Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ikea + Mom = Butt Tattoos?

As we were leaving the parking lot of Ikea today, a woman sporting a tattoo sleeve & her little boys crossed in front of us & I said to my boys, "Hey that kids mom has a sleeve. What if YOUR Mom had one?" Silence. Then my 11, (going on 18yr old) said, "Um, that would be gross." 

Me: "Why? 

The 6yr old offered:  "You're not the kind of girl who has tattoos." (I LOVE that he still calls me a "girl"!)

Me: "Really?! And what  kind is that?" 

6yr old: "Idk...other girls."

11yr old: "He means like other women. Who wear different clothes."  (I think he meant "Other women who are cool and can actually pull off a visible tattoo, unlike you, Mom" but just didn't know how to verbalize it correctly.)

6yr old: "Like girls with blonde and brown hair and stuff."

Me: "I have blonde and brown hair."

6yr old: "No, like at the same time."

Me: "Well, some of your friend's Mom's have tattoos. Did you realize that?"

11yr old: "Yeah but that's fine because they're not OUR Mom and YOU are."

6yr old: "Yeah!"

Me: "Oh, I it's OK for other people's Mom's to have tattoos, just not yours."

11yr old: "Exactly.  If you got one it would just be awkward."

Me: "Why? What if I got one where you can't see it? What if I told you I already had one but you just can't see it?"

6yr old: "Like on your butt?!"

11yr old: (Insert exasperated, I really want to be done with this conversation, sigh) "She doesn't have one on her butt.  If you get a tattoo on your butt it means you have to show your butt to whoever is doing the tattoo and Mommy is not the kind of person who goes around showing her butt to people."

Me: "This is true...on all accounts"

6yr old: (proudly) "Well, I've seen your butt 'cuz I sneak in sometimes when you're changing." 
This info does not surprise me in the least...

11yr old: "Well, then you KNOW she doesn't have one then! (pause) Right?" (double checking I guess.)

Me: (grinning my slyest grin just because I know how badly we wants this conversation to be over) "Maybe" ;D

Friday, July 29, 2011

"The Beach Trees" by Karen White

The Beach Trees 

I enjoyed this book. It started out a little slow for me in the beginning and I found it difficult to keep track of the different characters due to the two different life stories being told but after the first few chapters I was fine. 

"The Beach Trees" is a story that takes place along the Katrina ravaged gulf coast of Biloxi, MS and New Orleans, LA, focusing on the lives of two women Julie Holt and the aging Aimee Guidry. Neither have met before but they are brought together by the death of Monica Guidry, Julie's friend and Aimee's estranged granddaughter. Monica left Julie with the responsibility of raising her 5yr old son Beau, (whom the family had no knowledge of) and left her a beach house along the coast in Biloxi, MS in which to raise him in, as well as an old family heirloom that holds clues that may provide some answers not just for Aimee but for Julie as well. Both women have suffered tragic loss in their lives and may discover that they are more connected than they realize. 

(The story is told from the narrative of both Julie and Aimee and the chapters go back and forth between the two. Sometimes when books are written this way, it can get confusing but author White, does a nice job and the women's stories flow evenly between chapters.)

While Julie is on her journey to fulfill Monica's wishes, she discovers that the beach house was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and there is nothing left but an empty lot. She also discovers that Monica's brother, Trey Guidry, is part owner of the property. They don't exactly hit it off but are forced to work together for the sake of Beau and Aimee. 

Aimee is the matriarch of the Guidry family and is kind and loving to everyone she meets regardless of race or social status. She was a reluctant witness to her mother's death when she was a toddler and still has nightmares into old age. She spent her summers in New Orleans, living with her grandmother who was both good friends and neighbors with the Guidry family. Aimee grew up with both Gary and his older brother Wes Guidry (before marrying one of them) and shared lots of memories with their family at yearly Mardi Gras balls and their beach house in Biloxi until the night that their mother, Caroline disappeared. She raised Trey and Monica, her grandchildren, when their parents weren't able too and was devastated when Monica left without a word, feeling her loss every day.

Julie spent the first twelve years of her life in MA until the year her younger sister Chelsea went missing. Julie has always felt responsible for her disappearance because she was the one who was supposed to be watching her. She has continued to search for her every day, well into her adult years, never giving up hope. In doing so, she has giving up having a life of her own outside of a career and while she is open and easily giving to those around her (she takes in Monica and Beau during her last year of life) she isn't very good at "living" life. The longer she stays in Biloxi though, the more she begins to feel like maybe the thing she's been searching for has been right in front of her all along and maybe, the people she's met, Aimee, Trey and Beau are the ones to help her find it.

Trey has spent the past ten years searching for his younger sister Monica. There isn't a day that goes by that he hasn't tried to find her or wonder why she left, somehow feeling like he's to blame. Having lost so much in his life already, his grandmother, Aimee is all that he has left and he wants to do all he can to protect her so when this stranger Julie Holt shows up with a "stolen" family heirloom and his nephew who is an almost mirror image of his sister, the lawyer in him comes out in full force. He struggles to understand why his sister would choose to stay away all these years, not contacting him, especially after Beau was born and why, her supposed "best friend", knowing so much about him and his family, wouldn't have encouraged her to call or come home. As the pieces of the mystery of his family begin to come together, he realizes that maybe he and Julie aren't so different after all.

There is a great deal of detail about the gulf coast, what it was like before and during Katrina and what the area looks like now. Even though this is a story of fiction, it still brought back the memories of the live news coverage of Katrina for me and the sorrow I felt for the people of the gulf coast and New Orleans. Like the people in real life, the people in this story chose to be defiant and to rebuild, to "look up". One of the quotes that I loved from this book that sums up the spirit of the people of the Katrina ravaged areas, the ones who chose to come "home" and start over is: 

"Look up," I told Johnny, and he did, his mouth. "Remember that all right? When everything you're about to see is too much, look up and see that the sky is clear and know that everything is going to be all right." ~ Aimee Guidry (after Hurricane Camille 1969)

Pretty good advice for just about any hardship we face...

This book has a little bit of everything in it, love, romance, heartbreak, forgiveness, murder, unsolved mysteries, you name it, it's got it. Well, unless you're looking for sparkly vampires... ;)  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unearthly ~ Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly #1) 

Pretty cover but I did not love this book.  I'm also beginning to feel like Nephilim are the new Vampires in YA Lit these days.  Author Hand's inclusion of the Genesis 6:4 reference was nice for anyone not familiar with the Nephilim or where they were ever real or not but I found the story to be slow, awkward in places and cliche.  

Clara wasn't all that impressive to me as a main character.  In fact, when she was around Christian she seemed creepy, stalkerish and not at all believable, almost making me want to put the book down .  When she was with Tucker, however, she was much more engaging.  As far as plot goes, I didn't feel like there was a whole lot of mystery there. I had figured out that Christian was most likely "different" not too far into the book and wasn't surprised at all by the ending. I felt like there should have been more interaction between he and Clara while he was away to make the "choice" at the end much more difficult for her but again, it was no surprise to me.

Angela was irritating at best and while my first inclination is to assume she will turn out to be bad based on her parentage, my gut tells me Jeffrey is most likely the one to watch out for.  Tucker was the BEST part of this book for me (THE BEST!) and I thoroughly enjoyed his exchanges with Clara!  I loved his witty humor, his kindness, humility and the way he could infuriate Clara all at the same time. (I'd probably be more of an outdoorsy type myself if I'd met a Tucker when I was younger.)  I will probably read the next book just to find out what happens to him. 

The book has a good message -  we're all special, all created for a purpose greater than ourselves.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Forever" ~ Maggie Stiefvater

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3) 
I have to admit that I'm sorry to say to goodbye to Mercy Falls and to Sam, Grace, Isabel & Cole, especially since I felt like "Forever" was anticlimactic.  

The book is well written and flowed more smoothly than Linger did.  It allows for some of the less endearing characters from the previous books to redeem themselves and some of the story's questions get answered but not all.  I still have a few.

Grace is a wolf at the opening of this book and Sam is still a boy.  She shifts sporadically but not for very long and narrowly misses Sam each time she does.  He's at a loss for how to keep her safe. (We are heartbroken for the both of them.)  Everyone in town blames him for her disappearance, assumes she's dead at his expense, including Grace's parents.  When another body of a missing girl shows up, the livelihood of the entire pack hangs in the balance as the massive hunt to kill them all gets under way.

Sam and Grace as well as Isabel and Cole all have issues to work out not just within themselves but also within their respective relationships.  This final book in the trilogy has love, romance (I can't remember the last time my husband brought me home a gift he saw in a window that made him think of me- and the way it would look on me and all the thoughts that go along with that.  That could be because he knows if he came home with the wrong size, it would go badly for him.)  passion (just the kissing alone...sigh) and loss (characters die...sniff).  

I do have a few unanswered questions though like:

Chapter 58?  What is up with Isabel and Cole in that one?  I kept waiting for Stiefvater to go back (in a few pages, like usual) and explain what that conversation was about but she didn't.  I was really confused.

Grace's Mom, Amy.  In Shiver, it said that when Grace was attacked by the wolves, Sam shifted back into a human and carried her to her mom.  It also said that when Grace introduced Sam to her Mom for the first time, she seemed to recognize him.  I thought for sure this would be addressed somewhere in Forever, maybe when Amy invites Sam into her studio to discuss Grace's missing. 

I would have really like to have seen an Epilogue that showed a few years down the road...Cole and Isabel working together on a wolf disease cure.  Sam and Grace definitely married, finishing college or perhaps already graduated and caring for little Sam's and Grace's.  Sam's music career?!  

Again, anti-climactic.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cupcake Earrings

How do you know that someone loves you?  For me, it's when I receive a gift.  It doesn't need to be big or expensive, it just has to be something that made the giver think of me.  I came home today hot (not the good kind of "hawt") tired, hungry, with an armful of groceries with two mirror images in tow but when I opened my screen door, this is what was waiting for me...

Cupcake earrings!!!  Totally made my day!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"The Help" Movie

I had the chance to go see a special advanced screening of "The Help" tonight.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

 I read the book a few months ago and absolutely loved it.  I won the pass through my local library's facebook page contest.  I never win anything, until last week. Then I won three things thus putting an end to my "loser" status.

You should definitely go see this movie but read the book first.  The book is always better.

"Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)" by Sarah Mlynowski

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) 

You know how a song that you haven't heard in forever or the hint of a certain smell can instantly conjure up a memory?  Remind you of a certain person, place and make you feel like you've been instantly transported back in time?  Yeah?  Well, that's what this book did for me.

I sat down at lunch and figured I'd skim through the first couple of pages just to check it out and was immediately back in High School. I had to stop by page 3 because I could no longer see through my tears...of laughter! (Btw, it's my bedtime now and I am finished with it.) Even my kids, who were sitting at the table with me kept asking what was so funny but I couldn't begin to explain it to them with out it opening up an entirely different conversation I am not ready to have with a 6 & 11 year old. 

I initially wanted to read this book because the title piqued my interest, "Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)".  Even if you grew up in a convent, you can not deny that you're curious about what those 10 things are.  I would hazard to guess that many, MANY of us have, in fact, done all 10 things, convent or no convent. 

This story is about April who comes from a divorced family (Mom cheated and then made Dad move out).  She is in the middle of her Junior year of High School and her father decides he's taking a job in another city and that he is moving the family (consisting of April and her step-mom, Penny) after the holidays. (How thoughtful of Dad) April's Mom, lives in Paris with her husband and April's younger brother, Matthew.  Her relationship with her Mom is tumultuous at best and while she feels close to her father, her relationship with Penny is strained.  April doesn't want to move and leave Noah, her boyfriend of 2 years and her best friends, Vi (Violet) and Marissa.  She ends up talking her Dad into letting her live Vi and her Mom, Suzanne or at least that what Dad thinks - resulting in  (#1) Lied To Our Parents. 

The book opens with a "morning after" scene that involves a phone call from a parent announcing an unexpected visit to a house where a party has taken place the night before.  Author Sarah Mlynowski does a hilarious job of describing what the house, in it's various stages of disarray, looks like as well as the panic that has begun to set in amongst the just waking teenagers.  For those who never had this particular fear of God struck into them when they were younger, no worries, just reading this will give you the same sensation but without the consequences or lingering memories. 

The story goes on to follow April and Vi as they navigate their way through the rest of the school year, friendships, relationships with boys and their respective parents.  They also face some tough issues that while, some readers may not feel comfortable dealing with, like underage drinking, losing one's virginity, trips to Planned Parenthood, contraception and STD discussions, are all still important issues. 

These situations would be much easier to deal with (and possibly avoid) if either of the girls had a responsible parent physically living with them but they don't.  Neither girl has parents who model strong moral values and both have abandonment, trust and self esteem issues.  Marissa's Mom is the only one who truly acts like a responsible parent. 

April discovers a lot about herself during the time that she lives with Vi, important life skills like how to grocery shop, cook and the difference between dish soap and laundry detergent.  She also learns that every decision has a consequence and you have to live with them.  Some of those consequences are harmless (and hilarious) and others are embarrassing and ultimately heartbreaking.  The adults in this story also recognize that decisions they've made have long lasting effects as well.

I can't overlook the guys here because they were just as important to the storyline as the girls.  Noah is April's longtime boyfriend who is sweet, safe and eh, the "nice guy" for lack of a better term.  Dean and Hudson are brothers and while Dean is the consummate funny guy (and he IS funny) Hudson is the gorgeous, mysterious one that all the girls swoon after but he's also the object of gossip because no one seems to know what he really does in the way of a job.  We do find out what he's up to and my only regret is that we don't get to see more of him in the story.  Mlynowsi could do an entire "Hudson" book. I would read it. I'm sure others would too.  (I get easily distracted by pretty things, can you tell?)

Some of the other "Things" are: Played "I Never" (#2)~ I never can remember...
Skipped School (#3) ~ yes and I paid the consequences for that one. tears were involved.
Harbored A Fugitive (#7) ~ no comment
Hosted a Crazy Party (#8) ~ pleading the 5th
If you want to know what the others are, you'll have to read the book.

This books shows us that life is about choices, consequences and change.  April lived in fear of change because "change" always seemed to bring hurt with it and made her feel out of control. Once she realized that change could be a good thing and that she could be the one to bring about the change, she was finally able to move on with  her life.

I related to this book on so many levels it wasn't even funny! (Actually, it was hilariously funny...right down to the tin foil tiara.) I even found myself relating the characters, male and female to my friends from High School. Being a Christian, I KNOW there are people who would tell me I shouldn't even admit to that but, it's part of my "story". 

Am I proud of all the choices I made that weren't the smartest? Of course not. Would I go back and change them if I could?  Some, yeah, sure. But most of them I wouldn't because they're all learning experiences that have made me who I am today. Besides, I survived...OK, not necessarily the advice I would give my kids but they're not gonna read this. My Mom might though, so sorry Mom. ;D 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Conjuring up the past, crazy hair days & waiting on mac

So here I am again - SMM (aka Single Mom Mode) for the next 2 weeks.  No big deal, it's part of the hubs job.  A storm hits, he gets a call, he goes, we adjust.  This week, we've combined VBS and swim lessons which means by 7pm we're all in zombie mode.  

We did have some fun getting ready for VBS this morning because it was "Crazy Hair Day!" & my youngest happens to be blessed with a head full of "totally cool hair".  My youngest also happens to be a BOY and the extent of my playtime with said hair is limited to running my fingers through it - when - he bestows the privilege upon me.  I've tried telling him that in a few years (he's still in the single digits) the girls are going to be tripping over themselves to run their fingers through it.  He just looks at me. 

Here's the result...

I've been awaiting the arrival of mac, as in macbook - my new computer which I thought was supposed to be here today b/c the hubs told it would be & being the good, obedient wife that I am (why are you laughing?) I believed him.  Sadly, he was confused about today's date...mac isn't coming until tomorrow.  This isn't the first time I've been stood up. Won't be the last either...

I DID come home to my very own copy of "Divergent" by Veronica Roth!  (I can stop hoarding the library's copy now.)  If you haven't read it read I would ask "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!  Just kidding...maybe.  It's by far, my FAVORITE book of 2011, and I've read A LOT.  I'd say you could borrow mine but I won't. I just got it (she says in a whiney voice).  Besides, I'm more Dauntless then Abnigation and I don't share well.  If you'd read the book, you'd get that reference.

Speaking of books and libraries...I swung by mine today and picked up "Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have) by Sarah Mylnowski and was literally in tears (from laughing) by page 3!  She conjured up so many memories from my past and high school years (not that I'm necessarily proud of all of them but still) I am loving this book so far!  Review to come...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Insanity

I just checked my bookshelf at Goodreads and my "read" shelf says in I've read 64 books in the past 14 months!  That's INSANE for me.  I never used to be a reader.  (People Magazine doesn't count.)  I guess the "reader gene" that my Mom and my oldest son have, the one I always thought got left out of my DNA somehow, was just lying dormant.  I now average 3-4 books a week and these are anywhere between 200-400 page books.  Granted, the majority are YA but I do like to mix it up with some "growed up" books too.  I even get to review them and have had the privilege to review several ARC's in the past month.  The coolest part for me is being able to interact with the authors.  It makes me feel special for like 5 minutes. 

Life is full of irony sometimes...a word my 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Bennett told me I would never understand.  I struggled in her class - a lot. (I had her for 2 fun filled years - yay me!) One year in particular, I just didn't "get" Mythology which resulted in her failing me and my having to endure Saturday school my Senior Year.  (This was just a "few" years before Percy Jackson hit the scene making Greek Mythology fun and completely understandable.)  She also chided me many times for not being a "reader".  If only she could see me now... Who knows, maybe she can.  I could look her up on Goodreads, or Facebook or Twitter.  Eh, I'd rather get back to reading... But, if I ever decide to write a book, I might just dedicate it to THAT would be ironic. ;)