Monday, June 28, 2010

THiS iS JuST aN uPDaTe

Well this blog post has no sentiment or tears or emotion, just a plain old update so I guess that's pretty good. I'm sitting here wasting my day scrolling through Facebook and listening to the sounds of the house -- Ajers is jamming on the electric guitar and he has a friend over, Tukey is playing Billie Jean on the keyboard and Diva is watching Nickelodeon. Am also having the bathroom painted and chose a fairly dark color. Dark enough that it needs SIX coats of paint for the bottom color! Oh wow!

Things are very much settling down here, but while it's definitely not a normal, it's feeling nice, for lack of a better word. My parents left a week ago, and it was awesome having them here. I haven't had a tear-jerking emotional nervous breakdown since the Jack In The Box parking lot incident like 10 days ago. My hormones must be leveling off.

We did some family stuff this weekend, saw Grown-Ups, which was kinda raunchy, but had a cute message to it. We also went "church-hunting" Sunday. Going to a new church for the first time is not like going to see a movie. You can't just decide that you're not into it and walk out on God (plus, you don't get popcorn). You have to stay for the whole thing. So we did. It was a nice church, just not the RIGHT kind of church for our family. We need more BAND. Heck, we need MORE COW BELL for this family! It was a small church and we didn't know that. We also didn't know that apparently, newborns and toddlers can receive communion DIPPED in wine. Which freaked us ALL out, and you know how liberal I am with a lot of things, but man, THAT just weirded ME out a little too much. BABIES getting communion ... SO NOT RIGHT. So, we will go to another church next week until we find the right one for us. I think we have one pegged. We've been Googling for God.

The kids all survived a week at Boys & Girls Club Day Camp. I wanted them to go so they could have something to do and possibly meet some kids they might get to know and recognize in school. They had an OK time - got to go on a field trip to Laser Tag, and Tukey had an extra trip to the circus (and how had the poor boy NEVER been to the circus!??!) We also joined Lifetime Fitness but haven't gone yet. This week we'll all go. It looks promising. I went to lunch with my new neighbor (hi Tracy!), and it was awesome and just so nice to feel NORMAL, like hey, I have a friend and I'm going out to lunch. Normal is good.

I did tell Mr. Manic that I have enjoyed being able to focus on just our family this past month, and the bonding we've been able to do. I think the kids are adjusting fairly well. If I had to guess which kid is having the most difficult time, I would say it is Ajers ... He is so used to being outside with a ton of kids running around and it's been hot, and he just has one pal here now, and I think he was expecting masses of kids, and I'm sure there will be soon, but for now, it's a ghost town atmosphere. But generally, they've all been in good spirits, have been swimming lots, eating plenty of FroYo (we can walk to The Yogurt Bar near our house!), playing together, and watching YOU'RE CUT OFF, my new favorite reality TV show on VH1 -- HAVE YOU SEEN IT? Rich princessy women live together in a modest house and have to fend for themselves - it's AWESOME! We have the boys already taking guitar and keyboard lessons, and are looking for art lessons for Diva. I've been trying to catch up on reading, as you know from my last post, and in the evenings we all head outside to hang out and have dinner. Sometimes it does still feel like we're on vacation.

Anyway, that's my boring but necessary update for now. Not sure if I will have any exciting stuff to share, but that is a good thing. Boring is normal, normal is good, and good is definitely what I need in my life at the moment!

Hope the summer is shaping up the way you have hoped it would!

PeaCe uP!

~MaNiC MoMMy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Books! Books! Books! Tons of book recommendations!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about books here and I’m sure you don’t want to hear about how the minivan broke, how the bed broke (you DEFINITELY don’t want to hear about how the bed broke), how the garage door broke, how I cried in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box (thank you Melisa at Suburban Scrawl for yanking me off the ledge after my desperate Tweets!), and how the kids are managing this week at day camp.

That stuff is boring and filled with self-pity. Besides, I'm saving those stories for my memoir, tentatively titled: A Midwestern Mom’s Scottsdale Struggles Among Boobs and Botox: Manic Mommy Finds her way home to a place she never expected.

Instead, today I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’ve recently read and some of the books I have in my ever-growing TBR pile. That’s a lot more fun anyway, right? RIGHT!

Now that I’m here in AZ trying to get acclimated, I am hoping to find the time to get to these books soon. If you haven’t heard of them yet, check them out on or your nearest bookstore! And settle in because there are a LOT on this list, and apologies if I’ve forgotten some of you because I’m still in the “I’ve just moved” stage and there are still boxes in the hallway, so email me if I haven’t given you your well-deserved shout-out!

Let’s get started, shall we?

My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

First up, the other night I finally finished My Fair Lazy! And when I say FINALLY, it wasn’t because it was hard to get through, because Jen Lancaster’s books are never a difficult read. I love her books. It was just with the move, it was hard for me to find time to settle in and grab some time to read, and when I did, I was so zonked I could only manage a short time before I crashed hard. But Jen’s “culture-up manifesto” had me laughing about all her JENaissance excursions. From “eating the world,” checking out live theater (where there were nekkid people!) to wine and cheese tastings, and reading classic literature and discovering a fondness for poetry (I NEVER knew e.e.cummings was a GUY!), Jen takes her readers on a laugh-out-loud journey like only she can! I do have one question for her though … Who is Eliza Doolittle? Seriously! Maybe I need the culturing up!

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

By now, everyone knows I have a strong affinity for Emily and her books. I’ve already done a review for Heart of the Matter but in case you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth another mention here. Heart of the Matter deals with tough subject matters like infidelity, single parenthood, working vs. staying at home, and the delicacy of marriage. You’ll find, as in all of Giffin’s novels, you won’t know who to root for in this complicated and heartfelt novel. Beautifully written, as always.

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Fly Away Home is not yet out but this upcoming novel by Jennifer Weiner will be available July 13! It’s being described as “hilarious, heartbreaking, and insightful” and features a sister duo (I love Weiner’s books with sister combos!) and a politician’s wife/mom. The three women take refuge at the family beach house after Dad’s extramarital affair makes headlines. And yes, there will be more on Fly Away Home on MaNiC MoMMy including a book giveaway so stay tuned!

Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock

So here’s the crazy thing about this author. I have two of her other books, Me & Emma, and also But Inside I’m Screaming, and I’ve not yet read either of them. I don’t know why! Every single one of Flocks’ books intrigues me and I buy them whenever I see a new one published. So, I picked up Sleepwalking in Daylight, which is about a bored SAHM in a boring marriage, and her 17-year-old adopted daughter. Daughter discovers she is adopted and goes on a search for her birth mother, and Mother discovers she’s bored and goes on a search for coffee dates with handsome stranger. Sounds like the making of a great book, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to read this one.

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

I picked this book up at Jen Lancaster’s book signing because it was front and center, and because I am a sucker for any book about the college experience. I think I just want to see if my college experience was right on target with the fictional ones others write about. And while I didn’t know anyone in college named Celia, Bree, Sally or April, nor did I show up to college with a bottle of vodka in my suitcase, my parents did send me off with a case of Stroh’s Light (the 30-pack edition), so I’m thinking maybe my college experience and the book may have some common thread? And I did have a college roomie who pined for the guy she left behind but then she wised up, got rid of him, and had the time of her life. And it’s a good thing she did because she’s since seen him ‘round town and her now-husband and her kids all call him a big dork. So yep, that’s the reasoning behind why I’m excited to read Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan – definitely a book right up my alley! Except, I just checked out more about the book and realized it’s set at Smith College, which is an all-girl’s college, but hey, I went to an all-girls Catholic school in ninth grade, so maybe I can relate? We’ll see!

Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell

Of course, this is a must-read because 1.) Emily Giffin praised it, and 2.) Irene has written for People magazine so you know some of the fiction she writes has got to be bits of truth! Pieces is about Alice, a former New Yorker, who is suddenly displaced when her husband moves their family to CA … (hmm… this sounds vaguely like my life – insert Chicago / Scottsdale). There is an affair, tabloids (this is where the People magazine info may come in handy?), and the Sexiest Woman Alive. From all that, there’s got to be some Pieces of Happily Ever After right? I’m dying to find out!

The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch

The One That I Want is another that I’ve already reviewed but hey, Allison’s my friend, this is my blog and I’ll pimp if I wanna. Since I’ve already told everyone how I adore Allison and her books I’m going to instead share something very interesting that I’ve discovered about Allison’s characters. In Department of Lost & Found, the main character is Natalie Miller. In Time of My Life, the main character is Jillian Westfield. In The One That I Want, the main character is Tilly Farmer. Do you see a trend here? All of Allison’s characters have a Double L in their name, and so does Allison! Yep, I am sleuth-tastic, aren’t I? I asked Allison about this once, and I think she said it wasn’t intentional. Am dying to know her next character’s name! So yes, go out and pick up Allison’s latest, The One That I Want, and while you’re at it, get both of her others too! You will thank me.

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

I did crack this one open and am not stopping – The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen, which is about two totally different twins, is completely enthralling me for two reasons. No, I am not a twin, but I am an Irish Twin. My sister and I are 11-1/2 months apart, which means we are both the same age for 2 weeks every year. We were not that competitive growing up, and I am the older sibling, but there were some instances where she excelled and I did not. Take 8th grade and 7th grade. I didn’t make cheerleading. Take my Senior Prom. She went to MINE. I didn’t. So the theory behind The Opposite of Me very much intrigues me. The other reason is I went to college with two completely different twins, one of whom I am still very best friends with, the other with whom we have all been estranged from, including her own twin sister. It’s disheartening to think twin sisters could have a bond broken, and I’m so interested to see where this book and its story will take me.

Not Ready for Mom Jeans by Maureen Lipinski

Not Ready for Mom Jeans is the follow-up to Lipinski’s hilarious debut Bump in the Road. And it’s quite funny (to me anyway) that Maureen’s sequel came out at a time where it should be called, Not Ready for Maternity Jeans (Again!) as the books’ debut coincides with Maureen's second pregnancy. Before I moved, I had the pleasure to get together with Maureen and I can’t tell you how totally insecure I was – after all, I was picking her up in my MOM minivan and sure she was going to notice that I was sporting my very own mom jeans! Fortunately she was very cool on the down-low and didn’t cause a big scene on my blatant Mom-ness! Love and miss this girl! She’s a lot of fun and her books are a blast to read so check them out! Just don't get caught in your Mom jeans!

Trish Ryan’s A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances

I read and loved Ryan’s first memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not and am excited for this follow-up that has been called “a powerful inspiring read” which chronicles the first five years of her marriage. Trish writes in a spiritual and humorous way that may evoke the very best kind of goosebumps. I know from personal experience that she’s also an excellent backseat driver during really scary tornadoes and plays a mean game of, “If I were going on a picnic, I’d bring a …” all the way from A to Z! Giveaway coming to MaNiC MoMMy very soon!

Georgia’s Kitchen by Jenny Nelson

This one’s on my must-read list and while everyone knows I don’t know my way around my own kitchen, we all know I LOVE to eat! Georgia is not only a jilted chef, she’s also just been jilted by her fiancĂ©. And what’s an up-and-coming NY chef to do when life takes a turn for the worst? She heads to Italy to saturate herself in the finer things in life, which might be some fine wine, good food, and possibly a new man? This book definitely has the makings for the big screen in my opinion, and if only we could smell the pages! I’m starving just writing about it!

Get Lucky by Katherine Center

I’ve loved Katherine Center since her debut The Bright Side of Disaster and her pajama-clad cute “come-to-the-rescue” guy character whose name escapes me, but man, do I remember how he took hold of me in that book! And again, her writing in Everyone is Beautiful grabbed me and reminded me what it’s like to be a struggling young mother (well, I WAS young ONCE!). So when I heard her third novel, Get Lucky, was coming out, I knew I had to GET Lucky and get it! This is another one of my favorite types of books – a book about the complexity of the sister relationship, and also about the possibilities of pregnancy and babies. Many of my favorite things.

After You by Julie Buxbaum

I read about Julie Buxbaum’s first novel, The Opposite of Love, in Redbook and tore the sheet out, thinking, “this is a book I have GOT to read.” A week or so later, an email lands in my in box from Julie and I about freaked out. She got my name from Allison Winn Scotch (thank you Allison!) and Julie thought I might be interested in her book. I was shocked and flattered, and of course, read it, loved it and promoted it here on MaNiC MoMMy. Julie and I later had the chance to meet, and she’s since had another great book come out, After You. It’s about friendship and the lengths one will go to in order to honor that friendship when tragedy strikes. But it’s not a sad book, and there’s a very precocious 8-year-old at the center of the story that you will absolutely fall in love with! Also, Julie has a new blog with a really cool name and she writes about her darling little baby girl Elili and puts up pics, so go check it out too: Julie Has Writer’s Blog.

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Young Adult and I’ve got a few on my reading table that I’m dying to get to as well …

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’ve loved everything that Laurie Halse Anderson has written, and I think her debut was Speak. (Confirmed, and also, helloooo … did you know Speak was made into a movie starring Kristen Stewart in 2004? I’ve also read Twisted. What I love about Laurie’s books is that she writes so much like how her characters should sound, which obviously, that is how a writer should write, right? But I think it’s especially hard for an author to be authentic in the voice of a teen, but she always pulls it off, whether she’s writing as a teen boy struggling with his sexuality or a girl hiding a secret from everyone, even herself. Wintergirls is her latest, and I think it’s the perfect “chilling” book for me to check out poolside here in Scottsdale, mid-July when it’s 115 degrees out, don’t you?

Fall by Colin McAdam
Fall, by Colin McAdam may or may not be YA; I’ve yet to determine this but the first chapter wowed me! Quick and sparse detailed writing drew me in immediately, and I wanted to continue reading, but I am a faithful reader and can only read one book at a time, which probably is a crutch for me! Fall follows the story of Julius and Noel, senior-year roommates at an elite boarding school, and Julius’ girlfriend, Fall (love THAT name). It’s considered part love story and part mystery, and also, to me, seems like it’s a coming-of-age, but I guess I will have to just see about that!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I picked up If I Stay, just the other day. It’s a New York Times Bestseller, and USA Today said it "will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer’s" and even though I’ve never read Twilight I still bought it (love the Twilight movies though!). This story is about “memory, music, living, dying, loving” and I checked out the author’s acknowledgments and she said she listened to the song, “Falling Slowly” like 200 times while writing this book. I can relate to that (writing alongside a song that moves you), and can’t wait to read this book.

So, as you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me with plenty (PLENTY!) of awesome reading ahead of me! I hope this lengthy list has given you a great start with your summer reading, and if you have any other suggestions you’d like to offer, I would love to hear about them in the comments, because as far as I am concerned, forget about being too rich or too thin, you can NEVER have too many books in your library!

PeaCe uP!

~MaNiC MoMMy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I was called a Zoni for the first time today.

I got my drivers license.

But that's not the funny part.

The funny part was that I went in knowing I was going to falsify information when I filled out the application to get my Arizona drivers license.

Of course, I was going to lie about my weight.

I can't remember if when I got my very first license if I lied about that weight; I would hope that I didn't. I probably didn't. I was probably scared that I would go to jail, and there probably wasn't a need to lie about my weight. WAIT! There isn't a NEED to ever lie about weight in the first place. What kind of PERSON AM I?

Anyway, my Illinois license has a definite incorrect weight on it. It says 150 pounds. LIE LIE LIE LIE!

I was 150 pounds hmmmm... possibly, maybe at my wedding? I think at the very best at my success at Weight Watchers I was perhaps 162 or oh yeah, that time I met goal and then puked in Mr. Manic's car and ended up throwing up in my thong (last time I wore one) later that night where my dad helped me through the night (they were in town), yeah, I got to 158 that night. So, 150 on my Illinois drivers license was a definite LIE.

So, is it safe to say that we women have a penchant for exaggerating a bit in our favor when it comes to sharing our weights on drivers license? Come on, everyone, stop for a minute and take out your licenses -- look at them. Is that an accurate weight? Was it an accurate weight when you got your license?

Some of you may be lucky enough to live in a state where they do not require weights on the drivers license, like when I lived in Pennsylvania. Boy, did I jump for joy that day I went to the DMV to get that license and discovered I didn't need to share that 3-digit number with them!

And what's a cop gonna do when he pulls ya over? Handcuff you for telling a little fib? For shaving off a few pounds in your favor? If nothing else, it's a little inspiration to see a nice number on your license. Something to work toward, right?

So, when Mr. Manic came home the other day from getting his Arizona license and he told me that they don't expire for like 25 years, I had an idea. I thought, "Why not put a significant number on my license for my weight? A number that is meaningful to my family, a reminder that I am loved and cherished all day long, every day? An inspirational number? A number that our family loves? A number that means LOVE in our family?

And yes, I've talked about that number on this blog before and yes, that number is a number that there is no way I will ever attain it on the scale lest I chop off a limb or two, but HEY, if I can get that number on my license, how cool would THAT be? Even if it means defying the laws of Arizona, tampering with the truth, and downright lying on the application?

Because come on, only the skinny ones tell the truth!

So I did it.

I put down 143 at my weight. Because 143 is significant to our family and means I LOVE YOU. I(1) LOVE(4) YOU(3).

Yeah, pick yourselves off the floor now. It's only like 50 pounds from the truth or so. But it was the idea of the challenge of not having someone say, "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME ON THIS WEIGHT THING, RIGHT?"

After I wrote it down on the application, then I kinda got freaked, cuz I looked around at the people who take the apps. They looked intelligent! They looked like they would be able to see right through me! I sat in my chair and waited, hoping I would get like a really fat woman, or a dumb guy, or some Spanish speaking person (no offense to you bilingual readers, and I have no idea why a Spanish speaking person wouldn't know how to tell if I was really fat or not?).

When my number was called, I sucked in my gut and turned to meet my fate. I GOT A GUY! An older looking gentleman! Surely he would not challenge my weight on my application. I greeted him and smiled, sucking in my chubby cheeks along with my flabby gut, and trying to sit with very straight posture. "Think thin, Manic, think thin," was my mantra as he checked over my application.

"House or apartment?" he asked.

"Home." I answered.

SHIT! Wrong answer, and he looked up at me.

"House. Sorry."

I guess he could even tell we haven't made this house into a home yet.

He ran through the info and I tried to make a joke about never having to shovel snow again but then thought I should shut up because he could come back with something like, "Well, maybe if you shoveled more snow, you could lose some weight and actually weigh what you CLAIM to weigh fatass!"


Finally, he said, "Twenty bucks Steph."

He called me Steph!

Anyone who calls me Steph is a friend. I just really like when someone calls me Steph out of the blue. It's like they like me automatically. That, and Stephie.

So, I pay him, and he says, "You're a Zoni!"

And I bet in his mind he was thinking, "And you're a lying fatass too!"

Monday, June 14, 2010


So we're doing this thing. This living in Arizona. This is where I freaking live now. Wow. It's weird, definitely different, and obviously will take some getting used to. For instance, we don't have our own mailbox. We walk to a community mailbox, and if we get a package, there's a special key placed in our box and we take it out and use it to unlock a bigger box. The first time we got a package, I didn't know that I am supposed to leave the extra key IN the bigger box for the mailman to remove, so Diva and I tried and tried for like 15 minutes to yank the extra key out of the box. Finally, the neighbor kid came by with Tukey and I asked him, and he explained the system to us. There's so much to learn.

Of course, it's hot. It hasn't been unbearable. Yet. OK, maybe a couple of days it has been. Like the day we went shopping all day then got to the grocery store and my car wouldn't start. That's the day I had the nervous breakdown. And last week, well, you read about last week. I won't beat a dead horse. Cuz a dead horse is just smelly and there's too many flies buzzing around it, and well, it just smells ewww, can you imagine how a dead horse smells in the middle of the desert. Oh yeah, did I mention I live in the freaking desert now? Crazy.

The kids are doing INCREDIBLE. I couldn't have asked for (so far) better adjusted kids, and I'm so thankful for this. Maybe it's because Nana and Papa have been here for more than a week and have been totally awesome at keeping them happy and occupied. Maybe it's because each of them has made a little pal already. Maybe it's because they have this pool to jump into any time they start to get sad about missing friends back home?
Whatever it is, I'm so thankful that they are doing so well and that they're happy and that's gonna keep me sane through whatever curveballs come our way. We're setting up the house to make it ours. The previous owners left it DIRTY! I didn't realize how much of a neat freak I really am, but even my kids have been a bit disgusted by how they left this place. I mean, come on, we found a half-eaten box of Girl Scout cookies left in the high school boy's closet? And they weren't even Thin Mints! I have been CSI'ing the place and have been scrubbing so much that I swear I have lost fingerprints from all the chemicals and cleaning!

I've also been drinking a lot! Not to drink away the sorrows. Just because it's easy to work around the house all day long and then go outside and have a beer (new one you might wanna try: Michelob Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry!), or have a glass of wine. I need to get back into some form of exercise. Walking and yoga. I know yoga will calm my center, make me feel more at peace with all the changes. I also want to get focused on writing again. REALLY need to find my way back to writing. And I have a lot of reading to do. I should be thanking my lucky stars that I will have time to do all this stuff now, with not much of a social calendar!

But really, things are good. Mr. Manic is happy to be back in an office, and not working from the dining room or in my old office. I have a great beautiful office in our new home here (with yellow walls!), our house is beautiful, the sun is always shining. The kids are happy, the boys are always bickering. It's typical stuff. We are all healthy. Things are just different. Thanks to all my friends who keep calling and checking in on me, and thanks to you all who keep checking in here on this ole blog, and who are kind enough to leave a comment to cheer me up, to offer me suggestions and advice on moving, to say a word of encouragement, from those of you who know what it's like, from those of you who have been through this before. It's so encouraging to hear from you, I can't even begin to tell you. So thank you is all I can say. It's never enough, but I hope it'll do.

All is well, and I'm still PeaCiNG uP!

~MaNiC MoMMy

Friday, June 11, 2010


I have been sad for the past two days. I think it's finally hitting me that I live here and the newness of the house is over and now it's really real. There are too many good looking people around here, and too many people that I don't know and the thought of having to meet people is overwhelming and everything I have to do is overwhelming, even the little shit. There's just too much to do and think about and I'm so thankful my parents are here to take care of me for two weeks although I will probably have a nervous breakdown when they leave, although I shouldn't write that cuz mom's gonna read that and it'll keep her up for weeks in the middle of the night I am sure.

I just don't know what is the matter with me? Mr. Manic goes to work, comes home, like there's nothing wrong, and I'm here, dealing with trying to figure out our new lives; our freaking minivan broke down the first week (this week!) and thank God we had a nice neighbor and my parents were here to help or I would be up shit's creek.

I just feel lost. And this is so not me. I don't like feeling this way. I want to stop feeling this way. No amount of sunshine can help me from not missing my friends back home. From being able to call anyone up and say, "Hey, let's go for a walk, or go to the pool, or take a walk to Naperville Riverwalk, or go to Starbucks."

I have no one but my kids right now. I should be feeling thankful and blessed, but right now I am just lonely and sad. I know it'll pass, and I'll look back and wonder how could I have felt this way, but this is the way I'm feeling NOW, and I think it's worth noting.

Monday, June 07, 2010


Not quite sure what day it is, but know that it's about 104 degrees, and that my family is safe, secure and quite happily settling into our new home. Internet is set up, kind of, and we are figuring things out. Will post about the whirlwind 10 days soon! Thanks for all the positive thoughts and energy here and on Facebook!

PeaCe uP!

~MaNiC MoMMy!