Are you happy?: A book review

I just finished reading a book that I just HAD to tell you about.  I was browsing the library shelves when I saw Happy Housewives by Darla Shine.  The front of the book says “I was a whining, miserable. desperate Housewife- But I Finally Snapped Out of It . . . You Can, Too!”  See, why I had to get it?  I would read it, report back, and then we would all have fun making fun of it.  Brilliant.

Except half way though I realized, except for one of two things, she actually made some sense.  Well, that went that post.

You know me.  I’m not miserable.  Usually.  Unless I’m puking and peeing at the same time because I’ve been poisoned by proestrogen.  Unless I’m sick.  Unless the boys decide to try to cage fight; while I’m too tired to care and busy trying to get dinner on.  But on the whole, I’m a happy . . . homemaker?  Really, I don’t know if there’s a title I like. 

As I read Shine, I realized she wasn’t really talking to me at first.  She started talking to the upper-class moms who stay at home with the kids but have a nanny and/or cleaning lady.  We’ve all heard about them, and we’ve all heard about their complaining.  Really, Shine tells them to fire the help and do it themselves.  My grandma would say these women were just too bored and needed to work to stop whining.

But as the book went on, I realized she was talking to all moms.  She talked about enjoying your house because that’s where you stay all day, making it a place you want to be.  Shine wrote about how moms need to take care of themselves, feel good about themselves, encouraging our kids through our example of being healthy adults.  She encouraged moms to have a social life, to have hobbies, to have some me time.  Really, that’s what so many stay-at-home moms need, a balance between mom, wife and woman.  And I agreed with her and stopped making fun of when she wrote about fixing your lipstick before your husband comes home.

While at first, I couldn’t stand her writing style of breaking out of “character” to tell me she needed to do something for one of the kids.  I’m a trained writer, so I saw it as poor writing skills, but I then realized she was just being a mom, showing her street cred, if you will.  How many times are we talking to someone on the phone and have to ask for a minute to deal with a kid issue?  My only problem became that she dropped this style three-fourths into the book.  She should have taken it through to the end.

Since I can’t leave it all rainbows and sunshine, I will criticize some of her suggestions.  Like throwing out all your clothes that are older than a year, so that you always have a fresh wardrobe.  That must be nice when you’re rich, but most of us can’t do that.  Or the fact that she says that all houses should have a playroom with a door, so you can shut the door on the mess.  At one point, I could I hide the toys in a kiddie corner, hidden by the couch, but now in my itty, bitty house, the toys are taking over.  (Send reinforcements if I ever miss three days in a row because it means a regime change of the toys.)

But the best part, that I actually tossed the book down so I could call my BFF and howl with laughter with someone, is when Shine talked about her healthy eating.  Talking about Susan Powter’s books, Shine writes, “She gives oatmeal as one example.  She says everyone thinks oatmeal is a healthy food, but have you ever heard of an oat tree?”  Well, no, I haven’t, but that’s because oats grow on grasses like wheat.

So if you’re browsing and in the mood for some light reading to encourage you through your path of stay-at-home motherhood, I suggest you pick up Darla Shine’s Happy Housewives.  Just take some of it with a grain of salt.

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Book Quiz

Thanks to Ink at Inktopia and Robin at Passions and Soapboxes.  I decided to take this quiz.  And look at this.  I always new I was a bit schizophrenic.  I guess it’s time I read this book because I’ve been meaning to for years.


You’re The Poisonwood Bible!

by Barbara Kingsolver

Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both
isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people,
but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since
you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and
tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be
Belgian.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

There’s a Wocket in my Pocket!

Evan: Mommy, are you ever certain there’s a ghair on your chair?

 

Me: (washing dishes without looking up) Sometimes.

 

Evan: Mommy, is there a ghair on your chair?

 

Me: (looking up to see Evan draped on the top of my wing-backed chair) Why, I do believe there is a ghair on my chair.

 

*an hour later*

The boys are watching TV, and I read my book.

 

Evan: Is there a ghair on your chair?

 

Me: (looking up, smiling) Yes, there is a ghair on the chair.

 

Evan: Is that a bofa on the sofa?

 

Me: (Realizing I’m the only one on the sofa) Yes, I’m the bofa on the sofa.

 

Evan: Do you ever get the feeling there’s a B.T. watching T.V?

 

Me: (Looking at Sean, standing, mesmerized by Kai-Lan) Yes, I do have the feeling there’s a B.T. watching TV.

 

*a few days later and several more ghairs on the chairs*

 

Evan: Mommy.  There’s a sick ghair on your chair.

 

Me: I know, big guy, and he’ll be well soon.

 

 

 

“I don’t care

If you believe it.

That’s the kind of house

I live in.

And I hope

We never leave it.”

-Dr. Seuss

 

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Moving the Library

According to iBooks, I own 253 books.  That does not include the reference books, like Thesauruses, Dictionaries, parenting books, and palmistry books.  It also does not include the dozen or so of cookbooks or the text books I plan to read one day.  (Ink: In my defense, I only dropped lit crit because the original professor, who believed you can only understand it through doing it in one massive paper, grew very ill and had to drop teaching, only to be replaced by a pompous ass, but I swear I’ll read the book.)  Nor does it include several titles that the system says does not exist. (Honestly does any one not read graphic novels!) This does not include the fifty or so books that belong to my husband, who will NOT reread his texts books.  It does not include the large amount of children’s books that I haven’t gotten around to counting yet. 

 

But this large library, and counting, does make it difficult to move, especially when the owner realizes she might not need every title in the next year.  So the night after The Decision, I began to fill small boxes with as many books as I could back.  As I packed the books, I typed out the title of each book, making a list to tape to the top of the box.  And the system worked well until I ran out of boxes, and you just wouldn’t believe how hard it is to dumpster dive with two little ones.  They tend to want to bring home unsavory objects or cut themselves on syringes.  (Kidding.  Kidding.  You throw them in to fetch.)

 

Without boxes, I began to worry about the horrible mess of letting someone just heap books into boxes and not being able to find my very favorites when I needed them.  I did what any good wife would do; I nagged my husband.  During the times he didn’t tune me out, he suggested I get rid of some books.  I am, thank you very much, and I do, but I keep everything I will read again, and I do.  Then he would rant about how I had too many, and I would remind him why I have so many.  Soon I wished he had ignored me like usual.

 

There is a reason for the large library other than my intense love for the written word.  Years ago when my husband and I were just shacking up, we combined our moneys early because we were engaged.  As the honeymoon was over, my husband would leave to hang out with his buddies, which wasn’t a big deal, except I was young, bored, and had few friends that stayed in the area after they graduated.  After several stupid arguments, I came up with a brilliant plan.  Believing that a lot of my grief was because I was a saver and he was a spender, I decided that every time he went out drinking, I would go to the bookstore.  At first, he was against the plan, saying “You’re never going to read those books again; it’s a waste of money.”  “Well, you’re never going to drink those beers again; at least I have something to show for spending the money.”  Then I went to the bookstore.

 

In the end, I had to give up writing all the titles on the boxes and move on to just writing the type of books, like religious or parenting.  I had one box marked with my favorites.  Written on top of the box was “Favorite books; lose this box and I own your soul.”  They were in the office waiting for me when I arrived and were the first ones on the book shelves.  Of course, there’s a huge possibility that I’m going to have to move the bookcase.  Damn.

 

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Books I Want My Kids to Read One Day

Here’s a list of ten books I want my boys to read and hopefully enjoy.  I hope everyone does their own list and lets me know because I would love suggestions.  When my husband was a boy, his father read to him every night, starting with picture books and going into books like The Hobbit.  So everyone find some time to do the list (looking at you, Outside Voice), and no cheating by putting The Bible, The Torah, The Qur’an because we ALL want our kids to read our religious texts.  That goes for homework too. ( I like to say for the record that when ever I publish this post, WordPress helpfully removes all the italics and bullet points.)
 

Hungry, Hungry Sharks by Joanne Cole.  Ok, I’m a bit sentimental with this book because it was the first book I read by myself.  I would like my kids to read it so they’re not scared of sharks and know that you can find all the answers in books

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  I hated reading when I was growing up; it was this book that made me change my mind.  It was a great story and theme, and if they like this one, they’ll want to finish the series.

 

Greek myths (or The Iliad or The Odyssey by Homer) I loved reading mythology growing up.  Reading the Greek myths especially will give my kids a frame work to understanding Western literature, art, music, and even thought.

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker (or Frankenstein’s Monster by Mary Shelley {or Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë if I have a girl})  Since I wasn’t a reader, I was completely against the thought of reading the classics, but luckily I had a teacher who was determined to make us readers.  The whole idea is if you can get them to like a classic, you can get them to read more in search for another good book.

 

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous.  This book is always on the top ten banned list.  It is a moving diary of a teenage female drug addict.  It scared me straight.  I’m a firm believer that the truth is more powerful than threats or fantasy.

 

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  This is a great story about Nazi Denmark and the heroism of the people of Denmark to spirit away the Jewish population.  Since it is told through the eyes of children, it is very easy to relate.

 

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg.  Another hard hitting novel.  This one is about a teenage girl’s journey through mental illness; it taught me not to take for granted my life.

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  I like this book, even though a lot of people I know didn’t, but it showed me that sometimes the hero is not a hero and that we all have to strive to be better than ourselves.

 

The Stand by Stephen King.  I would like to say this is his greatest work, but I haven’t read it all yet.  After reading this, I knew King would go down as a brilliant writer.  I thought this was a great story illustrating the goodness and evil in humankind.

 

The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman.  This book teaches people that we all show love in different ways and that to love someone you have to “speak” it in their language. 

 
Now I am sure there are dozens more, but those are my top ten.  My husband has his own list including Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and The Fellowship of the Ring series by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Director

Sean is insistent.  He’s persistent.  He’s down right stubborn.  And he likes to be read to.

 

Sean will find a book that he wants read to him, and he then tottles over to his Mommy or Daddy with a sweet, “Peeease!”  Now if said person isn’t paying attention, Sean will take his/her hand and jam the book into it with a sweet but persistent, “Peeease!”

 

After the parent is finished reading the book, Sean opens the book, saying “Peeease!”  After the thirtieth reading, the parent tries to do something else, like watch TV or have an adult conversation, but Sean will take the parent’s hand again, jamming the book back into the hand with a very insistent “Peeease!” 

 

Now let’s just say that about the forty-third time, I’m not reading it with as much enthusiasm as the little director would like.  Sean will yank the book out of my hand and read it allowed to me.  “Mawaweey.  Kuamuama.  Twany.”  Then he will hand it back, expecting more feeling, and amazingly he’ll get it. 

 

 

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Get Unserious if you want to critique Twilight

So I’ve been thinking a lot about Twilight and the rest of the series, and since I was doing the dishes, I composed this post with hopes to minimize the complete tediousness of the chore.  I read a lot of reviews about the books and the movies, but I always find bad reviews more interesting because, after all, it’s only one person’s opinion.

 

First: To those who hate the books.  I read a post the other day about how horrible the books were.  That they were tripe, and the blogger read them all in a weekend and that (THAT!) must be proof on how horrible they are.  Well, let me abuse anyone of the notion that this is fine literature.  These are books written for teenagers, so they aren’t going to be complex as, I don’t know, James Joyce or J.D. Salenger.  Oh, wait I read the Dubliners in a weekend, and I read Nine Stories and Catcher in the Rye in 24 hours.  The blogger went on to bemoan the happy ending and the fact that you can’t have sexy vampires without sex.  Again this was a book written for teenagers, and they LOVE happy endings.  And I, for one, think that it’s nice to have something in pop culture that isn’t about sex.  Aren’t teenagers inundated with too much of it as it is?

 

I can’t stress enough on how these books and movie were made for the target audience of teen girls.  I find it amusing that all these adults find the movies immature.  Well, gee, when Harry Potter really hit it big, I knew they weren’t the books for me because I wanted something with a little meat in it.  (Note: I plan on reading them soon.)  I read Stephanie Meyers’ books because I wanted an easy read, I love vampire books, and I knew it was really a romance book.  Yup, it’s a romance novel about soul mates.  Any vampire teenage girl book is ultimately about soul mates exist and love conquers all.   It gives them hope that maybe that special some one isn’t in the same high school but he’s out there somewhere looking for you.  Remember what they did with Dracula when the made Bram Stroker’s Dracula.  There was nothing about soul mates in that book.

 

Second: to all who hated the films.  Yes, it was made strictly for the fans.  Now, granted the director and screenwriter left out some helpful knowledge like why the Cullens don’t drink human blood and hey, vampire saliva is poisonous.  But it really was a decent movie.  I’m sorry it didn’t have enough gore and blood in it for some people, but they must have been oblivious to the fact this was made for teenage girls, not boys.  Then there’s the critic who was upset that Meyers took some liberties with her vampires, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the same critic who hated Underworld because it was just another typical vampire movie.  (Duh, that’s why I’m going to see it.  But how good is it: Interview with a Vampire good or Vampire in Brooklyn horrible?)  Of course, Meyers had to do something different with vampires; look at how many other vampire books are out there.

 

The other biggest problem for critical viewers was the giggling audience.  These critics believed the giggles were because of the poor acting and the poor script.  Well, I just saw the movie for a second time with friends who are big fans of the series, and we giggled a lot too and probably at inappropriate times.  I paid attention to what set it off.  It was because the actors acted like teenagers.  They talked like teenagers.  Edward getting tongue-tied and trying to make Bella believe some stupid lie.  The painful look of a newly-converted-to-animal-blood-diet vampire when he’s around humans made perfect comical sense.  The awkwardness of Bella reminded me of how awkward I was around my high school crush.  We laughed because we saw ourselves, and some of us saw are younger selves.

 

I’m just saying don’t go to this movie or read these books if you’re going to take them seriously.  When I want to read something serious, I read nonfiction because anything else could be made fun of; remember The DaVinci Code or Little Women.  They should be taken with a grain of salt because they’re fiction.  We read these books and see these movies because we want an escape.  It’s why I read fantasy novels and my mom reads romance.  It’s why I went several times to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  (Which by the way must have the world’s worst romance scenes.  Talk about creepy, Anakin does it way better than Edward.  The lines in Star Wars were so corny AND melancholy.  You just wanted to commit suicide just to get out of watching it.)

 

So tip of the day: If you’re reading or watching something made for teenage girls, lighten up.