Posts Tagged With: books

pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook à la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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mail from Marie

Sometimes very simple things feel the most exciting!


I received this from children’s book author and illustrator, Marie Letourneau. She wrote and illustrated one of my favorite books.

In March, her new book was released.

I’ve placed my precious bookplates firmly in my books.
and

Thanks, Marie, for your kindness!
I will cherish these precious little gifts always.
I will forever love children’s books.
I will forever be excited at the seemingly small things.

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whole lotta lula and one perfect plaid pumpkin

I lula(ed) for the last three days straight. #wholelottalula
Friday night was a swap with four other consultants. Gave us a chance to freshen up our inventory and meet new people while we were at it. While all the women were nice enough, I especially liked one. It’ll be interesting to see if this new friendship develops. #lularoefriends
Saturday I photographed all the new merch. And today I returned as much to the racks as humanly possible.
When I finally loaded all the photos to my fb group page, let me tell you, the ladies were waiting like vultures! #lularoeobsessed
The new Carly dress has people absolutely salivating.
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Sold seven items just by posting photos of new inventory. And not everything that sold was new. It pays to create hype…I don’t feel like I’m adept at that…but I’m learning. And finding that it’s kind of fun.
I created several adorable outfits that can only be purchased as a whole. That Randy (the baseball tee) makes me swoon. Too bad it’s not in my size.
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Even went into the closet under the stairs to get props for an upcoming ‘holiday’ themed outfit and asked the question, “Any of you witches missing your hat?” #withesoflularoe
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I finally quit working today when I realize it was nearly 6:00 and I hadn’t eaten since 9:00 this morning.
We ran to the bookshop to capitalize on a special extra 20% off for members that expired today. (Members already get 20% off so this was an additional 20% for a total of 40% off my entire purchase.) I ended up finding everyone’s Christmas Eve book…well, everyone but YBW. But I have time…and I was famished!
We ran to Target for a couple things and I went absolutely mad over this plaid pumpkin!
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I mean, seriously. That pumpkin was made for me. #preppygirl
I’m ready for Autumn, y’all. Bring on the pumpkins. Bring on the leaves. Bring on the cool crisp air. Bring on the sweaters and jeans (and leggings) and boots. #falliswhereitsat

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thanks, Roald Dahl

matilda

Like Matilda, I am not alone. For I have books-a-plenty.
Thanks, Roald Dahl for this hopeful and comforting message.

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for that is the only place to truly live

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I long to remember how live fully in both fantasy and reality. To know my imagination is free to create absolutely anything. To know that I’m as grounded as humanly possible.
You need both roots and wings. I know that’s rather a mixed metaphor, but I honestly believe it’s the truth. If I am safely rooted in reality, I have the ability to spread my wings and soar into fantasy.
I can remain grounded in the real world at the same moment I am King of all the Wild Things.

Most grown ups do forget the delicate balance. Most grown ups don’t believe in fairies. Most grown ups are far too busy to play. Most grown ups don’t embrace the child within.
I am not that kind of grown up. I will never lose my sense of whimsy. I will always remember how to play. I will always always believe in fairies. I’m a grown up and oftentimes I want to actually be a fairy.

Peter Pan told Wendy, “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
The place between sleep and awake is where grown ups can remember how to live fully in both fantasy and reality. The trick is being able to do it when you’re awake.
Peter Pan also said, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” So many grown ups doubt they can fly. I believe I can fly because I work every single day to remember how to move freely between the fantasy and reality. For that is the only place to truly live.

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all time favorite literary charaters

I hate New Yorkers

Thing C posted this to my facebook wall Friday afternoon. We share a strong common love for The Great Gatsby. We talked about the post at breakfast Saturday morning. I remarked that it’s funny and sad because it’s true. He agreed, especially the I hate New Yorkers part. We laughed that Nick was all, “bye Felicia” to New York to go home to the midwest.

Nick Carraway, without a doubt, is one of my all time favorite literary characters.

Actually, this reminds me of a question from the “Proust Questionnaire”: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Here is my answer: Nick Carraway, Katherine Minola (from Taming of the Shrew), Colonel Christopher Brandon, Princess Elizabeth (from The Paper Bag Princess), Kate Cummings (from The Secret of the Strawbridge Place), and Ron Weasley.

My love for Nick Carraway began when I first read Gatsby in American Lit my junior year of high school. I’m acutely aware that there is many a Nick Carraway character analysis out there in the world. But what I love about him is that he’s hopeful, but realistically so. Not like Gatsby with the unattainable green dock light. Nick is at once involved in the shenanigans yet remains apart from it. He understands what he sees and isn’t blinded by all the gilt trappings. He understood that though Gatsby was doomed, because he would never be able to relive the past, his intentions were pure.
One of my favorite lines is this one about the Buchanans: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Katherine is less shrew than misunderstood. It’s rather obvious her younger sister is her father’s favorite. It’s rather obvious he takes no interest in Katherine other than to wonder why she’s not more like her precious sister. Being big sister is not easy…especially when you have a parent that constantly pits you against each other.
That would make me bitchy too.
She’s also more savvy than most of the men in the story…that’s surely irritating! She has to be married off to one of these idiots? Again I say, that would make me bitchy too.
(disregarding all the ploys to get to Bianca)
Enter Petruchio.
He’s her match in every single way. And throughout all his “mistreatment” of her she never truly loses herself. She tricks him into believing he “tames” her.
The love and respect between Katherine and Petruchio is real.
And finally when they return to Padua for her sister’s wedding she can use her true voice and is respected for it. “Fie, fie! Unknit that threat’ning unkind brow. And dart not scornful glances from those eyes.”
It’s all a matter of how you’re perceived.

Colonel Brandon is so much more than he initially appears. He seems so quiet and not terribly interesting at first glance. But as we spend more time with him we learn that his integrity is the hallmark of his character. He has great capacity for love. He has great patience and his kindness is overwhelming. I love his friendship with the Dashwood ladies. Especially his love for Marianne. She learns to appreciate the strength and sincerity of his love.
When he and Elinor are discussing Marianne’s “immature” romantic notions and he disagrees with Elinor that Marianne should “wise up”, he says: “When the romantic refinements of a young mind are obliged to give way, how frequently are they succeeded by such opinions as are but too common and too dangerous!”
How precious is this man?

The Paper Bag Princess is a children’s book by Robert Munsch. A favorite of my girls when they were little, so much so that when invited to a come-as-your-favorite-princess birthday party Thing 1 went as this spunky princess.
Princess Elizabeth is set to marry a prince called Ronald, but a dragon comes and burns down her castle and kidnaps her betrothed. Does Elizabeth give up? Absolutely not! She dons a paper bag and sets out to save Ronald.
She’s a “can-do” kind of girl. She’s all about being the hero of her own story.
Girl Power!
Here’s a cute reading:

Kate Cummings is a girl growing up in Ohio during the depression. She is smart and spunky. Kate is brave and loyal. She has so much heart. This girl is passionate about everything she does from reading Sherlock Holmes to learning how to do the breast stroke. She loses her patience when tested, but never her kindness.
Kate and her friend Oscar spend their summer searching for the secret of the farm where she lives, the old Strawbridge Place. It’s rumored to have been somehow connected to the Underground Railroad. Their summer is an adventure which changes both their family’s lives.
I met the author when I was nine years old. She inscribed this book and it’s “sequel” to me. It’s in my top twenty favorite books of all time.
Kate is a hero but she’s also just a regular girl.
Kind of like:

Ron Weasley is best known as the redhaired sidekick of boy wonder, Harry Potter. Now I adore Harry, but Ron is my absolute favorite character from that series. Even more than Sirius Black, and I freaking LOVE him! Ron is stalwart and true. He is a fierce friend who would never betray the trust of his friends. He’s much brighter than he receives credit for…especially when Hermione is always flexing her brain.
Ron understands the importance of family, and this goes beyond the other Weasleys. He’s a pureblood without the bigotry that’s occasionally associated with being such.
Ron stood up to “notorious mass murderer Sirius Black” with a broken leg to protect Harry and Hermione. Ron wasn’t afraid to make sacrifices for the good of others, even at the age of eleven when he climbed on the horse on the giant chessboard.
I love Ron’s sense of humor. I love his loyalty. I love that he’s not starstruck by Harry, he just befriends him. He’s flawed, that’s for sure. He’s occasionally jealous of the attention Harry gets. He struggles with his personal insecurities but never waivers. Even when he leaves during the never ending camping trip, his loyalty never waivers.
Book Ron is better than movie Ron. Only because something was lost from page to screen.
Weasley is our King!

Who are some of your favorite literary characters?
Please share in the comments.

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the snowy weekend

I saw the first snowflakes begin to fall at 12:30 Friday and finally stop at 10:00 last night.
We shoveled a solid 5″ Friday after dinner. It was already dark out and there was almost an inch of snow on the driveway and sidewalks when we finished. The wind was bitter but that didn’t stop me from grabbing the camera!
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I measured 16″ on the back porch at 8:30 Saturday morning.
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We have the most wonderful neighbor with a snowblower who came and did the driveway and sidewalk to the porch. Made our lives so much easier! We dug out Thing C’s car and shoveled again late in the afternoon.
When we went out this morning we had to dig out the end of our driveway from where the plow came. The snow was almost up to my waist! As soon as we opened a space our neighbor was back to get the last of the snow. Last time it snowed, I made him a giant chicken pot pie. We haven’t yet decided how we’re going to thank him for this huge snow.

Even after all this time, I’m always surprised at how useless Thing G is at anything that requires effort. I was so frustrated at the snow shoveling situation. I got one half of the driveway clear while Thing G wandered aimlessly with a snow shovel in his hands complaining about how cold it was. Thing C, God love that kid. He works hard and never ever complains. He shoveled and shoveled and never once gave up. He did the sidewalk and porch and sidewalk in front of our house all by himself.

I’m fortunate enough to have been brought up by people who made sure I knew how to do practical things. From cars to home repair, to planning and executing most anything “handy”. I can do simple electrical and plumbing work. I know how to hang drywall. I paint like a boss! I can change the oil and tires on a car. I even know how to hotwire a car. (Why my police officer father thought I’d need to know that is curious to me.)
I’m a capable kind of girl.
The former husband used to say that I was “more of a ‘man’ than most men we know”. He meant it as a complement, and he was right.
Being a capable kind of girl is handy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not afraid of breaking a sweat or getting dirty. I jump in and get the job done. And I’m an excellent planner. So, when I’m working with less capable people, I get frustrated. I try so hard not to, but I just do.
I don’t understand how someone as smart and capable as YBW chooses not to be handy. I think it was the way he was brought up, apparently his dad kind of jerry-rigged most things and was a bit of a shouter. So he didn’t actually learn how to do these practical things properly. I believe that soured him. He’s not incapable, it’s more like he has no real interest in knowing how to do some of those “handy” things.
I know he likes the creature comforts. He’s not unwilling to try to do these handy things.

I’m sad that none of these boys really has any “sense of adventure”. Nobody wanted to walk in the snow to see what was going on in our neighborhood. Nobody wants to go out and “play”. They’re content to sit in front of computers and televisions. It makes me sad. I want to go out and take some photos. I want to do some back flops off the railing into the snow on the back porch. Nobody wants to play in the snow with me.
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Yesterday after a delicious midday meal of chili and cornbread, (Yummy!) we all went our separate ways in the house. Some of us had worked really hard and deserved a break.

I got Rick Bragg’s new book of essays for Christmas.
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I ran a bath and went with Mr Bragg on a lovely southern journey. Honestly, that bath was the most delicious hot soak I’ve had in ages! I was warm through and through for the first time in two days. It was quiet and peaceful and I read a book I’ve been excited about since it was published in September.
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When the snow stopped at 10:00 last night, I took my last measurement.
Exactly 24″.
Two feet of snow fell in thirty four hours.
How cool is that!?!
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I guess I can be as excited as a little girl about the snow but accept that I’ll be disappointed at the way the snow day goes. I guess I’m remembering snow days from when I was little and when my girls were little. When we worked and played together outside, then came in for hot chocolate and played more together inside. The world isn’t like that anymore. This new family I find myself in isn’t like that. That’s not how they roll.
That’s OK, because I just got a text from my neighbor up the street inviting me to come play with her, her five year old daughter and two year old son!
I’m going to play in the snow. Y’all have a great day!

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goodbye, Why Not?

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Sundance texted me Tuesday evening: I’m going into mourning. Why Not? is closing.
My response: Oh NO! Saddest face.
Sundance: I just saw it on the news! We need to go check it out.
Me: I’m wide open Friday. Can you go then?
Sundance: I believe so.
Me: Sold!
Sundance: Boo yah!

So I picked her up this morning and we headed into Old Town Alexandria.
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Why Not? Is a toy store on the corner of King and Lee Streets that we have been shopping at for more than twenty years.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve taken any number of our four kids into the store to climb the steep and narrow stairs to the all important Groovy Girls/Playmobil/book section.
Thing 2 and Girlie Thing had so many pairs of adorably patterned tights from Why Not?
We’ve bought more books from Why Not? than from Amazon in the last twenty years.

Why Not? has been there on the corner for more than 50 years!
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It is heart breaking to know that an independent toy shop just can’t keep up in the day and age of Amazon and Target, etc. Not to mention, it’s probably time for the owner to retire.

I am filled with sadness this afternoon. But I am also flooded with the happiest memories of being in that shop with my girls. Of sneaking down to Old Town when the girls were at school to do a little Christmas or Birthday shopping. Of piling into the car to see the windows decorated for the holidays.

Sundance has been coveting this little dolly for almost two years. It’s made in France and she saw it for over $100.00 at another toy shop. It was $74.00 at Why Not? and everything in the store was 30% off.
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That little brown haired dolly had a red haired sister!
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We decided we needed them desperately…but not enough to actually buy them. Our grown-up brains overrode our dolly needing little girl brains.
‘It was just Christmas. I don’t have a job. Blah blah blah.’
We discussed how my Mommie would have convinced us there is always money for a new dolly. Made us miss her. Sundance talked to her mom after I dropped her off at home, she told her we should have bought the dollies. So much for us being grown-ups.

I did purchase a children’s book.
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It’s about girl power, I absolutely couldn’t pass it up!

Sundance bought two little teeny angel dollies. One for me and one for her.
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I LOOOOOOOVE her!

My sadness runs deeper than I expected. It feels like a part of all the Things childhood has died. Luckily, they’re big kids now. They have happy memories, and hopefully no sadness.
How lucky are we that Why Not? was in our lives for so long!?!

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I love that he makes me laugh

YBW and I went over to Barnes and Noble this morning because I had a 20% off coupon that expired today. Sundance’s birthday is in two weeks and I was hoping to find a cookbook for her. She loves to cuddle up and read them as though they were novels. I kinda love that about her.
I didn’t find anything that I thought she needed. But I did find the third volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography.
Happy Christmas to me! (please read that in a jazzy little sing-song way)

We were walking by the info desk and I said: Do you need that new Twilight book from Edward’s point of view?
Without missing a beat he said: Who’s Edward?
The lady at the info desk looked up incredulously like, WTF dude? Where have you been for the last ten years.
I just cackled.

I suspect some people would consider it one of those “I can’t take you anywhere” moments. Not me! I thought it was the funniest damn thing and I’ll keep taking him places because he makes me laugh.

I love that he makes me laugh.
I love that he doesn’t care that I sometimes pick out my own gifts.

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the gift of memories

Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death and it’s got me thinking about a lifetime of memories. I’ve written about my complicated relationship with my mother in missing Mommie, but today I’m not thinking about the unanswered questions.
Today I am simply remembering her. Remembering specific moments with her. Sometimes I feel like I’ve done her a disservice by talking about my conflicts with her, with my feelings about her, and not talking about the memories. Because even though the conflicts were many, the memories are too.

Fox in Socks is my all time favorite Dr Seuss book because of her. I was either in kindergarten or first grade, my brother was three or four. She sat with us to read this book, got tongue twisted beyond our imaginations and we laughed until we were collapsed in a heap in the floor.
She never read it again, but laughed about that moment for the rest of her life.

I learned to love Elvis because of her. She would play records and we would dance and sing until we were worn slap out. These moments were rare, seeing her be joyful simply for the fun of it. She never let herself go, always kept a tight reign on her emotions. Even then these little moments were sacred to me, I understood without really knowing how precious they were.

She never read us bedtime stories, she didn’t like to read aloud. Instead she would often use dolls or action figures to tell us stories at bedtime. My brother would scoot into my bed ready for the story. Sometimes she used my brother’s Weebles, or our Fischer Price people to tell the stories. But my favorite stories always starred I our bendy Evel Knievel and Derry Daring figures.
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(Is it just me or were toys cooler in the 1970s than they are today?)

I would become distraught (I am in no way exaggerating.) when Grandaddy would get on an airplane to go on a trip. I would stand at the gate waving at him through the window until the plane took off and then I would completely loose my mind. I was all tears and hyperventilation and the way she had decided to console me was to take me to Toys R Us for a color book and new box of crayons. And even as an adult, I would receive a new box of crayons and a color book any time there was something serious going on. When I went to have my hysterectomy I got the big box of 64 and five brand new color books. She wanted to make sure I enough to keep me occupied.

After I was already married but before Thing 1 came along, she and I went on a road trip and documented it with video. I laughed more with her in the car those four days than I can even believe! We were positively punchy but it all made sense. I don’t know what ever happened to that old vhs tape, I wish I had it though. It would be fun to laugh with her again.

My memories of my mom are a gift. All the memories, the good ones and the complicated ones. I’m lucky to have them. I was lucky to have her. I’m not sure if I told her that. I know she knew because moms just know those things, but it might have been nice to say it out loud.

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