Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday Things

1) So our kids are getting to the age where the attitudes are out of control and, with the boys, there is SO MUCH testosterone in the house and sometimes I get a little crazy with it all.  You know what's great about their ages though?  We can leave them alone.  One of us not need be with them at all times, especially with the Boy Child so close to the teenage years.  Mark had a friend in town Saturday afternoon and we tossed around the idea of taking all the kids out to lunch with said friend.  I told him, "You know what?  I was babysitting at 12.  Let's leave the Boy in charge."  And we did.  And - even better than "the old days" when I was babysitting at 12 - there was a phone in order to call or text us if the need arose.  (I mean, there was always a phone when I was babysitting but in the 90's, it was way harder to call the parent of a kid I was babysitting due to the lack of said parent having a cell.  You get the picture.)  So, we went out to lunch Saturday afternoon, left the Boy in charge, and everything actually went really great.  Really great.  I kinda love having older kiddos!

2) Lunch Saturday.  Mark's friend Ryan used to live in Memphis, worked with him for a bit before transferring to Chicago.  When visiting, he always wants to eat barbecue but had yet to try Germantown Commissary.  We went over there and WOW was the food better than the last time we went!  I now understand why it's routinely listed as top five for best BBQ in Memphis.  Also, we tried the pig sticks and, oh my goodness, you should come to Memphis, Tennessee, just to try these little morsels of Heaven.  They're DEEP FRIED sweet potato fries that are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and you will hear angels sing when you try them. 

3) My boys are playing tackle football for the first time this year and this means they need helmets.  Do you want to know how much youth football helmets cost?  Spoiler alert: you do not.  I about died in Dick's the other day, died of sticker shock.  And both my boys have long oval heads so helmets don't really fit them correctly.  Sigh.  We only bought one helmet Sunday and I'm honestly hoping their dad will buy the other helmet this weekend.  So pricy! 

4) It has been HOT here.  Correction: it has been HUMID here.  Temps in the 90's but air quality warnings all around because the heat indices are out of control.  Like, it'll be 95 degrees but feel like 115, that type of thing.  Seriously, too hot to do much of anything.  Our pool is currently 90 degrees which *I* love but everyone else wanted to put the water hose in to cool it off.  Whatever.

5) When the Girl Child went to Chicago last month, we gave her some spending money.  One of this child's best qualities is that she will readily spend her own money to make other people happy and that means she came back home with gifts for every other kid in the house.  For K2, it was a mermaid tail blanket. I  love it.  So cute!

6) I took the boys to the National Civil Rights Museum yesterday (more about that in a few days) and while we were there the girls did this . . .

A "little brushes" painting class at Pinot's Palette!  They loved it, of course, and I thought their paintings turned out SO cute.

7) I didn't realize 90 Day Fiance is back (or, rather, the Happily Ever After!)  Wahhhh!  Luckily, my DVR has been recording but I won't be able to catch up until the kids go back to school (JUST OVER A WEEK NOW!)  I've been catching up via the Previously forums though.  Ahhh, love me a good shitshow that's not my shitshow. 

8) Next week is the last week of summer before the kids start school.  First, how is that even possible?!?  This summer FLEW by.  Second, we will have Mark's mom in town for the week and then some friends at the end of the week.  It's going to be busy (and fun!) And, finally, all three boys have football all week long.  The Boy Child in the mornings and J and K1 in the evenings.  We're going to be football'd out.

9) I guess this is old news to some but apparently Coke Zero is being phased out and replaced by something called Coke Zero Sugar.  WHAT THE ACTUAL F-WORD?!?  Can Coke please learn to leave good things alone?  Please.  You would think they'd have learned their lesson back in 1985 with New Coke.  Jeez.
10) Pretty much.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Reading List: Hannah, Donoghue, Hilderbrand

Three books this week!  That means the summer is dwindling down and the kids are tired of me and, therefore, leaving me alone.

Last month, I read Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah and loved it so much that I knew I had to order its companion, Fly Away.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on it!

I can't give much of a synopsis of Fly Away without giving away the ending of Firefly Lane but it picks up both where Lane left off and four years in the future.  I enjoyed catching up with the characters from Lane but also felt a little . . . somethin'.  Little somethin' like I wanted more.  Mark asked me at one point, "how do you like your book?" and I had to tell him "like it, buuuuut . . . " The thing is, it was WAY repetitive.  It was meant to be a stand alone novel as opposed to a companion to Firefly Lane.  Yet, it should've just been the companion.

I really enjoyed getting the backstory to Cloud/ Dorothy/ Tully's mom and THAT - to me - is what made the book worth reading.  The rest was just fodder, what you plod through to get to the most interesting part of the book.  I gave the novel three stars on Goodreads but, honestly, that rating was mostly because I was grateful for a chance to catch up with the characters.  If I hadn't read Firefly Lane first, I doubt I would've made it through Fly Away and would've chalked Kristin Hannah as a "meh" author.

Next up was Room by Emma Donoghue.

Room is written with five-year-old Jack as the narrator.  He was born in Room with his Ma and knows nothing of the outside world; everything he sees on TV is just that . . . TV or outer space. 

This book was written off the basis of a Jaycee Dugard type of story and it's impossible to write a synopsis without major spoilers.  The premise is actually really amazing: take a horrifying event (kidnap, rap, seclusion) but write about it in the voice of a five-year-old, a five-year-old who doesn't know he's being held captive in the only room he's ever known.  It makes the story - while still horrifying and awful to imagine - slightly more palatable because the details are washed over and simplistic.

I can't say I loved this book, not with the subject matter included, I will say that it was amazing.  Seriously, an amazing book.  My only real irritation is that something major happens in the middle of the book that splits the story into two parts.  And I felt like that "something major" was really implausible and far-fetched.  All in all, I found the book gripping and very much a "can't put it down" thriller.

After Room, I needed something lighter.  Something fluffier.  Something Elin Hilderbrand.  Therefore, it was on to The Blue Bistro.  When I finished The Beach Club a few weeks ago, I remembered there was a mention of Mack Peterson in The Blue Bistro so I immediately went to Thriftbooks and ordered Bistro.  So glad I did; it's such a great book.  Hilderbrand even calls it her favorite of her works and says that 99% of her fans claim it as their favorite.

The Blue Bistro tells the story of Adrienne Dealey, a woman in her 20's possessed with wanderlust and lacking the ability to settle down.  She ends up on Nantucket for the summer with a handwritten list of three rules: make money, don't lie about the past, make good decisions about men.  Even with little to no restaurant experience, she lands a job as the assistant manager of The Blue Bistro, an upscale beachfront dining experience.  There is mystery surrounding Fiona, head chef at the Blue Bistro, and Adrienne finds herself drawn to owner and manager Thatcher Smith, though things are complicated by his lifelong friendship with Fiona. 

So, I really enjoyed this book.  REALY enjoyed it.  It was a re-read for me and all but I seriously read the entire thing within 24 hours.  It's just so good and so easy to soak up.  But.


I didn't like Thatcher or Fiona.  Fiona is uptight and rude, standoffish, we occasionally have glimpses of her being softer, more human.  But, for the most part, she's just thoroughly unlikeable.  It's explained that she's "private" and she also has a health problem she doesn't want disclosed to the public.  But you can be private without being a bitch.  Then there's Thatcher.  Oh Thatcher.  I liked him even less than Fiona!  He's so thoroughly enmeshed with the his neighbor girl from South Bend, Indiana (that'd be Fiona), that he sold his share in the family business to follow her to Nantucket and invest in a restaurant.  He tells Adrienne that he hasn't had a relationship in twelve years and tries to attribute it to his loyalty to Fiona but, really, I wanted him to go on the Dr. Phil show so Dr. Phil could drawl, "does it really haf ta do with Feeowna, Thatcheer?  Or is it dooo to your own mama leavin' win you were such a young boy?

Those unlikeable characters aside, it's such a good book!  I loved the look into the restaurant industry and especially - oh, especially! - the descriptions of the food.  I want to make savory donuts.  And I want to eat seafood fondue at a four-top on the beach.  As with all Hilderbrand novels, this one is a keeper!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


We have officially entered the sleepover stage of parenting (for us) and childhood (for the kids.)  My boys refer to this stage as "epic."  To me, though, it's something more like . . . interesting.

I grew up going to sleepovers.  In fact, I'm pretty sure in eighth and ninth grade, I spent more Friday nights at my friend Sarah's house than at my own.  We stayed up late, we watched Beavis and Butthead (not allowed at my house and we didn't have MTV anyway), and ate squeezy cheese straight from the can.  And, yeah, in my mind those days were way more "epic" than "interesting."

Being on the mom side of the sleepover thing is different though.  There is worry (when they're at someone else's house you just never know.)  The Girl was invited to a sleepover last December and I grilled her at length.  "Does she live with both her parents?  Any older brothers?"  Fortunately, the school we're at now gives a lot of opportunities for parents to connect and interact so we've gotten to know the parents of their school friends -- something that makes the sleepover thing slightly easier.  Sleepovers are also expensive (when you're hosting) and, honestly, a whole lot of fun.

My boys had a sleepover Wednesday night and then their friends stayed all day Thursday.  We had a total of six boys and it was loud and rowdy but you know what?  It really have me the opportunity to get to know their friends.  One boy told me he's coming over every Saturday to watch the Hogs with me.  That'll happen when they're in fourth grade: not sure I'll get that same kind of response when they're 14!  It's just really neat getting to know all their friends and their personalities.

One thing we have to do for sleepovers, though, is find a place for the girls to go (if it's a boy sleepover) and vice versa for a girl sleepover.  Cady was awesome enough to keep the girls at her house last week; I'm not sure how we'll work things as we get older.  But it's pretty necessary to keep them separated when we have two kids the same age and J and the Girl are in the same grade with K1 only a grade behind.  They all know each other's friends and having the boys around during a girl sleepover would be shrieks of "they won't get out of my room!"  And the girls during a boy sleepover would be much of the same.  Sigh.  For that reason, sleepovers at our house won't be happening a whole lot.

But they're still fun when they do.

And kinda epic.