Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Are YOU Reading This Summer?

Hi Peeps! Happy Summer! I hope everyone had a GREAT Memorial Day weekend - we sure did. We spent the ENTIRE weekend sunning our buns at the pool - reading and enjoying the first of what I hope will be many lazy summer weekends. I am already loading up the Kindle, getting ready for some GREAT summer reads - more on that later. First - as promised - some of Busy Momma's suggestions for some amazing summer reads.... here we go!

My NUMEBR ONE suggestion for the summer is: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. I stayed up late to finish it last night and I was so sad when it ended - it was that good. It is the story of 3 generations of an Irish Catholic family who spend their summers in a cottage on the beach in Maine. It's got everything a good beach read should have - family drama, humor, unbearable tradgedy, secrets and of course - lots and lots of hope for the future. It was such a beautiful book, one filled with some unexpected turns and populated by female characters with relatable, cringe-worthy flaws. I could go on and on - but this one is a must read. I give it 5 out of 5 starfish! (I'm really ready for summer - can you tell?)

Another amazing read is: The Sisters by: Nancy Jensen. This one is just terrific. It is the story of 2 sisters, separated by a tragic misunderstanding, destined to live 2 very seperate lives. It speaks to us about the impact our decisions have on our lives and how some decisions, once made, can never be un-made. And how all of our decisions have consequences - some unintended. It is a story of survival against the odds and how life really does "go on". I can promise you this - once you pick it up and become involved in the story of these 2 girls, you won't be able to put it down. You will just have to keep reading - well into the night - to see what becomes of these 2 remarkable sisters. This is another 5 starfish read.

And in keeping with the theme of sisters...try reading The Weird Sisters by Elanor Brown. I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 starfish. This is the story of 3 sisters, raised by their emotionally detached Shakespeare OBSESSED college professor father and their mother - who is suffering from breast cancer. The sisters are all called home to help care for their ailing mother. The story itself is wonderful. These three woman are so different that sometimes it is hard to remember that they are, in fact, related! They are beautifully written, complex characters. Named after 3 of Shakespeare's most complex female characters: Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia, they call themselves "The Weird Sisters" - a reference to the 3 witches in "The Scottish Play" - Macbeth. The opening line of the book is: "We came home because we were failures." Need I say more? How can you NOT read on? I only gave it 4 out of 5 starfish because there is one thing about this book that annoyed me - and here it is: this family communicates by quoting the Immortal Bard himself. For example - the sisters learned about their mother's illness in a "letter" sent by their father. And by "letter" I mean - the guy copied a page from one of Shakespeare's plays and highlighted the following lines:
Come, let us go; and pray to all the gods/For our beloved mother is in her pains.
This is how they all learned that their beloved mother was in the thoes of breast cancer. And this is how this guy handles EVERY important interaction with his family. While facinating - it gets really irritating - especially as you get to know and really like all three of these women. You just want to chuck the complete works of William Shakespeare at this guy's head and scream "GET A CLUE!" Which is what makes it such a great read I guess - it just pissed me off at times! If you are a fan of the Bard - you'll love it. If you've never read anything of Bill's since high school and didn't really get it then - I might skip this one.

If you have not yet read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins - get thee to a book store STAT! I know that it is considered Young Adult - but the themes are universal and the story is engrossing. This is another one that you'll be reading by flashlight - I promise. It's got everything ANY reader - male or female - needs. Plenty of action and adventure, surprises that you really can't anticipate, a love triangle - but not a ton of mushy "Twilight"-y drama, political intrigue and real issues that will get you and keep you thinking about the story long after you finish the series.

I have 2 by a GREAT author that you should try on for size this summer. If you like grand, sweeping, epic tales - think Jane Austen or Downton Abbey - only easier and quicker to read - try reading The Forgotten Garden and/or The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. The Forgotten Garden was my favorite of the two- probably my favorite book of the past year. 5 out of 5 starfish! It starts out in the early 20th century with a little girl being told to hide on the docks of London by a woman only introduced to us as "The Authoress" and to await her return. Well - you can imagine what happens as the little girl crouches behind some barrels and becomes intrigued by a group of boys and girls playing on the gangplank and follows them - onto a steamer bound for AUSTRALIA! This is another story that follows 3 generations of women - but it is a mystery. Who is the little girl? Who is the Authoress and how did they find themselves in that position on that particular day? The answers to these questions will truly take your breath away. 5 out of 5 starfish.

For something COMPLETELY different - try World War Z by Max Brooks. OK - hold onto your Pinot Grigios ladies - this one is about a zombie war. (No - PC hasn't hijacked the blog - although he DID suggest the book.) And it is REALLY good. It is actually being adapted into a movie. It is the story of what happens - or what really could happen - to our world if faced with a global crisis. It could be any crisis - nuclear, biological...Max Brooks - yes, son of Mel - chose a zombie apocolypse as his particular allegory. This one is a page turner - I swear. Not too gross, and it gives you cause to think - hmmm - what if????? I'm giving it a 3.5 out of 5 starfish.

And, for one of my tried and true suggestions for the summer - I can always go back to my summer  boyfriend - Mr. Pat Conroy - for a sure-fire, satisfying summer read. I read Beach Music this past year - and man oh man - he did NOT disappoint. It's got everything you'd expect of a Pat Conroy novel...except this one splits its setting between Rome and the beautiful beaches of Sounth Carolina. Every time I read a Pat Conroy novel, I leave it saying: "Oh that one was my favorite". But I think this one just might take the title. It's not a quick read - but you don't want to read Conroy quickly. What a waste that would be. His prose is like poetry. It sings with the life and beauty of South Carolina and in this case, Italy. You can see and smell and taste the story if you take the time. LET YOURSELF take the time!!! This is a great one to pack up and put in the beach bag! 6 out of 5 starfish!

So - what's loaded on the Kindle,you ask, for my summer reading pleasure? Well, my next read is called The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. This one looks great - the story of 2 young lovers separated by war - this is one of those sagas that carries them across continents, across 2 World Wars and into the most grand and glorious situations one can imagine. I'm DYING to read Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. It comes out on July 10th I believe and it is the 2nd book in the planned All Souls trilogy. If you read last summer's "What are YOU Reading This Summer?" post - I suggested A Discovery of Witches the first book in the trilogy. While this is a trilogy about witches and vampires - I will justify reading it in 2 ways: 1. this is NOT your daughter's Twilight. It is well written, and a sweeping historical drama and 2. It's the freaking summer and I can read about vampires if I want to! I am in the middle of listening to Defending Jacob by William Landay. If you like courtroom dramas and crime thrillers - this one is for you! It's the story of a DA investigating a murder at his son's elite prep school only to discover that his own son is the #1 suspect. So far - it's intriguing, not formulaic at all and makes me want to stay in the car and drive a bit slower so that I can listen for a few more minutes!I've downloaded The Marriage Plot  by Jeffrey Eugenides because it has received rave reviews and it intrigues me. What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neil looks good and of course, my other go-to summer author is Elin Hilderbrand so I downloaded The Castaways. If you like Cape Cod - you can NEVER go wrong with a Hilderbrand novel. I read The Island this winter and it was AMAZING. If you've never read her - give her a try. Speaking of Cape Cod, I also think I'm going to try Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. It is the story of a Cape Cod wedding - told from the perspective of the Father of a very preggo bride-to-be - and all of the drama that promises to unfold! If that doesn't scream summer read - what does??? The Red House by Max Haddon looks interesting,  as does The Dovekeepers  by Alice Hoffman.

I think that's about all I can handle in one summer. So - what about YOU guys? What are YOU reading this summer? I love to hear what everyone else is reading...so share! Inquiring minds want to know!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Summer Reading List 2012 - the Kiddie Edition!

"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Dr. Seuss

Ain't THAT the truth! Well, here it is Peeps - my first annual summer reading list for KIDS!!! I'm SO excited about this post and I've been doing quite a bit of research for it. As my friends Phineus and Ferb sing: "There's 104 days of Summer Vacation 'till school comes along just to end it...so the annual problem of our generation is finding a good way to spend it..."And as we all know - in Busy Momma's house, one of the ways we spend our summer vacation is by reading. We all read our own books for about an hour every day and then we read a few novels aloud in the evenings. Over the past several years, I've had quite a few parents ask me for some suggestions for some really great books for their little guys and gals to read over the summer holiday. So, I've put a few lists together and I've arranged them by age and/or grade level. The lists are by no means exhaustive. I have only listed books that I have read or that my guys have read and enjoyed. Feel free to add to the lists!


I love to give books as gifts. I think giving a big basket of classic books as a baby gift or a baby shower gift is just too perfect for words. Whenever I do this - I include the following 10 classic books that I believe every well read baby HAS to have on his or her book shelf:
  1. Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown
  2. Pat the Bunny - Dorothy Kunhardt
  3. Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
  4. The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein
  5. The Little Engine that Could - Watty Pipen
  6. Oh The Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss
  7. Corduroy - Don Freeman
  8. Are You my Mother? - P.D. Eastman
  9. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go - Richard Scary
  10. What do People Do All Day? - Richard Scary
GREAT Picture Books

 I could probably write for days about picture books that I love. Picture books are so great for so many reasons. They are quick to read - the artwork is BEAUTIFUL in so many of them, kids love to hear them read over and over again and they remember them. Last night we were talking about our favorite picture books and Jack - who is my reluctant reader -started rattling off titles: Snowmen at Night, Aunti Claus, Whose Baby Am I..... So I have come up with a list of some of my absolute favorites. If you haven't read these aloud to your kids - try to pick one or two of them up at the library this summer. I bet you'll love them as much as we do.
  1. A Bad Case of the Stripes - David Shannon
  2. The Kissing Hand - Audrey Penn
  3. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School - Mark Teague
  4. The Mitten - Jan Brett
  5. The Lorax - Dr. Seuss
  6. Madeline - Ludwig Bemelmans
  7. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale - Mo Williams
  8. Diary of a Worm - Doreen Cronin
  9. Goodnight Gorilla - Peggy Rathman
  10. Strega Nona - Tomie de Paola
  11. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble - William Steig
  12. Chrysanthemum - Kevin Henkes
  13. Owl Moon - Jane Yolen
  14. Thank You Mr. Faulkner - Patricia Pollaco
You've probably noticed that the authors of most of these books are beloved authors. You really can't go wrong with ANY of their books!

Chapter Books and Series by Grade Level

Book leveling is a tricky business. There are several different formulas and ways to level books. Lexile levels only look at number of words per sentence and level of vocabulary. While that's part of the formula- it's not the whole picture. You must take your child's interests, age, maturity and background experience into account when you help him or her select books to read independently. I like to use the "five finger rule" when I help kids pick books to read on their own. I have them open the book to any page and try to read it. If there are 5 or more words on that page that they can't read on their own - the book is probably too hard for them to read by themselves. If they REALLY want to read it - that's fine. Just be prepared to make that book a shared read or a read aloud. It's really important that kids have books to read independently. They need to build their independent reading muscles with texts that are at their "just right reading levels" not so hard that their are spending all of their brain power on decoding the words. If they are - then they are not comprehending the story - and that's no good. But we also don't want them reading something so easy that it's not requiring them to stretch those muscles a bit to make them stronger. I like the website http://www.scholastic.com/ to help me figure out what books are appropriate for my guys. They give a grade level range for almost all titles you will ever come across. That is how I came up with many of the leveling suggestions I am about to make.

Grades 2-3

Junie B. Jones - Barbara Parks

I am a HUGE Junie B. fan. She is absolutely hysterical. If you haven't read the "Yulky Blucky Fruitcake" - make it a must read. You will laugh at the toilet scene - that's all I'm saying...

The Magic Tree House - Mary Pope Osbourne

Great books for boys. Lots of action and adventure rooted in historical events. My daughter LOVED the ones that took place in and around Camelot. I would definitely say these are more along the lines of end of second grade-beginning of third grade readabilty.

My Weird School - Dan Gutman

This is a whole series - and it is really funny. We just finished reading "Mr. Harrison is an Embarrassment". These are great for second and third graders - especially boys. Lots of humor - much at the expense of the girls in the class. Also there are a lot of illustrations - it is almost like a graphic novel - but not quite.

Flat Stanley - Jeff Brown

3rd Grade

Mr. Popper's Penguins - Richard Attwater

Encyclopedia Brown - Donald Sobol

Ramona the Great - Beverly Cleary

Ribsy - Beverly Cleary

Ivy and Bean - Annie Barrows

Geronimo Stilton - Geronimo Stilton

Bad Kitty - Nick Bruel

Grades 3-5

Sarah, Plain and Tall - Patricia MacLachlan

James and The Giant Peach - Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocoalte Factory - Roald Dahl

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Judy Blume

Freckle Juice - Judy Blume

Fudge - Judy Blume

Frindle - Andrew Clements

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney

Charlotte's Web - E B White

Because of Winn Dixie - Kate Di Camillo

Shiloh - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Harry Potter series - J K Rowling

5th grade and up

Some of these titles are considered YA and deal with sensitive subjects. I LOVED Out of the Dust however, I would definitely suggest that YOU read it before your 11 year old reads it to be sure that he or she can handle it. The mother dies in a fire that the main character is responsible for. That being said - it's a great book.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis (The readability on this one is listed as 6th grade. I'm not sure I agree with that. I think it's easier than that.)

The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau

Number the Stars - Lois Lowry

The Giver - Lois Lowry

Hatchet -  Gary Paulsen

The Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert O'Brien

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

Esperanza Rising - Pam Munoz Ryan

Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbit

Out of the Dust - Karen Hesse

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

What We Are Reading This Summer:

Read Alouds:

The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster

It's the 50th anniversarry of this classic and we've NEVER read it.

From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E. L. Konigsburg

This was one of my favorite stories growing up - about a brother and a sister who run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for part of one summer! I hope my guys don't get any ideas...

The Cricket in Times Square - George Selden

I've never read this one!


Bella wants to read The Wind in the Willows and I'd like her to read The Penderwicks. I'm sure she will have some sort of required reading list going into middle school, so we will see what happens!


Jack is on a Flat Stanley kick right now. I am going to try to introduce Encyclopedia Brown because he liked Nate the Great so much. He really has to be bribed to read...so we will see how it goes

So there you have it. Hopefully you'll find something on the list to wet their whistle this summer. My next post will be my summer reading list for grown ups!!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dinner and Dancing the Night Away with Brian Boitano

So - do you ever reflect on your early teenage years? Not on who you were at 16, or 19 or 21...we all think about the first time we fell in love, our first real heartbreak, the first real "grown-up" decisions we had to make. I'm not talking about those years. It's Friday night and I'm never that deep on Friday! I'm talking about thinking about who you were at 13.

 Painful - I know!

I find myself thinking about this awkward time in my life because I'm listening to Kathy Griffin's HYSTERICAL autobiography right now. And she's talking about the "Suddenly Susan" years - one episode in particular. Apparently, in one of the early episodes, Brooke Shield's character Susan finds the bucket list she made at the tender age of 13. And she decides to try to make all of her 13 year old dreams come true - so to make a long story short - she goes on a date with Leif Garrison. And this got me thinking about what MY 13-year old bucket list would look like. And then, I realized, that much like my idol - Lady O - Miss Winfrey - I have saved EVERY SINGLE journal I've written in since the tender age of 13 - no joke. I wondered if I wrote something similar. So - this afternoon I dug out my beautiful journal - the one with the beautiful unicorn riding on a cloud in a purple, hazy sky on the cover, and began to read. (Oh yes - I was THAT cool at 13 .I thought my diary was THE SHIT.)

(Note to self - next time you dig this baby out - prepare yourself with a Poise pad. Seriously.).

Well, well, well - it was EYE OPENING. And not in a good way. Nope - it was bad my Peeps. Worse than I had anticipated. . First of all - the description of my first kiss - which was less of a kiss and more of a 15 second lip smushing, tonsil hockey session - took up about 10 pages. No joke. Now, in my defense - they were small pages - but 10 pages of a second-by-second, blow-by-blow description of the  - and I kid you not, I actually wrote this - "absolute best, most magical moment of my entire life". And apparently - this kiss was so earth shattering that - "I could die right now and be happy for the rest of my eternal life. Which by the way is forever. In fact, I hope I do die right when I finish writing this because there is nothing else that could ever happen to me that would be as amazingly wonderful as kissing ____ was."


I even wrote that his kiss tasted "deliciously and excitingly" of "Dorito" which, by the way I TOTALLY despise and cannot stand. I hate them SO much that I will not allow my children to eat them in the house because I find their stench so repugnant. How on earth could a Dorito tasting kiss be exciting? Would it have been less exciting if it had tasted of cheese curl? Or sour cream and onion dip? Now, apparently, what made this kiss even more magical was that by sheer coincidence, Jon Bon Jovi's hit song "You Give Love a Bad Name" was playing in the background. Apparently, this was my "absolute favorite" song off of the "groundbreakingly awesome" album: Slippery When Wet.

Oh - and I was "really, really, really, really really happy" that I was wearing my new "awesome" outfit from Foxmoore and not something that he had seen before. (Because as every girl knows - 13-year old boys keep track of every outfit you wear to every party.) Oh - and it was really "awesome" that I was wearing my "awesome" neon pink hoops instead of the earrings that I had worn out of the house. I guess my mom had decided that neon pink hoops were waaaay too "sophisticated" for me to wear to a boy/girl party. So I hid them in my purse and put them on at the party. That act of rebellion was also - you guessed it - totally "awesome".

After reading this and peeing myself a little bit, I did two things:
  1. Changed my pants
  2. Kept on reading
And while I didn't have a specific bucket list entry - I did have some grand plans for my future. GRAND plans my friends. So here, in a nutshell, is what SHOULD have happened to me by the time I became an old woman of 35:

  •  Apparently, I was SUPPOSED to marry Tom Cruise. This would happen because I was SUPPOSED to go to the Naval Academy "for college" and become a fighter pilot. And once I was "an award winning" fighter pilot - of "jets", Tom Cruise would hear about me and want to meet me - you know 'cause he was Maverick and he would want to make a sequel where Maverick would want to find Goose's body and Tom would need to do "research" for this role. And in doing this research, we would fall in love and he would ask for my hand in marriage. As one does.
  • Before attending the Naval Academy - to learn how to fly jets and thereby seduce Tom Cruise - I would attend the High School for the Performing Arts as portrayed in one of my all-time favorite tv shows - FAME! I would spend my lunch periods dancing on tables, in leotards and leg warmers. And I would spend long nights with all of my artsy friends who would really "get me".( How I would make it into NYC everyday from River Edge, NJ seemed to be a bit unclear - but was a very small factor in a very large and detailed plan.)
  • I would wear a prom gown that was all white, had a hoop skirt AND was made entirely of lace. Either that - or a Madonna inspired number - tulle skirt, black leggings, hundreds of jelly bracelets, a black mesh top over a hot pink off the shoulder tee shirt and a giant neon pink bow in my poodle perm. 
  • I would have a spiral, poodle perm -done PROFESSIONALLY.
  • After the High School for the Performing Arts - which , no doubt, would prepare me beautifully to be accepted into the Naval Academy - I would date Brian Boitano. "Olympic gold medalist" Brian Boitano. Who was most certainly NOT gay. My friends only said that because they were obviously JEALOUS of my love for and devotion to - BB. Brian ORCER - the Canadian Figure Skater was the OBVIOUSLY gay one. Duh.BB and I would do really "awesome stuff" - like shop, and go to dinner in fancy restaurants that had "lobster bibs" and then he would take me dancing all night long.
  • I would have "tons" of babies with Cory Haim. Now, I don't know how Tom or Brian Boitano were supposed to feel about this. I also do not know if Cory and I were to be secret lovers or if we were destined to be married. Very unclear, as about 2 months before Cory Haim was being mentioned in Unicorn central - it was ALL Cruise and Boitano...Perhaps the three of them would duke it out for me and my "tons of babies" producing super-womb. 
  • I would find out where Molly Ringwald shopped and totally copy her Breakfast Club look. Oh - and I would figure out what sushi was and bring it to school for lunch like every day.
  • Somewhere in my free time from flying "fighter jets" I would become a best-selling author. I would write a book about a group of people who come together for a reunion of their 8th grade class. Now, I don't want to give away too much of the plot - but rumor has it that the main character - one Mary Catherine McLane was married to the "hottest" guy from that 8th grade class...and he smelled excitingly of Doritos.....
How depressing. NONE of these predictions has come true. I do NOT know how to fly jets, I have never met Tom Cruise. I have never danced the night away with the very obviously straight Olympic gold medal winning  figure skater Brian Boitano and I did NOT wear a hoop-skirted dress to my prom. I never had a PROFESSIONAL spiral perm, I did not attend the High School for the Performing Arts, I never danced on a cafeteria table in leg warmers. And I never did find out where Molly Ringwald shopped for her Breakfast Club wardrobe.

Oh - and my super-womb did not house a litter of Cary Haim's babies.

Epic fail - epic.  SO here is my question for you - my beloved Peeps: What was on YOUR bucket list when you were 13? Did anyone else want a litter of Haim babies?