Thursday, February 28, 2013

Natalie's Book Nook

Here's my new thing.  Mary Jo says it's important to have a different look for a returning sort of post.  So, then she made me this.  And I LOVE it so much!  Basically it means when you see this cutie logo there will be book talk happening!  And maybe a giveaway!

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Book Talk: Me Before You & A Giveaway for YOU!

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes is one of the best books I've read in quite some time.  It pulled me out of my reading doldrums and started me on a book feeding frenzy.  I have to warn you ahead of time that some of the words used by others to describe this novel include:  "heart-wrenching" and " weepy."

The story is one of Louisa Clark, an intelligent, working class, yet somewhat aimless young woman who stumbles upon a job caring for Will, a 35 year old quadriplegic.  Louisa has no nursing or care giver experience yet is still hired by Will's mother, the very stiff and cold Camilla. They have a rough start of it seeing as Will is incredibly angry and bitter, and Lou is snarky.

What follows is a love story of Love Story proportions.  This isn't a book of surprises, it won't take many turns that are unexpected.  But the writing is lyrical, the story is compelling, and the characters are completely relatable.  And it's British, so of course that makes it yummy.

Let me end by saying when I got to the last page I wiped my eyes and hugged the book to my chest and sighed.  There was nothing else to do.

"What is in this blog for me?" you might ask yourself.  Well here is the answer!  You can win an ADVANCED READING COPY of soon to be released title!  Oh yeah!  You can be reading a new book before anyone else can read it!  Just comment on this blog and I will enter your name in a drawing to win!  You must enter before March 8, 2013- because without rules there is just chaos!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


When I was in elementary school I remember spending a lot of my time being terrified that I would be called on to do something in front of the entire class.  Every day we would read aloud, each student would read a paragraph to the class.  I would always count ahead and figure out which paragraph was mine and read it in my head over and over so that I would be certain of every word and get the inflection just right.  Crazy?  Ummm, yeah, nice to meet you.

I couldn't take the pressure of the daily kickball game at recess.  I hated the thought of being the one to let the team down.  I hated the choosing of the teams.  I remember standing in the outfield praying that the ball wouldn't come to me.  I've never been one for group sports, I'd much rather rely on myself and have no one that has to rely on me.  Especially for something as unreliable as my kicking, catching, or throwing skills.

While Hannah has many of my shy tendencies, like being nervous at large performances, and not particularly enjoying people looking at her,  she also is so brave.  She has no problem getting up in front of her class.  When I asked her about it she said, "But Mama, they are my FRIENDS!"

Hannah's teacher recently provided a challenge to her students.  They can pick from any number of things on a list to get points.  Of course, the first thing I do is peruse the list for items I would do, like draw a picture, or read a poem and write about it, anything I could do on my own that didn't involve getting up in front of the class.  But Hannah?  She picked "Write a song and perform it for your classmates."  That one sentence has all my nightmares rolled into one.

Here's the song she wrote and performed:

Honeybee,  Honeybee
Where is your mommy?
I don't know,
I am lost.
Well, I will help you
Don't worry!
You are my best friend now.
You are SOOOOOO nice.
Do you want to go play, Honeybee?
I might sting you!
Don't you worry-
Friends don't sting friends!

The next day she made up a dance and performed it for her class.  Again, for me this is nightmare and vomit inducing, but she just went to school, made up a dance at recess, and viola!

I know how crippling shyness can be, how it can prevent you from doing so many things, how long it takes you to overcome, if ever.  There are many things about myself that I hope Hannah inherits, but I hope shyness isn't one of them.  So while it was a mystery to me why ANYONE would ever look at that list and pick the things she did, I'm so proud of her for it.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Zombies, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Valentine's Day

The past week of my life has been spent completely immersed in zombies. I have been watching all three seasons of The Walking Dead at a fairly quick pace. I watch zombies on my lunch breaks at work, I stay up late and watch zombies until I get scared and have to go to bed.  I text every single shocking thing that happens to my friend, Mary Jo.  If you have seen The Walking Dead, you know that shocking things happen frequently on this show (and if you haven't- maybe you should do that RIGHT THIS MINUTE!)

But while I've been living and breathing zombies and putting together my zombie apocalypse plan (those things don't put themselves together, you know,) Mary Jo has been re-reading all the books in the Little House on the Prairie series.  Then she texts me every single shocking thing that happens.  If you have read the Little House books you know that shocking things happen frequently (well, maybe not frequently, but sometimes.) PS- If you haven't read the Little House Books, we cannot be friends.

So our texts have been real messes of frantic nonsense.  (ME: "Let's talk about the woman that has the zombies as pets" MJ: "How come every single time Pa and Ma go to town there is a disaster?") Of course they make total sense to us, but I can't imagine what someone would think if they stumbled upon our "conversation" by mistake.

Then, as if we don't have enough going on with the zombies and the prairie, we both have to WIN Valentine's Day.  Yes, I know we are competing against no one.  Or everyone.  Sometimes it's hard to tell.


Cute little Valentine collection box made out of a cereal box.  

So, with all this winning out of the way, and zombie watching complete, I am pretty exhausted.  And maybe a little bit mad at Mary Jo.  For introducing me to the zombies, you know. She must have sensed my anger (or perhaps she read the repeated texts I sent her during my marathon Walking Dead watching that said "I hate you.")  Whatever.  She KNEW.  And to make it up to me she sent me MY VERY OWN XANADU CD!!!!  I always knew that I loved Xanadu, but I think I might have underestimated the number of times I listened to this, because after 25 years I still know EVERY.  SINGLE.  WORD.  I immediately popped this CD in my car player and soon ELO was all up in my business.

Only a true friend would say "I'm sorry for the zombies" with a homemade card and an 80's soundtrack.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When You Lose Your Holly Jolly

Retail Christmases can be ummmm... challenging.  This year was no exception.  There comes a point in every season when I lose my Holly Jolly and no amount of jingly bracelets, potlucks, or Christmas music can fix it.  So, I do what any other person would do and whine on Facebook.  The next day came an outpouring of love and hugs and visits and presents and lucky can one girl be?   When I got to work  that morning I had a gift from my friend David hanging on the front door.  My sweet friend Lene and her awesome kids brought me flowers and box of treats! I got a special hug from  Melissa who is QUITE STINGY with her personal space.  I also got a hug Kristie and a visit from  Phil!  My friend Jenni brought by a yummy treat with a sweet note, and my Bargain Jack brought me a Christmas present.  

How many times do we know when a friend is struggling?  How often do we stop what we are doing and go out of our way to make someone feel better?  Do we think we don't have the time, or that it doesn't matter really?  Well, I can tell you, I got these gifts and hugs and well wishes and IMMEDIATELY by day got brighter.  And stayed brighter.  And the brightness flew out of me and spread to others and before you know it I was hugging customers and throwing parties.

The things that we do affects others.  Sometimes it's the small things that are the most meaningful;  the fact that friends saw my whiny post, thought of me and made plans in their day to include dropping something off with the sole intent of cheering me up- and it did!  

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Hobbies, Fun Facts and Trick Questions

Someone called me the other day at work and asked me to answer a few questions for a regional newsletter.  They wanted me to tell them my hobbies and a few fun facts about myself.  To me, it felt like a trick question: hobbies for a person that works in a bookstore- I'm guessing a large amount of these surveys will include reading as a top hobby.  But what else do I like to do:  crafting, spending time with my family, driving kids around, playing school, playing American girl dolls, volunteering?  How many of these things are things that I like to do, or just things that I do?

Fun facts about myself- well, I think I'm fun, but somehow it didn't translate into "3 fun facts."  It didn't help that every time I mentioned something the person on the phone would make disapproving sounds,  like perhaps my facts weren't as fun as he had hoped.

I left work feeling a little boring, invisible and un-Natalie-ish.

I got home and did my usual: played, made dinner, played, cleaned, played, did homework, played.  Later that night I found my flag raised on my Valentine mailbox, indicating that someone had left me a note!

There are many times when your life belongs more to others than to yourself, and I'm good with that.  Maybe PTO board member, room mother, crafter, game player, and homework helper isn't who I am in the future, and definitely isn't who I was 10 years ago, but it's who my kids need me to be right now- and I'm good at it!

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