On Friday morning,earlier than I care to admit,I will embark on an adventure with my teenage daughter that only she could talk me into –Black Friday shopping. The truth is,one major retailer has a sale on a large ticket item that,damn them,even I can’t resist.
Since my husband rarely (probably never) reads this blog,I can safely share with you why I’m willing to face a large carbohydrate-fueled crowd. I often joke that if a burglar ever broke into our home they’d be severely disappointed. Unless they wanted to carry out large pieces of furniture or hand hooked rugs,or managed to take my engagement ring off my finger,they would leave here pretty unhappy. Our only television is one of those large,bulky,definitely-not-flat-screen versions and we have dug in our heels over getting a new one.
But since my husband has been a good boy this year,I decided it was time to take the plunge. I started researching flat screens a few months ago and based on my research,the sale on a flat screen at (insert large retail store name here) is just,wow. I’m not sure how they can sell it that low,but who am I to ask questions?
So early on Friday morning I will wake up my daughter (the most dangerous part of the day),go to the Starbucks drive through,and head out to buy my husband his Christmas gift. Although I have no idea how I’m going to hide it when I get it home!
Considering all of this,I received a very timely email about Black Friday safety tips from Jarrett Arthur. Jarrett is one of the highest ranking female Krav Maga black belt instructors in the country. Now I’m not suggesting anyone needs to know Krav Maga to go shopping these days. (Although it does remind me of one of my favorite How I Met Your Mother episodes.) But it doesn’t hurt to take a few tips from an expert.
She suggests first and foremost to pay attention to your surroundings. If you are like me,you can get lost in thought and before you know it,your wallet is gone. Pay attention to who is around you and what they are doing. (If it looks like they are doing nothing that’s a bad sign!)
Parking lots are prime territory for bad guys. If you are shopping after dark (or before dawn) be sure to park in a brightly lit area,and avoid parking near,say,windowless vans.
Also,keep in mind that Black Friday crowds can be dangerous. I have seen this first hand when I was growing up. My older brother had his first job at K-Mart,and it happened to be one of the years that the Cabbage Patch Kids were THE toy to get the little monsters. He was working on Black Friday and was asked to bring out a new box of the disturbing looking dolls (seriously,no?) to the sales floor. Instantly he was mauled,tackled,scratched,and if memory serves me,even bit by the Cabbage Patch Crazies.
But,sometimes we must be courageous when we have the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars. So wish me luck.
Oh,if you want to learn more about Jarrett,you can visit her website.
We are thrilled to have Cynthia Ellingson,author of Marriage Matters, as our guest blogger!
Marriage Matters:Are You Sharing a Wedding with Your Mother and Grandmother?
Weddings:Champagne toasts,bouquet tosses and questionable bridesmaid dresses. If you have such an extravaganza on the horizon,I’d like to share some words of wisdom from Chloe,one of the lead characters in my new novel “Marriage Matters”.
Wedding Advice from Chloe
1. Catch a Bouquet with your Mother and Grandmother
If you catch a bouquet with your mother and grandmother,there is a good chance that the three of you will share a wedding. Or a cell in the loony bin.
2. Get Married on Someone Else’s Timeline
Some things in life should not be rushed. A first kiss… a good issue of Star Magazine… a wedding. Take the time to really think about whether you to marry the man who proposed after three months or the best friend you have loved since you were six.
3. Turn a Cake Tasting Into a Cake-Eating Contest
Do not compete with your grandmother to see who can eat the most tiramisu,red velvet cake and dulce de leche. She might fake a diabetic coma just to win.
4. Allow your Grandmother to Plan the Bachelorette Party
Here’s a fact:Your grandmother lived through the 70’s. Trust me,a boa and a flute of champagne is not a good combination.
5. Plan a Wedding with your Mother and Grandmother
Family and marriage go together like the New Kids and Boyz II Men. It’s a combination that will never quit. But planning a wedding with your mother and grandmother is like throwing the Macarena into the mix. It confuses everything.
Don’t believe me? Read “Marriage Matters”. Romantic Times Magazine chose it as a humor contemporary must-read. I hope you enjoy it and share it with every bride – past,present and future – that you know.
Get to know author Cynthia Ellingsen at www.cynthiaellingsen.com or facebook.com/cynthiaellingsen
Today we have a special guest blogger,Mary Jo Rapini,author of the book Start Talking. “Dos and Don’ts for Parents of Summer Campers” is only one of the numerous topics dealing with teen and parenting issues that Rapini addresses in her book. Have a great weekend,Girlfriends!
Dos and Don’ts for Parents of Summer Campers
by Mary Jo Rapini,MEd,LPC
The official start of Summer is almost here,and for many parents and kids that means summer camp. Many of us grew up with wonderful memories of summer-filled days at camp. Songs by the campfire,canoe races and a sundry of other events and new friends fill our minds with good memories. Today,sending your child to camp involves an understudy of camping knowledge and skill. There is an every expanding list of possible camps;general camps and ones that can help enhance any weakness your child may need help strengthening. It doesn’t matter if your child is going to a baseball camp,math camp,science camp or a basketball camp,they all have a long list of what kids should and shouldn’t bring. A shorter list is available of dos and don’ts for parents.
Most camps are meant for kids,not for their parents. However,if you are a first timer sending your child away to a summer camp,you will note a heightened sense of anxiety. How do you know if your child will be okay? Are you sure this camp will address their individual needs? What if there is an emergency? All sorts of possible crises run through your mind. There are always things that can happen,but most of them can also happen almost every day of your child’s life –with or without camp. Your heightened sense of anxiety may,however,affect you and turn you into a model parent for what NOT to do when your child is at camp.
Below are a few of the dos and don’ts for being the type of camp parent your child won’t be embarrassed to travel home with.
1. Let go and let your child learn new experiences with trained counselors. Your child has an opportunity to return from camp feeling accomplished and more self-assured. You can help facilitate this by reassuring your child before they leave for camp and reminding them of other times they felt unsure or insecure and did wonderfully. Also,reassure them you will be there if they need you. Parents who cannot let go and allow the camp counselors to teach their children new skills and offer them opportunities stifle their child’s emotional growth.
2. Communicate with them as appropriate. Camps have rules about ways and how much to communicate with the camper. Parents who follow these rules and make sure their child has the appropriate communication are sending their child the message that they trust them and have confidence in them. Parents who try to over communicate,or indulge their child with gifts throughout the week,send their child the message that they are not like the other kids and need more attention. This prevents the child from bonding with the other campers and learning to self soothe when they feel stress or homesick. Camp counselors are instructed on healthy ways to de-stress children. Allow your children the opportunity to learn these and more healthy tips.
3. Having your child away at camp can also be a relationship retreat for you and your spouse. Take advantage of being a couple again and enjoying late dinners or evenings spent out. When your child comes home full of new experiences to talk about,you will both be eager to listen. Your relationship will be stronger and closer. Don’t spend the camp week or month feeling anxious and alone without your child. A camp is an opportunity for both the child and the parents to grow.
My daughters both went to camp and would come home with stories to tell and memories they still smile and talk about. The experience has them humming a tune they learned long ago. It was also a wonderful week for their dad and me. We were able to be a couple again,which restored and helped our marriage. Summer camps are part of a child’s history and one they will pass on to their children. Ensuring your child has a wonderful experience begins with embracing the camp,following the rules and trusting your child’s ability–as well as yours–to let go and thrive.
Mary Jo Rapini,MEd,LPC,is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman,of Start Talking:A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health,Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.
A Tale For the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki is an utterly strange,intoxicating little gem of a novel. Well,not so little,it weighs in at just over 400 pages,plus appendices. The story flips back and forth between Japanese schoolgirl Nao (very appropriately pronounced “now”,you’ll get it when you read it…),who grew up in California and was suddenly forced to return to Tokyo when her father lost his job,and Japanese-Canadian Ruth,a middle-aged novelist who lives with her husband and cat on a tiny island off the coast of British Colombia – a description which,in a meta element,also applies to the book’s author,Ruth Ozeki. Nao’s passages are first-person diary entries,in which she plans to detail the life of her 104 year old great,great grandmother,a Zen Buddhist nun,before committing suicide,but in which she really ends up detailing her own struggles with intense school bullying,reduced circumstances in a new country,and her father’s multiple suicide attempts. Ruth’s passages are the third-person tale of her finding Nao’s diary,among other things,washed up on the beach in a Hello Kitty lunch box,which she assumes is flotsam from the 2011 tsunami. Ruth reads Nao’s diary as we do and becomes increasingly concerned about her and attempts to discover what happened to Nao and her family.
The story is simultaneously surprisingly dark,as it matter-of-factly deals with some miserable issues in the forefront of contemporary sensibilities,and also lightly spiritual and metaphysical,with Nao’s Buddhist grandmother spouting wisdom and certain supernatural/quantum physical and mystical elements. The title itself is a philosophical statement in this book that is at once grounded in reality and floating on the edge of comprehension. It’s the kind of story that you can either delve in and ponder deeply or enjoy as simply an interesting literary diversion. Ozeki is a Buddhist nun herself and her modern spiritualism comes through in her writing style as she switches between a stream-of-consciousness type voice for Nao and a more mundane tone for Ruth. Approach A Tale For the Time Being with an open mind,and it may just enlighten as well as entertain.
This review was written by girlfriend Alexandra Hopwood
Louise Erdrich is my all-time favorite author,so I always rush to get a copy of her newest book. The Round House,a New York Times Bestseller and winner of the 2012 National Book Award,was everything I hoped it would be and more. The book takes place in the 1980’s in a fictional Ojibwe community Erdrich has written about in multiple other novels. The story begins when a brutal attack on his mother forces Joe,a thirteen-year-old boy used to casual living,to cope with an entirely new world. The Round House is ultimately the story of how Joe,his family,and the community make sense of unspeakable tragedy and try to gain some semblance of justice.
Louise Erdrich is my favorite writer for many reasons,including her ability to craft beautiful sentences pregnant with sound and imagery and weave multiple narratives into what feels more like an experience than a story. Though The Round House centers on heart-wrenching,melancholy issues,the book doesn’t become a heavy,cumbersome read. Erdrich does an excellent job of digging into these topics wholeheartedly,while still incorporating stories of love,family,and hope. Ultimately a coming-of-age story,Joe’s adolescent,male point of view gives a fresh perspective on a topic rarely told from a child’s mind. His youth and loss of innocence raise the stakes.
Since the injustice Erdrich brings up in The Round House is relevant and important in today’s society,some reviewers have dubbed the novel the Native American To Kill A Mockingbird. Regardless,this novel made me feel both the deepest grief and the lightest joy,all while bringing attention to an injustice rarely discussed. As expected,the book exceeded my expectations in every way.
About the Author: Louise Erdrich is an American author of novels,poetry,and children’s books featuring Native American characters. You can learn more about her here.
This review was written by girlfriend Kiri Bee.
After a time of careful consideration over what the heck I was going to do for the rest of my life (a luxury of losing your job –you get lots of time for careful consideration),on New Year’s Eve I made a resolution that I was going to get my real estate license. Well,after 60 hours of instruction,two full weeks of study,and passing grades on the state and national exams,here I am. I’m about to list my first home and I couldn’t be happier!
Unfortunately this site suffered from my lack of any spare time whatsoever to update it and I apologize to our readers and especially to our writers. We’ll be back tomorrow with a great new review!
The “smitten kitchen”is the tiny kitchen of Deb Perelman,a mom and entrepreneur in New York City. You can see some pictures of it here. She is proof that you don’t need a kitchen featured on HGTV to be a great cook. I love her. So you can imagine how excited I was when The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out. It is as great as I thought it would be,and I took myself to my slightly-bigger-than-tiny kitchen with my non-granite-counter-tops and got cooking! (I don’t understand the fascination with granite counter tops –someday if I have a slightly-bigger-than-tiny kitchen I would much rather have one of these.)
I thought I’d share what is my favorite recipe so far. Just a little taste of the great things in this book. Enjoy girlfriends!
2 heads broccoli
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds,toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk,well shaken (my son’s job –believe me it is well shaken)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 small red onion,finely chopped
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Trim the broccoli and chop in to large chunks,then cut each chunk into thin slices. Toss the broccoli with the almonds and cranberries. In a small bowl,whisk the buttermilk,mayo,vinegar,sugar and salt until smooth. Stir in the onion. Let the onion marinate in the dressing for 10 minutes. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture;add black pepper. Stir until the broccoli is evenly coated. Serve immediately,or cover in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. YUM.
*Recipe courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf Publisher excerpted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
Imagine a world without Google or Harry Potter or The Cat in the Hat or…the theory of gravity. All of those things and many many more were the works of introverts –or “second class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent”as author Susan Cain refers to them. That is why she wrote Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking which is releasing today.
If you asked someone who didn’t know me very well they would probably say that I was quiet;they might possibly describe me as an introvert. In fact,many times I have felt that “second class citizen”feeling,particularly in the workplace. However,colleagues eventually see the power of that quietness. When other people are talking,I’m listening and thinking. Eventually that all comes to fruition and after awhile they see that I am definitely capable of speaking up (or louder!) when the need arises. I also tend to build one-on-one professional relationships that are more valuable than the multiple shallow ones of the average extrovert. My “quietness”has served me well in life and still does –people underestimate me and that can be a very powerful thing.
This book is a long overdue tribute to introverts. CEOs and management should take note –for example,by depending on the classic meeting around a conference table you are missing out on valuable ideas from roughly a third of your employees. How many of these professionals think to ask employees to put their thoughts in writing instead?
Quiet is an important book about how we undervalue introverts –even our children. It is a great read for everyone.
About the Author:Susan Cain is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She practiced corporate law for years,for clients such as Goldman Sachs and General Electric. She believes all she has accomplished in life is due to her traits as an introvert. You can learn more about Susan here.