Saturday, April 28, 2012

5 Must Read Dystopian Society Books

Books currently on loan from Library.

Those of you who have visited me before know of my love for reading.  I have previously admitted to being a Bookoholic.  If you have checked out my "Books I Love" page, then you know I have a ton of books listed, and many are in the Dystopian Society genre.  This is my favorite type of book to read.  I gave a lot of thought to what would be my top five if I had to choose.  So, here goes!

In my opinion, these books are the "5 Must Read Dystopian Society Books".  In you like this genre, enjoy a good series or are just looking for something to read, check out the titles below.

1)  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I know, I know!  It seems like all pop culture is these days has to do with Katniss, Peeta or District 12.  But I really enjoy these books, even way before it was cool to do so, like back in 2008!

For those of you who are not familiar with The Hunger Games, it is about the country of Panem (formerly North America) which makes each of their 12 Districts send one male and one female tribute each year to the Hunger Games where there can be only one winner. Tributes are between the ages of 12 and 18. Names are placed onto slips of paper and picked at the reaping ceremony.

Katniss Everdeen is the female tribute and Peeta Mellark is the male tribute from District 12.  This story focuses on Katniss and how she fits into Panem and the uprising, as well as her relationship with Peeta and her childhood friend, Gale.

This story is not for the faint of heart.  It can be gruesome but it can also be very endearing and heartfelt.  There is real sadness as well as real joy.  I promise if you read this series, you will not be disappointed.

2)  Delirium by Lauren Oliver

In this dystopian series, Lena Holloway lives for the day she can be "cured".  She does not want to get the "disease" or become "infected".  This disease is "love".  In Lena's world, the Consortium administers the "cure" to all it's citizens once they turn eighteen.  Lena plans on getting "cured", that is, until she meets Alex.  Alex is "uncured" and he is from outside of the society, from the Wilds.  Lena's world will never be the same.

Outstanding series!  Just finished the second book, Pandemonium, and I cannot wait for the third book.  Discovered they are making this series into movies. *Woot woot!*

3)  Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette is a prisoner.  She has been for several years.  She is held prisoner by the Reestablishment.  They want to use her as a weapon.  Why?  Because things happen to people when they touch her.  Bad things.

There is no one.  Only Juliette.  She is all alone.

But she has hope.  Hope that one day she will see him again.  The boy from her past.

This book is outstanding!  Loved it!  It's a little X-men and a little dystopian society. I think this is going to be a series. *Squeee!* 

If you are an X-men fan, Hunger Games fan, Divergent fan or just looking for a great read, this book is it!  Cannot recommend it highly enough!

4)  Dustland Series By Moira Kelly (Blood Red Road is the first book.)

Saba lives in Silverlake and there is no one she adores more than her twin brother Lugh.  But one day, Lugh is captured by four men on horseback.  Saba is determined to find Lugh and get him back.

Saba embarks on a quest where she learns who is really is and what she is really capable of.  Along the way, she teams up with the trouble maker with a heart of gold, Jack, and a gang of rebel girls, the Free Hawks.

This book is purposely written in broken English so it takes a few pages to get used to.  But, stick with it!  It is an amazingly unique series.  I was glued to the book for a whole day straight until I finished it.  Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Action! Adventure! Romance! You've been warned!! So looking forward to the next book.

5)  Divergent by Veronica Roth

At age sixteen, Beatrice "Tris" Prior is ready to choose her faction.  Society is divided into five factions: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. Tris grew up in the Abnegation faction and most of the time people pick their same factions. However, Tris decided to pick Dauntless, the path of courage, and her life is forever changed.

Folks, this series is fantastic.  Dare I say, even better than The Hunger Games. Wait, wait!  Don't throw your rotten tomatoes just yet!  If you haven't read it, read it first, then we'll talk. If you don't love it and think it is at least as good as The Hunger Games, then I'll let you have one free shot.

So, this is my "5 Must Read Dystopian Society Books".  Have you read any of the series above?  Do you have another dystopian society favorite? I'd love to hear it!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Mommy Games: Let's Tally Our Points

Lately, it seems there is a lot of arguing about stay-at-home-moms (SAHM) versus working-moms (WM).  I am not even sure why there is a "versus" in the first place but I thought I could help clear some things up.

How about we use a point system to determine how awesome of a mom you are? It won't matter if you're a SAHM, WM, WAHM, WAHPTM, MOM, MAMA, XYZ, PCP... well, you get the idea. That way, if someone questions your prowess as a mother, you can wave your number in their face and say, "See!  I AM an awesome mom.  My score proves it, sucker!"

So, I devised this fool-proof point system based on all my wizened three years of mom knowledge.  (Yes, it is astounding, but let's focus on the issue at hand.)

End All, Be All, Awesome Mom Scoring System

+20   Vaginal Delivery (You just squeezed out a baby.  A baby. From your ladyparts.)
+10   Natural Birth (Pain, schmain. You don't need no stinking epidural!)
-5      Use of Epideral during vaginal delivery (This hurts like a mother. I need some drugs STAT.)
+10   C-section (The doctor cut you open to take out the baby.  Cut you open. Your insides were outside. Holy mackerel!)
+20   Breast Feeding (You are nursing that little one day and night, night and day, every two hours. Your mammeries are for the baby and the baby alone.)
-10    Formula Feeding (You decided to keep your mammeries to yourself and bottle feed the crib midget.)
+10  Keep baby in your room until 6 months (Because your peditrician recommended it, you will keep your baby in your room.  Even though you are a nervous wreck at every little noise baby makes, not to mention the damper it puts on the romance.)
-5    Put baby in own room before 6 months (You are slowly losing your mind.  You forgo wizened pediatrician advice in favor of your sanity.)
+5   Run into baby's room everytime there is the littlest cry (You go, mommy-on-the-spot!)
-5    After 6 months, let baby cry it out at night (You have lost your mind and your ability to function. You are a zombie. That crumb snatcher is on their own from 9pm to 6am.)
+10  Make your own baby food (You don't want any of those awful preservatives or whatever else in your baby's food.  You take the time to make your own.)
-10   Buy baby food (You cannot remember the last time you bathed so there is no way you have time to make baby food.  It is much easier to buy baby food.)
+15  Potty train before age 3 (If they can go into a corner and poop on command, they are ready to potty train.)
-10   Potty train age 3 or after (It's all about survival.  You are doing the best you can. Who cares if they are 2 or 3?)
+20  Kid goes to hoity toity preschool (You know what I'm talking about with all the fanfare and hoity toitiness.)
+10  Kid goes to average joe preschool (You know - in someone's garage.)
+10  Attend all t-ball games and/or dance performances
-5     Do not attend all t-ball games and/or dance performances
+15  Kid speaks more than one language
+5    Kid only speaks English
+15  Kid loves to read (You and your little person cuddle at night time, reading Harry Potter before bed.)
-10   Kid loves video games (You have to scream and make threats to get them to stop playing that crazy Wii.)
+10  Kid makes all A's  (There are kids that don't?)
-10   Kid does not make all A's (What?  They are not perfect?!  Preposterous.)
+20  Kid is on Honor Role (Ha!  Nerds rule the world.)
+10  Kid excels at sports, drama, dancing or cheerleading (Not a nerd, but can get a scholarship in one of these!  Score!)

Finished!  Did you tally up your points?  Ready for the breakdown?

Okay here it is:

If you scored between 0 - 5000, you are a great mom.  Yep, it's true! Sorry, you were looking for something more decisive?

There is no one right way of doing something. What works for one mom may not work for another mom.

If there was an absolute, like say in Physics, then you could be an expert.  Since there is no absolute in parenting, there is no such thing as a "parenting expert" or a "perfect parent".  (Now, I am not talking about "absolute truths", such as child abuse and neglect are wrong in any case.  I am talking about how we care for our kids.)

We are all mothers - beautifully flawed and wonderfully unique.  We are all individuals with our own style.  Why wouldn't our mothering mirror our style?

If you are a mom who loves your kids, takes care of your kids and spends time with your kids, then you are a great mom.  It is as simple as that. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why I Love New Construction

Because nothing says "classy" like a port-o-potty.

I love my house, my neighborhood and my location.  What I do not love is the new construction. Some of you may remember that I tweeted about my "love" for new construction a while back.

Here are some of the reasons "Why I Love New Construction".

  • Nail in my tire.  I totally understand how the nails you were using on the new house ended up in the middle of the street.  It makes perfect sense. I really don't mind getting a new tire for my car.  I was going to get one next year so why not now.
  • Use of profanity in front of my kids.  This is America! Your freedom of speech is protected!  You should be able to say whatever you'd like! You shouldn't have to cut back on your f-bombs simply because little kids are outside playing.  If the kids absorb these words and begin to say them, that's their parents problem!
  • Parking in front of my mailbox.  You know I should thank you for this one.  Keeping my mail from being delivered that day kept me from getting my phone bill one more day.
  • Port-o-potty.  Not only does the port-o-potty scream "class", but it is also a great street marker.  When people are visiting for the first time, I simply say, "We are across the street from the port-o-potty.  Can't miss it!"
  • Blasting your radio at full volume during nap time.  You are working hard over there.  Why not have a little music to listen to?  Far be it for some little baby trying to take a nap to interfere with your jams.
  • Using the water faucet on the outside of my house.  Please just help yourself to as much water as you'd like.  No, no, I insist!  I'll just pay the water bill and you take as much as you need.
Thank goodness I will not have to deal with this new construction much longer. They only have twenty houses to go.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pregnancy: It's Anybody's Guess

Finally some clarity!!

After having J, we decided we would like to have another baby one day so J could have a sibiling.  We thought it would be nice for J to have that special relationship. We never really talked about when we would like to have another baby. (This is the story of our discovery of being pregnant with L who is now 18 months old.)

Jeff, J and I are just living life, going along our merry way.  Jeff and I just had a baby and we are enjoying all of the wonderful new experiences.  It's the three of us against the world!  J is growing, exploring and learning. (At this time, he is 13 months.)

One day, I wake up and am not feeling well.  My head is killing me, I feel nauseous, and I am exhausted. (Yes, I know all new parents are exhausted. But this was a whole different exhausted.) I feel like dirt, like the stuff on the bottom of your shoe.

(Calling Jeff at work) Me: Honey, I don't feel so good.  I feel sick to my stomach and my head hurts.  Do you think you can come home?

Jeff: Sorry, you don't feel so good.  Yes, I think I can take off.  I'll come home after lunch.

Jeff comes home from work and I am feeling much better.  Don't feel sick to stomach or have a headache anymore.

Jeff: I see you have made a miraculous recovery.

Me: Ha ha.  I tell you I felt awful this morning but I am feeling much better.  I am sooo tired though.

Jeff: Maybe your pregnant. *Smirk.*

(Light bulb goes on.) Me: You know, that is a possibility.  I wonder if I am pregnant.

Jeff: I was just kidding.

Me: No, you might be right.  Maybe that's it.  I could be pregnant!

Jeff: You're not pregnant.

So, I go and take a pregnancy test.  It the kind that actually says 'Pregnant' or 'Not Pregnant'.  The test says 'Not Pregnant'.

Me: It says 'Not Pregnant'.

Jeff: See, I told you.

So, I figure the test confirmed that I am not pregnant so let's take that off the list.  No need to worry or think about that anymore.

Two weeks later, I am still having bouts of nausea, headaches and exhaustion.  I mean I am soooo tired.  I would stab someone in the eye with a fork for an hour nap.  That is how tired I am.  So. Stinking. Tired.

One night, Jeff fixes his world famous fish tacos.  (Okay, they are not world famous but they are super yummy.) He sits my plate full of fish tacos down in front of me.

(Looking at and smelling fish tacos) Me: I think I am going to vomit.

Jeff: Gee, thanks honey. Awesome.

Me: No, it's not the food.  I think I am pregnant.

Jeff: You took a pregnancy test that said you weren't pregnant.

Me: I think it was wrong.

Jeff: *Sigh.* Michelle, you are not pregnant.

Me: I'm going to take a pregnancy test right now.

I head up stairs to take a pregnancy test.  The only one I have is the one with the 'plus' or 'minus' sign.  Plus = Pregnant.  Minus = Not Pregnant.  So I take the test.  I see a very, very faint 'Plus' sign.

(Walking out of the bathroom, waving the pregnancy test around) Me: See, I told you I thought I was pregnant.

Jeff: Let me see.

(Showing him the stick) Me: See the 'Plus' sign. It means I'm pregnant.

Jeff: You can barely see it.  It doesn't count.

Me:  What do you mean it doesn't count?!  Clearly, there is a 'Plus' sign.  It doesn't matter if it is light or not.

Jeff: It is so faint.  You can't even see it.  It doesn't even really look like a 'Plus' sign.  It looks more like a 'Minus' sign.

Me:  Honey, it's obvious it is a 'Plus' sign.  I'm pregnant.  I'm pregnant! I can't believe I'm pregnant again. We are going to have another baby.

Jeff: Your not pregnant.  You can't even see it.

All throughout the day, we go back and forth. (I'll spare you the entire transcript of our conversation as riveting as it is.)  Jeff finally decides to go out and buy me one of the pregnancy tests that tell you if you are pregnant.  Obviously, this stupid 'Plus' or 'Minus' test is not getting the job done.

After taking the test, I smugly come out of the bathroom holding the stick and lean against the doorway.

Me: See, it says 'Pregnant'. I am pregnant!

Jeff: Well, you are pregnant.  Do you feel better now?

Me: Do I feel better?  You were the one who said I wasn't pregnant.

Jeff: Well, you could barely see the 'Plus' sign.

Here we go again....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Walmart Makes Me Have To Pee

When we started to potty train J, he was ready. Well, as ready as a three year old can be.

Like most toddlers, he would tell me when had to go to the bathroom.  I mean when he said he had to go he meant right then!  So, unless I used my super power of super speed, you can guess there was a few accidents.

There are two ways to sum up potty training:

  • Trying to keep the pee in the potty, not everywhere else.
  • Trying to keep the poop in the potty, not everywhere else.

When starting to potty train, you are like a prisoner in your own home.  You are afraid to go out for fear of your toddler having an accident - in public - that you would have to clean up.  Terrifying!

One day, I couldn't stand being inside any longer.  I had to get out.  So, I decided we were going to Walmart for a few supplies.

As we are getting ready, I ask J if he needs to go to the bathroom.  Before we leave, I ask again.  In the parking lot, I ask a third time.  Each time the answer is, "No, mama!!  I don't have to go potty!!"

Once inside Walmart, it takes me forever to get the kids in the cart.  I have to wipe it down with the Clorox wipe. (Me and the Clorox wipes - BFF's.) After wiping down the cart,  I finally get the kids in and we are off like a herd of turtles!

We walk down the first aisle looking for bath soap.  J announces. "I have to pee." Then pees.  Right there in the cart. Drips through the bottom of the cart to the floor. Alrighty!  I immediately do a u-turn and walk out of the store to the car.

As I am changing J in the trunk, J says, "Sorry mama."  

Sighing, I hug him and say, "That's okay, J. It was an accident. No big deal."

I am so frustrated.  Not at J.  He is just a little guy trying his best.  I don't want to make him feel bad.  He has been trying really hard and he had a slip up.  I am frustrated at myself and the situation.  I knew this could happen which is why I brought an extra pair of clothes.  Ah, well!  What can you do but roll with the punches?

So, those of you who are potty training, take heart.  It is a long, dark journey. There will be troubles ahead.  But, fear not!  Fight the good fight! Because one day, you will be rewarded with success.  And when that day comes, it will be a glorious day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Second Guessing Is Lame

Sometimes, when I am laying in bed at night, I review the days events.  I start to wonder if I could have done things differently.

I shouldn't have yelled at J when he spilled his juice.  I need to work on being more patient.

Did I spend enough time with the kids?  Maybe I should have waited to check my email after the kids are napping.

Was I nice enough to my mom/SIL/girlfriend today when talking to them on the phone?

Ever have days like this?  Why do I do this?  Am I a sadist?  Do I like driving myself crazy? Is it because some days I feel insecure?

Well, I am not exactly sure.  I don't like feeling bad about myself.  I am already a whole ball of crazy so I don't need any extra.

Sometimes I second guess myself and the things that I did that day.  For those of you who never second guess yourself, let me just assure you.  Second guessing is lame.  Nothing good comes from it.

Once you have done something, that is it.  It's done.  It's over.  You cannot take it back.

Now, the beauty of life, is it starts anew each day.  You can decide how you are going to make tomorrow count.  You can decide the person you want to be tomorrow.

I am not perfect by a long shot.  (I know. It's a lot to digest. You may want to sit down.) I lose my temper easily, I need to eat healthier and my house is a pit.  But, you know what?  I have a lot of good characteristics too.  I can make you laugh, I am fiercely loyal, I am honest and I love my family.

I think love is the key word here.  If you have people that love you, it can give you the courage to accept yourself and make a change for the better tomorrow.  Not to get all Hallmark on you, but love is a game changer.  If someone loves you, they accept you as you are so no second guessing needed!!

Nothing makes me feel more loved than a hug or kiss from my kids.  It makes me feel like I matter.  That I have a purpose.

Tonight, tucking J in bed, he hugs me and says, "Mama, you be the princess.  You save me."

No sweetie.  You saved me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Conversation With My Cleaning Products

Before kids, I was the "Queen of Clean".  Once a week, I would religiously clean my floors, dust, vacuum, Clorox, etc.  I was the kind of person who made sure the display towels hung side by side at the same length.  Some might say I was "Anal Retentive".  I prefer "Highly Organized".  (Eh, To-may-toe, To-mah-toe.)

Anyways, I have spoken before about how it is cleaning your house after kids. Below is a recent conversation between myself and my cleaning products.

Me: Hey, how's it going?

Pledge: *Silence.*

Me: Look, I know it's been a while.

Pledge: A while? Try 2 months.

Me: I have been so busy.

Pledge: Really? Not even a little end table?

Me: I mean it's crazy!  I barely have time for the Clorox wipes -

Pledge: Oh?! I see. You have time for the Clorox wipes.

Clorox wipes:  Ha ha!  She loves me more.

Me: (To Clorox wipes.) Be quiet!  (To Pledge.) It's not like that.

Pledge: What is it "like"?

Me: *Sigh.* I'll try to do better.

Pledge: Yeah, yeah.

Sassy cleaning products!