Me, Myself & Baby I

Out of the mouths of babes

Archive for the category “Books”

Have Your Canine Make a Spectacle by Wearing Spectacles


WANTED:  Dogs with cat eyes, tortoise shell or wire-rim glasses.  In celebration of Barney Saltzberg’s latest book, Arlo Needs Glasses, share a funny photo of your dog wearing glasses for a chance to win a signed copy of this delightful book.

Post the pic on Pinterest from now until July 31 with the hashtag #ArloNeedsGlasses. Then follow Workman Publishing’s board: www.pinterest.com/workmanpub.  The five photos with the most likes and re-pins will win.

Arlo is a shaggy, free-spirited dog who loves to play catch until one day he is no longer able to see the ball because he needs glasses.  One out of five school-age children need eyeglasses.  Going from two eyes to four becomes a rich adventure for Arlo.  Every child who wears glasses will know just how Arlo feels. And every parent will want that child to know that glasses are cool and fun and enable us to do the things we want to do.

Barney Saltzberg is the author of more than 30 books for children, including Beautiful Oops!, Good Egg and the bestselling Touch and Feel Kisses series, with over 800,000 copies in print. Additionally, he’s recorded four albums of songs for children. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two dogs, and a pond full of fish.

My son and I really enjoy reading this bright, colorful and fun interactive pop-up book.  We tried on the three pair of glasses included in the book and decided that Arlo looks best in the superhero pair.  We also had fun reading the eye chart and looking through a phoropter (the big machine optometrists use).

Can’t wait to see how cute all your dogs look with four eyes!  Good luck!

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The Mama’s Boy Myth

Yes, my son is what society would refer to as a “Mama’s Boy.”  He’s only 2.5 years old and I am a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) so he’s with me practically 24/7….even when I go to the bathroom.  If he could climb back inside of me, I swear he would.  But I wouldn’t change a thing about our relationship.  And after reading The Mama’s Boy Myth by Kate Stone Lombardi, I feel like I don’t have to.

Oh Freud would have a field day with this.  Yes, she covers the Oedipus/Electra Complex in Chapter 2.  She also discusses “car talk” in Chapter 5.

“For at least a century, the common wisdom about mothers and sons has been something like this:  a mother who stays emotionally close to her son after he reaches, say, the tender age of five, is acting inappropriately.  She’s that smothering mother destined to prevent her boy from growing up to be a strong, independent man.  The mother is needy and controlling and refuses to cut the apron strings.  She is on track to create the archetypal ‘mama’s boy,’ an unappealing wimp who will never be able to form a mature adult relationship with women.”  (page 15)

I found this point to be extremely interesting:  “A ‘mama’s boy’ might be a reviled creature, but everyone looks tolerantly on ‘daddy’s little girl.'”  She has been singled out for an elevated status.”  (page 19)

“Look, mothers through the ages have wanted the same things for their sons-we want to protect them and we want them to be ready to face the world.  But the world our sons are entering is a very different place from the one their fathers and grandfathers navigated.”  (page 27)

“Our mothers’ and grandmothers’ generations might have idealized a man who was the ‘strong silent type,’ but today that guy is no longer considered a desirable catch.  Stoic and restrained men are seen as frustrating and irritating precisely because they are so uncommunicative.  It can be difficult to create emotional intimacy with them.  We don’t want our sons to retreat behind a similar wall of silence.  And just because they are sometimes difficult to reach and reluctant to talk doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to connect with our sons.”  (page 149)

“Yet being the mother of a son requires a balancing act.  We do want to support our boys’ emotional growth and develop their sensitive side, but rejecting some of the worst elements of the boy culture doesn’t mean throwing out all of it.  We do not want to isolate our sons from their peers or set them up for torment.”  (page 167)

Since I minored in sociology (human sexuality and gender studies to be exact), reading this book made me feel like I was back in college.  Admittedly, reading this book for pleasure for insight on raising my son, I did find parts of it very dense and textbook like and I did skip over certain paragraphs and pages.

I wonder what kind of relationship I will have with my son when he is older, the type of man he will grow up to be and how he will describe me.  I think it’s usually true that the way a guy treats his mother is very indicative of how he will treat his girlfriends and ultimately his wife.

ME and MY Little Man (“Baby I”)

A (Parent’s) Night Worth Getting a Sitter For

I didn’t read many baby manual type books when I was pregnant and a new mom.  A pediatrician told a friend, “You may read all the books BUT your baby has not.”  When it comes to children, you will quickly discovered that nothing is ever really “textbook.”  The one book and video we did pay attention to is The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp.  I credit our listening to his advice regarding swaddling to why Baby I was sleeping through the night at only 6 weeks old.  For that, I will be forever indebted to Dr. Karp.

I was excited to learn about this Parent’s Night Out:  The Happiest Baby on the Block with Dr. Karp happening at various movie theaters nationwide on Friday, June 21, 2012.  I think it’s the perfect date night where new parents don’t even have to feel guilty about getting some much needed ME time.  The invaluable tips you will receive will be worth the price of ticket admission, not to mention the baby-sitter’s fee.

THEATERS:  Click here for a list of participating theaters.

TICKETING:  Tickets on sale now! Click here and enter your zip code to purchase tickets for this event. Limited seats available.

More specifics provided below:

 Happiest Baby on the Block, BabyCenter and NCM Fathom are excited to bring America’s top pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp, and his revolutionary parenting techniques to movie theaters nationwide in a Live One Night Event on Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 PM (local time) in Parents Night Out with The Happiest Baby and The Happiest Toddler Starring Dr. Harvey Karp.

This LIVE theatrical event will be hosted by Ali Landry, actress, entrepreneur (founder of Spokesmoms.com) and mom of two. Ali and Dr. Karp will bring to life Dr. Karp’s best-selling parenting guides – The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block. And, that’s not all! Dr. Karp will share many surprising new solutions to #1 complaint new parents have – exhaustion – from his highly-anticipated new book The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep (which was just released on June 12th).
Weaving modern science and ancient wisdom, Dr. Harvey Karp reveals stunningly simple, super-effective tips to help new families get the rest they need …and raise happy, patient, cooperative children. Woven with live demonstrations, footage of techniques in action and a hot-topic Parenting Q&A, the event is sure to make thousands of parents the Happiest Family on their Block!
Parents Night Out with The Happiest Baby and The Happiest Toddler Starring Dr. Harvey Karp on Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 PM (local time) is an extraordinary opportunity to learn the parenting tips and tricks and wise insights that have helped guide millions of parents, from regular moms to superstars like Madonna! Join thousands of parents nationwide in movie theaters for this exclusive, one night event!

My Reality: Just Being Me

I am “back to reality” after taking the red-eye home from a fabulous quick weekend trip to California.

Truthfully, I debated if I should bother reading – especially spending money buying- My Reality but I had a cross-country flight and nothing on my must-read now list.  It’s kinda tha same as, “Should I even bother watching another season of this ridiculous reality series?”

Melissa Rycroft is a lucky lady who studied finance and ended up with a super exciting career in in television.  As she illustrates in her biography, sometimes it pays off to be yourself.

“I think the most important thing I’ve learned from all of this, which I will take with me into whatever I do next – whether it’s in the entertainment world or not – is the importance of being brave enough to take chances and try new things…..Why not?  The worst that can happen is that it won’t work out.”  (page 235)

Melissa never badmouths Jason Mesnick and/or Molly.  I am surprised she would ever get involved with a Jewish guy given how important her Christian faith is to her.

Melissa is definitely not a Bachelor statistic.  She’s sweet and genuine and likeable.  The cameras like her.  Friends like her.  Fans like her.  Producers like her.  She does recognize that she offered “the perfect combustible material for good TV.”  (page 144)

She explains, “The longer I was outside of the ‘Bachelor Bubble,’ the easier it was for me to get some perspective.  I really think that all of the qualities that made my girlfriends decide to sign me up for The Bachelor – my vulnerability, my low self-esteem, my desperation to be in a serious relationship-were exactly what made me so susceptible to the ‘Bachelor Bubble’.”  (page 154)

It took Melissa going on The Bachelor to get her boyfriend Tye to give up his infamous bachelor life, including his bachelor pad, and finally commit to her.

“The bad times I went through definitely make me appreciate the good times now.”  (page 236)

I read the entire book front to back (240 pages) in less than 2.5 hours on the plane.  Anyone who has ever flirted with appearing on reality TV should read this book.  I do wish Melissa talked more about filming during her season as a contestant on the Bachelor (especially details about what really happens in the fantasy suite) but contractually she probably is not allowed to.

She does say, “…reality TV has this way of airing what it wants you to believe.”  (page 229)  “We went on three dates on the show.  We didn’t know each other well enough to know if we were in love or even compatible enough to get married.  (page 226)  “…Jason never really had a chance to steal my heart-because it belonged to someone else at the time.”  (page 227)

I am truly happy for Melissa’s successes both on and off-camera.  I have last Sunday night’s one hour finale of Melissa and Tye (CMT) on DVR but I am already curious when season 2 starts.

Author Sarah Pekkanen Gives a Behind-the-Scenes of Her Book Trailer & Highlights The Power of Women’s Friendships

When I implemented weekly Wednesday guest blog posts, never in a million years did I ever expect an internationally bestselling author who I’ve read and admire would happily contribute a personally written post for MY blog.  And I might add that we made the arrangements directly through Facebook, not through her publicist, agent or manager.  (There’s a story right there about how social media has changed all types of relationships and makes them more personal and profound)

I must say that Sarah Pekkanen is so in touch with her fans.  Not only does she have a Facebook page where she interacts with her readers, but she offered personalized book plates before the release of her most recent book These Girls.

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, and These Girls. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY, among other publications. She lives with her husband and three sons (Jack, Will and Dylan) in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

For my first two novels, I hired professionals to create book trailers – and I was thrilled with the results. I loved the idea of using mini-movies to help spread the word about my books, and I heard from readers that they enjoyed viewing them as well.

But as my publication date for THESE GIRLS approached, I decided against filming another trailer for a variety of reasons – mostly because I wanted to try something different to gauge its effectiveness in attracting new readers.

Right after making that decision, I stopped by a cocktail party thrown by my hometown’s magazine and began chatting with the young videographer who creates content for the magazine’s website. Book trailers were on my mind, so I brought them up, and told her about ones I’d seen that I particularly liked (I’m talking to you, Julie Klam!) Then something strange happened; a fully formed idea for a book trailer lit up my mind.

“Do you remember at the end of the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ when all the married couples talked about how they met?” I asked the videographer.

“Sure,”she said.

“My new book centers around three women who end up sharing an apartment in New York City, and become best friends,” I said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to find real-life best friends and interview them about how they met? And model a book trailer after those ‘When Harry Met Sally’ outtakes?”

“Yes!”she said. “And I can help.”

A few weeks later, I’d located more than a dozen sets of best friends – pairs of women as old as 93, and girls as young as 10 – who shared incredible bonds. I drove around town in my minivan with Emma the videographer riding shotgun, and we knocked on the doors of these women, who welcomed us into their homes and opened up their hearts. Some friends wiped away tears as they talked about the tough times they’d helped each another through (divorce, death of a parent, bankruptcy); others pairs of pals couldn’t stop laughing. They interrupted one another to fill in missing details, finished each other’s stories, and filled up their wine glasses and toasted to all of the adventures they’d shared. More than once, I had to pause before asking my next question because I was wiping away tears of my own.

The experience was incredible, and left me with a new appreciation for the power of women’s friendships. We shot hours and hours of raw footage and turned it into a 3-minute trailer for THESE GIRLS.

I’ve also asked the videographer for one final thing: to create a DVD for each of the women we interviewed that includes both the finished trailer as well as their full interview. I’m also planning to give all of these best friends bottles of wine to open while they watch their personalized DVDs. I’m hoping they’ll raise their glasses and toast to all of the adventures their futures hold.

Thanks again, Sarah!  You’ve raised the bar high for future guest bloggers.

Missing Maurice…

On May 8, 2012, when Stacey Quaranta Ta posted the following on Facebook, I instantly knew I needed her to write a guest blog in memory of Maurice Sendak:

“Another one gone who had a huge impact on my life, both as a child and an adult.  And now, let the wild rumpus start!”

After attending East Brunswick High School with me, Stacey attended Vassar College.  Stacey is currently the Elementary Math & Science Specialist in the South Brunswick School District and previously taught 4th and 5th grade for 11 years.  Her husband is also an elementary teacher and they live in East Brunswick, NJ with their 2 amazing children – Emily, 8 and Noah, 5.

 

I grew up surrounded by books, to which I am extremely grateful to my parents, particularly my mother, who biologically cannot say no to a child who wants a book.  This curse of hers extends significantly to her grandchildren, and we are quite literally drowning in books in our house. I am not complaining.  One can always purchase another bookshelf.  Or another house…

Adding to the problem is that I also never got rid of a great deal of the books from my own childhood.   Before my children were even born, before I was even married, I had two bookshelves full of picture books for them.  They are one of my favorite things.  It is truly impossible to look at a book from your childhood – one that you spent hours searching and studying – and not be actively transported back to being 5, or 8, or whatever, wherever, whenever that moment was for you.

All I have to do is mention to my children is that “this book was one of my favorites as a kid” and they immediately slip it from my hands and start devouring it.  Sharing a book that you love is always fun, but it is even better when you remember it from your own childhood.  You know exactly what words sound the funniest when you say them out loud; you know exactly which pages have the most intricate and interesting illustrations.  We have all had relationships with children’s books.  Putting them in your children’s hands is like introducing your two best friends to each other.

Like many of us who grew up in the 70’s, I adored Maurice Sendak.  His books and illustrations are many of those that I have shared with my daughter and son.  There are framed Wild Things prints in my son’s room and we have puppets of Max and all of his friends (in large and small versions!)  “Let the Wild Rumpus begin!” was my high school graduation quote.  I imagine that most of us upon hearing of his death earlier this month instantly thought of our own childhoods and the hours we spent with the Wild Things and In the Night Kitchen.  For me, it was Really Rosie.  My mother had bought me the book – which was really the script for the TV special, and it had all of the music in the back.  I’m not sure if I ever actually saw the show – I probably did – but I must have spent a month of my life reading that book over and over if you put it all together. Of course, I couldn’t read music back then, so I made up my own tunes for the songs, and sang them nonstop.  I had pretty much decided that when they would finally make the live Broadway version of Really Rosie, that I would undoubtedly be cast as Rosie.  Just in case, I had it all memorized for when they called.

But the most momentous thing for me when I heard of his death, though, was that I was not only brought back to my childhood – I was also brought back to another significant time of my life – college graduation.  In 1996, when I was graduating from Vassar College, I received one of the best pieces of news of my life – Maurice Sendak was going to be our commencement speaker.  You certainly don’t get to pick your graduation speaker, and if you’re lucky you have at least heard of the person before. Yet in this case, he was one of my idols- someone I had cherished my whole life.  I felt like the luckiest person in the world.  But it got even better…  I graduated with my certification in elementary education, and in a small school like Vassar, that helps you to know the right people in this case.  A cherished friend pulled some strings, and two of my closest friends and my husband (then fiancé) were invited to dinner with Maurice Sendak the night before graduation.

As excited as I was, I was concerned, as well.  As soon as I was old enough to become a bit jaded, I developed a healthy fear of superhero let-down.  This probably stemmed from a story my aunt told me about a disappointing run-in with Captain Kangaroo.   From that point on, I was concerned about the “real” people behind the famous people that I cherished from my childhood. But I must tell you, Maurice Sendak did not disappoint.  He was intensely interesting – both gritty and real, yet charming and poetic.  Somehow he both surprised me, yet was exactly what I expected him to be. Much like his books, Mr. Sendak was not flowery or cute – he was honest.  When we asked questions, he was unashamedly truthful.  It was clear that he had no need to impress, but was down-to-earth, natural, and incredibly likable.

For days before the dinner, I agonized over what I should bring to ask Mr. Sendak to sign for me.  My instant thought was my Really Rosie book, but it was home in New Jersey.  I did have my original Where the Wild Things Are book in my apartment in Poughkeepsie (I was an elementary education major!), but it was in somewhat sad shape after 20 years of love.  And so, I went out and purchased a shiny new edition of Where the Wild Things Are.  During dinner, I told him about my Really Rosie addiction and about how I was still waiting my turn as the star of the Broadway version.  But mostly, I told him about how he was such a significant part of my childhood and how I will never forget those hours I spent with Rosie.  At the end of the night, when he signed my Where the Wild Things Are book, he drew a picture of Rosie above the title.  Mr. Sendak had really listened and remembered.  His little Rosie in that book means the world to me.

The next day was graduation, and Mr. Sendak inspired and energized the class of ’96.  Back in those days, we couldn’t whip out our camera phones, so I unfortunately don’t have the moment recorded, but I remember he urged us to “live deeply” and to steer clear of the shallow paths of life.  I found his ending quote in an old Vassar publication,

“So be our brave new world! Denounce the money-changers and defy the hype, the sleaze, the deadly cynicism that chokes the hope out of all our lives. I invite you to take the plunge. And when the hard work is done, have safe sex and let the wild rumpus begin!”  And there you go.

So, if you haven’t already, read your child your favorite Maurice Sendak book.  Or better yet, dig around on used book sites and find your very favorite childhood books and share them with your kids. Let them know of the magic those books held for you and surely it will do the same for them.

The Ta family favorite book authors from the good ole’ days ‘til now:

Chris Van Allsburg

Mercer Mayer

Eric Carle

Roald Dahl

Arnold Lobel

Margaret Wise Brown

Lillian Hoban

Lois Lowry

E.L. Konigsburg

Katherine Paterson

Richard Scarry

AA Milne

Beverly Cleary

Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff

Enid Blyton

H.A. and Margret Rey

James Marshall

Betty MacDonald

Dear Diary, The Mommy Diaries Is a Must Read

The Mommy Diaries: How I’m Surviving Parenting Without Killing Anyone is a snapshot into the trials and tribulations of author Dallas Louis’ hectic, frenzied daily parenting life.  Dallas is the mother of three kids who all arrived within twenty-six months of each other (and none are twins). Dallas and her family of five have lived through enough moments to share a first-hand account with her readers her tears and fears through laughter, and often times, the act of surviving the early years by sheer, dumb luck!  Surviving multiple ER visits, as well as home renovation projects, all the while still maintaining a relationship with her husband (remember that guy?), Dallas dispenses funny tidbits as well as sage tips and useful life lessons.

I liked Dallas immediately.  She is real.  She is honest.  She is funny.  I’m wondering if she has ever done stand-up comedy because I want to go hear her perform.  She is someone who I would like to be mom friends with.  I think we’d get a long well.  I felt she was describing me when she wrote, “I am a bit of a planner.  I like to have things all laid out and know exactly what my next step will be.”  (page 159)  In addition, we both hate to work-out.  “I don’t get any type of buzz or whatever the deranged folks who actually enjoy that type of torture get.”  (page 164)

In Chapter 1, Dazed & Diapered, Dallas writes, …”I am a firm believer that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.”  (page xiii) 

It’s obvious how much Dallas loves her family.  In her dedication, she says,

“Kids:  I couldn’t have handpicked any better kids, even if I ordered you from a catalog!”

Come on, I mean, how dead-on is Dallas: 

“When you get pregnant with your first baby, you have all these grand visions of how your life is going to be.  You have even stronger visions and convictions about all of the millions of things you are NOT going to do with your child.  You almost keep a running tally of the scores of mistakes that your friends are making with their little spawns in your purse, because you know full well you can do better.  Your child will not act that way in public.  And let’s face it, with a baby in the belly and none to chase at home…life is good.  Hormones make you delusional.  You have the time to obsess over how perfect Junior is going to be when he effortlessly pops out into the world and you are back in your pre-pregnancy jeans in two weeks.  Dream on.

I’m here to tell you the things your friends won’t tell you, and the other books are too scared to.  Your favorite soap opera lies to you…..”  (page 6)

In Chapter 2, she compares Disney World to parenting.  “There are all sorts of things…that will make you laugh, cry and throw-up all at the same time.” (page 34)

She reenacts when she brought her serious boyfriend/future husband/father of her children home to meet her family.  “…..he met most of my extended family…; and the absolute icing on the cake was the crowd of people wanted to know what exactly, his intentions were, and if he did, in fact, plan on marrying me, was he aware that the ring he put on my finger needed to have a rock big enough to equal one carat for every child he expected me to carry for him?”  (page 76)

Three kids and many pets later, Dallas goes on to say,

“Marriage is a constant learning process.  Having a wedding ring placed on your finger is not the end fo the game.  We don’t spike the ball and do our end-zone happy dance.  Marriage is two different people figuring out how to live together in the same house without killing each other, or the kids.”  (page 162)

In this Chapter about home renovations (The Shake Weight, Lipliner & a Paint Can), Dallas explains, “Having babies and raising kids will wear you out.  As moms, we, too, achieve that tired look and the worn-out feel.  As parents (mothers), we have high-volume traffic areas, just like our carpets.” (page 172)

“Being married with children really is about the same as living in a house that you are remodeling.  It’s loud.  It’s messy at times.  And there is constantly something that needs your attention.  Family life is the exact same thing.”  (page 175)

We are delighted to be giving away a copy of The Mommy Diaries: How I’m Surviving Parenting Without Killing Anyone to one lucky reader! Here’s what you’ve got to do to enter:

  1. Be a U.S. resident and 18 years of age or older at the time of entry.
  2. Follow this blog (hopefully you are already doing so)
  3. Leave a comment on this post telling us why you want to read The Mommy Diaries. Limit one (1) entry per person, one (1) comment per person. Double entries will be disqualified.

You can connect with Dallas on Twitter and Facebook.

50 Shades of Sunday or…Later’s, Baby, I’m 50 Shades Free

It was an emotional weekend for me and one that required some major R&R, TLC and much-needed down time for me with just my boys.  When I wasn’t napping or eating, I was reading.  I had been hesitant to start book 3 because I had become so disenchanted with Christian Grey in 50 Shades Darker (which I keep wanting to call Deeper).  I am thrilled to report that I am enthralled once again as soon as I began reading 50 Shades Free (in a hospital waiting room, no less, and NOT on an electronic reading device)

Reading other reviews and write-ups, I am sensing that my interest in 50 Shades is different from the majority of women.  (Hey, I always say I am a one-of-a-kind, unique, original!)

I am not reading it for the dominant-submissive lifestyle.  Nor am I reading it for the S&M or erotica.  I am drawn and attracted to Christian Grey.  He is stunningly handsome, sexy, successful, filthy-rich, intriguing, unique…..

I am reading it as a fantasy.  The same way I tuned into All My Children for over 36 years.  It’s a diversion from my normal, everyday life, bonding with other characters I have taken an interest in and can consider my “friends.”

“This is like unwrapping my Christmas present.”  he smiles up at me through his long dark lashes.”  (page 21)

50 Shades is receiving criticism that the trilogy goes against women’s lib/feminism.  But Ana is not submissive and speaks her own mind and is often what Christian would refer to as “disobedient.”

“You’re mad me,” he whispers.

“No shit, Sherlock!”

“How mad?”

“Scale of one to ten, I think I’m at fifty.  Apt, huh?”

“That mad.”  He sounds surprised and impressed at once.

“Yes.  Pushed to violence mad,” I say through gritted teeth.  (page 42)

Only a few pages in, I was already picking up what I am considering to be some ominous foreshadowing:  (Don’t worry, I promise NO SPOILERS)

“...Jose accosts me.  ‘I won’t ask you for another dance.  I think I monopolized too much of your time on the dance floor as it is…I’m happy to see you happy, but I’m serious Ana, I’ll be here for you…If you need me.‘”  (page 13)

Does handcuffs, whips and chains turn you on?

Blume Girl usually doesn’t reveal the unmentionables of their high-profile clients but it seems as though a phenomenon has swept the bedrooms of America and therefore, we just had to share our latest special orders. Does the name Christian Grey do anything for you? Or maybe you get 50 Shades of blushing just from his subtle signature of …

Does it call forth your inner goddess? Don’t worry… we won’t tell.

I am one-third into the final book, and while I want to see the conclusion, I also don’t want my time with Mr. Grey to end.

If you’ve read the full trilogy, which was your favorite and why?  (Just avoid giving any spoilers, please) 

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

I heard plenty of interviews of Don Imus talking to Anna Quindlen while driving in the car together with my Dad. Good memories! Although I don’t recall ever actually listening to what they had to say. I was in my early twenties, so who could blame me? (Anna wouldn’t and you’ll understand after you read Part I’s “The Laboratory of Life” which made me teary-eyed) Now I understand full well what makes a Pulitzer prize author.

Unfortunately, Mom duty called and I was not able to attend the Anna Quindlen book event at Talbot’s on Tuesday, April 24th that was hosted by the fabulous Liz Gumbinner, editor of Cool Mom Picks.

“One of my literary heroes has always been Anna Quindlen. She’s not only an amazing columnist, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, hard-working mom, and now incredible author, she’s an all-around very cool, very inspiring woman,” said Liz.

Booked by Harriet described the event as “a lovely evening of shopping, champagne, cupcakes and LOTS OF CANDLES.”

Through my connections, I was able to arrange to get my hands on an autographed copy of Anna’s latest.

This book which has been beautifully described as “a warm, humorous take on motherhood, marriage, girlfriends, our bodies,” is a welcome break from ME continuing to read the 50 Shades trilogy. Apparently, attendees were asking Anna her opinion of the 50 Shades sensation. I so wish I was there to hear her response.

As a 34-year-old mom with two sons, her readers would respond, “You are writing my life.” I am envious that she was “fridgeworthy.” How I dream of hearing that about my writing. Her prose is so vivid and filled with such beautiful imagery:

“…You dream yourself a life out of bits of fantasy and imaginings, like cotton candy, pink and mostly airy.” (page 17)

The ending of the introduction is so powerful. “The fridge looks different now. The college calendar, the kids’ buisness cards, the number fo my Dad’s cardiologist, the invitation to the bridal shower for the daughter of a friend….What comes next? Who knows? it’s a long story, the story of our lives-the friends, the families, the men, the jobs, the mistakes we made and the ones we avoided, the tedium, the drama. Somethings I took a long time to figure out, and others I’ll never understand. All I can say for sure is that I want more.” (page xiii)

Other lines that struck a chord with me:
•”When I first married, I expected my husband to be all things: sex object, professional sounding board, partner in parenting, constant companion…” (pages 19)….”We’re two strong-minded people who have divergent talents and habits….He’s not the least bit interested in celebrity gossip; it’s a really bad habit and I’m sticking with it. He balances his checkbook…”(page 20)

•Sometimes I tell my children —well, frequently, I tell my children — that the single most important decision they will make is not where you live, or what you do for a living, it’s who they will marry.” (page 25)

•”…The thing about old friends is not that they love you but they know you. They remember the disastrous New Year’s Eve when you mixed White Russians and champagne, and how you wore that red maternity dress until everyone was sick of seeing the blaze of it in the office, and the uncomfortable couch in your first apartment, and the smoky stove in your beach rental. They look at you and don’t really think you look older, because they’ve grown old along with you, and like the faded paint in a beloved room, they are used to the look….” (page 162)

•Scarlett O’Hara had a seventeen-inch waist, but she couldn’t eat anything at the barbeque, and at the end fo the book, she’s alone. What’s so great about that?” (page 97)

One of my favorite chapters is “Push.” It’s about motherhood.

•”We live in a perfection society now, and nowhere has that become more powerful – and more pernicious-than in the phenomenon of manic motherhood. What the childcare guru D.W. Winnicott once called “the ordinary devoted mother” is no longer enough. Instead there is the overscheduled mom who bounces from soccer field to school fair to music lessons until she falls into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, her life somewhere between the Stations of the Cross and a decathlon.” (page 113)

I could go on and on and recite more and more quotes. But I must stop myself. Get a copy of the book and let it speak to you the way it did to me.

Grey Is Starting to Remind Me a lot Like Chip

Book two starts, “I have survived Day Three Post Christian.”

My faithful blog readers don’t need ME to explain my fling with Christian Grey. (See several past blog entries under “books” category)

I devoured 50 Shades of Grey or more specifically getting to know Christian Grey. Yet, I did breathe a small sigh of relief and wasn’t devastated when I came to the end of book one. Of course there was no doubt I would be continuing the trilogy (which I had preordered on Amazon before I started book #1) but I did welcome a short break.

As of April 17th, there were more reprints of E. L. James’ trilogy and now the three books are easily accessible on all bookshelves.

Picking up Fifty Shades Darker made me think back to a Hallmark card one of my best friends (you should know who you are) sent me in college which I liked so much that I framed it and proudly displayed it in my dorm room. Unfortunately, I no longer have the image of the card, but I was able to track down the wording to “He Was Only a Chocolate Chip Cookie, But I Loved Him.” You can read it at http://www.dwlz.com/Humor/comic2.html

Like a lot of women, I am really into the whole chase and admit I usually want what I can’t have. This had a lot to do with my initial appeal to Christian. But now that everyone can have him and he’s not in such hot demand, he’s kinda cooled off a bit in my eyes. (Sorry but I’m being totally honest) As I commented to the friend who lent me her copy of 50 Shades of Grey last month, “It loses some of the allure/attraction now that the books are so readily attainable everywhere.” She completely agreed.

Like Anastasia, I didn’t want to be sucked back in and was trying to remain strong and in control without him.

“Torturous memories flash through my mind-the gliding, holding hands, kissing, the bathtub, his gentleness, his humor, and his dark, brooding, sexy stare. I miss him. It’s been five days, five days of agony that has felt like an eternity.”

Less than 100 pages into Fifty Shades Darker, I am getting turned off by Christian. His once charismatic, charming take-charge attitude is becoming quite annoying, unattractive, controlling and possessive. Maybe it’s because Anastasia feels this way as well.

I glower at him, my blood boiling, Mr. Damned Control Freak. Angry is good. Angry is better than tearful.” (page 25)

“What a difference a day can make…..It’s the Christian Grey effect. A little email sparring with him will do that to a girl.” (page 52)

I’m questioning how I’m going to get through another 300+ pages of this book and then read the last 575 pages (Freed) Maybe E. L. James should have quit while she was ahead. Why did it have to be a trilogy? I’d rather it have ended on a high note (although I didn’t particularly care for the ending of book 1) I reaffirm that this trilogy is like a soap opera with its ups and downs.

Page 99: “What am I going to do? I am so angry, but I’m not even sure what I am angry about – there’s so much.” (See mental list)

“Realization dawns. Something’s changed. What could that be?”

The cliche, “There’s a fine line between love and hate” is so true.

I keep reading…..

“Why, of why, have I fallen for someone who is plain crazy – beautiful, sexy as f-ck, richer than Croesus, and crazy with a capital K?” (page 104)

“I am not going to let you dazzle me with your sexpertise.” (page 107)

“You have no reason to be jealous, Christian. You own my body and soul.” (page 232)

My issues/annoyance with 50 Shades Darker is that they have only known each other a total of 5 weeks. Talk about rushing into something, getting swept away and caught up in the newness and excitement. The handwriting is on the wall that they are going to crash and burn, especially with such passionate, head-strong, desirable, captivating and challenging personalities.

Another disappointment I have with book 2 is that there is very few email exchanges (which was my sister’s favorite part of Fifty Shades of Grey)

As a side note, I find it very fitting that each time I try to type “fifty,” “filthy” appears on my screen. Subliminal maybe? Also, is it purely coincidence that the first time they are intimate again in Fifty Shades Darker is on page 69?

As the first dance song at the Masquerade balls plays, “I Got You Under My Skin.” (page 155)

Without providing any spoilers or giving anything away to those who haven’t read it yet, their relationship is different in Darker. In fact, Grey even gets Anastasia a different set of wheels – one that none of the other subs were given.

This post seems like a very appropriate time to mention that National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day is happening on Tuesday, May 15th. I will be devouring these as I tune in to my segment on Nate Berkus at 3PM (after all I don’t have to put on my wedding dress again now!) I will also be reviewing Sweet Loren’s all-natural, ready-to-bake cookie dough as National Cookie Dough gets closer (provided that I finally get my hands on the samples Lauren has been promising me since last Holiday season)

Lauren and I both love a sweet ending! Will we get that with Fifty Shades Freed?

“With all the f-cked-up stuff, I am losing sight of his simple, honest journey with me.” (page 188)

Sooner rather than laters, baby©.

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