Monday, September 30, 2013

Carly's Gift

Are you a fan of a standard chick lit novel? Well I am, too. I don't read them as often as I maybe should, but every once in awhile one comes across my desk and I'm reminded that I am a chick and I kind of like these.

Carly's Gift - Georgia Bockoven
Carly's Gift: A Novel
Sixteen years ago Carly Hargrove made a decision that would irrevocably alter her life. With little comprehension of the life-long consequences of her actions, she trades her own future happiness to protect the man she's loved since kindergarten, David Montgomery.

With an ocean separating them, Carly builds a life for herself without David. She's the mother of three, lives in a beautiful house, and is married to a man who comes home every night—even if most of those nights he drinks too much. What more could she want?

Her answer arrives on a cold fall day when David shows up at her door. In town for his father's funeral, he has come to see Carly one last time, hoping to rid himself of the anger that still consumes him.

Instead, he is drawn into a web of secrets that rekindles the fierce need he once felt to protect Carly. He becomes caught up in her life in a way he never could have imagined—a way that will bind him to her forever.


If you ever wondered what it's like to weave a web of lies, this story is your blueprint. Let's break it down for you: Carly is in love with David, an aspiring writer. David's best friend Ethan is in love with Carly. Carly unexpectedly gets pregnant very young through rape, so she's faced with not many options. Knowing David would put his aspiring career aside to take care of her and the baby, she chooses to essentially dump him and let him go off to England. Meanwhile, Ethan becomes the white knight and marries her, thinking that the baby is David's and his friend was the asshole who left a pregnant girl behind. Carly and Ethan have a troubled marriage because she doesn't really love Ethan the way he wants/deserves and though they had two boys of their own, she feels stuck. 

Until David comes back for a family funeral. 

Which is when the web comes loose because David finds out about the daughter that isn't his, but Ethan thinks is his, and while trying to do the right thing he becomes Andrea's dad because he understands the position Carly is in, and he basically is still in love with her. Oh but then Andrea gets sicks and the real story behind Andrea's father comes out and it's as traumatic as you would think it would be. 

Overall? I liked the book. I kept going with it and had a hard time putting it down. I really kind of hated Carly. I mean, I understand that as a rape victim you've been through a huge trauma that irrevocably changes your life in some ways. But to not be honest with Ethan, the guy who stuck by her? Think of how different he would have been towards Carly and Andrea? It could be a whole other story. It feels a little selfish, and I suppose as mothers we have a natural inclination to be a little selfish when it comes to our kids. 

But man- that ending? That ending is sad. You root for another ending but you aren't going to get it. As a mom, I can't even imagine because it happens over the course of a few years but it feels far faster than that. But in the end, even with all of the lies and the other people it hurt in the process- Carly did right by Andrea at the end. I can't give you any more than that otherwise it ruins the last third of the book. ;) 

Georgia has a website as well as Facebook to follow her and her other reads on. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Enchanted

Book review time! I've been on a romance novel kick and here's another one I actually forgot I had signed up for. It's a historical fantasy romance, which normally isn't my thing, but I'm glad I reached out for this one. 

The Enchanted - Elaine Cantrell
The Enchanted
Forced by his father into a marriage he didn’t want, Prince Alan soon finds that his bride isn’t the sweet, submissive creature he expected.  Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, but she isn’t thrilled about the marriage either.  When black treachery threatens the kingdom, Morgane and Alan embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death for them and all of their people.

The story starts with poor Prince Alan, who after refusing to marry some random chick he doesn't know, is sent to prison by his father. Basically like a boarding school would do to a punk teenager, it's meant to teach you a lesson and basically kill your spirit so you become compliant. And when Prince Alan returns he finds out that it doesn't matter anyways because good ol' Dad got him married on paper to another random chick he doesn't know and oh goodie, she's on her way now from her castle. 

Naturally, he's decided this is for the birds and it's checking out. Except his mom talks him out of it by sharing a weird piece of her history with him that gives him pause. 

Enter Morgane, who also was married against her will and after notable attempts to prevent this, she's been left scarred and with burns on her feet. Because her dad also is in running for Father of the Year. So Alan and Morgane meet, he's doing his best to be sympathetic to her since he knows what her father did to her, and she's basically decided this is for the birds and she'll slowly kill herself. 

Oh but WAIT. That doesn't work out either, and they find themselves working together to figure out what the hell is going on as a bad of hooligans are wrecking havoc on the kingdom, they somehow get transported to another time and are dealing with green people, and are working with magic that had been long forbidden in the kingdom. 

So there's a lot going on. That's what I liked about the book. No matter how unnatural some of the passages read, especially the conversations, no matter how hokey the story line was, there was literally one thing after another that kept you going because you want to know what is going on. I don't know if there are going to be follow up stories, but there easily could be. We don't know where his mother really came from, we don't know what happens with the land of green people after they leave, and there are lots of other unanswered questions in the book. So that is what annoyed me. But it's not enough for me to say I wouldn't read it again, or wouldn't read a sequel. We know I would. 

So if you are a fan of historical fantasy romance, give this one a try. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Weak at the Knees

Have you noticed I've been on a reading kick? I have, that's true. I'm kind of out of control in the best way possible.

Weak at the Knees - Jo Kessel
Weak at the Knees
“We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning. 

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.

Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.

Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.

But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul? 

Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story about love, loss and relationships, set between London and the heart of the French Alps


I signed up for this one to review because you know I love a romance novel and the cover was kind of great. Unfortunately, I don't know if it's the book persay or the fact I was reading this between other books, but I didn't love it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it enough to write you a raving, must read review for it. 

The story centers around Danni, who after losing her best friend unexpectedly, she decides to dump her long term boyfriend and skip town. She ends up going to the French Alps to assist on a ski hill. She has a quick fling with a hot guy, and that was nice, but he leaves and she meets Olivier. The rest is basically romance history because it's a forbidden love since he's married, she's conflicted, we have a danger element, and then a happy ever after. 

But what annoyed me a bit with this book is the voice of Amber (the best friend) that Danni hears. And I mean, I understand why having relations with a married man was a no-no in Amber's book- if you were dying, would you really emphasize that with your friend? No. It just felt weird and not plausible. I don't know, maybe it's just me. Amber also wants Danni to dump her boyfriend Hugh, who doesn't do it for her, and that is probably the only admirable thing? I mean, if someone isn't right for you, you could wait a thousand years and it still won't be right, so there's no use in faking it. 

The romance between Olivier and Danni is nice, it's got a little bit of heat to it, and that was enough to keep me going until the end. And then I don't know how I feel about the ending either. I mean, you see it coming but it didn't give me the satisfaction as a finished book as I thought it would? I also know next to nothing about skiing, so there are sections of the book I could have skipped over because it didn't bring anything to the greater story. 

Overall? It was good. It wasn't great, it isn't really book club, rave about this worthy, but if you're looking for a decent romance novel to get you through the winter? Here you go. Found it. Maybe I'm getting picky with age or I've just read a string of phenomenal books that make it hard to put this one up there with them. And that's OK. But like always, I challenge you to read the book and tell me I'm cranky and wrong. 

Asphyxiation?

So I've been sick. Normally I don't get sick and if I do it's never to the degree where I need to actually be in bed for the entire day hoping I don't die.

But yesterday that's exactly what happened. I woke up with a raging fever and I just couldn't do life. So I checked out for the day, slept basically all day, and I'm back at it today with a head cold. Which I'll take over a fever and hoping my body does its job and fights those dirty bugs.

During my sick day I opted to take a ridiculously hot shower because I had gotten a headache and sometimes if I take a really hot shower it helps, so I'm in there, showering, and I start coughing. And you know what I'm talking about. You just start coughing and your body does it without your consent and all of a sudden, you can't breath. You have a lump of phlegm half in your throat, doesn't know where to go, you're in the middle of coughing and vomiting, and your body is trying to do you a solid by getting rid of this but forgetting that you can no longer breathe?

It was then that I wondered- how many people die of asphyxiation this way? Surely I'm not the only one that felt like they were going to die in a shower because of phlegm.

But never fear peeps, I'm back. And I have a book review coming today, one Friday, and tomorrow? Well tomorrow I'll tell you about Spank. Oh yes, I'm going to a play called Spank, and it's a parody of Fifty Shades of Gray and it's going to be awesome.

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's good to be a blogger.

Every once in awhile, I get the question, "Why do you blog? Don't you care about putting it all out there?"

And the answer is always really simple. I blog because I've met some really amazing, wonderful, thoughtful, caring people out there. Most of these people have become actual friends for me and someday when I have money, I will have the most epic road trip traveling to see you all. And I don't mind putting it all out there because there are others out there like me. I think if I had someone like me that blogged that had a life like me, things wouldn't have been so hard for me back in the day. But somewhere out there, there is a youthful, fun loving mom, stressed out from day to day things, in a marriage she's working hard at who sometimes struggles with depression and the pressures of being good at everything. And maybe she relates to me.

Or maybe there is a guy out there that has a wife like me and maybe he gets her just a little bit more and sees what the other perspective is like.

Or maybe there is a complete opposite of me that sees me as a hot mess and feels better about themselves.

Whatever it is, hopefully I'm sometimes entertaining.

But back to great people. I've made some really good friends over the interwebs and sometimes you guys send me fun things. And these fun things, quite literally, ALWAYS when I need them the most. It's like you have a freaky radar on this. But it's true.

Today I came home to a really fun package from none other than Rose over at Spirit Phoenix. She has been with me since what feels like the beginning of my blog, and she's just been really great. I think way back when I won a giveaway on her blog and I got this really cool tote bag that I still use every week on my trip to the library, and I think of her every time I use it. But she's also really talented, and interesting, and she has adorable kids, and she just is the type of person I would love to coffee with because she's just so cool. So I knew that whatever was in this box was going to be awesome, I would love it, and it would make my day.

Then I saw her card and I got giddy. Like I started bouncing in my heeled boots and squealing.

Then I opened it. And full out squealed, scaring all of my pets, I started jumping in my heeled boots but because I'm not coordinated, I kind of fell and almost broke my ankle but I recovered because hello- my gift is breakable. And oh good lord it matches my office and it's like the PERFECT thing for my wall.
Jesus cripes is a counted cross stitched stoned goat! Could there ever BE a more appropriate gift for me? Huh? No. No there cannot be because it is amazing.

Even Matt rolled his eyes and said, "It's really nuts that total strangers just get you. Because even I wouldn't think of a good gift like this." That's right he wouldn't- guy who gets me a desk calendar for Christmas every year, despite I don't have a work desk to put it on. *sigh*
But look at Shaggy! Doesn't he fit perfectly on my wall? I even hung her card up on my bulletin board of awesome. So Shaggy looks at me, and he looks stoned, but happy. It's the closest to a real goat I'll ever get.

So THANK YOU, Rose. You are amazing, this was by far the highlight of my Day Quil induced haze of today. Thank you for being a blog reader, for taking the time to make this for me, to spend the expense to mail it to me. Just everything. Thank you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Almost Up, but back it anyways.

Well this weekend had the promise to be far more productive than it turned out to be. With the kids both having colds, and Jackson's bad enough to stay home from school on Friday, I should have known. I should have absolutely known that I would get sick.

And I did. Yesterday was a doozy, and today isn't much better. Here's hoping tomorrow I hit some miraculous recovery because tomorrow I work early in the morning and my entire week is balls to wall busy. Like obscenely busy. As usual.

But we did do some fun stuff and I got some Etsy stuff done.

First up, we went to the hot air balloon festival in Duluth. It was the first one in like a 100 years I think? I've wanted to go to this since I heard about it earlier this spring because I love hot air balloons, but I have never been near one, and I really wanted to ride in one. But of course, due to demand there weren't really going to be rides. Well, if you donated to the festival (it was free to get in), you got put into a lottery for tethered rides. Which I don't know if they even did because Friday the balloons didn't get inflated due to wind. I heard today they didn't go up either. They went up for awhile on Saturday, but we only saw two. Unless you count the ones we saw as we were leaving. Which, is really bullshit.

Why?

Because with a working PA system, they could and should have been announcing that balloons were going up. We stood there for an hour looking at the two balloons and it's kind of boring to just stare at a balloon. It mostly consisted of mediocre bands, a bunch of drunk people laying in the lawn, and over priced food. But I got to see balloons up close, so I'm still counting it a win. I was really disappointed to see that other balloons were inflated aw we're in our car. Like, why wouldn't you announce that kind of thing? Like hey, "In 10 minutes, another balloon will be inflated!" or something. Nope, none of that. I would have liked to have seen a balloon go up like that.

 Jackson looks super enthused, doesn't he?
Olivia was actually pretty excited to come. And is it just me, or does Jackson look like a big kid here? Ugh. Not ready for that.
I don't know if anyone else noticed, but this balloon actually had a tear in it. I don't think you can go up in a balloon with a tear, but maybe I'm wrong?
This balloon was really very tippy. It seemed to wobble a lot more than the other one.
 Olivia and I being cute.
 Jackson actually looking at the camera!
 Matt even came and didn't totally hate it.
On our way out, we stopped to watch the helicopters land and take off for rides. If I had more money I would have paid for the kids to go up. Matt and I went on one as part of my 30/30 list when we were in Vegas and that was a ton of fun, so maybe one day I'll get the kids up in one. Jackson totally loved watching them go up and down.
 So yup- more balloons went up as we were leaving. Jerks.
 Someday I'll go to a big balloon festival where they all lift off the ground. That would be really cool.
Oh yes. And then on our way home, we're driving over the bridge and we see this. Now, it looks like a skydiver, which would be monumentally dumb because the lake is unpredictable with the winds, and there wasn't much for landing space around the water. But as we got closer, it had like a motor on it? Like a propelled parachute? I don't know. Either way, that looked risky and borderline dumb. I've gone skydiving and knowing how the wind can just pull you one way or the other, no way would I do it near the lake.

So then when we came home, I got a few cards done for my Etsy shop. I haven't done much with that in awhile mostly because I haven't had time. Then we were moving so all of my stuff was packed up. But now that I'm unpacked, I thought I'd go through my scrap bin and see what I could come up with.

Cupcake Duo 2
Cupcake Duo set

Cupcake Duo 1
Another Cupcake Duo

Bright Flower Duo
These super pretty and bright flower cards

Set of 5 Felty Flower Cards
Felty Flower set

So.. I got a few things done. I have some ideas for other stuff but I just need time. And adhesive. I'm perpetually out of adhesive it seems. I might even work on some ornaments to get them in my shop by Christmas. Which feels wrong, but if I can make a little extra money then I'll suck it up!

But if you use the coupon code "SARASBLOG", you'll get 10% off your order in my shop, http://scrapinsara.etsy.com.

Friday, September 20, 2013

That? Oh just the sound of getting kicked by this week.

Man.

That pretty much sums up this entire week. I'm not self absorbed enough to think I'm the only one who gets overwhelmed by life, but I'm sitting here thinking of what I can do so this doesn't happen every single week. *sigh*

Well both kids are sick. Olivia was worse earlier this week, and Jackson is very sick right now. He's perked up a bit this afternoon after laying around all day but I tell you- sick kids is the worst. Olivia also has been waking up every day with a headache. If she doesn't wake up with one, she develops one over the course of the day. I have a history of chronic migraines, and my mom does as well, so I honestly didn't think much of it. But now that I realize that oh hey- this has been months, I mentioned it to her doctor during her well check today. She said everything looks normal, she's developing normal, and her pressure points aren't swollen, her eyes look awesome, so that rules out basic stuff. Our next options is a blood test for imbalance of stuff and/or a pediatric neurologist.

Guess who cannot afford a specialist?

This chick.

Also, she said Jackson's cough sounds like we're bordering on bronchitis and while his lungs don't sound full of fluid and crud, they aren't totally clear. So YAY for me. Should be a fabulous weekend.

Then Matt's paycheck? Oh, only $350 less than expected, less than needed. Fabulous. I get paid next Friday and every dime will go to a bill and/or upcoming expense I need to take care of. I told Matt that no kidding, once we get through Christmas, if we can just finish out this year penny pinching and being frugal, we're going to get hard core. We have some major things we need to get done next summer (new roof and new windows) so we won't have a choice.

The other bummer here is that the plan was to buy at least one new toilet this payday. Not going to happen. We also can't buy the stuff to replace the wiring and exterior lights for our back door/garage area. There is a short because the wires are ridiculously old so we decided that we're going to replace those so they aren't hazardous anymore as well as putting light fixtures that don't have odd sized light bulbs that are hard to find and, as it turns out, expensive to replace. BUT, that's all gone to the wayside so now I still can't see when I go out my back door. Normally not the end of the world, except I am fairly certain there is a large animal living under the house next door and I'd like to not get mauled hauling out the garbage.

I also did manage to get myself to Zumba both times this week. Tuesday was the first time in three months (the instructor takes the summer off) so I was grossly unprepared for the pain. Oh, the pain. It only highlighted that my thighs and core need lots of work. Wednesday I was sore, but it wasn't as bad as I thought I would be. That came Thursday. Oh lawd. Then on Thursday was the second class so I went because I'm going to try to keep this up. But holy hell. I am so out of shape. I don't go again until next Tuesday so the plan is to get myself out for some walks this weekend.

I have been extra organized with the PTO stuff so far this year so that's awesome. Ditto on my book reviews. I've gotten a bunch done, so hopefully this weekend I can get them all typed up. There is a hot air balloon festival over in Duluth this weekend and I really, really, really want to go. If the kids are sick I can't drag them to the lake to freeze their asses off to look at balloons. Hopefully I can convince Matt to take me and we'll call it a date.

BUT we can't do anything because we're broke. So that means no mini donuts and that's life's way of giving me the ol' bitch slap of reality. You know things are bad when you're too poor for mini donuts OR a Powerball ticket.

Monday, September 16, 2013

10 years is a biggie.

I was recently talking to my friend who recently celebrated her ten year wedding anniversary with her husband and we both realized that of our friends, we're the oddballs. Matt and I will have been married ten years this coming June and I've long felt that if we made it that far- we should celebrate. The fact is, ten years is a long time. Then when you take into consideration the divorce rate and how willy nilly people are to get married, it feels like an even bigger obstacle.

Matt and I got married knowing it was going to be difficult, we may not always agree or even like each other, but so long we could keep the foundation steady, we would be OK. And no doubt, we have had some serious challenges along the way. I was only 22 and he was 23 when we got married so we were practically babies. I think back to what we were like at those ages and how inexperience at life we were and I often wonder why anyone would agree to let us get married in the first place. How could we possibly understand the commitment and the real work it takes to keep a marriage going. But the fact is so many people don't know until they hit a rough spot and they realize they didn't have what it takes as a couple to weather it.

And by all means, getting through infidelity, betrayal, lying, financial issues, parenting, etc is really tough. It's not easy, it's really a difficult path to go and not everyone makes it. Most don't.

Matt and I did.

So as I look to our ten year anniversary I want to do something that celebrates that, and gives us a good send off for the next ten and beyond.

I thought about a vow renewal, but quite frankly, it's like a wedding re-do and we don't have the money to do that. I thought about having a dinner with some of our closest friends and family, but we also can't pay for everyone and then you run into the etiquette issue of having a dinner and asking people to pay their way and I don't know how I feel about that or what the proper way of handling that is. Then I thought about having something just at our house and while I love my house and love to entertain, I don't know if that's quite right either. Any ideas?

The other thing we've decided is that him and I are going to go on a vacation, just the two of us. We did it for our trip to Las Vegas a few years ago and we really had such a great time. It was really nice to remember when it was just us and our mini-trips and how much fun we had. So I think we'll do something similar but this time maybe head towards Arizona and do some beginner hiking and see some random things.

And I realize ten years isn't a big deal to most people, but it really is for us. There was a time where I didn't think we'd make it to ten, much less five, yet here we are. When I think of how hard I have worked at this relationship, and how hard Matt has, I'm proud of us. We aren't perfect, we still struggle, but we're trying together and that's all that you can really ask for.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Divergent

Oh man. I'll be honest, I only read this because I have heard about the movie coming out next year and if you know me, I love movies based from books. Quite frankly, I think more people would go to the movies if they just started making them based from books because clearly, all of the best movies are from a book.

Divergent - Veronica Roth
Divergent (Divergent, #1)
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

If you are a reader at all, one thing will pop up when you read this description and you look at this cover- is this a Hunger Games rip off? And you'll be optimistic that while the beginning of the story and even the damn cover art reminds you of the Hunger Games, it'll get better and go off into it's own separate story. 

BUT, you'd be wrong. 

I read this book thinking this is JUST like the Hunger Games. Sure, we aren't divided into districts, rather they are factions. Sure our heroin comes from easily the poorest, most desolate, even grayest faction. Even Jeanine, the smarty pants from the Erudite faction, is eerily similar to President Snow from Hunger Games. The reluctant romance, the virginal aspect of our heroins, the moral back and forth with the political, and often thought provoking, story line- all of it is just like  Hunger Games. Yes, there are some differences but there isn't enough to make you think that these are in no way similar. There are too many similarities. 

And you know what? That's fine. It's a good book either way. If you haven't read Hunger Games you'll of course have no idea what I'm referring to and that's OK. You will like this book. I am thrilled that young adult authors are writing about things that are more than your ex boyfriend flirting with your friend in chemistry. Yes, that's what teens experience but it shouldn't be all of it. If a book like this, or Hunger Games, gets them to think a little bit about the book and how it's essentially how life is now only slightly different, and what that means for others? Yay. Golf claps and twerking because we need teenagers who have brains in their heads and not afraid to use them. 

BUT. 

Here's my biggest complaint. If you are an author and you are going to write a book so incredibly similar to another book, whether it's popular or not, OWN IT. Seriously. Just own it. Rather than come up with some half assed story on how you came up with the book idea, just say you were a fan of whatever book but you had an idea to twist it a little bit and ran with it. It's OK and us readers will appreciate you for it. But don't come out here telling us that you came up with this solely on your own and are in no way influenced (heavily) on another book. Don't make readers think that two totally different authors just happened to come up with two stories so completely similar, write them, and publish them years apart and then say it's a coincidence. 

I am aware that there are legions of Divergent fans, many of whom have entire websites and message boards dedicated to saying how unlike the Hunger Games this book is. And my thought is that if you have to rally that hard for it to be true... maybe it isn't true. I've read plenty of dystopian novels, YA ones at that, and they are not all the same. 

But with that being said, you know how I am with a series. No matter what I think, I keep with them until the end because each book builds on the previous. I hope Veronica Roth is taking us in a far different direction. But I'm telling you what- if Tris and Four overthrow the government at the end of book three I'm going to lose it. I'll probably go see it in the theater as well to see how they adapt the book to film because other movie options are slim unless you're a fan of Tyler Perry movies. *groan*

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kid hallway = DONE

More progress in the house! It may seem like I must be almost done, but I'm not. I have been saving some of the more expensive, more labor intensive, least fun projects until the end. So it might be awhile before you have another house project update.

But recently I tackled the really long hallway to the kids' bedrooms. The really great thing about our house is that it used to be a really huge house with only two bedrooms and an attic area you could walk into. Fortunately for us, the previous owners thought that was dumb so they converted the attic into two more bedrooms side by side. Which makes for a really long hallway of opportunity.

And I, of course, seized it.

There is like... a wall that is between Olivia and Jackson's doors that I wanted to put up kid related art work. Things that are sentimental to me and remind me that this is a kid zone.
 So here it is. The two photo frames have pictures of each kid at 9 months old. Because I'm over the top, I had both kids in bright colored stripe shirts, and both had a ball that matched their outfits. Because I knew that someday they'd look cool next to each other. Then I made shadowboxes of each one of their first shoes.
 I had this in the last house, but I remember buying it as soon as I saw it in a shop in Canal Park. I saw it in the window and I maxed out my credit card to get it that day. I used to sing this song to my kids on repeat for hours trying to get them to sleep. Every time they are sad, or sick, they want me to sing to them in bed. So I knew this had to go into the hall.

THEN, a few months ago I was just browsing through Etsy and I saw this:
 and I absolutely knew that I had to have it. For the illiterate or stupid out there, it's a quote from the book Where the Wild Things Are. I'm also known for telling my kids I'm going to bite them and/or eat them up so obviously, they need to be reminded. The really great thing is that I got this from Stoic Design and they have fabulous pieces. I already bought another one for a friend for a gift and I'm basically trying to decide what am I going to buy next. Their shop has a ton of just really lovely stuff and we're close enough to Christmas (shut your pie holes, people- start planning!) that you can start buying now. They make things on demand, ship pretty quickly, and have adorable packaging. You can also like them on Facebook to stay on top of what's coming soon.

We also own a lot of kid books. And I really do mean that. Both kids have quite the stockpile in their rooms but we have the community shelf where they change out their books periodically and this where we pick out our bedtime stories. I used to use these two door cabinet things, but honestly- not every book fit and some books were too big and it just didn't look right. SO, I had Matt build shelves.
He rounded the one end off to kids wouldn't take out their eye as they stumbled out of their rooms in the morning. So I put their books, their games, and some book character stuffed animals up there. And Tiggy Tots, the pig you see slumped over. Tiggy Tots was Olivia's first stuffed animal and she used to suck his nose. I can't bear to get rid of him.

So there you have it. It worked out really well and I liked how it looks. I also like how my hallway reminds me of the children's section of the library.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Real

So, another book review. And another fun one, to boot!

Real - Katy Evans
Real (Real, Raw & Ripped, #1)
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?


OK, so anyone who knows me knows how much I absolute adored Jamie McGuire's book Beautiful Disaster. And how could you not? It's wonderfully written, you have flawed characters you want to hate but you can't, and it's a great story. So if you liked that one, you will like this one because it's basically almost completely identical. 

Book purists are probably going to hate that it is so similar, and huge fans of this book will also hate that I'm saying this kind of like a rip off of Jamie McGuire's book, but bitches you know I'm right. Sure, there are a few differences but it's so similar I knew what was going to happen. While normally I would hate that and close the book all together and forget it, I didn't because I really liked Remington's character. And I kind of liked Brooke but just like every other girl in every other book- how do they think they can do something and not be found out?  HOW? It's predictable and it's like, "is this the best the author could do?". 

With that being said, I did enjoy the book. A lot. I liked the build up of passion, I liked how Remington's "problem" is far more believable than some of the other book character's you read in stories. And he's such a broken guy that you can't help but like him. And want to hold him and just hug him until he squeals (and more). The other things that made me cringe was how possessive he is, which I GET because of his background. Get it, doesn't mean I like it. I also don't like how sex hungry Brooke is. Like, simmer down sunshine. I get that Remy is a hot piece of ass and you're horny, but the fact he isn't banging you like a prostitute should make you feel better about yourself that he thinks more of you than that. 

So I'm basically giving it 3 stars. It is a good read, it has great sex scenes, the build up is good, overall if you are looking for a book to tide you over while you have your period, this one is a good choice. There are other sequels coming, next on in November. You know how I am, once I've started a series I have to see it though because I'm crazy and I cannot help it. So I'll obviously keep reading. 

God DAMN.

Is anybody else reading the series on MSN about the adoption "re-homing" epidemic? If not, you have to. It's horrifying and scary. As a parent, I don't understand the people who beat their kids and quite frankly, I don't know how anyone can use the excuse of "I got pregnant on accident" anymore when there are so many options at your disposal.

Anyways.

So the condensed version of this is that people who really want to be parents adopt kids. Sometimes these are American born kids but are more often internationally born kids. And anyone who knows anything knows that kids born internationally and are not adopted immediately at birth will be in orphanages which aren't known to be loving and give you the warm and fuzzies. Oftentimes these kids have mental, social, emotional, physical disabilities and can be hard to raise. There is no doubt that if you adopt a child with "issues" it is often a long and difficult road to travel. As a parent with "normal" children, I cannot begin to understand how hard it would be do this.

But at the end of the day-  no matter how your child is if they are conceived and birthed by you, you love them. You parent them through it. You nurture them, you do your best. You never, ever give up. And that should be the same if you adopt a child. If you adopt a child who isn't what you hoped and dreamed- oh well. You made that choice. You don't just say you can't do it and then re-home them.

I'm reading this articles horrified because I can't even imagine a parent just dumping their child off to a complete stranger. A stranger who could very well sexually assault your child. A stranger who could sell them in child sex rings. There are people out there who do vile, horrible, scary things to children for fun and these parents think it's OK to take that chance? Because it got too hard?

Well guess what, assholes? Parenting IS hard. It isn't meant to be easy. If your kid isn't what you hoped they would be? Try harder. Giving up on them and dumping them with potential abusers isn't the answer. How do you think those kids feel knowing that their parents thought that dumping them in these places was a better option than trying harder?

Then I think- how can you re-home a child with no paperwork? Wouldn't you have to have something to bring them to the doctor? Enroll in school? No. Of course you wouldn't if you never brought them to the doctor and you home schooled. Nobody would ever have to know you were acquiring children and doing god knows what to them.

I don't think I really know what a child has to do in order for you to not care at all? I mean, instead of taking the child back to the adoption agency, or even the state welfare system as screwed up as it is, you choice to go and do something shady and hand the kid off to anyone? Absolutely anyone?

If that's the case- you should have all of your kids taken away. I really believe that. As a parent you can't just pick and choose which ones you'll love. You really can't. Every kid has their faults, some worse than others, but you are their parent. No matter how badly things go wrong, they need to know that no matter what- there you are. Even when they are bad. Even when they are good. Even when they don't understand why they are the way they are- they need to know that there is somebody out there that 100% no matter what, loves them, and provides a safe spot for them to be.

But no. You have parents out there who give up, and essentially toss the kids away. It makes me wish I could adopt them myself but I can't. The thought of children, who need real help and love, being tossed away because it's too hard breaks my heart. I can't even imagine. It's right up there with the parents who just care so little about their kids that they come to school functions drunk or can't wash their kids' clothing regularly and send them to school in the winter without the proper winter clothing.

So read the series. It's really an eye opener.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just What Kind of Mother Are You

Yes, it is true that every once in awhile I still have time to read books for fun rather than just for review. But I sill like to give you my review regardless because it's fun.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You - Paula Daly
Just What Kind of Mother Are You?
What if your best friend's child disappears? And it was all your fault.

A searing and sinister thriller for readers who liked Gone Girl.What if your best friend's child disappears? And it was all your fault. This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto, overwhelmed working mother of three, one freezing December in the English Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into the stuff of nightmares. Because, not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing, and not only is it all Lisa's fault, but she's the second teenage girl to disappear within this small tightknit community over two weeks. The first girl turned up stripped bare, dumped on a busy high street, after suffering from a terrifying ordeal. 

Wracked with guilt over her mistake and after being publicly blamed by Lucinda's family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda's disappearance, Lisa learns that the small, posh, quiet town she lives in isn't what she thought it was, and her friends may not be who they appear, either.


So the premise of this book is Lisa, a working mother of two who tries to keep it all going and has many balls in the air, makes the mistake of forgetting her daughter's friend was supposed to spend the night. She's exhausted, she's working every day, she has kids to deal with, she's trying to be a good wife, meanwhile competing with other moms on who can out do the others, so it happens. Except because of her mistake, 13  year old Lucinda goes missing and everyone blames Lisa. If Lisa had just remembered, she could have reported the girl missing right away versus Lucinda's family discovering it the next day losing precious time to find her. 

Meanwhile, girls are going missing and showing up disoriented, having been victims of brutal sexual assault. Of course everyone fears this fate for Lucinda, but when girl #3 goes missing and comes back like girl #1, people fear the worst for Lucinda. Did something go wrong and she was murdered? 

The story takes place over the course of a week and in that week you discover the secrets all of the central characters are hiding. Basically nobody is as they seem and you know it all plays a greater role but you don't know how until the very end. When I got to the part about who took Lucinda and why? Screwed up. So incredibly screwed up. And sad. Holy is it sad. 

For a debut novel this is written so you see Lisa as you. This is you, this is me, this is all of us harried mothers who try to keep it all going and every once in awhile things fall through the cracks. It's terrifying to think someone may take your child but can you imagine if your friends' child was taken and it's because you dropped THAT ball? No. None of us can imagine it because it's scary. I flew through this book and couldn't put it down because it was just compelling and it pulls you through all the way to the end. You'll love it. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let the insanity begin!

Every year when school starts I feel anxious and nervous. I feel excited and sad. Coincidentally, every year I am going through PMS during the first week of school and quite frankly, I don't know how the universe does it but every year she makes me her bitch. Maybe just to remind me of who is really in charge up in here.

And apparently, it's my uterus. Now you all know.

But yes- last week marked the first days of school. Which were easy because they don't really do anything those first days on the short week, do they? No. So this is the week where I feel like if I can just come up with a system right off at the beginning, I can beat it this year. I can beat the chaos, the trying to be on top of snacks and forms and class participation projects and so on.

You all know what I'm talking about.

So, I've got myself a system. I really hope to keep it together all year so at no point in the year will I feel like I'm being dragged ass first through bushes and wondering if I paid for the newest activity, did I turn that permission slip in, did we read enough the night before and sweet jesus did I sign the homework page??

But you want to see pictures and here they are.
 I think Jackson was more excited about being able to get his picture taken with a back pack this year.
 And Olivia really liked going to school knowing she'd be getting a locker now that she is in second grade.
 Miss Olivia all dolled up.
 Mr. Jackson even let me spike his hair.


I was worried about Jackson starting kindergarten because it is really important to me that he like school as much as Olivia. I really have pumped up school and talked about how great school was since they were very little because I don't want them hating to get up in the morning to go. I really want them to embrace learning and the school culture. But then I found out he was going to be having the same teacher as he did in 4K and she was just really fantastic and he adored her, so we started school knowing he'd have a great year.

Olivia was a bit more apprehensive but she is every fall so now I'm learning not to worry so much. Here's hoping we have no bathroom accidents though. But she is taking school very seriously and every night she is meticulous in going through her folder, reading, doing homework, etc. It's really great that she is so conscientious about learning as much as she can and just going her assignments as she's told. She is very much a mini me in that regard.

Then after I picked them up on their first day, I saw Jackson first and he immediately declares that it was the very best day EVER. Even Olivia said she had a great day and enjoyed organizing her supplies. Which, not going to lie, I squealed. Mostly because I love supplies and I always loved organizing them too. Now... if she would only get that excited while cleaning her room...

The Returned

Here is a book that is incredibly disturbing, thought provoking, kind of creepy, sad, and a little bit hopeful. All in one.

The Returned - Jason Mott
TheReturned_fc_hires
One summer’s day, Agent Bellamy of the International Bureau of the Returned arrives at the home of Harold and Lucille Hargrave with their young son, Jacob, in tow. Jacob, who drowned on his eighth birthday almost fifty years before, is among the many long-dead who have been reappearing around the world, exactly as they were when they passed.
The Hargraves are no longer the young parents who lost their child that tragic day, but Lucille embraces Jacob as if it were yesterday, thrilled to have her darling son once again.  The more skeptical Harold is not so sure. He was the one who found Jacob’s body in the river all those years ago; how could this little boy truly be his son?
From the Hargraves’ tiny Southern town of Arcadia to every corner of the globe, the Returned are appearing in increasing numbers, and their loved ones are both filled with gladness and alarmed by the implications. Questions of why the dead are returning remain unanswered—is it a miracle to celebrate or some portent of the end of days? Some, like Lucille, refuse to temper their newfound happiness with dark explanations, but many in Arcadia are fearful of the Returned. As public sentiment swings against them, the seemingly docile Returned are rounded up and detained in prisonlike camps. Their numbers continue to grow, and the camps become increasingly overcrowded and are targets for the brewing fear and hatred among the living.
When Jacob is interned, Harold stays with him, still confounded by what it all means. While one faction in Arcadia grows violent in its efforts to expel the Returned, others grapple with the sudden presence of those long absent—from an entire family murdered long ago under mysterious circumstances to the troubled first love of the town’s minister. As the skein of the once close-knit community unravels into a tangled “us vs. them” rhetoric and retribution—and similar public hysteria erupts around the world—the very definition of humanity will be called into question.
The biggest thing you need to know is that this? This is a DEBUT novel. So often an author has their debut and while it's good- it's not mind blowing. Some authors never write a book this good their entire lives but here you have Jason Mott hitting it out of park on his first try. 
Secondly, this book will pull you in because of the story, the characters, and the implications on your own life if this were real. It's about the Hargraves mainly, who after 50 years are reunited with their song Jacob who died on his 8th birthday. Harold and Lucille had been watching the news of the "returned", the name given to the many people who have been dead for years but are coming back unchanged to their former lives for no rhyme or reason. So one day, Jacob is at the door with Agent Bellamy and while Lucille originally proclaimed the Returned are the work of the devil, faced with her own son she declares it a miracle from God. Harold is a bit more skeptical. He seems to know something isn't quite right but seeing Lucille's joy holds him back from turning Jacob away. 
But Jacob isn't the only one. Dispersed through the novel are snippets from other Returned families and how not everyone has gotten an open armed welcome back. 
What drives the entire book is the fear of the unknown. Nobody knows what to think of these people or is it a sign of the end times? But it also asks the question- what would you do differently? Would you love that person more? Would you have tried harder to be a better person in their lives? Would you have watched them better? And how will you grieve differently? So often you see parents who suffer through the tragic loss of a child- they will sometimes come together and grieve as a unit, or other times they grieve separately and go on living life with a vacant hole in them and just decide that's the best it'll ever get. I suppose what scares people the most is confronting their failures and the things they are ashamed they did or didn't do. It's uncomfortable and scary. 
I so badly want to tell you how the book ends because it's perfect. It's a perfect kind of explanation, I suppose? It's like the Returned had a job they didn't know they had- it's like righting the wrongs, but not really. It's hard to really explain it without giving away the ending but I absolutely loved it. And I really had a soft spot for Harold. He reminds me of a Grandpa- that stern Grandpa you had that you know has a sentimental soft spot in there somewhere but times have hardened that, made it harder to recognize. 
The really cool thing about this? It has been option by Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, and will air on ABC this fall under the title, Resurrection
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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chasing Memories

Oh lambies. It is book review time, but this is a really great YA novel that I'm almost positive you'll love just as much as I did. So much so that you will audibly scream, "Where's the effing sequel?!" because oh yes, it ends with a major cliff hanger.

Chasing Memories - Tia Silverthorne 

There isn’t another way; not now. The others are coming. I can’t let them have you…

Seventeen-year-old Reagan has a problem: She can’t remember what happened the night her brother was taken.

Now, the dreams haunting her from the incident are becoming more intense by the day. All the while, the lines between what’s real and what’s a product of her paranormal-obsessed mind are becoming blurred.

Is she losing her mind or has she just stepped into a world she thought only existed in books?

Caught in a web of worried parents, competing boys, Wiccan relatives, protective amulets, and psychiatrist babble, Reagan must determine the truth before it’s too late.


I will tell you right up front that this book feels very much a cross between the Shiver series and the Beautiful Creatures series. The story is about Reagan who loses her brother in a really horrific accident though his body is never found. This accident seems like the catalyst of her breaking up with her boyfriend, her learning more about her Wiccan relatives, and her crumbling relationship with her parents. There's something wrong with her but she doesn't know what it is and all she's getting is a vague runaround from everyone who seems to know but can't come right out and tell her. 

What I really loved about this book is Reagan isn't a wussy. She's angry and rightfully so, she's skeptical, but she's also trying really hard to figure out what's actually going on. In the meantime, she's learning more about her mother, there's drama between mom and grandma, Dad is MIA, brother is presumably dead, she's got a hottie named Rafe who seems sketchy and has a really creepy family and then there's Rowan and you just don't know WHAT to think. I mean, I can understand why the girl is confused and torn on what she should do. 

Fortunately, her presumably dead brother Sam's voice rings in her head and helps her out of situations. So there's that. 

Overall I really liked this book a lot. It was fast paced, it kept you going, you kept discovering new pieces to the larger puzzle and it ends in a bang. And then leaves you. It leaves you frantically searching for a sequel and I can't find one this is my very public plea- GIVE US THE NEXT BOOK. The problem with books that have sequels is that the sequels are never readily available unless they have been out for awhile. It leaves me with a case of the sads. 

Where is Reagan going? Is Rowan a good guy? Because I really hope so,  he gives her the flutters whereas Rafe made her puke. If a guy makes you puke, it's usually a bad sign. 

So yes- you need to check this book out. This was a great book to have on my Nook and pull out when I was waiting and/or bored somewhere. Finished this thing in no time. Here is the Kindle, Amazon paperback and Barnes & Noble paperback links. Definitely a book to check out!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sets me right over the edge.

OK, this summer has been busy. That's an understatement, and normally I try to hit every party I'm invited to. I try to make at least an appearance because I feel like if someone took the time to invite you, you should try to be there.

Except the last two kid birthday parties? No. Let me emphasize that- these were KID BIRTHDAY PARTIES. Not that what I'm going to tell you makes it right for adult ones, but I haven't encountered this with an adult one. Just two kid ones.

Folks- it is never, ever OK to post a REGISTRY for birthday gifts. Never, ever. First off all, a one year old birthday party will include cake mess, cute outfits, and toys they'll outgrow by Christmas. You don't ask for a fucking bed, you don't ask for an Xbox, you don't ask for a PS3, you don't ask for a fucking iPod. Quite frankly- I feel like birthday gifts aren't a big deal. You should not be telling people, "Hey- you are invited to my party and you can bring me an iPod." No.

You just don't do that because it is rude. It is obnoxious and there is no way to turn this so you don't look like an asshole.

The argument of, "It's for family that doesn't see the kid often". OK- I have that issue with my kids as well. Do you know what I say? I say anything you give them is more than enough and it's just fine. If they prod me more on what to get, I say what size clothes they are in, I say something generic like chapter books, Barbies, craft stuff, etc. I never say anything more than $20. Do you know why?

Because I am not an asshole, that's why.

It's best to teach your kids early on to be grateful. You need to teach them that you will sometimes get lame gifts. It's not about the actual gift, it's about the fact that someone went out of their way to buy you a gift to help celebrate your birthday or even Christmas. You teach your kids to be gracious and say thank you. You teach your child to enjoy people coming together for an occasion and if they bring you nothing at all, be happy they brought themselves. Because life isn't about things, it's about relationships and the connections we make with others.

You know what else sets me right the fuck off the edge?

The lack of god damn thank you notes.

And I don't care if you think an email, a text, a Facebook message, or tweet is enough to say thank you. It's not. It's impersonal and quite frankly, it is unbelievably rude.

If you have the time to receive a gift? You have the time to write a thank you. Each and every time.

I hate when I go to a wedding or send a wedding gift and get nothing. Do you know what I did for my wedding? Our wedding was a Saturday, our honeymoon started Wednesday. I divided up my thank you's for each night and those things were in the mail Tuesday night. Checks were not cashed until I put the thank you in the mail.

When I had my kids? I wrote my thank you's while in the hospital when the baby was sleeping. Kid birthday parties? I have my thank you's ready to go before the party and the kids and I sit down and get them done the next day.

Because it's the right thing to do.

There is absolutely NO excuse for not sending a hand written thank you note in the mail. None. I don't care what argument you have, it's inexcusable. You be grateful when somebody does something nice for you and/or your family and you show it.

Jerk.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When OCD and lack of patience come together.

So last week I decided that since I'm having Olivia's birthday party at our house, and this is likely the first time some friends are seeing our house, I have this really ridiculous vanity in which I cannot have things out of order. I just can't, I'm sorry, it's annoying and it drives everyone around me nuts, but I really cannot have things all over the place.

The largest problem was my office/scrapbook room. So last week I decided to just fuck it all, and re-do my room. I had purchased a really dark paint the Friday before on my own AND a light fixture because the light in here was terrible. And by terrible I mean that at it's brightest, it would pass for a seedy back room of a bar.

But this weekend? This weekend was the implementation of a rough plan in my head. Plus then it was really a go when I saw that Michael's had buy one, get one free scrapbook storage.

Which, anyone who knows me? Knows I love storage stuff. If we had a container store, I would probably just wet my panties walking in. It's probably best we don't have one because I don't want a reputation and all.

 So now as you walk in, this is to the left. I've moved two bookshelves in here and kept my two bathroom storage/canvas box storage pieces and put a few things on top.
 This is your view on the right. You'll notice Cardboard Robert has made a triumphant return. During the move Matt "accidentally" broke him. Well it's nothing a whole shit ton of tape can't fix.
 This is a better shot of my shelves and such. No, my floor is not that crooked but apparently I can't take pictures. This is only a very small fraction of my books so I'm trying to convince Matt to put huge shelves like he did at our old house so I can get rid of these. He wasn't very enthusiastic about it.
 My bulletin board. I have other things going up on here, obviously, but here are a few favorites I kept from my old scrapbook closet walls.
 The number one question I've gotten (from people who've seen pictures already) was WHY would I paint my walls so effing dark? Simple. I had to accommodate my most favorite picture in the whole wide world. It used to be in a room but there literally is nowhere to put it now, but I can't have this beauty shoved in a closet somewhere.... so I've painted and designed a room around it. The cool part is that after it's all said and done? This room is my personality barfed up in it. Perfect.
 Oooh... my new storage thingies. Well, some of them. I have a lot of stuff, but I don't like people being able to see the stuff, so I like the stuff hidden away. The only drawback is just when I was figuring out where stuff was, I've changed it up.
 This is the built in nook that was made for a TV that I am using as my scrapbook desk, separate from my working desk.
 Oh yes, and above my creative space? The picture my dear friend Shirley sent me. Yet another fun thing that came in the mail during my shitty few weeks. I kind of love this sign.
 And another picture of Robert, because why not? Standing next to a gorgeous print I bought off another blogger years ago. If I remember correctly, it's some place in Iceland. Gorgeous.
Oh yes and my desk. I have more friend photos to put up on my wall, but this one is my favorite. It's from my 30th birthday weekend in Chicago when my three favorite friends celebrated with me. It was such a memorable weekend that when I'm stressed out with life- I just look at that and it cheers me up.

So that's it, lambies. I have yet to get a futon for in here because I want a cozy spot to read, craft, and use as a spot for visitors to crash. AND mostly because I want to try my hand at making a pallet table. All in good time.