Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Top 11 books of 2014. I mean, these are books I READ this year, not necessarily books PUBLISHED this year.

It's funny because most of these books didn't "win" their months, but when I look back over my year in books, they rise to the top.  I wanted to pick a top 10, but I just couldn't.  Both my #10 and #11 picks have haunted me since I put them down, a good reason to keep them both on the list I think.

11.  Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala:  A searing story of grief written in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami.  This book is beautiful and lyrical and heart breaking.

10.  Euphoria by Lily King:  Such an odd, haunting story of anthropologists i the early 20th century.  I read it by the pool, but it was more substantial than most summer reads.

9.  Wonder by RJ Palacio:  The boys and I read this together, and I don;t think we'll ever forget it.

8.  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd:  Another book that will not leave my head.  A fictionalized account of Sarah and Angelina Grimke's political awakening.

7.  Guests on Earth by Lee Smith:  Both poetic and taut, this book is a fictionalized account of the hospital fire that killed Zelda Fitzgerald.  I have started calling Dorothy pie-face because of it.

6.  Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graf:  Another wonderful kiddie lit book.  If you have kids, you should read it with them.

5. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez:  This multi-narrator account of immigrants struggling to survive in the US is going to be required reading in high schools soon.

4.  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra:  Not my usual jam, this book is about war and features lots of male characters, but it's like nothing I have read before.

3.  The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters:  I don't even know what to say about this book without giving it away.  It's a love story.

2.  We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler:  I cannot spoil the charming plot twist, so I will just implore you to read this book.

1.  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt:  I mean, duh.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December: What I Read

Okay, you guys.  It looks like a I read 102 books this year.  For a second there, I didn't think I would make it, but then we drove to Florida and back, and I had so much time to read!

9.  Undone by Karin Slaughter:  This only took a couple of hours to read.  Sure, I figured it out on the 10th page, but it was still a really entertaining thriller.

8. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay:  This was a predictable, but sweet, story about 2 sisters.  I think I would ave loved it in the summer.

7. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham:  I am a sucker for memoirs, and this one was hilarious.

6.  Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession by Erma Bombeck:  Oh, so funny.  So retro. So what mommy blogs used to be.

5.  The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck:  The part about building a tract house in the burbs killed me because, erm, it's my life.

4.  The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty:  You should really read this. I did in the car, and it was even possible to drown out the kids' screaming.

3.  If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck:  The part about selfless gifts from children made m cry, and the rest was so funny and so exactly like what having small kids is about.

2.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty:  A woman his her head at the gym and passes out and forget the last 10 years of her life.  SO GOOD.

1.  The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: OH MY GOD.  This book is a revelation.  That's all I can say.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas recap

I don't even know what day it is, and I don't plan to until next week when I have a meeting and need to send the kids back to school (cue the angels singing there).  Ben goes back to work, too, next week, but not me.  Not util the 14th.  I feel super relaxed just saying that.  Just THINKING it, really.

We had a lovely Christmas and have been enjoying each other and ticking household tasks off the list one-by-one this week. A huge toy purge and some room re-organization, a picture project for the living room.  Spending 4 hours cleaning up the most horrific dog vomit and excrement horror scene I have ever smelled.  Ok-- that last one wasn't on our planned list, but holy shit was it a rude awakening this morning, especially because we overdid it on the margaritas last night.

The kids got home from Disney and immediately opened gifts from my family.  Leslie-- they had SO MUCH FUN spending their cash at Target on various video games, action figures, and plastic puppies.  They also happily used their Amazon gift cards from Bomma to buy toy storage.

Jack loves the Barbie Mall.
 Harry knocked out his NYC Legos
 Dorothy jumped her head off
We baked cookies, and the boys left some intense Santa notes
Dorothy got the hang of opening gifts.
The boys have been honing their skills for years.

So much candy
Pretty princess!
We went to Ben's parents' house for cousin time and more presents.
Dorothy loved it!
But she wasn't into posing for  a picture
Christmas Eve visit to Santa
Christmas Bingo
She matches her dolly!
Sitting ON the table for a donut break this morning while Harry went to play with friends and Ben cleaned up dog mess.
How cute is this!?  I LOVE it.

Even cuter with my little doggy accessory

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Disney Day 4.5: EXTRA MAGIC HOURS; Also, the LONG Drive Home

You guys! There was this completely odd woman in line behind Dorothy and me to see Elsa and Anna on Monday morning. She had her in-laws, her husband, and her 8 month-old baby (whom she kept yelling at whenever the baby would make any noise).  She also had a list of princesses, and she was crossing them off one by one.  But come on!  NO WAY was that experience for the baby!

I was totally worried that I was THAT PERSON, too, especially since Dorothy saw the carousel out the front of the Hall of Princesses and totally wanted to ride it.

But packing the night before, hauling everyone out of bed at 5:45, parking at the Contemporary where we planned to eat breakfast and literally sprinting into the park at 7:00 am EXTRA MAGIC rope drop was sooooo worth it.

By 8:00 am, Dorothy met Elsa and Anna, and Dorothy, Cooper, and I had ice cream and rode the Carousel.  Cooper, Harry, Jack, and Ben also did Peter Pan's Flight and Mickey's Philharmonic, and Harry, Ben, and Jack went on Haunted Mansion.  By 9:00, we added teacups for the whole fam, Space Mountain for the big boys and Ben and Dumbo and the teacups 5 more times for me and the babies.  Then we had a muffin dance party, using 12 of our last 16 snack credits to buy breakfast, and the boys went on the Tomorrowland Speedway while the babies and I did more Dumbo and teacups-- their favorites.

We went back to the Contemporary to have hour last 6 meals credits, and then bam!  We were on the road by 10:30 central time.  We drove until 9:00 central time and found ourselves in Dalton, Georgia, where we went to Chili's and WalMArt before sleeping in a couple of rooms at the Marriot.  At 5:30 CST the next morning, we were on the road, and we walked in our own front door by 7:00 pm.  IT WAS AWESOME.

Clearly, Dorothy loved Elsa and Anna, nd I was not a big weirdy weirdo

Carousel!  We just missed riding with Cinderella's step family and the fairy godmother.  
Deep conversation.
THE BIGGEST TOP KNOT EVER.  My hair grew exponentially wider in the Florida humidity.
Last settee dance break
She really liked the merry go round.
So did he.
Never to early for Mickey ice cream.  While Ben and the boys were on Haunted Mansion, I was looking everywhere for something breakfast-y for the babies but could only see the ice cream guy.  Cooper kept nagging, and I kept looking, and finally, he spotted the ice cream cart and said with great relief, "Oh, mama, there it is!  I find it for you."  So, what could I do?

Tea cups, a favorite for sure.  (Jack lost another tooth at Disney)
Dorothy liked to ride like this, and I put my arm around her and noticed her heart beating so fast-- pretty sure the teacups were a thrill ride for her.

So sad to leave
All snuggled up with me on our way home.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Disney Diary Day 4: Beach Club and Epcot

 The above Pere Noel asked the assembled kids what his name was just to hear them scream Santa so he could be like OMG you guys are so stupid and wrong.  He was a barrel of laughs.

WE LOVE EPCOT, BTW.  Sure, most of the rides are super lame, but the giant golf ball thing is so pretty, and the fireworks are so great.  And there is SO MUCH FOOD AND BEER and it is all delicious.  Ben and the boys went on the giant golf ball ride last night, and it is lame, lame, lame they said.  But still pretty.
 We walked around the world showcase eating and drinking anything we wanted (which is how you blow through a deluxe 5-day meal plan in just under 4 days, BTW)  The Oreo Rice Krispie sandwich thing Harry has is from 'Murica, of course.
 SO happy to be in the donut line
 But look at snarky Jack.  (He was pissy because he had his heart set on Magic Kingdom this afternoon.  We had dinner reservations at the Grand Floridian, so we figured we could park the car there and take the boat to the park and then boat back for dinner.  But you have to fold up the stroller to get on the boat and both babies were asleep, so we gently transferred them back to the car and drove to the Magic Kingdom, but there was only grass parking left, and we realized that mean heinous hoards of people.  Since we lost Cooper briefly at Epcot on Saturday (Oh yeah!  we lost Cooper briefly at Epcot-- it was really scary.  He was running around the Land pavilion in a blind panic and even went outside in the pitch black to look for us), I have been a little freaked out about watching everyone in the crowds.  We went to Epcot instead since we could just walk there which was fine until it all of the sudden started POURING and we bought $60 worth of ponchos and got to ally soaked through anyway waddling back to our hotel.  We tried to run, but OMG we ate too much. I digress-- look at Jack's snarky face.
 Cooper's week of no naps has really caught up to him all at once.
 I really wanted to go to this bakery to try school bread-- SO GOOD you guys.  I took a picture of it with my iPhone, and those pics upload separately, so GET EXCITED or scroll down if you just can't wait.
 Grand Floridian lobby all decked out for Christmas.  Harry and Jack cannot decide if they want to stay there or at the Polynesian next time we come to Disney.  I want to stay at the sweet little Beach Club, but I fear I will be out numbered.

 We had dinner with Cinderella and Prince Charming and the step family.  Harry was super tired from an intense morning at the pool.
 Not Ben.
 Dorothy practiced her expression repertoire.  Surprised:
 Cooper and Ben both got sun burned at the pool today.  The rest of us are a little tan.
 Prince Charming!
 Stepmother.  She was really, really funny.

 Our usual on-the-way-to-the-elevator dance party
 Dorothy hates the furries.
 She seems to like Goofy, who has a really disturbing FUPA, by the way.
 After breakfast, we went to the pool for 4 hours.  It was amazing.  I floated around the las over over and over.  The boys played volleyball.  Ben and the babies built sandcastles.  The kids ate lunch served in sand buckets, and Ben and I ate vegetables for the first time in forever.

Harrison got a couple of hair wraps in his hair.  OF COURSE.
 This is the huge water slide at our hotel pool.
 It comes out all the way over there by the building.  I took a picture because I could not believe how big it is!
 Dorothy made dirt angels while Harry got his hair done.  I thought I had a rough time and went looking for Ben to take her with him and Cooper and Jack in the pool, but I could't find him, and I was getting all pissy about it.  Then Ben showed up to tell me that Cooper had a hideous poolside poop accident, and he had to throw away his swimsuit and take a towel-wrapped Cooper and a dripping, life vest-wearing Jack into the hotel gift shop to buy a new suit (and some swim diapers).  Suddenly, this didn't seem so bad:
 The hair wraps.  Bears colors, natch.
 Another couch pic on the way to the park.  I take these everyday so I know what the kids are wearing in case they get lost, but the kids just think it is a super fun excuse for a dance party.
 Harry has been dying for this hat for 4 days.
 Sacked out baby with her babies.
 She waved at Cinderella!  A character fan just in time to go home.