Thursday, July 23, 2009

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
So far, there are a couple of reasons I really like Smashed. First, she's exactly my age, so when she's talking about things that happend in highschool, etc, it's kind of fun to see the social parallels, but secondly,she's from New England. I'm more than a little obsessed with all things New England since I'm a transplant. (I've watched The Departed and the Dennis Lehane movies more times that I can count). Her bio says she grew up in the 'suburbs of Boston', but when she's talking about a girl who goes to her regional high school andsays "Billie lives in the bordering town of Clinton..." I gasped in excitement, because that's just up the road!

It's a bio that I'm hopingdoesn't turn out to be bogus like that of James Frey.

I wanted to read it before sending it off to my 15 year-old niece as a'cautionary tale' (yep, I'm *that* aunt) and have found that it's really good, frank, and I think that most parents would benefit from reading it even if your kids aren't there yet.

Even though the 'times are different' it hasn't been all THAT long since I was in high school, but I feel like I've forgotten a lot of the nuance. Oh yeah, and I never drank in high school.

The above was written when I was only about a third into the book...I have to say it went downhill from there. She was either grossly exaggerating her drinking in parts, or in fierce denial in others because she'd talk about slugging drink after vodka-filled drink for hours on end on a regular basis, while maintaining a certain level of function; but at others would say things about how 'some' people could tolerate 3 long island iced teas while she was blasted after just two.

I also felt like she never, really, admitted that she had a problem. Saying instead that she didn't have a "genetically based reaction to alcohol that addiction counselors call 'a disease'" or "I drank for the explicit purpose of getting drunk, getting brave, or medicating my moods."

Even though the book is aimed at being a cautionary tale for teen-age alcohol abuse, it's more a cautionary tale for not owning your alcoholism. She was/is an alcoholic. Period. I'm disappointed that she never admitted that. She only says that she stopped drinking because her husband enabled her to feel in a way that she formerly couldn't without's alcoholism.

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* Cross-posted at Knitty Reviews

Calling All Modern Moms!

I find myself lately itching for the next baby ...okay, nursery, as it'll finally be in an honest to goodness house...our first home. I love flipping through websites and catalogues like Land of Nod and looking at all the bold prints and funky furniture because a Whinnie the Pooh nursery will just never be for me.

There's an online shop that's headquartered on Boylston Street in Boston called AllModernBaby, and they carry some of my favorite lines like Stokke (including the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair, which you can use from infancy to adulthood and carries a seven year guarantee on all wooden parts), Maclaren, Dwell Studio and Bugaboo (my dream stroller). Like they say, champagne tastes on a beer budget...

Every time our Land of Nod catologue comes, I am drawn to the Stokke Sleepi crib. There's just something really appealing about an oval shaped crib in a square room.

AllModernBaby is a fun site full of splurges and steals; right now there's some great wall art at 50% off, and they offer large discounts on returned items. For instance, a Skip Hop diaper bag in 'West Side Wave' is available for $75, when it lists at 149.99 plus free shipping! Definitely the place to go if you're intent on creating a one of a kind nursery with quality, eco-friendly pieces.

From now until next Friday (July 31st), your comments will be entered in a drawing, with the prize of your choice of item up to $50 from the AllModernBaby site! With the sales going on right now, you could really get a great prize! Browse around on the site and then leave a comment here telling my what your biggest splurge (for your baby's room or gear) would be if money were no object. I'll choose one winner randomly, and announce it here on Saturday, August 1st.

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The 19th Wife: A Novel The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The 19th Wife drew my attention as I was checking out Under the Banner of Heaven for the second time. This is quite likely my least well articulated review, but I found myself with so much to say after reading this, I'm still editing and tweaking a post about it. I find books about any religion that deal with the history and founding of it, in conjunction with how those ideals are standing up now, very interesting. There were several things that I really liked about this book, but here are just a few;

Ebershoff has you on the edge of your google button throughout the entire novel, wondering which parts of Ann Eliza's tale are straight from her book, and what has been embellished in order to keep the book moving. Twisting the two stories of Ann Eliza Young, the famed '19th wife' of Brigham Young (Mormon prophet) who left the church and denounced plural marriage and a modern-day '19th wife' in the polygamous sect 'The Firsts' who is accused of murdering her husband.

I appreciated that the author was very clear in the modern-day scenario to separate the polygamous group from the official LDS church, as they are so often lumped together. Kelly Dee, a graduate student at BYU's Women's Studies program is writing a thesis throughout and it documents her attempts to gain access to the sealed archives that would shed light on the details of Brigham and Ann Eliza. She is ultimately given access and able to complete her thesis.

Kelly made the statement several times in her request that by embracing their history, and acknowledging their polygamist past that the Mormon church would be able to truly move forward. Had the doctrine of polygamy not been retracted in 1890, it's thought that the faith would surely have fizzled out to just a fringe group.

Being able to acknowledge that, of course there are things in the church's past that are unsavory, and motives that can be questioned, and practices that should never have been endorsed but were...that's true of any religion.

The storyline regarding the modern-day "Wife #19" was so intriguing because it shed some light on just how little the people living in communes and other cults question what they're being told. Jordan, a son of Wife 19 had been previously ex-communicated for taking his step-sister's hand during a conversation, so was living elsewhere when news of the murder hit the news stands. Throughout the novel, he's returned to Mesadale, home of The Firsts, so that he can attempt to assist in his mother's defense.

Because this review doesn't contain spoilers, you'll have to read for yourself to find out 'who done it'.

If you're concerned that having people read this book will give them ammunition in their theological arguments against the modern-day church, I don't think that's the case. Everybody loves to read about a scandal...a book about your average LDS dentist neighbor, his friendly wife, and five hard-working caffeine-and-R-rated film-free kids probably wouldn't be flying off the shelves.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lady and the Tramp

May I just say that I was slightly embarassed when I heard the newest term for one of my gotta-have-it-now-that-I live-in-the-big-city-at-the-tender-age-of-23, oh-so-unoriginal (both in theme and placement) tattoos? Yep, the tramp stamp. Can't wait until my boys come home from school realizing that mommy has one...I looked at J the other night and asked "How could you have just stood by and let me get that?!" He didn't even respond beyond his scoff and eye roll, because we both knew it was an asinine question...had he said a thing, it would have been bigger and trampier.
**I should add, however, that one unforeseen advantage has been noted by both anesthesiologists when placing my epidural...that middle flower is dead center for needle insertion.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Rip, Rip It Good

I was going to put this sweater in the yardsale because it had had it's day in the sun...then I looked at all that yarn and decided I'd do my first re-purposing project. You can see at the bottom where I started to unravel it. I'll have to put it aside until I finish the socks I'm doing, but we'll see how it goes! I may make something for the boys, we'll see.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Triathlons Are The New Black (Corvette)

I remember a time when an early mid-life crisis involved the purchase of a cheesy sports car, or men getting an earring or dying the grays that had sprouted through the last decade. When I went home and celebrated my dirty thirty, I didn't feel bad about leaving my twenties behind like I thought I would.

What hit me, however, was that a number of my friends who are either in that decade with me or just about to join are looking better than ever. What happened to being a frump-tastic middle-ager?

Thanks to Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and any number of other people Oprah's made famous, a lot of people are starting to examine their lifestyles and instead of feeling depressed, they're get in the driver's seat. While I didn't feel sad to turn thirty, I did feel a touch suicidal when looking at the photos from that evening. Really? Is that me? When did I develop such a gut?! When did my face stop being heart-shaped when I smiled? Through the years I've deluded myself by becoming a master at what I call artful cropping for the ample-bodied whenever there are parts of my body that I don't want published for all. The digital age has made it possible to delete what's not flattering and make the most of what's left.
But, delusions no more, because the photos taken by my sister's trusty 35mm left no question in mind...something has to change. Selfishly, I want to have albums full of pictures of me with my family. Since I feel compelled to delete every picture with me in it because my third chin's in the way, there will be nothing left by the time I'm done extracting every sliver of embarrassment from each photo. Last I checked, you don't carry a baby in your mouth, so my fat face is definitely Cold Stone more than Baby-weight.

Though I've begun working out again, and participated in a 5K at the beginning of the summer, I'm haven't made any major breakthroughs. The friends that look awesome haven't taken any magic pills or discovered the fountain of youth; it's being conscious of what you put in your mouth and making sure that each day you move your body enough to feel it.

Something more that I've noticed, however, is that the friends that have really stepped it up are all training for sprint-distance triathlons. I just saw my oldest friend from childhood and he looked fantastic; it all started because his dog needed a little exercise, he said, and then he saw an advertisement for a sprint tri scheduled for his thirtieth birthday.

I had already told J that I had set the return from my trip to start seriously reducing the amount of sugar I eat (no more oreos and ice cream in the cupboards), and using my gym membership to its fullest by being there to have an honest workout five days a week. I called my ob to get my pre-pregnancy weight for both kids, and those are my starting goals. I'm only ten pounds off from Charlie's so it's reasonable, but will take work.

The biggest challenge for myself, however? I've signed up for the Women's Only Title 9 Triathlon in the middle of September. I have 3 months and 2 days to be ready for what will be my biggest fitness accomplishment to date, and I have my friends to thank; Alex, Kim, Maggie and Joe you're my tri-tri-again inspiration!

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Motherhood, My Self

It's been awhile since I've posted because I was on vacation; Sweet Home Eastern Oregon (sing it Lynard Skynard style). I don't think I can encompass all the shenanigans and hilarity that ensued on this trip in one post, and I also can't talk about some of the ridiculosity because I value my relationship with Fancy Nancy.

So, here's a re-cap:

4am on a Monday morning, we got up and showered for the drive to TF Green, loaded the kids and pulled up to the airport at 6:15 for a flight that left at 7:15. Yes, we were late. The line for Southwest snaked out the door and the tension emanating off J's person was palpable. I strapped Charlie in my newly acquired Ergo, got out my suitcase and loaded H into the stroller while J parked the car in the long-term lot.

H was not pleased to be in the stroller, as he had his Elmo backpack on and it was a tight squeeze for the two of them...but he wouldn't take off the backpack, so his decision had a fun consequence. He screamed through the entire line to the ticket counter that "I don't WANT to be in the stroller!!!" Great, way to let the folks know in advance that you'll be that kid on their flight.

Luckily the employees at Southwest were speedy as always and we made it through the line in no time. The security line was equally quick, facilitated by being allowed to have Charlie remain in the Ergo since the only metal pieces are the little snaps at the shoulder for the sleeping hood. (One more reason to invest in it!)

While J the Pack Mule took the car seat and H to the gate, I used my two free hands to get coffee and muffins for the flight from Starbucks. We got there just in time to board and settle in. My friends had asked me the night before what my flights were, and I told them I had two two hour legs. I should have known my math was off...I was not prepared for the announcement that our flight was 5.5 hours...for the first leg...

I got a mini lunge workout, as I spent the entire 5 hours that we weren't taking off or landing standing in the aisle swaying back and forth. Reason #2 I'm glad I invested in the Ergo.

After a brief layover in Vegas where H kept asking if he could play the 'fun games', we made it to the Boise Airport where I had a mini-tantrum at the Budget counter when the staff tried to convince me that the Toyota Camry was the same size as a Taurus. Whatev'. J insists that it's just because I'm a Ford fanatic and don't know what to do with myself without one. Or, I believe his direct quote was "You're a Ford Fundamentalist trying to bring a jihad on the foreign auto-makers"...I think that was a bit much.

As we sped along I-84, I took in the scenery of sage brush and rolling hills and felt a lightness to my soul...I'm home!

At my sister's house in Ontario, we were greeted with the smell of a lasagna dinner and had just enough time to eat before Milly and I headed back to Boise to get Sherri and meet Baby A for the first time.

Baby and Sister #3 in tow, we left the airport and revealed our plan to get ice cream on the way home. We weren't sure where to stop, so decided to head further into Boise...we were talking, talking, talking before one of us finally said "Wait! Why is there just sage brush and no city?" Yeah, for those of you familiar with Boise, we were just miles outside Mountain Home...oops!

Safely ensconced in Cracker Barrel, after a little detour, we ordered berry cobbler with ice cream and then made our way back to Ontario at the early hour of 11pm...I'd essentially been up for since the day before since I only got three hours of sleep the night before...I was suddenly exhausted.

The time at home was fantastic; all four sisters in one spot at the same time with all of our kids! Of course, it was punctuated by the usual family mini-drama which, when related back to J (he left several days before I did due to work), elicited the response "Wow. I'm glad I missed that." But it was nothing that couldn't be soothed by soft-serve swirl cones at the Cove Drive-In

A particularly riotous addition for a couple days was a cousin's pit bull named Chaos who was 'starving'. Oh, good thing there were several small children whose faces he could eat if the hunger pangs became unbearable. Maybe it's just me, but feeding a dog whose breed is known for violent attacks before exposing him to a group of little ones running around in bathing suits would be prudent. Despite my snarky outlook, the dog was very gentle, and wasn't allowed to romp with the kids so my apprehensions were for naught.
H slept like a rock in a tent in the backyard next to Granny each night after days filled with swim trunks, slip-n-slides and ice lollies from 6am to 10pm. Charlie kicked it in the pack-n-play in my parent's bedroom each night while my dad's Darth Vader-esque sleep machine provided the lulling white noise.

Sherri and I(and J while he was there) stayed in a room at the Union Hotel; The Garden Room which, in addition to wooden lattice laced with plastic vines as a border and a white picket fence headboard (kitchy-cute), had a 'greenhouse-like-atmosphere' as there was no a/c and the window in our bedroom didn't have a screen on it. Thank goodness for ceiling fans, right? But no matter how steamy, or free of children the room may have been, there were no vacation's a little hard to be romantic with the doors to the bathroom that joins your room to your sister's are wide open to facilitate airflow.

My 30th year was rung out in style, with some drinks with friends, J, and my sisters at Benchwarmers where I finally learned my happy medium. I had four fantastic drinks, had a great night, and didn't have even the hint of a hangover the next morning. No having had much practice with the whole drinking scene in college or high school, this lesson has taken me far longer to learn than Joe the Plumber. Sorry Ms. Palin, I had to make a reference to you, since your awkward rambling resignation punctuated my vacay.

The solo flight home went much more smoothly than the one with both parents on deck, and I'll maintain that it's because people show far more sympathy for a single mother travelling with two under 4 than a 1:1 parent/child ratio.

As I nudged open the door to our apartment, and the familiarly-scented, cool air hit my face I rolled the luggage into my bedroom, deposited the kids and breathed a sigh of contentment...I'm home.