30 July 2008

Reading Meme

What kind of book are you most comfortable reading?
Contemporary fiction -- novels or short stories. When left to my own devices I always buy and read contemporary fiction. I have to be prodded somehow or other -- sometimes gently and sometimes with force -- to read just about anything else. I realize I am somewhat limited.

What kind of book do you love to hate?
Oprah's picks! I don't hate Oprah, but there is something about her book club and most of the choices that really irk me. I can't explain it, but something about using the Oprah marketing machine to sell books really bothers me and immediately turns me off. Any other TV Show book club selection is the same kind of turn off for me.

What was the last book you surprised yourself by liking?
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This was my most recent book club selection and I was interested in it, but only mildly. I ended up really loving this book and I'd like to read more by Achebe. It is really beautifully structured and written. It was a nice surprise.

What was the last book you surprised yourself by disliking?
PopCo by Scarlett Thomas. It sounded like a book I would love, it was recommended to me by a RA librarian, and it was chosen by my book club. It was just incredibly disappointing.

What would be the worst book to be marooned on a desert island with?
Right now I would have to say the book I am currently reading. It is Pretty Little Mistakes and I wasn't sure about it when I bought it, but I took a chance. It is a choose your own adventure type story and I used to love those when I was a kid so I was intrigued by one geared for female adults, but it sucks. I keep dying in 4 pages -- that would not be inspiring on a desert island. Next time I die, I am considering myself finished with the book.

What book would you take with you if you suspected you might be marooned in the near future?
I would have to take one of my husband's many, many survival books. It is one of his favorite genres. And I am not talking about the Worst Case Scenario books either, I am talking serious survival. Probably the one issued by the U.S. Army is the best choice.

What forces you to read outside your comfort zone?
Friends -- especially those who write amazing reviews on their blogs. And book club.

28 July 2008

Day at the Museum

Yesterday was an unexpected free day for my little family and since it wasn't much of an outside day due to the rain we decided to go to the Museum of Natural History in NYC. It was a lazy day so we got a late start and, of course, hit traffic going into the city so by the time we got there it was well past lunch time and we were all starving. Luckily we found a great place called Homer's up on Amsterdam and 83rd. It was called something else last time I was there, but it was still the same delicious burgers and fries and the like. Zoë's lunch included a chocolate milkshake that was about as big as she is. After some good, greasy food and a couple of rounds of air hockey (there's an air hockey table and video games in the back of Homer's) we remembered that we were planning to go to the museum.

A quick dash through the raindrops and in no time we were standing in front of some enormous dinosaur bones. Somewhere between the Hall of Vertebrates and the DinoStore we were sitting on a bench and Zoë looked up at me said quietly, "I feel happy."

My heart just about popped right there and then. "I feel happy, too," I said hugging her and smiling.

We finished up looking at the dinosaurs, hit the dioramas (no trip to the Natural History Museum is complete without seeing the dioramas), and then headed home. The smile never left my face.

25 July 2008

Backpack (Or why I question my genetic relationship to my daughter)

Just about 2 years ago while shopping for fall clothes Zoë picked out a backpack from Children's Place to use for bringing her things to and from her pre-k class. It is a standard backpack design, a good size and is covered in a rainbow swirly pattern to which Zoe was immediately attracted. She needed a new bag for school and the prices at Children's Place are generally right so I bought it for her and she used it almost every day of pre-k.

About this time last year we were vacationing in Maine and we stopped at The Kittery Outlets to get Zoe all geared up for kindergarten. One store we were in had about a dozen adorable backpacks so I told Zoë to choose one because of course you have to have a new backpack when you start kindergarten, right? Wrong. "I don't want a new backpack," she whined. "I want to use the rainbow one I have." She didn't even want one when we were in L.L. Bean and they literally had a mountain of backpacks in every color and pattern they make on display. That's when I was convinced she really didn't want a new one.

I conceded although I was more than a little surprised. I mean, how could you not want a new backpack? Are you really going to put all those pristine school supplies in your old backpack? But the backpack she had was still in very good shape so I decided not to argue. You have to choose your battles, right? Put that money saved in the pot for a new bag for me Zoë's college fund

By the time kindergarten was wrapping up last month the swirly rainbow backpack was really showing its age. One of the straps is starting to tear and one pocket is ripped so I told Zoë that she could use it for camp, but then she'd have to pick out a new backpack for the start of first grade. "But I don't want a new backpack," she whined. Again. I told her she could use the backpack she has for the rest of the summer, but then it was time to buy a new one. She whined a little more and then we both let it drop.

Several days ago a back-to-school catalog from L.L. Bean arrived and it was showcasing backpacks. Based on the catalog I would guess that their mountain of backpacks is bigger than last year's. I showed the catalog to Zoë and I told her that if she picks one from this catalog we can get her initials on it, but that didn't really spark her interest. So then I told her that one of these backpacks will probably last a lot longer than her Children's Place backpack so she won't have to get a new one again very soon. This interested her and she took the catalog and flipped through it. When I came back in the room the catalog was cast aside and I asked if she had picked one out. "Yes," she said. "I want the blue one."

"Which blue one?" I asked hoping she'd point to a picture in the catalog. No such luck. Its not like there are just one or two blue backpacks. Take a look at the L.L. Bean site's backpack section and you will see what I mean. Part of me wants to just order the blue one I like, but that is a risky strategy since I have already asked her which one she wants. Currently that catalog is missing so I now have to wait for the next one to come in the mail before I can hand Zoë the catalog and a pen to circle the one she wants. Knowing L.L. Bean, I am sure the next catalog will be along any day so it won't be a problem.

The problem for me is quite simply: how can you not want a new backpack? I lived for the years when I was allowed to get a new bag for school along with my regular school supplies. What better way to start off the school year than with perfect new notebooks, brand new pencils, shiny new shoes and that special new backpack (or schoolbag)? Does this mean when Zoe gets older she's not going to want new purses and new shoes too? (I could tell you a very similar story about a pair of blue sneakers, by the way. Couldn't throw them away until you could smell them from across the room.) Can she really be my daughter and not want a new backpack? Strange, but true.

22 July 2008

Nevermind the ice cream truck

I'm waiting for this truck to come around the neighborhood!

As my good friend would say, I am sure the local "Mumfia" would be appalled, but I think its hysterical -- probably because it rings so true.

21 July 2008

40 words meme

Found this on both Emily's and Becky's. It is a good one -- amazing how revealing one word answers can be!

The rules are simple: one word answers to 40 questions.

Where is your cell phone? Purse

Your significant other? Lovable

Your hair? Short (had to copy Becky on this one although hers is shorter)

Your mother? Smart

Your father? Kind

Your favorite time of day? Morning

Your dream last night? Unknown

Your favourite drink? Wine

Your dream goal? Independence

The room you’re in? Family

Your ex? eh

Your fear? Flying

Where do you want to be in six years? There

What are you not? Lazy

Your favourite meal? Lunch

One of your wish list items? NYC

The last thing you did? Beach

Where you grew up? Boonies

What are you wearing? Pajamas

Your TV is? Big

Your pets? Dead

Your computer? Loved

Your life? Filled

Your mood? Mellow

Missing someone? Yes

Your car? Big

Something you’re not wearing? Contacts

Favorite store? Bloomingdale's

Your summer? Full

Your favourite colour? All

When is the last time you laughed? Hours

When is the last time you cried? Italy

Your health? Good

Your children? Adored

Your future? Bright

Your beliefs? Liberal

Young or old? Young

Your image? Nerdy

Your appearance? OK

Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? Possibly

OK, those are my 40 words, now its your turn!

Impruneta and Florence -- more photos

I am just about done going through all my pictures from our Italy trip. Took me long enough, right?

Here is installment two which includes pictures from the Villa in Impruneta and Florence.


Next and last set will be from Pisa. You can look or not. At least I haven't invited you all over to my house for a slide show. I can remember people doing that when I was a kid. Do you remember those old slide projectors?

18 July 2008

Friday Fill-in

Time for some more lazy blogging with the Friday Fill-in.

1. If I could be a fly on the wall I would go outside and watch Zoë at camp.

2. Jealousy is destructive.

3. When I see a shooting star my wish would be for peace.

4. I'd rather be shopping than working any day!

5. Certain songs when I hear them make me wanna cry.

6. If time were in a bottle break the bottle -- I could use more time, a lot more.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to buying a lot of food at BJ's, tomorrow my plans include a party at my house and Sunday, I want to recover!

16 July 2008

Living the single life

One of my new year's resolutions was to to hire babysitters more often and since I was lucky enough to find an excellent new babysitter I have been able to really stick to that resolution. For the summer while Rob is working all kinds of crazy hours every day I have hired my excellent new babysitter to pick Zoe up at the camp bus stop 2 afternoons a week and spend the evening with her. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with those evenings, but so far I have managed to have plans to go out every night the babysitter comes. My nights out have included:

Book club (The book was The River King by Alice Hoffman)
Bunco at my sister-in-law's
Seeing Damn Yankees at the NY City Center -- on the night of the MLB All-star game ironically
Eating dinner with former co-workers at Cheesecake Factory

I've been out late and having so much fun that I am starting to feel guilty! OK, only a little guilty -- I do pay the babysitter after all. Anyway excellent new babysitter is on vacation all next week so I will be on duty every night and I will have to curb my partying ways.

13 July 2008

A tale of two weekends

Because I took Friday off from work my weekend officially kicked-off on Thursday night with a night out. My sister-in-law invited me to her house to be a fill-in in her Bunco game and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was happy just to spend an evening with my sister-in-law. It turned out to be a really nice girls' night out. For those of you (like me) who've never heard of Bunco before I would say the word "Bunco" probably means good excuse to get together, eat, drink wine and talk.

Friday was just gorgeous in every way. After putting Zoë on the bus for camp and hitting the gym all that was left was to relax. Becky joined me for the ideal triumvirate of mani/pedi, lunch, and leisurely shopping. Sounds like it can't get better, right? But it does. Early evening Emily arrived at my house with two bags of groceries from Trader Joe's. At that point we cracked open the wine and spent the entire evening sitting around my kitchen table talking and talking and talking. And eating! Emily cooked up a delicious pasta casserole and Becky brought a delightful homemade dessert. I was quite spoiled by all the food and the good conversation. A house guest who also cooks dinner is welcome at my place absolutely anytime! On the whole the evening, as well as the entire day, was so leisurely and relaxed that I felt like I was back on vacation.

That feeling of calm and relaxation continued into Saturday afternoon -- even Zoë was into it until the complete shift in gears when my 10 year-old cousin Asher arrived to spend the night. He and Zoë immediately got into their bathing suits and headed out back to the pool. I was on life guard duty. They had a fantastic time splashing around in the pool and I really got a kick out of watching them play together. You wouldn't think a 10 year-old boy would be interested in hanging out with a 6 year-old girl, but he was -- much to Zoe's delight. As a matter of fact it was Asher who requested the sleepover a few weeks ago. I was more than happy to have him because he is a great kid and Zoë just adores him.

Saturday night Rob and I took them both out to dinner at the fine-dining establishment that is Pizzeria Uno where I truly enjoyed introducing Asher to the root beer float, doing word finds with them both and discussing whether it would be better to watch "Bee Movie" or "Ratatouille" when we got home. I felt like I was experiencing the joys and noise level of a 2-child family and it was really fun, if a little loud.

The fun and noise continued today and maxed out this afternoon when I had a little birthday party for my Dad. There was a total of 7 kids swimming in the pool, eating hot dogs, chasing each other around the house and generally taking over. Again, it was very fun, but quite loud. I felt like I hardly talked to anyone because I was so busy running around.

Now that Zoë is in bed I am sitting here in my once again quiet house I am feeling quite pleased with my weekend experiences. I definitely had the best of two worlds.

12 July 2008

Bella Venezia

I am finally catching up on my life and have started to go through and organize the photos from our trip to Italy. I took over 250 photos so I've decided to break up the photos by place. Our first stop was in Venice so
here are the best of my photos from there.

This is one of my favorites especially because it was taken from a gondola.

07 July 2008

Happy Camper

Happy Camper, originally uploaded by Marcyjill.

Zoe started at Camp Tepee today -- her first summer camp experience. She was so excited this morning. This afternoon when I picked her up at the bus stop she was still smiling, but she was considerably dirtier! According to Zoe, "camp was great," and "she loved it all."

I absolutely loved camp when I was a kid so it does my heart good to see her enjoying it too.

06 July 2008

Lazy posting

I haven't been feeling 100% well for the past couple of days. I'm not sure if it is some actual illness or as Rob suggested just exhaustion, but either way I have decided to heed his advice and spend today lounging on the couch. Luckily there are good books to be read, good tennis to be watched and fun posts to be posted -- a meme of course.

I was tagged by Becky for this one meant as an easy way to get back into blogging and frankly I think it is all I can muster today. Here goes...

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was living in Manhattan on 36th St between 1st and the river and working at Ziff Davis in mid-town as a circulation manager for MacWorld, Computer Shopper, and PC Magazine International magazines. I had the world's easiest commute -- only a 15 minute walk and I was loving life in the city during the week and weekends spent in Redding, CT with Rob. We had been together about a year 10 years ago today. It was a very happy time in my life.

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non-weight gaining (non-braces wearing) world:
Ice cream -- my favorite is soft-serve vanilla with some kind of topping like M&Ms or Snickers
Movie theater popcorn
Tortilla chips and guacamole
A mixed bag of candy from ones of those places that lets you fill your bag with your own mix and charges you hundreds of dollars per quarter pound.

Five snacks I enjoy in the real (braces wearing) world:
Frozen yogurt -- my favorite is Stoneyfield Farm Creme Caramel
Really cold, but not frozen grapes
Teddy Grahams
Tortilla chips and guacamole
A few miniature size peanut butter cups or peppermint patties

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire: (Since shopping really goes without saying for me I'll just assume that is a given)
Start a film festival for women film makers
Purchase an apartment in Manhattan
Join NetJet
Donate large amounts of cash to international children's charities
Build "Green" affordable apartments/condos

Five jobs I have had:
Snack bar at Westway Beach Club
Costume shop shopper
Fund raiser for Texas Campaign for the Environment
Gap store associate manager
Circulation manager

Five habits:
Rubbing my eyes
Checking my Blackberry
Spending and not saving
Getting up early (earlier and earlier the older I get)
Applying chapstick

Five places I have lived:
Monroe, CT
Ithaca, NY
Dallas, TX
Brooklyn, NY
New York, NY

Tagging Tracie because it is a good post for a busy week.

03 July 2008

The alternate universe that is jet lag

It has been so long. Too long. I have, in fact, returned from Italy and I was hoping my first post would be a photo essay, but since I haven't even downloaded the 170+ pictures from my camera yet that's not going to happen. I don't usually get this affected by it, but for some reason the jet lag is really killing me. I'm tired at all the wrong times, hungry at all the wrong times and generally walking around with a sensation that I am in some alternate universe where everything looks familiar, but is not quite what I remember as my life. It is reminding me of an old Stephen Wright joke:

I woke up one day and everything in the apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica.

Happily it is now the start of a long weekend in which I don't have much to do so I am hoping that I can re-assemble my life into something I can once again fully recognize. I plan to employ sleeping in, visiting the gym, and a couple of evenings with good friends and bottles of prosecco to aid in this pursuit. I feel confident that this plan will work. I'll keep you posted.