Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Nightstand -- June

This is easy. I've declared it a Month of E-reading, so that's it. I'm currently reading Annexed on my Kindle, and I would like to get started on one of the books in the 100 Classic Books application that I have for my Nintendo DS XL, but I haven't decided which yet. I'm thinking perhaps some Jane Austen that I haven't read yet. Amanda is currently using it to read Alice in Wonderland.

See what is on other bloggers' Nightstand by clicking over to 5 Minutes for Books.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Birthday -- Slacker Mom Style

Last Thursday I sent out an email to Kyle's kindergarten classmates inviting them to his birthday party on Tuesday. Yes, that's a whopping 5 days notice. In addition to this excellent planning, his actual birthday was 3 weeks ago. Two strikes against me starting off.

It was a busy week, with BEA going on, followed by the long holiday weekend, followed after that with a billion concerts and school activities and sporting events, and weekend guests, at which point I wanted to sit around and rest and breathe and recover.

At one point I broke the news, "Maybe we just won't have a friend party this year," (since we had already celebrated with my in-laws and here at the house), and his eyes welled up with tears, which is fair because we had been talking about how we'd have his party here.

I prefaced my email with, "I feel like a total slacker mom, but I'm finally pulling together a party for Kyle on Tuesday afternoon, and we'd love for you to come."

It seems that my transparency hit a chord with the other moms. I got several responses saying things along the lines of "Don't feel like a slacker mom," and "I always feel like a slacker mom," to similar confessions, "I forgot my camera when we had my son's birthday party."

The party was here at the house, and I had a lot of outside toys and games for them to play with. There was one new game that I should have set up before hand, because I didn't realize what was involved, but it went along with the slacker mom theme of the party when it didn't really come together as it was supposed to. However, the kids played with it as is. I was reminded that they don't really care. What they did care about is that they were all together enjoying each other's company. And what Kyle cared about was that I made the effort and gave him a party.

It was a success all around.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian is one of the books that I picked up from Sleeping Bear Press at BEA when Carrie and I got to hang out with Audrey for a bit and hear what is new from them.

This is a lovely, bright, and whimsical picture book. Since my favorite genre at the moment is memoir, I loved the play on that genre -- a picture book that is set up as a goldfish's diary.

Day One: I swam around my bowl.

Day Two: I swam around my bowl. Twice.

That's how the goldfish's diary begins, but it doesn't stay boring for long. Soon his bowl is overcrowded with stuff and other creatures, and he has to stake his claim on "his tank."

Six-year-old Kyle doesn't generally get stuck on a particular book, but we read this book twice. Then he kept it beside his bed and was reading it in the mornings himself. Then his dad read it to him.

We all give it two thumbs up. It's cute and clever and fun. According to the jacket flap, "Time away from his new companions gives him a chance to rethink the pros and cons of a solitary life. And discover what he's been missing."

Yes, there is a little bit of a moral there, but it's not shoved down the reader's throat. And does it need to be? No, it stands alone as a sometimes sweet and sometimes silly tale.

I've linked this up to Kids' Picks at 5 Minutes for Books. See what other kids are reading as well, the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends

A few weeks ago, my sixth-grade daughter asked me, "Am I allowed to have a boyfriend?"

Yes, that panicked feeling that you are experiencing as you read that is exactly how I felt. Or perhaps you felt thankful that your kids weren't old enough to worry about that yet. That's how I had been feeling. My daughter was never one of those kids -- you know, the ones who are talking about their boyfriends from age 4 on up (Kyle might be a different story, as he's already told me about his girlfriends). She was always sensibly age-appropriate.

After having a little internal dialogue with myself ("This is age-appropriate. You and your friends were 'going with' boys in 6th grade."), I tried to have a mature conversation with her about it. I asked her what meant to have a boyfriend and if there was someone in particular who she liked or who liked her.

I didn't really get an answer about specifics, but I found out that her friend had a boyfriend, and so she just wanted to know, "Can I? Am I allowed?"

Just as I thought, "having a boyfriend" means not much more than saying that you had a boyfriend. The boy might join her gaggle of girls at her lunch table, and I suppose they might text or email (tweens don't really talk on the phone much anymore).

I took a deep breath and told her that it would probably be fine. I explained that starting all this boyfriend business too soon can lead to other things later (which of course she rolled her eyes about), and that she shouldn't be holding hands at school (which I had seen when I was there at lunch last month), and she shouldn't be kissing.

I was glad she even asked. I didn't ask my mom about that sort of thing. I told her that, and she said, "Well, some girls aren't allowed to date until high school, so I thought I should ask if I am."

That explained it. They call it "dating" or "going out," even though they don't actually go out. I clarified that she wasn't allowed to "date" either, but I didn't consider that dating.

In the coming days, I fretted and worried over my decision, my mind immediately making irrational leaps -- is she going to be asking to go to the OB/GYN for birth control next??

But then the next week, I was sitting at a soccer game talking to two of my friends. They both mentioned that the topic of boyfriends or renewed interest in boys (even as friends) had come up at their houses too. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Amanda was never afraid of boys. She was friends with them as a preschooler and in elementary school. But over the last couple of years, a sort of wall has gone up. Because there is that burgeoning interest, you can't simply be friends with boys. I think that this is their way to return to boy-girl interaction. It's exactly what I was doing in 6th grade. Later in middle school, it was okay to have boys who were friends as well, and I had some good ones.

I had sort of forgotten about all this until I had a long-overdue chat with another good friend on the phone this week, where she told me that her son was emailing with a girl, and they were sort of boyfriend/girlfriend. This is the friend who I feel like does everything right with her kids -- setting limits and following through and guiding them into maturity as I try to with my kids. She thinks that this kind of exploration is okay too.

Why did I feel the need to go it alone? I was afraid to tell my two close friends about this conversation -- worried that they would think that I was letting my little girl grow up too fast. But the truth is, I need my friends. I need their wisdom and experience and advice.

The other truth is that my little girl is growing up whether I want her to or not.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Why I Read Aloud to my Tween

When I'm reading aloud to my tween I'm not yelling, I'm not judging, I'm not criticizing. I'm not distracted by the computer. When I'm reading aloud to my tween, she's not complaining, or arguing, or texting, or watching TV or pestering her brother.

I think more than most anything I do or say to her these days, reading aloud shows her that I love her. It's a habit that we've always had, but it had fallen by the wayside. In the last year, we've both been recommitted to it, and almost always have a read-aloud book going, which I read to her in bits and pieces -- a few pages at bedtime, a chapter while she's cleaning her room, half a chapter while she's eating her breakfast before school.

We recently read Tortilla Sun, a middle grade/YA novel full of magical realism and lyrical writing. Read my full review at 5 Minutes for Books and enter to win a copy for yourself that I hope you'll choose to read aloud to your child, age 10 and up.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

When Booklovers Meet

When Carrie was getting ready for us to leave to take her to airport, she was looking through "Kyle's box of books" as she put it. I hope she realizes that there were many more books on the shelf in his room, and more books in another box/bin in the other room. So many books!

Anyway, I thought it was very cute that he ran over to help her look at the Spot 7 book, and then continued to look at it in the car. I have tried to get him re-interested for a while, because it's really colorful and a fun "spot the differences" book.

I posted my highlights from the Book Expo and BookBloggerCon over at 5 Minutes for Books. The best really was meeting up with other booklovers. Even casual conversations in line or over coffee were exciting as we discussed favorite books, genres, and what's new for 2010.

There's also a linky there if you'd like to read through some others' experiences. There are lots of author pics from signings, which I didn't make many of. I did get a signed audiobook CD that Amanda was quite happy about. You'll have to click through to see who it was.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I Read It -- Brandilyn Collins

A while ago, Jessie from Blog Schmog wrote a guest post at 5 Minutes for Books called "How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel." This was not the first I've heard of Brandilyn Collins. Katrina and others have mentioned her work, and Collins is very active online, so she's always been on my "read someday" list.

Then right about the time we posted that column, Katrina let me know that Collins was offering two of her books on the Kindle for free! I quickly downloaded both of them.

I recently attended a Yankees baseball game with my family, and I wanted to bring some reading material (C'mon -- I'm not the only one who must be prepared with a book at such events, right?). Seriously, I was more concerned with the hour train ride. I don't think that I actually read during the game, but it's happened before. I love that my Kindle is so portable. It's much lighter and thinner than a book -- perfect for travel.

I read Dark Pursuit in just a day or two. Yes, suspense will do that to you -- you just HAVE to finish it.

I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading another. I don't know that I would call this one scary at all, but it's a good thriller. Darell Brooke is a bestselling author of suspense thrillers. A brain injury has left him unable to write. Kaitlyn is his granddaughter, long estranged. When she gets set up on a murder, she goes to him for help.

She's a Christian author, but the "Christian" theme is very light. What you DO get is a nice clean read with no bad language or perverted topics which seem to generally go along with the crime/suspense/thriller genre.

I've posted this to the I Read It! carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. Click over to read the other reviews as well, and join in the first Tuesday of every month.