Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I don't like lizards. At all.

Hey, lizards. If you persist in coming into the house I will persist in killing you. One by one or all at once, it doesn't matter to me. You saw what we did with the cats, right? You know we don't fool around when it comes to getting rid of vermin.

And also? Why do we always, always, always have at least one or two get in on the days when M is out of town?! I think I have a permanent case of the heebie-jeebies. Ugh.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. A

A has been working himself into the Terrible Twos and although he's shown all the classic symptoms like independence, separation anxiety, clinginess, crying jags, stubbornness and so on, for the most part he's been his usual agreeable self. Except for the last week, when all of us a sudden every meal time has become an all out battle of wills. We've tried serving him whatever we're having, asking him what he'd like (but only giving two healthy-ish choices), and on Sunday M decided to see what would happen if we just let him graze and eat whatever and whenever he wanted. All three options had the same result: the minute he sits down to eat he throws a temper tantrum. We remove him from the table. He cries til he throws up. He calms down. He comes back to the table. He pitches another fit. We remove his food. He goes hungry. Until the next meal and it starts all over again. It's a little bit worse if I'm trying to eat too, but that's not saying much because it's downright horrible. So, in addition to trying to deal with his finicky eating, we're also having to deal with a huge meltdown at every meal.

We've tried talking to him about it in advance, talking to him when he's sitting down, holding him while it happens, getting angry and putting him in another room, but the end result is the same: he doesn't eat. It makes me want to cry, because after it's all over he invariably comes up to me and says "Love, Mommy?" which is his way of requesting a hug. I don't think he wants to act this way, he just can't help it.

We were willing to chalk it up to his cold for a while, but I know he's almost over it now and he doesn't have any problem eating snacks like Cheerios, graham crackers, Goldfish or fruit. It's just mealtime. Do we just give up for now, let him snack and trust that he'll start eating meals again? Do we stick with serving him and try to work through the crying? Do we all eat separately? I'm at my wits end here, so anyone out there dealing with mealtime tantrums, PLEASE let me know what you think!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Of Saturday, sao bao and scones

Take that, cat people. With the sudden, welcome and blissful arrival of Fall we've been spending a lot of our free time enjoying our beautiful CAT FREE porch and yard. Hooray! No more smell of cat pee! No little "presents" in the yard! It kind of makes all the hassle worth it. Especially since Neighbor Man came over and had a heart-to-heart with M and privately thanked him. (I guess she was spending a pretty penny on cat food.) Then Crazy Cat Neighbor Lady came over to thank us too! And apologize! All's well that end's well and hopefully the joke won't be on us when we're overrun with fruit rats or something.

So Saturday morning I made a batch of spiced apple & cranberry cream scones, heated up some sao bao (Chinese steamed buns) and we turned off the cartoons and forced took the kids outside to play: pirate ship, ahoy!, croquet, buggy races, spot the garden snakes and other assorted porch/yard games. If the humidity stays low we may even head to the beach after Mass tomorrow.

Yummy scones:

Everyone loves sao bao!

Daddy likes the scones

Playing in the yard

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finding my happy place

We decided to take A to the doctor yesterday morning as he's been up 5-8 times per night since June Sunday and then he woke up with a fever. When I went in to get him you could feel the heat pouring out of his crib from the doorway of his room. Turns out poor baby has a raging ear infection, a sinus infection and a sore throat (not strep at least). Yay Zithromax! He's to rest quietly for a day or so -- fat chance-- so we're out for playgroups and stuff this week. He's eating even less than usual, so while normally I wouldn't encourage him to graze, I am OK with it for a few days. Yesterday he ate a bowl of cereal with milk, about half a bowl of cereal with no milk, a cracker or two and water (and Zithromax). He turned down: waffles, watermelon, pb&j, cookies, jell-o and applesauce. He's the pickiest eater ever. Ever. Have I mentioned he's a vegetarian who won't eat vegetables? Not even corn. And it's worse when he's sick. Amazingly, he seems to get all the nutrition he needs from cereal and peanut butter and the occasional bite of fruit.

So, after my mini-rant about needing a break, I am cheerfully! gratefully! bi-polarly! back on the happy trail. Today, I am (tiredly) thinking about being a mom and the constant juggling act that involves. Don't even get me started on what it takes to juggle the house and meals, because these days I'm of the mind that I only need to really, really clean up if someone is coming over. You show up unannounced and you'll be tripping over toys and shoes and homework papers with the rest of us. I supposed I could've spent an hour cleaning this morning, but A wanted to play "throw the balls in the laundry basket" and you know what? So did I.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mama needs a break, v. 43309

Last night was the first night I've seen/talked to M since Sunday. Have I mentioned that he's been traveling a lot lately? Yeah, well he has. And will continue to for the immediate future as all of his cases are busy right now and they're all out of town. Hooray?! I guess with the economy the way it is, we should be grateful and thankful he has a job. (Which I am.)

Anyway, the "funny" part comes when I mentioned to him last night that we have an extraordinarily busy weekend coming up whereby the universe has conspired to line up D's first Daisy event of the year as well as two birthday parties for the children of very good friends. Luckily the universe also saw fit to schedule the events at totally different times so we'll actually be able to attend all three events -- I would simply need M's help to get A to Party #1 while I drive D down from the Daisy event. No biggie, right? I'm talking about a difference of maybe15 minutes. Well, lets just say the reaction was less than positive -- you would have thought I'd asked him to watch the kids for a week while I went to the Ritz. His first reaction to anything, if I ask for help, is to say "why don't you just skip it?" So, I can totally see myself schlepping the kids all alone, all day. The lemonade part to that is that the kids will be totally into the parties and I might actually have some quality girl-talk time.

But, a bit of a break would be nice, even if it is just 15 minutes. Maybe when the kids are older? When they can do their own homework? And don't get sick every other week (I'm looking at you, A!) and aren't up all night? I can wait.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What did she say?

Three of D's first grade "electives" are Spanish, Music and Religion. So it was no surprise when she came home singing the popular Spanish hymn "Envia tu Espiritu". It was a surprise to hear that God has a "frosted tiara." Actual line: "la faz de la tierra."

Thank you, Google, for clearing that up!

However, I think we're stuck with her beauty pageant-esque interpretation for a while.

(This one is almost as good as her line from "Our God is an Awesome God" when "with wisdom, power and love" became "whizz down pal on us.")

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First day of Fall

Well I do declare. The first day of real Fall weather fell unusually close to the actual first day of Fall. This morning brought not only much, much lower humidity, but actual cool air. I think it was only 72 when I took D to school. Why, that's practically sweater weather! And chili weather! And stew weather! And baking weather! Yay! Plus you know it must be Fall when Target starts to sneak the Christmas stuff in. There were a whole bunch of cards and wrapping supplies right between the Autumn/Harvest and Halloween displays.

I'll draw the line at Christmas decorations, but I could not resist buying apple cider and caramel apple stuff and even some teeny-tiny hard as rock pears at the grocery.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A friend of a friend of a friend...

Because I read so many blogs and then, on days when I have time, I read the blogs that those bloggers read and sometimes I follow links to other blogs because someone made an interesting comment and, if I end up with more spare time, then I'll comment on those blogs, and so you end up with this funny electronic "paper" trail (I don't know the real blogger term for this phenomenon) and you end up with this six degrees of separation feeling from all the other wonderful bloggers out there. Does this make sense? If not, it's because I've been up since 4:00. Anyway.

Once in a while I'll read something on a blog that is so moving, so incredible that I say to myself, "Self, you lazy thing, you should post this on your blog, and maybe someone reading your blog will go read their blog and be moved by their story too!" And then the baby wakes up or something and I'll forget about it. But not today:


If you want the full story you're going to have to dig a bit after the click, but basically CJane's sister, NieNie, who has a popular "mommyblog" of her own, was in a horrible plane crash a few weeks ago. NieNie and her husband are in critical condition and will be hospitalized for months because of their burns. CJane (and the rest of Nie's family) has taken in 3 of Nie's 4 young children to raise and take care of and be a surrogate mother to them while their parents recover. You may have heard/seen this before in the blogosphere and it's been all over the morning shows, but I still thought it worth posting about. Because, although I don't know them, I wish I did. It is an incredible story of an incredible family. Go read. And get some tissues.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm fried. Tired. Frazzled. Both kids up at 5:30 this morning. D wanted to make a card for her teacher! At 5:30! Awww, how sweet! Now go back to sleep. A up multiple times for water. The kid's a camel, I tell ya. I just want everyone, but especially me, to sleep through the night. Please. Pretty please.

But there was a small compensation for the early rising, and not just that I didn't have to nag D constantly to hurry up. It's also because this morning Fall was in the air (shhhh, don't jinx it!) Just enough to lower the humidity, if not the temperature. Just enough to make the walk to school pleasant, not a trip to the steam room. Just enough to make me say ahhhh, not ugggh.

And in an unprecedented move, we're getting a sitter and going out tonight. Usually, we only go out once/month. And usually on a Saturday. We're supposed to be going to a baseball game with M's law firm, but I have a feeling we might show for a bit then ditch out to go eat tapas and enjoy the nice weather. My biggest problem right now is what the heck to wear because I truly hate all my clothes. Except for the cute new tops I got at ATLoft last month, but I've already worn them all over the place so I'm getting that "I can't wear that again feeling.

Okey-dokey. A is incredibly cranky from lack of sleep and I've got housework to do. So I'll leave you with this:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The drama-mamas

By unspoken agreement and mutual consent, most of the parents who handle morning drop-off at D's school are dressed down. Waaaaay down. We're talking one step up from jammies, hair in a ponytail (or hat), make-up totally optional. Those that stay home are dressed to return there. Those that work are dressed tastefully for work. We are, after all, a parochial school and there are men and women of the cloth about.

But, as in all situations, there are a choice few who choose to flaunt the norm. They edge right up to the line of modesty and good taste and stand there, proudly, screaming "LOOK AT ME! ME! MEEEEEE!" to the short-n-tshirt clad masses. They talk loudly about how plastered they got this past weekend. The laugh loudly and inappropriately at nothing. They flirt with each other, your husband and the PE coach. They talk about you while you're talking about them. They are the Drama-mamas.

Up until this year, the main object of my amused fascination in the morning was a woman I'll call Sport. The mother of two girls, she has sported just about every trend or fashion that they'd see on MTV or maybe even E!TV. She is clearly dressing to attract attention, to fuel drama and maybe even controversy, a strategy that is clearly working well for her given the cluster of people around her in the mornings. Thigh-high boots? Check. Orangey over-tanned body with mismatched face? Check. Mini-skirt? Check. Full makeup and hair with work out clothes? Check. To her, tight, revealing, flashy and inappropriate are good things. (Granted, she has both the attitude and bod to carry off these things. Who knows? If I looked like her I'd probably show up wearing a bikini and stilletos, carrying a coffee mug filled with vodka.)

This year Sport has some competition for the main Drama-mama at school. A new Mama is in town. We'll call her the Bond Girl. Tall, starved to willowy perfection, sculpted (think knives, not weights), Botoxed and so shiny she looks like a penny. Her large blonde bouffant doesn't move, her make-up never runs, her teeth are impossibly white and large, her heels are so high she needs supplemental oxygen. I don't know where she was the first few weeks of school -- sunning on some gorgeous South Pacific island? couldn't bear to close up the summer place in Cote d'Azur? -- because I just noticed her this week and there's no way I could have overlooked her up 'til now. Naturally she has drawn some of the minor satellites orbiting Sport, but so far there has been no obvious sign of competition other than an ever-so-slight uprise in bouffant height and a slight increase in volume. So far she's stuck to a uniform of high-heels, unbelievably tight designer jeans and either tank tops or shiny wrap tops. Perhaps she had to assess the competition before breaking out the minis? Perhaps her thigh-high boots are out for re-heeling after a busy summer trampling on others? Perhaps she'll trump Sport's wardrobe of skintight sheath dresses and go straight for evening wear?

Luckily, I shall be able to observe and report all of the Drama for you from my nearly-invisible position amongst the other normally dressed moms and dads. I wonder who will up the ante first?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


In keeping with my theme of Upbeat! Cheery! Laid Back! this week, here are the things that I'm grateful for today:

1) That my reliance on PBS as a babysitter has not seem to affected A's mental health or vocabulary development(yet)
2) That my kids are healthy
3) That only two of the five members of my household coat everything with drool (hint: one is the dog)
4) That we currently have two working a/c systems in these hot, horrible, humid Florida months. Even though the electricity bills make me cry.
5) That my children are curious, happy, intelligent and well-mannered, despite the occasional meltdown, hissyfit or screaming match
5) That we can afford to buy food, whether anyone eats it or not. BTW, I will never, ever make casseroles again. M hates them, the kids hate them. I don't care how quikneasy they are. It doesn't save me any time if I have to go make a whole other meal for everyone not eating the damn casserole. My most recent attempt, a chicken spaghetti casserole, featured chicken, pasta and cheese, three usually tolerated -- if not beloved -- ingredients (and this was a Pioneer Woman recipe. Everyone loves PW! What gives?) It was deemed: yucky, crunchy but gooey, too oniony, not good, tenkyoumommyNONONONO, great! and yummy, thanks I'll have seconds. The eaters were: myself, M, sister Debbie, Debbie's Roommate Kari, and the kids. Guess who said what?

Our Parish's sister church is on the little island of La Gonave, Haiti. They are desperately poor, have no electricity and are almost completely dependent on food and supplies brought over from the mainland. Because of the recent string of hurricanes, Haiti itself is being cut off from the world and food is almost non-existent. On La Gonave, they have lost their entire avocado crop and this means almost certain starvation for many. When they can get food, the staple dish on La Gonave is a concoction of rice, beans and oil. At Mass on Sunday, we were encouraged to partake of a similar meal (or fast) on Fridays for the rest of the year and donate the difference in what we would have paid to eat out or have meat or butter or ice cream or whatever to our church's Partners with Haiti ministry. It may be a bit of a hard sell for my family, but I feel led by Gratitude to at least try it this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Say no to the mope

M is out of town on bidness for two days and so last night I got the kids to bed and was getting set to indulge in a What Not to Wear marathon (from my DVR'd collection that I keep in case of emergency or absent hubby) when I stumbled on a 9/11 documentary on the History Channel. It was a series of "man on the street" videos taken by real people and it was very moving. Afterward I vowed that from hereafter, I was going to say NO to the mope. Life is just too short. And although I'm aware that I'm very blessed in many aspects of my life, I am, by nature, fairly impatient and I know I be abrupt in my dealings with the kids, M, house, etc. I also tend to lose my shit pretty easily when people don't respond with as much alacrity as I'd like or when certain children start pushing my buttons. But I'd like to change all that. So. No more moping, pity parties, rolling of eyes, sighing, muttering under my breath, clenching of teeth, barking of orders (esp. for tasks like teeth brushing, but I'll reserve the right when it comes to homework), cynical epithets, clanging of utensils, and other myriad and sundry overt and subtle expressions of my inherent impatience. Instead, we're going to try for laid-back, sunny, cheerful, easy-going, kind and loving.

I do reserve the right to keep a secret stash of chocolate goodies hidden for my own private consumption during moments such as:

1) having to holler up the stairs for the nineteenth time that we're going to be late for school
2) the repeated punching or kicking of siblings
3) the ongoing battle over dividing the living room couch into "his side/her side" (for the kids, not M & I)
4) tuning out petty bickering
5) children who refuse to eat a meal, beg to be excused from the table and then request a snack five minutes later
6) kicking myself for procrastinating driving to Tampa to get necessary forms for upcoming Daisy registration meeting
7) crying jags that last longer than 5 minutes and that invariably end with someone throwing up
8) waking p at 5:30 after being woken up every half hour from 2:00 until 5:00 to: get water, find blankies, talk about bad dreams or fish fallen stuffed animals out from under beds/cribs

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Call to arms

Well, it looks like not everyone used yesterday as a day of peaceful reflection and remembrance.

One of our neighbors told us this morning that yesterday the E.A.A. circulated a nasty, untruthful, catty (haha!) email to the neighborhood association members about us "trapping our neighbor's pet cats!" Totally made us out to be the bad guys. Practically made it sound as if we went onto her property with a net.

Well. You really have to work to get me angry, because it's just not one of my go-to emotions. But, this..person... who accosted my husband, yelled at him, lied to him, gave a false name to the Animal Control Officer (because she herself harbors several feral cats), lied about where she works, and then DARES to accuse us unjustly in a public forum. Well, my first rebuttal email was not worthy of my education or upbringing. Instead M & I will bring our full intellectual powers to bear on the matter and craft an exquisite, pointed rejoiner informing one and all of our stance, reminding everyone of the law in our area (hubby is not an attorney for nothing!) and challenging others who are also disgusted by the cat problem here to rise up and do something about it. I am not afraid to use my real name (except on this blog).

I gather all peaceful solutions to the problem are not going to work. May I remind the EAA, my neighbor and all their feral-cat-loving friends, that we have twice talked the county out of fining her cat-feeding ass and that we have talked and talked and talked about this problem with them and NO ONE has done anything about it. Except us.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Bless America*

Where were you seven years ago?

M & I were actually flying. To San Francisco. We got stopped in Dallas, TX. We landed just after the second plane hit and I remember no one from the flight crew said a word as we got off the plane. They just asked us to check at the information desks. Not knowing anything had happened, I didn't notice if they looked upset or worried or confused. But the airport was a different story - all the TV monitors were tuned to those horrible images from NY and people everywhere were talking and trying to get the story straight (no one knew about the Pentagon or United 93 yet.) M & I immediately called our parents to let them know we were OK and that we'd call them from San Francisco when we got there (ha!) We watched our world change completely sitting in an airport TGIFridays. When the towers fell I cried and cried as did most of the people around us. Thank God I was there with M and we were not traveling alone, as we so often did back in the those busy, two-career, pre-kid days.

Because the company I worked for had offices in the WTC, I called some of my co-workers to see if they had heard if people had been able to get out and I cried some more when I realized that some hadn't.

We were in Dallas for a week. The sense of community was incredible. Everywhere we went people wanted to talk about what had just happened to us as a country and what was going to happen next and who exactly was this Osama bin Laden guy and what the heck is Al Qaeda?! It was a total crash course - one that was probably overdue - on Middle East affairs, Islam and terrorism. I still remember how eerie is was to not see any planes flying at all that week. On Friday, Delta was finally able to send us back to Florida. The Dallas airport was filled with quietly nervous passengers - everyone eyeing up their fellow travelers - and battalions of heavily armed men. They must have been military, but I just remember the huge guns. The flight was almost completely silent - there was no drink or snack and the flight attendants didn't even walk around. You could feel the tension. A man right across the aisle from us looked ready to spring into action; you could tell he wasn't going anywhere without a fight.

Delta got us into West Palm Beach (I forget why Tampa wasn't an option) and we rented a car to drive back to St. Petersburg. We stopped at my parents' in Naples first and it was such a relief to see my family. I'm so grateful for each day we have together.

This morning at the morning opening at D's school (we call it Flag for short), the administration had a beautiful ceremony - the kids sang God Bless America, we all said the Pledge of Allegiance, we prayed the Hail Mary, and then Taps was played as the Flag was lowered to half-staff. We are blessed to be able to send D to a school where these liberties are not taken for granted and where we are raising a generation of responsible, aware and committed children who will not be afraid to continue to stand up for the principles and beliefs on which this country was founded and who will grow up to lead and protect future generations.

*I originally titled this post "A moment of silence." I like this title better.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tuesday dilemmas

1) A rejected the Big Boy Bed in no uncertain terms. Even though it's a toddler bed, so we used the same mattress, sheets, blankets, stuffed friends etc. that he had in the crib. Even though he spent the afternoon bouncing on it, crawling on it, showing D how he could climb up. Even though he said he'd sleep there. Even though we did the exact same routine bedtime that we've done since he was born: bath, stories, prayers, lullaby. When we went to tuck him in, he climbed right back out and said "Me no sleep Big Boy Bed. Sleep me crib." And he hasn't tried to climb out at all. Although the Big Boy Bed frame is still in the corner of his room. I'm sure he'll tell us when he's ready.

2) I'm finally on the last of the hundreds of Swiffer WetJet supplies (pads, cleaner) I bought last December when we realized how dirty the previous owners left the house. The problem ended up being so bad that Swiffer couldn't handle it and it was only after months of careful hand cleaning, mopping, etc. with real mops and cleansers that our wonderful house cleaner was able to finally get our 3000 sq ft of beautiful pine floors clean. But now I'm back to cleaning myself, which means that I use a vacuum/Swiffer combo most of the time and save the heavy artillery for once-a-month in depth cleaning. (NOTE TO PREVIOUS OWNERS: That is how you keep your floors clean!) So. My dilemma? I really don't think Swiffers work that well on wood floors, not to mention ancient linoleum kitchen floors. But the real mop/bucket thing is so time consuming and a lot of my time is already consumed. Do I stick with the routine and restock my Swiffer stuff? Does anyone have a better solution? Helloooooo out there....

3) The nightly homework thing is kicking my ass. I didn't realize that in first grade they'd have nightly homework (usually a reading, writing and math sheet). I think it's great from an academic POV, but from a mom POV, it is HARD. Most likely this is a temporary gripe and we'll get used to the routine and I'll think of things for A to do that don't involve watching TV while I'm helping D with her work. And I'm still trying to get in a half-hour of reading with each of them before bedtime. If only they read the same books! But A is into Richard Scarry and Russell the Sheep and D is reading Roald Dahl and Ivy & Bean. I'm thinking of moving D's bedtime from 7:30 to 8, but that means she's getting less than 11 hours of sleep.... and she's a kid who really needs her sleep.

4) If the govt. was really interested in economic stimulus, they'd send another round of checks to all the SAHMs out there. I think we bought a bunch of saws or drills with the last one and the rest got saved. I've got some better ideas...

OK. Time to get to the grocery.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The great cat round-up

Update: After sending the two we trapped yesterday to Animal Control and having to listen to Cat Lady's hysterics (not to mention her friend, the Earnest Animal Activist (EAA)) all day, we finally came to an arrangement: they have 10 days from today to round up the strays and take them to whatever shelter or home they can find. (Most likely they'll end up in EAA's "garage" where there are reportedly at least 12 strays living right now.) Anyway, as long as they are off our property. After 10 days, if we still see signs that cats are using our yard as a litter box and/or hairballs on the furniture, then we will immediately resume trapping. Cat Lady started to complain, "What if you trap some of my cats?" To which I replied, "We won't be trapping the ones you feed if you do as you say and get them to shelters." I could tell she didn't like it, but we can't think of another way to get her to stop feeding the strays. OF COURSE when we suggested not feeding them, or adopting them properly and keeping them inside she had a whole list of reasons why that just wasn't possible. Excuses, excuses. Not once were they even willing to listen to how horrible it was for us to smell cat urine every time we walked outside. Or how the backyard is covered in poop. Or how we can't get furniture for the porch because the cats will destroy it. I can't tell you how utterly disgusted I am with the situation. And, in case you don't know me, I LOVE animals. Our whole family does. And I'm sickened by the irresponsibility of others that has forced us to take such drastic action and alienate our neighbors. I'm even more sickened by Cat Lady & EAA's attitude that, somehow, the cats have more rights than we, the property-tax paying homeowners, do.

But, I want this for our front porch and it's not going to happen as long as the cats are around:

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cat people

After nine months of trying to work it out with the Cat Lady next door, we finally put her on warning last month that we were going to start trapping any cats that came into our yard. We got our first two this morning! Woohah! So, she may finally have got the message that we are going to call her bluff and that she better do something about them. Meanwhile, we have high hopes that our yard will no longer be used as a litter box, that we won't find hairballs all over the porch furniture and that they'll stop spraying our landscaping. But at the very least the litter box and hairball thing. We've been reluctant to invest in porch furniture that is going to be crapped on by 15 feral cats.

The nice animal control officer who came to get the beasts (over her tears and complaints, of course) was extremely upset with her, explained the county ordinance, etc. We talked him out of fining her (not that she thanked us) but hopefully she'll take heed from now on. Or not. She's a nutter for sure.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Read this, not that

With my hectic SAHM schedule packed with kids, playdates, school stuff, Jr. League stuff, Daisies, house stuff, etc. I simply don't have time to be in a formal - or even informal - book club. But I read a lot and all kinds of genres, styles, fiction, non-fiction, etc. Although I don't usually read biographies. But, if you ask me, I'm happy to recommend a book that will suit any occasion, mood, theme, interest. Here are a select few favorites from the last few years, in no particular order:

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
Post-Birthday World, Lionel Shriver
In the Woods, Tana French
Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
The Road, Cormac Mccarthy
House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus III
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver*
Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
1000 Splendid Suns, Khaled Hossini
Time Traveler's Wife, Audery Niffeneger
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
Waiting, Ha Jin
Falling Leaves, Adeline Yen Mah
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

And some of my fave authors:
JRR Tolkien - The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
CS Lewis - The Narnia Series**
James Herriot - All of his wonderful books***
David Mitchell - Black Swan Green, Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas
Michael Chabon - Summerland, Final Solution, Yiddish Policeman's Union, et al.
Sandra Gulland - The Josephine series
Ken Follett - Pillars of the Earth, World Without End
Roald Dahl - James & the Giant Peach, Matilda, BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox
JK Rowling - Harry Potter series

And some kids books that you won't mind reading too:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Nutshell Library - Maurice Sendak
Moomintroll books - Tove Jannson
Ivy & Bean series - Anne Barrows (I think - don't have time to confirm)
Little House on the Prairie series
Cricket in Times Square
Frog & Toad, Mouse Tales - Arnold Lobel
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell****
Nancy Drew series

Next on my reading list:
The Likeness, Tana French
Housekeeping, Gilead & Home - Marilynne Robinson
Savage Detectives & 2666 - Roberto Bolano
Downtown Owl, Chuck Klosterman

*Barbara Kingsolver is an acquired taste for me. I prefer this book to her fiction writing.
** The first series of books I ever read, age about 8
*** The second series of books I ever read, age about 9 or 10
**** The first real book I ever read, age about 7

See a favorite? Have a recommendation? Let me know!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Get that chip off your shoulder

I try to keep it positive here at Three's Company because goodness knows there's enough bad news and negativity in the world without little ol' me going on and on about stuff. Want my opinion? Fine! Just ask and I'll give it to you straight. But, once in a great while I'll stumble onto something that I just have to vent an unsolicited opinion on and today that issue is.....

(drum roll).....


An author who's first book, Prep, a semi-sorta-autobiographical novel about a misfit trying to fit into an elite prep school, should have been a hands-down no brainer all-time favorite of mine. Instead I hated it and it's whiny navel-gazing protagonist who purposely crapped on every opportunity she had and not for one second tried to get anything out of an educational experience that she pursued all on her own. And worse, the writing was self-important, juvenile and BORING. (Did you read the book? Did you hate it too?)

Well, Ms. Sittenfeld, who I'm sure is a very nice person in her own right, has now decided she's qualified to write this:

Though I have not and will not be reading this, from the reviews I gather it is a thinly-veiled attack on (or parody of) Laura Bush, who I doubt has ever heard of Curtis Sittenfeld before this. I think it is tacky in the extreme and a (very poor) example of the not-so-thinly-veiled agenda of many in the media and the arts who are hell-bent on attacking anyone and anything with values, ethics or principles that don't necessarily match up with theirs.

Ok. So what I'm trying to say is don't buy this book. There are many great, wonderful, thrilling, uplifting, engrossing books out there. I'll post a list of them tomorrow. This will not be one of them.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

We do our own stunts

M told me this morning that he could do this so I was waiting with the camera when he woke up from his "nap." We may try moving to the big boy bed this weekend, but A doesn't take to change well, so we might have to move slow. I guess he's growing up.