Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Anniversary Bookies and our 100th Book

Last night was our 9 year anniversary of the book club I belong to.  It was also our 100th book!  We meet the last Wednesday every month, except in November d/t Thanksgiving we meet the first Wednesday in December and no last Wed in December due to Holidays.  This book club means so much to me.  The "bookies" are comprised of women of all ages and all life experiences.  They are amazing women and I learn so much from listening to them and their life stories and their evaluation/critique of books.  We are not a hoitty toitty book club and tend to not like those book that are "must reads" in the high brow literary circuit.  We like to have fun and discuss the book at hand, but also discuss  life through our meetings.  We also enjoy Wine with our book club discussions :).   These women have been a part of not only my life, but my children's life- they both as newborns attended their first book clubs weeks after being born.  One book club member walked my "challenging" oldest around the block as a newborn so I could just have a minute of peace of quiet, drink of wine and enjoy book club without him attached to me. Another bookie suggested trying the pacifier for my youngest.  Despite me trying a few weeks after birth and her wanting nothing to do with it, she gladly took that pacifier a month later at book club- I'm indebted to that bookie forever. I feel like I've been a part off many of these women's own family lives by our meetings monthly. We've even had some of the children of bookies attend book club to discuss books they too have read.  We have given each other support during  times of tragedy, illness and just overall "life issues".  These women are my "peeps".  We all bring different things to the book club table, but we all seem to really enjoy each other.  I always leave book club feeling happier, more full and loved.  Thanks bookies- love you ladies!

So for our 100th book I picked "The Marriage Plot".  The person who hosts book club normally picks the book.  My all time favorite book club book is "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides.  I had been looking forward to reading "The Marriage Plot"- his second book- due to how much I loved "Middlesex".  Well it happened again I picked an author who I have previously read and loved and unfortunately am disappointed greatly with my pick.  The first time I did this was with Erik Larson's "Thunderstruck".  I loved "Devil in the White City" (excellent book for anyone who loves historical fiction and Chicago- READ IT!).  So I picked "Thunderstruck" and was so disappointed.  Not a read I would recommend- so was embarrassed that I forced the bookies into reading it.  

"Middlesex" Still my favorite Book Club after 9 years.

 So I did it again with "The Marriage Plot"- disappointed.  A favorite word we use in Book Club "endearing".  None of the characters in this novel were "endearing".  I kept reading the book thinking the story line was going to improve- it didn't!  This book was written with a kind of literary uppityness that none of us from book club really appreciated.  I've decided I will not pick another author we've previously read and loved as a second read for book club.  

Here are a list of the 100 books we've read over the last 9 years- for anyone interested.  

Secret Life of Bees              Candy and Me                           Say When
Plain Song                           Middlesex                                  Peace Like a River
Bleachers                            Da Vinci Code                           Cold Mountain
Mrs. Dalloway                     5 people You Meet in Heaven    In Her Shoes
Girls Poker Night               Spirit Catches You...                   Autobiography of a Face
Dive from Claussens' Pier   Carousel                                    Curious Incident of Dog...
The Reading Group            Uncle Tom's Cabin                    Me and Emma
Maltese Falcon                   Wicked                                    Gilead
Heart is a lonely hunter       Sisterhood of Traveling Pants     Mermaid Chair
Hotel Paradise                    Kite Runner                               Keeping Faith
She Got Up Off the Couch  Big Rock Candy Mountain        Light on Snow
Big Stone Gap                    5th Horseman                           Out of the Silent Planet
Cooked and Inner City...    The Tortilla Curtain                    The Alchemist
The Memory Keepers Daughter  Thunderstruck                  Magic Hour
The Glass Castle               Sojourner Truth                         Christ the Lord of Egypt
Not Buying It                    Arms and the Woman               Thousand Splendid Suns
Year of Magical Thinking  Rocket Boys                             The Space Between
I Feel bad about my neck  3 cups of Tea                           This I believe
Remember me                   Leaving the Saints                    Loving Frank
Girls Who Went Away     An Acceptable Time                 The Last Lecture
Road Map to Holland      Chicago Way                            Sisters Mortland
Middle Place                   Where are you now?                 Many Lives, Many Masters
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency                                 Standing Tall
Girls from Ames              Hungry Woman in Paris             Book Thief
Persuasion                      The Believers                             Pillars of the Earth
The Bean Tree                Atonement                                 Peter Pan
Little Heathens               The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  Shit My Dad Says
The Lolita Effect             The Help                                    Her Fearful Symmetry
Little Bee                       Season of Life                            Why my 3rd Husband will be a dog
Cutting for Stone            In Cold Blood                            

This year's reads:
Henrietta Lacks           Unbroken                   Handmaid's Tale
Year in Provence         Year We Left Home   Me Talk Pretty One Day
John Adams                State of Wonder         Hunger Games
Marriage Plot

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mommy's project 52: speaking

When my son was 18 months old he wasn't speaking tons. Now my hubby is quiet/introvert and well you know me chatty/extrovert. My son, I think, is a lot like me and felt that he should me speaking more than he was. I thought the answer was going to be tubes- ear tubes/tympanostomy tubes. I had one friend who swore that once her son got tubes he started speaking immediately. My son didn't have your typical ear infections. Many times I wouldn't know he had them until I found crud dripping from his ear or we'd go in for a well child check and the doctor would say " you know he has an ear infection". Well my son got tubes and didn't start speaking immediately. He took his time and is a soon to be graduate of first grade and speaks just fine. My daughter is 3 and a 1/2 and she has her own speak issues/development. People who meet her thinks her name is "Tate". It isn't,she just can't say a certain letter. I've been a little more lax with my second child and only after having a free speech assessment at her daycare and receiving some interesting comments "we find your child to be unintelligible". I thought this was pretty harsh and so talked to her teachers who thought she was understandable, but did feel she was challenged saying certain letters. So I decided to have our local AEA assess her. They totally disagreed and felt she was highly intelligible, but did notice she had a hard time with some of her letters, the same ones I already knew. Due to it being summer break the plan is to have her reassessed in the fall and if needed then do some therapy during her normal preschool/daycare time. Funny, but I think I already know how this is going to play out- 3 years from now she'll be graduating from first grade and everyone will know her name isn't "Tate". Speaking is something we each do at our own time.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

You Can Do It!

You probably thought by the title that this post was going to be running or athletic focused- sorry to disappoint, but no.

I came across this book at one of my favorite libraries.  This book had amazing quotes starting with it's dedication.
For women who dare to dream- and do.

I was pretty much sold on this book from the get go due to the preface (following are excerpts from that preface).

You Can Do It! 
      was our sister's vision.  Her name was Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas.  Lauren imagined a book that would boost women's self-esteem by helping them achieve their goals, realize their dreams, and embrace life's joys and challenges to the fullest.
...Not content with "wouldn't it be nice" day-dreams, she made things happen.  
...More than anyone we know, Lauren treasured her female friends and made a point of nurturing those relationships that so often fall by the wayside after marriage.  Perhaps because she was a grown-up Girl Scout (whose sash of badges hung in her office), her "do it yourself" attitude often turned into "C-mon, let's do it together". She truly relished the camaraderie, support, and sheer fun of pursuing new experiences with friends.
   Tragically, on September 11, 2001, Lauren was flying home from our grandmother's funeral on United Airlines Flight 93. Already a hero to all who knew her, she became another kind of hero on that horrible day...We take comfort in the knowledge that she left us the way she lived-strong, determined, generous, and courageous.
   Lauren's Family-...knew how much this book meant to her. 
   Lauren loved a quote from the 1994 movie "The Shawshank Redemption" so much that she wrote it down and attached it to her refrigerator.  It reads, "Get busy living, or get busy dying".  

I'll throw in some other great quotes from the books, but I should explain the lay out of the book.  The different topics are put into groups of: dare, create, learn, play, deal, connect.  Within these areas are different topics/chapters.  For example in  dare-act/take the stage, create-be an author, learn-be a renaissance gal (art appreciation), play-hang ten (surf),  deal- money, connect- meditate. I didn't read every chapter, because certain topics just weren't for me to try or dream to do.  There were a lot I did read.  Some topics I've already tried or started and I found it helpful to read another take on running, triathlon, art appreciation, writing, etc.  

Here is a little more I enjoyed- hope it entices you into picking up this book.

"Why can you do it?"Because it's high time your want-to-do list got as much attention as your to-do list.

Because even though you can do anything, sometimes you need a little help figuring out how.

Because wherever you are is the perfect place to begin.

You allow yourself to think bigger than life, because event the most fanatic dreams have something to tell us about who we are- and who we may yet become."

Each of the chapters have quotes and a "mentor" for each topic along with an ending page with references: books, web-sites, organizations, and movies related to the topic.
"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult"- Seneca
"If you always do what interests you at least one person is pleased."- Katharine Hepburne

The last thing I really loved about this book was the "you did it" section at the end of the book.  There is a patch/sticker for each chapter/topic. There is no "sash" that comes with the book, but I think you could find somewhere to place these "badges" as a reminder to all that you have done.  Of course I didn't peel any of the badges off the page due to it being from the library, but if I owned it I'd definitely find a special place to put those "badges".  It gives a great finish to the whole "You Did It!" notion. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Running and God

Last night I was somewhat dreading my 11 miler I had on my dockit after church Sunday a.m. I was getting in my long distance cranky mood. This mood normally hits me mid training for the marathon due to the continuous long runs on the weekends I haven't experienced this feeling as much with past 1/2 marathon training schedules because, well, the long runs don't bother me as much because they are doable mileage. However, my travels to Hawaii threw off my running mojo. I slept little to none on the plane ride home from Hawaii- actually probably 1.5 hours total Wednesday. I had to then drive from chicago to home on Wednesday after getting off plane and when I arrived homes made the decision not to go to sleep because I only would've be enable to sleep 2 hours and that kind of sleep actually makes me feel worse than no sleep. So when I finally got around to running Friday around 2 pm in the heat and sun I really felt the toll of my lack of sleep for the week. My three miles felt like 10 and my legs felt like tree stumps, not even trunks which are alive, but instead the dead stumps that have no life. This feeling worried me about my upcoming long run of 11. To confuse my body more we decided to take the kids camping Friday night. Camping was awesome,but this meant no long early a.m. run for Saturday, instead I'd have to do it Sunday. O.k. This is where God comes in. Sunday mornings we normally go to 8 o'clock church service and then kids have Sunday school afterwards. My initial plan was to run after Sunday school and then it switched to driving in two cars so that I could go straight home after church and run at 9:30. Then I looked at the weather and it said 68 degrees at 6 a.m.and 78 degrees at 9:30 a.m. I know to some people this temp difference may not seem significant, but to me it is huge. I really dislike running in heat and so try to avoid it at all costs, hence early morning runs even on the weekend when. I really don't need to be out the door at 6 am. The other thing the forecast called for was thunderstorms from pretty much 3am until late in the day Sunday. So the rain and the heat upped my already 11 mile crankiness. My hubby knew this and so suggested he take the kids to church and Sunday school and I run early sunday am. I knew this answer would help my crankiness, but as I said to him "what does this say to our kids"- in regards to mommy missing church to do her weekly long run. Well as usual he had the perfect answer "it tells the kids we chose to take them camping and spend the weekend with them". This was true. If I had fought the "I have to do my long run on Saturday am" there would've been no fun camping and beach time fri-sat. It also meant that I hade enough recovery time at home before they came home that I could then spend the rest of Sunday doing various activities with them. I think God would be o.k. with this. I won't make it a habit of course, because I really go to church selfishly for me. I love the traditional liturgy, the music and communion. It is a routine that renews me each week. When I go to the communion rail I ask for patience, and to help me be a better mom, wife, sister, friend and of course to watch over friends and family going through tough times. I think God gave me my own renewal on my run this morning. I ran much better than I thought I was going to and reflected on the week ahead, goals, hopes, etc- not a whole lot different than what I do at the communion rail each week. I know some of your aren't into God/religion so I don't mean to bore or offend with this post. Runners struggle with time restraints and juggling schedules all the time, this was just another juggling act I had to partake in this week.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mommy's project 52: sharing

There are so many different ways to share and so many things one can share.  Looking back over the last, almost 5 months of 2012, I realize I've been privy to some pretty cool "sharing".

Shared a "first"- seeing Monet's Water Lillies with my son at the Art Institute of Chicago.  He liked this picture of Monet's the best- which I too love.  We talk about going to France one day to see the real Monet's garden.  

Sharing some yummy ice cream at the Mount Vernon Chalk Art Festival.  The ice cream was great- we all had different flavors and so shared with each other the different flavors.  Sharing food/treats is one of my favorite kind of sharing.  You don't have to pick one food you get to try different things with each other and therefore aren't locked into just one treat.  

Sharing time with cousins/family- another one of my favorite kinds of sharing.  Time with family is the best, even when it isn't the best, I always look back and find something positive out of the memory/experience.  The kids were having a fun time on the way home from our January Chicago weekend.  Even though my daughter was very naughty the day and night before (just one of those "I don't want to be drug all over Chicago and then I don't want to sleep at the hotel") the kids talked about how great the weekend was.  This picture somewhat erases how upset I was at the time in regard to my daughter's naughtiness.  

Lastly, just last night my kids shared the experience of sleeping in their own tent, by themselves, as we camped out.  Even though they were a little nervous about the "noises" around them- the breeze blowing through the trees, the animals/insects- they layed with their headlamps on and talked, and talked, and talked- until finally mean old mom stopped in and said lights out.  It was fun to listen to them "sharing", their cute voices and the glow of the tent from their lamps.  

Sharing firsts, treats, family time, and the love only siblings can share- sharing is a good thing!

Mommy's Project 52: entertaining

Entertaining: When I think about this word it brings a couple of things to my mind...
First off: longer berger baskets- I know you are wondering what?, but you see growing up whenever we had company over my mom would get her longer berger baskets out and fill them with snack foods (chips n dip, crackers), and she even has a cute utensil dispenser to nicely dispense fork, spoon, and knives to her guests.

Then I move to thinking about the quintessential pairing for entertaining: cheese n crackers, fruit plate with...

VINO- aka wine- aka YUMMY!

I'm not going to get too much more in depth with this topic.  I think all of us have our own ideas of "entertaining" and what "entertains" us.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hawaii continued

Saturday morning we went to a farmer's market near Diamond Head at a community college. It was like being at the Iowa state fair, but Hawaiian style. The food was amazing. Mom and sis shared crepe with cocconut sauce. I had fried green tomatoes and zucchini. We had a fresh baked cinnamon roll and yummy lemonade. The flowers were amazing! People were buying them by the bunches. So if you visit Oahu over a weekend visit the farmer's market- get there early!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy mother's day- Hawaiian style

So definitely not your typical mother's day: in Hawaii, not with my kids, and have done 10k, brunch and 1hr massage and it is just 3:15 Hawaii time.

I had a good race- more details later- finished in 55:10 and placed 4th for my age group (not sure if that is good or not- official results not up yet but feel good about it).

Our brunch was awesome- totally took advantage of my burned calories earlier in the day :).

Massage was also great! Found this great massage academy with prices just as great. Waiting for mom and sis to get done with their's so enjoying a fruity drink and looking at beautiful pacific ocean at Gordon Biersch Bar.

Miss the kids and hubby, but know this is likely once in a lifetime mom/daughter trip. Hope my daughter and I do trips like this when she's older.

To all my mother runner friends thanks for your support going into this first race of the season. Hope you guys got out and ran today.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012


So I still can't believe I'm in Hawaii. Right now I'm lying in bed and listening to the waves hit the shoreline.

My sister, my mom and I are staying on Waikiki for the next 5 days. We did this girl's only trip to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday. We got in 2pm HCT yesterday.

Today we started the a.m. with a run downtown/beach Waikiki. Then we ate a yummy bfast and traveled to the North Shore for the day. I'll post our visit to Waimea Nature Valley later, but it was beautiful. Had some beach time and a great slice of New York pizza from Spaghettini in haleiwa, HI.

We finished the night at the Yard House. A bar that has 130 beer tappers. Our Thai noodle salad and chicken nachos were great. The beer wasn't bad either :).

The day has flown by. Tomorrow is farmer's market at local community college and then pool/sun time. Goodnight from Oahu!

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mommy's project 52: natural

What is natural to one person is clearly not natural to another. For instance, for me "natural birth" brings forth a horror of no pain medication to deliver your baby. For others natural birth means this beautiful, peaceful delivery. For me natural means being tan enough to not have to wear any make up at all in the summer and fall. Oh how I hate when my sun- kissed face fades in the winter months and I then attempt to apply some cover up, bronzed, and powder. Natural to me is someone who uses no "product" in their hair following a shower- just wash and go. Natural food is food that no additives or preservatives are part of the food one digests- I like to think of it as the farmer's market diet. Natural can also mean something that comes easy to someone such as a natural athlete. I don't consider myself a natural athlete, but I do find that I enjoy most sports I try and don't struggle too badly. going out to run 5,8,10 miles seems like part of my natural flow of life, but to someone else that might be the most unnatural position they could be placed in. The there is a natural mom or parent. Some people I know parenting seems to come naturally to them while others,me included- at times feel like they are barely able to stay afloat in the "pond of parenthood". I wish being a mom came more naturally- don't get me wrong I keep more than afloat most days, but sometimes I wish I knew the answers to the tough kid questions and how to fix the tough kid problems with the littlest effort. But alas, I am me and although parenting doesn't come easy to me I do think my kids and hubby are happy with our family life. Maybe I'm not searching for natural parenting or family life but a more simple, happy, authentic life as mom to two really perfect kids. The other thing I thought of when I looked at this week's topic was the good old Carole King song- sing it with me- "You make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman!"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Trilogy Finished...

So after reading "The Hunger Games" for February's book club I put my name on the hold list for "Catching Fire" and later hold list for "Mockingjay".  Last year when we picked "Hunger Games" for book club I wasn't really excited about it, due to all the teenage hype.  Then when the "hold list" was found to be in Red  at the library and hold list was up to 30 I voiced my disinterest... a year later we read "Hunger Games" and I'm forever grateful to my bookies for forcing me into this read.  I really enjoyed the book and so went on to finish the trilogy.  "Catching Fire" was very good and I had not heard the most rave reviews so I went into reading the second book with low expectations.  It was Great!  I really love her writing style, but did feel out of the three the second was written with a tad different voice- can't point my finger on it, but the difference didn't deter from the story line and some voiced unhappiness with the ending, but I was fine with it.

I then went onto book 3 and had been told that if you like book 2 you likely won't like 3.  So again I went into reading the book and figured since I like 2 I'd dislike 3.  Again I was pleasantly surprised when I again really enjoyed the story.  Suzanne Collins is a wonderful author and her writing style and way she produces the story is entertaining.  I think I took a little longer to finish "Mockingjay" because I really didn't want the book to end.  The ending touched me and tears were present.  

Sorry to see this Trilogy end.  For some reason I'm really not interested in going to the movie theater to see the "Hunger Games".  I think I enjoyed the books so much I don't want what I've imagined in my head reading the books to be changed into what I'm seeing on the screen.  So if you have been avoiding the young adult phenom don't avoid it- go get your name on the "hold list" at your local library.  I'm sure the "hold list" is still in red, but it is worth the wait for all 3.