Squeezing It All In

We’re down to the last few weeks of summer – school starts on Sept. 3 for Adam and Allie. As usual, I’m feeling that “we haven’t had all the fun I meant for us to have” crunch that I always feel as the beginning of the school year approaches.

Adam hasn’t been helping the matter any. He’s not happy about our childcare arrangement (the kids have been spending their days with family friends who have three little kids of their own) and has made it known that he’s bored. Of course, his suggested alternative is to stay home by himself – which would no doubt mean video games/TV all day. Not happening. (We do let him have a day to himself once a week, though.)

Anyway, the kids and I all have this week off. I *think* that this should help their “fun quotient” for the summer. 😉

Friday/Saturday: Birthday party sleepover at Adam’s friend’s house

Sunday: Movie (Adam/Tim/my dad) and school clothes shopping (me/Allie/Jenny/my mom)

Monday: Water park with Adam and Allie’s best friends, and Jenny is at my folks’ house for two days.

Wednesday: Zoo

Thursday: Trampoline play place

Friday: Another zoo

Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Weekend in my mom’s hometown for the annual “Jubilee Days” celebration

Sunday: Air Force Museum on the way home

I *think* this oughta do the trick … but who knows.

Do you get that same “we haven’t had all the fun I meant for us to have” feeling at the end of summer?

Follow Me on Facebook

FB collage 071713dDid you know that Bookmama is now on Facebook? If you’d like to be notified when I post a new blog and also hear additional day-to-day comments and posts that don’t make it to my blog, hop over there and “like” me. (My Bookmama page is not a personal page, so I won’t be able to see your personal information – you’d be “like”-ing me, now “friend”-ing me.)

Come on over and join the conversation! 🙂

BookMama on Facebook

Discovering Someone New

When I worked in bookstores (not the Borders headquarters, but actual bookstores) back in the 90s, I loved discovering new authors. My absolute favorite thing about discovering new authors was when I found someone I loved … who had already written a bunch of other books. There was nothing like binge reading fun authors like James Patterson (back when he only – and actually – only wrote about one character), Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, John Kellerman, Faye Kellerman, etc.

And since our bookstore allowed employees to borrow hardcover books (to help us keep up on the latest without having to buy them – we didn’t get paid much), I didn’t have to wait to get them from the library. I could read them right in a row. Bliss.

TNBT_pblgWhat’s amazing is that now, even after being an adult reader for 20+ years, this still happens. I still manage to find an established author that I haven’t read before. It’s kind of surprising that it still happens, actually.

My latest “discovery” is Jennifer Weiner. I think I read one of her books a couple years ago, and then earlier this year I read Then Came You. But it wasn’t until I read The Next Best Thing last week (in two days, no less – quite a feat when one has three young kids and works full time!) that I realized I love this author! I can’t wait to get to the library and pick up something else by her. (I thought about buying one for my Kindle – instant gratification! – but that’s a habit I really cannot afford. So I’ll either find something in the library or get in virtual line behind numerous others in the library’s electronic book site.)

What’s YOUR favorite “binge reading” experience?

My friend Gal over at One Gal’s Musings has generously bestowed the Lovely Blog Award upon my humble and oft-neglected blog.

I’ve been following Gal for many blog-years – since 2007, if I recall correctly. She’s a compelling and interesting writer, and covers all kinds of topics. I’d even say she’s my favorite blogger. 🙂 She’s fun in person – my mom, the kids, and I all had brunch with her once when we were in Chicago. What a nice treat!

How this “One Lovely Blog Award” works:

1. Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post
2. Share seven things about you
3. Pass the award on to seven nominees (sorry, I’m not doing this because I don’t know that I even have seven blog “buddies” these days)
4. Thank the person who nominated you and add a short blurb about them.
5. Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs

Seven things about me
1. I love to swim, or at least play in the water. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, and I don’t swim laps or anything like that, but nothing pleases me more than an afternoon at the beach or the pool with the kids. My folks live close to a small lake, and their neighborhood has a beach. As teenagers, my sisters and I spent most of every day at the beach. (It didn’t hurt that at least two of the lifeguards were quite crush-worthy.) Nowadays I don’t get much opportunity to swim, but I enjoy it when I do.

2. The only makeup I wear is tinted lip gloss. I do have some blush and lipstick somewhere, and I were them once in a great while (like, every couple of years) but mostly makeup is just not for me. Maybe it’s because I never learned how to apply makeup well when I was a teenager (or at any other age), but mostly I just think it’s a pain.

3. My employer is a Major University in the midwest. My alma mater is the competing Major University in our state. This can make for some uncomfortable situations at work when I hear someone trashing my alma mater. (I tell people I went there when it comes up, but it’s not as though I advertise it.)

4. I’ve written more than 800 blog posts. I’m going to remind my mom of that every time she bugs me about when I’m going to blog again.

5. I’m a writer/editor/content manager by trade (with a dash of photographer and video producer thrown in).

6. Friday Night Lights is just about my all-time favorite TV show. (It’s not really about football, I swear.) And it’s a Netflix streamer, so if you have Netflix, check it out.

7. I have a BA, with a dual major in journalism and American history. (Sounds so not useful, but I’ve actually been working in a related field for more than 10 years.) And I have NO desire to ever return to school for any sort of advanced degree. The odd car seat class here and there, sure, but I’m done with formal education.

Today I want to share a public safety announcement with you – one that has nothing to do with car seats.

Last summer, my longtime boss and friend, Jamie, very nearly lost his life while he was wading in Lake Michigan and got caught in a rip current. Jamie was lucky – he was saved by a kayaker who heard his cries for help. Realizing how lucky he is, he has devoted himself to using his communication skills (we’re both professional communicators) to spread awareness and help others.

Please watch and share the PSA that Jamie created, and then read his full story. (I still can’t read it or hear him present it without getting tears in my eyes.)

You just might save someone’s life.

Patience is a Virtue

Earlier this week, Tim and I took the kids to Michigan’s Adventure, a regional amusement park that we’ve visited every summer since 2004. We love it – the price is right, the park is small and easy to navigate, lines are short, etc. Even though Cedar Point is about the same distance, we’ve never seriously considered taking the kids there because the tradeoffs (trading the things listed above for bigger/better rides) just wouldn’t be worth it.

This year was great for Allie. She has just hit 48″, so she is tall enough to ride all but one ride. She told us on the way home that “This was my best Michigan Adventure day ever because I got to ride all the big roller coasters!” She’s turned into quite the a coaster fan, and I’m thrilled. I’ve always loved roller coasters, except for the especially rattly ones. (Tip: Don’t ride something called “Shivering Timbers” if you don’t like the rattly coasters.)

Our mistake this year? Taking Jenny.

We usually wait until a kid is four to take them to the amusement park. We intended to wait until next year with Jenny, but this trip was planned somewhat at the last minute and we didn’t have anyone to leave her with. Adam and Allie wanted to take her with us, and she wanted to go … so Tim and I said yes, against our better judgement. (We even turned down a night-before offer from my sister to watch Jenny – we’d been telling her for days that she was going with us, so it seemed a little cruel to change our plans at the last minute.)

Turns out we should have waited after all, and left her with Aunt Betsy. We were so excited about taking her, but it just didn’t go the way we hoped it would. Jenny had fun, but wasn’t interested in riding anything except the really little kiddie rides. So, in the interest of letting the big kids ride big kid rides, we split up almost immediately, and Tim and I pretty much spent the whole day trading off Jenny and the big kids. It worked out all right, I guess, except for the last hour, when I somehow ended up with both Adam and Jenny.

J tantrum 2

Yes, that’s my three-year-old throwing a tantrum in the middle of the sidewalk at the amusement park. For those of you who think it’s so sweet that Adam was “watching over her” – this picture was taken as he briefly looked up from holding his head in his hands, saying “Come ON, Jenny! MOM, can’t you DO something?!”

Ironically, this was the second time she threw a fit that day – in pretty much the exact same spot. I don’t recall her problem the first time, but this time she was mad because she wanted to go back to the helicopters (kiddie ride) and I had the gall to insist that we let Adam ride some big kid rides for the last 45 minutes before the park closed. (She and I had just spent about two hours in the kiddie area, and I even bought her an ice cream cone.)

So, we’ll definitely return next year, but Jenny may be visiting Aunt Betsy that day.

(She DID have some fun, as you can see in the pictures below. Adam even humored her by riding on the Winky the Whale ride once.)

kids in whales

J snoopy

J in boat

Adam, Allie and I had a fun adventure today. A while back, I found a “Groupon” for a local athletic center that has an indoor water park – four passes for $24. So the three of us, along with one of Adam’s buddies, spent the day playing in the pool, floating down the lazy river, rushing down the spiral water slide, and frolicking in the splash pool.

We broke for a (second) bite to eat around dinnertime. Since the passes were “all access,” the kids had decided that they wanted to stop swimming before this snack break and explore the rock climbing wall afterward. Adam’s friend had tried (and loved) rock climbing when they were in Boy Scouts, but it had started raining just before Adam’s turn on their big outing. So he was anxious to try it. Allie was a little trepidatious but was willing to try.

I was so proud of both my kids! They took turns for about 45 minutes, and each made about eight attempts to reach the top. Adam didn’t quite make it to the top, but certainly wore himself out trying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him work so hard at something.

Allie, on the other hand, made it to the top! (I do think it helped that she is so lightweight, the bungee cord probably gave her more of a boost than it did Adam.)

AER rock wall

Just look at her up there! I can’t wait to see what she wants to try next. (Swimming lessons, actually – and we’ve got them planned for fall.)

The Energizer Bunny

Remember the Energizer Bunny, from the old battery commercials? You know, the one that just keeps going and going … and going …

That’s Jenny.

We had an extremely busy day today. First up was my nephew’s first birthday party, in a town 1.5 hours away. The kids all had a blast, and the girls ran around playing in the wading pool, filling water balloons, etc. Next up was a wedding reception for the young woman who was our summer nanny last year. They had a band and a dance floor set up. Jenny danced for about a half our with our friend (Allie’s best friend’s mom, who is one of my best friends.)

Adam and I figured we’d leave once our friends left, since the only other person we knew was the bride. Nope – we stayed for at least another 90 minutes, with Jenny pretty much dancing the WHOLE time (much of it with Adam, who had patiently been waiting for our friend to leave so that J would pay attention to him).

I thought she’d be exhausted by 8 – busy day, she spent the whole time outside (even the reception was outside), etc. On the contrary – she danced until 9:30! She probably would have gone longer, but the band took a break and Adam and I decided it was a good chance to make our departure.

(And even once we got home, she didn’t crash – she played on my phone for a little while, until at least 10:30.)

A & J dancing

I don’t know what it is with my kids, but they have all been fascinated with looking into the refrigerator. (Believe me, there’s never much of interest inside it – just the usual product, milk/cheese/yogurt, leftovers, etc.)

Check out this recent picture of Jenny. (I can’t quite tell whether she’s going for the Hershey’s syrup or the salad dressing. Hershey’s, probably.)

J fridge

Now, compare it to the pictures here. Tell me there’s not some kind of weird trend with my kids?

Getting a New Car

safety pilotWell, it’s not actually new, and it’s not actually mine to keep. But there is an extensive, multi-year U.S. Department of Transportation safety pilot research study being conducted in our area. It’s pretty neat. And, being somewhat of a vehicle safety nut, I find it interesting and signed up to participate when the study was first announced.

There are three levels of participation. The least-involved level (which we currently have on our main vehicle)  includes a small data collection device that involves no interaction from the driver. The middle level (which my boss has) includes the data collection device and also emits warning signals when another study vehicle is too close. The third level involves driving a study-provided car equipped with five cameras that collect data about driving conditions, proximity of other vehicles, driver reaction, etc.

I was notified today that they want me to participate in the third level. Besides being excited to participate further in the study (I happen to work in the research environment at the university, and was interested in research even before I started working there), I am really looking forward to driving one of their vehicles for 5-6 months. It won’t be a luxury vehicle, but it’ll certainly be nicer than the 2003 Ford Focus station wagon that I usually drive. (Or maybe it will be a luxury vehicle – I’m supposed to be getting a 2011 Buick Lacrosse. Not new, but nice!)

Here’s an interesting article on the study, from Wired magazine. (Though I do think their “300 vehicles” figure is wrong.)