Friday, February 23, 2018

Where I Live

I am blown away by this book.

Where I Live - Brenda Rufener

This evocative debut YA novel tells the story of Linden, a homeless teen secretly living in her high school. Together with her makeshift family of close friends, Linden struggles against the hardships of her past and begins to shape a bright future. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven and Nicola Yoon, this is a stirring novel about overcoming all odds. 


1. Prevent the in-class nap.
2. Never carry too many belongings.
3. Avoid looking the part. 

Her rules guarantee no one discovers her secret–that she’s homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her best friends, Ham and Seung, have formed a makeshift family, and writing for her school’s blog prevents downtime. When you’re homeless, free time sucks. Despite everything Linden’s burdened with, she holds on to hope for a future and a maybe romance with Seung.

But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea’s life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay attention. And attention is the last thing Linden needs. 

To put a stop to the violence, Linden must tell the story. Even if it breaks her rules for survival and jeopardizes the secrets she’s worked so hard to keep.

In this book we follow high school senior, Linden Rose, as she navigates her last year of high school while homeless. She's only homeless if you don't consider her home, the school, an actual home. She has an entire process to stay under the radar, of how to get into the building after hours, and what to do if she can't. It's a heartbreaking look at the reality of a lot of students among us. She was able to be a mini adult after the murder of her mother and she didn't want to get sucked into the foster care system so this was her next best option.

Not only is she juggling homelessness but she's also a teenager, which is hard enough. She's got her best friends Ham and Seung, and she starts to develop feelings for Seung. But things aren't as easy as they seem because Seung is coming into his own, too.

There is a parallel story with Bea, the girl who bullies Linden, in which she's a total witch to Linden but true to bullying form, she has her own problems which probably makes her the way she is. She's dealing with teenage domestic violence and when we find out the story behind all of that it's kind of surprising and shows how we misread people all of the time.

But before we know it, Linden is forced to be honest with her friends and school and she has to decide if she's willing to trust people with her secrets. Can she open up in time to save her friendships and herself?

I'm giving this book a solid 4.5 stars. It was well written and if I had to be critical I felt like we almost veered too much into Bea's story and it got a little long. But once things started unraveling I really got into it again and found myself rooting for Linden all the way.

Where I Live will be available on February 27, 2018 but you can pre-order it now!


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Flute, markers, and deception

I haven't been very good at documenting my adventures in parenting so I'll play catch up here. 

So way back in January Olivia had her first band concert at the middle school. She chose to play the flute and we made it clear that if you were going to take up an instrument you were going to play it all three years of middle school. 

To get our money's worth and all of that. 

True to her word, she practices daily. Excessively. If I had to imagine what the first gate of Hell sounds like it has to have the soundtrack of a flute to it. It's just... it grates on your nerves. Possibly the worst instrument ever for someone with auditory processing disorder, if we're being honest. 
 I remember way back at the beginning of the year the band teachers warned us it would sound like dying cats but by January we'd be able to identify actual sounds. True to their word, the first couple of months was ROUGH and I was worried she was actually going to fail band and I didn't know what they do for kids in that boat. 

But the day of the concert she came and she was so prepared. You can pick Olivia out as the kid clutching her hot pink band folder. We had to do her hair that morning, we had to go pick out a dress, Matt had to bring her to school because she didn't want her hair to get messed up. 

It really struck me how old she is. How we are so close to her being independent of me, closer to the time where she'll not need me as much. 
 They did so well and I found myself tearing up the entire time. I was so proud of her, of all of the kids, and I wish I had brought tissues. I went up to get a picture afterwards but had to wait because she was mobbed by other girls congratulating her on how well she did and how pretty she looked. I was only able to get a quick snap before she left us for her friends. 

And that's how it goes, isn't it? 

I am never left in that somber mood for long because inevitably, something happens to balance it out. 
 On this day, Lucy found markers. 
 Penelope encouraged her to put on "makeup". Thankfully it's washable and with some soap and mild scrubbing she was good as new. She's much better about the markers now. 
 I have to share this one because Penelope looks like the sweetest little thing here. What you don't know is that it was 9 p.m., two hours after her bed time, and she was telling me there were Bergens in her room. For those who have no idea, Bergens are from the movie Trolls and they are the bad guys, they eat trolls. I had to explain that no, no Bergens are in her room, and she started laughing and ran upstairs. It is never a dull day with this one. 

Being stuck in the house the majority of the week means I don't get out to the stores much so I've turned to online shopping to get what I can. It definitely has it's perks, the convenience is kind of great. If only I can get all of my groceries at a reasonable price, but I'm certain my mailman might kill me. 
 Because any given DAY it looks like this.  It's not MY fault that Amazon sends things in multiple boxes. I'd like to know how they make money from free shipping and sending stuff out in separate boxes, if we're being honest. But on this particular day Matt was actually home and greeted the mailman who says, "I see Sara's been shopping again." 


I had to tell Matt that I am dependent on mail as my only entertainment. So send me letters! Fun packages! Something. 

One of those boxes contained this beauty. A retro, hand turn mandolin! I bought it with a gift card I had gotten and I love it. 
I've only used it to cut potatoes for potato chips cooked in my air fryer, but I have an urge to slice all of the things. It's surprisingly soothing. What should I make?! It comes with three drums and can go in the dishwasher. I'm ridiculously excited about this entire thing. 

Alright, so that's a decent recap of life lately. Tomorrow I'll likely have another book review for you. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


One of the symptoms of depression and anxiety that I experience the most is restlessness. I feel fidgety, I have a hard time sitting down. But I don't know what to do so I am often found wandering around my house looking for something to do. Or eat.

Except I don't really want to do anything and I'm not hungry.

I do something and eat at the same time.

I'm exhausted and I hurt so exercise isn't a go to. I try to reserve that for when I'm so angry I feel violent, I use it to burn my energy.

So I start something and quickly grow bored. Then I sit at my computer and waste time on Facebook. Or here. Like now. But then I don't feel productive so I get up and go back to what I had started, often a book or a scrapbook page, and I make a real effort to pay attention, stay focused, just do this thing.

Except that I can't.

So I wander some more.

Every day of my life is this way and I'm not sure how to fix it. I want to be content doing nothing, but content doing something, too.

I am so frustrated.

Breathe in.... hold it!

I forgot to tell you about how my visit with the Pulmonologist went this past week. Remember when I told you I had to take a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)? Well it turns out my test was "abnormal".

So abnormal that I get to do it again!

We didn't get into the nitty gritty of it but one of the first numbers in the control test was 300, pretty alright. The second time you do the test is with the help of an inhaler basically so the number should never be less than the first test.

Mine was 116.

He's sure that that means the test wasn't done correctly; therefore, he is reluctant to give me any kind of assistance not knowing what my true numbers are. But since I have symptoms of some kind asthma (like when I exercise my chest hurts, I have a wet cough, and I can't take a deep enough breath) he gave me Albuterol for my inhaler. I'm probably butchering the spelling of that, but that's what I've got. The two times I've used it since I have noticed a marked difference in how I felt and breathed so I don't know, maybe this is something I need in my life.

The good news is my insurance covered the entire cost of it so that was pretty nice.

I go for my second PFT and follow up right after it in March so it'll be interesting to see what comes of that.

Also this last week I went to Rheumatology again and my blood work continues to confuse everyone. Symptom wise, I have tenderness in joints and I display a lot of the things on the Rheumatoid Arthritis checklist except my blood work and (so far) I haven't had an inflammation. I'm continuing my Methotrexate for all of that so maybe that's why, but I'm starting to feel moderately better. I still feel like I have the flu all of the time but it isn't as severe as it was this time last year, so I feel like we're moving in the right direction anyways.

I'm heading into my 36th birthday in a few weeks and it's so strange to think I am going into it with a litany of health issues. Never would I have expected to be dealing with all of this at this point, maybe in my 50's or something, but not now. I definitely feel older than 36. Much older.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The View From Rainshadow Bay

If there was a reward for book who has a cover that does not match the plot, this would win hands down!

The View From Rainshadow Bay - Colleen Coble

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

I'll start by saying I'm giving this one a solid 4 stars. It's got a slow burn romance, but the suspense/thriller aspect of it is what carries this book. You wouldn't expect, judging by the cover, that we would have four dead within the first 100 pages, but the author comes out swinging as the Grim Reaper. She slows it up a bit, almost too much, for the rest of the book where we try to piece together seemingly random clues to find out what happened to all of these people. We find that deaths that have happened aren't what they seem, the past will always come back to haunt the present, and by the time we get to the whodunit, I didn't see it coming. I had an alternative theory that ended up not being it at all and that was a good surprise.

We have Shauna, still reeling from her husband's untimely death, front and center in the death of her good friend Clarence. She knows for certain it wasn't a gas leak but rather a bomb that blew up his home and killed him in the process. Grappling with that we have another death rather quickly which leaves Shauna in clear danger, forcing her to rely on Zach- her husband's best friend but who she also blames for his death because Zach was the only other person on their climbing trip. When her house is destroyed, and random clues that don't fit just yet but feel like they are connected, it's clear that there is a larger motive at play which leave Shauna and Zach to piece together because local law enforcement isn't great. Can they figure out who is at fault for all of this? What do all of these random clues mean?

Overall it's a pretty solid book, rivals something you'd expect from maybe Sandra Brown or even a lighter fare Nora Roberts, it has a great suspense plot to it. I feel like some of the strings left hanging like the police side of it was a bit of a let down. All of these higher up law enforcement were called in and we don't really hear much. We also meet so many characters, sure to be a distraction and get us wondering who the killer is, but I feel like the snippet of story introduced for them didn't go anywhere. I'm not saying this book should be any longer, in fact I would cut some chunks out to bring it down a bit, but it was a solid read. Once the murders happened and clues start piling up, I was sucked in and wanted to know what was going on.

If you're looking for a cozy mystery to get through the doldrums of winter, this would be a good pick.


Monday, February 19, 2018

18 months

I know I say it every month but it doesn't feel like Lucy can be 18 months already but then I think cripes, it's only been 18 months?!

I'll admit Lucy is maybe my favorite baby out of all of them simply because she is so easy. She's all about a meal, she loves to be snuggled, she likes to help and follow directions, she loves to play toys. She's really a textbook easy baby, what you would all want your first (or last) baby to be like.
We've decide she is Penelope's twin, my mom and I have a hard time telling the difference between Penelope's older photos and Lucy's current. It doesn't help that Lucy is wearing all of Penelope's old clothes so I can't even use that as a clue. 
She has the best personality out of all of them, a really good mix. She's got Olivia's sweetness and need to help/follow the rules, Jackson's quiet nature but love of snuggles, and Penelope's dramatics. 
I can't even lie and tell you that during the day I don't have a favorite because I do: Lucy. Lucy is SO MUCH EASIER to handle and deal with than Penelope. Penelope is a bull in a china shop, high demand, bossy, and has now taken up hitting so that's fun. Lucy just goes with the flow and is content to play Little People all day with small breaks for meals. 
Her favorite thing right now is to imitate whatever Penelope is doing, good or bad, except that she will actually listen to the word "no". 
On Tuesday she goes for another check of her heart murmur since it's still there and strong as ever. Better safe than sorry. My only real concern for her is the fact she doesn't talk. At all. All of my other kids were saying some kind of words, babbling at the minimum, long before this point so I don't know what my next step is. I have a call into the Birth to 3 program for a speech evaluation but I'm almost afraid to call her back and schedule it because I'm in denial that there might be something wrong. She can hear us just fine, and every once in awhile you hear what kind of sounds like "yeshhh" for "yes" but she does it so quietly you can hardly hear her. Sigh. But man... you can't help but love this baby, she's the best of everyone combined.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Scrappy Saturday: Almost finished a book!

It's pretty neat to think I've almost finished a scrapbook already. 
 I forgot all about these Fourth of July photos, they were not long after I had Penelope. I looked so great, I had lost baby weight and looked so happy. It's strange to see that person and realize it's me. I've talked often about feeling like I'm in someone else's body and it's things like this that confirm it for me. 
 These were from the summer of 2016, right before Lucy was born. 
 That picture of Matt and I is the last memory I have. It's the strangest feeling to scrapbook things pre-Lucy because the memories aren't there. It's hard to write about things you can't remember. 
And one of the oldest set of dance photos I had yet to scrapbook for Olivia. My little flamingo.