Books I Might Write: A Partial List

  • How To Wipe Your Butt: A Primer

  • Learn To Listen By Not Talking

  • Is This The HIll You Want To Die On?: Choosing Your Battles

  • Slow Down: How To Travel With Purpose Instead of Up Everybody's Ass

  • Rights Are Not Absent Consequences: A Discussion on How What You Do Affects Others

  • There's A Sociopath In Our Midst: Identifying The Cray Cray In Your World

  • Yours, Mine, And Ours: On Blending It All Together Without Feeling Like You're Living In A Blender

  • More China?: Wedding Etiquette for The Previously Wed

  • The Meditative Qualities Of Nail Art

  • Cats: A Study In Narcissism

Trampomese? Bounce wit 'mese?

Nail Art For Beekeeping And Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi

When I'm not sure how to prepare for something, I meditate, and by meditate I mean do nail art—that's my version of meditation.

Beekeeping nails. I think I might be doing it wrong.

I hunt for just the right design for the occasion—what design would be most appropriate for a beekeeping class on a Saturday, for example—and set about selecting the colors and brushes to execute my plan. As I paint, I'm forced to breathe slowly, steady my hands, and remain in the moment. Sometimes I hum a repetitive little chant or sound as I work, probably not even audible to those around me, or maybe it annoys the fuck out of them. If it does, they've been kind enough to never point it out.




I also do yoga, but not with the seriousness I would like, and not with the passion of Brian Leaf, the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness . I was given a copy of his book to review, and I'll be honest; I rarely read anything in hardcopy anymore. I got so used to reading on my iPhone when Bob was in the hospital and going through chemo, and then I read Infinite Jest that way because IT'S SO DAMN HUGE, that I just can't go back to paper. So, to see if I was going to like this book enough to REALLY read it and review it, I cheated. (Don't tell the publisher, please. Or the author. Or Santa, because I've been pretty good otherwise.) 

Here's what I did: I downloaded a preview on iBooks to see if I liked it enough to BUY a copy of a book I already had in my hot little mitts. 

Guess what. 

It totally was.

With five kids cruising around this house a good portion of the time, we have a fairly hectic world, and it can be tough to find time to read, but this book sucked me in. Why?

  • Yoga is something I love, but I can't stand reading new agey, touchy-feely books about it. I don't want to be preached to. 
  • As somebody with a host of complex health issues that are intimately tied to my mental health, I appreciated reading a book by an author who was discovering that for himself.
  • If you don't make me laugh at you or at me, I'll probably put your book down. Brian has that covered in every chapter. I was poking Ed to read excerpts throughout the book, and finally stopped because I really want him to read it, which reminds me of my next point.
  • The New Jersey-ness of Brian held a special appeal for me. There's a culture in that state, and now that I am in an intimate relationship with a man who was raised there, I appreciate the unique nature of some very Jersey-specific traits. I don't want to reveal too much, and I'm not talking about fist-pumping Jersey Shore (the show, not the place) culture, because you really need to read it to see, but I plan to email Brian about one bit I noticed because it really stood out. If you read it, I'd be anxious to hear from you what you think.
  • It is a quick read, but not in a throwaway sense. You will have aha moments, and LOL moments, and highlighting passages to come back to them moments. It will make you want to be better and feel better, but also show you that the process to getting there is a journey, that it can be a fun journey at times, painful at time, and that we need to give ourselves permission to experience life. 

But, you know what you should do, see for yourself. 

You can read the first two chapters free right here.

And if you want to see one of the funnier book trailers I think I've ever seen/heard, then watch this. Or don't. Maybe go wash your cat. I'm gonna figure out what I'm supposed to wear to beekeeping class with this sweet black and yellow nail art.

The fine-ish print: I was given a free copy of the above-reviewed book with no other strings attached, folks. Anything else I did or said or painted on my fingernails was my own choice and my own opinions. 

New York Times Best Boob Is Too A Thing

I know some Jennys. One lives near me, and we amuse each other greatly. Occasionally we amuse other people. 

Last week we made the trek to Corte Madera to see our other friend, also a Jenny, at her book signing because, HOLY FUCK WE HAVE A FRIEND WHO WROTE A REAL LIVE READABLE BOOK. Also, we love her. And it's rare to see this particular Jenny outside of a bathroom.

Waiting to get my book signed by Jenny.

Seriously. It is. That's where I first met her. In a bathroom. It's less abnormal the longer you know her. I've now spent more time with her in a bathroom than out, I think, and this seems completely normal to me.

Private Party with The Bloggess

Hanging with @TheBloggess and my girl. #awesome

Anyway, when Jenny and I got back from seeing Jenny at the book signing, we sat down to make a video homage to our friend, her book (Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), and our road trip, but this happened instead. 


I think Jenny will understand. Also, you should totally buy Jenny's book because The Bloggess is a seriously funny person, and it turns out that we aren't the only two people on the planet who think this. (You need to understand that this totally makes my autographed boob incredibly important by association, like New York Times Book List important. That's really important. That's more important than that stupid Who's Who crap they try to get you to pay for in high school, which it turns out is just a giant scam that anyone can do, so I'm glad I didn't do it.)

Taking my @TheBloggess boob to the pool. As you do.

Oh, and Jenny is one of the few people who spells my name correctly. I think that's important in a friendship.

Finally, somebody spelled my name correctly. Figures it'd be @TheBloggess



We took the kids to see the Lorax in 3-D today. We were seriously disappointed. It felt far longer than an hour and twenty-five minutes. They lost the Seuss of it all, if that makes sense. And there was very little offered to keep the adults or, hell, anyone engaged after the first twenty minutes.

I am the choir this story preaches to, and I felt preached to in a college-lecture-hall kind of way. Had I not ingested half of an over-sized, -priced iced-tea, I surely would have nodded off. That said, the kids in tow (preschool-elementary age) enjoyed it, but I should qualify this is only the third movie they've seen in a theater—the novelty of moviegoing still holds their attention almost as much as the movie.

It seems to be the way when Hollywood tries to get a feature-length film out of a children's storybook. Sometimes it's best left on the pages of the book for us to enjoy at bedtime or in the classroom. Dr. Seuss has so much to offer early readers, and his messages don't need to be forced onto the big screen to make them enjoyable.

Day 14: Operation Eleanor - Rebirthing Of The Word Bogart

bogart: transitive v. to use or consume without sharing

Today I bogarted the first few minutes of Peanut's therapy appointment. Although, truth be told, it wasn't so much for my personal use as it was for the benefit of our entire family. Yay for awesome therapists! We have a great one.

I can't recommend therapy enough for helping a family through the rough spots or even just as an ongoing resource for learning how to navigate the developmental stages kids go through. With kids who are grieving the loss of a parent, it's a must. As we move toward integrating two families together, it is also important that we have the support of a professional to help us navigate the bumps that we will surely encounter along the way. It's one thing to create a step-family with children of divorce; yet another altogether to create a step-family with children who have lost their parent(s). My kids don't just have a potential fear of their father being replaced because they see another parent here in the house, they might have that fear because their other parent will never return. It makes for a different kind of situation. It doesn't matter that nobody is looking to replace their dad. Amen for professional help along our journey.

So, even though I wasn't super excited about needing to go in for the first few minutes to discuss "issues," I did it. And you know what, I feel a LOT better. Isn't that how therapy usually goes?

Work Ahead

I found a wonderful book that I thought I'd share with those of you who might have grieving children. It's called Guiding Your Child Through Grief by James P. Emswiler and Mary Ann Emswiler. Here's what I like about it: the authors aren't just counselors. They met and married after James lost his 39-year-old wife of 18 years to an unexpected heart attack. He was a young widower of three children. Mary Ann was a single woman who took on raising his three children with him. Together, they founded the New England Center for Loss & Transition and The Cove, a program for grieving children, because there weren't any resources available as they navigated these uncharted waters back in the early 90s. They get it. And they break it down by the developmental stages of the kids, which I really appreciate, because teenagers are not the same as 10-year-olds when it comes to their grief needs. If you're looking for a book that will speak to you in the early days or even a year or more out, this is it. The chapter on step-parenting a grieving child is excellent and I found a lot of comfort in the opening chapter, Will My Child Be Okay?


Sleep Training Is Making Me Into A Bookworm

detail of Carl Spitzweg: The BookwormImage via Wikipedia

I’m on Week Four, kids. Still baby stepping. Still failing in some areas and making strides toward improvement in others. I can now fall asleep within an hour or two of going to bed, however I may not go to bed until 4am. Like I said, baby steps.

One unforeseen side effect of the sleep training program is that I’ve been finishing a lot of books. Since I’m limited on what activities I am allowed to do in bed while I’m trying to fall asleep (no more laptop or online time), I’ve been reading. A lot.

Having an iPhone means that I can read my books using the Kindle application. This may sound horrid to those of you who don’t have experience using a Kindle or an iPhone, but it’s quite delightful, really. Think of having a book light built into your book, no pages to awkwardly prop open while lying in bed, no book to position around the pillow. It’s divine.

I fell in love with the Kindle app while reading Infinite Jest. It was a godsend with that book’s infinite endnotes and monstrous girth. I already owned a hardcopy of the book, but didn’t want to tote it on the plane ride to Chicago for BlogHer. Downloading the free Kindle app and the $9.99 book seemed well worth the convenience for the trip. Upon my return, I barely cracked opened the hardcopy again—usually just to get a visual on how much real estate I’d covered. The book’s that thick.

So, what have I been reading, you ask?

Califmom’s Sleep Training Book List:

Have a Little Faith: The Story of a Last Request
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
In Persuasion Nation
Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin
American on Purpose
Little Bee
Ethan Frome

And I started Anna Karenina last night. It’s my first time reading it, so I have no idea how it will go. I don’t finish every book I start. The books I listed above are all books I finished. Ethan Frome was the only book on the list I’d read before. I remembered loving it when I read it in high school and wanted to revisit it again as an adult. I still loved the way Edit Wharton painted the bleak winter landscape, mirroring her characters’ lives. Emo kids have nothing on Wharton.

If you want to keep up with what I’m reading or what my kids read, I keep track of it all on Goodreads

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Read, Speak, Know: Banned Books Week 2009

This week is Banned Books Week. I'm rather fond of reading. My kids like books. They read around 140 novels last year between the two of them.


After a quick look at the list of frequently challenged and/or banned books, I was shocked not by how many I’d read, but by how many my children had read. So many of the books on the list are books I would consider children’s books.

You know, I do so love being told what I can and can't do. Wouldn't it be just grand if someone would decide which books were and were not appropriate for me and my children to read?

Yeah, um, NO. That's not going to fly in this house. My people came to this country so we could enjoy some basic freedoms. The books we read, the words on the pages (including this one), and the words that come out of our mouths are a BIG freedom we enjoy and plan on keeping.


Every year, more books are challenged. More books are banned. More words go unread. More authors undiscovered by new eyes. More voices silenced. Unacceptable.


Find out what you can do to fight the censorship. Yes, YOU. And you. I know you aren't wearing pants. None of us are. That's the beauty of the Internet. Just keep your webcam off for a minute (or don't, that's your business, really) and take some action on this before Big Brother knocks on your door and takes away your copy of Harry Potter. You think I'm joking? Harry makes the list All. The. Time.

My beloved Judy Blume has a truckload of books on the list. You all remember how damaging her works were for young readers. Don't even get me started on the classics. Oh, wait. Too late. To Kill a Mockingbird? On the list. Brave New World? On the list. As I Lay Dying (home to my favorite chapter of any chapter ever written, and I quote, "My mother is a fish.")? On the list. A Farewell to Arms? On the mother fucking list.

If you’re feeling particularly outraged, visit one of these PRO-censorship (yes, I said PRO) groups and let them know what you think of their efforts. Hey, I wonder if any of their members would be available to be our poster child/adult/pet for the Help Cure the Humorless cause. I bet they have a lot of potential candidates.

    * PABBIS: Parents Against Bad Books in Schools
    * ClassKS: Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools
    * Citizens for Academic Responsibility


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Protecting Our Children or Going Overboard: What CPSIA means to you

Economy of American SamoaImage via Wikipedia

If you want to read my opinions on how the CPSIA will impact our family and homeschoolers, in general, click here.

If you aren't yet familiar with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, keep reading. If you think it won't effect you, keep reading. If you are worried about our economy or your job, keep reading.

The post below is part of the CPSIA Blog-In and was provided to bloggers for this purpose. Feel free to use it on your own blog.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

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Fame Online

I love finding out my favorite authors, musicians, or other 'celebrities' have an online presence, especially when it's in their own voice. It's rare, but so enjoyable when you can develop a social connection to people whose work you admire. It's also nice to find out they're human. I mean, you know they are, but it's nice just the same.

Twitter has been one place I've enjoyed finding some of my favorite celebs. I'm not going to give out their @names because it feels a little stalkerish, even more so than me stalking them twitter, but I will totally tell you that Dave Matthews, Lance Armstrong, John Hodgman, and Adam Savage are the real deal.

On Facebook, I even found John Elder Robison, Augusten Burroughs' brother, and the author of "Look Me In The Eye," a must read for anyone who's dealing with Asperger's. He also has a personal blog, which is fabulous, and totally him.

By putting themselves 'out there' with the rest of us, using social media like the rest of us, not just as a publicity tool, it lets me know what kind of people they are.


And I like that.

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Book Review: Against Medical Advice

Book cover of Book cover via AmazonIn early October, I was asked by the publishers of James Patterson's latest book, Against Medical Advice, if I'd like a copy to review. This isn't a work of fiction, as Patterson usually writes. Instead, Patterson is joined by Hal Friedman in telling the story of Cory Friedman, Hal's son, and his struggle with the most severe case of Tourette Syndrome I've even encountered.

When your child ends up in the hospital from tearing muscles due to physical tics, you aren't dealing with your run-of-the-mill case of Tourette's. When you've worked your way through 60 medications and still can't find peace for your child, that child gives up...almost. When an addiction to alcohol is the lesser of two evils, it's time for radical actions.

Against Medical Advice
is told in Cory's voice, with his blessing. This is as much Cory's book as it is his father's or Patterson's. Cory's story will grab you, turn you upside down, challenge you, and give you an ending you never saw coming.

I read it in a single night.

Then, Bug read it. It took him two nights, but he was captivated by the story, as well. Peanut and Hubs are planning to read it together, then we'll be passing our copy along. We may even pick up a few more for family members and friends. I will confess this was my first Patterson novel, and I was absolutely blown away.

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