playing along

Hey George, can you babysit?

by mayberry on March 21, 2012

“‘Tis better to be alone, than in bad company.” – George Washington

That’s this week’s Wise Words prompt from Kirsetin Morello. Immediately, it reminded me of something I’d written here back in 2010, about how much alone time I require even though I still consider myself a social person (although maybe not a full-blown extrovert).

So yes, I agree with George (look at me, going out on a limb!). ‘Tis certainly better, for me and I’d guess for most of us, to fly solo than to seek out the company of others strictly so we won’t be alone. One of my children is slowly learning this lesson. It’s my kid who always, always, always wants someone to play with; 95% of the time, parents and siblings will not do. But two back-to-back, lackluster playdates made an impression, I think. Not that these friends were “bad,” but that sometimes you don’t need company to enjoy yourself.

I think all of us would prefer to avoid bad company, whether it leaves us alone or not. The tougher question may be when to withdraw from company for company’s sake, or even “good” company at a bad time. Too often, the choice is alone time or time with friends, but not both. And I don’t know about you, but I need both! What would George say about that?

On not fighting alone

by mayberry on February 4, 2011

The other day my sister and I compared notes on our first mammograms. She’s four years younger than I am, so she wasn’t quite due yet, but she had a lumpy spot that her doctor thought was worth looking at (especially since our mother survived breast cancer almost 20 years ago). We agreed: OWWEE, but manageable. And we’re both fine.

This same week, my friend T. started chemo to treat stage II breast cancer. It was diagnosed when she was 8 months pregnant. She had a lumpectomy right away, but delayed the start of chemo until three weeks after her baby’s birth. This meant changing OBs, because her (former) doctor insisted that the only option was to deliver the baby by c-section at 38 weeks, then quickly remove the tumor and start chemo. T. refused, arguing that she’d prefer her baby to be born full term, thanks, and recover from the (nonsurgical) birth before undergoing chemo. Now that’s the kind of mama grizzly I like to support.

My friends here in Mayberry and I organized a meal schedule* for T. and her family (despite the fact that she and her husband are both trained chefs. That’s not intimidating at all). As the nominal keeper of this schedule, I’ve been lucky enough to e-meet some really lovely people, people that care about T. and her family too, people that I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. It’s a good feeling.

Our book club will put together a care package for T. based on Susan’s list. You probably know Susan, and if you do you’ll know why I’ve posted her warrior princess minifig in the sidebar. I may not be able to deliver her a hot meal, but virtual hugs, funding for the great causes she supports, and spreading her important message as far as I can? That I can do.

And you can:

*shout-out to Foodtidings.com — so helpful!

It’s like school in the summertime!

by mayberry on June 7, 2010

Today is the first day of summer vacation, and I feel about like I did when I was a kid. No school!!! Wait. No school?

Eons ago, Leslie prompted us to list some things that make us happy. And here they are.

*Spoilers ahoy!*

I voted “yes” on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for our book club recently because it’s been so hugely popular for so long that I just had to see what was up.

I don’t know why I keep doing that because I am almost always disappointed (an exception: Water for Elephants,by Sara Gruen).

I did like the character of Lisbeth Salander, the eponymous tattoo-bearer. She’s unlike anyone you’ve encountered in a popular work of fiction–extremely intelligent, brittle, lacking in social graces, yet earning the reader’s sympathy and support all the same.

The book’s plot can be riveting, as its heroes–Lisbeth and a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist–try to solve a 40-year-old crime.  But there are long discussions of Swedish politics and financial practices that left me completely confused and bored. The book was written by a now deceased Swedish writer, Stieg Larsson, and is the first of a Lisbeth trilogy. Since I don’t speak any Swedish, I don’t know whether to blame the author or the translator for the novel’s style-free writing. Its words serve only to advance the plot, not to paint vivid pictures or make readers stop and treasure a particularly lovely turn of phrase. Worse yet were the constant references to specific products and brand names. It felt like an episode of The Biggest Loser. Product placement gone haywire!

Still, I read on, wanting to know what happened to the long-ago crime victim, and to Lisbeth too (Mikael? eh). But the solved mystery turned out to be just a small cog in a larger wheel. A wheel of blood, guts, sadism, and gore. It seemed contrived, inelegant, and altogether unnecessary.

To be fair, I rarely read the mystery/thriller genre. I’d probably have the same complaints about many books of this type. But I’m left wondering why this one, in particular, has captivated so many. Is it the unusual female lead? The fact that the author died just after delivering the manuscripts for the three books? ‘Cause I’m stumped.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Visit Kirsetin at The Hip Mom’s Guide for more Bibliophile Friday.

happyhappyhappy

by mayberry on February 19, 2010

When Jo was a baby we enrolled her in a child care center in our neighborhood in New Jersey. All of the staff were native Spanish speakers, as were many of the kids.  Jo spoke a few words of Spanish almost before she said anything in English. We noticed that she’d chirp something like “ahpeeahpeeahpee” but we couldn’t figure out what it meant. Finally, one day I heard one of the teachers say it too. I realized that in her accented English, she was sing-songing “Happy, happy, happy!” to the children.

So that made me happy.

And lovely Wendy from Midwest Green has given me the Happy 101 award. The rules are to list 10 things that make me happy, which seems like a good idea after the last two whingy posts, and then pay it forward to 10 more bloggers who make me happy.

Things that take me to a happy place

  • A cup of tea
  • A new Sunday Times magazine and crossword
  • A little boy still small enough to carry on my hip
  • The beginning of a yoga class
  • The end of a yoga class
  • Making travel plans
  • My kids making each other laugh
  • Lexulous
  • Reading my daughter’s creative spelling/writing (she and a friend have been exchanging emails using my account and you would die from the cute.)
  • My tweet stream during figure skating events. I am reading all the best stuff aloud to my husband, who is suitably impressed.

(A selection of the) bloggers that make me happy

Not such a lonely word

by mayberry on November 2, 2009

Quite a while ago Nora tagged me for a meme, a list of 10 honest things about myself.

1. I’ve spent way too much time dithering over whether these honest things should be confessional or quirky. I went with a combo platter.

2. Today is the 11th day in a row of one child or the other being home from school. I have never been one of those mothers who lamented the absence of her children. From the time Jo was three months old and she started day care, I have never been one to count the hours until I could see her again. Instead, I’m the one who looks at the clock at the end of the workday and panics because she’s late to pick up her kids.

3. And yes, I am always just a few minutes late. Because I try to squeeze in one last thing before I go.

4. Despite that, I am also lazy. Just watch, I’ll prove it by the end of this post.

5. Even when I’ve only been on child duty for one day, or one hour, the sound of someone calling “MOM!” makes me wince. It’s never “MOM! Thanks for doing such a great job!” or “MOM! I just cured cancer!” or “MOM! I made dinner!” Have you noticed that? It’s always “MOM! Drop whatever you’re doing and bring me something/clean up something/pay attention to meeeee.”

6. In the past week, I’ve had three different bloggers appear in my dreams, plus I had a nightmare that some kind of fangirl psychopath invaded my home by claiming to be a reader.

7. I am sort of pathetically obsessed with baby names (since I am not in the process of naming a baby of my own). Recently over at Swistle: Baby Names, a parent actually used my suggestion. For her real live actual baby!

8. Yet I’ve never been the type to bestow names on my cars. It’s so boring that we refer to ours as “the black car” and “the silver car.”

9. (Here’s the confessional one.) Two of my neighbors/women I barely know are pregnant and whenever I see them, I have a visceral reaction of jealousy, pique, and all-out hatred. Not a good feeling. It’s pretty much just those two women. Somehow I’ve decided that they have enough babies (2 and 3, respectively) and don’t need any more. When I found out one of them was actually having twins I almost wanted to hit her in the parking lot of the grocery store with my black car. Scary.

10. (The other confessional one) I kind of have a crush on Jerry Trainor.

OK, it’s NaBloPoMo! Who wants a meme? Presto–you’re tagged.

I told you I was lazy.

Crazy hair day

by mayberry on July 13, 2009

crazyhair

For some words (crazy ones? You be the judge), go visit Binkytowne, where I am guest posting today on behalf of the vacationing Amy. She asked me to describe my most memorable vacation. You’ll have to click over to find out if I followed the rules.

Zombie ‘ku

by mayberry on May 29, 2009

zombiechickenin the blogosphere
being called a zombie chick?
it’s a compliment

Specifically, it means that recipients of this prestigious award  “believe in the Tao of the zombie chicken—excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words.”

Well, wow. Thanks, Melisa with one S!

Now for the threatening part: “As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.” Yikes.

Well, I like to live on the edge so I am going to pass this on to one single chick: Mad. Because although her masterful retelling of Pride and Prejudice didn’t make mention of any zombies, it was by all means remarkable.

Nora and the Gruffalo Twins

by mayberry on May 25, 2009

nlfamilybutton Didja see these two cuties? Nonlinear Nora had twins, a boy and a girl, last Friday, and Mo-Wo is throwing a babies’ shower. (So what if the babies are already here. We like to flout convention here in the blogosphere.) Our gift to Nora: a list of picture books for her growing family and its growing library.

I love to give books as baby presents. No worries about size or decor or duplication; if they have it already it’s easy to regift or donate. If the baby in question has an older sibling, get a board book and a big-kid picture book and everyone’s happy. My must-gives include Where the Sidewalk Ends, the Little Pea/Little Hoot combo by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and anything and everything by Peggy Rathmann (Gloria is a dead ringer for our own dog).

For Nora’s new little pair, today I offer the talented author/illustrator duo of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, starting with The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. The rhymes and illustrations work  together brilliantly in these two very funny books about a clever mouse who outwits a much bigger adversary. Another title by these two that I adore is Room on the Broom, in which a temporarily wandless witch is saved from an unpleasant end by a motley pack of companion animals.

As Mo-Wo says, Nora, “our hearts are filled with gladness for you all”–gruffaloes, mice, babies and all.

(P.S. Speaking of mice, I trust you already have a copy of Noisy Nora, one of the best sibling jealousy books ever?)

I loved this week’s creative challenges at Hot by BlogHer. I chose to do the diet challenge:

For this challenge, choose one day this week and photograph every bite you eat, then blog those photos. (Before you eat it, of course.) You’ll not only be hyperaware of food choices due to the accountability of blogging it, but you may be surprised when you see your entire day of food in front of you.


1 Nonfat chai latte; 2 apple slices left from kid’s breakfast; 3 oatmeal with blueberries, almonds, and a splash of chai concentrate; 4 stir fry with brown rice, tofu, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy, plus tea; 5 Annie’s peace pasta with parmesan, again with the kid leftovers; 6 sugar snap peas; 7 “club sandwich” wrap with steamed vegetables; 8 roasted cashews with cinnamon and sugar; 9 seltzer

I am amused by the roundness of all my containers. And surprised by the small amount of food (I only ate half of that ridiculously oversized wrap). This is a pretty normal day of eating for me, except we went out to dinner. But not at a decent restaurant, so that wrap was the best thing I could find on the menu. We saw a show and were unable to resist the intoxicating scent of the ($7!) cone of roasted crack cashews.

And as your reward for being interested enough in my daily food intake to read this whole post, here is a clip from the show we saw. Still just as funny as when we first saw it 6(?) years ago.