Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday Confessions

1. I have 10 minutes before the kids come home after their last day of school and instead of showering, I'm blogging. This is a terrible, terrible decision, and yet, here we are.

2. Last night my 3-year-old threw the mother of all temper tantrums at another child's birthday party and we ended the evening with me getting in his face and saying, "Does Mommy look happy to you?" He slapped me. I honestly can't say I blame him.

3. The same 3-year-old threw himself on the floor of Chipotle this afternoon after losing his compass ring. Several of my fellow diners stared at us in an extremely judgy fashion until I pretended to kick my flailing child. Surely my proudest parenting moment to date.

4. The best part of my day today involved pulling together a list of books for a 5th grade book club. Check our Twitter feed for lots of great recs.

5. Tomorrow is our first family outing to the pool and Laura has already sent me at least three different articles on dry drowning and silent drowning. Happy Summer!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Side of DIY

I'm always itching for a project. Writing, home improvement, gardening, cleaning, hell I'll even consider a new discipline approach a project (sleep train at 2 months! potty train in 3 days! never say NO again!). I guess I'm a huge sucker.

The real danger is when people around me are beginning projects. When Lisa moved and was painting a bunch of stuff, I surfed Craig's List for my own furniture project. When I dug out sad-looking Easter decorations, I made some new ones. If I have an hour, a Joann Fabric coupon and an idea, I'm golden. My neighbors probably think I'm insane. I'm always painting something. Nothing is safe if I have extra spray paint.

So when a close friend began her own up-cycling business called Something To Be Found, the itch spread (hmm...that sounds like a disease. Maybe that's exactly what this is.) Thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, paint, fabric? Yes, please.

This month, I participated in her Reader Thrift Challenge and upgraded a couple very tired-looking stools. These stools were the kind that just stuck around for some reason, lingering as though they were quality, heirloom pieces. Um...they aren't. But we've never felt like replacing them. So they've been sprayed, cut (yes, my husband cut from bar height to counter height with the equivalent of a dull kitchen knife), sanded and now re-upholstered (I use that term very loosely).




Check out all of the submissions and if you're a DIY sucker like me, join the next challenge!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The day her mom apologized...

Today is ride your bike or walk to school day for my daughter's school district. While we live on the city border (aka the boons if you ask Lisa), Lisa lives right smack-dab in the center, the perfect distance from school for a leisurely, spring ride. Perfect! I had visions of loading up happy children, bikes and helmets, a car brimming with smiles and laughter, pride at how green we were being (if you don't count the drive to Lisa's). We might even see a rainbow on the way to school.

"There's no time for peanut butter!" I explained as I slapped two plain waffles on plates and opened a couple yogurts. How was it already 7:45? We had to be at Lisa's at 8 and I hadn't even made lunches yet. I threw together something vaguely resembling all food groups (the diced peaches were in water, so that counts) and shooed the kids out the door.

On the ride to Lisa's, I mentally congratulated myself for remembering everything and everyone and being proactive. You see, Lydia received a new bike for her birthday and it's one she'll have to grow into. Her little tippy toes barely skim the ground and I envisioned her careening into the gang of children we'd be riding with, crying about not being able to start/stop and otherwise creating an unsafe ride for every child and adult involved. I had James on the back of my bike and there was no way I'd be able to stop and help her. Solution? Lydia could ride Mia's old bike. Perfect again! It'd be just her size and she'd smile, laugh and point out those rainbows.

The reality was sobering. Mia's old bike was roughly the size of a tricycle and featured two low tires. "It's okay, you'll be fine," I insisted as we began the journey and Lydia lagged behind. "Just push really hard with your legs. Use your muscles!" said through clenched teeth. This was not going well and we weren't even at the end of Lisa's street. Enter denial and a great deal of regret. This was a bad idea, this was a mistake. At this rate, we were never going to make it to school on time and I was resorting to yelling at Lydia in front of other parents and she was resorting to tears and, I'm not going to lie, wailing. Full-out, tantrum, tear-streaming, breakdown. At this point, she was no longer on the tiny bike, but rather attempting to walk the bike up a "hill." We hadn't even exited Lisa's neighborhood. This was not good. Not good at all.

"You have a choice," I explained, in a voice that did not resemble my own, but rather the voice of a possessed person. "We can turn around or ride to school."

Through hiccups, Lydia insisted that we continue, but as I stared up the grand summit of Lisa's neighborhood, there was just no way. We would abandon the ride, wave the white flag, continue our trail of tears home. Let me tell you, the only thing worse than leading a bike train toward school with a crying six-year-old behind you, is leading a bike train HOME where only one person is riding and the other is slowly unraveling into a puddle of hysterics. If this isn't a failure, I'm not sure what is. In all of my six years of being a mother, this one takes the cake. The worst part was it wasn't Lydia's fault she couldn't ride the bike to school. It was mine. And worse, I couldn't possibly express that through all of my frustration. When I dropped her off at school, she was sweaty and red-cheeked and sad. And I cried as I drove away.

When I dragged my sorry ass back to Lisa's, I explained that I was sure she'd remember this day at the end of her kindergarten school year. The day her mom turned into some bike-riding devil-person forcing her to climb a ridiculous hill on a tricycle. "No, she'll remember the day her mom apologized. Send an email to the secretary and ask her to send a note down to Lydia. I do it all the time," Lisa admitted.

And that's exactly what I did. The school secretary was happy to oblige and said she totally got it, which made me feel about a million times better. Lisa said she bets there are a million of the same email in the secretary's inbox and she's probably right.

So, here's to hoping Lydia remembers the day her mom apologized. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday Rant

You know how people post a list of things they love every Friday? Well, I’ve decided to post a series of brief rants on Tuesday. Mostly because Tuesdays suck as a rule and I’m feeling extra stabby this week.

So…without further ado….

1. 3-year-olds. Ben slapped me across the face in the grocery store yesterday so hard that my teeth clanged together because I wouldn’t buy him a frosting-laden baseball cookie roughly the size of his head. You know that moment when someone legitimately hurts you and your first instinct is to punch them in the face? No? Just me? Oh well, guess I have some unresolved anger management issues, but man, I came so close to placing my screaming child on the ground, walking out the front door of the grocery store and leaving him for the baker to deal with. Instead I scooped him up and dragged him out of the store kidnapper style with some chicken breasts leaking all over my arm. It was super fun.

2. Work. I just don’t feel like doing anything right now because it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside.

3. End of school crap. Let’s just be honest, I’m done with school. My patience for fractions, measurements and spelling words was never really all that high to begin with, but it’s now at an all-time low.

4. Competitive People. You know who you are, and let’s just be honest, you WIN, ok? Seriously. I stalk your life on Facebook and Instagram and you are a better human than I am. Your kids are cuter, your husband loves you more, you have better clothes, your friends are cooler and you’re in far better shape than me. My kid just slapped me in the bakery aisle, my house is filthy and my children pull clean laundry out of baskets stored conveniently on top of their dressers like animals. I bow down to your awesome.

5. Hashtags. Seriously. Americans, I am BEGGING YOU to stop it with the unnecessary, rambling, hashtags. Hashtags are fantastic when they’re being used to actually track something, but beyond that: STOP. Please, just stop. I know we all tend to go to bed early, but you can catch up on your Jimmy Fallon during nap time. To put it in terms you might better understand, hashtags have gone the way of rainbow looms. It’s time to let them die a peaceful death. #please

Monday, May 12, 2014

Better Than Mother's Day....


So, there are lots of parts of being a mom that I completely suck at.

For example, this is what my couch looks like on laundry day.


Ok, fine, it's more like laundry week. Folded clothes are overrated.
 
And this is the closest we usually come to a decent family picture. Notice Mia is crying the dog is trying to escape and I look like I just backhanded someone.



I take comfort knowing that someday this picture will be featured in a Mommy Dearest style memoir penned by one of my adorable children. Ah, memories.
  Also my children all lie. No really. They lie constantly about things like brushing their teeth and stealing candy. And I take full responsibility because I was a liar too. I haven't had the heart to tell my husband that the lying gene totally comes from my side of the family. (You're welcome, Ken.)

So, when Mia told me that she was reading Meet Molly, one of my old American Girl Doll books every night before she went to bed, naturally, with all of my amazing maternal instinct and intuition, I assumed she was lying through her teeth. I didn't even really hold it against her because the book is pretty tough for a first grader to read and as a skilled liar I'm well practiced in the art of fake reading. Moby Dick? A masterpiece! The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy? Racy! Twilight? Loved it!

OK, fine, I actually read the entire Twilight series, but you get the idea. I just assumed that Mia was skimming her way through Molly's story and looking at the pictures. And because I'm an awesome mom, I thought it might be fun to catch her in the lie.

Me: "So Mia, how's that book you're reading?"

 Mia: "It's good. I like it."

Me: "Oh, yeah. I bet. So what's going on in the book? Tell me about it..."

If you're picturing me rubbing my hands together and twirling my mustache here, you're totally on point.

Mia: "Well, it's kind of sad. Molly's dad is in the war and she has to eat turnips and she really hates turnips and her neighbor has a victory garden."

It was right at victory garden where I lost it. Literally just started crying. Mia was reading that damn book. Not only that, she remembered it. And she sounded like she actually liked it.

Now most mothers might feel terribly guilty for doubting their child in the first place, but me? I felt like mother of the year. My daughter is reading a book. A real book about wars and turnips and victory gardens. And I'm the one who put the book on her nightstand. I'm the one who suffered through endless readings of I Wish I Had Duck Feet that involved over thousands of stuttered, mangled ways to sound out the word duck. I'm the one who grew up reading in front of my nightlight.

And maybe, just maybe, since she inherited my talent for lying, she'll also get my love for books. And for that one, tiny moment, all the piles of unfolded laundry, all the failed photo shoots, all the little white lies - don't matter because I'm raising a reader.

I'll take that moment over neatly pressed clothes and perfect snapshots any day, especially on Mother's Day.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy Birthday to our final Liar Society baby...

It all began with a phone call. A really long phone call. Lisa and I wanted to do something cool. And it couldn't cost any money. And it had to be fun. I'm not sure who came up with it first but "write a book" was thrown around and then "write a YA book" and then in unison, "YES." And so we did. And it was YA. And it was bad. But it was FUN. More fun than we'd ever had before and completely addicting and completely ours.


And it didn't work so we tried again. And that's where Kate Lowry comes in. She's everything we always wished we could have been and all of the sudden we had the chance to re-write history. With a few emails from a dead best friend thrown in for good measure. Fast forward to pink hair, lots of tears, celebrations, Twizzlers, writing workshops, READERS, blue hair, a book tour, fans, no fans and finally red hair and *spoiler alert*, brown hair. Kate, we hope we've made you proud. We sure had lots of fun.

So, Happy Birthday to our newest baby: THE THIRD LIE'S THE CHARM. She's all snuggly and new and fresh smelling and we hope you like her as much as we do!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

WONDER by R.J. Palacio

It's been a long, long time since I've posted a book review. And it's not like I haven't read outstanding books in the past year. I have. Oh, I have. But, if there's one book, just one book, you decide to pick up (especially as a read aloud with young people), please let it be WONDER. I'm about a year late (as usual), but here it goes anyway...




I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse. 
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 

I began this book by reading an online excerpt and crying. Yep. Just from the excerpt. It broke my heart. It broke my heart because I remember middle school very vividly and I remember what it feels like to imagine that everyone is looking at you and making fun of you and judging you. I now understand that everyone felt that way and for the most part everyone was just looking at themselves and feeling insecure, but this book broke my heart because all of the sudden everyone was looking at Auggie. It made me wish I could have a do-over and go back to middle school and find the person who most needed a friend and be a friend. Back then, I wasn't quite strong enough to be a Summer (read the book and you'll meet Summer and you'll wish you could have a do-over too). But I'm really, really hoping I can pass along some courage to my own children.

Despite the fact that I can't go back, I can talk about this book and buy it as a present and share it with my kids. It can help start a conversation about kindness and opening up your heart and being a friend. It can help you feel and understand what it might be like in another person's shoes. And it will most definitely make you cry. Heartbreaking tears that hurt your throat, but also happy tears as you watch Auggie grow and change and live.

I loved this one. My daughter is not quite old enough to understand everything I'd like her to understand, so I'll count down the days. Or maybe start reading aloud to a random ten-year-old on the street.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

They say it's your birthday!

Dear Lisa,
Happy Birthday, sister. I thought it was only appropriate on this very special day in October to dig through my Student Portfolio and personal writings and find a poem I'm not sure I ever shared with you back in '94. This was written shortly after my own birthday when I asked to borrow a certain pair of stinky clogs.

They looked a little like this:


Remember?

We looked like this:

You said no. I wrote this:

Look in my eyes, see who I am.
I am not you, I am me.
See in my heart, all there is to see.
Try to see the good, it is truly there.
Be who I am, just try to think,
what it would be like to be me.
I think different, I am not you.
You always yell, you always scream,
just try to think how I feel.
Your screams put a bruise on my heart.
You may not know, but they do.
I try to ask, but listen you won't.
My words seem to vanish, as if never heard.
Stop for a moment, listen to me.
It is as if some hate beneath you,
is given to me.
What is it?
What is so wrong with me?
The words that mean so much were never said.
I try to understand.
My heart just waited.
No more will I wait.

BAM. I really wanted those clogs. BUT...you made up for all of it by telling me you got me a special present. A Debbie Gibson HAT. I had visions of grandeur. Visions of this: 

It looked like this:
I still love you, anyway. Happy Birthday to my sister! If you want to borrow anything of mine today, it's YOURS. Kids? What? You want to celebrate with my kids? That can be arranged. I love you!

Love,
Laura

Monday, September 9, 2013

HUGE congratulations are in order...

PrintThe Reading Room has officially announced the winners of the 2013 Reading Room/WriteOnCon Aspiring Authors' Competition! Thank you to everyone who entered and voted--the talent this year was astounding.

The honor of Third Place and a cash prize of $250 goes to Amy Trueblood and her piece Fighting Chance.

The honor of Second Place and a cash prize of $500 goes to Ashley Laster and her piece Shades and Shadows.

And the honor of First Place and a cash prize of $1000 goes to Michelle Weidenbenner and her piece Love is Just a Word.  

Submissions for the Aspiring Authors competition were judged by a panel of three literary agents. Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management, Charlie Olsen, of Inkwell Management and Jennifer Rofe, of Andrea Brown Literary.

All of the winning entries will appear in a special e-book, which will be available for download soon! Michelle will also have the opportunity to discuss her manuscript with literary agent Catherine Drayton!

In addition, EVERY voter will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate, just for voting. So, technically, we're all winners!   Congratulations again, winners. You did it! Until next year...

Friday, September 6, 2013

How Candy Crush Saved My Life...

Just kidding. Candy Crush is destroying my life one dotted bon-bon (You know the ones. You see them and your heart starts racing and you do everything in your power to get a striped ball of joy next to them so your screen explodes with striped balls of joy working their stripey magic) at a time.

Candy Crush has made me a better mom.



This is happening.

"Busy," "High Energy," "Active," "Curious." These are all words that describe my 19-month-old son James. "Time-consuming," "Addictive," "Crack-laced," "Wasteful." These are words that describe Candy Crush. James + Candy Crush = Emergency.

Candy Crush has made my marriage stronger.


I give up.
Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back asleep. A few games of Candy Crush never hurt anyone. Until the glow from your phone wakes your husband up out of a deep slumber and he catches you in the act. Candy Crush: 1. Marriage: 0.



Candy Crush has made me a better person.


This is called devotion.
To make up for my shortcomings since being introduced to this devil game, I baked a special cake for our family to enjoy.

Okay.

I'm lying. I didn't bake a cake and I have no intention of baking a Candy Crush cake or any cake for that matter. I did buy some chocolate chip cookie dough batter from Target yesterday, so that's something. Baby steps.


Candy Crush has made me a better writer.

Damn you flashing cursor. Damn you to Candy Crush hell.

If only I could multi-task while writing. If that were the case, I'd have Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis streaming in the background, my phone in one hand Candy Crushing away and the other hand typing the book of our lives. Perhaps then I could truly say that Candy Crush saved my life. I wonder if those words have ever been uttered. The creator. Only out of the creator who is laughing his way to the bank every time someone agrees to pay 99 cents to continue playing his crack-laced app.


But hey, at least I'm not desperate enough to spend any money on Candy Crush or change the time on my phone to get more lives.

Okay.

I'm lying again. I might have invested a little over $10.00 so far to unlock additional levels. But it's only so I don't have to wait three days or bother Facebook friends. Is that so bad? Is it? IS IT?

And no, I haven't changed the time on my phone.

Yet.