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Monday Book Review: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” “Next Stop Grand Central,” “I’ve Got Your Number,” “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” and… “Ollie the purple elephant”

February 27th, 2012

Amy Chua has gotten a load of grief over her memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” about parenting her two daughters. I liked the book — I thought she was brave and forthright, and funny, too. She’s the first one to admit her flaws, people, so get off her back. I agree with some of her methods. I know, I know — she got a little extreme. But you know what? Motherhood makes you crazy. It’s the truth.

Maybe we could talk honestly about our struggles and demons, instead of going all judgmental and focusing on finger-pointing. When did it become such a sticky wicket, “modern parenting”? Try to do the best you can and call it a day. Gah.

“Next Stop Grand Central” is another great picture book by Maira Kalman. It was published in 1999, but I just got a copy of it a couple of months ago. I’m trying to collect everything by Kalman — some of it is expensive and hard to find, but if you poke around on eBay and Amazon, or at the used book stores, titles show up and you can find them at reasonable prices.

Just received a review copy of Sophie Kinsella’s latest, “I’ve Got Your Number.” (My disclaimer.) I started it and it is fun and engaging, like her books always are. I needed something a little lighter — I’ve been on an F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald kick — novels, bios, short stories. I like these self-imposed author studies I do, but it’s a little much sometimes, eh, Sylvia? So Ms. Kinsella, thanks for another good read.

(Edited on 3/12/12 to say: Finished the Kinsella book last week — loved it. There’s a touch of sorrow and intensity to this one, woven through. V. good.)

“No one wants to hear stories about about bad things. That’s the truth. I remember that my tutor at college once asked me if I was all right and if I wanted to talk. The moment I started, he said, ‘You mustn’t lose your confidence, Poppy!’ in this brisk way that meant, ‘Actually I don’t want to hear about this, please stop now.'”

Next: Somehow, when I was doing my library work, I missed reading Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s picture book, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” (flipside in Spanish: “!La Verdadera Historia de Los Tres Cerditos!”). You know why? It’s such a great book that the students and teachers always had it checked out and I never got to enjoy it! How dare they! Ha. Found my kids’ old copy awhile back, out at their grandma’s house, and brought it home with us.

I give this one five out of five stars. Yes. !Si!

Jarrett J. Krosoczka (who also wrote the hilarious “Lunch Lady” series of graphic novels) has a new picture book out: “Ollie the purple elephant.” Too. Cute. Really liked the art in this one, and the story is fun. That’s it for books. Now how about a short film and some music? Alright.

This short film won an Oscar last night. I just adore it.


And now, just because I am still so bummed about Whitney Houston’s death, another video — this one of an impossibly young Whitney and her incredible mom, Cissy. Peace, peace, peace to the Houston family


some random thoughts

February 24th, 2012

* watching General Hospital. I’ve never really liked Patrick all that much. OK, I’ve never really liked him one bit. But now, I’m kind of hating his guts because He Is Wuss. Also, where’s the hospital chaplain?

* why didn’t Sonny just shoot Anthony when he had the chance?

* I don’t like Kate much (Sonny’s old/new girlfriend). Or Maxie (the new one or the old one), Spinelli/Spicoli, who else?? I like Monica, Tracy, Luke. Dante, when he’s not w/ Lulu; Olivia, but not Steve Hardy; Lizzie, but only when she’s an artist not a nurse; Carly, Sean, Sean, Carly… I think that’s it for now.

* had a nice lunch with Steve — Indian buffet. oh, yum. i like having a little time alone with my husband, it’s cool. In May, it will be fifteen years since our first date. We went out for… Indian food! I dropped my naan in my water glass, I was so nervous ;)

* I’m trying to ease up on the coffee (one cup a day, #canshedoit) and switch to tea. Trying… trying… I do love my tea. Didn’t used to love coffee this much, but I’ve become quite the little addict over the years.

* speaking of giving things up… booze. It’s been ten months since I stopped drinking. Feels good every day. Clear-headed. The writing is going well, too.

* It’s hard for me to read the blogs and Facebook now, when everyone’s all, Is it cocktail hour? Is 10 a.m. too early for a drinkie? Moms’ Night, Wine, wooooooooooo-hooooooooooooooooo!!! Mommy Wants Booze, etc. Then they’re dissin’ on Whitney for being weak. Are you diabetic, or bordering on, but you still drink alcohol? Are you on anti-depressants and you drink with them? Are you depressed and you drink to feel better? (Alcohol is a depressant, keep that in mind, would ya?) Do you “need” that drink or do you just want one? Are you having a couple of drinks (or more) and then driving? Yeah, let’s not talk about addiction, America. I’d rather not have that conversation with you.

* All for now. Oh, yeah… I love this picture. Happy Friday, everyone.

— wm

"that tree"

(Photo by Steve)

love to Whitney Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown

February 21st, 2012

Dear Bobbi Kristina,

I’m so sorry you lost your mom.



ps — I appreciated this report by Lee Hawkins, I thought it was good.

so ready for spring

February 17th, 2012

Iowa frog cousin

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

new new newness

February 16th, 2012

Author Blog, by moi.

Nature’s, New Seasons, anti-union management and Eileen Brady

February 16th, 2012

New post from Steve.

more books!

February 15th, 2012

Reading, reading, reading…

why i started writing a blog, or, hello to all the sweet girls and two boys

February 14th, 2012

happy birthday, blog :) seven years today.

Snake grass pinwheel

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I was at my girlfriend A’s house. I brought my coffee cup with me and banged it down on her counter. We needed to talk PTA stuff — I think we were planning a carnival. She told me later that the way I put down my mug convinced her that we were meant to be friends. (i miss her — moved across town and never see anyone anymore.) She threw out the old coffee, made a fresh pot, poured me a cup and then said Oh-you-have-to-see-this! She took me back into her office, and there on her screen was Amalah Not Too Sweet, with pictures of cherries for the header. (When I think back to my early days of blogging, Not Too Sweet often pops into my head, with images of Chocolate Volcano Cake, cute babies, funny stories, advice columns…)

Such a funny girl, Amalah. And my friend A. She knew I was staying home with the kids and a little restless. I told Steve I wanted to start writing a blog, so he built this one. Then he built one for himself, and another one, and another one, and then, why the hell not? This one.

Then I read (not in this order), Rockstar Mommy, Yvonne, Zoot, Mir, Heather, and later, Jon. (A sample “daily affirmation” from Jon: “Learn from your detractors. And then block their negativity. And their IP address.”) Later on, I added Laura (i love that post, by the way), Vixen and Nan, and… Koreen.

Now we’re all getting a little discouraged about blogging. No one reads The Blogs that much anymore (see: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr). They’re alright, and I know a lot of people liked the “closed garden” aspect, but I don’t find them as satisfying as I do blogging. But I’m also writing fiction and non-fiction, as always, and doing marketing for those projects, so that is where I throw my angst, not at blogging.

Also it’s a little weird out in the Internet waters, nowadays. Everyone’s figuring out how to handle it, with the kids getting bigger and wanting privacy. (Many of us had little kids when we started this out — my daughter was 5 and my son was 2, how is that possible? They’re 12 and 9 now, whoa.) Jon and Dooce are legally separated. Still blogging. One of my favorite blogs belongs to the ex-wife of one of the best bosses I ever worked for. Connections. Go figure.

So de-lurk, already. I still get a fair amount of traffic but hardly any comments. Go anon if you’d like, I don’t mind ;) I’d like to know who’s out there still, or finding the blog for the first time.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And happy birthday, blog. here’s to many years ahead.



learning about U.S. history

February 14th, 2012

Fed up with Lewis & Clark and Thomas Jefferson — it’s all my kids have learned about American history at school so far (grades 4 and 7). So we’re watching Roots.

all power to the people,


Sandra Tsing Loh is not a baby.

February 13th, 2012

But her dad is. #blesshisheart. She’s just stressed out and slowly going broke. I have never read such a painfully funny article in my life.


And no, I’m not saying that in an “elderschadenfreude” way, ‘k? ‘K.

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