Why I Spent $88 at a Jamberry Party

Why I Spent $88 at a Jamberry Party

Preface: I am not a Jamberry consultant, nor do I plan to become one, nor am I promoting any specific Jamberry consultant in this article or even linking to a Jamberry site (you can Google it). I am not getting compensated in any way for this article.
So, read on. No sales-pitching here.

There has been a rash of articles moaning about the presence of MLM/direct sales in our lives social media. Most notably, Scary Mommy blogged quite a tirade about the constant stream of Facebook friend requests, posts, group memberships, and party invitations related to direct sales products. read more…

Star Wars on Amazon!! I’m Excited, Even if Nobody Else Is.

Star Wars on Amazon!! I’m Excited, Even if Nobody Else Is.

Are you a Star Wars purist? Then I pretty much know how you feel about the updated versions of the original trilogy.

For the rest of us who can cope with a few annoying changes that, yes, ruined a handful of good scenes, the release of these movies on Amazon Instant Video is really exciting!

My husband and I have been slowly migrating to digital movies for a while now, collecting all of our favorites into our digital library. We haven’t bought a DVD or Blu-Ray in years. We’ve been lamenting for a while now that we couldn’t get any of the Star Wars movies, even the horrid The Phantom Menace, in digital form. In fact, only a couple weeks ago I was still searching in vain for digital copies. Then Amazon announced this release and there was much rejoicing. (Yay!)

RaceTogether on Your Starbucks Cup Was Only the Beginning…

starbucks #RaceTogether

No more #RaceTogether on your #Starbucks cup!

No more #RaceTogether on your #Starbucks cup!

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz released a memo today, thanking all his partners and employees for their support during the Race Together initiative.

This phase of the effort — writing “Race Together” (or placing stickers) on cups, which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation — will be completed as originally planned today, March 22.

So basically, Starbucks’ service staff had to endure a week of nastiness from the coffee-drinking public for no other reason than to kick off the company’s newest PR campaign. read more…

Starbucks & Race Relations: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Starbucks & Race Relations: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has launched a campaign “to stimulate conversation and debate about the race in America by getting employees to engage with customers about the perennially hot button subject.”  Mr. Schultz seems to have a reputation for being outspoken and creating controversial policies.  Basically, he’s a big blowhard and he enjoys coming up with brilliant plans that will stimulate outrage and give his company more PR.  For better or worse, Starbucks’ stock went up about 35 cents per share between yesterday’s close and today’s, so maybe there really is no such thing as bad publicity.  At any rate, he’s done some pretty ridiculous things in the name of … well, whatever political or social agenda he wants to advocate for.  For now, though, let’s just discuss this one, because I honestly do not get it.

I don’t get it.  At all. read more…

This Just In:  Professionalism Equals Oppression!

This Just In: Professionalism Equals Oppression!

I stumbled across this article titled “You Call It Professionalism; I Call It Oppression in a Three-Piece Suit” on Everyday Feminism and it really blew my mind. Probably it was not in the way that the author intended, but in more like a “shaking my head-wow” kind of way. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything from this site before, but I think I will bookmark to keep an eye on.  It’s almost fascinating to get a glimpse into how some people out there actually think; it’s like rubbernecking at a car wreck. You just can’t tear your eyes away.

These are the first two sentences of the article:

I’m a “young professional,” and professionalism is one of my least favorite social constructs.  When we’re told that we need to look or act professionally, we rarely recognize that it’s code for “appear, as much as possible, as if you’re something you’re not and never want to or could be.

read more…

March Reading Month and the Over-Scheduled Mom

March Reading Month and the Over-Scheduled Mom

I have become like Pavlov’s dog.  A colored sheet of paper peeking out of K’s school folder triggers a minor freak-out.  Do you know why?  Moms – I know you do!

A colored sheet of paper means that there is something that I am going to have to remember, schedule, organize, attend, or buy something for.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was when the calendar finally turned over into March.  After October-November-December-January-February packed full of holidays and birthdays and more holidays and school parties and…well, here is a brief summary of how the past five months have kept us busy:

  • Star Student WEEK (a whole week of daily activities focused around K)
  • Halloween parties at both school and gymnastics
  • Trick or treating
  • Field trips to the cider mill/pumpkin patch and somewhere else I can’t remember
  • Parent watch night and parent participation night at gymnastics
  • School Thanksgiving feast
  • Actual Thanksgiving
  • Christmas parties at both school and gymnastics
  • K’s birthday cupcakes to take to school
  • K’s Christmas program (for which we’d had to listen to/rehearse a HUGE number of songs for the whole preceding month)
  • Actual Christmas
  • School pasta dinner and enrollment night
  • Dad’s breakfast at school
  • All-school bowling
  • Valentine’s day party at school (preceded by a brutal evening of making/addressing valentines)
  • Lent/Ash Wednesday
  • Fundraisers for School and for Child Care/Latch Key

Sprinkle a few birthday parties in there, plus snow days and school holidays, and I was very very ready for a stretch of “normal” schedule.  Therefore, on the last day of February, I breathed a sigh of relief.  The end was in sight.  Nothing happens in March, right?  Other than the daddy/daughter dance next weekend, there are no holidays, no birthdays, and no major special occasions.  We were basically free until Easter and then the hectic last month of school.  But March….aaaahhhh.  Let’s relax!

And then it happened… 

Friday night, a sheet of paper that was a particularly chipper shade of coral and was filled from top to bottom with type no larger than a 10 pt font size, came home in K’s folder.  And my heart sank.

March is Reading Month! it happily proclaimed.

Wait…reading month?  K is six.  She can sight read and sound out a few words and knows all her letters, but an entire month of reading feels like it is going to be a lot of work for me. (and oh yes, we have to keep a log and do a minimum of 140 minutes of “reading” this month) Splendid.

Cat and Laptop

It’s probably best that you don’t come near this technology today.

To add to my dismay, Sunday March 1 was supposed to be “Turn off Technology and Read” day.  Not “Turn off Technology and Read” for 4 hours, but for an entire day.  I’m sorry, but our lives revolve around technology now.  Not in a “we veg in front of the XBox or television all day” way, but in a “all our books are on Kindles, and both my husband and I have work we need to use our laptops for” way.  We can’t just switch off for a whole day, and K can’t just curl up with a book and read for 14 hours.  We did the best we could, which was basically no video games and no television/movies.  More on this later… K did have a pretty good time making up detailed stories and recording herself telling the stories.  I’ll be saving those for posterity.

Once I got over the panic of how to deal with no technology and re-planning my entire Sunday with a day’s notice, I read further down the list and couldn’t believe all of the things I have to remember/organize/attend and otherwise stress out about in March.

Pajama Day:  Okay, this one is easy and fun, but it’s still something that warranted an entry in my “making sure K is not embarrassed by her mother forgetting an event” spreadsheet.

Muffins with Mom:  I remember doing this last year. It’s a 45-minute period before school starts where moms (or grandmoms) have mini-muffins and juice in the library and read books together.  It’s a sweet idea for sure, and I do enjoy it.  But the downside is that I have to schedule more missed work.

School Spirit Day:  Didn’t we just have one of these the last week in January?  I remember “dress up like your favorite saint or angel”, another PJ day, dress in a class-color day (kindergarten was white!), and other assorted activities.  Guess we’re doing it again.  Students can wear their favorite school spirit shirt and jeans.  Whew – no special costume required.

Donuts with Dad:  I honestly think we missed this one last year entirely.  I don’t remember scheduling my husband to go to this, so last year was #fail.  This year, I’ve got it covered.

March 31:  The last day of “reading fun” will be celebrated by the kids going to school dressed in their spring best.  I decide that the daddy/daughter dance dress can now be used for Easter and Stop Reading day.  Hoorah for getting triple-use out of a semi-formal dress!

The paper goes on to tell us about that reading log requirement and how kids can win a prize if they check out specially-marked books from the library.  Considering K normally checks out books that are about rocks/minerals or animals, she might get one of those prizes – probably the prize that is secreted in the books that no one ever checks out. Her obsession with science may finally pay off.

Drop everything and read!  Once a week the bell will ring and everyone drops what they’re doing and reads for five minutes.  I’m not sure how this will work.  Bell rings, mad scramble for a book, just get 1/3 of the way into a story, and … done?  All the while the kids like K are howling “But I don’t know how to read!”

Everything is more interesting with puppets!

Everything is more interesting with puppets!

Special guest:  And finally…a guest speaker will be coming in to talk to the students about writing and publishing.  I really love that idea, but I would think it would be more beneficial for the older kids.  I do not envy the guest speaker who tries to explain what writing/publishing are in K-3 terminology that the littles will not only understand, but which they will actually find interesting.  Maybe he/she will have puppets.  Writer-Puppet can open multiple rejection letters from Publisher-Puppet, while Blogger-Puppet gets harassed in comments by Troll-Puppets.

Does school really need to be this complicated?

The problem I have is that it becomes basically a part-time job for me just to keep track of everything that is going on.  I can only miss so much work for doctor’s appointments, sickness, and occasional school events.  I only have so many hours in the evening to take care of dinner and keep the house a step above “Squalor” on the cleanliness scale.  To tack on all of these school events to keep track of, plus weekly homework and a monthly family homework project, plus the required yearly volunteer hours, plus trying to make sure to attend as many of these “x with mom” and “y with dad” events as possible…it just becomes overwhelming.

I am not someone who feels the need to beat everyone else at being busy.  Definitely not.  People can one-up me all day long; I am not going to over-schedule us more than we already are.  We want to come home after work/school, spend a relaxing evening as a family, and go to bed unstressed.  We have done pretty well at making sure we don’t over-commit to activities that just are not logical for our current schedule.

I get what the school is trying to do.  I do like the fact that this school goes outside the box of reading-writing-arithmetic-state tests and focuses on reading for fun, art projects, gym/physical fitness, nutrition/cooking, and other enhancement subjects. That is one of the primary reasons we scrape money together for private school tuition. I am 147% grateful that we are able to send K there. It just seems sometimes like the teachers and coordinators of all this stuff are just making it harder on themselves than it has to be with all these special events. Not only do they have to think them up, plan them, create all needed materials, and then keep the students enthused, but they also feel they have to engage the parents at every turn.  I promise – I honestly do not have a requirement that my daughter’s school keep me quite this involved.

I’m just worried that all of this required parental involvement is only accomplishing my spending even less unscripted time with my daughter. There is rarely time for us to just bake cookies, make up stories, play games, have K dress up and put on dance shows for us, or watch PBS Kids together and talk about what we are learning.  Instead we have homework, projects, required book reading every night – things that I understand are meant to encourage our involvement and interaction.  However, when you put requirements and deadlines on these activities, now it becomes just an obligation to get through.  It simply becomes a tired, unenthusiastic, stressed-out mom trying to encourage a six-year-old to spend 20 minutes “reading” every night when the child really just wants free time to play.

Whatever happened to just sending your child to school?  Drop-off and pick-up.  Help with homework when needed.  Simple and manageable.

If I can read, so can you!

If I can read, so can you!

Can we find a happy medium?


Author’s Note:  I honestly don’t know how working parents with more than one child manage all this.  Multiple spreadsheets? Charts on the wall?  However you do it, my hat’s off to you!


Book Review: The Disappearance of Lonnie James

The Disappearance of Lonnie JamesThe Disappearance of Lonnie James by Amy Cross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised when I finally decided to read this book. I’d pulled it from Kindle Unlimited a while back but just couldn’t get started on it. Once I did, I got really hooked. Aside from a few spelling/grammar/word choice errors, the story was fast paced and had just that perfect hint of something sinister. It actually felt very Dean Koontz-ish, which is a complement to Amy Cross!

The story centers around a cop who is called to investigate and find a lost boy. The parents are distraught, even angry, and demand that the police find their son. Search parties are formed, etc. The cop (Tom) goes home to do something and falls asleep. When he wakes up the next morning, no one except him remembers the missing child investigation. In fact, the family doesn’t even remember having a son at all!

I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it, but it really moves along as Tom tries to figure out why everyone in town has no memory of the boy ever existing. Like I said, there was a creepy, ‘what could this be?’ undertone for the first 75% of the book, which is honestly the best part of any “scary” book. Once it’s in your face what’s going on, it becomes less tense. The tension is the best part – it’s what keeps you reading.

Unfortunately, around the 80% mark, Tom finds out what is behind the strange memory losses and, without spoiling it, the story just goes downhill. Once I knew, the tension was gone, the “culprit” was a big disappointment, and honestly didn’t make a lot of sense. The last part of the book felt like I was just waiting for the story to hurry up and finish. It wasn’t scary anymore, it was just sort of … weird.

I’d still recommend the book if you like a tense, fast-moving story. Just prepare yourself for the ending that may or may not be satisfying. I wish I could do 3.5 stars; the ending is what kept me from giving it a full 4.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Dear Mother by Angela Marsons

Book Cover

Dear Mother by Angela Marsons

When I began this book review, I didn’t realize right away that this book was originally published as The Middle Child and not Dear Mother. So…there’s that. Either title will lead you to this book by Angela Marsons.

The book promised that I would “sob [my] heart out”. Sadly, this did not happen. There was one scene, the Ferris Wheel scene (which is all I’ll say without revealing spoilers) that did bring some tears to my eyes, but it probably was not for the reasons why most people found the book heartrending.

The basic premise is 3 grown-up women dealing with the death of their evil abusive mother and how the abuse has affected their individual lives.

read more…

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