Umbrella Love

Books I've Read, 2012 Edition

This is my year!  I have made it beyond 52 books!

1.  1Q84- Haruki Murakami
2.  I Am Number Four- Pittacus Lore
3.  Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea- Chelsea Handler
4.  Harvesting the Heart- Jodi Picoult
5.  One Day- David Nichols
6.  A Dance with Dragons- George RR Martin
7.  The Power of Six- Pittacus Lore
8.  The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins
9.  Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins
10.  Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins
11.  Growing Up Amish- Ira Wagler
12. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang- Chelsea Handler
13.  My Horizontal Life- Chelsea Handler
14. Au Revoir Crazy European Chick- Joe Schreiber
15. The Lost City of Z - David Grann
16. The Omnivore's Dilemma- Michael Pollan
17. The Girl Who Was on Fire-  Leah Wilson
18.  The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook- Emily Ansara Baines
19.  The Red Garden- Alice Hoffman
20.  The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead-  Max Brooks
21.  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?- Mindy Kaling
22.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-  Steig Larsson
23.  The Girl Who Played with Fire- Steig Larsson
24.  Divergent- Veronica Roth
25.  The Descendents- Kaui Hart Hemmings
26.  Sisterhood Everlasting- Ann Brashares
27.  Safe Haven- Nicholas Sparks
28.  Look Me in the Eye- John Elder Robison
29.  Fifty Shades of Grey-  EL James
30.  Fifty Shades Darker-  EL James
31. Fifty Shades Freed- EL James
32.  The Wedding Ceremony Planner- Rev. Judith James
33.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest- Steig Larsson
34.  Fifty Shades of Grey-  EL James
35.  Fifty Shades Darker-  EL James
36. Fifty Shades Freed- EL James
37.  Lamb- Christopher Moore
38. Sex God- Rob Bell
39. The Dark Side of Disney- Leonard Kinsey
40.  Our Kingdom of Dust- Leonard Kinsey
41. Delta of Venus- Anais Nin
42. Dead Reckoning- Charlaine Harris
43. The Restoration- Amanda Stevens
44. The Kingdom- Amanda Stevens
45. World War Z- Max Brooks
46. Shadow of Night- Deborah Harkness
47.  Ready Player One- Ernest Cline
48.  Amy, My Daughter- Mitch Winehouse
49. The First Days- Rhiannon Frater
50. Fighting to Survive- Rhiannon Frater
51. Siege- Rhiannon Frater
52.  The Prophet- Amanda Stevens 
53. Insurgent- Veronica Roth
54. Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife- Raymond Moody
55. The Thirteen- Susie Moloney
56. Sixty One Nails- Mike Shevdon
57. The Abandoned- Amanda Stevens
58.  The Road to Bedlam- Mike Shevdon
59.  Beastly- Alex Flinn
60. Fallen- Lauren Kate
61. A Reliable Wife- Robert Goolrick
62. Three to Tango- Emma Holly, Lauren Dane, Megan Hart, Bethany Kane
63. Torment- Lauren Kate
62. Passion- Lauren Kate
63.  Rapture- Lauren Kate
64.  Fallen in Love- Lauren Kate
65. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
66. Warm Bodies- Isaac Marion
67.  Wallbanger- Alice Clayton

Books I've Read, 2011 Editon

I'm going to make it this year!  One book a week.  52 books.  Here we go!

1.  The Shack- Wm. Paul Young
2.  Midnight Sun- Stephenie Meyer (again)
3.  The Help- Kathryn Stockett
4.  The Complete Tightwad Gazette- Amy Dacyczyn
5.  Freedom- Jonathan Franzen
6. Twilight (yes, again) - Stephenie Meyer
7.  New Moon (yes, again) - Stephenie Meyer
8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot
9. Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden
10.  Blessings- Anna Quindlen
11. Eclipse- Stephenie Meyer
12.  Go Ask Alice- Anonymous
13.  Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide- Stephenie Meyer
14.  Game of Thrones- George RR Martin
15. A Clash of Kings- George RR Martin
16.  Love Wins- Rob Bell
17. Water for Elephants- Sara Gruen
18.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (again)- JK Rowling
19.  A Storm of Swords- George RR Martin
20.  A Stolen Life- Jaycee Dugard
21.  A Feast for Crows- George RR Martin
22.  Breaking Dawn- Stephenie Meyer (again)
23.  Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone- JK Rowling (again)
24.  The Phantom of the Opera- Gaston Laroux
25.  A Stolen Life- Jaycee Dugard
26.  A Discovery of Witches-  Deborah Harkness
27.  Medium Raw- Anthony Bourdain
28.  The Night Circus- Erin Morganstern

Books I want to read:  Nickel and Dimed- Ehrenreich
Part-Time Indian- Sherman Alexie
Crank- Ellen Hopkins
Lush- Natasha Friend
What My Mother Doesn't Know- Sonya Sones
Sing You Home- Picoult
Bossypants- Tina Fey
Umbrella Love

They looked at me funny when I said the name was offensive

This past weekend was Andy's first Cub Scouts Indian Pow wow.  (Hence the title of this entry.  And it's true, actually.)  It was an overnight camping trip at the local Boy Scouts camp that required me to buy or borrow a bunch of camping equipment that I didn't have or know I needed until right before the trip.

This was considered a family camping trip and an such we took all four kids with us.  Can you say "chaos"?  

I borrowed an 8-man tent from my friend, Carly, fully aware that it would never hold 8 men.  We were squeezed in like sardines with the six of us.  Four of us are shorter than 4 feet so I don't know how they come up with these numbers.  I'd never erected a tent before (that's what she said... ) so we did a test run in our living room the night before the trip.  We managed to get two queen sized air mattresses in the tent and a twin but when we were all sleeping there was literally no floor space that wasn't air mattress. 

We saw a group of native Americans dance.  We ate hot dogs.  There were some games.  A flag ceremony.  A campfire.  Pouch dinners.  Then we slept.  

On Sunday morning we hiked to an open air church for services.  There were s'mores and banana boats and we came home.  Sore.  Exhausted. Tired.

On Sunday afternoon I could literally not keep my eyes open.  Seriously.  It was horrible.  I was sore for 2 whole days.  
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Umbrella Love

Bright lights, big city

`Wayne and I decided earlier this year that we wouldn't have big birthday parties for the kids this year.  We inevitably end up spending a bunch of money and spend a lot of time getting the house together before and afterward and I just haven't wanted to deal with it.  Instead, we decided to give the kids special experiences.  Something fun and memorable and out of the ordinary.   Lexi's seventh birthday was on the 12th of April and our big experience for her was a trip to New York City. 

Originally, the plan was to take her to American Girl Place for shopping and the Plaza Hotel for tea a la Eloise.  We begged my mom to babysit Nathan and she agreed, but as we got closer to the day of the trip, we decided to take Nathan along too.  (Bad move on our part there...) We expanded our plans to include a trip to the Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaur bones and the Easter Island "Dum Dum" statue from the Night at the Museum movie with Ben Stiller.  

We drove to Newark and popped in to my parents' house for a potty break before taking the PATH train into the city and switching to the subway to get to the museum.  Yeah, doofus that I am, I put us on an express train that took us to Harlem before we crossed the platform and headed back south to the museum, which has it's own subway stop.  I thought that was pretty nifty.

The kids enjoyed the museum even though it was crowded.  Nathan was a little nightmare.  He wanted to climb on everything and he wouldn't stay with us and he kept pulling away.  He was clearly tired but there really wasn't anything we could do about that.  Lexi was adorable, carrying her American Girl doll in her little matching outfit.  

We took a cab from the museum down toward the Plaza but with crazy traffic and pedestrians, the drive dropped us off a block away and we were fine with that.  We spent an hour or so in the Eloise shop-- a total frenzy of girliness and pink.  It was adorable and as overpriced as expected.  We didn't do tea at the Palm Court because it was really expensive and I'm not sure that the kids would have really behaved.  

We walked from the Plaza to American Girl Place and we were all starting to get worn out but Lexi had fun picking an outfit for her doll and then having her doll's hair done.  Yes, the doll.  Got her hair.  Done.  Seriously.  The whole experience was very cute.  

We walked to my favorite BBQ place in the city- Virgil's- and waited half an hour for a table.  Dinner was fantastic but Nathan was falling asleep.  It had been a long, active day for all of us.  We walked from Virgil's out to Times Square so that the kids could see it and I could snap a few photos and then we walked back to Macy's to take the PATH back to NJ.  

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Umbrella Love

Disney's Happily Ever After Contest

Disney Fairy Tale Weddings is giving away a free wedding, complete with Cinderella's glass coach to one lucky couple.  Of course, Wayne and I entered.  They only gave us 1000 words to tell our story and that's not nearly enough!  You can vote every 24 hours until the contest ends and we've been trying.  We were, at one point, as high as 9th place, but we've fallen.  I found out today, some of the top entrants are spamming the universe for votes so I'm trying my best to get the word out and get us some votes too.  

Here's the website:
Juli and Wayne's Entry: Second Chances are Magical

After Wayne's unemployment, my continued unemployment and everything else, we still have this dream of getting married at Disney and we're struggling to make that happen.   Apparently some of the other entrants are using a site called "Get More Votes Online" and have close to 1000 votes already!  That's crazy!   I feel like a jerk for posting about this here and on Facebook.  Still, I feel like I have to try, you know? 
Document Life

Too school for cool

I woke up at 6:30 yesterday to drive out to New Jersey to attend an all alumnae reunion at my high school.  My all-girls, Catholic high school. 

Saturday night was filled with apprehension and nervousness about going back.  I was stressed about what to wear and how it would be.  I graduated from high school seventeen years ago.  I am a completely different person than I was back then.  Why should I still be scared of Sister Regina, the nun who is still the principal of the school?  I'm an adult.  A mother!

I made the 2.5 hour drive out to the school and noticed during a bathroom break that the blouse I was wearing had a stain on it.  So with 15 minutes to spare, I stopped at the Target near the school and bought a new blouse, and then a pair of shoes since the ones I'd been wearing didn't match with the new blouse- a situation that only added to my anxiety.

My friend Robyn, with whom I've recently reconnected, was late, so I sat with the only other attendee from my class year during the liturgy.  I really should have planned to miss the religious ceremony portion of the morning.  I no longer consider myself Catholic so the service made me slightly uncomfortable. Overt religion in any form makes me uncomfortable.  I sat toward the back and off to one side and remembered that these liturgies were a monthly part of my high school experience.

After the service there was a brunch in the gym that looked to my memory, exactly like the luncheon they had for my class right before we graduated-- right down to the red paper tablecloths and yellow napkins and daffodils in vases on the tables.  Many of my old teachers were there and they looked the same.  Some remembered me, some were a little obvious in checking out my name tag.   Robyn and I were aghast that they had a fountain serving mimosas.  Alcohol at our high school!!!  Insanity.   Mr. U, one of my religion teachers, made a little slideshow of all of the attendees senior portraits.  It was fun.  Then they set us free to roam the building.  It was absolutely astounding-- with the exception of removing phone booths and adding an elevator to comply with ADA laws, the school is EXACTLY the same.  

Now, if only my class could get their acts together and plan a class-specific reunion, memory lane could be even more fun.
Umbrella Love

A recurring frustration

I'm elbow-deep in the hardcore job searching.  Time is running shorter and shorter to save money for this wedding so I need to be working.  It's not so easy when so many other factors have to be taken into consideration.  I have a certain amount I have to earn as a salary to even make working worth it-  it has to cover daycare (full day for Joey, for now, and before/aftercare for Andy, depending on the hours and location) and be more than I'm getting from unemployment (for the few months left that I will receive it!).  

So I weekly scour the ads online and go through the Sunday classified in the local paper.  I apply to 10-15 jobs per week and so far I've had one set of interviews, was offered the job and then the offer was rescinded, leaving me completely crushed.

(distracted by Joey, lost my train of thought... a common occurrence) 

Wayne's brother posted an article to Facebook this morning and it's nothing new, I believe I've seen this particular list before, it still had the power to take my breath away on several levels.  

22 Secrets HR Won't Tell You About Getting a Job

First, the absolute condescension in the tone of these HR people, the contempt they have for other people, it's horrifying.  Follow that up with a good helping of blind-to-what's-going-on-in-the-world.  Hello?  Global recession.  Ten percent unemployment across the board. And they say "we won't even consider anyone who has been unemployed for six months or more."  Argh.

I knew weight was a factor too.  To many people overweight equals lazy.  I guess in some cases that's true.  I don't feel like it's the case for me.  Why is it illegal to discriminate based on skin color, race, religion or sexual preference but it's perfectly acceptable and expected to be judged based on size? 

I have to get my nose back on the grindstone but I felt like I had to get this out of my head before I explode.
Sassy ME

Brain dump

Had a busy but good weekend.  I dropped the boys off at Steve's on Friday and drove home by way of Chipotle.  Lexi and Nathan were feeling better this weekend although Nathan did throw up in Wayne's car.  The poor little guy gets horribly carsick.

All day Saturday was spent cleaning.  I love that Spring cleaning purge.  Just time to get crap out of the house and do the intense cleaning that really needs to be done after a whole winter of being trapped in the house.  Plus it was a really nice day, so the kids played outside and I had all the windows open.  Wayne put away the ginormous mountain of clean laundry that had accumulated in our bedroom.  I have no issue with sorting, washing and drying clothes.  I just hate putting it all away.  And I especially hate folding kids' pajamas.  I don't know why.

Sunday was my Scentsy party.  I got out of bed at 7:00 am (a miracle on a weekday, let alone a weekend!) and did my grocery shopping then came home and cooked all of my goodies for my friends.  I think it was the first party where I was done with all of the prep when my guests started arriving!  Go me!  And I managed to change my shirt and put on a little makeup too!  My long-lost friend, Robyn, from high school drove all the way out from Jersey to attend.  It was like not a day had gone by.  The only little gray cloud was that my sister didn't make it.  She had been all excited to come but apparently was not feeling well enough to make the trip.  

After everyone left, Wayne and I settled in on the couch, in our clean house, and just chilled.  We needed it.

Today is rainy, gray and cold.  I need to get off my butt and straighten up a bit in the kitchen and start making dinner.  I'm making breaded pork chops with panko but it's much more fun to use the Japanese word.  Tonkatsu.   TONKATSU!!!!! It makes pork chops sound so much more exciting.
Umbrella Love


My spring cleaning to do list literally covers two sheets of looseleaf notebook paper.  I am just so sick of the clutter and mess.

Top that with the blown over wooden playset issues I am also dealing with and you have one stressed out Juli.  

So the way I cope is I do the fun, easy things on the list, like moving decorations around, and the easy quick things, like vacuuming the living room floor, and ignoring the big stuff, like the giant mountain of laundry that is calling my name and all the closets that vomit stuff on me when I open the doors.

That said, I was busy earlier this week doing a nifty little contract job for a company that sells tests to HR people.  I wrote a test on business writing.  Pretty spiffy since I had most of the materials laying around from when I taught, gasp, business writing.  More padding for the wedding account.

The problem with being at home

Maybe it's just that it's been too long?  I swear, before I was a SAHM, I used to have profound thoughts, get engaged in deep conversations and be able to articulate myself in a way that indicated that I had some level of intelligence.

Yes, the use of the past tense there is intentional.

I don't know if this is the last residue of the aftermath of the interview debacle or something else.  I remember a time when as soon as anything happened to me, I couldn't wait to race to LJ and try to make an interesting/funny story out of it.  Facebook has really changed that.  While I think it's more difficult to be interesting in a pithy little one-liner, I don't think that it helps people know who I am as much as LJ did.  That I have people who are my "friends" on Facebook who were barely acquaintances in high school or college ...

See.  That's exactly the problem.  Joey called me to get him something.  Wayne sent me an instant message.  I responded to something on Facebook and just like that, I lost my train of thought.  I can't remember what I was going to write about the barely friends on Facebook.  

I do think I am going to do a purge and unfriend my former students and anyone I don't know that well.  I am proud of myself for personally knowing every person on my friends list, even if they are only online friends.  (I feel bad typing "only" when I've known some of them for over a decade, even if we've never met face to face.) 

Okay, this is my second return to this window. 

I miss writing.  I miss putting together a string of thoughts or telling a story in more than 140 characters.  

I have an idea for a novel and I've started to flesh it out.  I just need to find the time and the solitude to work it out.

In the meantime, I have gotten a little side job writing tests for a company that makes and sells tests for human resources professional use in the hiring process.  It's a little money to add to the wedding deposit fund.  More importantly, it gives me something new to put on my resume, even if it is only contract work.   It makes me focus and refresh my skills a little too. 

Other than that, there's drama.  There's always drama.  

Wayne and I did have a very nice weekend visiting with my family, being able to enjoy my parents and sister and aunt without being in a rush and worrying about a drive.  We played cards, took my aunt out for Japanese food and met up with my bestie and her BF for early dinner on Sunday.   It was good.