Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Food and Family

I got a little tipsy on wine Saturday night and forgot to set out the ham and soak the black eyed peas for Sunday's dinner. Seeing as we were in desperate need for a run to the grocery store - and the ham and peas were pretty much the essence of the dinner I had planned (i.e. we weren't going to eat just cornbread) - I found myself at the stove Sunday evening slicing and frying up hotdogs. The hotdog sandwich. A food memory from my youth that my own children have only known the pleasure of a time or two.

You probably could care less about how to make a hotdog sandwich. Let's face it: we're a nation of hotdog snobs. Unless it comes from a baseball game, is battered, deep fried, and on a stick, or is grilled on the Fourth of July, those of us over the age of 10 are all "eww, do you know what is IN those?!?" But the hotdog sandwich -- two hotdogs sliced in half length-wise then fried and plopped between two slices of white bread with mustard, ketchup, and American cheese reminds me of my dad more than almost any other food out there. Whenever Dad was in charge of the meal you could bet you were going to get one of three things: the hotdog sandwich, pigs in a blanket and macaroni and cheese, or the thick, juicy burgers he was family-famous for.

I fixed the ham and peas and mashed potatoes and cornbread for dinner Monday night. When it came time to eat, no one cared how much time I'd spent peeling and slicing the potatoes. And no one mentioned that the peas were seasoned to perfection (finally!). Someone did point out that the cornbread was a little undercooked. And K1 had to be bribed to eat the peas and K2 pointed at the ham and proclaimed, "it's yuck. It's gwoss. It's nassy and I not eat it." The moral: all the slaving over a nice meal, a meal of "Sunday dinner" standards, and the hotdog sandwiches of the night before were a bigger hit.

It got me thinking of my own childhood and the food memories. And you know what? Most of my favorite memories are centered around those simpler meals, the hotdog sandwiches of my childhood.

My mom is - and always has been - an amazing cook. Her taco lasagna is the stuff legends are made of and her regular lasagna is out if this world. But my favorite meals as a child? Homemade pizza with a canned biscuit crust. Burritos -- "white people" burritos with ground beef and flour tortillas and ranch style beans -- dipped in cheese dip. And speaking of cheese dip! We loved the nights when my dad, who was diagnosed diabetic when I was a young teen, was working late or out of town and our meal didn't have to be diabetic friendly. Because that meant we were having nachos. And nachos, in those days, were made like this: chips, Wolf brand chili, cheese dip (Velveeta, Rotel, can of cheddar cheese soup, can of nacho cheese soup), Wolf brand chili, more cheese dip, and shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. Maybe brownies and ice cream with dessert.

I remember Sunday afternoons picking up the makings for sandwiches on the way home from church then eating them while reading the paper. And, of course, a simplistic favorite in our house was chili mixed with beef stew. I can't remember which of my parents introduced the other to it but it was a staple in our house growing up and I've never met another family who's ever eaten it.

Even when it comes to my grandparents, my food memories are of the more simple variety. I can remember the absolute euphoria of being 10 years old, running to my Granny's house after school and realizing that "OHMYGAWWWW, y'all, she made sugar cookies!!" The absolute best thing my Granny made -- the one thing I would give anything, anything for my children to be able to taste just one time -- was her biscuits and those were always in her cabinets. I spent countless afternoons on her front porch with my cousins chowing down on biscuits and government cheese and drowning it down with a coke or Dr. Pepper or Sprite or whatever other canned drink she had in her cabinet. (What?  That wasn't a standard after school snack everywhere?!?)

I can't think of my Pawpaw without thinking of the "bologna burgers" he'd pick up from Bowman's store or his nightly bowl of Cornflakes. My Ma, my dad's mom, made the fluffiest, yummiest, yellowest eggs. She always made toast in the toaster oven and I loved the brown ends. I can remember being a very, very young child and requesting she let me eat my tomato soup from a thermos. Her husband, my Papa B, made the most amazing, never duplicated cheese dip. It was his contribution to every family Christmas ever. I haven't spent Christmas with him in more than a decade and sometimes it still doesn't feel right not to have that dip with Frito's.

My MawMaw will still make a dirt cake - and include the gummy worms! - from time to time.


When I was pregnant with J and being a brat and wanting both a brunch baby shower and my favorite potato casserole, even though it was not a brunch food in the least, MawMaw prepared some and brought it for me.  I lived with her and my PawPaw during my senior year of high school and she made me cheese toast for breakfast every morning.

Cheese toast and fluffy scrambled eggs, bologna burgers and dirt cake are not the things gourmet cookbooks - or probably any cookbooks - are made of.  But - cue the corny - they are the things memories are made of.  I can't help but wonder if the more simplistic foods, the times when Daddy is working and we eat pancakes for dinner, are what my kids will remember.  As it is, J will tell you his favorite food (outside of Buffalo Wild Wings, natch) is tatortot casserole.  That's probably the most country folk trash food that a kid can prefer.  (Hey, at least it's not Honey Boo Boo's 'sketti,' mmmkay).

I consider myself a foodie.  I love all kinds of food.  I wouldn't even be able to tell you my very favorite food.  Maybe if you ask me my favorite dessert or favorite Mexican dish or favorite flavor of wings (traditional or boneless?) I'd be able to give you an answer.  I do know this though: the hotdog sandwich and pigs in a blanket aren't even in the top 50 of any list.  Yet they're also the foods - and memories - I cherish from my childhood. 

Funny how that works.

P.S. I read through this after writing it and realized just how country it makes me and my family sound!  Hotdogs and biscuits and government cheese and bologna burgers!  But I love my family, I love the way I grew up, and I appreciate all these not-quite-culinary-masterpiece memories.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

They Really Need a Parental Dress Code and Other Observations from the Mother of a First Timer

I used to work at a school.  Well,  I worked the after school program but I also some times did substitute teaching.  So I obviously didn't know about everything when it came to the inner-workings of the school system but I did know a lot.  Like, for instance, teachers gossip.  A lot.  I'm talking the lounge is like the popular girl's lunch table in the junior high school.  When Ja was getting ready to go to school I was all, "For the love! PLEASE be good.  Be good for your teacher and be good NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE SCHOOL.  Because, dude, the future of all Walker children in this school depends on YOU and how YOU act THIS year.  Even the FIFTH GRADE teachers are watching and they're not going to want you or your brother or your sister in their class if you're a straight up asshole."

Anyway.  This is my first year having a child in school so this is the first time I've really seen, paid attention to, whatever the whole parent angle of it.  And, people.  Lard.

Some observations:

1) When are they going to come up with a dress code for what you can wear to take your kids to school?  I'm not talking about dropping them off where you sit, all nice and cool in the AC of your overpriced, gas-guzzling SUV.  If you stay in the car, then I could care less if you take them to school naked.  Your prerogative.  But these people who walk their kids to school or, at least, get out of the car and walk the kid into the building -- they are the ones I'm talking about.  I've seen more booty shorts in the past three weeks than I ever thought possible.  Which also means I've seen miles of cellulite.  Dimples might be cute on your kindergartener.  The ones on your legs?  Notsocute.  (I feel like I can speak like this because I too have cellulite.  My cellulite has cellulite.  But.  Know what?  I COVER THAT SHIT UP WHEN I TAKE MY KID TO SCHOOL).  If you want to roll out of bed and walk your kid to school in your PJ's then START SLEEPING IN YOGA PANTS. 

At the total other end of the "booty shorts" spectrum are these parents who kind of . . . dress up . . . to take their kids to school.  It's one thing if they're going to work after drop off.  But, some of these, well they aren't wearing those get ups to work unless they're swinging on a pole.  And, in that case, I'm doubtful they'll be invited to career day.  I guess I never realized that elementary school drop off could be considered a meat market which is what some of these parents seem to have in mind.  Welcome to Memphis, y'all.

I never thought I would feel both overdressed AND underdressed by sporting my yoga-pants-and-tank-top uniform.

2) Dads are WAY more involved than they were when I was in school.  Way.  Now, my dad went to many a parent teacher conference and was involved in that way.  But these days dads are doing things like going into a work a little late to see their kids off on their first day of school.  On J's first day of school, there were just five kids in the class when we got there and FOUR dads -- two of them with fancy cameras out to snap pictures of their little ones.  Drop off and pick up is pretty much a 50/50 split between moms and dads.  The kindergarten meeting we went to a couple weeks ago, there were just as many dads there as moms.  I'm not trying to sound like I'm stereotyping dads as being the more hands-off parents.  I'm just saying they are more active than they were when I was in school.  And I think it.is.awesome.

3) Some of these dads are hot.

4) A dad wearing his younger child in a baby carrier while walking older child to school is automatically ten times hotter.  *Fans self*

Okay.  So maybe I didn't have a ton of observations to share.  And maybe I really just wanted to rant about all the booty shorts I've seen the past few weeks.  And maybe I wanted to talk just a little bit about the hottie dads.  But, there you have it, just a few observations about the Elementary School Parent from a brand new Elementary School Parent.  I'm sure there will be many, many, many more to come.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An Open Invitation to Prince Harry

Oh, Harry.

I'm assuming you're not one to appreciate being addressed as "your royal highness" or even "prince" so, with that in mind, I'm just going to call you Harry in this invitation.  Maybe even H-Dub? 

And, just so there's nothing uncomfortable between us, let's go on ahead and get this out of the way.  It's true.  Through my teenage years I was much more Team Wills than Team Harry.  Maybe it was his golden hair or his smile or the fact that he's closer to my age.  I'm not sure.  But, Harry, something happened over the past decade and you, my princely friend, are a Certified Hottie.  You sealed your status when you whispered to your bro during his wedding - ooh, prince Harry looking all studly AND talking when he's not supposed to?  You are a bad, bad prince, Harry.  Yes, you are.  Yes.You.Are.  It's like William got the girl (ball and chain) and the fairytale wedding (what kind of dude even cares about a wedding?) and, oh yeah, the crown (aka a whole lot of headache).  But you Harry - YOU got the title of hottie.  You get to be the bad boy.  And you, ya lucky SOB, have millions of women the world over clamoring for a look at your royal endowment.
Now.  Everyone in the world knows about your recent weekend in Vegas.  And everyone in the world - including, I'm sure, some remote native tribes on the Amazon - has gotten a starred-out peek at the family jewels.  Harry.  Harry, Harry, Harry.  I'm not even upset that you allowed yourself to get naked with a bunch of brazen hussies.  I'm not angry that you didn't stop to think that those (no doubt American) dimwits might, just MIGHT, catch a picture of your junk and sell it for millions.  But I AM ANGRY THAT YOU DID IT WITHOUT ME THERE. 

Unacceptable.  Un.acceptable.

So, this here is your chance to make things right again.

My girlfriends and I will be in Vegas in one month, the last weekend in September. Please consider this your invitation to join. If this were a proper invitation we'd address it "Harry and Guest" but this is the internet. H-Dub, your "and guest" is Ryan Lochte, mmkay? Clothing optional. For you both.

I feel like I should point out to you that we are not 20-something blondes. But, Harry, you have that all.the.time with Chelsea Davy. What you need in your life right now is a group of 30-something brunette moms with c-section scars. We appreciate your youth. We know just how to spank a naughty, naughty boy.  And, bonus, none of us are going to try to get preggers and slap some royal child support payments on you. Buh-leeeeeeve me on that one.

If that alone is not enough reason to convince you to join us, here are just a few more reasons you should accept our Vegas invitation:

1) Forget Wolfgang Puck, celebrity chefs, and all those fancy shmancy restaurants.  You have not eaten in Vegas until you have dominated a buffet with us.  Trust.

2) Did you get tanked on the cheap beer buckets at karaoke and sing Journey in front of a crowd the last time you were in Vegas?  No?  Oh, Harry.

3) I know you have family money coming out of your ears - and all your other orficies - but still.  If you want a plastic guitar filled with 100 ounces of Rum Runner, that shit's on me!

4) According to the interview those bimbos gave to Inside Edition, you requested - and wore! - one of their bachelorette party t-shirts.  DUDE.  H-Dub!  We are the QUEENS (royalty pun totes intended) of fun t-shirts!  We usually reserve them for New Orleans but I'm totally considering having "I Came to get Naked with Harry" shirts printed before this trip.  We'll have one waiting in your size.

Finally - and most importantly - while we can't promise that you won't be getting naked, we can assure you that any pictures taken of the royal scepter (does that as a euphemism for peepee?  Yes, no, maybe?) - and, Harry, you KNOW there WILL be pictures taken - will only be shared amongst our closest whores and not the world at large via TMZ.

See you in September!

Regards,
B-Dub and Whore Island

P.S. I wasn't kidding about Ryan Lochte.  BRING HIM.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Reading List: Big Asses, The Tenth Circle, and a Little Bit of Sweet Valley

Before we begin with the books, I just hafta say one thing:

PRINCE HARRY NAKED?  IN VEGAS?

Harry, Harry, Harry!  While it still sort of pisses me off that you came out the hottie prince (I was totes #teamwills as a teenager back before hashtags were even a thing), you ARE in fact the hottie prince.  And if you're going to be stripping down in Vegas and being an embarrassment to the throne all the while endearing yourselves to everyone else in the world, you could have at least had the decency to strip down next month WHEN I AM THERE. 

Also, this little race you had with Ryan Lochte?  Totally could've waited another month.  Totally.  Seriously, why don't you guys rematch in September then we can all retire to your penthouse and play strip billiards while you charm us all with your accent.  Kthanksbye.
 


Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl's Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who Are These Idiots and Why do They Live Next Door to Me by Jen Lancaster - Okay, people, you know I totally have a girl crush on Ms. Lancaster.  I loved Such a Pretty Fat and Bitter is the New Black.  Loved them.  This one though?  Y'all.  I couldn't even finish it.  Parts of it were funny but most of it was just . . . painful . . . to read.  Like, I feel like she should give me the WEEK I wasted just TRYING to navigate my way through this thing.

Normally, in a book review, I would reserve the second paragraph for telling you a synopsis of the book.  Here's the problem with Big Ass: I have NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS ABOUT.  Presumably, according to the descriptions you see on Amazon and Good Reads, it's supposed to be about Ms. Lancaster's (she's totes Ms. Lancaster and not BFF Jen Jen after this book) life in the city.  Only.  It was just her . . . I don't even know . . . whining and complaining and carrying on and hating everyone.

Lancaster got off on the wrong foot with me in the very first chapter when she describes an interview for a temp job.  Her interviewer was very Texan and kept saying "y'all" when talking to Jen and only to Jenn.  Hi.  I'm from the south.  I have lived in Texas.  I'm 32 years old and have never EVER heard someone use "y'all" in the singular.  It just does not happen.  Nitpicky?  Yes.  But it bugged me.

As I got further in the book . . . oh, this is painful to write.  Not only does Lancaster ADMIT to reading Ann Coulter but she actually admits to wanting to have a sleepover with this horrible woman.  I'm not fickle enough to let something like that be the only reason I quit reading a book.  I "like" Lancaster's Facebook page so I arrrdy done knew she was pretty conservative.  I love a whole lot of conservative people -- I may not agree with their political views but that's okay.  We're still cool.  But when you openly admit - in a book, that gets published, read by thousands! - that you want to have a sleepover with Ann Coulter.  Bitch, please.  We gotta rethink this relationship.  The book as a whole - or at least what I read of it (a little more than half) comes across as so bitchy and snobby that it was impossible to read.  Do yourself a favor and skip this one.


The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult - This book received some pretty horrible reviews on Good Reads.    This was my first ever Jodi Picoult book and I'm thinking, if it received bad reviews, then her other books must be truly bad ass.  On a scale of five, I would give this one a three and a half.  It was dark and depressing and I wanted to stab someone with the way it ended.  But.  It caught and kept my attention.  I wanted to know what happened.  And that alone is the mark of a pretty darn good book.  In my opinion anyway.

The Tenth Circle tells us the story of the Stone family.  Dad Daniel grew up as the only white kid in a native Eskimo village in Alaska.  His rough childhood followed him into adulthood but remained something he kept hidden from his wife and daughter.  His wife, Laura, is a college professor participating in some, shall we say, extra curricular activities with one of her students.  Daughter Trixie is 14, recently dumped by her first love, a cutter, and the book centers around the fact that she was raped at a party.  Yeah.  Not exactly a light little beach read, eh?

I could tick off a whole bunch of problems with the book.  Picoult doesn't delve deeply at all into Laura Stone's affair.  It's almost as if it shouldn't have even been included in the book.  Trixie Stone is very hard to feel sorry for as a victim and, as much as I didn't want to, there were times in the story where I almost sympathized with her rapist (a 16-year-old boy).  And maybe I'm just naive and things have changed a lot - a lot, a lot - in the decades since I was a 14-year-old girl - but the sexuality present in the book just seemed over the top.  I'm sure it's probably naitivite on my part but, as the mother of a baby girl and step mother of a girl not much younger that those in the book, I sincerely hope not.

All in all, this was a decent read.  I hated the ending but the story as a whole kept my attention and definitely made me want to pick up other Picoult novels.

 
The Sweet Life by Francine Pascal - Francine Pascal hates Elizabeth Wakefield.  And maybe Annie Whitman too.  I was always more of a Jessica fan (seriously, could Elizabeth have BEEN more of a goody-goody [I said that in my best Chandl-ah Bing voice]) but even I was totally put off with how old Francine just took a great big shit on Elizabeth's life.
 
The Sweet Life catches up with the Wakefields and an assortment of other Sweet Valley-ins three years after Sweet Valley Confidential.  Jessica and Todd, the parents of a toddler, are on the verge of divorce.  A rape scandal has Bruce Patman's career - and relationship with Elizabeth - in tatters.  Lila and Ken and Steven and Aaron have approximately four chapters each devoted to them in the entire serial -- seemingly to give us a tiny glimpse of what's going on with them but not enough to develop a real storyline.  Oh, and Annie Whitman?  She's still Easy Annie.
 
There's not much to say without giving away the story and, if you're a Sweet Valley fan, then you're not going want me to do that.  It's cheesy.  It's campy.  You'll want to call Francine Pascal all kinds of colorful names once you reach the final chapter.  Pascal has said there won't be a continuation of the story but she definitely leaves room - and a lot of it - for a follow-up.  I'm not sure if I love Pascal for bringing the characters I loved so much back to me or if I hate her for what she did to them. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I will take your Competimommy Lunch Bullcrap and Raise you by one MY KID IS BETTER THAN YOUR KID ANYWAY SO HE CAN EAT CRAP IF HE WANTS TO

I wish I could lie to you all right now and say something like, "I totally had not thought about it until a few minutes ago but, oh em gee!!!!, I have to pack a school lunch this year."  Believe me.  I have thought about the school lunch thing.  Because apparently, y'all, the Art of the Packed Lunch is the latest event in the Competimommy Olympics.  It's all over Pinterest.  And it is ri-expletive-diculous.

I read on a blog the other day - I blog I actually like and don't just read for snark factor! - where the author said something along the lines of, "preparing lunch is one of the most important thingamajigs about getting ready for school."  (Totes paraphrased).  Exsqueeze me very much?  I love food.  Probably more than the average bear.  But I kind of tend to think filling their minds is more important than filling their tummies with butterfly shaped sandwiches and organic beet paste.  (Is beet paste even real?  Cause I totally made it up).

I get it that my generation is a bunch of Fatty McFatFats who inhaled twinkies and lived off of packed lunches that contained my bologna has a first name . . .   But it's like so many people have gotten to the point that they want better for their own children that they - I'm assuming - spend way too much time (not to mention money) on lunch.  LUNCH.  There comes a point where you gotta ask -- is it for the kid?  Or is to look better in the eyes of the fellow competimommies who are, hello, NOT EVEN IN THE CAFETERIA?  Do you really think little Makayla is going to run home and give a full report on what kind of organic crap Tyler was shoveling into his pie hole in the cafeteria?  No.  Because Tyler is going to try to broker a trade for someone else's corndog and Jell-o.

Even though I don't (okay, okay -- try not to) buy into the competimommy bologna, I'm still stressing a little over lunches. For starters, I know my kid is an asshole when he has too much processed foods, a detail it would be nice to keep under wraps from his teacher until at least September. Then you add in the whole fact that you have to pack something that'll keep in the lunchbox. Oh, and he's in kindergarten. So they'll probably eat lunch at, like, 8:45 in the morning and therefore he needs enough grub to sustain him until he gets home at 3:00. If ya think the kid's a little shit when he eats too much processed junk, try being around him when he's hungry ...

Luckily, this is my child who'll eat just about anything. Next year when it's K1 who is in school I'll really be in trouble considering the kid doesn't like anything unless it starts with "hot" and ends with "dog." I let J pick out some lunch goodies the other day and he chose .... hummus, carrots, and celery. The only thing he wanted that would make the organimommy raise a (perfectly arched) eyebrow was Gogurt. This mom can deal. It's not like I really expected him to take a lunchbox full of alfalfa sprouts and tofu burgers (again, are tofu burgers real?). I'd have chosen the Hostess cupcakes myself.

I realize I'm obsessing much - I get that, I'm beginning to annoy myself - but, y'all, why didn't anyone tell me this kindergarten stuff would be so HARD?  We spent his college fund just in school supplies and uniforms.  There's this whole lunch thing.  There are my overwhelming worries that he's going to tell all of our (embarrassing) business to his teacher (believe me, y'all, I used to work with kids.  And guess what?  If your kids happen to know that you and Daddy took a shower together that morning, they can't WAIT to blab it to their entire class), that he's going to call someone an "asshole," that he's going to stick a crayon in his ear during naptime, that he's going to be THAT kid who eats glue.  I know that there will be tears (mine) when I take him to school for the first time tomorrow.  But you know what?  I'm to the point that I'm ready to just get.it.over.with.  I know the kid is going to be fine in kindergarten (please don't call anyone an asshole, please don't call anyone an asshole, please don't call anyone an asshole) but the way I'm stressing over lunches and the competimommies?  And I still have TWO MORE kids to put through kindergarten?  I might not survive!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Reading List: Groove and Bitter

It's Friiiiiiiiiday!

I'm spending the day doing laundry (yay!) so that I can pack tomorrow.  My original plan as to do a majority of the packing today but you know what?  Don't see that happening.  We're leaving on Sunday morning.  This morning K1, who is easily the most excited of all my kids, did his "two day dance."  He can't wait to go see his family and, of course, Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln . . .

A couple books from this past week:

How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan - I have read several Terry McMillan books and really enjoyed them (favorite: A Day Late and a Dollar Short).  My only real complaint with her is that she tends to talk down on white people on occasion and, well, WHITE PERSON.  I understand that I'm not her target audience though.  Anyway.  Stella is one of the few McMillan books I'd yet to read so I gave it a go this week. 

If you're not aware - and I think most people are since it was made it a movie and all - the book is the story of Stella, a 40-something from San Francisco who goes to Jamaica to have fun and "do her" for a few days. While there, she meets and falls in love with a 20-year-old Jamaican man named Winston. Half the book is her whining about how young he is and the other half is her rambling about something that makes absolutely zero sense to the plot.

Y'all.  This book is a total snoozer.  The only way I was even able to finish it is because we took a Tennessee River Run on Sunday and, being in the car for about five round-trip hours, meant I had tons of time to read.  (Side note: does anyone else find that e-readers, iBooks, and Kindles make it so much easier to read in the car?  I get queasy if I read a regular book in the car but it doesn't bother me to read an iBook  Weird).  It also helped that I could visualize Winston and Taye Diggs.  I'm not sure if I found the book so boring because it actually IS boring or if it's because we know the outcome.  It was partly based on McMillan's own romance and, well, said romance went up in flames.  Not only did it go up in flames but the man Winston was based upon turned out to be gay and McMillan claimed he used her to gain citizenship.  Ai yi yi.  So much for a great story.

The thing is, though, the character of Stella rambles on too much and about things that have nothing to do with the story, nor do they help to develop her character any further.  I skimmed over entire pages because it was, like, seriously? She's rambling AGAIN?  It was just a boring book.  I can understand why they made it into a movie because the basic plot is great.  It just could've - and should've - been hashed out so much better.


Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag go the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster - I LOVE Jen Lancaster.  I love her.  I kinda want to BE her. (Or at least have her shoe collection).  She is funny and sarcastic and irreverent.  And - best of all - she owns who she is (just look at the title of this book!).  She also reminds me - a lot - of my friend Jenn B.  An annony noter left me the recommendation a couple weeks ago to read her books in order.  In my head, I know this is a good idea but I tend to get caught up in covers and descriptions sometimes.  I read Such a Pretty Fat a few weeks ago and absolutely adored it but, now I'm going in order.  Believe it or not, Bitter is even BETTER than Pretty FatTo say it's a good read would be an understatement.
It's the (true!) story of Jen Lancaster's own journey through unemployment.  She begins the book with an infatuation with all things Dior and Prada and, even if you can't relate (Hi!  I own exactly two designer items: a Louis Vuitton that I bought in Belize and is probably a knock off because the chain on it broke after a few months.  And a Coach wristlet that came (new, with tags!) from Goodwill) you still love her for it.  She is admittedly bitchy and narcissistic but you can't help but like her -- and root for her.

Through out the course of the book she learns a lot of important lessons.  And, really, I think part of what makes the book enjoyable is that we've all been there.  If you're anywhere close to your 30's then you know there's been a time in your life when you had an "OMG, how am I going to pay my bills" moment while simultaneously kicking yourself for wasting (former) paychecks at the shoe department of your favorite department store.  (Which totes reminds me of the Carrie Bradshaw quote: "I like my money right where I can see it.  Hanging in my closet").

I don't think I can write enough good things about this book.  Just.  Start reading Jen Lancaster books.  And start with this one.  Thank me later.

P.S. Lancaster got her start by BLOGGING.  Awesome, huh?  She's kinda my hero.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Reading List: Nannies, Cheaters, and Castaways

Let's talk some Book Nerd News for a minute here.

First off, I read an article yesterday that said Lauren Weisberger is writing a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada and it will be released next April.  Pardon me for a moment: SQUEEEEEE!  I love The Devil Wears Prada and it's one case where the movie based on the book did not completely suck.  I'm totally ready for more Andy and more Miranda.

Also, Jennifer Weiner's (she's my favorite!) newest is due out July 3rd.  It's called The Next Best Thing and, in reading the description, it sounds like it's the prequel to a short story she wrote in The Guy Not Taken.  I can't wait for it to come out!  I know a lot of people have been disillusioned by her last few books but guess what?  I'm NOT one of them.  I love her books!
 

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - I read The Nanny Diaries a good decade ago and absolutely DEVOURED the book.  I loved it!  And, even though it more or less dealt with all the shitty things related to being a nanny, it made me want to pack my bags, move to New York City, and find a family to nanny for.  Maybe even a family that consisted of a couple of angelic children and a single dad.  A single dad that I would fall in love with and live happily ever after with.  Ahhhh.  Anyway.  I loved the book then they went and butchered it by turning it into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson. 

Obviously, since I really enjoyed the book, I was excited to get my hands on a copy of the sequel.  I sort of expected Nanny Returns to pick up where Diaries left off -- maybe Nan finds another family to provide childcare for, more adventures in nannying.  Yeah.  Not quite.  Nanny Returns picks up 12 years later.  Nan is married, newly moved back to NYC, working as a consultant, and hesitant about adding children to her family.  The X family comes back into her life and, just like in Diaries, she finds herself unable to say "no" to even the craziest of demands.  The book has a lot of twists and turns and, I suppose, a look into the lives of the New York City elite.  It was decent.  An easy enough read with a somewhat enjoyable plot line.  It just wasn't anywhere near as enjoyable as it's original. And I definitely don't see this one being made into a movie.


Something Blue by Emily Griffin - We all know how much I just LOVED Something Borrowed (totes sarcasm, FYI) so I had to pick up the sequel to see if Emily Griffin could redeem herself any at all.  And, you guys, she TOTALLY did.  This book was so so so so so so much better than Something BorrowedBlue is told from the voice of Darcy and, from the offset, she's just as manipulative, spoiled, selfish, and bitchy as in he first book.  As the book goes, though, she does become slightly more likeable (let me be real here for a minute, though, this was both predictable and unrealistic.  Predictable in that we know the character had to go through some sort of change of heart so that people will relate to her, actually like her, and be more into the book.  Unrealistic in that we ALL know people like Darcy Rhone and we all also know that they very rarely change).  I think Emily Griffin tried to set us up with a "twist" in Darcy's love interest but, seriously, I had it figured out by just a few pages into the book.

To give you a bit of a summary, Something Blue picks up right where Borrowed lets off.  Darcy is pregnant, "in love" with Marcus (we get a little more detail on the how and why they hooked up in the first place), and absolutely irate about Rachel and Dex and their deception.  Not too far into the book, she finds herself friendless, Marcus-less (totally not a spoiler, by the way, because - really - we all knew that wasn't going to last), and very much alone.  She takes off for London and, well, that's as much of a summary as Imma give ya!
Slight spoiler alert: I have a really, REALLY hard time believing that a woman would invite her former best friend that was sleeping with her finace while he was still engaged to her to her wedding to another man.  I have an even harder time believing that said former best friend would travel overseas with an infant in order to attend the nuptials.  Let's be real.  Notgonnahappen. End slight spoiler alert.

All in all, the book was much more enjoyable than the first -- not so one sided in the "she's a mean bitch and that makes it okay for me to steal her fiance" type of way.


The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand - I totally have a girl crush on Elin Hilderbrand.  Or, at the very least, on the books she writes.  This woman has SUCH a talent for being able to create likeable characters -- characters that, even though they do deplorable things, you find yourself rooting for and actually caring about.

The Castaways is the story of four couples who happen to be best friends.  One of the couples is killed while sailing and the remainder of the book deals with the grief the other couples experience -- as well as trying to discern what exactly happened as far as the accident.  The grief is real and tangible and, I guarantee you, you will find yourself totally and completely relating to at least one character in the book.

This isn't exactly what I'd call a beach read.  It takes place in Nantucket and all but it's way too heavy to be considered beach trash.  Also, one of the characters lost her brother in the 9/11 Attacks.  The chapter in which this was hashed out had me in tears -- and I was a 21-year-old college student in Texas, thousands of miles away from where the Attacks occurred.  I would imagine it would be extremely hard for anyone personally touched by the Attacks to read.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Reading List: Jane Green and Jenny Lawson

So this has nothing to do with either Jane Green or Jenny Lawson or anything either of them have written but . . . this morning Yahoo had an article about the ring Mark Zuckerberg bought for his blushing bride.  Apparently there are people who have their drawers twisted because it's just a simple ruby ring (that, FYI, could've cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000) and not some huge, blinging diamond.  People!  Hello!  First off, um, this dude wears hoodies.  It's not like he's into the flashy flashy, ya know?  And, second, for once can we be GLAD that someone who is worth a bazillion dollars isn't blowing it on overpriced jewelry?  I mean, really?

I'll step off my soapbox and get on with my summer reading . . .

 
The Beach House by Jane Green - I've read a few Jane Green books and while I tend to find her plot lines not-all-that-believable, her books are at least enjoyable.  This one was no exception.  I didn't love the book, but I liked it.  Short plot summary:  A 60+-year-old Nantucket widow realizes she stands to lose her home so she turns it into a boarding house.  Her guests are her own son, a recently separated father of two, and a divorced mother with an angry teenage daughter.  The book needed more meat, to be a little longer, to really develop any connection to the characters.  For the most part, they fall flat and you don't find yourself missing them once you turn the final page of the book. There was a big plot twist that I didn't see coming but, then, maybe I'm just a little naive.  ;)  All in all, it was a decent beach read.  But definitely not Jane Green's best.

 

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson - The following is written in the epilogue of this book:
 
Because I can finally see that all the terrible parts of my life, the embarrassing parts, the incidents I wanted to pretend never happened, and the things that made me "weird" or "different," were actually the most important parts of my life.  They were the parts that made me me.
 
Don't you just love that?  Don't you wish more people thought like that? 
Here's the deal: if you don't enjoy The Bloggess, then you're not going to like this book.  If you do enjoy The Bloggess, then odds are good that you're going to love the book.  You'll read this book and cringe with embarrassment in parts -- and also be thankful that it didn't happen to you (though, I'm sure, we all have something just as equally embarrassing somewhere in our past!)  You will quite literally LOL and there are some parts where you'll even shed a tear.  Or two.  If you're a fan of The Bloggess, then this book is a MUST.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kindergarten. It's Scary Stuff.

Three months from now, J will be full entrenched into kindergarten.  I'll have graduated from "parent of toddler/ preschoolers" to "parent of toddler/ preschooler/ elementary schooler.  Not to sound like a total asshole or anything but most of the time I feel like doing this when I think about him going to school:


I love my kid like crazy but the thing about the chaos of having three small children in the house with you all day, every day?  Sending one of them off to school for several hours a day is tantamount to a beach vacation.  It's going to be . . . refreshing.  Don't get me wrong -- I can't believe the fattest baby ever is going to kindergarten already.

See?  Such a fat little roly poly baby!

I know that I'll miss him.  Or, at least I think I will.  But on days when he argues with me or turns up his nose at his lunch or calls his brother a "poo poo brain," I dream lustily of kindergarten and can't help but think on that first day I'll be all "PAR-TAY!"

Then there is this other part of me who has turned into some neurotic worrying FREAK.  Kindergarten - school - is a whole new ballgame for us.  And, I guess since it's the biggest changer (thus far) in the Bird's life it has me all a big ball of nerves.  I don't like this.  I'm not good at being a big ball of nerves.  But I can't help it.  I worry!  I'm worried about the first time that J realizes there's someone out there that doesn't like him (I know this will probably hurt MY feelings worse than HIS).  I'm worried that his teacher will be an asshole and he'll hate school.  I'm worried that, thanks to the teen pregnancy epidemic in Memphis, I'll be a good decade older than the moms of his classmates and during their little "holiday" party they'll all sneer at me and be like, "who let the Granny in?"  I'm worried that he'll be more advanced and, therefore, bored.  I'm worried that he won't be as advanced and, therefore, behind.

And, people.  Oh my gosh, people.  I am so worried about older siblings.

See, I happen to think that most five-year-olds are inherently innocent.  They don't just know stuff, you know?  They have to be taught it.  And who teaches them?  Their older brothers and sisters.

When it comes to older siblings, J definitely lucked out. Please don't get me wrong. He and Z fuss and fight and argue and call each other all manner of "crybaby" and "booger faced booty head." And there are most def times when I wish we were living in rural Arkansas and it was the late 1980's and I could lock them outside* while yelling, "And I don't CARE if you go tell your granny on me, assholes!"** without anyone calling CPS on me.

* My mom TOTALLY did this.
** She never called us assholes, though, unless she just muttered it under her breath. Which I'm pretty sure she did.
***Actually she would've just said, "asshole" and she would've been referring to my brother. I've been afflicted with this perfectness since birth, y'all.

Anyway. My point. While Z and J will fight and carry on like their lives depend on it, Z is still a good big sister. And, by that, I mean she's not teaching J dirty words or helping him look up porn on the Internet. The worst thing she's taught him is the story of Jesus dying on the cross. That in itself wasn't so bad but she didn't spare any details and also didn't differentiate between the baby Jesus and the 33-year-old man who was crucified. So for weeks J was having fairly gruesome nightmares about a baby being hung in a cross.  It pissed me off a little bit, at the time, but the way I see it - that story is much better than her letting him sneak into her room at night to watch Freddy Krueger slaughter a few people via DirecTV.

For all I know, though, there could be some five-year-old right now who is suspended from preschool because he got caught drawing pictures of naked ladies like the ones he saw in his older brother's - who probably has some dumb name like Butch - magazines.  And that little five-year-old just cannot WAIT to get to kindergarten and scratch the f-word into his desk and tell all the kids on the playground about blowjobs.  And, OMG, my baby is going to leave for kindergarten in August being totally oblivious to anything other than a world that's centered around Transformers and Power Rangers and he'll come home with parts of his innocence chipped away and an increased vocabulary.  He is going to grow up

Thing is, I have no desire to raise my kids in some sort of glass bubble.  They need to be out in the world and out from under my protective wing.  I know that a glass bubble existence is not good for anyone.  I get that.  But J has been home with me since he was 14 months old.  We never did preschool.  This - kindergarten - will be the first time he's been "out in the world" without me right along there behind him, telling him it might not be the best idea to BFF up with the kid who is using obscenities on the playground.

I know I'm being irrational and a little crazy but it's all new territory.  And I'm not entirely sure I'm ready for it yet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Reading List: Jen Lancaster and Kristin Hannah

Just a couple books to share with you this week!
Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster - I was approximately halfway through this book when I texted my friend Mo and asked her if she read it.  (Note: Mo lives in Chicago).  She hadn't but she quickly downloaded the sampler and read the first chapter.  That one chapter was enough for her to discover that Jen Lancaster also lives in Chicago -- and that one chapter was enough for the two of us to decide that, whenever I make it back to the Windy City, we might just have to stalk Jen Lancaster.  I LOVED THIS BOOK!  Oh my goodness.  I loved it, loved it, loved it.  Parts of it were laugh out loud funny.  It reads almost like reading someone's blog and the absolute only thing I can say I wasn't crazy about was that it just starts.  There's not much back story (i.e. this is my husband, Fletch, we met at blah, blah, blah).  This isn't a real complaint which should just further prove how much I adore this book.  Let me tell ya real quick what I really appreciate about it: it's written by a Big Girl.  And she is legitimately a Big Girl.  This is not someone who wants to slit her wrists over being a size 12.  Very early in the book she states that she's a size 24.  She tries several different diets before she hits her stride and finds what works for her best.  If you have ever struggled with your weight, this is a must-read.  Please.  Just.read.it.

(And Jen Lancaster?  If you ever Google your name and find this review on page 238402289 of the searches, drop me an email.  Let's have pizza with my friend Mo the next time I'm in Chee-ca-go).

 
Summer Island by Kristin Hannah - The only other Kristin Hannah book I've read is Distant Shores and I really enjoyed it.  This one?  Notsomuch.  It's almost as though the author was rushing to finish the book and, therefore, doesn't provide a lot of depth.  It's the story of a mother who abandons her family when her daughters are teenagers, becomes a celebrity based on promoting family values, and then has a very public fall from grace.  The book focuses on her relationship with her younger daughter.  Neither of the main characters are all that likeable, everything - everything - in the whole book is predictable, and the way conflict is resolved is very unrealistic.  Honestly, I felt like I just wasted my time by reading this one.  Such a disappointment.

Right now I'm reading a Jane Green book.  After that one?  I Happy Birthday'd to me and downloaded the Bloggess' book the other day.  I can't WAIT to read it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Summer Reading List: Mary Higgins Clark, Elin Hilderbrand, Jaycee Dugard

Back in those days when my family was doing our bi-weekly jaunt to the used book store, I would pick up a couple of paperbacks.  A Babysitter's Club title or Sweet Valley book I hadn't read yet.  Or maybe something by Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary or RL Stine.  Or even something that just happened to have interesting cover art.  I would start reading one of the books in the car on the way home and generally have it finished by the end of the evening.  No later than the next morning.  It used to drive my dad crazy!  But, like any true Book Person, if I have extra time it's going to be devoted to reading the book I'm into at the moment.  These days, I'll read while peddling away on my exercise bike.  I'll keep one eye on the kids, the other eye on my book when the little guys are outside playing.  I'm not opposed to taking my iPad to the playground with me.  And I always, always, must read at least a chapter of any book every night.  Total book nerd, y'all.

I'm making my way through my summer reading list.  Here are the books I finished this week:

The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark - MHC was one of the first "grown up" authors I ever read.  She was probably THE first.  My mom read her books and, when I was in late junior high or early high school, she passed one on to me to read.  I've been devoted to her books since.  With the exception of a couple of the Christmas novels she's written with her daughter and her newest book (The Lost Years, also on my summer reading list), I've read all of her adult novels.  She's an amazing author and definitely has an art for storytelling.  I love that her books are so predictable in that you can always figure out whodoneit by picking out the least plausible suspect.  All that said, The Shadow of Your Smile was boring.  It wasn't as bad as  Just Take My Heart (oh em gee, that one was painful to read) but it just . . . it wasn't classic MHC.  It was boring.  You knew whodoneit all along because there was really no major suspense to it other than wondering if the main character was going to end with an untimely fate (and it's MHC so . . . well . . . you know).  I also have to add - and I'll try to do so without giving much away - but a MAJOR crime was sort of glossed over in the book.  It made me sad that a female author would take such an "aw shucks" approach to something that's so horrific.


The Island by Elin Hilderbrand - I picked up the Hilderbrand book Nantucket Nights at a half price bookstore a couple years ago because . . . I liked the cover!  Yes!  I'm STILL one of those!  I'm so glad I picked up that book because I've fallen in love with Hilderbrand as an author.  To date I've read Nights as well as Barefoot, The Blue Bistro, and now The Island.  I was totally and completely NOT disappointed with this book.  It was really good.  I read the entire thing in two days and was sad that it ended.  I'm always a bit conflicted when reading a book I really love.  I want to get to the end to see how it ties together but also want to take it slow because I don't want it to end.  If you're looking for a good beach-y read then this one is perfect.  If you're anything like me, it'll having you wish you could be sunning yourself on Tuckernuck . . . or, at the very least, Nantucket.  Also, this one reminded me, in a lot of ways, of Jennifer Weiner's Fly Away Home.  If you like Weiner then you'll also like Hilderbrand. 

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard - I was on a flight from San Jose to Dallas when this story broke back in 2009.  The second leg of my flight home, from Denver to Dallas, the airline comped TV because we were so delayed.  I somehow ended up on CNN and was enthralled by this story.  I never heard of Jaycee Lee Dugard before that moment but I am a bit of a true crime junkie.  I sort of waffled on whether or not I wanted to read this book.  On the one hand: true crime junkie.  On the other: it seemed deeply personal and, not only that, but I was worried about how it would affect me as the mother of a little girl.  I found, though, as I read through the book that I didn't read it so much as a mom.  Jaycee and I are the exact same age, our birthdays are separated by just a couple weeks, and as I read further into the book I couldn't help but compare my life at the time with what hers was like.  We were the exact same age and while I was going to a conference with my church youth group, she was having her first baby.  When I was suffering through a break up and thinking my world was coming to an end, she was living in a backyard and penning journal entries trying to convince herself that she was happy.  The book was a hard read.  She talks about the rape and, difficult as that was to read, it was the psychological aspect of it that was more upsetting to me.  This girl had her life completely stolen from her.  She was with her kidnapper when she got her first period.  She never got to experience high school football games or graduation or putting on her freshman 15 or switching majors seven times her first three semesters at a university.  It was just heartbreaking.  I can't imagine how she went through all that and I can't imagine how it felt to be her mother.  Not only to be her mother while she was missing.  But also to be her mother in the aftermath, to have to realize everything her daughter went through.  I cried like a baby when she talked about calling her mother after she was found and it makes me a little tear-y now just thinking about it.  In the interest of full disclosure, the book is not well written.  It's obviously not written by a professional but I think that provides some authenticity to it that wouldn't be found if she'd hired a ghost writer.  It's confusing in parts and, in a lot of ways, especially when she talks about animals, it feels like Dugard is still an 11-year-old girl.  It's a very sad book and it feels voyeuristic at times.  I can't say this is a must-read book but I will say: only read if you're up to feeling a little heartbroken and completely disgusted with the evil that's obviously in our world.

Note: all the links in this post are to the Amazon Kindle store.  I get paid approximately 1/4839438th of a cent if you click on the link and then buy something.  Just so you know.

Happy Reading, y'all! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Something Borrowed


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I have been harping on Something Borrowed since I saw the movie a few weeks ago.  I read the book over the weekend and now I'm harping once again.  For the last time.  Probably.  Maybe.  Possibly.  At the very least until I read Something Blue.

I cannot believe I'm about to admit this -- in written form where it can be preserved forever more thanks to Google Cache - but . . . I actually liked the movie better than the book.  I KNOW!  When I revealed this to my husband, he informed me that it was because Jim Halpert - I mean, John Krasinski - was in the movie.  This just goes to show that he is most definitely not a Book Person.  Any Book Person - any real Book Person - knows.  Your very favorite actor can star in a movie based on a book that you only marginally enjoyed and you run a 90% chance of leaving the theater muttering about how you can't believe HE starred in a movie that slaughtered a perfectly good plot line and see if you'll be buying a copy of Us Weekly with HIS face on the cover again.

No.  John Krasinski was perfect in the part of Ethan and I'm pretty sure he had to read the book to "fit" the part the way he did which made me feel like this small kinship with him and I definitely enjoyed him in the movie.  But he's not the reason I liked it better.  It just . . . it was . . . better.  And maybe that's part of the reason I'm about to diss on this whole book/ movie big time.  Because I'm never - never! - supposed to like the movie more than the book.  I feel like a bad Book Person right now.  A really bad one.  Thanks a lot, Emily Griffin.

If you have not read the book/ seen the movie and you don't know want to know any important details (i.e. HOW IT ENDS) please don't read any further.  I'm about to get all kinds of SPOILER ALERT up in here (up in here).

For those of you who aren't awares, or those of you who need a refresher since you read the book when it came out in 2005 and refuse to watch the movie because you're a good Book Person who knows better than to see any movie that's made from a book, here's the basic plot line: Main character Rachel is an attorney in Manhattan.  On the night of her 30th birthday party, she hits the sauce a little hard and ends up doing the no pants dance with her best friend's (Darcy) fiance (Dex).  Over the course of way too many pages and much analyzing by a Rachel who was extremely more likeable in the movie, Dex and Rachel carry on their affair.  They love each other!  Darcy is the girl we all went to high school with.  You know, the Homecoming Queen who bulldozed over everyone and everything that got in her way and ended up getting whatever she wanted.  She's selfish and rude and we're supposed to hate her because she's, well, selfish and rude.  Rachel wants Dex to call off the wedding and, at first, he tells her that he can't do that to Darcy.  But, like any good Chick Lit, he comes to his senses and calls the wedding off without telling Darcy about his affair with Rachel.  In the end, Darcy finds out about the affair -- but not after she spills the beans that she's been doing a little bit-o, bit-o cheating herself by rolling in the hay with Dex's BFF, Marcus.  And, oh yeah, she's preggers with a Little Marcus.  The friendship is over and ruined but, HEY, it doesn't matter because all four of these horny SOB's have their lusty relationships to keep them going.

There are four things fundamentally wrong with Something Borrowed.  Four reasons it left a bad taste in my mouth even though I plowed through the entire book in a weekend whilst still managed to make sure my children were fed and (mostly) clothed and not killing each other.  I'll break down those four things for you right hurrre.

1) The most obvious: it glorifies cheating.  Basically, everyone cheats on everyone else and it's all okay in the end with the only casualty being a life long friendship.  Say it with me now: Dubya Tee Eff?  That's not okay!  Cheating isn't okay! 

2) The book is totally black and white and things just.aren't.that.way.  The character of Darcy is thoroughly unlikeable.  She's the girl we all love to hate because she gets whatever she wants and she does so by only looking out for number one.  There are very few things about the character that one can find likeable.  She has pretty much ZERO redeeming qualities beyond her pretty face.  And therein lies the problem.  It's not really like that.  There's always a gray area.  No matter how selfish and nasty the person is, there's usually some sort of good about them.  I mean, look at Angelina Jolie.  She's a Brad-stealing, leg-showing harlot but she also ADOPTS BABIES FROM THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES. 

The author paints Darcy as this icky icky poo character because we're supposed to hate her.  And if we hate her then that makes it okay for Dex to cheat on her (yes!  Let the Beautiful Girl Who Always Gets Everything be cheated on for once) and Rachel to betray her friendship.  But ya know what?  Still not okay.  Emily Griffin tries so hard -- too hard -- to get us to hate Darcy and cheer for Rachel and Dex.  I hate that.  Show us the gray area.  Let us feel a little tiny bit of empathy for Darcy.

3) The consequences are glossed over.  Other than the ending of the friendship, we don't see many consequences at all in the movie.  In the book, Rachel's mother calls her and is disappointed.  Those are not real consequences of something this major.  And, even though we get that Darcy is self-centered and Not a Good Person, wouldn't there be just a little more mourning of the death of a friendship you've maintained since elementary school?  Especially a BFF-type friendship?  That's a major consequence and I think it could've . . . should've . . . been highlighted more beyond the "gee, I feel really bad but that beyotch was totes selfish!"

4) It's just not realistic.  I mean, duh, it's a book and I get that.  Hello!  I've read the Twilight series (please don't judge me).  I know not to expect reality in 99.9999% of my fiction reading material.  I get that.  But, for some reason, it pissed me off more than it should have with this book.  If this had of happened in real life, if Rachel and Darcy and Dex were real people and this was a real situation, this would've ended one of two ways:

* Darcy's affair with Marcus - and the subsequent pregnancy - never would've happened.  That's another one of those things the author threw in to make us feel like it was okay that Rachel and Dex were getting it on.  Dex would've gone ahead and married Darcy, if this were real life.  Rachel would've been devastated -- until she shagged Dex in the bathroom during the wedding reception.  They would've carried on their affair for several years, Rachel giving up on a potential suitor here and there because she was so in loooooorve with a man she could never have.  The affair would've finally fizzled out when Dex traded Rachel for a new, blonder, bustier model.

or

* Dex would have called off the marriage and the affair with Rachel would've lasted another week or two.  After sufficiently ruining the friendship between Darcy and Rachel, Dex would've moved on to the next set of BFF's and Rachel would never get over him.  She'd end up swearing off men forever and finally find herself, at age 40, pouring over the information for sperm donors at her local fertility clinic.

Have you read the book?  What did you think?  Am I the only one JUST SO IRRITATED by the whole theme of this book? 

For the record, I've never had a fiance cheat on me with my BFF so I don't know why this has got my panties so twisted.  There really is no reason for me to be so annoyed by this book.  None!  I'm so annoyed that I wish I COULD give a reason. 

In other book-related news: I downloaded the 50 Shades trilogy over the weekend and started it yesterday.  Y'all.  I realize that I'm supposed to be all, "OMG, you HAVE to go read this NOW!"  But.  It's . . . well, I'm about 85 or so pages in and I'm just not digging it at this point.  It's so poorly written.  Like, if I see the word "murmur" one more time (is that the only synonym the author knows for said?) I AM GOING TO SCREAM.  Thus far, the main character isn't even slightly relatable or likeable.  Imma give the book another chapter or two but right now?  Yeah.  Not buying the hype.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Momtographer

Back in the days when I was working in a police station (and by working I mean spending an hour doing filing and answering phone calls; spending seven hours playing on the internet) I was heavily into various groups on CafeMom.  (I was also heavily into Myspace -- how things change).  It was during this time that I found out I was a horrible mother for working, not breastfeeding, and vaccinating and that I didn't "really give birth" because I had a c-section and therefore "took the easy way out."  Anyone who considers a c-section the easiest way out has, obvs, never had abdominal surgery.  Anycompetimommy, one of my groups at that time did something called "Real Life Irritations" wherein, once a week, we'd all bitch about whatever things in "real life" pissed us off.  There was also a weekly "CafeMom Irritations" thread which was - you guessed it - things on the Interwebz that got our panties bunched.

This was about five(ish) years ago and, in that time, Mark Zuckerberg has taken over the world and the line between "real life" and "internet" has grown even fainter.  Thanks to Facebook it seems like everything "internet" is also "real life."  It makes my head hurt sometimes.

Here is my Real Life Internet Irritation for this Friday.

The momtographer.

I hate that 94% of bored stay at home moms who possess a fancy camera, a copy of Photoshop, and the ability to download The Pioneer Woman's action set thinks she can hang out her internet shingle and charge he friends, family, former high school classmates, and unsuspecting local assholes $400 to take their pictures.  Part of this "hate" could be that I am a bored stay at home mom but I do not possess a fancy pants camera because I've broken three and a half cameras during the duration of my marriage and, therefore, my husband refuses to spend more than the cost of a Canon point and shoot.

The momtographers are all over my Facebook.  Friends are asking me to vote for their baybeeeez to win free photo shoots.  Families I know are being tagged in a momtographer's "sneak peeks."  And some of these momtographers -- they really are GOOD and have the talent to charge what they charge.  Some of them.  And even those make me want to poke myself in the eye when it comes to two things:

1) Boudoir photo shoots - I don't understand this.  Why in the WORLD would I want a picture of a half naked me with all my stretch marks and cellulite photoshopped out so that I can look at it and get depressed?  I see them advertised with things like "let us help you feel good about yourself!"  Help me feel good about myself by making me look COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY not like ME?  As far as women who get them done for their men . . . I can't help but wonder how many men stare at those pictures and think to themselves, "hey, hey, heyyyyy!  So THIS is what she'd look like if she worked out!" or "Damn, I really wish I'd known her when she was 19 and her body really did look like this!"  I just . . . I can't, don't, whatever get wanting a picture of yourself that's been photoshopped to fake perfection.  I'd much rather look at a real picture of myself and think, "Hmm, that ain't to bad" than get depressed looking at a picture of what some overzealous momtographer photoshopped me into being.

2) Newborn photo shoots - The shoots in and of themselves I don't have a problem with.  I think baby girls in tutus and Big Ass Bows are adorable.  I love the ones of little boys all snuggled up with a football.  Adorbs.  But, for the love of all that's holy, PEOPLE, can we please, please, please stop stuffing babies into stockings and pumpkins and their daddy's Army boots?  And, while we're at it, let's quit putting an entire garden worth of flowers on their heads.  Ditto crowns.  And STOP HANGING THEM FROM SHIT or PERCHING THEM ON TOP OF SHIT.  It's a baby; not a prop.  There's nothing wrong with sweet pictures of mom looking adoringly at Baby or Dad and Baby nose to nose.  And I am one of those assholes who swoons when I see a picture of baby feet.  THAT is newborn photography.  Not that stupid picture making the rounds on Pinterest for ages that shows Big Sister opening the front door to see Baby in a basket on the doormat.  That?  THAT is stupid.

Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days of Sears portrait studio with their fake leaves backdrop.

** If you're a Momtographer who does boudoir shoots, I understand it's big bidness for you and you gotta make your money.  Keep on Photoshopping out that cellulite if it helps you pay your bills!  But can you please, please, stop stuffing babies into shit?  Please?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Diary of a Pregnant Woman

Disclaimer: I am NOT pregnant!  God would have to have a pretty wicked sense of humor for me to ever find myself knocked up again.  My baby is almost two and I'm far enough removed from those maternity days that I can now look back and make fun of myself.  And anyone else who has ever been pregnant.

Disclaimer Two: If you happen to be pregnant come back and read this in a couple years when you can laugh at it.

Five Weeks - One week late.  Time to take a test.  Just to see.  It's probably negative.  It's definitely negative.  There's no way I'm - HOLY SHIT.  I AM PREGNANT.

Five Weeks, Two Minutes - Deep breath.  Deep breath.  Think about this.  Okay.  All the cool people wait until, like, 12 weeks to tell other people right?  Maybe I should do that too.  Yes.  I can totally do that.  I'll wait until 12 - no, 14! - weeks to announce this to the world.

Five Weeks, Three Minutes - 14 weeks is still TWO MONTHS away.  Oh em gee.  I cannot keep this a secret for two months.

Five Weeks, Four Minutes - Update Facebook status: "We're excited to announce that, in a few months, our family will grow by two feet!"

Five Weeks, Five Minutes - OH SNAP.  Better call The Husband and let him know the happy news before the Monster in Law reads it on my Facebook and calls him first.  Ugh.  That woman canNOT stay out of our business.

Five Weeks, Seventeen Minutes - Is it too early to buy baby stuff?  I'm just going to order this cute pair of tights here . . . and that hairbow I found on Etsy a few weeks ago.  I just KNOW this baby is a girl.

Five Weeks, Twenty Minutes - Just took my first belly shot!

Five Weeks, Thirty Four Minutes - I feel so productive!  Just made appointments with a midwife, a doula, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, an herbal doctor, a lactation consultant, and, to make my mom and the Monster in Law happy, an obstetrician. 

Five Weeks, Thirty Six Minutes - Wow, I totally didn't feel pregnant at all yesterday but ever since I peed on that stick I AM SO TIRED.  I think I'm going to take a nap.

Five Weeks, One Day - I'm craving pickles and ice cream.  Pregnant!  Squeee!

Five Weeks, Two Days - I sooooo think I have morning sickness!  It can't be the three chili dogs I ate last night (baby wanted them) or the buffalo wings I had for breakfast (baby wanted them).  It's, like, legitimate morning sickness.

Five Weeks, Three Days - I have approximately 876 things pinned on my "Nursery" pinboard and another 982 things on my "Stuff for Baby" board.  Is it too early to buy a car seat and crib?

Six Weeks, Three Days - I could sleep for the rest of my life.  Zzzzz.

Seven Weeks - OH MY GOSH.  I can't get my head out of the toilet.

Seven Weeks, Four Days - THIS is morning sickness.  THIS.  I'm never going to eat again.

Seven Weeks, Four Days, 28 Minutes - If I don't eat something I'm going to throw up.

Seven Weeks, Four Days, 31 Minutes - Threw up anyway.

Eight Weeks - My first OB appointment is tomorrow!  Squeee!

Eight Weeks, One Day - I got a picture of our cute little baby!  I know she looks like a peanut but, I swear, she has her daddy's nose!  And the heartbeat was in the 170's . . . it's a girl!  I know it!  It has to be a girl!  Also, that bitch ass nurse had the audacity to give ME a bag full of formula samples.  Doesn't she know that I have nipples of steel?  That I'm going to kick breastfeeding's ass?

Nine Weeks, Four Days - Just posted to Facebook that I felt the baby move.  The Monster in Law told me it was just gas.  Can you believe her?  She tried telling all of Facebook that *I* have gas!  As if.

Nine Weeks, Six Days - I think I'm showing.  I need to go buy maternity clothes.

Ten Weeks, Two Days - Just went to the store.  All the cute maternity clothes were way out of my budget and everything is too big!  How can they be too big?  I.AM.SHOWING.

Twelve Weeks - Second trimester.  Finally went two whole days without throwing up my breakfast.  WINNING.

Thirteen Weeks - I'm pretty sure I'm having Braxton Hicks contractions.  Yeah, that must be it.  Contractions.

Fourteen Weeks - I FEEL GREAT.

Sixteen Weeks - I never realized just how sexy the mailman is.  And the custodian at work.  Oh and the guy who bagged my groceries yesterday.  How old is HE?

Seventeen Weeks - Pregnancy is the most wonderful thing in the history of the world.  I wish I could be pregnant forever!  I think I'll be a surrogate someday.

Eighteen Weeks, Four Days - Feeling this baby flutter around is the most amazing feeling in the history of ever.  Oh, pregnancy.  I love you.

Nineteen Weeks, Six Days - Log on to Facebook and remind everyone that the gender ultrasound is tomorrow.  Tomorrow!  Oh, I just know it's a girl!

Twenty Weeks - It's a . . . BOY!  Oh!  I knew it all along.

Twenty Weeks, Two Hours - Just went to Target and registered for every single blue thing in the store.

Twenty Two Weeks - Why can I NOT poop?  Ugh.

Twenty Four Weeks - Bliss!

Twenty Six Weeks - I've eaten six McDoubles in the past four days.  And had eight Wendy's Frosty's.  That's normal, right?

Thirty Weeks - I have never been more uncomfortable in my life. 

Thirty One Weeks - I have never been more uncomfortable in my life. 

Thirty Two Weeks - I have never been more uncomfortable in my life.

Thirty Three Weeks - Can this baby please get his feet out of my ribs for, like, five minutes?  I have never been more uncomfortable in my life.

Thirty Four Weeks - I just realized that this huge egg shaped thing that's taken over my abdomen -- there's a baby in there!  And it has to come out of . . . there?  I'm calling the OB to schedule my c-section.  Also, I've never been more uncomfortable in my life.

Thirty Five Weeks - Baby shower!  Will I really need THAT many diapers?  And what was the Monster in Law thinking with those outfits?

Thirty Six Weeks - GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME.  I have never been more uncomfortable in my life.  I hate being pregnant.  I'm never doing this again.  And if The Penis doesn't quit breathing that annoying way then I AM GOING TO STAB HIM.

Thirty Seven Weeks - I can't sleep.  None of my maternity clothes fit. None of my husband's clothes fit.  The tent we used to go camping last summer doesn't fit. My face is so broke out I look like a teenager.  I sweat all the time.  My back hurts.  I have to go to the bathroom every six minutes.   I've had UTI's, hemorrhoids, and high blood pressure.  I think I see half a stretch mark and that had BETTA NOT be a varicose vein.  I'm married to the most annoying person on the planet.  I hate being pregnant.  COME OUT, BABY.

Thirty Eight Weeks - WHY IS THE BABY NOT HERE YET? 

Thirty Nine Weeks - Was that a contraction?  Maybe we should go to the hospital just in case.

Thirty Nine Weeks, Fourteen Hours - TWELVE hours later and, nope, no contractions.  This baby is never coming out.

Thirty Nine Weeks, Two Days - Definitely contractions this time.  Here we go again.

Thirty Nine Weeks, Two Days, Six Hours - False alarm.

Thirty Nine Weeks, Six Days - I AM GOING TO BE PREGNANT FOREVER.

Forty Weeks, Four Days - He must really like it in there.  I guess he's just going to stay.  WHY IS HE NOT COMING OUT?  I am four days past my due date!  This is not fair!   

Forty Weeks, Five Days - I'm never having anymore children because I AM NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN.  Oooh.  My back has been hurting so bad today.

Forty Weeks, Six Days - Oh God, oh God, oh God.  THESE are contractions.  THIS is what labor feels like.  I AM GOING TO DIE.  Forget the midwife!  Forget the doula!  I NEED MEDS. 

Forty Weeks, Six Days, Four Hours - Thisssh shtuff they put in my IB, uh, IVeeee ish the besht schtuff evverrr.

Forty Weeks, Six Days, Six Hours - It's only ten centimeters.  WHY does it take so long to get there?

Forty Weeks, Six Days, Nine Hours - Really.  He's never coming out.

Forty Weeks, Six Days, Eleven Hours - PUSH!

Forty Weeks, Six Days, Twelve Hours - Love.  This is love.  Real, true, love at first sight.  But why does he have my grandpa's ears?

Forty Weeks, Six Days, Twelve Hours, Two Minutes - Still haven't pushed the placenta out but I have GOT to update my Facebook status!