Friday, March 29, 2013

The Death of Robert Saylor

Perhaps you've seen in the news that a young man with Down syndrome was reportedly killed--asphyxiated after being restrained by police officers when he refused to leave a movie theater. 

His name was Robert Saylor.  He was 26 years old.  You can go look at his picture here.

There are many friends within this community who are sad and angry.  I am too.  I am sad that a family lost their son and that there are many questions about how his death could have been prevented. 

And yes, stories like this push the bruise of the challenges of special needs that lie ahead for Nella and her friends.  And that hurts. 

I am heartbroken for the Saylor family and what they are going through right now.

If you would like to read more about the incident and the investigation, you can read the Washington Post article about it here.

You can join me in signing a petition requesting further investigation of the Frederick County sheriffs involved here.

*****

Much love to each of your families this weekend.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Love. That is all.

There was a really awesome outpouring of love on Instagram today--readers supporting other readers; friends who've never met offering to help one another, paying it forward.  I am so overwhelmed today by the spirit of love and the way communities come together to support each other.

I love love.

Some love for the little brother on video today:


little brother from ETST on Vimeo. Song:  This is Love by MoZella

(For those who have asked, I did a quick instructional video on how to make these videos.  You can view it HERE.  Promise, once you get the hang of it, these are easy and quick to make! )


Also, there are still Skype slots open for anyone interested in organizing a Bloom paperback book club (pre-order 8 paperback copies and I'll join your book club via Skype).  Offer ends April 1st, details HERE.  Or you can just pre-order one for yourself by April 1st and get a signed book plate

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For those who were a part of that Instagram generosity today, thank you.  You inspired me. And I'm still matching addresses with generous donors, so if you offered to buy a reader a book, stay tuned for a response.

Happy day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

ETST Sponsor: Tea Collection

Welcome back to our sponsor, Tea Collection--bringing globally-inspired children's clothes to little citizens of the world.  My girls have always worn Tea but this past month, I've finally been able to experience their boys' line as well as their baby clothes.  These pajamas are our favorite--the softest, snuggest cotton ever.  In addition to soft cotton, Tea baby clothes offer sweet patterns and attention to detail.  We love their kimono wrap styles.

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Soweto Kimono Romper

Tea's current South African-inspired styles for both boys and girls feature colorful details and fun patterns great for spring and summer.  As warmer weather approaches and you look forward to sandals and short sleeves, consider Tea Collection's great selection of comfy picks that tell a story with their patterns and colors.

My favorite warm weather Tea picks for spring and summer (and Lainey chose her own this time):


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Venda Smocked Romper, Durban Romper, Crocodile Tee, Cape Point Surf Shorts, Sanuk Flip Flops, Woodstock Twirl Dress, Silver Saltwaters
   
Love these rompers for the girls. They remind me of the old sunsuits with shoulder ties I used to wear as a kid.  As always, we love that Tea pieces layer well, mix from season to season, and I love that both my girls love to wear them. See here for more behind Tea's South African inspiration. 

Also, check out Tea's current markdowns for great deals.

Welcome Back, Tea!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Girl on Fire: A Monday Ramble

A bit of a long rambler tonight.  Apologies.

I read this article last week and loved it--confirmed so many things I believe about family and the importance of our stories, except now it has research, statistics and quotes from doctors behind it.  Now if I could just get a doctor to quote something about the proven existence of unicorns.  Lisa Frank needs some back-up.

******

We did the county fair this weekend--not went to the fair but did the fair, two entirely different things. 

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If we simply went to the fair, we wouldn't have come home smelling like hay and pigs and corn dog grease or cursed the fact that it costs a bazillion dollars to ride a rusty flying shark.  And we wouldn't have that famous fair story to tell--you know, the goldfish prize our kid won, the one that lived all of seven hours.  

This is what it looks like to do the fair:

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It's a carnival hangover.

It does however come with its perks.  The fair is basically a crayon box.  A dirty one but nevertheless, colorful.  Nevertheless.  Sorry, just wanted to type that word one more time.

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Why is the sight of my man shoes dangling from a swing so funny? (photo credit, friend Andrea)

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Mama circled back to Naples for a day after some other Florida visits

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Lainey returned home from the fair with her friend Aleena, both of them toting plastic fish bowls with goldfish who didn't stand a chance.  We did our best, we did.  Bubbles knew nothing but love for his short time in our home.  But ironically, early Palm Sunday, he started making his journey out beginning with an impressive sideways swim.  I actually still have a string of texts saved in my phone from his, um, journey. 

Friend: Did the fish survive the night? 
Me: Lying down but gills moving. 
Friend: I'm sorry. Do you want us to go get another one and do a switcharoo?  Is Lainey freaking out?
Me: It's okay. She hasn't noticed.

I didn't say anything about the fish to Lainey, but mid-evening she asked if I could call her friend.  Without questioning, I dialed the number and handed the phone to Lainey.

"Aleena?" 
Pause. 
"My goldfish is dead." 
Pause. 
"I said, he's DEAD." 
Pause. 
"I'm serious, HE'S DEAD." 

And then she went on as if it never happened--got off the phone and went on her merry way.  And I decided to sit this one out as far as life lessons are concerned because sometimes I screw things up when I get involved.  Sister's working it out just fine on her own.  Rest in peace dear Bubbles, Hampton Goldfish #7.

***** (In case you wondered, these little asterisks mean "Hey, this blog post has no theme.  Hang on for jolting subject change.")

I ran for the first time in a year the other night.  I've never really been Runner Girl for any extended period in my life, but I've occasionally become her similarly to how I've experimented with Hat Girl, Whole Foods Girl and Girl Who Clutters Her Fingers With a Cool Fistful of Turquoise Rings.  I think I could really become Runner Girl though, and not because I'm good at it either.  I mean, the whole reason why I don't run with other runners is because I'm always the girl who's pretending it's not hard when really I'm dying inside.  And while everyone else is keeping a steady pace while they simultaneously shoot the breeze, I'm focusing on my breath and praying that nobody asks me a question because then I'd actually have to give up the oxygen it's taking to not die to utter a response.  I can do the whole smile-and-pretend-it's-effortless thing for all of about four minutes until I'm panting, hunched over, motioning the other joggers to "keep going, don't worry, I'll catch up, it's just a foot cramp."  So I run alone.  Or run/walk/jog alone. 

I was reminded the other night though just how spiritual an experience running is.  I had no sooner finished a few leg squats in our driveway and started off with a slow and steady jaunt to Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire," and suddenly I was transformed to just that:  Girl. On. Fire.  Here's a life tip for ya:  Feeling down?  Tired?  Doubt yourself?  Need some motivation?  Put your tennis shoes on.  Get your headphones.  Girl on Fire.  Write it down.  Now run.  Yer welcome.

She's got both feet on the ground and she's burning it down.

It was the first time in a while that I felt so completely alone in a good way.  I'm split in two when I run--the me who dwells within and the me who flies up overhead and gets a bird's eye perspective of everything--tells me I'm doing good at some things but need to do better at others. I had a full half hour to focus, accompanied by good oxygenated breaths, the comforting rhythm of my own stride and the music--the music.  Good Lord, what I would do without music.  And even though I wasn't running very fast and my shorts were too tight and I had some hot bra-on-top-of-bra action going on to keep the girls in line, I felt so strong.  Grateful for my capable body that shows the "keepsakes" of the life it carried weeks ago.  In just thirty minutes, I found a clarity and motivation I didn't even realize was missing.  And I'm going to go tap into it again as soon as this post is done.

Cheers to Runner Girl.

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*******

A top-off, a nightcap: happy things that make me smile:

Grandmas who brush hair in morning light.
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I forgot I snapped this picture this weekend.  Found it editing and stared at it for a minute.  I wish I had a picture of my grandma brushing my hair.  I remember her brushing my hair.

Milk Coma Trances
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"My Son"
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Confession:  Sometimes I say "my son" just to feel the way my heart flutters when I say it. 

Squeaky Park Swings
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Spring Traditions
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Brown eggs and regular Paas dye gave us some pretty jewels this year

And one of our last cold, windy nights this season--last week's Down Syndrome Awareness celebration with friends on the beach:

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******

Sorry for the ramble.
Carry on, friends.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

ETST Sponsor: Right Brain Music

I'm a bit fascinated with today's sponsor and was just telling my mom, a piano teacher of many years, about Right Brain Music

I've been searching Craigslist for a small piano (no luck yet) as it's something I want my kids to learn--both because music and piano was a big part of my own childhood as well as the kind of arts I want our family exposed to.  For Nella, it's another great tool to build her opportunities--to introduce her to different kinds of learning and creative expression.

We've only begun to start tapping out notes on our keyboard and fostering our girls' interest to learn more about music, but today's sponsor has encouraged me to take the next step for more introduction.

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Right Brain Music makes learning to read music fun by incorporating right brain learning techniques (bright colors, pictures, funny stories, hands-on interaction) with music instruction. 

Their inexpensive products include flash cards, piano key stickers, practice books, games, dry erase piano key boards, etc.

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All a far cry from my childhood days when I cried on the piano bench next to my mom, unwilling to take her instruction. 

Check out Right Brain Music, read about their learning philosophy and discover their products that help make music learning fun and engaging.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Enjoying: Balls on the Floor

Lest you think that post title is completely inappropriate, let me clarify.  It's the juggling balls--the ones we struggle to maintain some rhythm to as we balance our duties.  Cleaning house and nurturing kids and pursuing talents and doing work and keeping the toilet paper stocked (we're down to paper towel status here).  No one "does it all" at the same time, but the appearance of juggling, say, three balls out of ten while seven lie on the floor ignored, might deceitfully suggest that we are bionic women.  For the record, if I share a photo that shows a clean room, rest assured there's a contrasting pigsty somewhere in the house--ball on the floor.  If I get the kids to the park, have a picnic or make a craft, simultaneously another area of my life took a temporary shove to the back burner--ball on the floor.

My point?  I'm droppin' some balls this week.  And we're just going to have fun kicking them around for a while.

After feeding Dash in the night last night, I wrapped him up in a receiving blanket I found at the end of my bed and tucked him back in the bassinet.  Except it wasn't a receiving blanket because when I woke up this morning, I found him wound in a pair of my yoga pants.  Ball on the floor.

Somehow, the juggling always finds its rhythm again.  In the meantime, I've realized there are other cool games involving balls besides juggling that actually require all balls to be on the floor. Croquet, for one. Or bowling.

So, we're bowling right now.  With bumper guards.


*********
Enjoying...

Big sisters who read to little brothers.  And sometimes accidentally knock books in baby's eyes.

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Pajama Physical Therapy.  Because we didn't feel like getting dressed.

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Cousin Joann whom we love and the reason for a short post tonight because we gosta get our sistahood time in before she leaves.

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Sunset. When your balls are on the floor, run.  Preferably, to the beach.

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Wispy wind hair and little moon sliver eyes. 
(Speaking of, tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.  I feel so lucky to personally know what this day means now.)

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Sisters who play together stay together.

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Baby Sunbathing. Clenched Fists. Chicken Legs.  Polyester Grandpa Socks. And Little foxes.

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Old soul eyes.  He smiles with them.

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Chunka chunka burnin' love.  He's filling out.

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Families in floor heaps.  If the balls are down there, might as well join them.

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His "Leave me Alone" face.

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Happy Humpday, Friends! What are you enjoying? Ready, Go.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ETST Sponsor: A New History

Graphic designer, Alissa Smith, and her shop A New History is our new ETST sponsor this week.  As spring and summer approaches and you're looking for unique gifts for weddings, baby showers, etc., take a look at the customized artwork Alissa offers that brings a meaningful reminder of your family's story to your home.

Shop Favorites:  The State + State Love Equation Prints (great wedding gift!) and Adoption Birthplace Map Prints

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The inspiration behind A New History?  As Alissa says, "My family and extended family and friends are a beautiful mix of love stories, blended families, adoptions, and new babies...I wanted to create beautiful art for the modern family."

A New History also offers customized Family Tree prints, Address art for new homes and a variety of other great personalized prints for gifts.

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See more of Alissa's shop HERE.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Building Mom Connections: Guest Post by Amy Suardi

We're enjoying some family in from out of town right now but happy to share the blog today with my friend Amy Suardi of Frugal Mama.  I met Amy through an e-mail loop of bloggers, started reading her blog and was instantly inspired by the way she genuinely presented ways for living more frugally.  On her blog, Frugal Mama, Amy seamlessly weaves together the experiences we share in raising our families with tips for living more simply and purposefully--easy adaptations we all can make and ideas that go beyond "cutting coupons."

Today, Amy shares ways to connect with other moms and ideas for building a supportive community--a necessity when we're in the trenches of this complexly challenging yet ever so rewarding job of raising our families.


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(photo credit: TLC/Discovery)

******

Banish Mom Isolation and Find the Warmth and Connection You Need
by Amy Suardi

Raising young children can get a little lonely sometimes. Just getting out of the house can feel like an acrobatic feat. And with all of the naps, feedings, diaper changes, and gear, it's enough to make anyone just surrender and just stay home.

Yet mothers are very much in need of communing with others. I find nurturing children extremely yummy and satisfying, but there is also a yucky side. Cleaning up messes, trying to reason with obstinate toddlers, and spending a little too much time alone at the playground can make the days long and the weeks draggy. And if we're not getting enough sleep (who is?) or struggling with parenting issues (who isn't?), then our need for a long chat and a good laugh becomes even more urgent.

Neither my husband nor I live in our home town with family and long-time friends. And since we have moved so much as we were raising our kids (five times in the past ten years), I have to be very proactive about finding friends and creating community. I learned that it's just as important for me to form relationships as it is to get my kids out and about. Because let's face it: if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

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Here are my favorite ways to jumpstart the process of finding kindred spirits and fellow mamas, and start feeling good.


Don't Be Shy -- Sign Up

Over the years, I've realized that it's not necessary to find a best friend or someone whose interests reflect mine. It's just as important -- and easier -- to find someone who is in the same situation.

Because even if we have plenty of friends, our friends are not always in the same life stage as us. Maybe they've gone back to work, maybe their kids are older and busy with lots of activities, maybe they have moved across town.

And really, who else is more willing to listen to dramas about how your baby is waking up every hour or how your toddler pulls everything off the grocery store shelves than someone in the same canoe?

The best way to find people like you is to join groups that focus on your stage of mothering and that will give you a reason to get out of the house on a regular basis. Here are the kinds of groups where I have met people and gotten out of my little micro-world:


* Child birthing classes
* Prenatal or family yoga classes
* Informal playgroups that emerge from these groups (where moms take turns hosting)
* Mother's groups (national organizations have thousands of small group chapters where you live, such as the MOM's Club, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), Holistic Moms, and Parents of Multiples)
* Church- or temple-based parent groups
* Babysitting co-ops
* Parent-teacher associations
* Co-operative preschools or playgroups


The groups I have joined over the years have been like a lifeboat to me. It's not always easy for me to jump in. But once I get over my shyness and my silly embarrassment, I feel so grateful. Besides having met some of the most warm and interesting women, being part of a community is just good for the soul.

I think it helps to remember too that these friends didn't have to be my buddies for life. They may just be my friend in this or that intense period, and that's OK too.


Give and Ye Shall Receive
Whether you're joining a group or hanging out at the baby pool, sometimes it can be hard to get beyond the small talk. But I have found that when I offer to help organize a book sale or a spring party, I interact with people in a deeper way. Working together on something gives me a shared sense of purpose, and the bonds that are formed as a result are stronger.

I know what you're thinking, because I've thought the same thing myself: "How can I help someone else when I'm barely keeping up with my own house and life and kids?" An amazing paradox that I have discovered to be to true, time and time again, is that: when I give my love and energy, I always get more back.

So when I'm feeling overwhelmed and a little down, sometimes the solution is reaching and getting involved. Besides getting to know people, having a project to work on (beyond the relentlessness of cleaning house) really gives me an emotional boost. And the great thing about volunteering for family-centered organizations is that you can always fit it into your life as a mom.

Volunteering has also been a great way to develop my professional skills while staying home with my kids. Before having children I had flitted from job to job, unsure of myself and my strengths. But when my children inspired me to offer to run a cooperative preschool and rally support for our struggling elementary school, I gained confidence and ideas about what I could do later in life.


Feed Yourself by Feeding Others

Perhaps the surest way to deepen relationships is to invite someone over. I find that a relationship always shifts into a more solid place when I invite someone to come in for a snack, a coffee, or a simple dinner. Is it the vulnerability inherent in this act that makes the relationship more real, more serious? I say vulnerable because no one (that I know anyway) has a show house or is a gourmet cook. So bringing someone into your personal space requires a certain courage. It means showing who you really are, with all your imperfections and quirks.

When I was a young mother, I would invite moms and kids over for playdates, and they would invite us over. Sometimes I would invite them to stay for a basic lunch -- grilled cheese sandwiches or pasta with tomato sauce. Since I much preferred to eat in company, the little bit of extra work involved in prep and clean-up was way worth it for me.

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Over the years, my husband Enrico and I have grown to really love having other families over for dinner. Going out to restaurants is expensive and, with young kids, it's the opposite of relaxing. However, inviting people over for a meal can often mean a luxurious amount of talking and laughing while the kids are playing or watching a movie.

I started inviting people over when I had very little experience in the kitchen, and I had my share of 'oops' moments. Like the times when I served raw meat, wincingly salty eggplant parmesan, cold casserole, or gloppy quiche. But hey, we learn from living life and making mistakes, and the more I cook for others, the more I get comfortable and better at it.

But wait: you don't have to like cooking. As a guest, I can say that it doesn't matter what people serve me. I am just touched by the kindness of the invitation, and whether it's store-bought, homemade, or heated up, food prepared by someone else just tastes better. If you're feeling insecure, I say it's always safe to make a family favorite. Even though it may not seem exciting to you, it's still new to your guests, and making something familiar allows you to enjoy your friends, instead of stressing over the food.

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And don't wait until your house is fixed up, organized, or squeaky clean. Inviting someone over is about being friendly, not perfect, and people will love you for it. By welcoming someone into your personal space, you are committing one of the greatest acts of generosity.

Whether we are raising newborns or ninth-graders, getting beyond the demands of our daily lives to connect with others can require a little effort. But it's about taking care of ourselves, really. Just as I am always thankful and even euphoric after making myself get some exercise, I have found that the effort in reaching out to other people always, always pays off.

******

Amy Suardi is a writer, community-builder, and mother of four. At her blog Frugal Mama, she shares about her journey in finding the fun in saving money while keeping life simple so she has time for what matters.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bloom in Paperback

I can't believe it's almost already been a year since Bloom published.  Little did we know last April, our family would look entirely different a year later--more to love.  I finally got to see a copy of the new paperback this week and love the new cover and design--little Nella walking the beach, and that stroller, the one that makes me smile because Brett rigged up a red cap on one of the wheels that doesn't match the silver one on the other wheel.  I kind of love that because it is very "us." 

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The paperback version is the same size as the hardback with the same color photos and slick pages on the inside, except it has this nice new P.S. section with a new essay, new photos, discussion questions, About the Author section and some inspiration behind the book.  Oh, and that New York Times Bestseller stamp on the front, thanks to you. 

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So, I'm taking last year's pre-order campaign and tweaking it a little for the paperback.  Our book club Skype chats ended up being so meaningful last summer, and it was a great way to connect with readers on a deeper level about many of the issues in Bloom that we share--overcoming grief, loving and raising our children, facing hardship with new perspective, friendships, family support, etc.  We talked about Down syndrome, other disabilities, husbands, children, women relationships, coping, writing, etc. Oh, and we had a lot of fun with these chats too.  I felt like I was actually sitting on the couch with readers in their living rooms.  For several of these, we got comfy, wore pajamas--because that's how we talk in real life. 

So, we're doing it again. 

Want to start a book club?  Check it:


Skype Book Clubs Best from ETST on Vimeo.


We're also giving away more signed book plates for single paperback orders.  Last year, we had a little trouble tracking e-mails with pre-orders, so we worked out the kinks this year, and the talented folks at William Morrow made a nice organized document for you to submit your pre-order. 


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To receive pre-order incentives, please note the following:


*  Paperback Pre-orders MUST BE PURCHASED BEFORE 11:59 P.M. ON APRIL 1st, 2013 and ENTRIES ARE LIMITED TO U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY.

*  FIRST STEP:  E-mail proof of your purchase (a copy or screen shot of your Bloom receipt) to bloompreorder@comcast.net.  In the subject line, please specify SKYPE or BOOKPLATE (depending on the number of copies you ordered).  Include your full name in your e-mail.  You do not need to include any other information besides your name and your receipt in your e-mail. 

*  SECOND STEP:  Once you've e-mailed a copy of your receipt to the above e-mail address, please complete your submission HERE

*  Please do not send multiple e-mails or use bloompreorder@comcast.net  for anything other than submitting your receipt. 

*  You will receive your bookplate in the mail when Bloom publishes, and you will be notified via e-mail when your bookplate ships. If you ordered 8 or more copies, you will receive an invitation to schedule your Skype chat on or before April 2nd.  Skype chats can be scheduled for blocks available from April 8 to September 30, 2013.


Got it?  Two Steps:  E-mail your proof of purchase to bloompreorder@comcast.net and then submit your information HERE.


You can pre-order the paperback of Bloom at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books a Million and IndieBound

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sexiest Cat in New York

I had a Lender's bagel for breakfast this morning.  A packaged name brand bagel that I pulled out of a smashed stack wrapped in plastic, a far cry from the real one I had two mornings ago--a chewy hunk of dough toasted to perfection and smothered in good cream cheese.  It's one of the things I love most about big cities--food, and lots of it.  And it's not just that it tastes good, it's the fact that food's available in such a diverse selection of places and cuisines, at any time of day, and amid the ambience of your choosing. 

So yes, crappy bagel this morning--I'm back from New York.  Yawning, moving slowly, but home.

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Hot pretzel at the corner of 5th and 51st.

New York is intense--the sights, the sounds, the motivation, the energy.  Even the die-hards--the ones who need taxi exhaust like oxygen and can't sleep in silence--they'll tell you they have to get away from the city sometimes too to recharge themselves.  While one moment they're gushing about their love for the quick beat of their city's pulse, the next they're hopping a bus to the Hamptons to escape the effect of New York--they've flatlined.

I say all this because there's something about that love/hate relationship for big cities that sheds light on what makes them so fascinating to me--it's the way the good and the bad exist together symbiotically.  The height of the Empire State Building needs small buildings to highlight its greatness.  The diners and cheap hamburger joints need the contrast of expensive fancy restaurants to make them what they are--affordable.   Adverse settings and situations dwell in almost every corner in New York, and hardly anyone even notices the differences, as if it's all part of the city's harmony.  Graffiti on gorgeous church walls, garbage littering the entrances of ornate buildings, bright city lights against the dark night sky, courtyard gardens sprung up along urban streets, run down buildings sharing the shadows of impressive new architecture, and life and color brilliantly splashed against otherwise unnoticed landmarks. 

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There is a distinct beauty to how it all exists together.


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This city is a powerful place to utilize the gift of perspective.  Somewhere between the downfalls of grimey, crimey, loud, smoky and stressful and the romanticized notions of art, culture, power, luxury, rich and famous is the middle place of what the big city is to me--an anthology of colors, cultures, ideas, and ways of life.  They exist both old and new, and it's all important--every neighborhood, every person.  If only everyone could see that.

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Okay, I'm taking off my essay shoes and slipping into some comfy stream-of-consciousness slippers.  And speaking of shoe exchanges, unrelated sidenote:  Saturday morning, I walked a gazillion blocks (no really, a gazillion) wearing wedges, and my feet will never ever be the same.

I suppose that beginning city sermon does wrap up our weekend because among the inconvenience of travel, there was so much--um...how you say in English?--awesomeness. We here at Enjoying the Small Things like to give credit to said awesomeness.  So, I'll dish it up outline style because I used to be a teacher and teachers like outlines.

A:  City Babe.

Dash spent almost every moment of the trip tucked in a baby carrier.  It was wonderful, almost like being pregnant again except I could really kiss his head instead of imagining kissing his head.  His body remained glued so tightly against me, shielded from the city, like he was part of me. I peeled him off for a few photos in Central Park.

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Thank you to my dad and Gary who came along on this trip to help out

He slept. He slept, he slept, and he slept. And when he wasn't sleeping for those two little seconds, he was yawning because apparently little babies aren't amused by really big cities.

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I'd like to interrupt this post to feature Mr. Pea, the cat who I promised his picture would appear on the blog. He photo bombed everything this week until finally I was like, "Dude, alright.  You can be on the blog."  Then he bribed me to title this post "The Sexiest Cat in New York" and, well--now you know where the title came from.

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B. Kill Five Birds with One Stone. (Except we don't kill birds. Because that would be inhumane.)

This trip worked out timely to incorporate several things I needed to do--a Bloom paperback publishing meeting (check in tomorrow for fun paperback release deets--book clubs are the new black!) as well as the Books for a Better Life Awards for which Bloom was nominated as a finalist in the "First Book" category.

Bloom didn't win, but the night was incredibly meaningful--being there among authors I respect and admire, hearing so many stories of people striving to live their best lives and writing to help others do the same, sharing the evening with people I've "just met" but feel I've known forever.  There was a lot of smiling.  And it was very special seeing the cover of our book on a big screen, knowing it's out there in the universe helping people.  (for a list of all the incredible books that were nominated and those honorees that won, see the Books for a Better Life site.  The MS Society has done so much to help people live better lives, and recognizing these books is just one of many.  I have a whole list of new reads after attending)

We also shared part of the weekend with a fabulous group of women at a brunch to honor Claire Bidwell Smith and her book, Rules of Inheritance.

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Left: Claire and Jessica of Momma's Gone City

We talked about grief and loss, raising kids and writing, but also about the importance of women supporting women--how we need each other, how we are more powerful both individually and collectively when we respect and celebrate each other. 
That theme continued when I had the opportunity to meet Sarah, an NYC reader who had shared her story with me a few months prior.

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Sarah lost one of her twin boys some years ago when he was 15 months old.  This mama has experienced the deepest grief, the hardest loss, and all I wanted to do was hug her and not let go.  We sat and talked about life for a while until she stopped and pulled out something from her purse she wanted to pass on--some knit booties for Dash that used to belong to her James.  They are so special--we are honored to be able to carry on his memory.  This mama is a strong one, and she too is using her heartache and her love to share with other women, to connect, support and move forward. 

The incredible energy of this city belongs to the people, and every time I return, I meet new faces, hear more stories, and come home inspired.

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Meg Thompson--my agent and dear friend

C.  Coming Home is Good

Brett texted me pictures of the girls every day, this one my favorite:

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'sup, Canadian readers?!

They're wearing their Canada shirts.  And their "Hi Mom, We Miss You" faces.

Thankfully it's spring break this week, so all the pieces of our puzzle are present.  That was a lot of P's.  We have messes, a suitcase of laundry, work to attend to, cheap bagels but a family reunited.  In city terms, we'll call that grafitti on a gorgeous church wall.  It all exists together which makes it exactly what it should be...our life, our own little city.  Minus one sexy cat. 

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