Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friends and family...

...are wonderful things, but they can really throw one's schedule out of whack!

Thus - apologies to readers and my fellow Novel Girls, alike, for my disappearing act yesterday - this Girl Friday had Good Friday off and, as a consequence, spent the day in a series of lovely get-togethers which left me nowhere near a computer!

So I thought I'd drop in for a quick post today to make up for it.

I have to admit, it was kind of a luxurious feeling. Slightly naughty, even! It was like I was playing hooky or something! I've been so very busy lately (who among us hasn't?!) that I had almost forgotten what it was like to just kick back and spend hours having lunch with people I haven't seen in ages. And then to follow it up with a evening of - well - kicking back and spending hours having dinner with an entirely different group of people I haven't seen in ages!

That, to me, is the best part of holidays - pretty much any holiday. They're defined by the people you get to spend them with. Most of my own family is out west and so I don't get to see them nearly as often as I would like but it was awfully nice to catch up with people who do actually live near me.

Especially on a day like yesterday where it seemed like the seasons had finally agreed to turn and this most reluctant Spring decided to tie on a festive crocus-bedecked bonnet and flounce around in a sunshine-drenched frock. Which is how an Easter weekend should behave if you ask me!

Have a happy one, everybody!

(Of course, if I still had any lingering doubts that it was, indeed, Spring - they will no doubt be put to rest tonight. When I will watch the Leafs play their last game of the season because they didn't make the playoffs... again. Next season, fellas, I promise - I won't mind if Spring seems to come along a touch late!)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hunting for Matzoh

As I kid, I always found myself really jealous of my Christian friends over Easter weekend. They got to decorate eggs, have egg hunts, and get Easter baskets filled with candy. I remember walking through the department stores, seeing all the pretty Easter dresses on display and wanting one so badly for myself. Passover always felt, to me, like the Jewish “Easter equivalent” (because it’s around the same time of year), but as a kid, I felt like I was missing out.

Every year for Passover we went to a sedar at my parents’ friends house. (I saw it as a dinner without bread and with the always-disgusting gelatinous gefilte fish, and I hated having to go.) But after the Hebrew and the Passover rituals and the dinner, there was one part of the night that I remember as fun. Before we arrived for dinner, the people hosting the dinner would hide the Afikoman, which was basically a piece of Matzoh wrapped up in a towel. Then, after dinner, all the kids would turn the house upside down searching for it. Whoever found the Afikoman would get a prize. I know there is probably some religious significance to this, but at this point in my life, I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is.

But finding the Afikoman is what all the kids lived for on Passover. As soon as we arrived for the sedar, we would start plotting out where to look, and announce who was calling dibs on which rooms or which hiding spots. Sadly, I only won once. My sister, on the other hand, became the world-reknowned Afikoman champion, winning almost every year.

Okay, okay. So maybe we didn’t get to frolic out in the fresh spring air in our pretty flowered dresses, putting delicate pastel eggs in a basket. But we did, at least, manage to have our own fun, scouring the house for a piece of Matzoh.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Love = Loss = Love

Snowball 1996-2009

I lost my kitty cat yesterday.

She was nearly 13 and I had forgotten how hard it is to lose a pet. I have cried, even whaled over losing her. I loved her deeply. As I age something becomes ever so clear. If a person loves deeply, they hurt deeply. Loss is gut-wrenching, be it over a person or a pet. We have relationships with our pets. They become our family.

Easter in my house and my heart is about Love. A Love so great and so perfect that it could only be Divine. When I consider the losses in my life and how devastated they have left me, I am comforted and humbled by a God whom I believe so deeply loves all He created that he sacrificed His only Son to prove it. An act I would not be willing to do for anyone, anytime. No matter how many losses I experience on this earth, none will compare to His loss.

Happy Easter everyone. Halleluiah!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter: Frozen Tundra

When I reflect back on the Easter's of my youth, one word comes to mind: COLD.

As I've mentioned about a billion times before, Chicago weather is pretty unpredictable. Except it always seems to be static on one day--Easter. And by static, I mean that you can pretty much guarantee you're going to be freezing your butt off.

I have many, many memories of walking into church or going to brunch in my Easter finest--floral dress, white shoes, white tights and...winter coat. I'm pretty sure it even snowed a few years ago. Because, for whatever reason, as soon as Mother Nature finds out the date, she schedules a late spring freeze just to remind us all that we're on HER turf.

As a kid, there's nothing worse than desperately wanting to show off your awesome new dress and having to cover it with a heavy, ugly, salt-smudged winter coat. It's kind of like having to wear a jacket over your Halloween costume. I mean, really.

(And I'm not even going to get into the snowstorm we had on Sunday night. Yes. Snow. Several inches. Do you know how annoying it is to dig through your closet for a HAT and GLOVES in APRIL?)

This year, as of right now, the weather is supposed to be in the 50s with a very low chance of rain. I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm still not putting my son's snow boots away just yet.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Coloring of the Eggs

Rather than talk about Easter as a whole, I'm going to focus on just one of Easter's traditions - coloring Easter eggs.

As a kid, I loved coloring eggs. Being the creative child I was, I enjoyed the process of dying the eggs in some crazy design far more than actually eating the eggs over the next several days. I hated the dye kits that came with stickers, because just coloring an egg and applying a sticker so didn't seem creative enough for me.

Which usually meant that by the time I was done, I could have passed for a life-size colored Easter egg myself. I still am not known for being overly neat in my creative pursuits. :) Which was fine as a child, because I didn't have to do the cleaning up. I just got to have fun.

Now, as a parent -- I LOVE the sticker kits, because my kids simply don't make as much of a mess with them. Up until this year, my younger set was fine with the stickers. They didn't seem to have that messy, creative gene that I have. This year, though, everything has changed. Maybe it's their age (almost 7), but suddenly, messy artwork is their middle name.

At the store the other day, when I tried (fruitlessly) to talk them into buying several sticker pack dye kits, their responses were a uniform "NO!" So it seems this year, I'll be reliving my childhood--only, I'll be in charge of the cleanup.

I think it will be fun, though. I love seeing the creative side of my boys emerge, and if that means a little extra work at the end of a coloring session, then so be it.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Novel Girls News!

THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS got a terrific review in Publishers Weekly! They called it a "memorable debut novel" and called "the story startlingly real." Click here to read the whole review!

THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS is also nominated for a few Reader's Choice Awards over at YA Reads. Click here to check out all the nominees and to vote!

The Novel Girls