Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Want to be Wooed

Yesterday I joined in the after-Christmas shopping trip to New York City that several friends have been making for the last few years. This is the first year that I was available and/or willing to go.

I'm not a big shopper (by any stretch of the definition), but after today I can say for sure that I've been missing out.

Marni and I met at Lee's house at 7:30 a.m. and the three of us continued to Nicole's house, picked her up, and then barely missed the 8:49 a.m. train. Because one of our mottos for the day was "No whining," we waited a few minutes for the next one to come along patiently with no worries.

We exited Grand Central Station upon arrival and immediately stepped into the Banana Republic on 42nd street. We started the day off with the bang, with all four of us making purchases. I bought two pairs of jeans (I discovered that the Urban fit was my style) and a soft-blue turtleneck sweater -- all for $60. Yes, $60 in total.

The last-minute stop at Laila Rowe also turned out to be successful. My travel cosmetic bag is ineffective and broken. It's fairly roomy but everything just goes together in a jumble, and the zipper has been broken for a long while now. When I came across this very cute waxed canvas bag for $13 (marked 75% off of $50, which I couldn't imagine paying), I had to buy it. This picture is deceptive. The kit is about 8 x 6 inches, and about 4 inches deep. The two smaller bags fit snugly inside. I'm so very pleased with this purchase.

One small regret was that I didn't indulge in the Felted Soap at Anthropologie. I absolutely adore the Verbena scent, and I think that this is something I would enjoy. But perhaps if I had really spent $14 on it, I would still feel regret.

My friend Marni bought a sweater that was a little higher than she would normally have spent, but when she found it, it reminded her of a sweater that she didn't buy last year. Knowing that she had lived with regret over the purchase for the last year, we all encouraged her to buy the one this year, and it was the purchase that pleased her the most.

A motto that emerged as we found the after-Christmas markdowns to be less than stellar was "I want to be wooed!" Although Lord and Taylor, Anthropologie, and J. Crew failed at wooing us with discounts, Banana Republic definitely stepped up. After checking the prices online, I verified that we each got deals that were not to be found anywhere else. What a great way to end a trip that was not only packed with good times with girlfriends, but good deals as well.

The one that got away was a pair of tall brown boots. Both my brown boots and my black boots have had it. I found a great deal on some black ones at TJ Maxx last month, but I still wanted to replace my brown ones. Bandolino wooed us with great prices, and two friends bought boots, but the ones I really liked just didn't like me. We weren't a good match.

I will repeat after this wordy post about shopping that I am not a shopper. Really I'm not. That's one reason that I didn't really feel like I had missed out on the previous few trips. But I have always known that I shop better in the company of friends. Sometimes I need encouragement to pull the trigger on a purchase that I'm wavering on. Sometimes I need help in scoping out the good deals, but mostly shopping with friends gives me the patience to try things on, or dig a little deeper for the right size.

Do you still have a regretful memory of something you didn't buy? What was your best deal ever?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes (of Book Bloggers)

"Kyle, look at this new book that I got. We're going to read it tonight."



Okay," he agreed. "Can we read it tomorrow instead?"

"No, we need to read it tonight."

"Oh," he said, nodding. "It's one of those books that you have to report? And it's due tomorrow?"

Why yes, my son -- yes it is.

I wanted to write up my review of Olivia Acts Up today, because it's one of the books featured in the big Simon and Schuster giveaway of more than 10 books for kids of all ages. You can read my review at 5 Minutes for Books, and then be sure to go over to 5 Minutes for Mom (by Sunday) to enter to win the big set of books.

*****

I made Amanda's day by being a book blogger today as well. Last week, I had the chance to get Margaret Peterson Haddix's latest book from Amazon Vine. Claim to Fame came out in November. I'm actually excited to review it because it will be the first book that I've read by Haddix, who is definitely one of Amanda's favorite authors.

*****

Since yesterday was our first day back in town after being with family for Christmas, it was perhaps the biggest laze around and recharge day ever, so Amanda read the entire book.

I caught up on email and blog stuff since I actually went over 4 days without even going near a computer.

Kyle played with a bunch of new toys (and stayed pajama-ed).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The NEW Classics Bookclub

Classics Bookclub


Over the last year, I've read almost all of the books that we've hosted for the 5 Minutes for Books Classics Bookclub. That's more than I've read in the last ten years combined for sure. It was a stretch for me, but I enjoyed it: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, and The Great Gatsby all come to mind.

The team and I over at 5 Minutes for Books have struggled with what to do with it. It's a lot of work to administer, and our turnout -- while often enthusiastic -- was still small. However, most of us liked the idea, and we thought that it was a niche not quite being filled in the book blogging world, so we tried many changes to make it easier for those with the desire to participate to actually make it work.

So, we have restructured it to allow people to get together quarterly to post their reviews about the classics that they choose to read.

If you'd like to join in, check out the post at 5 Minutes for Books about the New Classics Bookclub. If you link up your own goals post by the end of January, you will be eligible to win one of two books.

I definitely want to keep reading classics. My goals are fairly simple, but there are several books that keep coming to mind, and so I'd like to get to them this year:

  • Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter -- know, I know, it's a "children's book," but it's completely iconic.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding -- Could this be any more current with Survivor-esque shows abounding and The Hunger Games series taking off? It's also completely iconic.
  • Aristotle's The Nicomachean Ethics --This is his work exploring happinesss, brought to my attention by the most excellent The Happiness Project book (review and giveaway forthcoming very very soon). It's a different kind of classic, but you can't get more classicly classic than Aristotle, can you?
  • I also have a copy of The Scarlet Letter (Readable Classics) that I'd like to get to this year as well. It's, once again, most definitely an iconic theme.
Four in one year. One a quarter. I think that I can manage that, and enjoy doing it.

What about you? Can you commit to reading even one classic work this year?? What one would it be? Let me know in the comments, or better yet, link it up over at 5 Minutes for Books.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What's on my Nightstand -- December

It seems like I've been more of a mood reader than usual lately. I pick up the book that is next is my stack, and just can't get into it, so I browse my (rather full) shelves to find something else that is more appealing at the moment.

But this is a little easier, because I just went through my shelves finding some books to take to my in-laws for Christmas. We are driving on Thursday morning, and my husband drives, so I usually read at least a couple of the six-hour trip. In addition to that, there are a lot of quiet evenings at home when end up reading as well.

So here are the books that I picked out to take with me (far more than I'll read, but remember my mood issues might strike again):

The Water Giver: The Story of a Mother, a Son, and Their Second Chance

Candor

Unfinished Desires: A Novel

The Dead and the Gone (a sequel to Life As We Knew It that I only recently found out about -- there's a 3rd book, This World We Live In, coming out this Spring)

My husband and I are also taking a couple of nights right after Christmas to celebrate our anniversary. We've taken this particular trip before, and there's lots of watching DVDs and reading in front of the fireplace in our room, so I'm sure I'll read some there.

I'm currently reading four books, so I'd like to finish them:

Primal by Mark Batterson -- This is a great book about getting back to the heart of your relationship with God. He also writes with a greater focus on social issues (not just self), which is inspiring. My brother-in-law and his wife attend this "theater church" in DC, and Terry and visited with them once (but didn't hear Batterson preach). I absolutely love what they are doing there, trying to reach the mostly-younger city-dwelling demographic on Capitol Hill. Disclosure: This book was provided to me as part of a blog tour from Waterbrook Multnomah Books.

Unpacking Forgiveness --This is on my Kindle, so I'll be taking it on my travels as well. I just started it, but I like his style so far.

The Happiness Project
-- Also not too far into this one, but enjoying it

America, America -- A friend lent me this book months ago, and the mood finally struck me to read it. I began it during our long snowy weekend. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and loving it.


But here's the big unknown -- I'm a judge in the second round of the Cybils in the Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction division (see what author Shannon Hale has to say about the Cybils awards HERE). The finalists (a shortlist of 5 or 6 from among all the nominees) will be announced on January 1, and my teammates and I will have until February 14 to decide on a winner, which means I'll have to put aside what I'm working on and focus on those books. Some interesting books were nominated. A few that I'm hoping will be handed down are

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

The Ominivore's Dilemma (I've been curious about this book, so I'd love to read the YA version instead of the whole thing).

We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

If I Had a Hammer: Building Homes and Hope with Habitat for Humanity (I got copies of these last three, so I will read them regardless)

*All of the links to these Cybils books are Cybils links. If you purchase a book listed, the commission will go towards the awards.

So, it's a little up in the air (and I'm sure I'll deviate from the list as my mood strikes), but it looks like it's going to be a good month in the pages!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fall into Reading Wrap-Up -- Mine and Amanda's

I'm going to combine mine and Amanda's wrap-up posts in one.

Here's Amanda's original list with some comments:

  1. The Gregor the Overlander books 2-6 (by Suzanne Collins) -- Enjoyed finishing these
  2. Dear Pen Pal -- Liked this one
  3. Daddy Long Legs -- Liked reading this aloud with Mom
  4. Love, Stargirl -- It was good
  5. Harry Potter 5 (re-read)
  6. Harry Potter 6 (re-read)
  7. Harry Potter 7 -- Woohoo! It as great, finally!!
  8. The Nobodies -- I love these books!
  9. The Anybodies
  10. All the Nutmegs I haven't read yet -- I decided I didn't want to read all of them.
  11. Finish Peter and the Starcatchers -- I decided I didn't really want to read these now.
  12. Peter and the Shadow Thieves
  13. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
My list (with comments)

As usual, I read many books not on this list (you can see the ones I reviewed on 5 Minutes for Books HERE), but I'm just going to report on the ones that I listed:

Fiction:

Thirsty by Tracey Bateman -- I read a few chapters, but stopped
Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carole Oates -- This one seemed a little dark, so I never quite felt in the mood
America, America by Ethan Canin -- I'm reading this now, and loving it!
Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon -- This seemed a little creepy, and I was never in that mood
The Hunger Mirror -- This blog tour was postponed
Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Gouge -- A nice, easy read, linked to my review

Non-fiction (Most of these are very readable memoir-ish books):

Come Back Como -- Didn't read
The Hidden Life of Deer -- Loved it, linked to my review
The Kids are All Right -- Read it and didn't like it at all.

With Amanda (aloud or alongside):

Dear Pen Pal (the third in the Mother-Daughter Book Club) -- Great! Linked to my review
Daddy Long Legs (the classic that the books is based on) -- Loved it. Linked to my thoughts.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- it's time to wrap up the series at last -- but I didn't, yet.

Other Middle Grade or YA fiction:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
-- Fun to go down memory lane, linked to my review
Escape Under the Forever Sky -- Amanda loved this, but I still haven't read it
The Other Side of Blue -- It was okay
When the Whistle Blows -- This is still on my shelf
Troubling a Star -- I still want to get to this book, the last in the Meet the Austins series by Madeleine L'Engle

Do you like challenges? Click over to 5 Minutes for Books and tell us what challenges you have enjoyed or what challenges you are signing up for in 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wallop

The best part of any weather event is the sensational news coverage that surrounds it. My favorite name for this was "Winter Wallop."

We got between 7 and 8 inches.


Front porch -- lots of drifting

Shadow wasn't afraid to go out in it, even though she had to wade through.
We knew our weather-stripping was bad on that door. The storm blew inside.


The drift at the bottom of the drive from the snowplow is HUGE.


Kyle usually tolerates the snow for about 5 minutes, but I asked him to help me find the steps.


While we were waiting for it to hit here, the media coverage was already honing in on Virginia.

There are so many things wrong with this statement from the AP News item I saw on yahoo:

At a Walmart in the Richmond, VA area, Nnika White took advantage of the mostly desolate store, buying a drum set for her 2 1/2 year son. White, dressed in a toboggan, scarf and flannel-like jacket, said she works long hours at the law firm she owns and doesn't get much time to shop.

"It's nice because no one's here. For shopping, it's great, but the roads are very, very bad," she said.


Seriously -- a drum set?? For a two-year-old??


Friday, December 18, 2009

Shows I Watch -- Over and Over

There are certain shows that are in syndication on TV that I will watch, over and over again. In fact, the two most notable -- Gilmore Girls and the West Wing -- I should be totally saturated on. For the last year, Terry and I have been going through the West Wing DVDs, season by season, and yet, when it's on at 8:00am on Bravo TV and I'm in my room getting dressed, I'll turn it on to check in with Josh and Toby and CJ (and Sam, who is long-gone from my DVD line-up). I don't care. I've seen the episodes, fairly recently even, and yet I can't not watch.

Gilmore Girls is probably even worse, as far as my need to watch (versus the practical reason). It airs on ABC Family at 11:00am each weekday, and I watch -- pretty much every weekday. I've watched pretty much every weekday (or many of them) for the past couple of years. Also sometime in the last couple of years, I Netflixed Season 7, because I had never seen it. So I would say that it's probably fair to say that I've seen every episode at least twice -- in recent years even. And yet I tune in. Again and again. Season 6 is on now, and I have to say despite public opinion that it got worse in the later years, seasons 5 and 6 have been delightful. I love that the characters have matured, with Rory finally acting like a young adult (including making some bad decisions), and Lorelei dishing up the tough love like a real parent.

My delight is so intense that I even eyed the "full series" set of DVDs at Costco. I won't buy them as long as I'm getting my daily fix on ABC Family, but when/if it goes off the air, it will probably be a TV series on DVD that is in my collection.

What about you? What shows (I guess I'm talking dramas here -- we'll do sit-coms later) do you watch over and over? Are you a fan of the Gilmore Girls or West Wing?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'd appreciate it if no one shared the lightbulb trick with him

Somewhere Kyle has learned the art of "faking it."

Last month he came downstairs on a Sunday morning dressed in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. While I do not dress him in a three-piece suit on Sunday mornings, I do make sure he has on nice jeans or cords and a comfy rugby shirt at the least. I told him that I was glad he had gotten dressed, but I reminded him it was Sunday and those weren't church clothes.

"I think I'm sick," he said. "Can you take my temperature?"

I accommodated this request, although he didn't seem at all sick to me. "It's normal," I reported.

"Darn!" he exclaimed, "I was hoping that I had fever. I don't want to go to church today."

When this same thing happened the next week, we ended up getting to the root of why he didn't want to go to church. We addressed the issue, and it hasn't come up again.

Today he came down for school asking to play computer. I reminded him that we don't play computer before school (in theory -- in reality, he sometimes plays for a bit if he's completely dressed and ready to go and we have a few minutes). "But I think I'm sick," he said.

"I don't," I said.

"How do you catch one of those fevers?" he asked.

He's fine right now, and decidedly not sick. But Amanda -- that's another story. She's complained off and on about a sore throat for the last few days. She's not a morning person, so I wonder how much of her feeling sick is just not getting going in the morning, because she is generally fine later. She went to school today, but it was a sort of borderline thing.

Last fall, Amanda had a horrible horrible cough for weeks -- a month probably. Other than that, she wasn't "sick," but I finally took her to the doctor who prescribed Nasonex for allergies. After a few days, her awful wracking cough was gone. I felt terrible for letting it go so long, but even normal coughs generally linger. And FYI, she hasn't been taking her allergy medicine, so I think the sore throat could be that.

After 11 years of parenting, this is one area that I'm still shaky on. When do I let them stay home from school? When do I take them to the doctor? If they have a fever or they are throwing up, then they for sure stay home. Other than that, I feel like I'm just rolling the dice, but in our house it usually ends up with them going to school.

So when do you let your kids stay home? When do you call the doctor?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Kid's Reading Picks -- December

It's the third Tuesday of the month, and my very favorite event at 5 Minutes for Books -- Kids' Picks. I know that some of you enjoy me sharing what Amanda is reading so that you can get ideas of what to feed your little bookworms or how to entice your reluctant readers.

I've heard of The Name of this Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch more than once (I saw it pop up several times on Laura's Imperfect Blog Nightstand or perhaps Kids' Picks). It sounds exactly like the clever, mysterious book that Amanda (age 11) loves to read. Our public library didn't carry it, so I never put my hands on it for her, but I had mentioned it to her before.

Then I was at TJ Maxx last month, and I saw it there! For only $3.99! If you don't shop the books and toys department at TJ Maxx, take my advice, and give it a try. I've also purchased paperback copies of the Mysterious Benedict Society and more recently the second book in that series for only $4.99 each (FYI, we are still enjoying our effort to Read Together, even though it's a long book. We're about 6 weeks into it, and on page 320, due to a few lapses. No matter. She's read it before, so she's not aching me to go more quickly, but she's still enjoying it, as am I, since it's my first read-through of it).

So I snatched up The Name of this Book Is Secret hoping to make it a stocking stuffer. However, last weekend, Amanda was moping around. She was bored, she had no books to read. We hadn't made a trip to the library that weekend, so I dug into my stash, and gave her this book.

It was one of those books were I could just see her devouring it. She read with feverish intensity and a rapt look on her face. I don't have any sort of plot summary to offer, or recommendations about who would enjoy it, but just a hearty thumbs up from Amanda. I was fairly certain that this would be her pick for this month, but I did confirm it last night with her.

The next time I went to TJ Maxx, they had the second Pseudonymous Bosch book in stock: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late, and I am keeping that one in reserve for a nice stocking stuffer. As I was making these links over at amazon, I noticed that a third book came out in September: This Book Is Not Good For You.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

TV -- Holiday style

Last weekend, I watched the Phineas and Ferb Christmas special with my kids. It cracked me up (as Phineas and Ferb -- and of course Candace -- usually do), and it was fun to share it with my kids. They've been advertising it all month, and the kids have been looking forward to it. It looks like it's on throughout this weekend as well.

But what really says "Christmas television programming" to me are those old-fashioned wooden puppety character Christmas shows (just how exactly are they made??). I think that my favorite is The Year without a Santa Claus, featuring cameos from the Heat Meiser and his colder older brother.

I guess that back in the day, we used to have to scour the TV Guide to see the one time that our favorites were on (the real newsprint TV Guide, not the on-screen right-at-hand guide we use now), but I've been so happy about ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas that plays one of these favorites (along with some newer specials) every single day. Today there's a marathon (and I would bet there will be more before December 25), and The Year without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are both on later this afternoon.

I'm hoping that Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation will be a new tradition that we look forward to each year, but I am so glad that the favorites that I looked forward to seeing are still around so that my children can watch them.

What's your favorite holiday special? Presently or from your childhood?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas



We got a light snow on Saturday evening, and then Tuesday night we got a good covering (and consequently, Wednesday's snow day is now already making our spring schedule longer).

We've also decked the halls, so we are definitely feeling like and looking like Christmas around here.


As the kids decorated the tree, their banter amused me:

"Oh, you kept this one," Kyle said as he found the requisite preschool glitter-framed photo ornament (seen towards the top of the tree in that picture). Then I got "the look," then the big hug.

Amanda said, "You'll be embarrassed about that picture later." But even the skeptical tween proudly pulled out her own handmade ornaments saying, things like "I was younger than Kyle when I made this one!" and "I remember this one."

The one that they fought over hanging was our brand new addition: The Night at the Museum Battle for the Smithsonian ornament that we got as a favor at our sleepover at the museum. Hopefully they will reminisce about our fun time in future years as they pull it out.

I've had years where I've been very Scrooge-y about decorating (read "The Year(s) Without a Christmas Tree"), but seeing how much my children enjoy it, and creating nostalgia as the memories shaped like Christmas baubles come out of the box remind me that it's something that should definitely be part of our holiday.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Books I Love to Give

I've been looking forward to this topic of Children's Classics over at 5 Minutes for Books, ever since we made the schedule. The topic is Books You Love to Give.

(If your child expects to get a gift from me this year, you might want to stop reading. Christmas is better when there are surprises, right??)

I love to give books. I give books to new babies, to kids on their birthdays, to grown-ups. I love shopping for books, so if I can combine that love with gifting as well, I'm a happy camper.

So here's the list of books that I find myself turning to again and again:

For young 'uns (birth up through Kindergarten): Bill Martin Jr.'s Big Book of Poetry

For older elementary kids (ten and up): Mysterious Benedict Society series

For that mother-daughter duo on your list, or tweens and young teen girls, or classic lovers who also might appreciate well-written children's literature: Mother-Daughter Bookclub (last day to enter giveaway)

For kids (four - eight or so), or anyone starting a new venture in life (new career, graduate etc): Scaredy Squirrel (and I really love Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, too).

This isn't a children's book, but children have moms, and they need moms who know who they are -- probably my most-given book (and a book which I believe someone gave to me as a gift): Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God

Please check out the books that others love to give over at 5 Minutes for Books Children's Classics. Write up your own list or leave a comment sharing your very favorite books to give.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Mom Goggles

Beer Goggles: phenomenon in which one's consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful; summed up by the phrase, "there are no ugly women at closing time"

--Urban Dictionary.com
I was not the kind of college student or young adult who ever got in the position of beer goggling, but I'm familiar with the term.

Just as a potential partner might look a lot more appealing when you are gazing through the influence of a few adult beverages, I can't help think of the similar effect produced when we are evaluating our own offspring. Let's call them "Mom Goggles."

Last spring, Amanda chose to participate in a recital at school. Any of the music students could select a piece outside of what they are learning at school and sing or play it at a special concert. Amanda is not one to pass up an opportunity to be on stage. It was a nice event. There were about twenty acts, and we were all on the stage behind the curtain in a dimly lit concert/showcase type of atmosphere.

As I was watching her play, I thought she was fantastic! stupendous! excellent! I felt badly for some of the other parents and children as I listened to saxes that squeaked and voices that broke.

Terry had to miss the concert, so I recorded her short trumpet solo on her Flip Video camera (one of her favorite gifts from last year -- a great idea for tweens!). When I watched it later, I noticed that there was a flub or two. She still did a great job, but it made me wonder if perhaps those other parents didn't notice the missed notes, or off-key singing when their children performed.

Last night, Amanda was in her last Christmas musical at church (it's for 1st - 6th graders). I had watched the dress rehearsal on Saturday and had been practicing her lines with her at home. I was very proud of her. She said her lines loudly, expressively, and with great animation. That is, until the show last night. Last night she started strong with her lines, but on her 3rd or 4th line, she froze up. Her dad and I sat there watching her face redden and a look of panic cross her face. She recovered and moved on, but I could tell she was shaken.

When I picked her up afterwards, I gave her a hug and told her she did a great job, and then the tears started. "I messed up," she said.

"I know, but you still did a great job. People laughed at your funny line, and you were very expressive. Sometimes that happens -- people get nervous or whatever, and once you start thinking about it, it's hard to recover. Dad and I know that you knew your lines, and we are very proud of you."

"But this was my last time, and I won't have a chance to show people that I really can do it. That's what makes me so mad. I knew the lines. I wasn't nervous. I don't know what happened."

A milkshake and a McDouble on the way home -- as well as her brother's, her dad's, and her mom's continued assertion that she did a great job -- seemed to have taken the edge off of her reaction to her performance.

Maybe wearing Mom Goggles doesn't mean missing the mistakes, but simply seeing the bigger picture, and wanting them to do their very best and be proud of their efforts? When I saw her disappointment, I really wished that I could pass on those goggles that her dad and I had on so that she could see herself through our eyes.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Best Book in 2009

I heard about Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 series from Susan over at 5 Minutes for Mom, and today's topic happens to be Best Book of 2009.

She asked "What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?"

It was easy for me, a book blogger, to come up with an answer for that one. The book that I've enjoyed most this year was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.



I started off the review I wrote back in February for 5 Minutes for Books this way (click through the link to read my full review):

In the two days that I spent reading the pages of The Help, I didn't want to do anything else. I reached for the gold cover frequently in lieu of talking on the phone, watching TV, doing housework or anything else.
I am certainly not unique in my thoughts, but that's another reason that I'm selecting this as my best book of 2009. I haven't purchased lots of copies, but I have loaned mine out, and recommended it numerous times. And what's so cool is that everyone has loved it too. In fact, a couple of times when I was talking books with people, they brought it up, and I was able to say "Yeah, me too!! I loved it!"

That's what I love about books -- the way that they can bring us together, the way that they can help us escape our everyday life, the way that they can teach us something about the world as they are entertaining us. The Help definitely meets all of those criteria.

What was your best book of 2009?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All

Thanksgiving weekend in Times Square--call us crazy, but we had fun


I feel like posting a week after Thanksgiving is sort of anti-climactic, but I did want to share about our holiday (and feel free to fill me in on the highlights or lowlights of your own!).

My sister, her husband, and their three kids came to visit from Tulsa. We had a great time. They are very low-maintenance visitors, which is just the way we like them. We had an equally good visit at their house last summer, so all of the kids were really looking forward to reuniting.

They didn't get in until late Wednesday night, and so I was preparing all week -- cooking, cleaning, shopping. Kyle was very excited about pumpkin pie this year, due to the pumpkin unit they did at school. For about 3 weeks, he asked every day if we could make some. Terry thought that we should hold him off until Thanksgiving, because he was probably going to be disappointed.


Making Pumpkin Pie

Unfortunately, at about noon on Thanksgiving Day, Kyle fell ill -- suddenly! I was worried about this, and warned my visitors (which included our dear local friends along with old college friends who live about two hours away, in addition to our out-of-town guests). He had the live H1N1 vaccine on Tuesday evening, so I was thinking that it was some kind of reaction. I dosed him up, and he rested, and rallied for dinner later that afternoon, but by 5:30pm, he was ready to relax and watch TV in my room and ended up falling asleep. He still had fever when I took him to bed, but he woke up perfectly fine.

My friend Lee, food blogger extraordinaire, posted some great pictures of the kids having fun (and for you people who prefer pets -- Shadow makes an appearance too). Amanda had a makeshift volleyball net up and ready, and the weather cooperated, clearing in time for them to enjoy some outdoor fun. She also posted my grandmother's Mixed Vegetable Casserole recipe, which we only eat once or twice a year, but I dare you to try. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Anyway, as Lee said in her post, it really was a lovely day. We brought together 8 adults and 12 -- yes 12 -- kids, and we all jelled as easily as the Cranberry salad. Isn't that the real spirit of Thanksgiving?

I'll have to post more about our trip to NYC on Saturday (picture above), but that went over well too. We had excellent weather, and my nieces and nephew (and seester) enjoyed their first trip to NYC, but are determined that it won't be their last!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Sneak Peek of our Night at the Museum


The kids and I had an absolutely fabulous night at the first-ever sleepover in Madame Tussauds' Wax Museum in Times Square. We were fortunate enough to be invited to this fun event that was held to kick off the DVD release of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

One of the things that we did was watch the movie. We had seen it in the theater, but I forgot how very funny it was. Even though we could watch the movie anytime on our own, that was one of the kids' favorite parts of the evening.

This morning we were able to browse the museum at our leisure with no else there, which was probably my favorite part. Although, I do have to say that when you are standing in a room with a bunch of wax statues, you always feel like someone's watching you.

I did find a couple whom I didn't mind feeling their gaze upon me:

Oh, George

Oh, Hugh

I will post more about the event and the museum (about which I am surprised to be so impressed by, to be honest) on 5 Minutes for Mom soon.

Did you know that Dr. MLK, Jr. is a little junior-sized?


This one's for Uncle Kevin