Terry, he can binge if he likes as each disk arrives.

Can we talk a bit about 24: Season Seven (with no spoilers!)? It seems as if the cast all took "bad dramatic acting" lessons during that extra-long break between seasons six and seven that was a result of the writers' strike. Also, the "real-time" angle seems to be pushing the limits a bit -- a guy is shot and has surgery and is already in his hospital room -- in 3 hours time.

And I won't give any spoilers, but even Terry and I knew about the biggie that is over-the-top soap operish in this, the season that aired last year. We are just waiting for someone's evil twin to appear now.

But however bad it gets, I think that we'll hang in there. We might laugh or roll our eyes, but inevitably we will be caught up in the quick 24-hour resolution of the current crisis that the CTU is dealing with. And what's even better -- we'll be doing it together.

What do you and your partner enjoy watching together?

**I just noticed that amazon has a fabulous price -- less than $15 on Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother, as well as a ton of other series on sale at their Fall TV event

Thursday, November 12, 2009

May I Recommend?

Reviews and giveaways:

I don't know if I ever posted my review of The Hidden Life of Deer. I really enjoyed this book and can recommend it for nature lovers and hunters alike.

Lauren's read a neat book combining literature and mothering. Enter the giveaway of Mothering Heights through Tuesday.

Enter to win a copy of the book honoring veterans over at 5 Minutes for Mom. Dawn's review of America's White Table moved me -- perhaps because it makes me remember all the veterans in my own family, including my dad and three grandfathers.

It's true, Yo Gabba Gabba is sort of annoying, but Kyle likes it and I'm getting used to it. I just posted a Yo Gabba Gabba giveaway over at 5 Minutes for Giveaways.

Dawn's review of the new Klutz book Draw Star Wars posts tomorrow at 5 Minutes for Giveaways. I love Klutz books and it sounds like this one is no exception (the link will be live at midnight 11/13).

The Christmas Giveaway has gotten started at 5 Minutes for Mom, and it's going to be good! There are already several great prizes up for grabs. I've posted a review and giveaway of the Shred Sled, which Amanda and I have been trying to master.

A new product I've tried:

We are fan of cranberry juice drinks. They were recently on sale at the grocery store, so I tried a new one: Ocean Spray Cran -Tangerine. The kids and I both really like it.

In the interest of full FTC disclosure -- Ocean Spray did not contact me and ask me to try this, and I paid for it with my own money. It's a product that easily could have gone either way -- delicious or a big flop, so I thought I'd share my unbiased and unsolicited opinion in case anyone else is wondering.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why I Volunteer in My Kids' Schools

Every Wednesday I go to either my son's school or my daughter's school to spend a couple of hours volunteering. Where do I go? To the library. A few years ago when Amanda's school began recruiting helpers for the library, I knew that it was right up my alley. I am not PTA-Mom of the year. I don't feel it necessary to do everything every time. Additionally, when Kyle was a baby, he wasn't welcome in the school during instruction time, so my options were limited.

However, there are a lot of reasons why I do think it's worth my time to volunteer in my kids' schools:
  • I get to know their classmates. When I was at Kyle's school early on in the year, he proudly introduced me to his girlfriend.
  • I see how they act around their classmates (and how their classmates act around them). Think that your tween girl is a spaz? Spend time around other tween girls and you'll find out how normal she is.
  • I get to observe what the kids are wearing. Perhaps I've balked at Amanda's choice of attire (modest, perhaps -- but odd at times!), but seeing what the other kids are wearing is a good barometer of the fashion scene, such as it is.
  • I get to eavesdrop on conversations of other kids as they walk around selecting books, changing classes in the halls, etc. You can learn a lot by being an invisible adult.
  • I can learn the secret language of Kindergarten. When his class sat down, they were told to sit "Criss cross applesauce," which I know is the PC term for "Indian style" (which I probably only learned after observing in Amanda's preschool class). But a few weeks ago, I learned a new one; "Spoons in the bowl" for "hands in your lap."
  • It's an easy way to support the school, the staff and the teachers.
  • My kids like having me there, and taking time to be there for them makes them feel special.
  • On the flip side, by not saying yes to everything every time, I also show my kids that I leave room in my life for other commitments as well.
  • Oh yeah, and did I mention that I get to hang out with books for a couple of hours? You don't have to twist my arm for that one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Children's Books for the Holidays

This month's topic for Children's Classics at 5 Minutes for Books is Celebrating the Holidays -- any book, any holiday. Of course with Thanksgiving and Christmas being right around the corner, I'm sure that's what most people are going to be suggesting.

However, I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend the National Geographic Holidays Around the World series. They aren't technically classics, but with beautiful photos by National Geographic how can you go wrong?

Celebrate Independence Day offers pictures of people enjoying picnics, fireworks, and other summer fun. It also gives a simple explanation of why we celebrate independence day. The end of the book offers "More about Independence Day" including how to have a three-legged race, a look at independence days around the world, and a recipe for deviled eggs.

I've also seen Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which is a great way to learn about how these Jewish holidays are celebrated around the world.

In addition to the holidays mentioned above, this series does explore Thanksgiving and Christmas as well. Although I haven't previewed those titles, I'm sure that they are beautiful and inspiring.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Safely Home

I just finished reading Safely Home, Randy Alcorn's novel about the persecuted church in China. As most novels are, this one is about so much more than one thing. In addition to an American's slow realization that life in China is not always as the government portrays it, Alcorn's novel is also about the reunion of two old college buddies, the breaking apart of a marriage, and as most good novels are -- a person's discovery of a part of himself that he didn't know existed.

Several people commented about their love of the book when they saw the book on my Nightstand list last month or in my "Currently Reading" section on my sidebar. It took me a while to get into it. Li Quan and Ben Fielding had been roommates at Harvard. Li Quan had returned to his humble roots in China and Ben Fielding had become everything that he wanted to be in the business world. They lost touch, but Ben Fielding regained contact with his old roommate as he planned a long visit in China in order to do market research for his company.

I enjoyed watching the story unfold, predictable as parts of it were (Ben Fielding coming to realize how far off the path he had strayed, and Li Quan having to prove his faith again and again). One part of the book that I didn't particularly feel was well done was the interaction of those in the spiritual world. I definitely believe in a Spiritual Realm that is active, however I think that this could have been left to the imagination. I found it to be distracting. I think that the end of the book, left as is, could have accomplished the author's intent there.

However, it did make me think hard about my impression of heaven and what a perhaps different reality is, which I'm sure was the author's intent.

A friend lent this book to me because Terry and I have recently begun working with the international students at a local university. Our church as well as a couple of others in the community provide a meal each month as well as other activities to help ease the transition for these students who are mostly from Asia (China primarily).

I had been wanting to learn more about their culture, and since most of them are not Christians, I don't think that this is the culture that they've experienced, so I'd actually still love any recommendations of novels set in contemporary China.

Today our church recognized the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church. My experience with the novel made it even real to me, so as I finished reading it this afternoon, it was with the reality of the risk that so many take to follow Jesus heavy on my heart and mind.

At the end of the book, Randy Alcorn disclosed that the proceeds from this book go towards funding the persecuted church as well as providing Bibles for those who have a hard time getting them.

I will also match any of my associates earnings from any sales of Safely Home via my links here in this post (a few cents per book) and donate them towards the same cause.

Have you read this book? How did it affect you?

Friday, November 06, 2009

What I'm Watching Now

I've decided that on Fridays I'll be writing about TV, either what I'm watching or to begin a dialogue about something you're watching. You can click the TV and Movies label to read my past posts if you are so inclined.

Since the first two seasons of Lost are on Netflix instant access, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. I was reluctant, because I've heard talk over the years about die-hard fans getting frustrated -- at the plot or the cliffhanger breaks, but I figured that I can watch on DVD all the way through to the end and avoid those pitfalls.

Honestly, after the first two episodes (the two-part Pilot episode) I was still undecided, but by the fourth show, I was pretty invested. I'm not buzzing through them, but I am definitely curious and interested.

Earlier this week I was at a blogger event in New York, and my blogger friend Kimberly from Mom in the City was talking TV with the person on the other side of her. They were talking about a show that they just loved, so I had to know what it was. She answered, eager to bring me in on the conversation: "The Good Wife -- do you you watch it?"

Actually I have started watching that show. Terry and I were in New York City before the fall season started and were bombarded with the serene picture of The Good Wife on buses and bus stop kiosks on every corner. I wasn't exactly sure what it was about, but I didn't think that I was interested in watching a patethic woman standing by her man who was walking all over her.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone, and she mentioned that it was one of the new shows that she was watching. Terry was out of town that night, and it happened to be on, so I tuned in and enjoyed it. The cast interested me: Josh Charles, who I have liked ever since I watched him in Sportsnight, along with Rory's boyfriend Logan (Matt Czuchry). It stars Julianna Margulies who looks beautiful and does a great job, but since I was never an ER fan she wasn't one of the actors who drew me in. Christine Baranski is also a part of the ensemble cast, and she's always amusing to watch.

It's actually a legal drama. Yes, the main character is "standing by her man" (or not, actually) -- a political official who was recently taken down in a public scandal involving extra-marital women and also illegal actions that have landed him in jail. So, she has to start again -- leaving the tony life of a Highland Park housewife to return to practicing law.

Since I liked it, I caught up by watching the episodes online (all of them except the pilot were still posted at that time).

The show is on at 10pm Eastern, and honestly that's just too late for me. I usually turn out the light around 10:45 or so, but if I'm watching TV, I inevitably fall asleep. So apparently the way that I'm going to watch TV is online, because as I've mentioned, I do not have a DVR and I don't like the idea of paying $6 a month (or whatever it is) for the rest of my life on top of my high DirectTV bill.

But The Good Wife is one that I will keep watching, as well as taking in episodes of Lost when I can squeeze them in.

What about you: What are you watching now??

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Celebrating with Girlfriends

Since we are now almost a week into November, I can no longer even claim that it's my birth month. It's all over. However, I did enjoy it.

I didn't post about the celebration that I had with my girlfriends last week, but my friend Lee did. She told me that she had so many great pictures of me, so I'm wondering why the one she posted makes me look addled***. Maybe that's what 39 looks like?? Anyway, her post is very aptly titled "It's a party, and I'll eat if I want to." Check it out.

The food and the company was excellent. Seriously, everyone should get together with girlfriends as often as they can. In addition to eating, we embarrassed the tween with a little bit of singing just like we did at our grown-up sleepover party.

We also watched a movie, which still feels like an indulgence to me. We watched Grey Gardens with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. It wasn't exactly the happy-go-lucky chick flick that I was expecting. The plot descriptions are fairly accurate (which I obviously didn't read carefully!), but instead of it being a "tender mother-daughter love story" as described, the three of us saw it as destructive and dysfunctional. Lee knew exactly what it was about, but Nicole and I did not. The acting was fabulous, and I'd still probably recommend it, but you should be sure that you know what you are getting into.

What does your favorite girlfriend time look like?

***Edited Friday to add a link to Lee's post number two, with cake and gifts and even more (less-addled) pictures of me.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pajama-ed, the Day-Off version

So, it's 10:45 am and Amanda and I are still pajama-ed, whereas Kyle got dressed, so that he could play Wii without guilt or further expectations.

Yes, the kids are off school today. Because it's election day and the schools are in use for voting, it's a teacher workday. After being in school for two months, we are ready for a little day off.

We have absolutely nothing on the agenda other than hanging out, watching TV, and relaxing. Actually I'm doing some work-from-home, and it's a goal to get out to the grocery store, but our hope for the day is to keep it low-key.


Are you a Louisa May Alcott fan? Check out the 5 Minutes for Books Classics Bookclub where our readers could read a book of their choice by Louisa May Alcott.

I also recently posted my review for the third book in the Mother-Daughter Bookclub series, Dear Pen Pal. Please check it out. I have enjoyed reading these books so much. After meeting some school reading goals, Amanda finally picked it up on Sunday and has raced through it.

As always, there are several book giveaways up on 5 Minutes for Books. Check them out!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Trip to Asia

Terry was gone for 7 days last week on a business trip to Asia. He doesn't usually do that sort of traveling, and he wasn't sure that he wanted to do it this time. It involved several very very long flights. First he flew on an overnight 15 hour trip from NY to Mumbai, India.

Then a few days later he took another overnight flight ("only" about 7 hours) from India to Singapore. This was his sky cubicle. Pretty cool, huh? Look at the cute stewardess's uniform.

A short flight from Singapore to Hong Kong a couple of days later, and then only one day in Hong Kong, where he took the 15-hour flight home in a sky pod -- walls giving the person complete privacy. The TV flips out over your lap as well.

As a busy mom, all of that would have been quite pampering.


No thank you -- I'll stick with bottled water!

India is so very poor (and this is nothing -- he said you could see people's "homes" situated all up on the hillsides). It reminded me of the recent trip the Compassion Bloggers took to India. Like Terry's co-workers on this trip (who travel widely), they agreed that it was the poorest place they've seen.

This is a deceptively quiet and beautiful shot. In reality, it's people everywhere, and see the driving shot below.


The mirrored building on the right (center) says Lippo, which means Koala, and if you click and enlarge, you can see that it looks like a Koala.

Singapore was beautiful. My sister spent over a week there on business last year, and she agreed.

Hong Kong

This is a Popeye's chicken, which we don't even have in Connecticut -- in Hong Kong!

Terry didn't get to spend much time in Hong Kong, but he liked it too. He brought Kyle one of these thin, tall, trolley buses as a souvenir.

Speaking of souvenirs, two of his coworkers had to buy this snack for their children, because they've gotten it on previous trips and loved it. Terry was skeptical, but he thought it was quite unique. And look -- the children on the back of the package clearly love it:

My children? Well, Amanda said that it tasted like salmon, and it's true, it was a little salty fishy tasting.

Kyle, not so much:
The dog loved her first few bites, but then she left it on the floor.

What is this delicious snack? Dried seaweed!