Thursday, December 14, 2017

16 months

I have decided that it's really strange for me to measure Lucy's age and know that it's the same measurement of my AFE recovery. Two very different things, seemingly going in opposite directions, and it's always bittersweet. I suppose maybe when she's 20 or something it won't feel like such a big deal? Maybe. I'm not really sure, I guess. Some times it seems like it's been no time at all because my sense of time isn't like everyone else's, and then other days I feel like surely it has to be longer than this, right?

Nope. Lucy is officially 16 months old as of December 1. She's basically the same age as Penelope was when she was born. I might be a month off.... I can't really remember. So that's bizarre, too. To think I had a newborn at the same time as a 16 month old? I can't even wrap my head around it. It's maybe OK that I have no memories of that time. Then I think maybe that's why Penelope is SUCH a challenge? Maybe having to fight for attention is why she's a bear almost every day all day? I'm not sure.

But let's talk about 16 months.
Lucy is actually a great listener. If you tell her to sit down, by god that girl will sit down. She sits for story time, she sits when a "show" comes on, and if I'm bringing a new activity and tell them to sit down, she goes right to the rug and plops down. She's going to be a teacher's DREAM some day. 
Lucy absolutely LOVES to take things out of containers and try to get in. The drawers of the ottoman hold DVD's and every single day she takes them all out for the sake of taking them out. 
She's always up for an adventure, which is great because Penelope has her be her partner in crime. On this particular day they were looking for Penelope's shadow. If you ask Lucy where something is, she will ALWAYS drop down and look under the ottoman first, apparently she thinks that is the Bermuda Triangle of lost things. 
She still loves me the best. Every day for nap she wants me to rock her and I have to sing to her and Penelope. You have to sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and You Are My Sunshine, 5 times EACH (minimum) before they will go to sleep. As soon as I walk into her room and give her the pacifier, she lays her head right on my chest and assumes the position by tucking her feet and hands under her. It's pretty adorable. 
Lucy is easily the BEST baby ever. No question. This girl loves everyone, she loves to be cuddled, loves to read books, plays quietly by herself, and you can tell she's just a gentle soul. 
Lucy is always happy. Even when she's the crabbiest baby, she's still happy. You can still make her smile and laugh. It's so rare that she's so cranky you beg for bedtime. Penelope is like that all day every day, but not Lucy. She's very go with the flow. 
Her favorite thing? These dumb My Little Pony glasses we got in a McDonald's Happy Meal. We have two pairs and I swear, it's her most prized possession. She loves them and will bring them to you to put them on her. She hasn't totally figured out that she can do it herself, she wants someone else to. Then she looks at you with this cheesy grin and she's just so damn happy about it. It's hard to be depressed around her. She really is everything good in my life. Everybody loves Lucy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It shouldn't be this hard.

I have made it no secret that Lucy was very much an oopsie baby. We were taking precautions and none of it actually mattered because my uterus hates me. Maybe she just likes to be busy, I don't know. Lucy is 100% our last baby, that is the plan. Matt has had his vasectomy and they are 75% sure I can't get pregnant if I wanted to because of the tremendous blood loss to my ovaries and also not having any hormones, those are important things. But that means there was the 25% maybe and if Lucy could slip through that teeny tiny window, god knows triplets or something would make it in that 25%. So Matt had the vasectomy because we wanted to make DAMN SURE a fifth baby cannot happen.

So no more babies. We knew that. I know that. I do. I can't remember anything from yesterday but I vividly remember agreeing to no more babies. Done. No more.

Which makes my recent feelings about that really bizarre to me. I remember being sad when we got rid of all of the baby things after Jackson, I definitely did not feel done after him. This time, I feel done. I do. I think. I mean, I guess I don't remember if what I feel now is different back then, but it's really tough.

In the back of my head I had this wiggly, random angry feeling about being done. It's one thing to be done on your own terms, but being told I am done from a medical standpoint? That bothers me. It feels like a parent telling a kid no and they've got that look in their eye when you know they are going to do it anyways. It's just like that. Part of me wants to get pregnant and be like, "SCREW YOU, I can totally get pregnant!" and the other part of me is so damn relieved I don't have to do it again. I never have to deal with the fear of delivery and wondering what if.

Then there are days like today, where I'm trying to clean and organize, and it's not going well. I was getting angry with myself because I don't have the ability to do things like I once could, and I decide that now is the time to clean the cupboard with toddler dishes.
So I lined all of the bottles up and the mesh feeder and I started crying. Crying so hard I almost couldn't breathe. It felt like the biggest punch to my gut, a visual realization that this is really it. Then when I realized that I don't remember any of Lucy's firsts, or what it was like to snuggle her newborn self, the sound of her first laugh, her perfect baby smell, how soft her first hair was, or what she felt like on my chest? I can't remember what it was like to feel her kick in my stomach, or rub my belly, the excitement of labor and knowing she was coming. I cried like someone had died. On my kitchen floor. Alone. I cried and I cried.

I am so angry that all of those moments, especially profound since she is my last, are gone. They have been stolen from me and I can't ever get them back. Worse yet? I have no memory of any of my kids. The only "memories" I have are like actual snapshots in my head. Like the pictures in their baby books is what I have and I know it must have happened because I'm in the photos. I don't have that with Lucy. I don't know what it was like to hold her for the first time, and I imagine I must have felt a lot of things considering I had died.

Matt said he was told that one of the medications they had given me at some point would basically make me not remember the event and subsequent pain, but they didn't know if I'd have any other memory loss- it's kind of a toss up. And in hindsight, know how much is gone, I would give anything to have it all back. I would have taken the horrific pain for these memories. But I know in the split seconds they had, the medical team thought this was best. I can't fault them for that,  I would have made the same call if someone asked me to make that kind of decision for someone else.

I imagine this is what it maybe feels like to have dementia or the beginning of Alzheimer's, there are lots of things you don't remember and you don't remember what you don't remember. If you ask me a direct question, I probably can't answer it, but if I'm not trying to remember, some times it just pops through my head. Like in the dark, until your eyes adjust your peripheral vision is better than looking straight ahead- that's how my brain is. I know the information is there but if I try to remember in a really roundabout way, I can do it. Ask me to recall information right away? Nope.

So that's where I'm at. I am slowly ridding the house of baby things and it's killing me. The crib will likely come out this weekend and I know I am going to be a mess. I know it. I'm scared. I feel like there isn't ever going to be a good time to do it and maybe I need to just rip it off like a bandage. All of my doctors and therapist tell me it's normal to be angry and sad. To have unexpected triggers and it's OK to cry. I don't have to apologize for it, I just need to get myself to the next moment. It all passes, even the moments when it hurts so bad it feels like a tangible pain. I would never wish this on anyone. Never, ever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Axel

I'm going to preface this by saying I have not ordered the rest of this series yet, but they are all in my Amazon shopping cart and I think I'll be able to get them Wednesday. I don't want to get presumptuous, but I think that will be what I'm doing next weekend.

Axel - Harper Sloan

Fate hasn’t always been friends with Isabelle West. In fact, fate has been a downright bitch. 

Isabelle has learned the hard way how hard life can be when fate isn’t by your side. It can hand you dreams on silver platters, but it can snatch them right back and hand you nightmares. One thing Isabelle knew for sure fate was consistent with was taking away everything she ever loved.

For the last two years Isabelle has been slowly clearing the clouds of her past. Happiness is finally on the horizon. She has a thriving business, great friends, and her life back. All she has to do is jump over the last hurdle…her ex-husband. 

When problems start causing her to fear her new life, and memories that are better left forgotten start rushing to the surface the last thing she needs is a ghost from her past to come knocking on her door. 

Axel never thought he would look into the eyes of Isabelle West again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to now. He’s carried his anger for so long he isn’t sure he can just turn it off, but when he is faced with protecting her and an unexpected desire to have her again, life gets a little more complicated. 

How will Axel and Isabelle deal when all their cards are put on the table and everything they thought was true blows up in their faces? 

I'm going to start by being honest and saying the cover didn't scream "drop everything and read me right now", but I picked it over everything else because it wasn't very long and I'm desperate to hit my Goodreads reading goal. I've got to seriously kick it up a notch if I'm going to make it. Gulp.

I also need to say that while I'm going to give this book 4/5 stars, it's 100% because the sex scenes are good and Axel is pretty damn hot. Isabelle (Izzy) is literally one of the worst characters ever. Imagine the most sensitive damsel in distress, incapable of functioning like a mature adult, whose only solution to a tough day is to get out of control drunk, and you've started describing Izzy. She's literally the worst. I actually almost tossed the book because I did not like her at ALL. Not even a little bit, not even when I heard her story (as tragic as it is), and I just thought- Izzy is actually really stupid.

The book centers around Izzy and Axel, high school sweethearts. He's off for the Marines, and she's vowed to wait for him. He had a chance to advance in the Marines, her parents die, she moves, and they lose contact. No wait, Izzy tries to keep in touch by sending letters to his foster parents which any reasonable moron would know would NEVER pass them onto him, and he would never visit. I mean, you're stupid, Izzy. So they are apart 12 years.

Well in those years Izzy gets married to Brandon, classic abusive husband. Their relationship fails after a particularly violent incident, but he's still harassing her so she reaches out to her friend Dee and her brother, Greg for help. Greg enlists his friend Reid to help but WAIT!!

Reid IS AXEL!

Holt Axel Reid is out of the Marines and is operating a successful security business. When he discovers the woman with the abusive husband is HIS Izzy? Shit goes to hell quick.

I feel like it was all a little to quick the whole "forgive and let's sleep and be together" thing, but I'm looking for a fast read so that's fine. It's a good introduction for the series, which I'm hoping to buy later this week, and I'm hoping the author has worked out some of the kinks in her writing style. There are parts of the book that you can tell she wanted to expand and maybe she didn't know how or maybe it got cut out during editing, but the ending felt really rushed for me. I wanted more with Brandon (the crazy ex), but at least he isn't a loose string in the plot line. Axel himself was maybe the best part of the book and he made the entire thing readable.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Fighting Chance

Oh boy, I have a couple of great reviews for you this week! I'm going to start with this one, which I bought on a whim through the Bookworm Box shop. It's a signed copy and it was half off so I threw caution to the wind.

A Fighting Chance - Annie Stone

When Mackenzie meets Carter, it’s love at first sight. They have a blissful year together before trouble arrives. In the form of Carter’s two teenage sons.

When Hunter and Carey decide they want to live with their father in California, Mackenzie knows right away that she’s in for a tough time. And she couldn’t be more right.

The two boys show her on a daily basis that she’s not good enough for their dad. In fact, they make it quite clear their lives would be better without her. But could it be that Hunter has quite a different motive for hating her?

Let me start by saying I went from one end of the book loving spectrum to the complete other end during this book. I started it thinking it was going to be weird, that I was going to hate it. By chapter five I wasn't sure if I was even going to finish it or if it was worth finishing. Once I got 3/4 of the way in I was on the edge of my seat because I didn't want it to end. I loved this book THAT much.

It centers around Mackenzie (known as Mac) and Carter, they've been together for a little over a year, she's moved in, and now she's meeting his sons Hunter and Carey. Hunter is 17, Carey is 15, their mom is a drunk so they are visiting their dad for a break. While on that break they tell him they want to live with him permanently, which normally wouldn't be a big deal but it's clear that they hate Mac. They aren't nice to her and actually are aggressive with her. Alarming for Mac, considering she has abuse in her past and works in a domestic abuse advocacy organization, so the fact that she feels like an insecure victim in her own home is alarming for her.

As summer progresses, Carter is gone more and more, forcing Mac to interact with his sons. A lot of things happen over the summer that lead to them bonding, but it soon becomes clear that Hunter wants Mac for his own. It all comes to a head when Hunter decides he is enlisting in the Marines. Carter, in a fit of rage, tosses Hunter out, and Mac follows him because she wants to make things right before Hunter goes.

I won't tell you any more but I will tell you that I've ordered the rest of this series and it should be here Tuesday. I am prepared to literally drop everything in my life to read these. Ha!

I'm giving this one a 4/5 stars and I'm only knocking it down because it was a bit slow. I honestly thought we'd have something major happening sooner in the book, but it was still a great book. The most conflicting part of this book is I found myself actually hoping that Mac (age 25) and Hunter (17) got together. You guys, I KNOW THIS WOULD BE ILLEGAL, so I felt terrible. And then OK with it, then terrible again. It's been a long time since a book has made me feel the full range of emotions, but this did it. Bravo.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Bubbles & Books - LUCAS

So this post is going to be two-fold because I'm going to talk about my first box from Bubbles & Books, and then I'm going to review the book I received in that box. Normally I'm not able to do that but this was a really short book so I finished it in just a few hours so you lucked out!

I heard about Bubbles & Books a few months ago as part of a round up of book subscription boxes and it caught my eye because it's focused on romance novels and instead of crappy swag I just throw out, this box mails bath related goods. In my first box I got a handmade bar of soap, which smells so good, a felt bookmark, a weird sponge thing, and then a perfume sample which was terrible. It was definitely how you would think an old lady would smell. But the book... I wasn't sure what to think about it. This box allows you to choose from three different romance genres: bad boy, paranormal, historical. I went with bad boy because I felt like paranormal can be really hit or miss and historical isn't always my jam. It's not that I won't read them, it just has to be a really interesting sounding story for me to commit. Frankly, there are thousands of books that fall into the bad boy romance so I thought for sure we'd get something amazing so when I saw this I was disappointed. I don't mind that it was only 148 pages, but it's clearly a self-published/indie book and I'm going to be a book snob here... but 75% of the books in that category aren't picked up by a major publisher for a reason. Are there exceptions to that? Yes. Absolutely yes and I've read a bunch of them. I'm saying an overwhelming majority is crap. This basically falls into it.

Lucas - Susan Fisher-Davis

Emily Walters needs help fast. Her ex-husband is being released from prison and Adam swore he’d never let her go. She knows he’ll come for her. Her only choice is one of the bad boys of Dry River, Lucas Taggart. Lucas raised a lot of hell when he was younger and never backed down from anyone. It's what Emily needs in a protector and a husband. She offers him half of her ranch in exchange for protection and marriage. Whispering Pines is one of the largest horse ranches in the States. Would it be enough to entice the brooding man? 

Lucas Taggart isn't interested in marriage but he is interested in Whispering Pines and when he looks into Emily’s eyes, he knows it wouldn't be a hardship being married to her, as long as it's a real marriage. 

When Adam shows up to claim the woman he still thinks of as his wife, will Lucas have to do the unthinkable to protect the woman he's come to love with all his heart? What happens if or when Adam is finally out of the picture? Will Emily still want Lucas around and will she ever return his love?


I'm going to start this review by saying this is 100% not a book I would see on a shelf, read the description, and put in my cart. I only read it because it came in my recent Bubbles & Books subscription. Secondly, this book is listed as "erotic romance" on the title page and I'm telling you it absolutely is not. Well, unless you consider the author insinuating the characters are having sex as filthy, then by all means. I've hardly read a more vanilla standard romance, so if you are going into these 148 pages looking for erotic romance you will be disappointed.

The premise of this book is Emily runs a successful ranch but has an ex-husband in prison set to be released soon. Instead of trusting the authorities to help her (because the ex-husband is just so rich, he buys them all off) she decides the best way to protect herself is to get married to a "bad boy". And by "bad boy", I'm talking a guy who was a little punk as a kid but turned into a decent, law abiding citizen. So she asks Lucas if he'd do this (he's not a total stranger, though- he helped her when she was a kid and fell off a horse but that was years prior and she's harbored a crush on him since, of course) and he agrees.

He AGREES on a damn whim. No, I take that back, he agrees knowing he'd own half of the ranch Emily owns.

Because every decent marriage is based on bribery.

So they get married but Lucas decides he wants it to be a real marriage for all intents and purposes, and Emily agrees, but she's no hussy- she wants to get to know him first before having sex. (Are you rolling your eyes yet? Just wait, it gets better!)

But WAIT, you guys! Ex-husband is out (Adam) and he's crazy as a loon, y'all! He's killing people left and right because nobody is going to take his Emily away! Instead of making his character really despicable and have him being physically abusive or something, turns out Adam is just mildly verbally abusive but basically a misogynistic pig. Emily is terrified of him though, hence Lucas. Lucas is a bad ass though, so he's going to save everyone.

I won't ruin it for you but know there's a happy ever after. But can I just talk about something that drove me NUTS when I was reading it? These people take a shit ton of naps. I have chronic fatigue, I understand being tired ALL of the time but this is over the top. Emily has a conversation, needs to lay down. She did payroll, need to lay down. Adam calls, need to lay down. Also, for someone who describes herself as self sufficient, she relies on Lucas a LOT. She can't even take one of her 375 naps without him. It's just too much. This entire book was laughably terrible. I don't even want to donate this book anywhere, I honestly want to toss it in the trash.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Goal

I had a lot of feelings going into this book, but it was so good that I honest to god hope there are more. I know- I'm that person who doesn't think everything should be a series, but I really love Elle Kennedy's writing and I love this series. I hate to see it end.

The Goal (Off-Campus 4) - Elle Kennedy 

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated...

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

I am just going to get picky and say this cover here? LOVE IT. The new cover featured below? Strongly don't like them. They aren't eye catching at all and the original covers should have stayed. I have three of the hot covers and now this one and ugh.. I hate it. Anyways.

OK! So this is an interesting book because though it is a stand alone, it's so much sweeter if you read the entire series in order because this book features the other guys and their gals quite a bit, I thought. It's John Tucker (goes by Tucker) and Sabrina's story, and if you have read the other books you know that Sabrina is a the bitch on campus. She's smart and knows it. She's gorgeous and she's bitchy. Just by looking at her you would assume "mean girl" but you'd be wrong. Turns out, Sabrina has a pretty awful home life. She lives with her grandma and stepfather, her mom up and left years ago. Stepfather is a disgusting pig who kind of leers at her all of the time and is almost always drunk. Grandma has no backbone, but is sleeping with the stepfather, and is kind mean to Sabrina. She drives an hour each way to campus and she excels at everything so she can get out of her situation. She avoids relationships partly because she doesn't have time for them but also she doesn't think she's deserving of anything good.

Enter Tucker. He's a good guy. He's maybe the best guy out of the bunch of them and he falls for Sabrina fast. He knows that patience is a virtue and that Sabrina needs to be handled with kid gloves... so he does. He's maybe the most patient male character you will ever find in any book because holy hell. It's well over a YEAR before she says she loves him and that's through a pregnancy.

Yup- Sabrina, fresh on the heels of being accepted into Harvard Law School, finds herself pregnant. It was the first encounter between her and Tucker and accidents happen, birth control fails, but she's devastated. She has to decide to keep it or not but she also wants to lean and depend on Tucker.. but is convinced by doing so she'll drive him away and he will end up resenting her. She's convinced she is ruining his life. Tucker sees it all differently- he's in love with her, ready to move to the next level or two with her, and wants nothing more than to be a dad.

The book is full of miscommunication and I actually kind of liked Sabrina. I really identified with her though I will say that I expected her to come around MUCH faster than she did. It was almost too much and I was getting a little annoyed with her myself. Overall? I really liked this one. I've really enjoyed this entire series, but if this really is the end, it went out on a good note. All of the characters are matured, ready to graduate college, and all go their own way. It feels like a fitting conclusion. But I'm going to just mention book 5 would be fantastic, and we could focus on Fitz's character. Just throwing that out there.

   

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dear Professor

This is one of the books I bought from the Bookworm Box shop and I bought it solely for the cover. Obviously.

Dear Professor - Blair Drake

Dear Professor,

Does it bother you that you’re ten years older than me?
Have you ever thought it’s wrong that you watched me fuck another guy on camera for months?
What do you want from me, really? All I wanted was my letter of recommendation, but now I’m stuck, aren’t I? Stuck under your thumb… And your body.
From cam girl to personal whore, and all by the age of twenty-one. You’ve got me good, haven’t you?
But guess what? I can play too. Grab the polish, because I’ve found your skeleton, and it's time to dust.
I’ll see you in class.
Oh and, Sir? I’m not wearing any panties.

Love, Darcy

P.s. you’re an asshole.

Aside from the fact this went through a shoddy editing process (lots of minor grammatical errors throughout), I kind of loved this book. I know it's getting just under 4 stars on Goodreads and normally that would be my cue to go to the next book but the cover was good so my gut was telling me to stick with it and I'm glad that I did.

Darcy is a senior in college who excels at all of her classes. Notably so. Her dream is to go to Harvard Law School and in order to apply she needs a letter of recommendation from all of her professors. Not an issue for them, they are happy to recommend her, but Professor Jordan Keaton isn't so quick.

Jordan is a bit of a pompous asshole. He knows he's good looking, but he's also highly intelligent, aloof, and nobody really knows the story with him. Jordan knows Darcy's secret though- she's a cam girl. She does live video of her masturbating, having sex with other partners, pretty much anything a viewer wants in exchange for money. It's how she is paying her way through college and potentially Harvard. As it turns out, Jordan is her number one fan and Darcy is horrified to find out he's the one behind the mysterious user name. Even more shocking is Jordan's ultimatum- either Darcy becomes his personal whore (basically) for the next six weeks OR he tells the college what she's doing on the side, kissing her chances at Harvard goodbye. In exchange, he'll write her the much needed recommendation letter.

Obviously she has no choice or other option, so she signs on the dotted line and that is how their very hot, very push and pull relationship begins. We find out why Darcy isn't looking for love, why Jordan is the way he is, will the college find out about their arrangement, and what happens when the two of them come together?

Overall? I'm actually giving this 4.5 stars. I know, it's pretty high and a lot of people are going to read this story and do a major eye roll. I liked it because it's reminiscent of Fifty Shades of Grey, but also Sylvia Day's Crossfire Series because we have the highly dominant male, in a position of power, and the seemingly dainty woman who turns out to be a spitfire capable to breaking through to the guy. It's a recipe for success and women like this story line for a reason- we all think we're capable of changing a man, aren't we? I flew through this in a day and I couldn't put it down. I kind of wish there was a bit more in the end, but overall I'm more than thrilled that this is not the start of a series, it's a one and done. THANK YOU for not turning this into a series. I'm so tired of authors doing that.