I Don’t Know How He Does It

While we were all in Chicago for the Blathering, the always and ever amazing Phillip Cheung wrote Maggie an adorable surprise post on her blog, with lots of “I don’t know how she does it’s” and we all gathered round and read it and talked about wonderful it was.

I’m about two minutes away from walking out the door to spend some quality time with my internet besties, and I’m not gonna lie, while I was blow drying my hair I plotted nefarious schemes for how I could get MY husband to write me a secret surprise blog post while I was gone, all about how fantastic I am and how cute our kids are and how he doesn’t know how I do it.  Because let’s be honest, if I was gonna get one of those, I would have to orchestrate it.

And oh my god, you guys? I really am the worst person on earth.  Because my husband is spending FIVE DAYS taking care of two kids by himself.  One kid who won’t eat and who has to go to the doctor this morning, and one kid who won’t sleep and is keeping us up all night long every night, and he’s doing it without making me feel bad or weird or stressed and when I asked if I could go he didn’t hesitate, just emailed me back and said “I don’t have a problem with it”, and I can’t remember the last time he took a vacation and here I am trying to figure out how to get MORE out of him at the same time as I am leaving him with this menagerie of sleeplessness and this is just to say that truly?

I don’t know how he does it.  But I sure do love him for it.

I Broke My Shopping Ban to Buy This $2.50 Hat at Target. It was Totally Worth It.

First Quarter Reading List 2011

I have been a reading machine this quarter!  It’s too bad so many of these books were unremarkable, but I suppose that’s the nature of the beast.  This, by the way, is why I don’t feel bad for getting all my books from the library.  I’d like to own about two of these books, out of the list of 48.  I’m very happy I didn’t pay cash money for 46 sub par books.

1. Crazy by Han Nolan.  I looked this up on Amazon, but I literally have no memory of it.  Huh.

2.  The Lonely Polygamist.  This book was totally weird and the main character was unsympathetic and oh, I loved it.  I loved it.  Strange and funny and different and wonderful.  I read parts out loud to Mr. E, I laughed out loud, it was great.  Top five book of the quarter for sure.

3.  Soul less. I am sorry, Mags, but I thought this book was el stinkerinoo.

4.  Sunset Park.  I really liked it.  Depressing, but I loved the characters.  Definitely one of the better things I read this quarter.

5.  Fragile.   I thought this was intensely terrible.

6.  Jerk, CA.  Eh.  Not terrible, not wonderful.

7.  Momofuku.  I like to check cookbooks out before I buy them, and I won’t be purchasing this one. I was intrigued by it because Anthony Bourdain raves about David Chang like he’s the second coming, but this cookbook was just too weird and impractical for me to deal with.

8.  Dragon Chica.  You know, it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, but it was far from the worst.  About a family that opens a chinese restaurant in rural Nebraska.

9.  Life on Total Loss Farm.  This was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read, to the point of being indescribable.  It’s about these hippies, and this farm commune.  I think.  Maybe?  Don’t read it.  Trust me.

10.  The Scorch Trials.  This is the sequel to the Maze Runner.  I actually preferred it to the Maze Runner, but seriously? Nothing happened.  There was no resolution, and at the end of it I was no closer to knowing what was going on than I was when I started it.  I find this…frustrating.  Hopefully by the end of the whole deal there will be some explanations.

11.  Artichoke’s Heart.  I think it’s REALLY hard to write fiction about weight loss.  Especially teen weight loss.  This book was no exception to that rule.    It felt…out of touch.

12.  Nemesis by Phillip Roth.  This was a very strange book.  I am glad I read it, but I can’t say that I loved it.

13.  You Are Here.  Also terrible.

14.  The Year We Disappeared.  Non fiction about a family that has to enter the witness protection program. It sounded interesting, but it was just SO WEIRD.  Something was…off.

15.  I Now Pronounce You Someone Else.  Oh puhleeze.  This was just stupid.  Right from the get go, a totally unbelievable premise, because no YAF is going to ACTUALLY be about a 17 year old getting married.  Quite frankly if this book had been about 17 year olds who had actually gotten married it would been about a hundred times more interesting and unexpected.

16.  My Last Supper.  What 50 famous chefs would choose for their last suppers.  Interesting for the first ten or so, and then you realize that every single person says either sushi, bread, or fried chicken.  Also notable for a practically naked picture of Anthony Bourdain, if you like that kind of thing.

17.  The Delivery Man.  Urgh.  Well written, but just…icky.  Like my girlfriend is a hooker in Las Vegas kind of icky.

18.  Split.  Eh.  I thought this was well written, but it was too issue driven for me.  I’m really sick of the issue driven YAF.

19.  Dark Song.  I hate to say it but this book was hilariously stupid.

20.  Girl In Translation.  It got super soap opera ish towards the end, but it was interesting.  Felt like something the author had actually been through.

21.  Chocolate and Vicodin. See my review here.

22.  Some Girls Are.  Meh.

23.  Home Landscaping. I have yet to check out a home landscaping book that I’d actually buy a copy of.

24.  Flip.  Ditto for home decorating books.

25.  Rachel In the World.  This is a hard one for me to review.  I’ve been wanting to read this forever and when I was in Vermont I found a copy on my mom’s bookshelf so I read it there.  This is a non fiction account of the author’s struggles with her mentally retarded daughter as she grows up and ages out of the educational system, needs funding for private care, things like that.  And on the one hand I certainly don’t want to imply that one should write a false account of the realities of caring for someone with mental retardation, but good lord.  This was just so depressing and her interactions with her daughter just sounded so…awful.  It was a hard read.  I would not recommend reading it if you have a young child who is mentally retarded, because my lord, did it paint a bleak picture.  On the other hand, it made me very grateful, not just for my sisters care, but also for my sister.  She has her issues, but she is a genuine joy, for the most part, and it is…not like this with her.  Thank goodness.

26.  One Day.  Oh, I loved it.  Loved loved loved.  Although I will say that 1. I loved the first part more than the second part what with the somewhat disturbing ending and 2. The weird tug of war between the narrator describing the main character as gorgeous and the main character putting herself down as fat and ugly got old.  But I thought it was lovely and amazing and I loved watching the author move these characters around and I loved the places they went and the first few chapters were some of my favorite chapters I’ve read anywhere in a long long time.  Also, Jennie loved this and then she told me that Jonna hated it, so apparently it’s not for everyone.  But I give it a big thumbs up.

27.  Harmonic Feedback.  Eh.  Not the worst YAF I’ve ever read, but a bit dull.

28.  The Big Crunch.  I thought this was interesting while I read it, but I felt like in an attempt to be sort of cool or hipstery or something, it became sort of pointless and stream of consciousness about nothing.  Sort of like a lot of pointless observations linked together. I needed MORE there.

29.  The Lying Game.  No.  Just no.

30.  Close To Famous.  Oh, I love Joan Bauer.  Always have, always will.  This was not my VERY favorite of hers (that would be Rules of the Road or Squashed), but even my non favorite Joan Bauer books are better than 75 percent of the rest of the YAF I read.  Also, this book made me want to eat cupcakes.

31.  Half A Life.  Hmmm.  This felt like maybe it should have been a short story in a magazine.  Not quite enough there for a whole book, maybe.

32.  Elizabeth Street.  This reminded me a lot of The Godfather.  It was ok, but honestly just read The Godfather if you haven’t read that, and if you have, you really don’t need to read this.

33.  Patio.  Again, this landscaping book didn’t do it for me.  I have found more design inspiration on blogs than in any books I’ve checked out recently.

34.  Haven.  Meh.

35.  Delirium.  I was SO disappointed in Delirium.  I loved her first book (Before I Fall) and this just didn’t do it for me.  I just don’t like dystopian fiction where the main character buys so wholeheartedly into the premise of whatever societal evil is taking place.  I mean, really? Love is bad?  You’re super excited to be cured of love?  Phhhhhhbt.  A lot of people really liked this book, but I just loathed it.

36.  Moon Over Manifest.  I have this theory, which is probably incorrect, that ever since the Printz award kicked off, the choice for the Newbery Award has been skewing younger and younger.  And in general I don’t love middle readers, so this means I like the choice for Newbery less and less and find the winners more and more boring.  Or else I just am getting old and cranky.  I don’t know.  Anyway, I didn’t LOVE this book, but I didn’t hate it. It felt like a safe choice, and it was a tad on the boring side (no sex, no bad words, no girls liking boys, etc) but I didn’t HATE it.  It was entertaining and well written, but it was that sort of “old fashioned girls adventure story” that the committee seems to love so much that doesn’t really do it for me as much some other things.  And it did not hold a candle to Walk Two Moons, at least  not for me.  I read Walk Two Moons out loud to my mom.  I wouldn’t read this twice, much less out loud to anyone.

37.  A Sandhills Ballad.  So.  I have read numerous books in the past months in which the main character is TOTALLY MEGA BIG TIME in love with a dude, and then something happens to said dude and she has to marry some other dude for practicality and while I get this idea, in theory, it just…I don’t know. I find it depressing. I’d rather read about the big love than the dude you settled for when your life fell to pieces, you know?  Anyway, that being said, I still really liked this book.  Really really a lot.

38.  Please Ignore Vera Dietz.  Ok, so right about at this point I started to wonder why I even read YAF, because if it was all going to be so pointless or meh or badly written or just crappy and stupid, maybe I should stop reading it.  And then I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz and I remembered why I read it.  This won a Printz honor award in 201o and it single handedly restored my faith in the whole genre and reminded me why I read YAF.  Weird and funny and I’d read ten books with Vera as the main character, because I loved her and all her flaws and her bad ideas and her bottle of vodka under her car seat and this book was great.   And it was a trillion times better than Ship Breaker, which won the Printz, but whatever.

39.  Easter Everywhere.  Seriously? 200 pages of stream of consciousness about your living room is not book worthy.

40.  Remarkable Creatures.   I guess I just don’t get that excited about fossils.

41.  Model Home.  It reminded me of Jonathan Franzen.  Sort of like Franzen lite?  I enjoyed it.

42.  Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.  This book was not for me.  And I wanted to like it, despite the stupid ass title, but alas, I did not like it.  I found the narrator intensely irritating.

43.  Choker.  Wow.  Just wow.  (And not in a good way.)  The last 20 pages made me laugh out loud.  In mockery.

44.  Last Days of Ptolemy Gray.  I’ve decided I can’t read books narrated by children, crazy people, or old people going crazy.  This book was not an exception to that rule.

45.  Rivals.  Meh.

46.  Other Words For Love.  Interesting.  I liked that it was set in the 80’s.  But towards the end I wanted to scream at the main character to pull her shit the heck together.

47.  The Things A Brother Knows.  Meh.

48.  Rules of Attraction.  Not as good as Perfect Chemistry.  Also, wicked dirty for YAF.

So maybe I should make this years goal 185 books?! Let’s do it!

Got Wood?

1.  We got a new (to us)  gas stove.  I counted on my fingers last night and I realized that it has been ELEVEN YEARS since I last lived in a house with a gas stove.  Whoever said that things can’t make you happy clearly has never experienced the joy in my heart that I feel every time I see my gleaming white gas stove! in the place of that crappy black surfaced electric stove that never worked right anyway.

2.  Kates is lying in her crib screaming.  Eli has a fever and won’t eat.  I never know what to do when an ordinarily happy baby is just miserable.  Drink, I guess.

3.  Last week sucked major belotes.  It rained for 15 days straight.  But today the sun is peeking out from behind some clouds, and I am wearing shorts.  Partially because I have no clean pants, but still.  Also my step father was in the hospital, and now he is home.  So things are looking up.

4.  Our library is closed on Saturday and Sunday.  All day Saturday and Sunday.  I find this reprehensible.

5.  I could never own a tiny dog, because I’d always be worried that I’d crush it by sitting on it during a cocaine bender.

6.  P.S. That was a joke. I hardly ever do cocaine any more.

7.  I am in a strange mood.  Too much coffee!

8.  So the other thing that SUCKED last week was finding out the bad news about my floors.  Let me just think this through on the page, as they say.

Remember I had laminate?  It may surprise you to learn that it was the cheapest laminate they sell at Home Depot.  And it was laid incorrectly.  I ripped that up last week, because there was hardwood underneath, and let’s be honest.  I don’t want to live in a 2 bedroom house for the rest of my life, and no one is going to buy this house with the worlds worst laminate floor installed throughout.

Also, I am pretty sure I broke my thumb ripping up laminate.

Anyway.  Under the laminate the floor was FUBARED.  But I figure eh, what can’t you do with a power sander, right?  So I was all set to refinish it, but just for shits and giggles, we had some floor dude (who is highly recommended and does all the floors in the neighborhood blah blah blah) come out and look at it.  Because if it was going to be cheap to refinish it, I mean, I’ll write that check right now, you know?

So the FD (floor dude) takes one look at it and is all “Oh hells to the no.  This floor is RUINED.” and proceeds to (correctly) surmise that at some point, the previous owners of the house locked nine hundred dogs in here for some length of time and let them pee all over every square inch of the floor.  Add that to the fact that it’s this really thin 3/8th of an inch business, and we are SKA REWED.

My (once) gorgeous original floor has to be ripped out, the sub floors have to be coated with KILZ, and then a new floor has to be put in.

Which Floor Dude would be happy to do, for FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Ha to the ha.

I am over being mad that 1. someone did this to these floors and 2.  that they have to be ripped out and 3. that someone would quote me $14,000 dollars for anything besides a diamond encrusted toilet and 4.  that I’ll never get floors this nice or cool ever again and 5.  that the people that we bought the house from (the laminate people) didn’t disclose what was under the laminate, which they damn well knew.

Now I just need to figure out what to put down here.

We are going to do this ourselves! And I am excited! But I am nervous about choosing a floor.

I don’t want it to be super dark.  And I don’t want it to be blonde.  Floor Guy suggested white oak, with no stain.  He also glanced at the fireplace and said that shouldn’t be a problem, that we could cover the (original and gorgeous) bricks with slate. I can’t imagine anything I find aesthetically less pleasing than blonde unstained oak floors and a SLATE fireplace.  This is a california bungalow, not the Elkhorn Lodge Conference Center.  God.

Anyway, I picked this floor, which you can see on Flickr, because I hated everything else. I hate that there’s no nail holes (how an old floor looks with the top nailing), but I can’t do anything about that.   I don’t want an orange floor or a hand scraped floor or a fake rustic floor or a bamboo floor or a teak floor or a super dark floor or a blond swedish floor, but I can’t find much besides brown oak that I like.  Everything else is either too blond or too orange.  I like this floor, I am just nervous that it’s too dark for such a small house.  Opinions please.

Also, I am looking into reclaimed wood, but for the most part, it’s 1. a shitload of work and 2. more expensive than new wood.

Also, I have entertained the idea of just trying to refinish the floors anyway, but it’s my worst nightmare that I do all that and then, because they are pickled in years worth of dog urine, on the first hot day after they’re done, I come inside and what do you know! It STILL smells like drug addicts locked fourteen dogs in my house.




I Think I Figured Out Where She Got that Crazy Hair

To Buy or Not To Buy

I find inaction frustrating. I am a do-er, not a sit stiller.  NOT eating food to lose weight or NOT spending money to build up my savings account just annoys me to no end, but lately the budget has gone off the rails around here.  Drawers are bursting with clothes and I have a terrible case of the gimmes, when in reality there’s lots of things we need to save money for, and another small pink cardigan isn’t one of those things.   And somehow every weekend and every outing has become about buying things, and errands to go get things, and I just really need to spend less time in Target.  I am going down some weird shopping addiction route and I’d like to nip that in the bud right now.   And let’s be honest – $12 spent on clothes on clearance that we don’t need is still $12 I could have put towards something we do need.  (Man, do I have a hard time resisting a good deal.  The 75% stickers at Target CALL TO ME.)

So I am going on a buying things moratorium.  Until the end of April, I’m not buying anything but groceries and diapers and stuff like that.  Even extras like coffee have to come from the grocery store, not the fancy coffee store.

I am definitely going to  have to post some of the things I’m not buying, just to make myself feel better about all of the great deals I’m missing out on.  Maybe I can con someone else into buying a five pound bag of gummi bears on sale.

Oh, and there are four exceptions.  (Of course). I am allowed to buy:

1.  a birthday present for my brother

2. a circle cutter for my waxed paper chandelier project

3. a radio for my kitchen because being in my kitchen without NPR makes me sad


4. stuff for the garden, because it’s going in April 1st and we’re going to need to buy some things for that.

When my experiment is over if I have been successful, I get to buy:

silverware, new sheets, and an overpriced double stroller.

Wish me luck!   I am going to keep a list of stuff that I really really wish I was buying.  Maybe in a month or two that stuff will seem less important, and if not, then hopefully I will have saved up the money to buy it.

Might be time to sell your stock in amazon.com.


I Am Aware That This is Ridiculous, But I Have Been Waiting for This Moment for All My Life