Monday, June 29, 2009


I buy my kids a lot of crap. Not crap, but we'll be out and just get an ice cream cone for the hell of it, or if we're at the pool and they want a snack, well, I'll buy 'em a snack. And we go to the movies, out to lunch, etc. etc. and yeah, it adds up. A lot.

So, I'm trying a money experiment with them and decided to give them a set amount of cash each Monday in which they will be responsible for using that money for the activities we do. If we go to the movies, they pay. If they want popcorn or candy or pop, they pay. If we go to Subway for lunch, they pay. They need to start realizing that a $5 footlong doesn't cost five dollars if you add bacon and extra cheese.

So I asked Mr. Manic how much he thinks I should give them each week (and I'm talking like a Monday through Friday deal).

How much would you think would be appropriate for all the weeks' activities - snacks, movies, bowling, pool junk, etc. Keep in mind I like to get them out of the house SOMEWHERE at least part of each day. Or maybe 3-4 days of the week. We don't do camps or other activities and the only thing we do all summer long is the pool.

So, how much? I asked Mr. Manic and he said, without another thought, "Ten bucks."

I laughed in his face. He has no clue. It costs that much to see a movie. Boy, we'd have a fun, fun week wouldn't we?

So, suffice it to say, I didn't settle on $10, but I didn't go crazy like $50 or anything like that.

But now they have their own money for this week and we're going to see how it goes. I suggested we go to TCBY's for some ice cream, cuz I wanted some ice cream. Diva and Tukey brought some of their money. AJers didn't want to. So, Diva, Tukey and I all bought our own ice cream with our own money, while AJers had a sample taste and then a couple of bites of my white chocolate mousse in a chocolate-and-sprinkled-covered waffle cone.

I think this is a good lesson for them to know how much money is actually spent ON THEM and also a good lesson in saving money. What do you guys think?

Oh, and please, don't forget to pop on over to This Post for a shot at winning a packet of five awesome books! Four of you will win books by authors such as Julie Buxbaum, Laura, Dave, Kristina Riggle, Maureen Lipinski, and more! Go there now to enter!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FRee BooKS: THe DiVoRCe PaRTY, THe oPPoSiTe oF LoVe, aND MoRe!

So, if you’ve come by here once or twice, you obviously know I have a passion for books and for authors, and that I would rather stock my closet with books than with shoes or handbags. I just love everything about a great author and her book (some men authors too, but we’re focusing on the ladies here!)

I’ve have RAVED about both Julie Buxbaum and Laura Dave on my blog and on – they are incredible writers and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their books.

Here’s what I first wrote about Julie Buxbaum’s The Opposite of Love when it came out in hardcover: The Opposite of Love.

And you can read the interview here: INTERVIEW.

And here’s what I had to say about Laura Dave’s books: INTERVIEW (Note: You may ALSO enter THIS contest too to win The Divorce Party!)

So, these incredibly talented authors would like me to GIVE YOU THEIR BOOKS! And who am I to deny them their right to GIVE YOU THEIR BOOKS?

So yep, it’s another contest on Manic Mommy where you can win some great books. But there’s MORE!

You’ll want to check out Maureen Lipinski’s debut novel called A Bump in the Road, which is a book after my own heart! You guessed it, a mommy pregnancy book! And guess what, I’m giving THAT ONE AWAY TOO!

I had the chance to meet Maureen last night (we are like NEIGHBORS!), and along with Jen Lancaster (sorry - I already gave away her book!), SnarkyMommy, RoadTripMommy and Lisa (who needs to start blogging!) there was much love talk about books and cheesecake, and how I lured my adult babysitter with full bottles of Dewar’s Scotch! We also chatted about plumbers (of which my husband is not, NOT that there is anything wrong with it ... except ass crack), vaginal cerclages (or uterine, whatev), lighting hotel sheers on fire, and the usual whatnot!

So, back to the point of this post:

I am giving away a handful of books to FOUR LUCKY WINNERS! AND many of them are SIGNED by the authors! One is an ARC (advanced reading copy) that I already read, but still, they’re books! And they are FREE TO YOU, written by fabulous authors!

Every one of you will receive a copy of THE DIVORCE PARTY by Laura Dave to start off your awesome prize package of books!

The books I have to give away are:

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave (4)

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum (2)

A Bump in the Road by Maureen Lipinski (2)

Repeat After Me by Rachel DeWoskin (1)

Wife in the North by Judith O’Reilly (2)

Perfect on Paper by Maria Murnane (2) ... PS, read an interview HERE.

Draining the Sea by Micheline Aharonian Marcom (1)

On the Divinity of Second Chances by Kaya McLaren (2)

Dragons Prefer Blondes by Candace Havens (2)

The French Mistress by Susan Holloway Scott (2)

So, isn't this great!?!? All of these free books? And all you have to do is leave me a comment on why I should send YOU a package containing an assortment of FIVE of these awesome reads, and you’ll be entered to win. And yes, co-workers and family members MAY enter this one!

All right, GO TO IT! And GOOD LUCK!

Monday, June 22, 2009


It’s hard sometimes to share what I want to share on here, what I feel I can share on here without being worried I will worry someone else or say something that I should have just kept to myself, but I can’t let other peoples’ thoughts prevent me from my own. This is why I have this blog. To get it out.

These days, I am Miss Independent. A long, long, long time ago, I was Miss Independent, long before Kelly Clarkston was even born probably – the song or the idea hadn’t even existed. But here I am Miss Independent with three children, with days and days and days of summer ahead, trying to figure out ways to fill them.

A long time ago, when I was Miss Independent, Mr. Manic was a cop. He was working shift work and I had been accustomed to being by myself for months at a time. And this was right before we were getting married, and in order to communicate (there were no cell phones back then), we would leave a notebook filled with messages on our kitchen counter to tell one another what we were doing that day, or how much we missed each other, or that we loved one another.

I would make dinners only for myself, and lived off buttered and parmesan noodles. I paid the bills. I did the laundry for the two of us. I went out with girlfriends, because he was not around. He was working.

He’s been gone a lot lately. Not in the Jon Gosselin way, NO! Don’t think THAT! Lots of travel, lots of it, and it’s an adjustment to be alone with the kids. I leave the house a mess, am a living, breathing Felix and Oscar – whichever one is the messy one, that’s me. And the day I know he is returning, I swirl through the house and make it all homemakerish and clean and nice. Because he has worked hard and deserves a clean home.

I am thankful he found work so soon after being let go from his other job, and really, this is a dream job come true for him. He is absolutely loving it. But selfish me is not loving not having him here. I guess I don’t want to learn to be Miss Independent again. I liked being Miss Dependent. He said the other night that this is good – it can bring me out of my comfort zone a little bit. What’s wrong with being dependent upon someone? Isn’t that part of what a marriage is? But then there’s the part that says, Me First. I have to do what makes me happy first. What makes me happy? My kids, my writing, my books, my work. My husband. But he’s not here. He’s out working, which includes a lot of travel, and it’s not that I’m jealous of what he’s doing. I’m jealous of what he’s not doing. He’s not here for basketball or softball, for pool time and tuck ins, for the normal stuff we are all so accustomed to him being here for. And I know I’ll get used to it. Because what other choice do I have? To pout and be bitchy the times he is home? No. I have to suck it up and become Miss Independent.

And there are some pros. I don’t have to cook ever if I didn’t want to, not that I did much of that when he was home every night. I can totally let the house go. I can let the kids stay up till whenever they pass out from sleep deprivation. We can all snuggle up in my bed. I can pull into the garage as asinine as I want and not have to share the extra space. I have my office all to myself … there are some good things.

But having him here and having him stressed about a job that he was more stressed than he ever let on, well, that wouldn’t be a good situation any longer. That situation is no more, and it’s a new situation, and we’re just adjusting, getting used to it. It’s like when you bring home that new baby, whether it’s the first or the second, or even the third. It takes some time to get used to the new format of life, and I guess that’s what I’m doing.

And it’s OK. I’ll be OK. The kids are great. Mr. Manic has never been happier, I think.

Today, when I told Diva I was a little sad and that I missed Daddy and I didn’t like him being away so much, she said something that struck me and I’ll hold this in my heart and think of how selfish I’ve been.

She said, “At least he comes home, and he’s not in Iraq.”

She’s absolutely right. How lucky are we.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

HiKiNG and a LiPWaX

In less than a month, our family is venturing to YellowStone National Park. Have I mentioned this to you yet? Probably not, because this 'vacation' is akin to me being a contestant on Survivor.

Will I make it in the wilderness? Will a bear eat me? Will I have my period during our trip so a bear can easily sniff me out and THEN eat me? Will there be so many bugs that Tukey will get bitten to death and we'll end up with an allergic reaction that will land him in the hospital, and is there even a hospital out there? Will ANYONE in my family make it for an 1/2-day hike, much less an hour-long hike? How are we going to have fresh sheets on the beds if we are staying in a CABIN!? (Yes, I put the major kibosh on any outdoor sleeping) ... and yes, these are the things that keep me up at night.

But we're going! So I'd love any outdoorsy hikey recommendations if any of you have them. And in preparation for this 'trip,' we all went and purchased hiking shoes, and yesterday, Mr. Manic, Ajers and I went on a test-drive HIKE out at Starved Rock in Illinois.

The other kids were not with us as Grandpa and Grandma kidnapped them graciously and most appreciated by me, offered to take my littlest rats with them for a two-night stay at their place. Admittedly, I was a little emotional to be without my Diva and Tukey, but I GOT OVER THAT FAST, and AJers, Mr. Manic and I had some major special bonding time together.

Which included that hike thing we did yesterday. Outside. With bugs and wilderness and some cool waterfalls, that thankfully, I didn't slip and trip into the water in this canyon thing because then I would have really been pissed off and anti-outdoors. More so than I am already, if possible.

Mr. Manic said he loved watching me out of my comfort zone. I think he just likes seeing me flounder like a fish outta water. Ha, flounder - fish ... that's kind of a joke, isn't it?

So we hiked a while, and it was pretty but there are ony a few pics on Mr. Manic's crackberry and I tried to upload but you'll just have to use your imagination of me scaling a canyon rock wall and jumping over teeny streams and such.

Then we went for lunch and I had a beer and Ajers whipped my butt in pool. Having lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant called The Blind Pig was actually the highlight of the hiking trip.

All of our shoes performed perfectly, and no one has any blisters, which was our main concern. Of course, mine got a little bit muddy, which I didn't like.

The other highlight of the day, which occurred later on after we returned home is that I got my upper lip waxed. It only took 40 years of thinking about it, ignoring it, or bleaching it until I got brave enough to terminate that bastard caterpiller which resided above my lip. I don't know what took me so long, but there's only so many times I can listen to my children's pleas of: "Mom, when are you going to shave that 'stache? You've got more peach fuzz than I do!"

Not anymore kids, not anymore.

So, hiking and a lip wax. I'm not sure which was more painful. But I know I'm going to have to do both again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

DeaR MoMMy

I woke up this morning to a note underneath my bedroom door. It was from Diva, my 10-year-old daughter. This is exactly how it was written, what it said, and this is exactly why I love being a mom:

Dear mommy,
You are such a great mommy. U ROCK. I want to say thankyou for everything you've done throughout my life time. I really appcaite it. I don't know what I would do with out you on my side 24-7. Once again thankyou so much for being a great mommy! Your great!

Love, Diva

No Diva, thank YOU!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

eVeRYoNe iS BeauTiFuL - WiN THiS GReaT BooK

Everyone is Beautiful By Katherine Center is up for grabs over at BettyConfidential.

Also, coming up in the next week or so, I'll be giving away books by Laura Dave (The Divorce Party), Julie Buxbaum (The Opposite of Love), and newcomer, Maureen Lipinski (A Bump in the Road!)

All great reads you will NOT want to miss!

Monday, June 08, 2009

HeRe CoMeS The BReaKDoWN

So, today, and it’s only 12:29 p.m., I’ve cried three times.

This a.m. was my x-ray to confirm the Essure procedure I had done three months ago 'took.' This is where they fill your vagina with about a ton of hardware and then stick in a catheter and shoot up some lovely x-ray dye to make sure my fallopian tubes are now scarred over and blocked.

They are.

I can officially no longer, never ever again procreate. Man, that kinda sucks to write that and is bringing me to tears again just announcing this. It’s not that I want more kids. I’m 40 for crying out loud. I don’t. But the thought that I have manipulated my body into this state makes me sad. Maybe it’s PMS; I don’t know.

Before they gave me the vaginal hardware rape and the x-ray dye, I had to pee in a cup and they tested my urine to see if I was pregnant. I knew I wasn’t. I knew the test would be negative, but I kept thinking, “Wow. That is the last pregnancy test I will ever take my whole entire life.”

So, on the table, filled with hardware and some fluorescent dye, they confirmed my tubes are blocked. Unprotected sex abounds. Whoop de fucking do.

I got weepy in the car on the way home.

Then I got a McDonald’s vanilla ice cream cone and a $1 Diet Coke to make me feel better. I should have order the freakin’ fries.

Next up, I stopped at the pharmacy to get my migraine med and my synthroid. Insurance denied. We are going on COBRA, which, if you must know, is a pile of crap. A person LOSES HIS JOB and so that means a family HAS NO MORE MONEY, right? Then COBRA jumps in to save the day on insurance. But guess what’s the laugh here? COBRA costs $1,300 a MONTH!

We’re fine. I know we are fine. But how in the hell does a family pay that much money a month when a husband loses his job and then the poor family HAS NO INCOME or no way to pay that much money to have insurance.

And duh, with procedures like the one I just had this a.m., we need the insurance. I just don’t get how it works in this effed up world.

So, when I was at the pharmacy and the pharmacist informed me that my insurance card has been denied (because we are in that interim of getting COBRA set up), I start crying. Like I’m sure the pharmacist wanted to see me crying. She told me my migraine med costs $224 without insurance. OK, NOT BEING ABLE TO GET MY MIGRAINE MEDICINE IS GOING TO GIVE ME A FUCKING HUGE MIGRAINE, right? RIGHT.

I’m not happy today. Eff-bomb the world.

(Big shift from my previous GLEE post, huh?)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

FeeLiNG GLee oR "THiS iS So NoT Me"

So, I was quite outdoorsy over the weekend so far. On Friday, I went for a power walk with just me, my iPod, and some kickass songs, like for instance, this one. Tell me you do not love it?

You cannot watch that video and NOT feel happy. Am I right? Of course I'm right. It's a great song and an awesome TV show, and you all know I DO NOT WATCH TV. But I can't wait for the Glee series! Hello, hot boy!

So, Friday morning started out with a major great outdoor power walk to really good music, and then I stopped by my friend C’s house, who was planning a bike ride to Starbucks with her kids.

“Can we come too?” I asked.

Of course, I don’t have a bike, and have not straddled one in more than probably 26 years. Yeah, do the math. I probably haven’t been on a bike since I was about 14. Fortunately, or unfortunately, take your pick, C lent me her hubby’s bike and I grabbed my three kids, she grabbed two of hers, and we set off on a bike trip to Starbucks.

OK. How did I not know bike riding could be so much fun? I wanted to continue on after our trip to Starbucks, but again, in the vein of THiS iS So Not Me, we had to later meet Mr. Manic at REI. And did I even know what REI stood for? No. I have never set foot in an REI because what in the hell do I need from an REI?

I’ll tell you what.

Hiking shoes.

The Manic family and C’s family are going to Yellow-Freakin’-Stone Park NEXT MONTH. I know, I know. How will Manic deal with the OUTDOORS?

I have no fucking clue.

The big joke in our family is that ‘roughing it’ means the ice machine is on a different floor at the Hyatt or Marriott or some other 3+ star hotel. So yeah, a trip to YellowStone Park is going to be an adventure!

Of course, I put the kibosh on the request that we all camp outdoors in TENTS! Hellooooo! There are such things as BEARS out in the wild. I do not want my children getting eaten by bears.

So, there’s lots to think about/prepare for/get my Xanax tolerance pumped up before we leave for this trip, but one of the preps were to get hiking shoes.

I got really cute ones. They don’t even look like hiking shoes. And they are accented in green.

And are comfy.

I should know, because that afternoon, Tukey almost puked all over my brand-new hiking shoes. And, he almost puked in Mr. Manic’s prize possession of a car. But THANK YOU LORD, Tukey is amazing because somehow we got the car window down and he blew chunks all outside of the car, with barely a few strands of vomit making it on the inside of the car. In the Walgreen’s parking lot. Right next to a white jeep. There was tons of it. Tukey gets car sick a lot. But usually, he threatens to puke but never does. Usually.

So, I grab him out of the car when I’m sure he’s not going to yak on my new shoes any longer, and set him on the curb. A really nice lady comes over and offers me a bottled water and I have Grandma Manic run in to buy a roll of paper towels. We get Tukey cleaned up and are about to leave but I feel bad because the person in the white jeep is going to come out and see puke RIGHT NEXT TO HER CAR. She will practically have to step over it to get into her car.

I wait for the woman to come out and tell her I’m sorry but my kid puked next to her car.

So. That’s part of the story. Then we go watch Diva play softball and I’m still trying to yank the hot pokers from my eye socket over that game. Seriously, these 10-year-old softball games are brutal to watch. They bowl-pitch and then finally, and adult has to come in to pitch the last couple of balls in order for the girl to be brave enough to swing. Brutal.

Then, later, since my biking experience was so extraordinary, C and I decide we are going to be really aggressive this a.m. and bike all the way to the Farmer’s Market.

Here’s the interesting part:

I don’t bike.

I rarely buy produce.

Right? Right. So, our plan was that C was going to call me at 6:45 a.m. to wake me up so we could leave at 7 a.m. Mr. Manic was like, “You’re getting up at 6:45 on a Saturday? To go biking? And to go buy produce?”

You THINK you know someone.

So, this a.m. I’m all jazzed up for the big biking excursion because come on! I am a biker now! I did it once and love it now. Of course, and feel quite free to yell at me in the comments, I am too cool to wear the helmet, and I’ll be apologizing all over God’s green earth the day I wipe out and need a trillion head stitches.

I wake up early, and instead of waiting for C to call to ‘wake me up’ as was the plan, I instead text her. I AM UP AND READY TO BIKE.

She texts back: I WAS UP TIL 1 AM

My reply: TOO BAD. WE R GOING.

She was so sure I would bag out of the trip that she didn’t even set her alarm, and then here I am texting her at the crack of dawn. She was not happy, but I cajoled her into the journey.

And wow. Amazing! We rode to the downtown where the Farmer’s Market is. Not Chicago downtown, but our local town. It is about six miles one way. See, don’t you think that’s pretty good for a first-time biker?

And then we get to the Market and I am so happy there. There’s beautiful fresh produce and pretty flowers, and newly baked bread and I bought a ton of stuff:

Tiny yellow potatoes
Hulless popcorn (which popped up great!)
Beeswax vanilla lotion bar
Lip balm for Diva
Honey sticks flavored like rootbeer and watermelon that the kids hated
Cookies sold by the ADOPT organization, and yes, C found a dog hair in hers. Ewww.

And I think that’s about all I could buy to carry home in my queer little backpack but it was a glorious day and I was so proud for going outside of my comfort zone and doing something I’d never done before and having so much fun.

Riding bikes is really cool. Even going up those bastard hills aren’t too bad cuz you know that there’s a way down on the other side, and feeling the wind in your face after pedaling really hard is like a teeny little gift you get for the price of exercise!

Of course, maybe I am liking bike riding now since I have done spin class about six times and haven’t quit yet. I may be needing to buy me a bike!

So, after that big journey on bikes to the Farmer’s Market where before yesterday I never rode a bike or bought produce, I am feeling like a new woman! And I may be embracing a new sort of sport: Biking for Produce. Yep, that’s me, a new woman.

Of course, I’m going to feel like a new woman tomorrow too … a decrepit old woman who won’t be able to get her ass out of bed because she is going to be so sore from all the exercise from over the weekend. But, eh, oh well!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


So I was just thinking that I needed to write a post but that nothing exciting is going on when lo and behold, screams erupt from the basement from Tukey.

How to explain this one? He got the webbed part of his hand between his thumb and forefinger stuck in a toy gun piece where you cock it back. And he began screaming and screaming and I was holding the toy gun in place and trying not to move his hand while also trying to move the cocking part back without snagging his skin anymore.

I don't know where my mind was at but instead of calling any one of the capable fathers in my neighborhood, I call 911. Because isn't that what you do in an emergency, and clearly, this was an emergency ... I could not free the toy gun from his hand. He was sweating and screaming and crying and that's the decision I made.

I stayed on the phone with the dispatcher and kept saying, "What's taking them so long? I heard them but now I don't hear them." I would love to hear a replay of my 911 call like the show on the news later. "Manic Mommy's 9-1-1 Call, next on Extra!"

So, a firetruck, an ambulance AND a police officer all come. A slow day in the 'burbs. And the minute the fireman came in and looked at it, he was able to pull the cock back and free Tukey's hand.

I felt like a freaking idiot, and of course, all the neighbors had to come see what all the commotion was. My poor little Tukey.

I asked him what he wanted for dinner, and he said, "You're probably going to say no to this, but can we go to the pet store?"

WTF -- he thinks cuz he hurts his hand he now gets a puppy? COME ON!

No pets!

Aside from that little drama, and my husband's job loss, and his grandma dying, and me fearing that I had breast cancer last week, and my mom breaking her foot and needing surgery and a cast, things are good.

Mr. Manic has secured a consulting gig that he is THRILLED about (hence his absence during our trauma today -- he's in AZ). This consulting gig happens to be with a joint venture partner of his old company, and had they NOT effed him over and instead thought this out a little bit more thoroughly, they might have saved nine months of severance, but HA! We get that AND he's consulting with a year-long contract so ... so far, so good. We hope. It's something that he has been thinking about prior to the 'let go' so I'm happy with the outcome so far, and still believe everything happens for a reason.

Until something really shitty happens, then I won't think 'everything happens for a reason,' I will just think Dammit world, YOU SUCK!

Monday, June 01, 2009

BLoG ...

... I need to.

But first, I will nap.