Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BlogHer Book Club: Getting To Happy


The phenomenon that was Waiting to Exhale sort of skipped over me (I was in high school when the book and movie came out), so I was completely unfamiliar with the story and characters when I got the sequel Getting To Happy by Terry McMillan in the mail.  I didn't want to come into this story unprepared, however, so I made sure I got the first book and read it before starting this one so I would have the background necessary to enjoy the sequel.

Turns out I probably didn't need to worry about it.  Getting To Happy is the continuing story of the women we met in Waiting To Exhale, but I think it would be just as enjoyable on it's own as a story of four women facing the challenges of job changes, divorce, grief and growing older.  Life, basically.  



BlogHer Book Club Reviewer

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Problem With Perfect

So, when I tell people that my children are perfect, no doubt they are rolling their eyes and secretly wanting to stab me in the face.  But it's true.  They are perfect.  Which is wonderful in life, but lousy for blogging.

This past weekend we went to Champaign, IL for my husband's family reunion, but did I get a single anecdote to share?  Nope.  Three little angels the entire trip.  Five hour drive Thursday, three hour drive Friday, EIGHT hour drive home Sunday: not one single tantrum or fight, or accident or anything funny.  Just happy, mellow kids in the backseat watching movies and playing quietly.  Three nights in hotels where all three kids had to go to sleep in the same bed - after swimming and having no naps?  Nothing.  They all went to bed easily and quickly like champs. 

We didn't even almost drown anyone in the hotel pool this time.

Seriously, no one freaked out about anything, or got trampled by cows (or started a stampede).  It was completely pleasant and uneventful the entire time.  Which is why, instead of some amusing anecdote or hilarious story, you get a photo blog.

Damn those perfect children!!


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aftermath

Last night before we got sucked into the television, Brett and I stepped outside to watch a wicked storm roll in.  We haven't had a storm with a big wall cloud that just steamrolls in so fast you can see it yet this summer, and even though they are a little scary, they are kind of fun to watch.  On approach at least.

So we are standing on the front porch watching this black cloud churning towards us, and I'm thinking should go grab my camera so I can videotape it coming in to put on my blog so you can actually see how fast it moves, when the sirens start going off.

The TORNADO sirens.

Now, when I first moved here I was totally obsessed with tornadoes and the possibility of there being one here, but that has basically worn off and now I only really worry about tying down our garbage can lids so they'll stop getting blown over and knocking down our decorative trellis.  This was the first time the sirens have gone off since we've moved here, and it was a little freaky.  Naturally we had just put the kids to bed, so we had to go get them and usher them all down into the basement.  It's kind of difficult to explain to little kids that they have to leave their rooms and go downstairs because of a storm, without totally freaking them out.  I'm assuming Brett did a good job of it though, because there was no crying or hysterical screaming.

I didn't participate in rousing the troops because I was too busy geeking out about the storm coming and the sirens going off.  And still standing out on the front porch looking around for any tornadoes that might be coming.  Let me tell you, it may be super stupid and totally dangerous, but if there's going to be a tornado near my house, I want to see that sucker!  And Brett came back outside too after he got the kids downstairs, and we were oohing and aahing over the black clouds and the strong winds, and thinking we should probably go back inside, when our two full size, on wheels (with tied down lids), garbage cans flew 25 feet completely across the driveway in one gust of wind.

Time to go inside.

So I gathered my phone with the almost dead battery, and my laptop (in case the house got swept away I wanted to save our pictures) and headed for the basement.  Well, in theory, mostly I stood in front of the back door searching the sky for funnel clouds.  Because, you know, the place you want to be standing in a severe storm that is trowing things around is right behind a giant plate glass window.

Then the power went out.

This was accompanied by much screaming and general panic from the kids downstairs because they were now in total darkness instead of watching Disney channel happily.  And of course, Brett raced to get a lantern and head lamp while i stood at the top of the stairs saying "it's okay.  Calm down." while staring out the windows.  I'm seriously mother of the year in a storm.  Although, I didn't really know we had any of that stuff much less where it was, so i probably wouldn't have been very helpful anyway.

By the time we got downstairs with flashlights and everything (and I cleaned up the gazillion toys all over in case we had to sleep on the floor down there), the storm had calmed down to just a regular windy thunderstorm.  The sirens were quiet, and it wasn't even raining that hard anymore.  So we let the kids get all riled up playing with the flashlights and racing around the basement, and then told them they had to go back to bed.  Without fans or nightlights.

Much screaming and crying ensued.

And then once THAT was settled, Brett and I came back downstairs to.... oh right.  There's no power.  I lit some candles so we could save battery power,

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oooh, pretty

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I have the lamest candle collection ever.  I seriously need to stock up before the next power outage


and then we sat around.  Cause there's nothing to do when the power is out.  I sat upstairs by the window for a little while trying to catch the absolutely unbelievable lightning show that was going on,

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sha-ZAAM!!


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ka-POW!!


and then basically we went to bed.

This morning, everything in our yard was basically the same. But as we left the neighborhood to go to the mall, we saw just how crazy a storm it really had been.  Within two blocks of our house:

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Pretty crazy.  Brett saw a video clip of some news coverage of this storm, and I guess that amid the multiple (!) tornado sightings there was one big twister that derailed 13 train cars just outside Omaha.  As much as I'd like to see a tornado someday, I'm glad I missed that one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

To The Tune Of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

I always sing my own ad libbed words to songs at night to Sophie (and I did to Izzy when she was little too. But not Jack. Jack likes it RIGHT). This was tonight's.

Chubby little Sophie lamb,
Sweeter than a honeyed ham.

Put you in a big black pot,
Add the veggies that I've got.

Cook you up and eat you whole,
tasty Sophie casserole.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, June 16, 2011

BlogHer Book Club Giveaway!: A Jane Austen Education

Did you like my review of A Jane Austen Education?  Think it sounded like an interesting read?  Well, leave a comment on this post at BlogHer, and you are entered to win your very own copy.  Five lucky winners will be chosen on June 24th, so go leave your comments today!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And... Sophie Almost Gets Drowned. Again

The kids have been in swimming lessons, and so far there has been nothing but excitement and improvement and full on enthusiasm for the whole endeavor; which, considering the horror stories I had been reading on all my friends' blogs about swimming comes as quite a relief.  Even Jack has been doing great - although his teacher's comment to me on day 3 was "he always says he can't do it.  but he can."

Yeah, that pretty much sums up Jack's personality.

So we've been having a great time (Sophie chills in the baby pool while the big kids have their lesson) and I'm kind of sorry that we don't have a pool to go swim at after these lessons end in two days.  I may have to look into that.

Anyway, there have been vast improvements all around - and Izzy is actually SWIMMING!  As in, full on, face in the water freestyle swimming, which pretty much blew her teacher's mind and mine as well.  Only for short distances of course, but still - swimming on day 4 of lessons.  Crazy.  She also seems to feel she can share her wondrous knowledge with others, as today she took it upon herself to pull Sophie through the water in the baby pool.  By her feet.  So Sophie dragged with her face fully submerged for several feet until I could get Izzy's attention enough to stop them and get Sophie upright again.  She was fine of course, but seriously, I'm thinking we need to keep that one away from water - this can't end well.  The funniest part was that she wouldn't let Izzy so much as touch her for the whole rest of the time they were in the pool - which led to much pouting on Izzy's part I will tell you.

The other momentous event of today's lesson was everyone's (well, not Sophie obviously) first ever trip off the diving board.  Izzy went first, and right off like a total pro.  Jack inched up like a little old man, all hunched over with the tiniest steps you've ever seen - and then turned around.  It was pretty funny.  But once the assistant was up there with him he jumped off pretty well - I don't think she had to push him, haha.

So... this is written pretty terribly, but I'm tired and don't feel up to reworking the narrative.  instead I'll distract you with pictures!

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you want me to what?


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nope


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practicing her stink eye for later, when Izzy dunks her

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Super 8



I think all you probably need to know about this film is right up there above the title: Abrams and Spielberg.  That's a pretty good movie pedigree, and Super 8 does not fail to live up to its creators names.  This movie really has a little bit of everything: father son tension, forbidden (young) love/friendship, precocious kids, vast government conspiracy, monsters and retro nostalgia.  And it all hangs together beautifully.

Read the rest of my review....

Monday, June 13, 2011

BlogHer Book Club: A Jane Austen Education



Going into the experience of reading A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz, I knew absolutely nothing of Jane Austen.  If pressed, I probably could have come up with one or two titles of her books, but I had certainly never read one, and had never even seen a movie adaptation of one.  So other than the general impression that they are novels in which nothing much happens besides a lot of talking and perhaps a resulting romance, I was completely clueless.

I had worried somewhat that this book, ostensibly a memoir of the author's evolution as it pertains to Jane Austen's books but really  discourse on the life lessons hidden in each of her novels, would require some background knowledge of each story.  I was pleased to find that this was not the case, and that I could appreciate both the lessons imparted in Austen's books, as well as the author's (of THIS book) relationship with them.

Read more....



BlogHer Book Club Reviewer

Making It Easy To Be Beautiful: Kroger and CoverGirl


To anyone who knows me it is no secret that I love makeup - I have tons of it (which the girls LOVE getting into!), and I can always find a reason to buy more.  Which is why I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity through Clever Girl Collective to check out the fabulous selection of CoverGirl makeup offered at Kroger brand grocery stores.

when we lived in Steamboat, the City Market grocery store was basically the only place to shop, and we were there almost every day.  And even though we live in Omaha, where there is a much larger selection of shopping available, the fact that I'm always at the store with 3 kids in tow, pretty much limits me to one stop shopping whenever possible.  Which is why it is so great when stores like Bakers (the local grocery store) have such a wide selection of makeup!  I can pick up the milk and whatnot I need, and then also swing by the cosmetics aisle and find a little treat for myself.

I wasn't foolish enough to bring all of the kids along when I got my Kroger gift card, however.  I wanted plenty of time to peruse the full selection and decide exactly what I wanted.  There was so much to choose from!  I could update my selection of lipsticks (I'm always searching for that perfect red), or possibly try out one of the seemingly hundreds of mascaras (I'm not thrilled with my current brand anyway).  They even have the mascara that is supposed to coordinate with your eye color, although I never know if I should choose brown or hazel.  I thought about trying some of the new natural foundation, or maybe the products that mix CoverGirl makeup with Oil of Olay anti-aging:

The selection really seemed almost endless, and I spent my gift card many times over selecting and replacing the items in my basket.  Finally, I decided to use this unique opportunity to get a few bright eyeshadows and colored eyeliner since I have been wishing I was bold enough to try since seeing how hot bright makeup is for summer.  I even had money left over to buy a couple of new lipglosses (because you can never have too much lipgloss)!

What I got: Liquiliner Blast eyeliner in Blue Boom and Violet Voltage, Eye Enhancers eyeshadow in Turquoise Tempest, Purple Pop and Knock Out Pink, and CG Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers in Strawberry Splash and Grape Splash.

Then, of course, came the fun part - trying everything on! (see photos of my looks here)

The eyeshadows were really nice - sheer enough that even the bright colors could be adapted for daily use (maybe not the turquoise, that was a strong color), but also easily layered to make a dark, bold statement.  I've actually worn the pink eyeshadow all this week; I really love it as an alternative to my other neutral taupes and beiges and it doesn't make your eyes look red or tired like some pinks can.  The purple is really a gorgeous color - a true purple that doesn't get too plummy or muddy when you apply it in a heavy smokey eye.  And the turquoise was really pretty too - definitely a 'statement' color, but perfect when you are really looking to experiment or have some fun (girls trip to Vegas, anyone?)!  The liquiliner blast eyeliner is great - goes on so smooth and easily, with no tugging on my eyelids, and it is easy to smudge if you want to make it smoky while still staying put when you don't want it to smudge - which is why I already had one in gray and black.  The purple makes a great alternative to everyday brown, and the blue was surprisingly modern looking - not 80s or retro at all, even with my brown eyes.  The lipgloss is also really nice - I love a thick, shiny gloss - and while I preferred the grape splash color (shimmery pink), the strawberry tastes phenomenal.

This experience was so much fun - I got some great new CoverGirl products and some new looks to add to my admittedly boring makeup routine.  And I already have a wish list of other CoverGirl products I want to pick up the next time I'm at Bakers!



Thank you to Kroger and CoverGirl for sponsoring this review. While CoverGirl provided me with a $30 gift card to purchase CoverGirl products at Kroger stores, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own, represent my honest viewpoint, and not that of CoverGirl, Kroger, or Proctor & Gamble. I am making no claims about the products, just expressing my thoughtful opinion. Clever Girls Collective supports Blog With Integrity.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Road Trip!

So, I didn't tell you how we almost drowned Sophie last weekend?  How remiss of me.

Last weekend we decided to make the 2 hour drive down to Kansas City to see my aunt and uncle at an art fair (my Aunt Jennifer is the artist, and her stuff is AMAZING.  You should really check out her website).  We left in the afternoon hoping the kids would sleep on the way there (HA.  hahahaha), which of course didn't happen, but the ride was uneventful and we got to the fair about 5:30pm.  We talked to my aunt and uncle for a little while, with a short break for frozen yogurt, but eventually the heat (it was well into the 90s), the time (it was by now way after 7pm) and the hunger (hello? Feed your children people!) got to us and we had to go to the hotel.

Because we are stupid, we had been telling the kids that they could swim at the hotel that night.  So bedtime be damned, we ordered a pizza and headed down for a quick swim while we waited for it to be delivered.  When we got to the pool we were in for a real treat as there were about 500 older kids in the pool, splashing and screaming and generally being completely insane.  The water looked like a feeding frenzy without the blood.  But the whirlpool sat there empty and small and shallow, and looked perfect for our limited swimming needs since 4 out of 5 in our family could stand with their heads out of the water.  And it was empty, which was most important.

So we made our way over, and Izzy got right in and went along the side to stand on the bench seat, while I looked for a single square foot of dry floor to set my clothes and towels on.  Brett and I were both watching Jack to see how he would react to the water; he's super sensitive to heat, and routinely screams about the bathwater being too hot despite it being barely above room temperature and his sisters sitting in it comfortably.  So we were both totally preoccupied with his testing the water, and mentally preparing for the possible impending meltdown.  Which is why we didn't notice Sophie just get in.  And walk down the steps.  And off the bottom step.

And under water.  Whoops.

So Sophie is floundering in the water and Izzy says "Sophie?" kind of questioning, like 'is anyone seeing this because I can't believe this is okay," and I go "Brett!" significantly more urgently, and Brett goes leaping into the water and grabs her up.  And there is two seconds of catching her breath followed by several more seconds of crying and hugging and consoling, and then she goes right back over to the stairs and starts getting in again.  So, not scarred for life or afraid of water, which is good.  Also not a lick more cautious than before, so clearly no lesson learned.  There is no fear in that one, I tell you.  God help us when she gets her driver's license.

Anyway, crisis averted.  And now enjoy these lovely pics of our trip 9which you have probably already seen if you are my friend on Facebook.)

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Oh, and can I just say that with the swimming and dinner and baths afterwards, the kids were up until after 10pm that night (after no nap that day), withe ZERO meltdowns. And then they barely had any nap the next day either, and still, total angels. If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.