Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blog Her Book Club: The Magic Room

The more I have begun to feel like a person again, the more I have been able to get back into my favorite hobby, reading. So I was giddy when I was given the opportunity to read The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow as part of the Blog Her Book Club.

What an absolutely lovely book. The Magic Room tells the story of a small bridal shop, Beckers, in Fowler, Michigan that has been passed from mother to daughter across three generations. The book intertwines the story of the Becker family and their relationship to the store with vignettes about brides who are shopping for their gowns.

When I first started reading it, I described it as "like Say Yes to the Dress, if Say Yes to the Dress were really sweet and less commercial." The more I got into it, though, I realized that it was about so much more than that. The moment of shopping for the dress, of stepping into the "Magic Room" of endless mirrors, was simply a window for seeing into the lives and loves of these women and their mothers (and sometimes daughters). The book's subtitle "A Story about the love we wish for our daughters" makes more and more sense as the book goes on.

The stories the book tells are touching and sometimes heartbreaking but never seem to reach the point of being cloying or manipulative. Whether describing a forty year old widow, a young single mom, or a girl who saved her first kiss for her husband, Zaslow seems to withhold judgment. The relationships are immediate, and the description is done with an extremely gentle touch. Woven in with these narratives, however, is an extremely smart sociological analysis of the direction that relationships are taking in our era, both in marriage and with our daughters.

The Magic Room is clearly a book with heart and with a brain both. It was the perfect book for me to read this holiday season.

I was provided with a copy of this book to review and am being compensated for participating in this campaign. All opinions expressed herein are, however, my own.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Life's lessons: What she can do

  1. A one year old can't play Wii games (we've tried).
  2. She can't fold a fitted bed sheet even though she seems to want to.
  3. She can't say the final consonants of things, but mommy understands when she wants her "du" or her "do," to be held by "da" or to take off her "saaaaa."
  4. She doesn't say "mommy" because really she doesn't need to.
  5. But she can pull anything off any surface in the house, no matter how much you think it's protected.
  6. She can sign "more," "all done," and "baby." She can sign other things too, but mostly she just wants to sign "baby."
  7. She can dance if she wants to. She can leave her friends behind. Wait, I got a little off track there.
  8. She can hand something to me or daddy if we ask for it. And if she feels like it.
  9. She can hand me the dishes out of the dishwasher. (Sa-weeeeeeet. I win at parenting.)
  10. And she can run across the room at me full speed with her arms wide open, laughing hysterically as she throws herself into my arms.
  11. This mom thing? Is a pretty good gig.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hey, baby, let's talk

I'm not here today. I'm over at Charity's blog, Giggles and Grimaces, writing about how I taught my Baby Girl sign language. I've been wanting to tell that story for a while, and I think it's so appropriate to tell it over at Charity's since she was the one who always gave me encouragement when I thought we were baby sign failures - but I suppose that's the way she's been with most things. :)

So, grab a cup of tea and come join me over there, could you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A song for you, Lauren

Lauren, the champion of moms everywhere, is doing the most amazing/hilarious series of re-written Christmas songs.

This is for her. Okay, it's just one verse and the chorus, but it's the best I can do. I bow down to her beauty and grace. If you have a verse to add (and I'm pretty sure I know some awesome mamas who all have a verse to add) (I do love a good metaphor), please leave it in the comments.

So, here goes:

I don't want a lot for mothers
There is just one thing they need
They don't need a lot of gadgets
Made to help them sleep or feed
I just want to help them find
Ways to ease their troubled minds

Make their problems cease!

All I want for mothers
is Peace.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life's lessons: Things that make me itchy

I try to be positive, but this week I decided I'm just going to take a minute to growl at all the things that make me mildly (or less mildly) crazy. Please feel free to growl with me.

  1. Lists and plans
  2. Schedules and routines
  3. Being late (and I always am now)
  4. Deadlines (see above)
  5. Commitments I can't follow through on
  6. Drudgery (oh, hello laundry)
  7. People who use "ironically" incorrectly (wait, how did that one slip in there?)
  8. People who take my baby at family functions
  9. Crowds of people I don't know
  10. Waiting in lines
  11. Okay, waiting for anything
  12. Plan cancelers (See 1 and 5 above)
  13. Not being good at things (and sometimes it feels like that's everything)

But despite all that? I'm still okay. I'm winning at this life thing lately. And you will be too. I promise.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Actually? I'm okay

I've been struggling for a while. Being a mom is hard, any which way you slice it. I was lonely, I was tired, I was bored and yet overwhelmingly busy.

But lately? I've been okay. It's funny how that's almost as hard to admit as that I'm not okay. I'm almost afraid that if I say it, then somehow the bottom will drop out and I'll be lost again.

Am I still tired? Yes. My precious baby - errm - toddler woke up 4 times last night, inconsolable. Is it still hard? Yes. Heck yes. Let's just say some little misses around here have decided to wholeheartedly embrace the label of toddler.

But? Something has turned. Something is better. There is a peace running through my days now that I haven't seen in a while, that I may have seen never. Does that mean I always feel peaceful? No. Some days the anxiety monster still knocks me on my butt. But when it does, I can see it as that. It doesn't take over my life.

Some days I get a lot done: I make comfort food, I vacuum my carpets, I write blog posts. Some days all I want to do is get out and see other human beings. Some days I need to just sit on my couch in my yoga pants and watch my Baby Girl play (or beg her not to flip over my trashcan).

And you know what? That's okay. Because there're no wrong answers. I just need to do whatever I need to do on any given day. I know that now. And that's why I'm going to be alright.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do good

So, I know I owe you all a post here. A really good, heartfelt and funny one. One that makes you laugh and cry and hug. But, um, this isn't that.

For now, I wanted to tell you that I'm hosting a Do Good challenge and link up over at my old blog on frugality. I'd love it if you'd join me there.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Over Thanksgiving, my brother was telling me about one of his friends. She has a six month old at home. "She works full time, she has a baby, and she's disappointed with herself that she is down to only two book clubs. I don't know how she does it."

Almost without thinking, I responded, "Really good childcare."

My brother looked at me like I'd slapped Santa. My husband started laughing. My mom said "Yup." All at the same time.

It wasn't a judgment. I didn't mean to be critical. In fact, I think it's a perfectly valid choice, and it sounds to me like she's doing great. But the truth is, in this life there are tradeoffs. We can't be in more than one place at the same time. We can't do everything in a single day. We all only have the same 24 hours.

Sometimes, if we have extra money, we can buy a little more time. But unless you are a Rockefeller, that money costs time too.

I forget all this sometimes. I think that because I am a SAHM, I should have time to do everything. If a working mom can do a full time job and still have a clean
house, a healthy child, and even a hobby, doesn't that mean I'm failing somehow?

No. Because she isn't doing it all herself any more than I am. She just does different parts of what I do.

There are so many things that I would like to do, but in this life, there are always tradeoffs. If we're lucky, and I am, we mostly get to choose them. That doesn't, however, stop what we're missing from stinging a little.