Natasha, Ingrid, and cleaning out my desk

So I was cleaning out my desk this morning—no, really, true story—and I found a notebook full of writing prompts that belonged to one of the kids four years ago. Four years is an eternity when it comes to kids’ stories at this age, and let me tell you, it blew my mind that this stuff came out of the same too-cool head of the kid I dropped off at school this morning. And like SO MUCH ELSE in our life, it’s unprintable.

I’m gonna need to start selling Amway, because the ratio of stuff going on in our lives to stuff I am allowed to write about is the square root of nothing. It’s killing me. I’ve shifted focus to writing books, and the occasional inane Facebook update. Oh, look, I’m like a hundred million other people out there.

Back to the notebook. As I was flipping through the pages, a half-sheet fell out, with a poem. It was called “Unwritten.” Which is exactly my problem these days. (Months. Whatever.) The first and last stanzas were highlighted, and I know I didn’t do it so I offered a little prayer to the goddess of serendipity and decided to post those lines.

But THEN, I noticed that the author looked a bit like the singer whose song was playing as I pulled into the driveway after the school run. It’s called “You & I” and was part of our wedding playlist. I looked up the video for the song because it’s a happy song and if I do nothing else productive today I’m posting something happy. For Aunt Barbara’s sake, I CLEANED OUT MY DESK. I’m done for the week!

Ingrid. Natasha. Those aren’t real common names here, Rocky & Bullwinkle notwithstanding. I found a video of the first song—not a poem after all—right there on youfrickentube. So you get both.

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined

I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you

open up the dirty window

Let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find

Reaching for something in the distance

So close you can almost taste it

Release your inhibitions

P.S. In the back of that notebook? I’d written the original organizational outline of chapters for the book I’m currently finishing up. Wasn’t THAT helpful? I’ve been looking for that for AGES. Guess what that means, honey? When you return from Shanghai this weekend, the dining room table will be covered in sticky notes representing 42 chapters, so that I can rearrange and organize and optimise the order of ideas. And there isn’t a thing you can do about it because it’s the kind of crap you’ve been trying to get me to do forever. So, HA! (My work is always a little more fun if the chaos it creates also accomplishes your personal wish fulfillment because I know you won’t dare touch it.)

P.P.S. I sure hope there’s Chinese food tonight after your meetings.

P.P.P.S. For context, the last time he was in Shanghai, his team took him out to dinner on the last night. “It’s a great restaurant, no one knows about it!” So they got into a taxi and crawled through downtown traffic for 90 mintes to travel about seven blocks. They had been in meetings 12 hours that day and were exhausted, so as Guy stepped out of the car and looked up at the restaurant, he said, “I sure hope they serve Chinese.” The team didn’t get it but his British boss was doubled over.

Need fabulous desserts delivered for Easter?

Pull up a chair and look me in the eye:

chocolate-cake from RedEnvelope.comGo to and buy as many 10″ Three Layer Cakes as you possibly can. Then, hide some. Then, put one out for your loved ones, just to show how awesomely fabulous you are and how much you love your family. THEN, walk around the neighborhood and offer to sell them for three times the price. Bring samples. You’ll make a bloody fortune.

Seriously, it is the BEST chocolate cake I have ever tasted, and that’s saying something.

We had chocolate cake at our wedding. It was lovely, but it wasn’t this.

We just got back from an all-inclusive honeymoon at a four-star resort with all manner of unlimited, yummy desserts, and I can’t even recall now what they were.

Every year since our eldest was born in 1998, we’ve gotten a chocolate cake from the local (and quite famous) bakery for every birthday for every family member, ever. It’s part of the Family Charter. It didn’t approach this.

It’s one thing to have great, thick frosting.

It’s one thing to have incredibly moist layers.

It’s one thing to have mouthwatering ganache layers of frosting in between.

It’s unheard of to have all three. It’s the Unified Theory of Chocolate Cake.

You have no idea how much I wish they were paying me to say this* but it WAS AMAZINGLY AWESOMELY DELICIOUS and I can’t physically defend it 24/7 and I am actually nervous right now because it is downstairs on the counter and at least half the people in the house know it’s there and I’m all the way upstairs and down the hall.

Maybe they have a Cake of the Month deal, and I can open a P.O. Box. No, they won’t deliver to boxes, as well they shouldn’t, because they are delivered packed in dry ice and can sit for three days with absolutely no drop in quality. I know this because I was in Mexico on my honeymoon when my cake arrived, and it sat in my ex’s kitchen from Friday to Monday before I got my mitts on it. In gratitude I cut him a 1/4 share, but now think I was hasty.

In fact, my eldest hasn’t come to stay with me since I got back because of his baseball practice schedule, so he’s been eating off his dad’s share, and when I saw him shovel a piece that filled his hand into his mouth, I was aghast. “No! Small bites! Small bites! You have to savor it!”

“Mom, I haff a mouf full ub cake, I’m still tasting thith.”

“Not the way it was meant to be tasted!” And with that I ran to my car, holding a hankie to my eyes.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this, but I was offered a $50 gift certificate to sample one of their Easter gift offerings, and I ponied up extra for this item because I knew it would score me Mommy points for at least three weeks.

Oh how the world keeps shrinking

We are pulling this wedding together at an astonishing rate: in the last two or three weeks, we’ve found dresses, suits, ties, hair/makeup stylist,  shoes, a venue, someone to decorate, food, a photographer, and an attorney.

pinterest themommyblog wedding planning

Also? An event planner referred us to a photographer who was especially wonderful with children, and when I replied that her calendar showed her as unavailable, the planner CALLED HER and asked her to shuffle her schedule so we could hire her. She just had a feeling we’d get along.

Ohhhh, I’d say that’s an understatement, based on the emails flying back and forth, and the banter between Guy and her through me. They’re killing me. Imagine my relief upon realizing that I wouldn’t have to worry about dropping the f-bomb on the day. It’s more likely to be a drunken-sailor swearfest, if I’m any judge of fun. Won’t my parents be proud?

The photographer is a single mom, and none other than the fabulous Pascale Wowak, who gets the most amazing shots out of small people whose response to direction is indifferent at best. It doesn’t stop there! We have another friend in common, Michelle Riddle, who helped find our first home here in Scotts Valley when she knew a friend was about to up and moved to New Zealand. I heart Michelle.

pascale wowak photography

But wait! There’s more! She is also dear friends with the lovely Rebecca Woolf of Girl’s Gone Child! Fellow author and panelist, and mom of four and all-around stunningly beautiful and successful blogger and writer. She just had twins, and hasn’t slowed down. She takes beautiful photographs of food she made, and of her children, which she also made. And she does it with grace and style. I would be in a clock tower with a .30-.30 and a bottle of Jack.

To put sprinkles on the whole Six Degree Lovefest, we finally heard from the minister we were hoping to have, and in her response she offered a discount for middle school parents. WTF? As it happens, her daughter has been in class with my son since first grade, and they are in eight grade leadership together. Plus? She works at the middle school and recognized my name. Man, I was trying furiously to remember if I’d had a tantrum in the office or done something else unsurprising for me, and I don’t think I have. Score one for public maturity.

Wait. Um. The minister…am I going to embarrass my kids at school? What are the odds that *I* would have to worry about bad behavior getting back to MY KIDS through one of the teachers?

Oh, I can hear you snickering. Shut up. But go look at her site. She’s made of awesomesauce.

New Year's Tips, Recipes and Discounts

I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely drained from the holidays, so imagine my relief  when an email arrived with something that actually looked helpful and yummy. If any of these things recipes pan out, I could drink my face off tomorrow night and consume my last few thousand calories of 2011 at the same time!

Ooh first, 30% off on wine through January 8 at Safeway. I found that one myself and stocked up. I never buy fewer than six bottles at a time. Know why? 10% off the whole purchase, baby. Now you know who my dealer is. And why I’m posting this from Safeway without pay or merchandise. I just want you to be drinking with me. No, really. We will have all six kids for New Year’s Eve. I don’t want to be alone.


Cocktails or mocktails, shoppers can enjoy these recipes in the New Year:

Kir Royale
O Organics™ Organic Frozen (or fresh) Raspberry
2 Tablespoons creme de cassis
1/2 cup champagne or sparkling wine
Directions: Place 1 raspberry in a champagne or wine glass. Add 2 tablespoons chilled creme de cassis and 1/2 cup chilled champagne or sparkling wine.

Tip: If you add in frozen berries, use your leftovers to create a delicious smoothie on January 1, 2012 – a healthy and delicious way to start the New Year.


Pomegranate Rickey 
1 cup 100% pure pomegranate juice
1 cup Safeway Granulated Sugar
1 cup gin
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
6 cups Safeway Seltzer Water, chilled
Fresh pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
Ice cubes

Directions: Pomegranate syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine juice and sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly for 2 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Raise heat slightly and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes; immediately remove from heat. Refrigerate until cool, at least 15 minutes. Can be prepared and chilled, covered, up to 3 days ahead. To prepare cocktails, combine 2 tablespoons each pomegranate syrup and gin, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in each of 8 tall glasses. Stir. Fill glasses with ice and 6 ounces of chilled seltzer. Garnish with pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.

Tip: To prepare non-alcoholic Rickey’s, simply substitute the straight pomegranate juice (not the syrup) for the gin.


Cranberry-Raspberry Spritzer
5 cups Eating Right™ Cranberry-Raspberry Juice Cocktail Light
2/3 cup Grenadine
5 cups Safeway SELECT® Lemon-Lime Seltzer or Soda
1 lemon

Directions: In a 3 to 31/2-quart pitcher, mix 5 cups Eating Right™ Cranberry-Raspberry Juice Cocktail Light and 2⁄3 cup grenadine. Add 5 cups Safeway SELECT® Lemon-Lime Seltzer or Soda (see tip below) and 1 lemon (about 5 oz.), rinsed and thinly sliced (ends discarded). Pour into 12 oz., ice-filled glasses.

Tip: Add mineral water or soda just before serving. For an adult version, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of vodka or Campari to each glass.

Oh, and: For more information on helpful tips and ideas for ending the year in style, visit Safeway’s Holiday Inspirations site. Follow Safeway on Twitter at and connect with Safeway on Facebook at

The Mommy Blog Book List: 2011

I’m sort of sitting here with my jaw hanging open, looking at this list of books I’ve downloaded and read this year. Most of them anyway, I still have a few left to start, but holy hell that’s a lot of books, especially considering that I am supposed to be WRITING books this year.

I’ve alphabetized them by author name so they are grouped by genre and interest, though there’s a disturbing variety in a few of these author’s lists. I did have a few favorites, maybe all-time favorites, and they are The KingKiller Chronicles, Books One and Two. Book three is not written yet, which is putting untold stress on the household as Guy and I are gagging for the last book to be published. DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THAT, MAN!

My other favorite—it’s not listed below because I touched actual paper to read it—is Jenna McCarthy’s If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married. I loved it so much I gave her a free ad in my sidebar. Just click here or on the ad in the sidebar and watch the trailer and stay for the outtakes and you’ll see how if she lived closer I might stalk her if she refused to be my BFF.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did! (If you’re visual and not a list fan, here they are in my Amazon Store. In case I don’t get around to actually adding links in this massive list—which, considering that the kids are on holiday break—seems probable.)

  1. Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul By Abbott, Karen
  2. American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee By Abbott, Karen
  3. No Time Left (Kindle Single) By Baldacci, David
  4. The Sixth Man By Baldacci, David
  5. The Game By Baxter, Alan, Chesler, Rick, Boving, Nicholas, Holloway, J. Kent, Meikle, William, Nichols, Rick, Sakmyster, David, Steeves, R.P., Wood, David, Ellis, Sean
  6. Possible Side Effects By Burroughs, Augusten
  7. Dry: A Memoir By Burroughs, Augusten
  8. Running with Scissors: A Memoir By Burroughs, Augusten
  9. The Juice Fasting Bible: Discover the Power of an All-Juice Diet to Restore Good Health, Lose Weight and Increase Vitality By Cabot, Sandra
  10. Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life: Unleash the Healing Power of Fresh Juices and Cleansing Diets By Calbom MA, John, Calbom MS, Cherie
  11. Stupid and Contagious By Crane, Caprice
  12. Frenemies By Crane, Megan
  13. Micro: A Novel By Crichton, Michael, Preston, Richard
  14. Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda By Darnell, Lorne
  15. As I Lay Dying By Faulkner, William
  16. Bossypants By Fey, Tina
  17. Something Borrowed By Giffin, Emily
  18. The Solomon Effect By Graham, C.S.
  19. The Archangel Project By Graham, C.S.
  20. The Babylonian Codex By Graham, C.S.
  21. Princess Academy By Hale, Shannon
  22. Austenland: A Novel By Hale, Shannon
  23. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef By Hamilton, Gabrielle
  24. The Book of Secrets By Harper, Tom
  25. The Lost Temple By Harper, Tom
  26. Knights Of The Cross (Demetrios Askiates) By Harper, Tom
  27. The Mosaic Of Shadows (Demetrios Askiates) By Harper, Tom
  28. Siege of Heaven By Harper, Tom
  29. The Lazarus Vault By Harper, Tom
  30. Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog (Smashing Magazine Book Series) By Hedengren, Thord Daniel
  31. Scorpia Rising: An Alex Rider Misson By Horowitz, Anthony
  32. Crocodile Tears (Alex Rider) By Horowitz, Anthony
  33. Why Is It Always About You? By Hotchkiss, Sandy, Masterson, James F.
  34. Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic By Howard, David
  35. Queen of New Beginnings By James, Erica
  36. What to Expect When You’re Expected: A Fetus’s Guide to the First Three Trimesters By Javerbaum, David
  37. The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund: A Novel By Kargman, Jill
  38. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and  By Kawasaki, Guy
  39. The Lacuna (P.S.) By Kingsolver, Barbara
  40. 42 Rules of Marketing: A Funny Practical Guide with the Quick and Easy Steps to Success By Laura Lowell
  41. 42 Rules for Working Moms: Practical, Funny Advice for Achieving Work-Life Balance By Laura Lowell
  42. 42 Rules of Sensible Investing: A Practical, Entertaining and Educational Guidebook for Personal Investment Strategies By Leon Shirman
  43. Slave: My True Story By Lewis, Damien, Nazer, Mende
  44. Bad Girls By Lieberman M.D., Carole
  45. The Road By Mccarthy, Cormac
  46. Empire of Gold: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  47. The Cult Of Osiris (Nina Wilde/Eddie Chase 5) By McDermott, Andy
  48. The Tomb of Hercules: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  49. The Hunt for Atlantis: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  50. The Pyramid of Doom: A Novel By McDermott, Andy
  51. The Secret of Excalibur: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  52. The Covenant of Genesis: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  53. The Sacred Vault: A Novel (Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase) By McDermott, Andy
  54. I Love You And I’m Leaving You Anyway: A Memoir By McMillan, Tracy
  55. The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Revised Edition By Miller, Alice
  56. The Night Circus By Morgenstern, Erin
  57. The Naked Ape By Morris, Desmond
  58. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced By Nujood Ali, Delphine Minoui
  59. 10th Anniversary (Women’s Murder Club) By Patterson, James, Paetro, Maxine
  60. Archimedes to Hawking : Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them By Pickover, Clifford
  61. You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool By Rivenbark, Celia
  62. The Last Hunter – Pursuit (Book 2 of the Antarktos Saga) By Robinson, Jeremy
  63. BENEATH – A Novel By Robinson, Jeremy
  64. The Didymus Contingency (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  65. Raising the Past (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  66. Antarktos Rising (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  67. Kronos (Origins Edition) By Robinson, Jeremy
  68. The Last Hunter – Descent (Book 1 of the Antarktos Saga) By Robinson, Jeremy
  69. Threshold (Jack Sigler Thriller) By Robinson, Jeremy
  70. Instinct (Jack Sigler Thriller) By Robinson, Jeremy
  71. Pulse (Chess Team Adventure) By Robinson, Jeremy
  72. Callsign: King – Book 1 (A Jack Sigler – Chess Team Novella) By Robinson, Jeremy, Ellis, Sean
  73. Callsign: Rook – Book 1 (A Stan Tremblay – Chess Team Novella) By Robinson, Jeremy, Talbot, Edward G.
  74. Callsign: Queen – Book I (A Zelda Baker – Chess Team Novella) By Robinson, Jeremy, Wood, David
  75. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s By Robison, John Elder
  76. Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers By Robison, John Elder
  77. Subterranean By Rollins, James
  78. Excavation By Rollins, James
  79. Deep Fathom By Rollins, James
  80. Ice Hunt By Rollins, James
  81. Amazonia By Rollins, James
  82. Sandstorm (Sigma Force) By Rollins, James
  83. Map of Bones: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  84. The Judas Strain: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  85. The Last Oracle: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  86. Black Order: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  87. The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel By Rollins, James
  88. The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two By Rothfuss, Patrick
  89. The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One By Rothfuss, Patrick
  90. The Pharos Objective By Sakmyster, David
  91. Buried Prey By Sandford, John
  92. Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On!: What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters that the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too By Tomlinson, Shellie Rushing
  93. Shibumi: A Novel By Trevanian
  94. Illumination – How One Woman Made Light of the Darkness By van Buren, Sophia
  95. Infinite Jest: 0 By Wallace, David Foster
  96. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA By Weiner, Tim
  97. Satori By Winslow, Don
  98. Dourado (Dane Maddock Adventures) By Wood, David
  99. Cibola (Dane Maddock Adventures) By Wood, David
  100. Quest (Dane Maddock Adventures) By Wood, David
  101. The Zombie-Driven Life By Wood, David
  102. Into the Woods By Wood, David, David S. Wood