Monday, June 30, 2008

Popcorn Winners!

First piece of business--CHRISTINE who won the Half-Assed book by Jennette Fulda--I NEED YOUR ADDRESS to send you your book! Please email me!

Secong piece of business--We flew to Baltimore, MD, drove to Annapolis, drove to Ocean City, MD, then took a ferry to Cape May, NJ, then took the ferry back to Maryland. Great guesses from all of you though, and it's good to be home. I slept until 11 a.m. today, but don't tell Mr. Manic. I did some laundry, and some freelance work, fed the children, AND made something for everyone for dinner, so I'm not that much of a slacker.

Now, for the popcorn winners. I was going to do a kitchy, clever, funny, "Popping With Manic" video with the kids but I.Am.Exhausted.Spent.Tired. And the kids are pissed I didn't do it cuz we had planned a huge popcorn fight at the end of the filming and I was gonna let them throw popcorn all over the place, which would have just made more of a mess, and more work for me, so I put the KI-BOSH on that plan.

Instead, I gave each of you a number and there were 51 of you. Then the kids each drew 5 numbers and if your number was pulled, then you won. It didn't matter what cute thing you wrote, although some of you wrote some awesomely cute poems and stuff about popcorn!

And here are the winners... PLEASE, if you want to receive your totally cute fun popcorn bowl and popcorn prize, you MUST email me at with your full name and mailing address so I can have the prize mailed to you. I can't guess where you're from, so please do me a favor and make this easy on me! I thank you in advance, and am sorry to those of you who didn't win!

Congrats to the winners, and here they are:

7 morninglight mama said...
A popcorny message? How about just a 'corny' comment- those I'm better at...

You are the coolest blogging-give-away-stuff-person I know. :)

9 J... said...
You should have thrown in a bottle of soda. Then your title could have been...
"Pop, Pop, Fizz, Fizz...You're gonna get a prize. You is!"

10 B. said...
I butter win!

11 Mabunny said...
Yay! I love the idea for this contest as I could rival you Manic as the popcorn queen!
So glad I popped on over here today to read your post!

12 Robin said...
There is more than a kernel of truth in this--I want to win a Manic Mommy contest.

16 Sue said...
Fluffy, white popcorn,
Good at the movies or home,
Gotta pop me some!

21 Shelley said...
I have no clever popcorn comments, but I love the 94% fat free stuff. I pretend it has zero calories, and I eat a bag of it at work every day. Would love to have the cute bowl to eat it in!

26 Michelle said...
Bring your own popcorn in? Why that's poppycock! (Ok, that's the best I could do at midnight.) Actually, the mixing of popcorns together totally threw me. I can't even eat the Garrett's famous mix. One kind of popcorn at a time for me, please. I know I'm a wimp!

28 2boystwingirls said...
I read your blog every day but have never left a comment. But here I am, hoping to win a bowl and some corn for my 865 kids. Ok, so I really only have 4 of my own but I do daycare and watch another 4 and popcorn is BY FAR the choice for snack time! We have a couple of popcorn queens at my table - you wouldn't believe how fast these 1 and 2 year olds can suck that stuff down! LOL!
So please, have a little sympathy for a slightly insane mommy/daycare provider and send us some popcorn and a great bowl to serve it in!

30 Colorado Writer said...
We have a running joke at our house...It's kind of gross...but it has to do with poo and corn kernels.

Even my 3 year old will say it.

"Corn? When did I have corn?"

34 Kara said...
I love popcorn! Funny thing- one of my cats loves popcorn too. The other two don't, but this one will sit and watch me eating my popcorn just waiting for me to drop or throw her a piece, it's hilarious.

40 My boys are Army Brats said...
Everytime I make popcorn my dogs will sit by my feet and wait. They love to catch the occassional kernel tossed in their direction when I'm feeling generous and how can you say no to those puppy dog faces. They hear the microwave popping and they come running.

My boys love popcorn too but they don't look as cute begging for it.

Pick me, I need to win something this week.

41 Dawn said...
Ode to Popcorn
by Alex, 11 years old:

Popcorn is like a yellow flower that has just bloomed. It is salty, crunchy, and satisfies the munchies. Popcorn makes our whole house smell like a buttery spring day.

43 Amanda said...
I don't have any clever comments this early in the morning but I would love to win! Btw, this is my first time here and I love your blog!

49 Aimee said...
oh la la! Love the popcorn!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Boy, Am I Sneaky or What?

Hi Everyone! We're back!

Bet you didn't know we were on vacation for the last eight days!

It's good to be home.

Anyone who doesn't know where I went wanna guess where I was?

Here are some clues and pictures:

Visited two states.

Water was involved.

So were relatives.
And alcohol,
But relatives and alcohol go hand-in-hand in our family.

And many good friends.

I got crabs while I was there.

But so does mostly everyone else.

There was a ferry that took us from one state to the other.

And while a family member of mine may have suggested I might need to do some facial bleaching, I did not come home with extra facial hair like someone else:

Any guesses?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pop Pop Win Some Pop Pop Pop CORN!

Okay, you all know I only do books and t-shirt giveaways on Manic Mom because I don’t want to become one of those bloggers who is pimping all kinds of products just to pimp all kinds of products.

That would just be so non-Manic of me.

But, I’m pimping this one because, well, I’ve got like 47 packs of it in my own pantry, and helloooo! It’s awesome for Weight Watchers, and when you’re starving you can shovel the 94 percent fat free Smart Pop kind into your gullet without any guilt at all.

And hey, that’s what I do.

Orrville Redenbacher popcorn is what I’m talking about. And yep, confession time ... I love the Smart Pop Butter and Smart Pop Kettle Korn 94 percent fat-free so much that sneak it into the movies with me. If you've been to the movies with me, you know this is true, and I may very well be a huge embarrassment to you. At least it's dark in there.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE me some movie theater popcorn like it’s nobody’s biz! But I don’t like wasting a gazillion WW points on it, so I bring in my Smart Pop Butter and Smart Pop Kettle Korn and then buy some movie theater popcorn WITH NO BUTTER PLEASE, cuz come on, that just makes you sick.

And I also bring a big Ziploc, cuz you all know I’m the Ziploc whore (and wow, I guess I’m pimping ANOTHER product even without meaning to!), but I take my Ziploc, and mix all three types of the popcorns together.

It’s freaking awesome.

Why am I telling you this?

I wanted to share my popcorn tip with you.

And also because my friend Amanda works for Orville (not like she works for the real guy, she works for the company) and she’s gonna give you some free popcorn and a cute popcorn bowl!

See--totally cute bowl:

Yummy popcorn!

Leave a clever poppy-corn comment along with an email address (so we can contact you if you win obviously, cuz sometimes you guys forget this important aspect!) and 15 RANDOM winners will be drawn by the Manic Kids on Sunday or Monday to receive the cute bowl and FOUR packs of popcorn (sorry, microwave not included) plus coupons.

Yes, 15 of you will win!

And seriously, writing this just made me majorly crave popcorn so I’m going to go pop me some. In the meantime, why don't you POP on over to the comments section if you want to win yourself this cute bowl filled with popcron packs and samples!

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Interview with a Diva

Diva asked if she could interview me. She thought up all of the questions on her own. I think I've got a Barbara Walters in the making, no?

Diva: If you could change your name what would it be?

Manic: Hmmm, that’s a hard one. Do you mean, change my name Stephanie from another name?

Diva: Yeah.

Manic: Well, honestly, I have always liked my first name. Not too many people have the name Stephanie. But other names I would like if I were to change my name include the name Elise. I’ve always loved the name Elise.

Diva: OK, next question, what’s your favorite part of blogging?

Manic: Getting responses back from the people who read my blog. It makes me happy to know that what I am writing is being read and thought about.

Diva: What’s your favorite blog post you’ve written?

Manic: Ooh, Diva! These are great questions! Let’s see. I LOVED writing about my imaginary boyfriend from American Idol, Michael Johns. I also love blogging about the books I love to read, and I LOVE doing Booking with Manic videos with you kids. Those are fun!

Diva: You’re gonna like this question … if you were the president, what rule would you make?

Manic: OK! This is totally EASY! If I were the president, I would make it so every person would have to give blood every eight weeks after they turn the age of 16. Can you imagine how many lives everyone could save?

Diva: My next question is how many years have you been blogging?

Manic: It will be four years in December.

Diva: Hmmm, fascinating.

Diva: My last question here is what’s the best part of blogging?

Manic: Didn’t you already ask that question?

Diva: Yeah, but how about if I ask what do you like MOST about blogging?

Manic: Getting connected with other people and when I find out that people who have met through my blog have connected. For example, someone who reads my blog reached out to Michael’s family (Ajer’s friend who had a brain tumor removed in April), and this other blogger opened up her heart and her summer home to Michael’s family. To me, that is just an amazing aspect of blogging.

Manic: Now, Diva, may I ask you a question?

Diva: Definitely.

Manic: What do you think of your mom and her blogging?

Diva: It’s fun cuz she usually blogs about me and it’s like I’m famous.

Manic, laughs: Why do you think you’re famous?

Diva: Cuz lots of people read your blog and once they read it, they’ll read about me.

Manic: And what do you want the readers to know about you?

Diva: That I’m a very unique and intelligent girl!

Manic: Yes, Diva, you are!

Diva: Oh, that’s too sweet!

Manic: And you’re too sweet too; now come on over here and hug your momma!

Diva: Oh, what the heck!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Deserted Island

So I was at the pool today talking with Diva and my friend, who what shall I nickname her on the blog? Hmmm... She is the one I tell everyone that she is my emaciated friend who conned me into joining Weight Watchers. Maybe I'll just refer to her as Emacy for short? She's not really emaciated, that's such an anorexic term. But she definitely didn't need to go to WW. She just KNEW I needed to go.

So the three of us are talking about the whole deserted island thing and I asked the question if you were stuck on the island, what three things would you wish you had, and you can't say any food or beverage or a person.

Cuz Mr. Manic and I already played this once, and he is so taking Ajers and not me on his deserted island cuz he said Ajers would work harder than I would. Jerko. But he's right.

Anyway, Emacy said pen and paper.

"That's so expected," I tell her. So cliche! "You have to say something else." Only because THAT was going to be MY answer. Ha. But really, everyone wants pen and paper to jot down how bored and hungry they are on the island, right?

Then she said she would want a flicker thing to make fire.

"Why does everyone think they NEED fire on an island?" I ask.

"It gets cold at night," she said.

And Diva adds, "And to scare away the bad animals."

I still don't get the big fire draw.

Then we decide we would want toilet paper cuz we wouldn't want leaves.

"But wait! We don't want toilet paper; we want toilet WIPES!"

We all agree with that.

"But what if we were just gonna be there for like five days, and we already had food and shelter and comforts, but we could bring three things with us for like entertainment, then what would you bring?"

And what would you want to do on that island?

And would it be a vacation or more of a hassle for you?

Would you enjoy this five-day reprieve?

I would! I would bring books. And my iPod. And a big old beach towel.

"Sunscreen!" Emacy said.

Yeah, that would be good too, and some good cooling cream to slather on after a day lounging in the glorious warm sand with the hot sun beating down on our skin.

Wait, is there a cabana boy on this deserted island, cuz I'm getting kinda thirsty too.

So, what's on your five-day island?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Relay for Life!!!!

My friend Michelle created It's 4 The Kids and is an amazing person, artist, personal friend to me. I would go so far as to call her a humanitarian too, if I knew what that word actually meant. But yes, she is all good and works daily to serve a higher purpose in her life. Her ideas for combatting pediatric cancer are amazing and she's constantly working to make a difference.

She would like your help, and if you could spare something as small as the change in your purse, you too can help make a difference.

The National Cancer Institute reports that "Between infancy and age 15, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among US children." While there is tremendous amount of fundraising going on at any given time for cancer research, it was esitmated in 2007 that approximately 10,400 new cases (NEW cases ... this number does not include the tens of thousands STILL fighting) of pediatric cancer would be diagnosed.

So, what can you do?

Even if it is only $1 that you can spare ... that dollar could be the straw that breaks CANCER'S BACK! Now, wouldn't that be an amazing thing to be a part of?

Follow this link and support a fellow Mommy blogger in her RELAY FOR LIFE June 20-21.

There is a child somewhere out there hoping you DO!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Winners for the Prego Dad Books

Congrats to AahCoffee and Katie Bug at Bugs on a Blog, for winning the Dad books! BTW, check out their blogs, totally cute, love that celery stick with peanut butter and raisins ... well, I mean it looks cute, but I'd never eat that ... but Bugs on a Blog--clever!

So thank Tukey for randomly choosing your names from the bunch of contestants and if you'll both email me at with your addresses, I will send you your books.

These are the books they will be receiving:

And hey, if you're not pregnant, and are a parent looking for a fun read, you'll want to check out this one:

Which is a HILARIOUS look at the "REAL" joys of parenting, and yes, I'm using that term very sarcastically here, cuz yeah, there are joyous moments in parenting, but author Jenna McCarthy makes the crappy ones even laughably fun.

And maybe I can say that because I'm no longer changing diapers, although I do still get the occasional yell for butt-wiping help from the bathroom, but we're working on that. No kid ever goes to college still needing their butt wiped, do they?

Anyway, check out Jenna's book too!

Isn't it just the cutest cover!?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taking One for the Team

I hate, I mean really, really REALLY hate baseball. So tonight, we have plans to go out to a nice dinner with friends, but all of a sudden, Mr. Manic gets four tickets to what? ... thrown into his lap for free?

Yup. Sox tickets. Free. Tonight. Baseball.

Did I mention I hate baseball?

"Do you want to go to the game?"

Do I want to go to the game? We have a boy babysitter coming over to watch the kids tonight. I would RATHER PAY THE BOY BABYSITTER all the money it would cost IF we were to go out, and send HIM with Mr. Manic and ME stay home with the three kids than go to the game.

Do I tell Mr. Manic this?


"Well, honey, you know I hate baseball. I hate beer. But, it's Father's Day weekend, so if this is what you want to do tonight, we can go to the game."

"Wow, I hadn't even thought of that!" he said. "That's a nice answer!"

Great. So we are going to the game.

I suck.

Actually, if we go to the game, maybe I won't have to suck later on, knowwhatImeanVern?

Go SUXIES... I mean Soxies ... Or whatever they're called. Yippee.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And don't forget, if you or someone you know happens to be KNOCKED UP, go to the previous post and leave a comment with an email address so you can win two great Daddy books! Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

For Fathers-To-Be

If you're not pregnant, don't read this. I'm not pregnant, THANK GOD! But if you are, that's AWESOME! But I want you to know, that if you're pregnant, then that means your hubby is too, or whoever it was who knocked you up. The father of your child-to-be had a little something to do with the conception. Yeah, like all three-and-a-half minutes of it.

And I KNOW some of you who read this blog are pregnant, ahem, YOU know who you are. Or some of you who read this blog have friends or relatives who are pregnant who might appreciate these books for their fathers-to-be.

So, I'm giving away TWO SETS of these two books in honor of Father's Day weekend. All you have to do is leave a comment, just say hi, and tell me that you're pregnant, or that your friend, sister, mother, aunt, daughter, cousin, barrista is pregnant, and you could win the set of books. That easy.

And happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who work so hard and who are underappreciated. Come on, you all know who you are! I don't have to actually list you all here do I?

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This is What I'm Feeling at This Particular Moment in My Day

I wish I could just listen to music
Tune it all out but the words and the sound
And then also read whatever I wanted for however long I wanted
Because there are a lot of books
And if you haven’t noticed
I love books, and if there was a word stronger than love
I might use it in place of love, I am enamored by books.
By the stories, the words, the worlds, the characters, the people who write them.
The covers, the ideas, the people who know the people in the books.
The whys, the wheres, the hows, the whos, the whats of a book.
And the desires to just write one of my own and see it on a shelf.

The stories that sweep inside me are stuck for now.
Hidden away, but they’ll come out, maybe.

Cuz I can’t see them just sitting there, inside, cramped behind an old wood-burning stove in an empty cabin filled with cobwebs. That’s my head right now. I need to get in there, remove the musty sheets from the weathered furniture, open the drapes and the blinds, fling open the windows that have been stuck far too long and let the fresh air in. To inhale what I know is already in my head, to breathe deeply, and then exhale it all out into a story. I want to see the glimmering dust specks floating through the streams of clean sunlight reaching to me; little shimmers to inspire writing.

And then write it.

Because that’s what I desire most. Most days that’s what I think about.

How about you?

What’s in your cabin, and how can you clean it out?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Part II -- Wizard of OSH KOSH by GOSH!

Grab a double of whatever you're drinking. It's a long one. You've been warned:

When we last left our traveling trio, they had bid farewell to the Windy City.

At precisely 3:12 p.m.--

Little did they know they were moving straight into the scene from Wizard of Oz where they expected cows to swarm across the darkened cloud-encrusted sky on their way to Osh Kosh by Gosh to see Ms. Jess Riley for her debut book launch party.

This is the part of the weekend events that Mr. Manic had coined, "Aggressive."

What does a six-year-old do when his mother tells him for the 20th time that she doesn't think it's a good idea for him to go outside and play in the backyard because it's all muddy and it might rain?

Of course! The kid goes outside to play in the backyard where it's all muddy and it might rain.

Case in point with Mr. Manic beating the proverbial "dead-aggressive-plan" horse into the ground. No way in hell I was going to say, "You're right honey, it's too aggressive. We won't go." Unless of course I would have had the sense to check the weather and KNOWN they were doing a remake of The Wizard of Oz on 94W to Osh Kosh.

So, the traveling trio set off for Wisconsin on a three-hour tour. Snacks were packed (animal crackers, pretzels, Diet Coke, mini-twizzlers, M&Ms) and we were off.

The rain started immediately. Actually, no it didn't. The traffic started first. For about an hour. THEN the rain started immediately. But our spirits would not be wrecked! After all, we were warriors! We were on a Road Trip out to pay homage to our great friend Jess, who just happen to write an incredible book on the very same topic--A ROAD TRIP, oh and kidney disease, which, speaking of, we might actually have to check out Trish Ryan's kidneys cuz I think they're like the size of a medicine dropper. (Wait, do we have two or one kidney?)

Seriously, I thought I had a pee problem! We would be in the car and at first, she and I were on a united front. Swish is a camel by the way and can go weeks without urinating, so Trish and I were like, "OK, majority rules, when we have to pee, you have to stop." That was the plan, but then like every six and a half minutes, Trish had to go!

So, to get Trish off the pee trail, Swish and I would ask her to rate how badly she had to pee, and at times, I felt like a coy mother trying to coax her child into just hanging on for a few more exits...

"Trish! Tell me again how you and your husband met!"

"Show me some pictures from your book launch party, Trish!"

"Tell me again about how you dated a guy who decided he wanted to bat for the other team!"

"Let's search for out-of-state license plates!"

ANYTHING to get her mind off having to go pee!

I really don't understand how the urge came to her so much, what with all the rain pounding the car, swivelling us from one lane to another, causing us to hydroplane ever so gently now and then? But we were closing in on the land of imperilous and treacherous rainstorms with about six tornadoes thrown in there for good measure.

It's Raining!

It's Sunny!

We're So Happy it's Sunny!

One Side of the Street:

The Other Side of the Street:

Can You Spot the Rainbow?

We finally arrive! Jess is so excited to see us, as we are of her! And lo and behold, the MINUTE we park, all rain stops! It stops for the WHOLE time we are there with Jess. She has that effect on people. She is full of sunshine and cheerfulness!

Jess's adorable newphew and sister:

Surprise! We're Here! A half-hour earlier, I texted Jess and said, "We're not making it out of Chicago." Am I stealthy or what?

The party was great, although we missed the free booze reading and earlier festivities, it was still awesome to see Jess, and since we arrived so late, things were winding down and we did get to spend some one-on-three time with Jess!

And then, we were off, back into the car, and yes, THE SECOND we left Jess, the skies opened up, and greeted us with, "Hey, you idiots are back in the car! Let's throw some tornadoes your way! And while we're at it, we'll make the rain so stinking heavy, we'll get you lost and land you in Fond Du Lac, just for shits and grins!"

And so, they did. And we drove, and drove, and drove, and to keep things light, we decided to do some really Road Trippy things and played, "I'm going on a road trip and I'm bringing..."

Here's our list: avocado, bananas, condoms, dildo, ex-lax, highlighter, indigestion medication, jamba juice, kickball, looooootion, masterbation devices (plural), nailfile, opthalmologist's number, pantyliners, queen-comma-drag, razor, shaving cream, Trish Ryan, underwear, my vagina, a wheelchair, x-ray, yoga instructor and a Zenith TV. Those supplies will get us far on Survivor Island, ya think?

We finally find the highway, and as we're driving along, the tension is high. We're all a little stressed in our own little quiet worlds and I'm shoving Twizzler niblets down my throat like this might be the last food I'll ever eat, and do you know how hard it is to digest those things?

We come across a particularly iconic billboard, an anti-abortion one saying CHOOSE LIFE. I scream in the car, above the thunder and rainstorm: "I CHOOSE LIFE! PLEASE DEAR GOD, I CHOOSE LIFE TODAY!"

We just wanted to be back to where we didn't have to be so scared anymore. It sucked.

So, later, the rain kept coming, and the tension was high! I mean high. Consider this. Swish and I love each other. LOVE like probably without sounding too gay, if we were opposite sex or gay, we would be like soulmatey, that's how good we get along, BUT, also consider this. No matter how much you love someone, throw in a stressful, tension-induced car ride, some tornadoes, a long-freaking day, exhaustion, a terrible 'back-seat' driver sitting in the front passenger seat (ahem ... me), someone a decade older who thinks she's a know-it-all (ahem ... me again), when really it's the younger one who is way well more prepared to face what life throws at her and is so much more independent despite her young age, and well, then, there might be some, shall we say, conflict.

So yes, the first ever Swishy and Manic "not-quite-a-quarrel-or-disagreement-but-more-along-the-lines-of-if-I-could-throw-your-ass-outta-this-car-I-would" situation evolved. Her throwing ME out, not the other way around.

I could sense it. Because I'm good at sensing these things. Swishy started chewing her hair; I tried to make cheery small talk. Trish sat in the back seat probably wishing the eye of the tornado would sweep down and take us all from this misery.

But, we perservered, and got back to Chicago, in three pieces (one piece for each of us). And after we dropped Trish off, Swish and I communicated like we were normal adults, got everything squared away, and went to bed. This being 1:00 am.

The whole journey took 10 hours. Eight-and-a-half in the car with rain pelting. One-and-a-half spent with Jess. Since we got back to Chicago alive, it was totally all worth it, no matter how aggressive the plan was!

Here's my HAPPY HAPPY Bed!

Yes, there's more...

Next morning, my cell phone rings, it's Mr. Manic.

"Hello?" I mutter.

"You alive?" he asks.

"No, this is her answering machine. She's dead. Of course I'm alive! There is nothing too aggressive for moi!"

He was off to take Ajers, Diva and Tukey to the Sox game!

I jumped into the shower while Swish slept and when I got out of the bathroom, Swish was gone! My first thought was she decided enough was enough and bagged it, left town. ENOUGH MANIC! But fortunately, she had only gone down to the lobby and hadn't deserted me.

Because today was Day 2 ONLY of our aggressive weekend, can you believe it, and we were going to see Trish Ryan IN ACTION at a writer's panel for memoirists!

Before Trish's panel, Swish and I headed over to see Elizabeth Berg who read from her latest book: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation.

Also at this panel was, Elizabeth Crane, who I was not familiar with, but am now a fan, who read from You Must Be This Happy to Enter.

Then we headed over to Trish's panel, and I don't have any photos of this because I was her personal publicist and used HER camera to take shots during the panel. I have not read He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After yet, but am very much looking forward to it, especially now that I know some of the behind-the-scenes "what-is-said-on-this-10-hour-car-ride-stays-in-this-10-hour-car-ride" stuff in Trish's life.

She's had an amazing journey to finding Mr. Right and Wonderful, and credits Jesus without being preachy or freaky, and I am envious of her relationship with Him. I think not many people have what she does, and it's something she truly cherishes. Trish is an incredible person, so much fun, and I'm so glad that she is now a real-live friend!

And then, our last of the author fest took us to new author, Sloane Crosley, who wrote I Was Told There'd Be Cake. Cute, witty, charmingly snarky without trying to be makes Sloane the one to watch! Her book is a bunch of essays, including one she read from about how she baked her boss a cookie in the likeness of her head and gave it to her as a sort of peace offering. The boss gave it to her daughter, and the daughter promptly puked. Great stories.

After Sloane read a bit and the discussion was over, Swish high-tailed it out of there to pick up a copy of the book. I followed her.

"I got the last one!" she claimed.

I could not let my weekend end on a note like this! Fortunately, a volunteer suggested to me that there was one book left at the table where Sloane would be signing books, so I rushed in, grabbed it and met Swishy back at the cash register where we both did a happy, "we got the last two books" dance!

Couldn't have ended our first experience at Chicago's Printers Row Book Fair any better than that. Oh wait, yes it could be better... maybe someday she and I will be guest speakers on a panel talking about the books we will someday publish. One can dream right? Cuz that's not too aggressive of a plan now is it???

One last picture at lunch before we bid farewell to Trish on Sunday. Of course, we had to have our cute and funny waiter, Ryan, join us for the photo!

As a recap, here are some of the great books you might want to check out, and some that I didn't have a chance to mention:

I Was Told There'd Be Cake

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After

You Must Be This Happy to Enter

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation

Belong to Me: A Novel

Driving Sideways: A Novel

Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer

The Rest of Her Life

The Heroines: A Novel

All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House

My Maggie

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Choose Life and Literature, Not Necessarily in That Order!


Pre-Warning-this is a very-detailed and rambling post. Some of you might not be in the mood for a very-detailed and rambling post. I kindly suggest you do not read it then. If you choose to do so, and it annoys you, please don't leave me a comment on how very-detailed and rambling it is, especially because this is only PART I on the very-detailed and rambling weekend. Consider yourselves warned.

Let's preface this blog post with this: If you haven't read the previous post, you might want to read it as it tells the beginning of this Swishy-Manic-and-Special-Guests Extravaganza weekend. And before or after you read that one, you might as well stop by the kitchen and grab yourself a cold one, cuz yeah, this is gonna be a long one.

When we last left our friends, Manic Mom was being told by her dotingly, loving and caring husband, that her weekend plans with Swishy were a bit, shall we say, "Aggressive."

To quickly sum up, and as a seque into the blogpost...

Agressive? Maaaaybe.

A weekend full of excitement, adrenaline, conflict, passion, books, authors, angst and Epic burgers? Sure.

Priceless ... Absolutely!

We started off Saturday morning by heading downtown Chicago to the 24th annual Printer's Row Book Fair, and right after we park, I had to pee--there was much peeing on this weekend extravaganza, but fortunately, none involved urinating in a raincoat in the backseat of a car, like my good blogger friend B, who won the Driving Sideways Roadtrip contest earlier last week.

Would you pee in this toilet?

I did. And you know, it was relatively clean, all things considered.

Anyway, almost immediately we came across blog-worthy, photo-taking material (not that the previous photo wasn't nice), which I will share with you now:

See the table? See the sign at the table?


How freaking classic IS THAT??? A booth set up for REAL MEN READING, because we all know real men read, yet, there is not one book on the table, nor one real man near the table, reading. Hmmmm.... very telling.

And then, yeah, I KNEW there would be literary icons at this event, but I HAD NO IDEA we'd run into one of Tukey's and my favorites, so I had to get a photo with George:

Next up, Swish and I went to find the panel with Marisa de los Santos, author of Love Walked In and Belong to Me: A Novel

OK, so I just realized if I post every author and every book by every author we saw or wanted to see, I'm not going to get to the important stuff like going to Wisconsin in search of porn, fireworks, and cheese in the middle of like six tornados, IN BETWEEN stints at Printer's Row, while stumbling into a "Tomato Notification" crisis at McDonald's on the way, so I have decided to footnote at the end all of the authors and books that I will HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend you check out!


After seeing Marisa speak very eloquently about her poetic linear process of writing in a beautiful churchlike setting (OK, who am I kidding-it wasn't a 'beautiful churchlike setting' WAS a freaking BEAUTIFUL church), and having the moderator TOTALLY spoil the end of her novel, BELONG TO ME, for anyone who has not read it yet (me), Swish and I ventured back out into the literary streets of Chicago to find ... food? Refuge? Smutty reading material? All of the above?

Nah, we were hungry, but we were also in search of this person ...

Our mystery author who we would be kidnapping for our drive to the land of cheese, porn, and fireworks, (not necessarily in that order!)

Trish Ryan, author of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After joins your friends Swish and Manic for an exciting, yet sometimes seemingly edge-of-your-seat terrifying trip across the border in a tornado in order to celebrate with their friend Jess Riley on the debut of her book Driving Sideways: A Novel.

Did I remind you that previously, Mr. Manic suggested that our weekend plans were a bit agressive?

We're hungry, and we've got a little time to kill before Stephanie Klein and Jen Lancaster have their throw-down discuss very eloquently, professionally, maturely the trials and tribulations of putting it all out there for the world to see in their memoirs.

There was no snarkiness between the two, no cattiness, just admiration of one author's work for another. From what I have observed, whatever negativity that had passed between the two had stemmed from their fans throwing punches for one another. And since I happen to be a mad fan of both of them, well, I am just happy to have been a witness of the panel because, well, when we got there, ...

well, let me back up and tell you about Epic Burger first, because, even though these two incredible author's memoirs are about struggling with weight loss, well, Swish, Trish and I were freaking HUNGRY! So, we headed here, to Epic Burger, and it was packed, and it was great, but let's say you wanted a burger right now? Well, you probably should have placed your order for it like two days ago, CUZ IT WAS CRAZY BUSY AND IT TOOK LIKE 35 MINUTES for a hamburger.

But that's kind of OK, cuz in the meantime, I took a picture of these hungover guys:

Trish and Manic getting acquainted in real-non-cyber life!

And then, some random guy drops some silverware or something right under Swishy's chair and he looks at me, all scared and asks, "Is it OK if I get that?"

Like I'm Swishy's madam or something? But he was kind of being polite because he was afraid to bend down to reach under Swishy's legs to pick up what he dropped.

So I decide to toy with the guy and I go, "Well, how bad do you want it?" Referring to the dropped object, OF COURSE!

His reply, without missing a beat: "Sit up and beg?"

OMG, HE WANTED TO SIT UP AND BEG for the approval to reach down near Swishy's legs to pick up a dropped object. Yes, she has that effect on men.

We FINALLY get our burgers, which we devour, and here's me taking Such a Pretty Fat to a whole new reading level: (This is me doing my impression of SuperSize, that McDonald's documentary! Yummy FRIES!)

And then we hightail it outta there for the next event, which is the Stephanie Klein/Jen Lancaster panel, which we KNEW would be packed.

Our blogging pal Kristabella meets us up there and explains where the line ends and I'm thinking, "Cool, not too crowded," so we wait and chat for a while, then some assfrig volunteer comes up to inform us that the line actually weaves around the building and THROUGH Indiana and THAT'S where the line ends and it looks like we're probably NOT going to get into the discussion.

Bite me Mutha-Effah.

That's what I think; I don't actually say this. Instead, we stay there, and think, "Oh shit. We are so getting in here. There's NO way we're missing out." So, we pull out our golden ticket, TRISH RYAN, who's got on her trusty AUTHOR badge.

She pulls through for us, heads to the front, and tells us later that she didn't even know what she was gonna say, she just kinda flashed her "creds" and the volunteer waved her through, and then she also tells us later that she had to GET US IN (DUH!!!!) and in doing so, she felt like a reeactment of Sophie's Choice, and who do I choose? Manic or Swish? Swish or Manic? Then she pulled out the greatest ploy EVER and I will FOREVER be indebted to her for this one. She tells us later that she said to the volunteer, "I'm here with my team, can I get my agent and publicist in too?"

So, we sail right in, and yeah, admittedly for about two secondsI felt remorse for those who got stuck outside, and I did share a moment of silence because of this, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, and at this point, we were a TEAM of deviant conspirators off to tackle the world!

As I earlier reported, the panel was great; these two ladies are amazing authors, and it's so cool to know them both personally now. Their writing makes me laugh, they inspire, they cause me to think, to ask questions, to want to write more.

Check out their latest books:
Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass LookBig, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer

Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp

Are you tired yet? Do you need a break? Cuz I kinda do. And we're NOT even halfway done with the weekend! We haven't even gotten to the Wisconsin Road Trip and our journey through the Wizard of Oz tornado yet! I haven't told you about the first-ever SWISHY-MANIC CONFLICT with Trish Ryan as moderator in the backseat as we are driving to our near death on the way home from Jess Riley's debut book party. I haven't told you how we played the "I'm going on a road trip and I'm bringing an AVOCADO with me" game ... there is so much to share, so many more pictures, but I am completely exhausted, and I have confirmed that Swish has completed her journey home so I can rest assured that she is home safe and alive, and I'm assuming Trish Ryan made it back safely home, so for now I am going to bed and will continue with PART II sometime tomorrow ...

PEACE UP! Now, go read something!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Big Weekend Comin' Up!

Guess who's on her way to Manic Town? Yup, SWISHY!

And you know what that means!? Craziness ensues, and she will probably get to make out with some cute boy far too young for her, thanks to me, cuz I am her lucky LUUUUV charm. Yes, we all know I attract them and then offer them up to her!


It's The Chicago's Printer's Row Book Fair, and I started early today, by meeting one of my favorite authors today and WOW, can I just say that she EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS, and I had very high expectations of Ms. Stephanie Klein!

She gets a bad rap online. She's said it before. She's either loved or hated. There's really no in between. The thing about Stephanie is she puts IT ALL OUT THERE. And that takes some major freakin' guts. In your writing. In your life. It's all out there. She shares the good, the bad, the ugly. Her dreams, her fears, things she's most proud of. Hanging all over the place, like a lacy thong some horny guy wants to sniff. Hmmm, did I just write that. I am on my second glass of vino as I await my BBFF Swishy's arrival, so I probably did just write that!

But I say to Stephanie, "More power to ya girlfriend!"

So, I arrive at Torrid, where Stephanie's signing Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp, and I was unsure how it was gonna be--I know tomorrow she's appearing at Printer's Row with another fave, Jen Lancaster, who also puts it all out there, so it's gonna be crazed there, but wasn't sure what to expect today. WAY fortunately for me, there was not much publicity for today's signing, so there wasn't a line way past Panda Express and Limited Too.

I brought the kids with. They saw me reading the Advance Reader's Copy of Moose. Diva wanted to read it. Ajers too. "Not till you're older," I said.

"Is that a picture of the author on the cover?" they asked.

"No." Then I showed them Stephanie's appearance on The Today Show.

"Why'd she have to go to fat camp?"

I told them they could ask her when they meet her in person.

So, we went to Torrid, and YAY, when I walked in, Stephanie knew it was me, and I was soooo flattered! It was really very cool of her. And she mentioned some things about my blog so she reads it, and asked about my writing, which was very kind, and I really don't talk much of my book(s), because, well, there's not much to say about them when they're in Novel Limbo on the way to First Novel Heaven as Jess Riley has coined, cuz her first manuscript is going there too, she says.

But we chatted about her kids and my kids and she's so gracious and real and kind, and anyone who has ever said a mean thing about Stephanie Klein just doesn't know her, and I'm not saying I "know" her, but she's keeping it real on her blog and in the pages of her books, and she took the time to get to know a little bit about me and my kids, and that says a ton. A ton.

And then... And then, my kids were DYING for her to sign her autograph... on their HEADS! Ajers was like, "Will you autograph my head?"

Stephanie looked at me like, What?

"Sure, that's fine with me," I said.

Ajers is like, "Well, maybe my leg instead."

Stephanie said, "In permanent marker?"

Me, "Yeah, why not?"

Stephanie then asked my kids if they knew they had the coolest mom ever. No one disagreed. THAT made my day! And hey, what's a little ink on their skin, right? I mean, they're gonna shower like next Thursday anyway.

So, Stephanie signed Ajer's and Tukey's legs, and then signed Stephanie T. Klein (T for Tara) on Diva's arm too, and everyone was so psyched. The kids were like, "We can't wait to go home and show our friends that a famous author signed us!"

So here are some pics:

And then we've got MORE fun, cuz tomorrow, Thelma and Louise Swish and I take to the streets of Chicago where we will run rampant around millions of book lovers and authors and soak in the love of words and writing and be with people who are passionate and artistic, and this is seriously like Lollapalooza for writers.

But wait! There's MORE! Then, we're KIDNAPPING a certain author who has been featured on my blog, and taking her across the BORDER to ANOTHER state to see ANOTHER author for her debut BOOK launch! We will be driving almost four hours to do this, because we are such groupie fans, and because we love this author so much, and well, you're gonna have to just check back to see what it's all about. And then, yes, we're coming back to Chicago THAT night, crashing for a few hours, and then doing Printer's Row Book Fair again in Sunday.

Sounds like a plan? Well, it is. However, Swishy is currently in transit on her way to my house in the middle of a tornado warning, I'm getting three sheets to the wind drunk off my ass on some wine that's been in my fridge for a few months, and what does Mr. Manic say about all of this?

He calls our plan a "little bit agressive."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Suhhhh-Weeet! Dude!

So, you know last week was our 15th anniversary. And we were supposed to go away to a romantic B&B where Mr. Manic was going to have his way with me in the "Juniper" Room, but then my Dad got the "Blue Monster," which is what we're calling the fist-sized mass that was growing inside him, which made the doctor cut my Dad from his upper ribcage down to his pelvis and then staple him up around 30 or so times in an inverted T shape. But the Blue Monster was benign, so it's all good, and none of us cared that my parents couldn't come up to watch the kids for our romantic getaway cuz as luck would have it, not only did my dad get the Blue Monster, but I got the Red Sea.

So there was gonna be no anniversary-sexin' it up anyway, so what's the point of going to a romantic B&B for three nights if all you're gonna do is go out, get drunk, and not be able to take advantage of one another in your drunken state, and no jokes about well, you know. I'm not even gonna go there.

BUT, get this, we were still charged $130 because we didn't cancel 10 days out. Like um, OK lady, like I knew my Dad was gonna have an emergency Blue Monster in his gut that he had to have removed. And I called her crying about it, so it was obvious I wasn't trying to get out of our vacation just cuz I didn't want to go cuz I had my period. Duh.

I almost said to her, "Lady, I have a blog and I know how to use it. I can tell everyone the name of your B&B and then you'll get NO GUESTS EVER!" Ha. How you like me now beeeyotch.

I didn't get me my money back. And even when we suggested we will come later in the summer (literally and figuratively), she wouldn't even let us use that $130 for a future credit.

So now I'm not sure I wanna stay in that stupid Juniper room.

Or maybe I do, and we can do bad stuff in that room that nobody will know about but us. Hee hee hee. I'll get my $130 worth in the end. And they'll need a black light to get all our DNA off the ceiling.

ANYWAY! (ooh, speaking of lights--the lights almost went out--there's a storm! Just thought I'd share so you can get a real feel for how it is when I'm blogging at 12:44 a.m.) This is the story I meant to share:

Our anniversary plans were altered, and Mr. Manic still took a couple of days off work. We went to lunch one afternoon to one of our favorite places, and our usual server, Andy, whose girlfriend cuts my hair, was not there, so I asked for the next best server so we get Kelly, who we'd never met before. She was very nice and accommodating.

Through all of our lunch, Mr. Manic and I were all lovey-dovey romantic and all, and then it was time for dessert...

Kelly, our server, asks: "Did you guys save room for something sweet?"

[Keep in mind, this is oozing with flowery goofy sarcastic sarcasmic fun.]

Me: "I don't need anything sweet. I already have him."

Mr. Manic: "We're in looove." And he grabs my hand across the table.

Me: "Ooh, so in love."

Then Kelly chimes in: "You're luuuh-vers."

Mr. Manic: "Yep, luuuuvahs."

Me: "Yeah," and I look right at Kelly and deadpan, "Just don't tell my husband you saw me here with this guy."

"YOU SERIOUS?!?!?!" Kelly shouts, and her eyes bulge out. The shock on her face was absolutely hysterical because she really thought I was serious!

And then Mr. Manic busts out laughing so loud that everyone in the restaurant turned to see what was so funny, and that made me crack up and so the three of us are busting out laughing, and that's how Mr. Manic and I roll.

Like toilet paper that never runs out--our love...And yeah, most of the time, we're full of shit! Bwhahahahahahahah!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Book Winners and Good Morning America Now!!

First of all, Editor-in-Chief aka My BOSS, at was on Good Morning America Now today!

View the clip here! And she plugs me even! YAY!

Check out when you get a chance--there is some great stuff over there, fun articles for those dating, those mating, those masterbating, those debating, and those well, I can't think of another "ating" rhyming word, but it's a great women's site and you'll definitely find something to strike your fancy!

You can ask Lex questions on SEX, like ANYTHING! And ask REAL GUYS questions and they will answer them honestly, whether you want the honest answer or not. What Would Debbie Do gives you advice on dating, children, divorce, marriage, life. and And then, if you have a parenting or prego question, you can ask Just Another Manic Mommy (moi) over there... and soon I'll be bringing Betty's Lit Lounge to you, with even more great reads and authors!

So check it out. It's like hanging out with one of your close girlfriends, but not having to listen to her gripe about whether or not her pants make her ass look too fat.

Now for some announcement on book winners...

Congratulations to Christine who has won a signed copy of Half-Assed, a Weight-Loss Memoir.

This was Christine's winning entry:

Christine said...
Oh so many dieting stories I could share... hmmmm, once about 3 months after one of my kids was born, I thought ("thought" being the operative word)I was doing well losing weight so I jammed myself into a pair of my PRE pregnant side zip groovy pants for work and although they were a touch snug, I was feeling all sorts of good and proud of myself... UNTIL I went to the bathroom and realized I put my pants on BACKWARDS (tag in front AND zipper on the WRONG SIDE!)... Mortified, I quicky slipped my pants off, turn them around and... and... and... I COULDN'T GET THEM ON THE RIGHT WAY!!!!... so now TRULY mortified, I had to return my pants to their BACKWARD position and go back to work with the realization that my dieting was NOT working and my stomach was STILL bigger then my ass!... many diets and 4 kids later I'm still hoping to be half-assed some day!!!

Jennette said of Christine's story: After reading all the entries, I decided to award the book to Christine because her story of wearing her pants backwards to work made me giggle. Plus, her story involved her ass, which ties in nicely to my book title "Half-Assed." Congrats, Christine! I hope one day you can wear your pants the right way.

And the winners for Driving Sideways:

B. wins a copy for writing this:

In college, my boyfriend (now husband) and I were going to visit my parents for the weekend. We packed up his car, and then stopped at McDonald's to get a quick dinner and then headed out on the interstate. About a half hour into our trip we were stopped for over an hour because of an accident. We were about 3 miles from the next exit when I really had to pee. I had already drank my large iced tea , and new I couldn't hold it. We moved about a foot every few minutes. Lots of scenarios ran through my head: I could just jump out of the car and pee alongside the road, I could pee in the empty McDonald's cup, I could just pee my pants; it was THAT bad. My stomach hurt and I just couldn't hold it anymore. So, I did what any normal(yeah, right) person would do. I climbed into the backseat of his car, pulled out my raincoat that I had packed, opened it up on the seat, and you guessed it! I peed in the raincoat!!!! Finally, we made it off of the highway and to a gas station where I once again did what any normal (!) person would do; I emptied the raincoat in the parking lot. My husband still makes fun of me for this incident and nobody knows this story except for him, and now whoever reads this blog!!! But, maybe it will win me another book. ;)

My thoughts: I still think she shoulda peed in the McDonald's cup.

And Monda at There's Just No Telling because according to Jess, she "laughed out loud at her Jiminy Cricket incident at Magic Kingdom."

Here's what Monda wrote: Oh my, let's see. Should I tell about the family Disney World trip where Jiminy Cricket put his hands on my daughter and my 6'5" policeman husband caused a Magical Kingdom incident? Complete with mysteriously materializing Disney cops? ...

Can you imagine getting groped by Jiminy Cricket? Ewwwww.

And honorable mention goes to K in the Mirror for her entry of this:

I'm bummed! I can't think of a good road trip story just now. Oh wait... I went to Mardi Gras Galveston with a bunch of girls in college~ my roommate's boyfriend pissed off the balcony onto a cop's head and then tried to get him to believe that we were pouring out some flat Mountain Dew. And then we had a sweet boy with us who'd never been drunk before and we fed him Everclear for breakfast and got him so plastered he couldn't sit up and we all had to take turns sitting with him because we were afraid to leave him by himself. And on the way home they shoe polished our friend's cell number onto the back window with a big arrow that said "she's single! call us!" and then had to field calls from truck drivers and idiots for the six hour trip home.

But sadly, honorable mention gets you squat here at Manic Mommy! But Jess said, "Please tell K in the Mirror that she was seriously in the running with her entry, too."

So, all of you winners, please email me at with your full names and addresses so I can send you your books!

Up next, who the hell knows, it's anyone's guess on Manic Mommy, but I will tell you this: school is out already, and I'm about ready to ... (Fill in the blank).