Thursday, May 29, 2008

15 Years Ago Today

I cannot let this day go by without saying I married my soulmate 15 years ago today.

Bwhahaahahahahahhaahah!

Happy Anniversary Mr. Manic. I love you!

Now, for all you readers out there, scroll down and leave a comment about your best road trip story to win Jess Riley's book, Driving Sideways.

I've got 'stuff' to do. So go. Down one more post. Below. Enter the contest. Now. Really, buh bye.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Road Trippin’ with Jess Riley

You know how taking a road trip can be so much fun? You pack your bags, grab a shitola-load of snacks, the best tunes E V E R, turn ‘em up sooo loud, and just hit the open road? Well, that’s what we’re talking about here on Manic Mommy today! Fun road trips! Cuz this week, my pal Jess Riley has her debut book out, Driving Sideways, and in honor of it FINALLY arriving, we’re giving away two copies! Currently, one of them is signed. Currently, one of them is NOT signed, but I shall rectify that situation, and NO, that does NOT mean I will plagiarize her name. I will get it signed FOR THE WINNER.

I’ve taken a few exciting road trips in my day. Like the one when I drove from NIU to Daytona Beach with my girlfriends in a bus with about 50 other drunk students freshman year of college, and I let a guy shave my legs in the back of the bus and then made out furiously with him. (Stever, where are YOU? I still have a thing for you, you hottie boy with the long hair who later in the semester LICKED MY EYEBALL—SO HOT!—and yeah, for the record, after he shaved my legs on the bus, WITH shaving cream, and AFTER we made out in the back of the bus, the bus made a pit stop, he got off the bus and yakked his brains out.)

So memorable.

But yeah, that one in particular comes to mind.

Or the next year’s trip, same destination, different bus, same crew of drunk co-eds headed to Daytona, and I was loaded BEFORE we get on the bus, because we girls thought it would be a riot to do shots and drink beers while we waited for the bus to arrive. So I’m throwing UP before the bus takes off for a 24-hour non-stop road trip (granted, come on, the bus was LATE!), and here I was already nicknamed “PUKER” by all the passengers, and called that the whole week. I guess it beats some of the other names they could have called me.

So, yeah.

The next year we decided NOT to take the bus to Daytona and instead drove down to Florida; six of us gals in a Jeepy sort of car. And yeah, we broke down on the way to Daytona, and yeah, I got a speeding ticket at 4 a.m. on the way home from Daytona.

Not fun. But boy, the memories will last ya a lifetime.

There are other more mature, grown-up road trips like the time when Mr. Manic and I drove with the three kids from Philadelphia to Tampa straight through 18 hours when Tukey was just four months old and we were on such a mission to get there, that when Tukey crapped his diaper, we wouldn’t even stop to change him. Instead, I’d whip him out of his car seat, fling him onto the top of the cooler, and change him right there as Mr. Manic sped down the highway. Looking back, because now that I’m in my late thirties mid-thirties, I find I am maturing nicely and can deal with “looking back” on perspective and can understand the stupid, idiotic, asinine things I used to do error of my ways. It’s all a part of maturing and growing up.

But road trips offer us a chance to do this. And Jess's book, Driving Sideways, takes a great look at a woman who has a second chance at life, literally, and she’s taking it by the balls I tell ya! She is grabbing her world by the kahonas and living it large and in charge and doing things she never thought she could!

And it all starts with a road trip!

So, if you want to read Jess’s awesome debut, and I know ya do, and if you want a chance to win a copy of it here, simply leave a comment with a story about a road trip you have taken. It can be an amusing story that will enlighten or make us laugh, or vomit, or spit out my Pool Boy (you know, that summertime concoction I love: champagne, cranberry and pineapple on ice with a slice of lime—because summer officially starts at the Manic house TOMORROW!). It can be a story that’ll make us pee our pants or crap in our capris it’s so funny. You choose. You tell it!

And Jess is choosing the winners so make it a good one! Good luck, and happy road tripping! I cannot wait to hear what you all come up with!

Peace UP!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hanging with Emily Giffin, For Reals

So, I had a date with Emily Giffin the other night. OK, so it was me and like 150 others, but still, I was there, at Anderson's in Naperville, to see Emily, but like, she KNEW I was coming, and I got there 15 minutes before the event, and DRAT! I am always, always running late LOATHE being late, but this time it actually worked in my favor cuz all the seats were taken so I just sidled (is that a real word?) up to the front corner and stood there. Like I owned the place. Like I was Ms. Anderson myself. Ha. I don't even know if there is a Mr. Anderson or not, but still.

So, my heart's all a flutter, cuz it's like Emily Giffin, my fave, and everyone else there is probably having heart flutter feelings too, but mine are different cuz mine are more real than anyone else's and they don't know her like I KNOW HER! They don't know that Emily and I have a shared history!

And get this. She walks in. There's a crowd of people. She looks FABULOUS in a gorgeous dress and you'd NEVER even guess that she has borne (born? bored? birthed, yeah, let's just go with birthed) a baby girl less than a year ago, and she walks through the store and sees me, and yes, she gives me a smile. And a wave. And ... and, yes, she says, "Hey Stephanie!" Like she's EXCITED that I'M THERE! TO SEE HER!!!

And I could JUST see like 80 heads turn in my direction as I whisper-smile-wave back, "Hey Emily!" I'm giddy just revisiting the whole experience! So she goes back to get ready for her reading and a couple people ask me if I know her and how do I know her and I think about it. Do I say, "Oh, I stalked her once" or do I say, "We know each other from online and from book readings" or do I say, "We're writer friends" ... who the eff knows? I don't know. So I go with the casual cool, "Oh, we know each other from some writer festivals and things." Ha, so then THEY think I'm really cool and possibly a famous writer myself. HA, again, just kiddin' in the event Emily reads this. I'm cracking myself up. God, it's good to be able to feel jokey and laughy again.

Emily comes out and tells a great story about how everyone thinks about the one that got away, and how her BFF (no, not ME, the OTHER BFF--her college BFF) was in love with Jeanne Pierre, this hottie French dude and she was thinking back to those times, and Emily just happen to be in France so she looked up JP (short for Jeanne Pierre for those of you short on brain cells today) ... and Emily spied for her friend and found out he was married to some big old French chick in an apron yielding a rolling pin living in a hut with chickens and scraggly kids all over the place. And JP wasn't looking too hot these days. So, that's the type of good friend Emily is. She goes the extra mile in FRANCE no less, to prove to her OTHER BFF that the one that got away was the one that SHOULDA got away cuz he was a scumbag gross dude. And he probably smelled too.

Then she did a great reading, and I video-taped part of it, but didn't put it on youtube, and I respect Emily's privacy so no video, but pictures later. After the reading, which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hearing authors read from their own work btw ... I love wondering what they'll read, wondering WHY they've chosen what they've read. I love listening to the inflection of their voices as they read. Emily did not disappoint.

During question time, I always like to try to ask some poignant, thought-provoking question that will WOW not only the audience but also the author of the book as well. Maybe it's the interviewer in me? After giving it some serious thought, I came up with a very unique question for the lovely Emily, and when she saw my hand flailing frantically trying to get her attention politely and timidly lifted, she actually called me by name, further cementing our long-lived best-friendshipness:

"Stephanie?"

Again, stunned audience members were shocked to be witness to a friend of Emily's in such close proximity!

"Emily," I asked, with a dramatic pause for effect, "When did you discover that you and your main character share the same initials?"

Her perfectly plucked brows lifted, and she smiled. "Right now," she answered, quite charmed by my insight.

I silently applauded my genius. And then Emily told everyone about the blog contest on Manic Mommy and how cute the video was of the kids. Too bad I didn't come with a large supply of Manic Mommy magnets. Damn, sometimes I am just NOT on my game.

Then, the signing began. And Emily's hand must still hurt. She signed and signed and signed. And some people had the nerve to ask the booksellers to just have Emily sign their books and they would come back for them the next day as they were going out for dinner. HOW RUDE! I told Emily later she should have signed their books, "Dear Cate, Hope you enjoyed your dinner. Sorry you couldn't stay to watch me sign your book. Yours truly, Emily."

Why would you go to an author book signing and then LEAVE DURING IT to go eat? Seriously? Now that I think of it, and of course, I am too classy to have suggested this to Emily, but if it would have been MY book I was signing and I had fans who wanted MY book signed, but THEY had LEFT to go EAT, well, then, I think that maybe on page number 73 or so, I might have just spit in between the pages or something. Maybe.

So, there was this one chick there, who was quite the avid Emily fan, I'll give her props, even wearing a Matchy-Matchy green shirt to go with the book cover, which was quite cute, and I liked this girl because she got her top from Macy's (on sale, she told me) and also, her coat was from Target, which was also cute.

But then she started acting all "Emily-know-it-all" and I just had to shoot her down a little, you know, bring her back to earth. Show her who's up and up on the Em-Trivia.

So, she started doing a bit o' braggin' and then I went with the, "Yeah, well, did you know she named the latest main character after me cuz my middle name is Ellen?"

So then SHE goes, "Yeah, well my name is Rachel Darcy!" (For those of you goofs under a rock not quite educated in the world of Giffin, those are the first two characters of Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

So THEN I went with this one ... think of this as a tennis match and me scoring BIG on this point-set-match-love-rebound or whatever it means to score big in tennis, cuz then I pulled out this one: "Oh yeah, well, my children are named Edward, George and Harriet!"

She gets this blank look on her face and actually says, "Who're they?"

DUH! Who's the Emily fan now beeeeyotch!? Those are HER children!

And of course, then she and her friends all found out that I was going out with Emily after the signing.

Uh HUH! Yes I did!


And it was so fun. And she's so cool, and I cannot reveal anything that would incriminate my client (ha, funny cuz Emily USED to be a lawyer, and that just makes me laugh!) Since she is from the area, some of her fun pals from high school, whom I originally thought one guy, Jim, was her hubby, and Michelle, was her sister, and I actually accosted them in the bookstore, because, that's just what I do. A book signing for me is like a rock-n-roll concert, only without the spilled beer and smell of marijuana permeating through the air.

OK, I just reread that sentence and now I'm starting to sound drunk and stoned so let's backtrack ... or Fast-forward or something ....

So, we went out for margaritas and some food, and hung out and laughed and dude, it was fun, and Emily's great, and her friends were great and fun and funny, and this is just how cool Emily is ... she took a taxi back to Chicago. She is so nice that she didn't make her driver hang out and wait all night for her and then she gets in a crap-taxi to drive her all the way back to Chicago. Of course, I had to read the dude the riot act, and perform some DNA tests on the taxi before I let her get into it, but the guy seemed nice enough so I let her go.



Emily ... you did make it back to Chicago, didn't ya? You do know you've got two more books to write that you're contracted for? You've got a couple more lame titles to come up with and I think some more matchy-matchy pastel book covers -- peach and periwinkle this time right?

Keep it real! And hey you, anyone out there who HASN'T read these amazing books--WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?!?!? And hey, check out her TOUR DATES AND LOCATIONS... she is the friendliest author and she'll pose for all sorts of photos and if you tell her Manic Mommy sent you, well, then, well, I don't know, she might actually run from you screaming, but still ...

Pathology ...

...CLEAR!

Yay! My Daddy is OK! Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and kind comments. I have been a wreck, and now can breathe.

A good friend of mine mentioned we are now in the "Sandwich" years where we have to not only worry about our kids, but our parents too. It's hard. So hard.

My Dad said my "dumbass brother" (his words, not mine) kept him laughing in the hospital (he's there till tomorrow) ... and that he has about 38 staples from his ribcage to his pelvis. My cute little brother, who is 11 years younger than me, and works in the medical field, told me he specifically wore his SCRUBS to the hospital so people would THINK he was a doctor! DORK! But he got where he needed to be and he got answers to help our Daddy, and he kept me posted through all of this and he and his wife were there to help my Mom!

My Dad also said he couldn't talk to us kids all that much during recovery because we would make him laugh so much and that would hurt his incision, but I know the truth. It's because my Daddy gets sand in his eyes a lot, cuz he loves us all so very much. He gets sand in his eyes. I had a lot of sand in my eyes this week, worrying about my Dad, and my Mom. And I have to thank God for this moment of Peace He has given me, and be thankful for my wonderful family.


I love you Daddy, and Mommy...

Pooker Pie

And PS--DON'T FORGET TO SCROLL DOWN TO WIN A COPY OF HALF-ASSED ... YES, RIGHT DOWN THERE, KEEP READING ... THE NEXT BLOG POST--IT'S A GREAT MEMOIR ... ENTER TO WIN IT!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Half-Assed

I’m going to step away from the personal family stuff for a little while but just to let you know, my Dad is obviously still in the hospital, and we’re waiting for pathology results, which I HATE, and joking all aside, Xanax really does work when it’s necessary. Thank you all for your nice comments, thoughts, prayers. My family is THE most important facet of my life. I’m lost without them.

Oh, and I’m lost without books too, which brings me to the book I’d like to tell you about today because I promised to share a great new memoir with you all, even though it is kind of Half-Assed. Ha, see I can still joke!

Actually, the book is really and truly Half-Assed, a Weight-Loss Memoir and you can win it here.



Here’s a blurb:

Blogger Fulda explains how she lost 186 pounds. In January 2005, she weighed twice that. A year earlier, after having her gallbladder removed at the age of 23, she'd realized her weight was threatening her life and vowed to get into shape. "Only I didn't," she writes. "I stayed fat for at least another year. Wake up call received. Snooze button pushed." Fulda did eventually take control, changing her eating habits and taking up exercise: first walking, then jogging, then a combination of jogging, pilates and weight training. She started a blog, "Half of Me," to chronicle her progress. As of February 2007, she had lost half her body weight; in the final chapter, she writes that she's within 15 pounds of her goal weight (160 pounds) but warns, "I may have lost the weight, but it could still find me again." Fulda provides a fair amount of weight-loss information only the diet-and-fitness-obsessed could really love, but the book is redeemed by the engaging account of her personal history interwoven throughout. In a conversational and honest voice, she describes tackling the age-old paradox of trying to accept herself while also trying to change. This dialectical process caused her to run afoul of online "fat acceptance" communities, which work to decrease the marginalization of the overweight and the obese. "If I really accepted myself as I was, it meant I'd recognized who I was to the best of my ability, flaws and all," writes Fulda. "It didn't mean I was necessarily satisfied with all the materials that made the house of me." A winsome, charming memoir of personal discovery.

And Jennette was on THE TODAY SHOW! She is totally famous! See her interview here!

As you know, I’ve been doing Weight Watchers since December 1 (for like my third--AND FINAL--time!), and I’m back under my goal weight, having lost 21.8 pounds. I may not be Half-Assed, but I feel so much better than I did November 30, that’s for sure.

If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, even if you have five pounds to lose, it’s hard, and it is still a struggle, no matter what, and it’s a personal struggle, and I give Jennette major kudos for sharing her amazing journey with millions of people online and through her inspiring memoir!

WAY TO GO JENNETTE—YOU LOOK FABULOSO GIRLFRIEND!

Want to win a signed copy? It's EASY! Simply share a story--funny, poignant, touching, gross-outish, whatever you're feeling--about a dieting experience you may have had and Jennette will choose a winner!

PS--Ooh, I just thought of another title for your book: DO THESE PANTS MAKE ME LOOK FAT?

So, come on, have at it ... let's hear your Scale Tales and Eating Woes and you could win!

In the meantime, I have a date with Emily Giffin tonight!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

He’s OK Now But …

Yesterday I got one of those phone calls that when you answer it, you at first don’t think anything is wrong.

It was a gorgeous day out, Diva had played an 8 AM soccer game, and she and I were in the garage tossing old shoes, putting stuff in a pile for “Old Will” and the “Hoboes” and then the phone rang.

It was my brother.

“Hey Boomer!” That’s this nickname. His real name is Scott but my Nana used to call him Scotty Scotty Boom Boom Lotty when he was like one, so then he just turned into Boomer.

He must have said something like, “Hey Steph.”

Then nothing. Silence.

I immediately went into fight or flight action, with adrenaline pumping, knowing something was wrong. My brother can sometimes get into a little bit of trouble, like the time he got arrested the night before my other brother got married.

I remember thinking, “Oh God, his wife is leaving him.” Then I thought something was wrong with his two little babies. I was in the garage and there was nowhere to sit, and I knew I needed to sit for this, and Diva knew something was wrong even though I don’t think I was talking yet, but I must have been. I must have been saying, “Boomer, just tell me. It’s OK, just tell me already.”

And he was crying, I know that. My brother was crying and he said, “Hold on a minute, let me collect myself.” And then he must have assured me that everything was OK, that everything was OK now, but then the word Dad came out of his mouth and I had to sit because he was talking about my Daddy, and that something had happened to my Daddy, and my brother is on the other end of the phone in Virginia crying about it and this cannot be good, and I missed a phone call from my Dad last night and he sounded fine, and I’m sure I saved the voice mail because that’s one of my OCD superstitions because that’s what I do with my parent’s voice mails and my husband’s voice mails. I save them. All of them. Until I see them again and know it’s safe to delete them.

So finally, my brother gets it out and this is the story. My Dad (and I feel like I have to capitalize the D in Dad for some reason) was having some pain and went in Friday for a CT scan and they were going to do a routine appendix removal on Saturday morning and that’s why he called Friday night all chipper to tell me but cuz I didn’t answer, he didn’t tell me so I had no idea my Dad was even going in for surgery.

Then when he and my Mom went to the hospital for what they thought was a half-hour deal, then he didn’t come out of surgery and my mom was in the waiting room all by herself and he wasn’t coming out so, and this part kills me too, she’s all by herself wondering what’s happening, and later she tells me it was like a soap opera and when the doctor finally came out she could see him through the doors and she knew that it hadn’t just been a routine appendicitis.

But I think I’m making it sound like it’s worse than it was and I don’t think it is but still, I don’t know. There was a mass that was the size of his fist, but they say it was benign, but who really knows until the tests come back? And he’s in the hospital for six days, and when my brother called me, both of our immediate reactions were, “We have to go there.” And “What about Mom?” Our other brother, thank God, is in Orlando (my parents are in Tampa), and my sister, is in Connecticut, and it just feels so helpless to be here and not there, to worry about your parents, to wake up and think of your father lying in a hospital bed with all that shit hooked up to him when he’s always so lively and jokey and, I mean, if you know my Dad and my Mom, then you just know, they are like the youngest 60-somethings you could ever meet. They act younger than I do.

And my brother told me he spoke to the doctor and the doctor told him that our mother was a wreck, and that killed us more than anything, to know that our Mommy is there and we’re not there to take care of her. That I can do nothing but sit here and run all this shit in my head and not do a damn thing.

And I know this is majorly personal stuff, and maybe too much, but this is how I need to deal with it. This is how I deal with it. I need to write about it to get it out. And I need to cry. A freaking ton. I cried so much yesterday. And I really think he is OK. And he’s going to be OK. Everyone has assured me. My Mom seems OK too. Yesterday I was talking to her on the phone when she was in Dad’s room and she told me he would be sleeping all day and he’s on morphine but he’s OK and she said he just gave the thumbs-up sign and I said, “Put the phone by his ear!” She did, and I said, “I love you Daddy! I love you so much!”

And he said, “Mm mmm mmm mmm” which TOTALLY meant I love you too in morphine speak, which made me laugh and then feel happy. But still, every time I think about any part of this, I cry. Like right now. And this morning when I woke up, I went for a walk at 7:30 and I had my iPod on and I took a bike path past the dog park and it is a gorgeous, gorgeous day, and it was quiet and there are puffy white clouds dotting the blue sky and everything is in bloom and it’s crispy cool, and I let myself just bawl my head off as I walked, and it felt so damn good to just let it out and cry. I just had to. And I cry in front of the kids. Diva says, “Don’t cry mom. Are you gonna cry?" Luke just sits there while I cry. Later I said to Luke, “Does it bother you that I cried so much today?” He said no. I said, “Good, because I’m going to cry, because sometimes I just need to and it makes me feel better to cry, OK?” Because we are a show-your-emotions-talk-about-your-feelings family.

And I think about AJ’s friend Michael and his parents and what they’re going through. I am this much of a basket-case over my Dad, and this is the natural progression of life. How are THEY handling this backwardness of their son being sick? I can’t fathom the strength that is getting them through each day of their struggles.

My youngest brother, Seth, and his wife drove immediately from Orlando to Tampa to be with my Mom and Dad, and Seth slept at the hospital with Daddy. I am so thankful they are there to assure us other kids that everything is OK. I want to call every 10 minutes to check in. On my walk this morning, I thought to myself, I don’t care if Dad comes to my house and blasts CNBC on the TV. I don’t care if he wears his shoes on the carpet. I will buy him as much ham and swiss cheese as he needs. He can leave the TV on and walk out of the room and I won’t bitch about it.

Then I thought about all the times he took care of us when we were little. How he always brags about how we were such good little swimmers. How he would make our fevers go away when we spiked ‘em as little kids. How he coached us to play softball. I’m 39 years old. I’m his Pooker Pie. And I’m so not ready to give that up.

I talked to my Mom this morning. She said she slept good last night. She went home last night while my brother Seth stayed at the hospital. She said that in the middle of the night last night at a moment when my Dad was coherent, he asked my brother, “How’s Mommy?”

That’s the part that tears me up inside. He’s worried about her more than anything in the entire world. Forty-two years of marriage will do that to a man.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sneak Peak at Jess Riley

A sneak peak at one of my BEST Writer Pals EVER HERE! Take a minute to read this great article about Jess Riley, her new book, and what it took her to get freaking published already! I met Jess when she first got her book deal, TWO FREAKING YEARS AGO, and her book is FINALLY coming out NEXT WEEK. What a long, strange trip it's been, but it's finally here, and I know Jess is in a corner somewhere sucking her thumb, scared to death, petting her adorable pup Daisy, shaking like a leaf, hoping the world loves her book, cuz she's just that kind of modest!

The world will LOVE her book!

And not to worry, I'll be giving away her book, Driving Sideways, the week of May 26.

And if you're a Target shopper (and who isn't?!?!!?), you'll be seeing her book there as a BREAK OUT NOVEL in June, all over their shelves! Check out Jess' hilarious blog at Riley's Rambling.

Love you Jess, and am SOOOO excited for you! And see, Tukey loves Jess too! He has excellent taste in women, and in literary selections!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What Two Things?

Tukey likes to ask me questions. I like to answer them. One day, he asked, "If you could only have one kind of drink and one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?"

I asked him, "What would YOU choose?"

"Milk and buttered noodles with cheese and basil and seasoning."

Ajers said pears and diet green tea.

Diva said Domino's pizza and chocolate milk.

Diva's friend said steak and milk.

I would choose really, really, really cold ice water in a glass-glass (can't be a plastic cup) filled with store-bought ice to the top (if I was looking for the healthy option) or Diet Coke (in the same type of glass with the same type of ice) if I wasn't looking for the healthy option, but that would probably rot my guts out if it was for the rest of my life.

And for my food item: garlic, tomato and spinach stuffed pizza.

I just thought of something funny; an alternate title could have been Blood and Subway, cuz today I donated blood and ate Subway for lunch, but that's a little disgusting for my two choices, but maybe not for a vampire named Jared?

OK, your turn--beverage and ONE food item of choice?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Booking With Manic: Emily Giffin Winners!

Winners HERE!!!



Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Mother's Day to Remember

I wrote this a while ago, but it still holds true today: A Mother's Day to Remember. If you don't see a pop-up with a mom and a pink-bowed girl, you may have to click on the YELLOW Special Features Tab.

Happy Mother's Day. May your day be filled with blessings, laughter, and yes, a little bit of chaotic craziness. Because where would we be without that?

And check the previous post, cuz there's still time to enter the contest to win Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With ... Click here for contest details!

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Contest Time: LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH

****UPDATE: Request from Emily--She has asked that if you get a chance, please check out her website and her TOUR DATES HERE! (And she's got some cool giveaways too-just sign up for her newsletter!) She'll be in a lot of different cities and may be visiting your town! She said she wants to meet cool people! ... NOW, on with the contest!

This one is a BIGGIE for me! And I'm so excited to be able to offer a chance for FOUR of you to win AUTOGRAPHED copies of Emily Giffin's new book, Love The One You're With.

Here are some photos of MY Emily Giffin book collection, and yes, I would grab these suckers in the event of a fire (after pulling my three children out of course) ...





You'll notice the copy of Baby Proof is not a hardcover but is actually an ARC of the book, which in industry terms means Advanced Reader Copy. This copy was EMILY'S COPY. I mean, she READ that copy. After she was done speaking when I first went to see her, she asked the audience, very charmingly, "Are there any questions?"

My heart was pumping furiously and I was scared to death to ask the question I had on my mind, but I did it ... I blurted out:

"What does one have to do to get a copy of THAT book!?" And I pointed right at THAT BOOK she had on the podium. Because since it was an ARC, the book was not coming out for like two months, and she wasn't even promoting Baby Proof at that point. I think she was promoting Something Blue at that time.

She laughed and actually said, "I'll mail it to you."

WHAT?

So, she did! How amazingly cool is that for a bestselling author to just mail her copy of her ARC to a fan when it wasn't even coming out for a couple of months? Who would DO THAT? An awesome person would, that's who!

Here's a picture of my writer friend Elyce, Emily and me (or is it I?)


Then Swish and I saw Emily at the Midwest Literary Festival and we were like her front-row posse and before she took to the stage, she left her sweater with us, and Swish and I wondered if we snagged Emily's sweater and put it up on eBay, how much could we get for it, or if we put it on, would we have the Emily Giffin muse? But, we didn't steal Emily's sweater for two reasons: 1. That would be wrong. 2. It would never fit me!

Swish, Emily, me at the Midwest Literary Fest.
Emily told us that when we smile we should touch our tongue to the back of our teeth or the roof of our mouth to make the smile look real. Apparently, I did whatever the wrong thing was in this photo!

OK, enough about me and my love for Emily and her books! Here's your shot to win an autographed copy of LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH!

Leave a comment telling me why you LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH. And who says it has to be a spouse/partner/lover? Could be a friend, co-worker, blog-pal, parent, pet, barista, UPS guy, whomever!

OR, tell me a story about a time when you had a run-in like the one Emily writes about in her first chapter. My good friend Sharon just had a run-in with her ex from 20 years ago, and she just called me screaming, "I AM SO GOING TO WIN THAT BOOK!" How random that she reads Emily's first chapter about running into the ex, and she JUST ran into the guy who sent her a container of all green M&Ms when we were in college. Thank God she looked hot. Thank God her hubby was there and he looked hot too! Thank God her ex is not looking so hot now!

So, tell me a story -- One about why you LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH or what happened when you ran into the one you thought was THE ONE.

BUT DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY IN YOUR ENTRY! Because as long as you leave ANY kind of answer (not perverted or inappropriate, of course because we here at Manic Mommy are NEVER perverted or inappropriate!), you'll be entered to win a copy of the book because I'll be choosing winners at RANDOM a la a Booking With Manic drawing on Monday, May 12.

You have until Sunday night, May 11, to leave an answer to be entered to win a book. And make 'em good, cuz Emily will be reading them too! But don't worry, it's all RANDOM!

So, dish it my friends!

Emily Giffin Fans ...

Get ready for a big one ...




It happened exactly one hundred days after I married Andy,
almost to the minute of our half-past-three o’clock ceremony.
I know this fact not so much because I was an
overeager newlywed keen on observing trivial relationship landmarks,
but because I have a mild case of OCD that compels me to
keep track of things. Typically, I count insignificant things, like the
steps from my apartment to the nearest subway (341 in comfortable
shoes, a dozen more in heels); the comically high occurrence of the
phrase “amazing connection” in any given episode of The Bachelor
(always in the double digits); the guys I’ve kissed in my thirty-three
years (nine). Or, as it was on that rainy, cold afternoon in January,
the number of days I had been married before I saw him smack-dab
in the middle of the crosswalk of Eleventh and Broadway.

From the outside, say if you were a cabdriver watching frantic
jaywalkers scramble to cross the street in the final seconds before the
light changed, it was only a mundane, urban snapshot: two seeming
strangers, with little in common but their flimsy black umbrellas,
passing in an intersection, making fleeting eye contact, and exchanging
stiff but not unfriendly hellos before moving on their way.

But inside was a very different story. Inside, I was reeling, churning,
breathless as I made it onto the safety of the curb and into a
virtually empty diner near Union Square. Like seeing a ghost, I
thought, one of those expressions I’ve heard a thousand times but
never fully registered until that moment. I closed my umbrella and
unzipped my coat, my heart still pounding. As I watched a waitress
wipe down a table with hard, expert strokes, I wondered why I was
so startled by the encounter when there was something that seemed
utterly inevitable about the moment. Not in any grand, destined
sense; just in the quiet, stubborn way that unfinished business has
of imposing its will on the unwilling.

After what seemed like a long time, the waitress noticed me
standing behind the Please Wait to Be Seated sign and said, “Oh. I
didn’t see you there. Should’ve taken that sign down after the lunch
crowd. Go ahead and sit anywhere.”

Her expression struck me as so oddly empathetic that I wondered
if she were a moonlighting clairvoyant, and actually considered confiding
in her. Instead, I slid into a red vinyl booth in the back corner
of the restaurant and vowed never to speak of it. To share my feelings
with a friend would constitute an act of disloyalty to my husband. To
tell my older and very cynical sister, Suzanne, might unleash a storm
of caustic remarks about marriage and monogamy. To write of it in
my journal would elevate its importance, something I was determined
not to do. And to tell Andy would be some combination of stupid,
self-destructive, and hurtful. I was bothered by the lie of omission, a
black mark on our fledging marriage, but decided it was for the best.

“What can I get you?” the waitress, whose name tag read Annie,
asked me. She had curly red hair and a smattering of freckles, and I
thought, The sun will come out tomorrow.

I only wanted a coffee, but as a former waitress, remembered how
deflating it was when people only ordered a beverage, even in a lull
between meals, so I asked for a coffee and a poppy seed bagel with
cream cheese.

“Sure thing,” she said, giving me a pleasant nod.

I smiled and thanked her. Then, as she turned toward the
kitchen, I exhaled and closed my eyes, focusing on one thing: how
much I loved Andy. I loved everything about him, including the
things that would have exasperated most girls. I found it endearing
the way he had trouble remembering people’s names (he routinely
called my former boss Fred, instead of Frank) or the lyrics to even
the most iconic songs (“Billie Jean is not my mother”). And I only
shook my head and smiled when he gave the same bum in Bryant
Park a dollar a day for nearly a year—a bum who was likely a Range
Rover–driving con artist. I loved Andy’s confidence and compassion.

I loved his sunny personality that matched his boy-next-door,
blond, blue-eyed good looks. I felt lucky to be with a man who, after
six long years with me, still did the half-stand upon my return
from the ladies’ room and drew sloppy, asymmetrical hearts in the
condensation of our bathroom mirror. Andy loved me, and I’m not
ashamed to say that this topped my reasons of why we were together,
of why I loved him back.

“Did you want your bagel toasted?” Annie shouted from behind
the counter.

“Sure,” I said, although I had no real preference.

I let my mind drift to the night of Andy’s proposal in Vail, how
he had pretended to drop his wallet so that he could, in what clearly
had been a much-rehearsed maneuver, retrieve it and appear on
bended knee. I remember sipping champagne, my ring sparkling in
the firelight, as I thought, This is it. This is the moment every girl
dreams of. This is the moment I have been dreaming of and planning
for and counting on.

Annie brought my coffee, and I wrapped my hands around the
hot, heavy mug. I raised it to my lips, took a long sip, and thought
of our year-long engagement—a year of parties and showers and
whirlwind wedding plans. Talk of tulle and tuxedos, of waltzes and
white chocolate cake. All leading up to that magical night. I thought
of our misty-eyed vows. Our first dance to “What a Wonderful
World.” The warm, witty toasts to us—speeches filled with clich├ęs
that were actually true in our case: perfect for each other . . . true
love . . . meant to be.

I remembered our flight to Hawaii the following morning, how
Andy and I had held hands in our first-class seats, laughing at all the
small things that had gone awry on our big day: What part of “blend
into the background” didn’t the videographer get? Could it have rained
any harder on the way to the reception? Had we ever seen his brother,
James, so wasted? I thought of our sunset honeymoon strolls, the
candlelit dinners, and one particularly vivid morning that Andy and
I had spent lounging on a secluded, half-moon beach called Lumahai
on the north shore of Kauai. With soft white sand and dramatic
lava rocks protruding from turquoise water, it was the most breathtaking
piece of earth I had ever seen. At one point, as I was admiring
the view, Andy rested his Stephen Ambrose book on our
oversized beach towel, took both of my hands in his, and kissed me.
I kissed him back, memorizing the moment. The sound of the waves
crashing, the feel of the cool sea breeze on my face, the scent of
lemons mixed with our coconut suntan lotion. When we separated,
I told Andy that I had never been so happy. It was the truth.

But the best part came after the wedding, after the honeymoon,
after our practical gifts were unpacked in our tiny apartment in
Murray Hill—and the impractical, fancy ones were relegated to our
downtown storage unit. It came as we settled into our husband and wife routine.

Casual, easy, and real. It came every morning, as we
sipped our coffee and talked as we got ready for work. It came when
his name popped into my inbox every few hours. It came at night as
we shuffled through our delivery menus, contemplating what to
have for dinner and proclaiming that one day soon we’d actually use
our stove. It came with every foot massage, every kiss, every time we
undressed together in the dark. I trained my mind on these details.

All the details that comprised our first one hundred days together.

Yet by the time Annie brought my coffee, I was back in that intersection,
my heart thudding again. I suddenly knew that in spite
of how happy I was to be spending my life with Andy, I wouldn’t
soon forget that moment, that tightness in my throat as I saw his
face again. Even though I desperately wanted to forget it. Especially
because I wanted to.

I sheepishly glanced at my reflection in the mirrored wall beside
my booth. I had no business worrying about my appearance, and
even less business feeling triumphant upon the discovery that I was,
against all odds on an afternoon of running errands in the rain, having
an extraordinarily good hair day. I also had a rosy glow, but I
told myself that it was only the cold that had flushed my cheeks.

Nothing else.

And that’s when my cell phone rang and I heard his voice. A
voice I hadn’t heard in eight years and sixteen days.

“Was that really you?” he asked me. His voice was even deeper
than I remembered, but otherwise it was like stepping back in time.
Like finishing a conversation only hours old.

“Yes,” I said.

“So,” he said. “You still have the same cell number.”

Then, after a considerable silence, one I stubbornly refused to fill,
he added, “I guess some things don’t change.”

“Yes,” I said again.

Because as much as I didn’t want to admit it, he was sure right
about that.

# # #
Goosebumps? You're telling me!

Contest begins tomorrow! And there'll be more than one or two or THREE winners!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Diva Asked for Eggs!?!?!

Diva Gets Eggs:



Mommy Knows How to Make Things All Better:

Sunday, May 04, 2008

KISSING FROG WINNER / DIVA B'DAY TRIP RECAP

Congrats to B, at B's Blog, Running with Scissors, because she has won He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After by Trish Ryan. Trish chose her entry from more than 45 entries on first/worst/best kisses!

This is what B. wrote about her first kiss:

I'll go with first kiss. It was with a boy I was "dating" in 8th grade. We walked to the local elementary school's playground and sat under the slide. After a long while of awkward silence he said, "I want to kiss you." I said, "Ok, is this going to be one of those kisses that I need to take my retainer out for?" He replied, "No, you can leave it in." How much of a dork was I?!?!? He then gave me a very sweet kiss on the lips.

Trish said this about the contest and why she chose B. as the winner:

Omigosh, this was a fabulous contest idea ... what hysterical stories!

In the end, my heart is still with B., who asked if she should take her retainer out. As a girl who spent seven years of my early life squirming in an orthodontist's chair, this story hit way too close to home for me not to declare her the winner!


So congrats B, and please email me at manicmommy@comcast.net! There were sooo many great kiss stories though! I have to say I'm really glad I didn't have to choose the winner to this contest!

Now, about our little weekend getaway--

Diva and I had such a fun trip! We went to CONNECTICUT! They sang Happy Birthday on the flight to her and everyone around us wished her happy birthday and were sooo sweet to her she felt famous! On our way there, we sat next to a really nice man (who I later discovered told the flight attendant about her birthday so that's why they sang to her). I was telling him about how we were visiting my sister because Diva said for her birthday she wanted to go visit her cousins.

I was explaining how my family is all about pulling all sorts of silly surprises, and how my sister's father-in-law was supposed to pick us up from the airport, but her husband had let it slip that my sister was actually going to be able to leave work early to pick us up. I then explained how our family is nuts about these types of surprises, like the one time when we were living in Philly, but went to Chicago to visit MY in-laws when I was pregnant with Tukey. I had gone to take a nap and when I woke up, standing over the bed were MY PARENTS, who came to Chicago from Florida to SURPRISE US! I told this whole story to the guy sitting next to us on the plane. I'm sure I bored him to tears.

I told him this, fifteen minutes before we landed: "Knowing my family, my parent's probably arranged to be here this weekend too."

Sure enough, we get off the plane, go outside to find my sister (who I'm not supposed to know is picking me up), and a car door opens and it's MY DAD!

MY PARENTS TOTALLY FLEW TO CONNECTICUT TO SURPRISE DIVA AND ME FOR DIVA'S BIRTHDAY!

And it was so cool! And it made me so happy!

We had a very quick but very fun weekend, which included watching, believe it or not, soft porn on HBO (The Bunny Ranch--have you ever seen it? I haven't--we don't have HBO!) with MY PARENTS and CRACKING UP!

My brother-in-law and I had a Pancake Throw-Down Saturday morning, which I almost lost only because he uses the batter where you actually have to put eggs and milk in it, and I don't so I almost screwed up the consistency. But my secret? Chocolate chips, vanilla and cinnamon, and yes, I am still the champ, thankyouverymuch! We saw Nims Island, drank some wine, ate some filet mignon, cracked up watching 40-Year-Old Virgin.

I bought matching High School Musical jammies for my niece and Diva, and of course, Spiderman jams for the little man. And we totally got to bond. I am IN LOVE with them. I don't get to see them nearly enough! I snuggled up in bed one night with G-man, and he's all like, "Tell me a story about Captain Hook." I'm like, Cripes, I haven't made up stories in like forever.






But then one totally came to me! About how Captain Hook was at the grocery store and he wanted some Peanut Butter Captain Crunch cereal but he couldn't get it down from the shelf because of his hook arm but then Tinkerbell came flying by and even though they didn't really like each other Tinkerbell totally helped Captain Hook get the Captain Crunch cereal and then they fell in love and got married, and then they went to the peanut butter aisle and got some PETER PAN PEANUT BUTTER!

Isn't that a GREAT MADE-UP STORY!?!?

Then he asked me to tell him to tell him a story about a freaking CURTAIN!

So I did. Cuz he's like three and way too adorable for words.

Then we flew home today and Diva had awesome balloons from her Nana that said Happy Birthday so again she got all this attention of people asking her if it was her birthday and we got front-row seats on the plane and sat next to a very cool prego chick from San Diego (Hi Tara, if you're reading this!), who the flight attendant thought we were friends cuz we talked the whole flight!




At home, Mr. Manic, AJers and Tukey greeted us, and one of the best compliments I could have had was when Mr. Manic said to me, "You know, I can see how some days you get frazzled with them. They get wild."

SEE! They DO MISBEHAVE! They can get crazy! It's NOT ME WHO'S CRAZY ALL OF THE TIME! It's those crazy wild cub bear boy children of mine!

So Mr. Manic said he "lit it up" a few times to get them in line. They had a huge balloon for Diva, and we went out to dinner for her birthday and then took a family walk, and now it's Sunday night and everyone's in bed, and I'm on my way.


Happy Birthday Beautiful Diva Girl! Thanks for wanting to spend the weekend with me! And yes, in case you couldn't guess, she had her fair share of chocolate this weekend!

Peace UP!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Is It OK To Do This?

I'm going away for the weekend with Diva, who is turning NINE tomorrow! My baby girl is NINE! How did this happen? Pretty soon she'll be getting her period and zits and turn into a bitchy whiny teenager. So, I'm taking her away for the weekend while she still loves me and wants to hang out with me. While she still thinks I'm the coolest person on earth. Because I can only fool her for so long. Happy Birthday Baby Girl Diva! I love you! You can read the story of her birth here. She almost didn't come to be. I'm so glad she's here!


And here are two stories I will share with you, the first happened a couple weeks ago when I was sick:

I'm sick right? So why is it that Mr. Manic's been out of town the whole weekend and he gets home and I've finally gone upstairs to take a nap because I've been sick. You've seen the video right?! I WAS SICK! I closed my bedroom door, put on comfy jammies, big thick socks cuz I'm freezing, wrapped myself like a burrito in five blankets and fall asleep.

Tukey comes in when I'm comfortably comatose, head buried, the door had been closed. He wakes me up to ask if he can ride his bike.

"Where's dad?"

"He's downstairs taking a nap."

LIKE WHY THE HELL DO THEY THINK IT'S NOT OKAY TO WAKE HIM UP WHEN HE'S ON THE COUCH WITH THE TV BLARING WHILE HE'S 'NAPPING' BUT THEY CAN COME UP AND UNRAVEL ME FROM THE COVERS OF MY SICK COCOON TO ASK ME IF THEY CAN GO OUTSIDE????

Is this in the mothers' job description?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Then yesterday, Tukey and I are at Tar-ZJAY and I need to go get a water from the Starbucks so I consider for a flash of a half-second leaving him on a bench to eat his cinnamon pretzel while I run over to the Starbucks counter, then decide not to leave him. But then he says he doesn't want to come with me.

"You have to come with me. What if someone kidnaps you."

"No one's going to kidnap me."

"Someone could kidnap you. There are bad people in the world. You don't know what other people are thinking. Someone might want to take you away from me."

"Mom, no one's going to take me."

"Tukey, just get up and come with me, it'll take two seconds."

Reluctantly, he gets up and starts walking with me and I continue my kidnapping lesson. "You just don't know how things are, Tukey. You're adorable, someone could just want to steal you away from me..."

From out of nowhere, this lady, about my age, walks by with her Target cart filled up, and she says, "I'd take him home."

My response? Full of gratitude: "THANK YOU!"

And then I started cracking up, like Wait a minute! I'm thanking this strange woman for saying she would kidnap my cute kid? But really, I was thanking her for bringing home the point that there are strangers out there that could possibly want to take my cute little boy away from me.

Wait? I don't get how my mind works completely?

Anyway, while I'm gone this weekend, don't forget to share your first or worst or best KISSING TALE and Trish Ryan will choose a winner of her book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After when I return.

Peace UP!