Monday, May 30, 2011

End of the Month Recap & More Book Giveaways Are Coming!

Well, the end of May brings about a lot of stuff for us. This past Sunday marked our One Year anniversary of us living in Arizona. We DID it. It’s hard to believe we’ve lived here one whole year. I can’t say the day past without emotion, but I don’t think I’m going to harbor on it now. One thing I’ve learned is that this blog is no longer a place where I lay it all out there any longer, but more of a place to share my love for books and authors with you all and a tidbit here and there of some glimpses of what’s going on in my life, not everything anymore, like in the old days when I OVERSHARED.

This past Sunday was also Mr. MaNiC’s and my 18th wedding anniversary. People say that marriage is hard work, and I guess that some of the stuff we’ve been through has been difficult but I know most couples have it way harder than we do. I’ve trusted him enough to go from Chicago to Philly with him. And from Philly to Chicago with him. And from Chicago to Scottsdale with him. And he’s taken care of the family so far, and I haven’t wanted to kill him THAT many times, so it’s all good. : ) Really, it is all good. Or I wouldn’t be here.

School’s out. ALREADY. And I did almost want to kill the kiddies already on Friday with them being a bit ungrateful. OMG. They were just being ENTITLED. It’s like “COME ON! We’ve got all summer. We don’t have to do EVERYTHING the minute school gets out!” I took a deep breath and things will be on track now. I’m excited to have this time with them.

Coming up in the next few days that will take us into a couple of weeks, I’m going to be kicking off a JUNE BLAST-O-BOOKS! Here’s a list of some of the books you can expect to find here being featured and given away! So please come back to read about them and you can also win them, much like you had chances to win them in March during the March Madness giveaway, but on a smaller scale, and no grand prize winner, but still, fun, great reads for you to learn about and possibly win! Here’s the list that I have so far, and there may be more:

Got Milf? The Mordern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great, and Rocking a Minivan by Sarah Maizes

Parents Behaving Badly by Scott Gummer

Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

Where’s My Wand? by Eric Poole

Skinny by Diana Spechler

Priceless by Nicole Richie (yep, THAT Nicole Richie)

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

A Pug’s Tale by Allison Pace

The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice

Momfriends by Ariella Papa

Lastly, I’ve got some pictures of the kitchen re-do. Remember when I showed you the ugliest wallpaper in the world and asked for your opinions on paint color? Well, I DECIDED! What do you think? If you have a negative opinion, please don’t share. Hahah, no really, if you hate it, go ahead and tell me, I can take it!

Here is the old kitchen:

And here's what it looks like now:

 The beige color on the wall with the white pantry door is completely different than the beige color over the red here. But it matches pretty good! I love how the red over the arch looks. So glad the wallpaper is GONE! There used to be wallpaper where the pantry door is and all over where the red is too.
 I had the painting already and wanted to put it up somewhere. It had been in our living room but looks better here. I am still not opposed to something larger to fill up the space on this wall.

 I love that wire decor thingamagig I had placed up on the high wall. From World Market and CHEAP! The whole wall above the windows used to be covered in wallpaper. Ewww.
 Here's a little table I found at Home Goods -- isn't it adorable? A great place to throw JUNK!
So that's IT for our home improvement stuff for a while, at least until we get rid of what we like to call our '70s porn carpet which is in our family room. Come back in a couple days and I'll start doing the reviews/features/giveaways for all the great books I mentioned above! And Happy Almost June to you all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Walt Disney World with Kids 2011

Congrats to Ally of Little Squirts blog who has won the copy of Walt Disney World with Kids! Please email me with your full name and address so we can send you your book! Thanks!

Walt Disney World with Kids by Kim Wright Wiley

Hi everyone! I have some great books coming up and am going to be doing a June Blast-O-Books where for about 10 days straight it’s going to be book giveaways galore, so be ready for that! Also, please check the previous giveaways for The Last Letter, The First Husband and Here, Home, Hope as these books have not been claimed yet!

In the meantime, who loves DISNEY!?!?!? Not sure if many of you know that I was born in Tampa and practically lived at Disney World when I was younger, back when all they had there was a castle and three-quarters of the characters didn’t exist!

Yep, there was just Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Cinderella and Donald when I was a kid! Hahah. Most of you know my author pal Kim Wright, who wrote the amazing Love in Mid Air. She is also a very talented travel author who writes and loves all things Disney! Today, I turn the blog over to her and she’s going to share some new stuff about WDW with you all, AND we’ve got a book offer for you as well! …

So here's Kim to share some Disney stuff with you all!

Walt Disney World really knows how to keep people coming back....they're constantly adding new stuff and updating attractions. I've been writing about Disney for 26 years, each year updating my travel guide Walt Disney World With Kids, and even though I stopped counting after 100 visits, I have to admit that Disney even manages to keep me on my toes!

On a recent press trip they debuted two new attractions, both of which were pretty darn amazing, and which I think are going to be huge hits.

STAR TOURS 3-D: The completely revamped Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios has two great things going for it. One, they've created not just one new story line, but 54 of them. Well, actually it's a sort of mix and match story line with multiple beginnings, endings, and middles, which means they can be combined in 54 different ways. But you're always flying with C3P0 and R2D2 to one of the spots featured in the movies and the special effects are always amazing. That's partly due to the second great thing, which is the 3-D technology. Not only does it make you feel like you're really flying, but the 3-D effects have actually cut down on the tendency of the ride to give people motion sickness. (That was one of the few objections Disney guests had to the old ride. Simulated action can be tougher to take than real action and some people were tossing their intergalactic cookies.)

Anyway, it's back, more fun than ever, and the 40-inch height requirement means most kids are welcome aboard. I predict the multiple story line is going to be a big draw since lots of people will want to ride more than once. You know how obsessive Star Tours fans can be... the night before the opening they were lined up sleeping on the sidewalks outside of Hollywood Studios, like they were waiting for a rock concert! Anyway, if the line is longer than 30 minutes, use FASTPASS.

WILD AFRICA TREK: If you love animals and you love Kilimanjaro Safaris at the Animal Kingdom, you'll go gorilla over this. The Wild Africa Trek debuted a few months ago and I suspect Disney thought the $189 per person ticket price would make this an attraction for VIPs only. Surprise, surprise... everyone loves it so much the tours are overbooked and they're going from four tours a day to twelve, starting in June.

What makes it so hot? For starters, it's a 3-hour tour for anyone over the age of 8 and it gives you lots more chances to get lots closer to the animals. You walk on trails that weave around the animal compounds with your knowledgeable guides and get to walk over a swinging suspension bridge 50 feet above a river full of napping crocodiles. This "creek of crocs" part is really exciting and even though it's not really dangerous - you're tethered in with a bungee and the bridge is only Disney-designed to look as if it's creaky and broken - it does get your heart beating faster. Your walking tour is followed by a VIP safari in a special truck and a truly delicious lunch that's catered to your viewing platform that's located right in the middle of the savannah with the animals all around you.

I think the Trek is proving so popular because the trainers take plenty of pictures for you and answer all your questions in complete detail which make the trip both memorable and educational. It's the perfect basis for a school project and will help parents feel a lot less guilty if they've taken the kids out of school for the Disney trip. (For example, did you know a group of hippos are called a "bloat"? Neither did I.) Advance reservations are a must: Call (407) WDW-TOUR for more details.

To enter to win Kim’s amazing book, Walt Disney World with Kids 2011, tell me if you’ve taken the kids to Disney, and what was your favorite part of the trip? When we went, I LOVED the Buzz Lightyear Ride, and The Bug’s Life Show, but was TERRIFIED of Lilo and Stitch! That one was SCARY!!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Happy Friday Everyone!

You know what that means by now, don't you?

You can still enter to win The First Husband, which is an awesome book by the talented and fabulous author, Laura Dave, and in honor of FIVE DOLLAR FUN FACT FRIDAY, let's ask a question about MY First Husband, shall we?

The dude has been my First Husband for almost EIGHTEEN freakin' years, and as he likes to say, it's CHEAPER TO KEEP HER, so we'll probably make it a few more years! Turns out we'll be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary on May 29th, which also happens to be our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY since we moved out to the desert.

The big joke last year was that he bought me a one-way ticket to the middle of nowhere.

I'm still with him so I must love him. And we made it through what was probably the most challenging year of our lives, so, there's that.

Anyway, here's today's FIVE DOLLAR FUN FACT FRIDAY question for you all ...

And please, no friends or family may answer this question cuz you'll ruin it for everyone ...

Answer this question correctly and I'll send you a crisp Five Dollar bill for you to use ANY WAY YOU'D like! Starbucks, Five-dollar footlong at Subway, Half a movie ticket, a gallon of gas, your choice!

I know! Too good to be true, right???

Here's the question, the suspense is killing you, right?

What is MY HUSBAND's middle name? You each get THREE guesses per your ONE comment!


And good luck!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Night Out With Jen! As in Lancaster.

As promised, here is the winning Haiku from the recent contest to win IF YOU WERE HERE, Jen Lancaster's first novel. It was chosen for the knowledge of Jen Lancaster's brood at home. Also Jen's friends, Tracey and Gina, had input on this Haiku being the winner. Congrats to Crystal717 for winning a personalized copy of IF YOU WERE HERE.

You guys have been so great about hanging out here and being supportive, so I'm trying to do as much as I can to give back a little wherever I can - I purchased an extra copy of the book and randomly chose another winner. That winner is Ally N. who will also receive a book that Jen also personalized.

Here is Crystal's winning Haiku:

Jen, Queen of the house

Loki, Libby, Maisy, Fletch

House full of madness

So, Ally and Crystal, please email me with your full name and address - I have your personalized books signed by Jen herself tonight waiting for you, and if you follow me on Facebook, you probably know I'm dying to go back to the post office so I can jam to some of the tunes they're always playing there!

Those of you who have entered other book giveaways, the winners of The Baby Planner and Here, Hope, Home have not yet come forward. Please check back to see if your name is at the top of those blog posts and contact me at so you can receive your book. Would love to give those winners their books! Thanks!

And thanks to Jen tonight for a great reading/signing in Phoenix! She is one of my top five authors and is on my SHELF OF FAME in my office. Love her, love her humor, love her books! I'm just really sorry that I gave away a really big plot point of the book during the Q&A tonight! My bad! I hope she's gonna find it in her heart to forgive me.

Also, DO NOT FORGET to enter to win The First Husband by Laura Dave; in fact, CLICK HERE AND GO THERE NOW!! Don't forget to check back on Friday for FIVE DOLLAR FUN FACT FRIDAY. I promise this one for sure is gonna stump you all! And Heidi, I will send you your five bucks you won from guessing Barry Manilow soon! I've been low on the funds! : )

Thanks everyone for being such awesome readers!

PeaCe uP!
~MaNiC MoMMy

Monday, May 16, 2011


Congratulations to JEN R. who has NO TATTOOS but might consider a shooting star on the top of her foot has won the copy of THE FIRST HUSBAND! Please email me your full name and address so you can receive your book!

Laura Dave’s third book hit the shelves last week and it’s one of my favorite books, because Laura’s one of my favorite authors, and she can’t write ‘em fast enough. Laura was so generous in answering a few questions about The First Husband, and she’s even offered to give away ANOTHER copy here on MaNiC MoMMy (she gave away TWO sets of ALL her books in March – did you MISS THAT?). Seriously, she is that great!

Laura’s the type of author who makes you fall in love with all of her characters. They’re so real and likeable, even the ones you’re not quite sure you’re supposed to like. Here’s my conversation with her about The First Husband. Check it out and then leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy! Thanks Laura! You ROCK!

MaNiC: Tell me about Roman Holiday - is it really a favorite movie of yours? Has bad stuff happened to you when you watch it? I’ve never seen it? Should I? Of course, I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life or Gone with the Wind either! (I know, isn’t that like a cardinal sin!)

Laura: It is a cardinal sin! Mostly because you are missing out on serious enjoyment. Roman Holiday is a great movie—starring Audrey Hepburn (at her loveable best) as a trapped Princess eager to experience the real world. And, even though Audrey plays royalty, her desire to live life on her terms is highly relatable. And don’t even get me started on Gregory Peck. Wow.

As for my real-life bad luck movie? That would be All The Presidents Men. I love that movie—and my experience with it bringing me bad luck (and no longer watching it due to a misplaced superstition! Don’t judge me!) was what inspired my giving Annie a bad luck movie. Because—like Annie—as much as I love the movie, I will run out of the room if ever it comes on.

MM: Why did you feel the need to include the part in the book about the meeting of Caleb and Annie in the bar? And their attraction? I thought that was interesting but wasn’t sure what it was all about? Was that to trick the reader to think that maybe Annie would forget about both Griffin and Nick?

Laura: For me, the Caleb moment spoke to Annie’s ultimate psychological battle. Because of Annie’s past (her less-than-dependable mom/her nomadic childhood), she struggles to be present—both for herself, and the people who love her—and has organized her life so she can always escape in the name of something better being out there. There is always something exhilarating waiting for her just around the corner—in a new country, in a new part of the world. And Caleb represents the latest possibility.

She has a choice when they meet: she can choose something new and shiny all over again. Or she can choose someone (I won’t say whether I speak of Griffin or Nick, for those who haven’t read yet) who just may be everything.

MM: What I LOVED about The First Husband (among other things of course) is that I truly, TRULY didn’t know until the very end who she would end up with, and I do feel the reader is very conflicted as to who she would be with. Although I knew who I wanted to be with from the get-go!

Laura: Thank you! I’m so pleased to hear that. Early readers keep telling me that they really didn’t know what Annie was going to do, which makes me so happy to hear. I wanted her to have two viable choices. Griffin and Nick represent two sides of what Annie hopes for. But ultimately she has to choose—which side to be true to in herself. (As a side-note, I was happy with the choice she made too.)

MM: Why did you choose an anchor tattoo for Gia and Griffin? If Griffin and Annie were to get matching tattoos, what do you think they would get, and where? Also, do you think Annie is the type of person who would request that Griffin get his anchor tattoo removed?

Laura: That is a great question. It was actually a hand tattoo in the first draft (a tattoo of the hand of hamsa!), but that never felt precisely right to me. So much of Griffin’s life is anchored—anchored to his hometown, anchored to his family, anchored to his passion for his work—that I felt like an anchor was a tattoo choice he’d make.

Plus, Griffin’s ex-girlfriend Gia is both literally and metaphorically Griffin’s anchor. So much so that she almost sinks Griffin and Annie.

Even considering that, Annie wouldn’t ever ask Griffin to have his tattoo removed. It is an important piece of who he is.

But I think if Annie was going to brave it and get a tattoo with Griffin, she would suggest the opposite of an anchor for them. What’s the opposite? Maybe she’d pick a kite or a plane. Something that represents being set free.

MM: Did Jesse remind you of Uncle Jesse from Full House? ; )

Laura: That is hilarious! No, but how cute was John Stamos in his wedding episode? I know too much of that episode by heart to not be a little ashamed of it.

MM: Do you think Gia may ever show up in another book, or are these characters done in your mind? Or how about Nick? They’re all happily ever after?

Laura: I usually leave my characters in the world they’ve inhabited, but I have gotten such a phenomenal response to Annie’s best friend, Jordan, that I think she has the best shot of having her own story told. I try to never say never. So, yes, Jordan and her stepdaughter Sasha may very well appear in another book one of these days.

MM: Does your fiancé have any of the qualities that either Nick or Griffin possess? I know you live in LA, and also that your fiancé is in the TV industry. Nick is in movies and lives in LA … any connection between the two?

Laura: My fiancé, Josh, would definitely say there is. He thinks he’s Nick and Griffin and every other character, including Annie! I’m just kidding (mostly).

But I do recognize there are some outward similarities between Nick and Josh: Josh is a screenwriter (he’s written for a bunch of TV shows including The West Wing and, currently, Fringe, which has totally turned me into a Sci-Fi geek, I’m proud to say). So he certainly has a work life that mirrors Nick’s. But, in reality, he has more in common with Griffin. He has Griffin’s sweetness. And he’s a great cook.

MM: What town did you design Williamsburg (see, I can’t even remember what town it is either, just like the characters in the book!) from? Would you ever survive in a town like that? And would you go there for your husband?

Laura: I lived in western Massachusetts for a year in my early twenties and I loved the idea of setting a novel there: in a place that on the surface is cold and difficult (I mean very cold!), but despite its challenges, it is stunningly special at its core.

As the writing progressed, I took needed narrative liberties, but I loosely designed Williamsburg on the real town of Williamsburg, which was about twenty minutes from where I lived. My future sister-in-law is a professor now at Mt. Holyoake, which gives me a great reason to go back to western Massachusetts and visit. I still have such a fondness for it, and like to imagine Annie living her life there.

MM: Thanks so much Laura! And for you guys out there who would like a chance to win The First Husband, since Laura’s character Griffin has a tattoo, let me ask you this – Do you have a tattoo, and if so, what kind? If you DON’T have a tattoo, what kind would you get/what would it say/what symbol would it be, and where would you get it?


Friday, May 13, 2011

IF YOU WERE HERE by Jen Lancaster - a Haiku CONTEST!

IF YOU WERE HERE by Jen Lancaster

So sorry that Blogger was sucking and down for like four days so here's the post for today ...

And instead of a Five Dollar Fun Fact Friday for you today (not to worry, I’ve got a good one for you next week!), I decided to do something different for you!

Since so many of you found me through the fabulous Jen Lancaster, I wanted to do something a little special for you guys. Many of you know she’s on tour this month for her new NOVEL, If You Were Here, which is OFFICIALLY A New York Times BESTSELLER! YAY JEN! … and she’s coming to Phoenix on Tuesday. More YAYAYAYAY!

Because NO ONE comes to the desert, which I don’t know why, possibly cuz we’re on the EDGE of the FREAKIN’ earth, and it’s a freakin’ OVEN here four months out of the year, it’s really quite beautiful otherwise...

But anyway, I will get to see Jen on Tuesday, and she has PROMISED me she will personally sign a book for one of you. (Oh yes she did – go read it on Twitter.) She’s no longer mad at me for when I did this to her at her MY FAIR LAZY SIGNING, even though if you can tell, she thought I was a total Asshat and was feeling quite stabby toward me after this episode! Hahah

View Video HERE

Anyway, I don’t know if I will get her to write anything more than Dear _____ Congrats, Love Jen, but I thought to make this fun, I want you to write a haiku and I’ll pick the BEST one and THAT ONE will be the one to win.

Or maybe I’ll pick the best five and let JEN pick the one that makes her laugh most. Or maybe I’ll have Jen’s BFFs choose the winner if they have time (because I’m friends with them on FB too). I’ll figure something out, but I thought this would be TOTALLY fun, right?

You all know how a haiku goes?



I have just made some of my old English and Creative Writing teachers very upset with me ...

SOOOOOO, thank you to JENN3128 for pointing out my GLARING faux pas on this one. I am really ashamed! For those of you who already entered, I'll keep yours the way you wrote them, and for anyone new, whichever way you feel most comfortable creating your haiku, go ahead and do it the way you want. (Make them clever though!)
So, this haiku works if you say “inspire” really fast and don’t say it like it’s three syllables, right?

Now, to enter to win a signed copy of Jen’s IF YOU WERE HERE, make up your own haiku for Jen to sign in your book (maybe, if the line's not too long!) PS, you can’t include “Jenny Lancaster” in YOUR haiku cuz I used that already! Sorry!

Include YOUR NAME as you would like her to WRITE IT IN YOUR BOOK if you win. If you don’t include YOUR NAME how you want Jen to sign your book if she were to sign it EXACTLY, then you can’t be entered, no matter how funny or creative your haiku is. And who knows, if I’m feeling really generous, maybe I’ll choose two of you! You’ve got to enter by Tuesday sometime because I’ll be seeing Jen on Tuesday evening! HURRY!


Because you guys have certainly been awesome for coming back here to read my blog all the time!

Check out the amazing and hilarious book trailer for IF YOU WERE HERE HERE! If you ever loved ANY movie by John Hughes, you will laugh your head off!

PeaCe uP!

MaNiC Style!

Seven syllables
Five syllables
Seven syllables

So, here’s my example:

Your words inspire every day
Jenny Lancaster
Oh Funny Chicago Girl

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Winner Announced!
Congratulations to Karen ktmixon315
You have won a copy of The Baby Planner!
Please email me your full name and address and I'll get a copy sent to you!

It's book giveaway time again, but, some blog-house cleaning stuff too!

First of all, I hope all of you moms out there had a nice mother’s day and hope all you daughters out there spent some time with your moms.

*The winners of The Last Letter and Here, Hope, Home have been announced on those posts, so please check over there to see if you have won!

*Last week’s Five Dollar Friday Fun Fact was a joke – you guys guessed it WAAAAY to easily. I promise this week’s is gonna be a toughie so make sure to check back for it!

*I caught TWO showings of Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed this weekend and it was fabulous! If you are a fan of Emily Giffin or awesome movies or BOTH, you MUST go see this amazing movie! It’s a great flick and with some fabulous acting, great music, a wonderful story – you’ll love it! It sets things up perfectly for the sequel too, Something Blue, which everyone is rooting for to be made! STAY through the credits, there is a sneak peek!

And guess what? I do have another book to give away, so, here it is, coming your way, and believe me, I wish they had Baby Planners when I was pregnant three times in four years!

The Baby Planner by Josie Brown

The Nanny Diaries meets The Wedding Planner in this smart, dishy novel from the author of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives—featuring a woman who runs San Francisco’s premier baby planning company and the mommies-to-be who seek out her services.
Katie Johnson may make her living consulting with new moms on the latest greatest baby gadgets no parent should be without, or which mommy meet-ups are the most socially desirable, or whether melon truly is the new black, but the success of her marriage to her husband, Alex, depends on controlling her own urges toward motherhood.

He's adamant that they stay childless. Sure, Katie understands that he's upset over the fact that his out-of-town ex-wife rarely lets him see their ten-year-old son, Peter. But living vicariously through her anxious clients and her twin sisters' precocious children only makes Katie resent his stance more deeply.

While helping a new client—Seth Harris, a high tech entrepreneur who must raise Sadie, his newborn daughter, as a single parent after the tragic death of his wife in childbirth—maneuver the bittersweet journey from mourning husband and reticent father to loving dad, Katie’s own ideals about love, marriage, and motherhood are put to the test as she learns ones very important lesson about family: How we nurture is the true nature of love.

To enter to win a copy of The Baby Planner: tell me something you either like or cannot stand about babies. Actually, I like the idea of something you CANNOT stand about babies better. That sounds more fun!

What I can’t stand about babies is when a mom is holding one and the baby is crying and CLEARLY it needs to eat or needs its pacifier and the mom is DOING NOTHING to calm the baby down and I know FOR SURE that if I held that baby, I could TOTALLY get it to stop crying, because I HAVE THE BABY TOUCH, but if I’m in like Target or something, I can’t exactly say to the woman, “Here, give me your baby, I will shut that little darling up.” But believe me, I have wanted to. And I mean this in the nicest way possible, like I would love that child and make it feel peaceful in a matter of seconds when its own mother is just shopping around NOT EVEN PAYING attention to her poor little WAILING CRYING BABY!

OK, your turn!

Thank you to Gallery Books for this promotion. U.S. and Canadian residents only please.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day Memories

I wrote this essay a long time ago, May, 2003, and I try to share it on the blog every Mother's Day. I cherish my children so very much and am so thankful for them.

On the morning of one of my best Mother's Days, I was greeted by a glorious sound that was rare in a house with three kids. That sound - or lack thereof - was silence. I had slept in, undisturbed by footsteps padding across the floor, uninterrupted in a sleep much needed. I awoke refreshed and ready to greet my children, who had already been fed and clothed by their father.

That Mother's Day, I did not lift a finger to assist my children unless I chose to do so. If someone asked for juice, Daddy stepped in and said, "I'll get it." I didn't change a diaper; I didn't make sandwiches and I didn't wipe noses. I napped, read a whole chapter in a book, showered leisurely and gave myself a manicure.

Later, we all went to the park and the kids picked dandelions and presented them to me as if I were a queen and the flowers had been delicately dipped in gold. We ate double-scoop ice cream cones with (can you believe it?) no calories. My husband cooked dinner, did the dishes, bathed the kids, put them to bed and gave me a foot massage. The only thing I had to do that day was to love my kids. It was a beautiful, beautiful day, one I will remember as long as I live.

Fast-forward to the next Mother's Day. At 5 a.m., I woke up to the sound of my daughter calling for me. She was crying, feverish and sweaty. I was exhausted from having been up most of the night with her baby brother, who had also spiked a fever, and I was not ready to start the day. My oldest son had been sick earlier that week, so I knew it was only a matter of time before the virus swept through all of the children, but did it have to strike that day, the most revered holiday for moms? Yep, it did.

By noon I was in a frenzy, checking temperatures, doling out Tylenol and dampening cloths to cool warm foreheads. I changed diapers, held and rocked children, offered juice to keep them from dehydrating, and tried to keep them as comfortable as possible. We watched Barney and Mary-Kate and Ashley videos until I almost felt sick. I didn't shower or eat, and I don't even think I stopped to brush my teeth. I didn't take a moment for myself all day. It was Mother's Day, after all, and I was working around the clock to be the best mother I could be. It was a miserable day and I fell into bed exhausted only to hear my daughter call for me minutes later.

"What?" I asked as kindly as I could when I entered her room.

"I feel lots better. Thanks for taking care of me."

That short exchange of words turned out to be the absolute best Mother's Day gift I could have ever hoped for - the acknowledgment that I was taking good care of my children and that I was appreciated.

I think back to those two Mother's Days and realize what it's all about, being a mommy. It's having someone love you and depend on you so much that no one else will do. While the first Mother's Day was a wonderful, diaper- and whine-free day, the next Mother's Day put everything into perspective.

If it weren't for my children, I would not have the privilege of celebrating Mother's Day. So, when another Mom's Day comes around and the children need me for whatever reason, I know this is why I am here, why I have been granted the gift of motherhood.

Because it is a gift, and I will cherish even the days when I feel exhausted, unappreciated and ready to throw in the towel. I will remember that my children need me and that what I am doing is the most respectable, amazing, and wonderful job anyone can have.

May your Mother's Day bring you mountains of joy from your little ones, and may you cherish every moment that passes between you. Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Five Dollar Fun Fact Friday!

I almost forgot it's Five Dollar Friday Fun Fact already! Where the heck do the weeks go!?

To play Five Dollar Friday Fun Fact, I ask a random question and you answer it in the comment section. Most of the time you get one guess unless I announce later in the comment thread that you get more guesses. The first one with the right answer will win five bucks from me.

This is a simple and fun way to win $5 which will buy you half a movie ticket (GO SEE SOMETHING BORROWED IN THEATERS TODAY WHICH IS THE MOVIE ADAPTATION BY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR EMILY GIFFIN!). Five dollars will also buy you a five-dollar footlong from Subway, a full tank of gas with change to spare, a bag of chips and a pop, or a trenta iced coffee!

Anyway, this one should be kinda easy, well, easier than the last one, maybe, we'll see. Here's the question:

When I was in sixth grade my dad took me to see what I am pretty sure was my first concert. I also saw this same performer in college when I took my parents to see him again. Who is this performer? He is still performing today. Most of you would probably not be that excited to see him perform or think his music is fantabulous, but I "smile" every time I hear his songs!

PS--NONE of my family or close friends are allowed to guess this answer!!!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

THE LAST LETTER by Kathleen Shoop

Congratulations to:
You have won a copy of The Last Letter!
Please email me your full name and mailing address and we'll get you a copy! Congrats!

Yep, you've got it right, another book for you my friends! But first, check back on Fly Away Home and Here, Hope, Home to see if you've won those books! And then, check out ...

Book: The Last Letter

Author: Kathleen Shoop
It’s time to give away another book so how about if we give away one that’s really close to my heart. This one is of the historical fiction genre, which I don’t usually gravitate toward, but I had the immense pleasure of copy-editing it for Kathleen Shoop, the author! I loved collaborating with Kathleen on this book AND discovering that I really do enjoy this genre!

I fell in love with Kathleen’s characters from the get-go! If any of you ever watched and loved Little House on the Prairie, you’ll totally relate to The Last Letter. Reading this book is like going back to your younger years when you would sit in front of the TV glued to Michael Landon, Laura, and crew and wait week after week to see what would happen, although The Last Letter offers so much more than what went on in that little log cabin of the Ingalls and the surrounding prairie land.

The Last Letter is like Little House on the Prairie on steroids in the best possible way! You’ve got infidelity, passion, friendship, love, drug abuse, natural disasters, all in a land of destitute and uncertainty. Page after page, The Last Letter offers heart-racing scenarios in a land of drama and turmoil. And in the center of it all is a strong-willed woman trying to do the best to hold her family together.

The Last Letter was inspired from real love letters written by the author’s great, great grandmother to her husband, Frank. Interestingly, the author chose to keep the main character’s names the same, along with some of the characteristics of her relatives.

Here’s the book blurb:
Katherine wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter… Katherine Arthur's dying mother arrives on her doorstep, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live off the land was the last thing Jeanie Arthur had wanted, but she would do her best to make a go of it. For Jeanie's husband Frank it had been a world of opportunity. Dreaming, lazy Frank. But, it was a society of uncertainty—a domain of natural disasters, temptation, hatred, even death. Ten-year-old Katherine had loved her mother fiercely, put her trust in her completely, but when there was no other choice, and Jeanie resorted to extreme measures on the prairie to save her family, she tore Katherine’s world apart. Now, seventeen years later, Katherine has found the truth--she has discovered the last letter. After years of anger, can Katherine find it in her heart to understand why her mother made the decisions that changed them all? Can she forgive and finally begin to heal before it’s too late? The Last Letter is the novel for every daughter who thinks she knows her mother's story.

And I always like to give you all an EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK.

Since the book we’re giving away is called The Last Letter, tell me if you keep old letters? I have all my old letters from my old boyfriends (all three of them!). In fact, while cleaning out my office the other day, I found some from a guy I am now Facebook friends with who I met in Daytona Beach when I was 12! I Facebooked him to tell him I found them and he told me that HE still has the letters I wrote him! They are dated 1982, and I’m sure we corresponded all the way through the time until I met my husband! I was a letter writer!

What about you? To enter to win this book, tell me if you keep letters? (leave an identifying name or email so I can contact you if you win!)

And isn’t it so sad that the art of letter writing no longer exists?

Thanks to BooksparksPR for offering The Last Letter as a giveaway!