Monday, May 26, 2014

Where Did I Come From? Life's Big Question is About to be Answered

Where Did I Come From?
Based on some recent conversations and some regular viewing of PBS's Nature series, my recent order of Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle (author) and Arthur Robins (illustrator) was perfectly timed. It's only a matter of time before the peeps put 2 + 2 together, if you know what I mean. It won't be long before I'll have some 'splainin' to do.

My mom had this book when my sister and I were kids. I remember the two of us lying on the floor on our stomachs, glued to the pages, giggling at the cartoon-like illustrations of a naked dude and his wife. What I didn't remember until the book arrived and I thumbed through the pages was the level of DETAIL the book offers. Whoa!

I can't share this book with the peeps! Not only will I laugh hysterically during the conversation ( you have to admit that the process typically followed to bring a baby into the world is rather ridiculous when you think about, especially when orally translated), but my peeps have sponges for brains, and I have no doubt that the lurid details will be repeated at the most inappropriate times, resulting from phone calls from disgruntled school officials and parents.

Now, please excuse me while I go giggle and point at the illustrations of the naked people.

By the way, how did you explain where babies come from to your sweet angels? Please share. Please?

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I Broke My Vow to Never Join a Book Club

Book club

To regular readers of the My Ideal Reality blog, it's no secret that I am a bibliophile. (Be sure to check out my Project 2014 and More Books! pages).  Despite my love of the written word, I vowed to never join a book club. I've always derived a large amount of satisfaction and comfort from reading in isolation and pondering the book in my head, although I do engage in casual book chat with friends from time to time. The whole book club thing has never appealed to me for reasons I'll keep to myself to avoid sounding like an anti-social book snob.  

But, when two friends asked me to start a book club with them I went for it. Why? Mainly, because I like these two gals. They are both super smart and serious about their books. I met Laura in grad school a few years ago, and I met Laurie last year when her son and my Ruthie became buddies. Laura and Laurie recently met at a church group, discovered they both knew me and pitched the idea of creating a book club. We got together over coffee one morning, selected a book and off we went. One thing I'm going to love about this club - aside from getting to spend some time with some smart women - is that it's super informal. I'm excited to head off on this new adventure of friendship and literature.

Our first book is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. It's the first book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series. I'm already about halfway finished. I love it! It's a good old-fashioned whodunnit, not the blood, terror and horror that passes for mystery today. Bradley created a one unique narrator in 11-year-old Flavia and plopped her down into one of the most enthralling and unusual plot lines.  Add to this Bradley's flair for weaving in exquisite detail, and I'm hooked. So hooked, in fact, that I've put my Mark Twain Marathon on hold until I finish. 

And speaking of book clubs, my friend Jennifer Scott just released her second novel for women called, The Accidental Book Club. Check it out today!

Wherever you are, whatever your doing  ... Keep it Real (and grab a book)!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gardening With Children: Ideal Reality Vs. Real Reality


Like every other sick-of-winter person on the planet, when the seed catalogs start appearing in February, I start planning. I make detailed lists and charts and diagrams of everything from the seeds I want to buy to which plants will go where and why. I am all up in it. 

And then, I wait. And wait a bit more. Because spring doesn't really arrive here until May. Sometimes June. Last year, I planted my garden on May 2, when it was 80 degrees, and it snowed on May 3. And while I'm waiting, I revel in my Ideal Reality of family gardening. In this annual indulgence, I visualize a Norman Rockwell-esque day of garden planting with my peeps. Laughing, giggling, playing with earthworms, chatting excitedly about anything and everything. Tired and exhausted at the end of the day, we lounge around with Flavor-Ice (them) and beer (me). It's the quintessential "mother-and-child gardening together in true harmony" picture. 

Enter Real Reality. When I have a plan, especially one that includes lists and charts and diagrams, everyone who is not on board or who has no intention of following my directions, needs to steer clear. I am a big 'ol ball of OCD and anal retentiveness. The peeps just want to dig for buried treasure and dinosaur bones. They have no need for straight lines, organization or directions. And I have no patience. So ... about 15 minutes into our day of gardening, I am alone. And I am in heaven. La la la. 

While the kids and I might not make the best planting team, we harvest like beasts. As we tiptoe through the vines and narrow rows, peeking under leaves and snapping off veggies, we laugh, giggle, play with earthworms and chat excitedly about anything and everything. Yep, harvest time is rather Norman Rockwell-esque. 

On a related note, check out Amber Dusik's post on SheKnows. It's called Gardening With Young Children: What Could Go Wrong? Amber is the author of Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, and the writer and illustrator of the blog Illustrated With Crappy Pictures. And I am thankful for her every day because she reminds me I'm not alone. 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep it Real

Monday, May 5, 2014

8 Audiobooks Your Ears Will Thank You For

books wrapped in headphones
I got hooked on audiobooks last year when I had an hour commute to work each day. Even though I work from home now, I still find ways to sneak audiobooks into my day. I listen to them while running, cleaning, folding laundry. Pretty much anytime I can get away with plugging in some earphones and escaping. 

Audiobooks are tricky little things because if you get a crummy narrator, it's a rather painful experience. Strangely, I have found that the narrators for children's books are, for the most part, dreadfully boring, but the ones for adult books are quite talented. I wonder why?

Below are 8 audiobooks that I highly recommend. Happy listening!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. If I hadn't listened to this this book, I would have likely given up on it. The narration by Jesse Bernstein was out of this world!

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The story picks up right where Miss Peregrine left off, and it is just as imaginative, suspenseful and wonderful as the first book. Riggs weaves in new characters, plot twists and locations with the exquisite detail I've come to expect from his writing.  

The American Heiress: A Novel by Daisy GoodwinI listened to this while jogging on the treadmill, walking through the neighborhood, emptying the dishwasher, folding the laundry ... anywhere I could steal a few minutes. The narrator was amazing and really helped bring the story to life. That said, I would have loved this book just as much if I had held a hard copy. Early English drama, scandal, politics and secrecy at its best! I'm excited for Goodwin's latest novel, The Fortune Hunter.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Better than Gone GirlWow! So good!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Oh. My. Great. Goodness.Just as good as her other two.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. So much fun! A fun literary ride with a complex plot and a parade of unique, quirky characters.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Dark, gritty, detailed. I loved every second of it, except for the ending. Too "wrapped up in a pretty bow" for me. All the same, if you didn't jump on the bandwagon when this book dominated the shelves, make sure you don't miss it.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. This is a children's book, and it is just the sweetest thing. My girls and I loved this one. The narration was amazing. It made us want to dive into the pages and meet every single character. Now, that’s good writin’ right there.

Are you into audiobooks? If so, share some recommendations! Or, tell us which ones to stay away from!

Thanks for reading! Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.