Reading with iBooks

I used to love to read. However, these days between my children, husband, school, my business and household, I barely have time to cook let alone read for pleasure. When my husband recommended I try the iBooks app on my iPhone, I scoffed at him. As if reading on my teeny-tiny iPhone screen was going to fill that void of pleasure reading… HA!

Screenshot of the "bookshelf"

Every once in a while I’ll go into the app store and try on a new app for size. Give it a go so to speak. I saw the iBooks app and decided I’d try it. I downloaded the trial version of Eat, Pray, Love. The trial version probably gave me the equivalent to 10-15 pages but of course on a iPhone screen it was about 198 pages.

Boy do I stand corrected! After about 5 pages I was hooked. Not only on the book (yes, the book was amazing!) but on the app. Since the only time I ever have time to read is in strange 5-8 minute bursts, like say pumping gas, waiting for water to boil, or in a doctor’s waiting room I can read a few pages, and since I always have my phone on me its super convenient. I can highlight, or bookmark something I want to remember, and every time I open the app it goes to where I left off.

Now of course it’s not as cool as the kindle and the screen is not nearly as easy on the eyes as the kindle, but if I had a kindle I doubt it would always be on my person. Whereas my iPhone never leaves my side. Sure it’s not as relaxing as sitting down with a glass of wine and a good book, but considering I love reading, I enjoy my little 5-10 minute stolen moments.

Thank you Steve Jobs and all the wonderful people at Apple… keep ‘em coming!

Works for me!

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Respect

This week’s Spin Cycle is Respect, and I’ll admit I’ve been having a hard time trying to pinpoint what I want to talk about. Like, we all want our children to be respectful, of both adults and other children, but we don’t want them to become mindless followers who don’t think for themselves. Where do you draw the line between respecting your elders (so to speak) and appropriately questioning authority, like if we have a second incarnation of Hitler or something? I truly hope that Mouse grows up to be someone who can follow his conscious, particularly if he’s being asked to do something wrong, even if it’s by an adult he’s supposed to be respecting. But who wants to raise a defiant, entitled spoiled brat? And where does respect intersect with things like politeness, manners, and just plain common sense? Want about inclusivity and tolerance? Respect and compassion?
How the heck do we raise kids to be all these things when I can’t even really define respect myself?!

For more R-E-S-P-E-C-T, head over to Sprite’s Keeper for the Spin Cycle!

Letter to My Kindergartener

My Dear Kindergartener,

You were the joy of my life before you were even born. The fact that you almost didn’t make it into this world made your daddy and I appreciate you even more. We have watched you grow from a tiny, helpless preemie into a bright, healthy, and extremely inquisitive boy. We are so proud of you, Rocky! Now off to school you go, I know you’ll enjoy the ride.

When you come home each day, please share some of your adventures with me. Not the part about how Billy won’t stay in line or how Olivia is always interrupting. No tattling, remember? I want to know the parts that gave you glee, the stuff that surprised or confused you. Maybe you asked a question and got a silly answer. Maybe you said something that made the class laugh. Did the teacher recognize your good behavior or did you get in trouble for not listening? What was the weird thing that Mackenzie brought to school? Did you get to try a new instrument today? Did you learn about an exciting new book? What about that cool science experiment you tried? Do you love school like I did as a child? I hope so because you’re going to be there for a while!

Be kind to your classmates and seek out those who are kind to you. Help others when you can and ask for help when you need it. Don’t give up if there is something you can’t do right away. Keep trying! Respect your teachers and let me know if there are things that bother you that I can address on your behalf.

Your mom will have many feelings about you going off to school. Perhaps a little sadness that you are no longer a baby, but mostly excitement and good feelings for you. You are ready, kid, I’ve given you the tools you need. Take them and continue to build with them. Yesterday you wanted to be a scientist. Before that the best piano player in the world. Tomorrow, who knows? Whatever you choose, your parents will be there to guide you and support you.

I know you worry about me being alone but it’s only for a few short hours, I’ll find a good way to spend that time. And don’t forget I’ll be volunteering in the classroom every now and then. As for you, you won’t be missing me much and that is just the way it should be. Embrace your new friends and this new part of your life. Some days will be harder than others but focus on the good times and carry them with you into adulthood. Before you know it, you’ll be the parent sending your child off to school! Please no rush on this one.

Love you forever,

Mommy

***The Gen X Moms are no longer writing as a group (too many scheduling conflicts) but you can continue reading about my adventures with Rocky on my new blog at:

http://www.jedismama.com

Close Encounter of the Rude Kind

I went out with my family the other night to dinner.  We just went to Ruby’s, a family-friendly diner with very standard diner fare.  I picked it because of its location at the end of the Seal Beach pier.  Oceanfront dining for cheap really can’t be beat!  And, I really like the variety of lighter, healthier fare on their menu for being a diner.  And, it’s a great place to take the kids.  Anyhow, soon after we ordered, a group of 6 was seated next to us.  And one of them (I shall call her Mouthy), sat down right next to me.  I was sitting on a long booth, so we were literally cheek to cheek.

Of  course, I dislike Mouthy from the instant she sits.  I mean, really – is personal space THAT hard to understand!  She and her partner are pretty loud and overall annoying, but I can overlook that.  Then, our food comes.  Bugster was jumping up and down in her high chair with excitement when her meal of macaroni and cheese with apple slices arrived.  Once it cooled, she dug in to the mac and cheese.  (I want to pause here and remind you that Bugster is 17 months old.)  She dug in with her hands, and, as to be expected, was making a huge mess of her face.  But she was quiet, calm, and completely engrossed by her meal.  Likewise, The Big Cheese was on her absolute best behavior.

Then, in my left ear, I hear Mouthy.  “Oh, gross.  That’s so disgusting.  I can’t even look.”  I look over, and she is staring at Bugster.  She continues to make comments to her partner about how nasty Bugster’s face looks and the crime her parents are committing for letting her eat with her hands.  She literally goes on for several minutes.  The more she talks, the madder I am getting.  Dear Hubby doesn’t know why I’m fuming (he thinks I’m REALLY overreacting to the personal space thing), so I very softly clue him in.  Now he’s fuming, and all the while, sweet Bugster is enjoying every bite of her meal.

I run through all the things I can do or say to Mouthy.  I contemplate saying something immediately, but I was still trying to eat my meal.  I also think about “accidentally spilling” my sticky Cherry Coke on her lap. But, I was trying to balance standing up for my daughter without embarrassing Dear Hubby or setting a bad example for my kids.

While my wheels are turning, Mouthy leans over to get an even better look at Bugster, puts her hand over her mouth in disgust, and starts right back in on her tirade.  She even says,”I wish I had my camera.”  “Hello?,” I’m thinking, “I’m right next to you.  You aren’t quiet.  Do you get that I can hear you?  Do you really think I’d let you photograph my kid?”  Still, I take the high road for a minute and stay quiet.  I ask Dear Hubby to gather up the girls, and I address Mouthy on my way to the door.  “I can’t believe the awful things you were saying my daughter.  You are the rudest person I have ever met.  Did you think we couldn’t hear what you were saying?”  And then, I walked away.  Mouthy began to sputter that she hadn’t said anything, and her partner chimed in with something I didn’t hear.  All the while, I just kept walking.  I stood up for Bugster, and I did it without embarrassing myself.

I seriously want to know if she thought I couldn’t hear her every word.  If you’re going to be a nasty, rude gossip, shouldn’t you know that you are being loud?  Thanks for letting me vent!  Now, I can forget about Mouthy and move on with my life.

Books You Stay Up For

As moms, we often don’t have a lot of time to read. Allow me to put in a plug for the wonderful genre known as Young Adult literature. You probably remember YA books from your youth, but just because your youth has passed, doesn’t mean you have to stop reading. The best part about YA books is that the writing and story are still high quality, but they’re often half the size of adult novels.

All the fun in half the time! What’s there not to love???

So let me tell you about three books I absolutely could not put down. You may have already heard of them–The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The final book in the series was released last Tuesday. I had it pre-ordered on my Kindle and read it immediately. Loved it.

The Hunger Games starts out in a post-apocalyptic United States where the population lives in twelve Districts controlled by the Capitol. In an effort to intimidate and quell any possibility of rebellion, the Capitol holds their annual Hunger Games, in which two teenagers from each District are sent to participate in a battle-to-the-death. They’re thrown into a big, complicated arena to battle it out and the last person alive at the end wins. Oh, and it’s all televised.

I know, cheery, right?

But trust me, it’s really, really good. Our intrepid heroine, Katniss (who takes her sister’s place in the Hunger Games) tries to find a way to work the system–to game the game, so to speak. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but she’s the star of the second and third books, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.

The second book, Catching Fire, is just as addictive as the first. And the third, Mockingjay, well let’s just say I read it in one day.

Whether you like speculative fiction, dystopian societies, or just a good read, I promise you won’t be disappointed. And I read a lot of YA literature. Trust me.

Help! I'm Lost!

Mouse and I love to go to the Anaheim Public Library, which is located at the intersection of Harbor Blvd. and W. Broadway St. And for some mysterious reason, this intersection is like the Bermuda Triangle of Anaheim. Compasses stop working, GPS craps out, written directions to the place you want to go disappear, and internal sense of direction ceases to be accurate.

How do I know this?

Because I have been asked for directions at this intersection no fewer than FIVE times. No joke. At least 5 different people have either rolled down their window as we were both waiting for the light and shouted their request for directions, or I’ve been stopped at the library for the same. Here’s a visual:

Where the hell am I???

I honestly don’t recall anyone ever asking for directions at a different intersection. Why is it here?

Well, as you can see on the map, I’ve indicated the direction of Disneyland. This intersection is about halfway between the 91 freeway, a major East-West freeway in Southern California, and Disneyland itself. The majority of direction requests have been from people getting off the 91 toward Disneyland, then thinking they should have seen it by now, when in fact they haven’t gone far enough. Or vice-versa–people coming from Disneyland toward the 91, then thinking they should have seen it by now, when in fact they haven’t gone far enough.

Today I was stopped in the library parking lot by someone asking for a certain address*. Turns out they got off the 91 and turned right instead of left. Interestingly, they were halfway to Disneyland…

I was pondering this, and I realized that when I lived in Missouri, there was another intersection where a lot of people asked for directions. And even when we lived in Hamburg, Germany, where I apparently looked like a local, there was an intersection near our apartment there where multiple people asked me for directions.

So I’m wondering, is there a Bermuda Triangle intersection in every city, town, or wherever you live? One particular place where people consistently seem to stop and ask for directions? What do you think? Leave your comments below :).

*Before you freak out about my safety, it was an elderly gentlemen and there were about 5 other people in the parking lot, so it wasn’t like I was going to get knifed or something.

What's Your Child's Most Irritating Toy?

The whole room gets to hear this phone! Neato.

Do you have toys that get on your nerves after your child has been playing with them incessantly? Of course, you do and you are not alone! With the exception of musical instruments, most of the truly irritating toys are battery-operated so it’s worthwhile to try talking your child into playthings that don’t require batteries.

Sometimes, though, kids get gifts or they get fixated on the noisiest toys possible. All you can do is grin and bear it until the next great thing comes along. Or suffer the guilt that comes from “losing” or depriving your child of something he loves.

Here are some of Rocky’s favorites that I would nominate for most annoying toys. Think twice if you are considering any of these. I have had thoughts about “accidentally” breaking some of these but there are just too many of them!

The Librarian

Do You Skype?

Picture this, if you will: four moms (the Librarian, the Photo Addict, the Legal Eagle, and of course, the Scriv) sitting in the studio of Sprouts Photography, children playing happily (more or less), all in the SAME place at the SAME time on the SAME day.

I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

But that was this week’s blog meeting. And let me tell you, it took forever to find a time when we could all make it. I mean, it was definitely worth it to finally get us all face-to-face. We’ve got so many great ideas for the blog, and–well I don’t want to give anything away, but you’re going to LOVE some of the changes we have in store. But that’s not what this post is about.

Anyway, as the Legal Eagle got off the phone with her painters and said that she had to leave earlier than she thought, and I went to stop Mouse from playing in the toilet again, and the Photo Addict carefully relocated her prize-winning portraits and their accompanying award ribbons while the Librarian broke up some overly-exuberant roughhousing between Rocky and Little C–we all kind of looked at each other. And then the Legal Eagle said, “You know, we really should do this over Skype.” And she correctly pointed out that they (Rocky, Little C, and now Mouse) could do that (jumping on the couch and hitting each other with pillows) in their own living rooms while we still had a productive meeting.

It’s a hell of an idea, I gotta say.

I’ve used Skype a couple of times, and it really is awesome. In case you live in a cave and don’t know what it is, it’s free web-based video conferencing. All you need is a webcam and an internet connection and you can video chat with anyone anywhere in the world for free. I’ve used it to chat with a friend of mine in Germany and it’s really fun. I mean, you’re looking at the little video of yourself and kind of always fixing your hair or hoping that you don’t look like Jabba the Hut reclining on your couch or whatever, but it’s so convenient.

I don’t know how to Skype with a group, and the Librarian needs to go out and invest in a webcam, but I think we can iron these things out and have our meetings that way.

What’s next–virtual playdates? Hmmmmm.

Questions From a 4-Year-Old

Following in Daddy's footsteps

When I start kindergarten, will you get me a real cell phone? What if the teacher asks me to read something and I can’t do it? What if she’s too busy to answer all my questions? Mom, I might need to ask you!

I can’t stay little, I have to grow up and be a man just like Daddy! Will I need to shave, too? You need to buy me an electric razor so I’ll be ready.

When I get married we are going to need a bigger bed so my wife can cuddle with us, too. You mean we have to move to a different house? I REALLY don’t want to. What if I don’t find a wife? Can I stay with you and Daddy?

Will you come to my wedding?

Mommy, when I go to school you are going to miss me too much. Will you be sad?

You said I’d go to school when I’m 5 so how can my birthday be after I start school? I’ll still be 4! We should have my birthday first.

If you die, is it okay for Daddy to be the boss?

Is Santa watching me ALL the time? I guess I have to be on the naughty list because I don’t think I can be good that much.

Makeup? Hair? Or do you not care?

Like most high school students, I obsessed about my hair/makeup combo, and since it was the 80’s, the hair was of particular importance. Laugh now, young people, but that kind of hair took HOURS. I mean, there was the sitting in the salon for 4 hours with the spiral perm rods just for starters. And then if you had thin hair like me, half of the perm would fall out and you’d stand there for a half an hour every morning with a skinny curling iron just trying to make all your hair match.

And you haven’t even gotten to the bangs yet.

Laugh as you will, I have to say I’m kind of proud that my generation elevated (heh) bangs to the level of an art form. None of this gathering it up in a bunch and pinning it down with a barette that you see nowadays. No, the women of my generation–well let’s just say that when we’re in our nursing homes, the smell of Aqua Net is gonna bring us right back to high school.

Caboodle: The ONLY way to store your makeup

I went all throught high school, college, graduate school, and my first job getting up way early to fix my face. And then I got a job in Silicon Valley during the tech boom and suddenly “Casual Friday” took on a whole new meaning. People would wear anything to work, even their pajamas. In some cases, they were in pajamas because they just slept there. They were long working days too, so it wasn’t hard for me to decide to give up the morning grooming routine and sleep in a few more minutes. It’s not like I looked worse than any of my other co-workers.

Once I got out of the habit of makeup and started getting low-maintenance hairstyles, I kind of became addicted. I praised myself on my natural beauty, that fresh glow in my face, the not being able to even find my hair dryer.

It was a pretty easy segue into motherhood. I’d grown my hair out and was about to cut it off but I told my friend I would keep it long for her wedding so I could have a fancy updo (and who doesn’t love a fancy wedding updo?). We were trying to conceive and I thought that I would cut my hair as soon as I got pregnant. Well, the day after we got home from the wedding–a full weekend of drinking and having a good time–I realized why it seemed like my hangover just kept going on and on. It was time to get my hair cut.

Nowadays I rock the ultimate pixie cut and couldn’t be happier. I use a miniscule amount of shampoo and conditioner, finger-comb, and call it a day. And I don’t even really own a set of makeup these days so if I wanted to wear it I’d have to go out and buy some. I’m okay with some flaws or imperfections in my skin. I actually think I look pretty good without all of the maintenance. What about you?