The Other Boleyn Girl: A Review

To begin with, this was my first book since finishing the Series of Unfortunate Events and it took me a LONG time to properly disengage myself from Snicket’s amazing series – a long time for me to stop referring to Mary Boleyn as “Not a Baudelaire” – and a long time for me to realize, “Hello, shut up, this story is incredible.” Philipa Gregory has been referred to as one of the best historical fiction writers of her time, and I have to say after reading her novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, which was recently made into a movie, I am agreeing 100%.

Now, it took me half the book to realize that this novel was actually about King Henry VIII and how huge that is – knowing a small portion of the history surrounding this ruler, I became even more intrigued upon this realization and quickly found myself devouring the humongous novel, entering a stage my son will eventually come to know as the “point of no return” – yesterday found me glued on and off to this book, unwilling to put it down for more than an hour at a time, until I finally finished. There were hours I laughed out loud and others where I struggled not to cry bitterly.

This story could be considered grotesque, as it begins with an execution and ends with one, but what fills the heart of this book is stories of love, heartbreak, motherhood and betrayal – at the beginning, Mary Boleyn, the main character is an innocent girl of fourteen, newly married, anxious about having her sister, the other Boleyn, joining her at court and surprised to find she has caught the eye of Henry VIII. Pushed into his bed chambers by her social climbing family, she struggles with falling in love and realizing how worthless and powerful she can be at the same time. When the king’s interests wane, she finds herself easily tossed aside as her sister (who has always been a rival as well as best friend) takes her place as the king’s favorite. The story grows darker, but also more and more fascinating from here on out, with secrets and twists that even history buffs may not anticipate. It ends with a woman very mature for her young age, who defies her family and pursues marriage for love and not advancement, fights for the right to raise her own children and occasionally struggles with the realization that despite their differences, she will always be a true Boleyn girl – with all the deception, deceit, and secrecy that comes with it.

The highlights (despite some being low points) for me, include her experiences as a mother and lover – things that are completely relatable and yet hardly capable of understanding at the same time. Despite the hundreds of years passed, it seems to me that not much has changed – with women still struggling to make names for themselves and yet also struggling to earn the right to raise their own children, nurse their own children, and have a say in their upbringing, all while balancing the art of keeping the eye of their husbands and lovers, indeed, it seems not much has changed, except the type of expectations that keep us from achieving these goals.

Having been raised an only child, I found her relationship to her siblings almost as fascinating as DH’s relationship with his own set of three siblings, while growing to love the characters myself as the book drew on. By the final chapters I felt heartbroken right along with the novel’s heroine and even now, a day later, I find I am not quite ready to put Gregory’s characters to rest. I think there will be a movie theater in my future soon, so that I can see how the big screen will compare to this amazing, incredible masterpiece of a novel – also in my future, a trip to the library to check out the author’s other works – was The Other Boleyn Girl a fluke or one of many masterpieces – we’ll be soon to find out.

One Step Forward, and Then Another…

Went to the mall with DH and MLM to get daddy’s new camera (the Nikon D40 he’s been lusting over for almost a year now). It took long enough, but we finally saved up enough money to buy him the camera of his dreams and he is in hog heaven, so to speak.

We also got new glasses. We had gone to Lenscrafters yesterday, got our eye’s examined and found we both needed a new prescription, but when they quoted us over $300 each for lenses alone, we decided to take out business elsewhere. And a good thing, too, because at the mall today we found a store selling glasses for $99 (frames AND lenses) – um, hello. So, yeah, I won’t bore you with all those details about picking out a new style and getting used to my new prescription, but just say that Lenscrafters is an overly expensive jerk face and I may never go there AGAIN. And you shouldn’t either. 🙂

This mall, btw, that we went to today is our new favorite mall in the world. Their bathrooms are comparable to what I’d picture in the lobby of the most expensive hotel in the world (with nursing rooms and several places to change your baby’s diaper, that feel cozier and cushier than anything you even have at home – they even have training potties! What? And stores and stores galore all seemingly employing the friendliest smartest people ever. I think it may be the miracle mall.
Other exciting moments included glancing at a cute baby across from us at Friendly’s and ogling her ah-mazing place mat. Her mother was kind enough to tell me that she purchased them via the One Step Ahead catalog which I am in the process of signing up for as we speak (type? read?). All in all, it was a good day for parents and toddlers everywhere, and by that I mean, for me, my husband and my son.

Dear Anonymous,

Today I received my first comment on this new blog, from you, dear anonymous, but unfortunately it was lacking in certain elements that I deemed necessary for approval of content, that being, content. I spent several long moments staring at my computer screen with contempt, hoping that the words you had intended for me to read would load momentarily, but alas, nothing changed.

Perhaps you wrote to me in a secret invisible type that I did not have the proper instruments to read, or maybe it was a much deeper meaning than that – could your comment have symbolized the sounds of crickets chirping in the night breeze, so as to inform me that nobody cares? Or that in the end, none of this will matter and words will simply be irrelevant.

Or maybe your computer’s mouse went on the fritz this evening (maybe even at the same time that my mouse, too, decided to play games with me) and while attempting to change it’s batteries it clicked the reply button that you never intended to click, but thus the comment was sent to intrigue me for hours on end…

Regardless of your reasons, dear anonymous, your comment will remain forever in my thoughts and loving memory as I think back upon the early days of this blog – you will always be remembered as the first – the strong silent type who was here in the beginning, although you never did say much, you will still be appreciated. For, sometimes it would seem, that what you do not say, is more powerful than what you do say.

With Sincere Thanks,

mommablogsalot

Eww!! Germy McGerm Germs!!

So, what do we think about air sanitizers and disinfectants? I keep seeing these commercials on tv where Oust is all like “We are so much better than Lysol because…” and then Lysol comes on five minutes later to say, “We are like SO much better than Oust because…” and when I’m not thinking, “When did commercials start to feel like political campaigns and start actually calling out their opponents?” I’m thinking, “Should I be disinfecting and sanitizing MY home?” As you may remember, I’m not exactly a mopping maven or disinfecting diva… So when bzzAgents.com emailed me, inviting me to join the Oust Surface Disinfectant AND Air Sanitizing campaign, I decided it was time to give this thing a shot, particularly since Oust is all about multitasking, and lets me do both at once with one HUMONGOUS can and did I mention they sent me TWO cans for free? Huzzah, if I do say so myself.

So today, my bzzKit finally arrived in the mail via my friendly neighborhood UPS man. And after calming MLM down from the disappointment that our doorbell was not rung because we had company in the form of some relative coming to take him out on a fun play date like on Wednesday, I set to work disinfecting my apartment. It went a little something like this…

1) Open box. Nearly shout with glee – “TWO CANS!!! These are humongous!!! Woohoo!!!!!!”

2) And look, handy dandy paperwork and COUPONS for more free cans!!! (which don’t expire until August, so if all my friends and family DON’T want a coupon and I decide I like spraying spray, I’ll be one well stocked momma.)

3) Carefully read can to insure that spraying spray is not more difficult than it sounds (again, remember the mopping incident).

4) Cautiously shake can and spray on refrigerator handles. Cannot remember if it is Lysol or Oust that says you can spray INSIDE refrigerator and thus refrain.

5) Move on to spraying doorknobs, trash compactor, recycle bins, diaper pail and bathroom.

6) Remember how humongous cans are and start feeling liberal. Spray MLM’s crib, bedroom, my bedroom, and finally the entire living room in one big gigantic spraying extravaganza.

7) Cough, sputter, and rethink extravaganza. Remind myself to next time, not spray so close my personal self. Honestly, the smell isn’t that bad, but I can still feel the fumes….

So how does this work, this spraying thing? I think that the apartment should come equipped with a special “light” that shows me all the germs, so as to determine if my spraying spray has actually accomplished anything worth blogging about. Perhaps my DH can engineer me something? 🙂

The Invisible Woman

Now my son is still too young for a lot of the typical demands of motherhood – I don’t bake for bake sales or sew costumes or help with homework yet, but this article about the invisibility of motherhood on momlogic.com still moved me a great deal. The brief description in my RSS feed led me to think maybe it would be about activism and doing something more with your life, but instead it is wholly focused on the truths of motherhood and embracing what that is. It moved me beyond words. And yet, now I’m going to use words to talk about it some more.

Being a mother is certainly a challenge – the chores and tasks we do are undoubtedly thankless. MLM is too young to thank me of his own accord (although I constantly demand the phrase anyway in an attempt to teach him kindess and manners) and I’m sure that when he is old enough to think of it himself, that most likely he will not.

I know that there will be no awards or medals or praise for defeating the most evil of butt rashes or cooking the best dinner they’ve had all month. Nobody will call the press because I managed to sit through the 100th viewing of Elmo in Grouchland without screaming. And that’s cool. I’m used to the feeling of invisible. If you flipped through my photo albums you’d see 8,000 pictures of the world’s cutest toddler and maybe 4 of myself. I’m the invisible girl behind the camera in pictures and in life. I think all mothers are. Especially SAHM’s with no other career to speak of.

While our husbands go off to make a name for themselves within their careers, we stay at home and strive to make men and women out of tiny neanderthals we call our children. But we did, in fact, sign up for this role. I meant it 100% when I uttered the words “I want to stay home with my children,” (over and over and over again to my disbelieving family) and I still mean it today. Because as thankless as the job is, I think most mothers will agree that it’s also like winning the lottery – we do have the best job in the world, even if it does come with a lack of vacation time and Christmas bonuses.

Anyway, if you haven’t read the article linked above yet, please do so now – because everything I’ve just said is nothing compared to the beautiful speculations in her article.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Review

So when I’m not blogging or parenting or wifeing, I am most likely reading. I’m one of the co-founders of my very own book club, was an English major in college, and used to manage the children’s department at an independent bookstore which sadly closed its doors in 2006. Point being, I like to read – a LOT – and consider myself “something of a literary expert” to vaguely quote one of my MLM’s favorite t.v. shows, Word World (and oh yes, I do love all of the ABC, reading themed shows on PBS these days). So anyway, I read a lot, and the last month has mostly been devoted to reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I’m assuming you’ve heard of it – otherwise, hi there and welcome to Earth!

I’d heard the rave reviews about this series for years, but hadn’t read them myself for various reasons – like being in hardcover for ages, the sheer quantity, and that mild itching theory of mine that a lot of books get seriously over-hyped. But SOME books are hyped just right and when my SIL loaned me the first nine books, really, what excuse did I have?

I began reading this series at the tail end of January. From that point on – it became an obsession – food, sleep, socializing, even my book club books – all took a back seat to Snicket’s genius. My husband endured weeks of me excitedly rambling about how Snicket was the next Chaucer (as in creates a character for himself inside the novel who happens to be less intelligent perhaps on purpose for the sole reason of pointing out the obvious – thus showing his true genius), a real literary pro who had created one of the world’s few masterpieces. I dreamt about this series and frequently found myself referring to the heroine of my book club pick as “Not the Baudelaires.”

But enough fanfare. Really, if you don’t have cheap access to this series, it is a bit of an undertaking and may get expensive at 13 books total (I highly recommend Amazon) but it’s seriously worth it. Here is an author who can pay attention to EVERY detail and ensure you are immersed in his world. And he takes one seriously complicated plot and delivers it in 13 manageable pieces, building and smoothing and leveling so that you properly digest every book. And if you aren’t well read or are in fact a child – his primary audience – this is an excellent series to help you build up your vocabulary and knowledge of the world, as Snicket will constantly define words, explain away anything and give examples of everything, without losing your interest somehow. He accomplishes what those SAT novels wanted to accomplish without being completely nerdy and even I, the English major, learned a few new things in this series. Your parents, in short, will approve.

Anyway, if you or a child you know have been meaning to read this series, run, don’t walk, to the nearest library or bookstore and get ready for one of the best reading experiences of your life. Seriously.

oMop, Oh You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me! a.k.a. Hi!

When I was in college, you know all those three years ago, I hated that whole “first week” pattern of teachers lecturing about what they would lecture about – I always found myself thinking, “Stop telling me what you are GOING to teach me, and start teaching!” So I won’t make that mistake here, dear readers. I won’t tell you for the second or third time who I am, what I plan to blog about and why you should read. Rather, I will simply begin blogging and you can choose whether or not to read, as soon as you see fit. If you love me, keep reading. If I’m like a train wreck you can’t take your eyes away from, again, keep reading. But if you are so bored you’d rather watch water boil, by all means, go cook up some Ramen instead – but then come back and read some more! (j/k, I think…)

Without further adieu, my first REAL post, in which I simply blog:

So, I love my son and all, but in one hour without him this morning I managed to empty the dishwasher and load new dishes, vacuum half the apartment (I may have done more but 10 minutes were devoted to de-clogging the poor beast of all the “fuzz” that My Little Monkey (son, we’ll call him MLM for the sake of conciseness or maybe just clever initializing) has been collecting which didn’t make it past the carpet “brush” thing), mopped the floor with my new oMop (keep reading for my review of said Method-ical mopping system) and took out the trash – that’s right – all by myself – some of said trash has been lingering in this apartment for MONTHS. And in one hour of free time I got rid of it for GOOD.

So, the oMop, purchased at Target a few months ago under the theory that grown assed ladies need to own things like mops and irons, was used for the first time this morning while Sesame Street blasted through the apartment because I couldn’t bring myself to turn off the tube, even though MLM had gone off on a play date with my MIL and thus wasn’t there watching it, if only because the show playing gives me an idea of what time it is, how long he’s been gone and what I should really be doing – does that make sense to anyone else?

Anyway, back to review. Basically, I attach cleaning cloth to the nifty oMop, squirt some cleaning liquid on floor and, um, mop? Right? According to the package, I then let the floor dry and admire my clean floor. This should be easy, but I am not exactly a mopping maven and I’m not convinced I did it right. Maybe I didn’t use enough liquid. Maybe I didn’t scrub hard enough. Maybe it simply hadn’t “dried” yet. Point being, the floor looks the same to me. And there are some spots on the floor that I was hoping would be cleaned up and decidedly weren’t. I ended up moving on to other chores and will try again next week with more vigor in one of the aforementioned areas (i.e. more liquid or more elbow grease). In, oh say, a month, I will probably have decided if it was worth the dough. If I actually commit to things like mopping floors. P’shaw.

Speaking of cheap assed kitchen products, last night our beautiful Chefmate Santoku knife proved that when the famous Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want,” he should have added, “but you will almost always get what you paid for.” Sure we were a bit shocked to see we could get two Santoku knives (the average lookin’ size and the wee baby size (for super skilled toddlers perhaps?)) for the low price of $20 when the average ones can sell on their own from 50-750 dollars, but who were we to complain? Beggars can’t be choosers, and our bank account tells me we are, in fact, beggars. For weeks we were fooled, thinking we’d really hit the jackpot with that $20 and were in love with the best two knives in the apartment. Our knife block mourned our loss of love as we undoubtedly chose Santoku over their sorry asses every day (seriously, our knife block sucks – it was pawned off on us by my parents who also hated it, and probably was given to them by someone who hated it even more…) until one fateful day, i.e. yesterday, when our big daddy Santoku knife met its demise in the hands of MLM’s big daddy, a.k.a. my husband (DH). Simply slicing some of his morning after bread (an Alton Brown recipe involving a half a bottle of beer from one of his cookbooks – a.k.a. DH’s favorite cookbook) for a late night snack, the knife literally broke in half. The handle “exploded” as he worded it, revealing the poor craftsmanship behind our “good buy” – it looks like a real Santoku knife chopped off the handle of our fake Santoku knife and our fake Santoku cried mercy and died. For real. So now we are basically without good knife-age, unless you count the baby Santoku which is still in the drawer but I’m now terrified to use. And our knife block, which will live with us until we can afford a real set of knives and then pawn off the old block on some other sucker.

And that is the story of my one hour without MLM. Are you hooked yet?