Tuesday, March 31, 2015

People who got their crafty on. And then me.

I was going through my blog folder on my computer today when I realized I am a moron and totally forgot to post about some super awesome things I've purchased, received, or made.

Pregnancy brain is a real thing, you guys.

We won't even talk about how it took me almost five full minutes to figure out how to plug the toaster in. It's really quite amazing I did not electrocute myself in the process.


So first up is this super cute purse and wallet I bought. I have a friend named Jessica who is pretty much amazing at sewing various things. I met her through blogging, then we became Facebook friends, and I pretty much stalk the Facebook page for her little business, Jess Lynn Designs. I knew what purse and wallet I wanted but I wasn't sure about which fabric I wanted and it was really tough. UNTIL. Until I saw the purse fabric. I saw that first and was like, YES. Yes to it all day long. Then a few days later she posted the wallet and I was like YES, I OBVIOUSLY NEED A NEW WALLET. (And you know what? I really did shout it at my computer so the use of caps lock is absolutely warranted.) So I ordered both.

Then they came and I know I pretty much squealed loud enough to make the cats scatter but not the dog because he's a needy bastard. But aren't they just the best? They are, you're jealous and it's OK. Work through those feelings. It's the perfect size cross body purse, it has loads of room. The wallet is gorgeous and perfect and my cards slide in and out of the slots perfectly and it's just so great.

But that wasn't all.

She even sent a little something for Penelope.
If you send me a package and make note that it's "white trash wrapping", you damn right I'm going to take a picture. Love it.
But ooh.... love these MORE. SO MUCH MORE.
Do you love?! Yes, you love. You wish you had. God knows if Penelope is anything like Olivia or Jackson, she will have acid reflux and be a champion projectile vomit producing babe, so these are going to get so much use.

Jess has her Facebook page but she also has an Etsy page. I also ended up buying Olivia a super cute adjustable strap hip purse on sale from Jessica, too. It's a purple tie-dye one that I can't take a picture of because it's in the hoard otherwise known as her room. *sigh*

So THEN. A few weeks ago I had posted this picture on Facebook of tiny little baby sandals that are knit or crocheted. (Honestly? I can't tell the difference so forgive me if I'm totally offending the crafting community. To be fair, I can't sew a button back onto my own pants so I literally have zero smarts.) As it turns out, one of my real life friends can totally make these. And she literally whipped them out in a night and I totally squealed when I got them.
You know Penelope is going to be freaking adorable in these. Little painted toes? I die.

The other thing is that I am out of handmade cards. Which, I know, it's surprising to me as well. I just completely slacked off and I've been in a crafty rut and I just... I'm lame. I'm sorry.


I just happened to be digging through crap on my desk and I found a One Sheet Wonder template I had printed from somewhere and I was like- let me just do this now so I feel like I've done something with a thing I found on the internet.
I cut all of my pieces according to the template. Which was harder than it should be because I suck at math and measurements, literally cannot read a ruler, and I'm doing this with a case of Pregnancy Dumb and the fact I only had weird random strips left over is a miracle. Frankly, I don't know where they came from because I shouldn't have had them, but I went with it anyways.
Then I assembled! I didn't stamp any sentiments on them because I figured blank cards will do me for right now. I can make them be whatever I need. But the goal was to get some of my crafty juices flowing again and it certainly helped. I managed to then finish our Las Vegas scrapbook (you know, from that trip Matt and I took oh.... four, maybe five years ago?!), and I'm almost done with our Florida scrapbook (from two years ago), and made plans for our South Dakota scrapbook. My goal is to get that done before Penelope comes, which means I need to start cracking.


Except I can't figure out how to put the adhesive into my roller so I'm waiting on Matt. He never feels a sense of urgency in anything so I might have to break out the white trash glue stick like it's 2002 again.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Maternity leave, day one. Boredom has arrived.


I'll be honest, on Friday I was kind of scared crap-less to start maternity leave. Although I have gone over the numbers easily 108 times, and I'm sure my math isn't that bad where I'm forgetting something super huge, and I'm pretty positive we can afford me to not work until the fall, I was freaking out. I won't admit to having a panic attack in my van after work and breathing into a Target bag containing jelly beans and max absorbency pads, but it wasn't pretty.

Then Saturday and Sunday came and I was all, "I'm going to do all of the things!" and was kind of excited at the prospect of being overly productive. I even got a little giddy at the idea of naps. And watching shows about serial killers on Netflix without wondering if this was psychologically damaging to my children.

But then I woke up this morning and was like- no. I'm bored. I'm not even out of bed and already, I'm bored.

So I did what any other person would do on the first day of a leave and that is take their children to school in their pajamas. Without a bra. And you know what? I wasn't even wearing socks. I wore my worn out moccasins, without socks, with sweatpants, with a shirt that did not cover my belly, without a bra. Didn't brush my hair OR put on makeup. At first the kids thought I was joking with them. But when it was clear I was actually going out of the house like this, Olivia said I could just drop them off at the door. Jackson said he loved me no matter what, but that maybe I should brush my hair today.

So I did all of that. I was gone not even a full half hour and that was my biggest to-do of the day- be a responsible member of society and get my children to school on time. Check.

Then I sat in my rocking chair, only to realize I was kind of hungry. So I had some cereal and a poptart. And pretty much a half gallon of orange juice.

I really love orange juice.

But again, getting dressed seemed kind of tough so I watched history documentaries on Netflix. By 10:45 I was like- I need to get dressed. I can't be that person who just lets herself go because she's a stay at home mom. I can't. So I got dressed. I managed to then get disgusted by the state of the upstairs bathroom, so I cleaned that.

Where I learned the shower head? It really DOES come down. (Fun fact: when we moved in two years ago now, the shower up there was terrible. We took the doors off and use a curtain now and we replaced the shower head. I was really pissed off that I was so dumb to not pick one out that detached.) Well I learned this because while I was vigorously scrubbing away, I must have bumped the cord or whatever that brings water from the faucet to the shower head and the damn thing fell off and hit me in the head. Normally, a lot of swears would come spewing out but this time! This time it was more of a, "YES!!! You are a super awesome shower head! Where have you BEEN for two years? I shall rinse with glee!".

(Yes, I was totally talking to myself. This is what it has come to around here.)

I texted Matt with this revelation and got no reply. He doesn't care about my joy or my discovery.

Then I was like, I'm on a roll here- let me pack my hospital bag! I have Penelope's all ready to go but mine is not. Well, I managed to pull an actual bag out of the closet but beyond that, I've done nothing. But then I started trying to decide what should go into the bag and everything felt like a major decision. Do I commit to bringing granny panties? I mean, I know I'm not going to want to wear anything else but ugh... pink or blue? Do I bring white socks or black? Ankle socks or no? Should I bring my slippers? Christ- what will I wear home? I don't think I'll want to wear real pants. So maybe my maxi skirt? But what if it gets nice out and I want to wear that? Then what if that's what I want to wear home from the hospital and I can't because I wore it and I didn't do the laundry? Do I pack a bra? I mean, I'll probably wear one there, right?

It just felt like I was making big commitments and it's just too much.

So right now the only thing I'm for sure bringing is my travel toothbrush/toothpaste set, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner. I have nothing to wear, but at least I'll be clean. That's something I guess.

Day one was a bust. I hope the rest of my leave isn't this lame and boring. Not that I'm wanting non-stop action because I'm supposed to be resting. I'm just not used to resting. It's really freaking boring. I have a need to be doing something, always.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to make dessert or something. I'll even try to not eat it while I'm alone at home so I can show my family I actually did something with my day.

A Reunion of Ghosts

I am so on a reading roll. Like, I'm riding the Reading Rainbow, lambs. It's kind of ridiculous. But the good news is that if I keep up on this pace, I might be able to read for fun in a week or so.

Which is total crazy talk, I tell you.

A Reunion of Ghosts - Judith Claire Mitchell
A Reunion Of Ghosts
A compulsively readable literary masterpiece, A Reunion of Ghosts is the shared confessional of three sisters who have decided to kill themselves at the end of the 20th century, honoring the dark legacy that has haunted their extraordinary family for decades

How do three sisters write a single suicide note?

In the waning days of 1999, the Alter sisters—Lady, Vee, and Delph—finalize their plans to end their lives. Their reasons are not theirs alone; they are the last in a long line of Alters who have killed themselves, beginning with their great-grandmother, the wife of a Jewish Nobel Prize-winning chemist who developed the first poison gas used in World War I and the lethal agent used in Third Reich gas chambers. The chemist himself, their son Richard, and Richard’s children all followed suit.

The childless sisters also define themselves by their own bad luck. Lady, the oldest, never really resumed living after her divorce. Vee is facing cancer’s return. And Delph, the youngest, is resigned to a spinster’s life of stifled dreams. But despite their pain they love each other fiercely, and share a darkly brilliant sense of humor.

As they gather in the ancestral Upper West Side apartment to close the circle of the Alter curse, an epic story about four generations of one family—inspired in part by the troubled life of German-Jewish Fritz Haber, Nobel Prize winner and inventor of chlorine gas—unfolds. A Reunion of Ghosts is a magnificent tale of fate and blood, sin and absolution; partly a memoir of sisters unified by a singular burden, partly an unflinching eulogy of those who have gone before, and above all a profound commentary on the events of the 20th century.

It's books like this that make me SO glad I never kept going with my English degree because I don't feel very smart. Anytime a book is so well written and considered a literary masterpiece, I should just know it's apparently over my reading level and I won't get it. Well, I won't get the hype. So the quick and dirty is that I didn't get the draw of this book? 

The story follows three sisters: Lady, Vee, and Delph, and we learn about their lives prior to their joint decision to end their lives. They are all in it together, like the Three Musketeers. But it's not like they just decided, "Hey- let's kill ourselves", they all lead kind of blah lives and they've all had a series of unfortunate things happen to them that makes it all seem like a totally normal conclusion. The other kicker is they are from a long line of Alters who have killed themselves in various fashions. The thing about the book that made this such a long read for me, a long read where I wanted to just give up every chapter but I plugged on anyways out of guilt, was that it is SO MUCH DETAIL. So much unnecessary information and passages and I felt like it was wasting my time. It was taking away from the sisters and their dark humor, which actually WAS humorous. I felt like if more of the book could focus on that, this would be have been a much more enjoyable read for me. 

But with that, I can't really say it was a terrible read- it wasn't. The story is rich, there is a definite arc to it and very much a conclusion. It's got everything a story needs, and though the story is about three sisters- I felt like they were all equally crafted characters. The biggest "revelation" of the book is that one of their ancestors is the one who invented the gas used in  concentration camp gas chambers. And while that's pretty unfortunate... who cares? To me it's like saying that your great-great-great-great-great grandfather was a slave. Not ideal, but... who cares? Do you want a medal? Do you want sympathy? A Hallmark card? It doesn't define you as a person now, but it's an interesting tidbit. It's not like people will hold you personally liable for those deaths now. 

So I don't know. I get why people liked the book. It is definitely something that would be a great conversation piece for a book club. It just reaffirmed that maybe I'm not that smart that I'm not understanding the literary masterpiece value of it. 

Judith Claire Mitchell has a website you can learn more at, and she also has a Facebook page to get more information about her books and appearances. A Reunion of Ghosts can be purchased at Amazon, Indiebound and Barnes & Noble.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

The end is near, lambs.

It's certainly the end of the week and thank god for it. I tell you. This week has been excruciatingly and unnecessarily long. It's just been one big thing to do after another and I'm mentally fried. I won't even speak to being exhausted because that's just a given. Here are some things that I'm thinking about as the week winds down:

  1. Kids are assholes. I'm just going to say it. I'm finding more and more this week that parents are 100% oblivious to how their kids actually are at school. They also don't want to really know how they are or what they are doing because I get the inevitable, "Well, my daughter says she didn't say/do that." Right. Because like she's going to say, "Yeah mom, I'm an asshole to other kids at school. My bad." Come on, now. 
  2. You really can't win at anything in life. You just can't. No matter what I do, there is always someone who is quick to text, call, or email me a complaint. Always. I do what I'm asked and even still, complainers. 
  3. Every time I feel like quitting one of my volunteer things, because it's mentally exhausting to deal with the drama and complaints and the "you should have done this..", I immediately feel guilty because then I get several people who are like, "but you do a GREAT job, please don't go". It's like, nobody wants to do the job but you have to make it so damn hard for the person who is? Come on, now. 
  4. You guys- I have like, five weeks, until my due date. I'm only three weeks from when I'm considered full term. It's kind of terrifying but super exciting. 
  5. I have decided I am not 100% terrified of labor and delivery. You know what it is? I think because it was so by-the-book with Olivia (had bloody show, water broke, contractions were super productive and great, she literally came out on her own), and I was induced with Jackson so it was pre-planned and organized and I just knew in advance what was happening, that all of that has screwed me up this time. Because I have a feeling Penelope will have some terrific birth story that would land me on the evening news. I just don't want to be that person delivering a baby in a mini van on the middle of the bridge connecting Wisconsin and Minnesota and Matt getting spotty directions from a 911 person. I just really don't want any of that. 
  6. Jackson is going to be 7 next week. I'm not ready for him to be getting so big. 
  7. Matt and I have been having some serious research and discussion talks recently. I haven't sorted through all of the feelings yet, but it weighs on me heavily right now. 
  8. I start my maternity leave next week and thank god. My doctor said it's not a good sign if I'm having contractions all of the time and that I really need to rest. I'm not on bed rest per say, but I am "highly encouraged" to not do as much as I normally would do. So today is my last day at work for the school year. I'm kind of bummed. I'm worried I am going to be bored out of my mind. I'm also grateful because I'm not joking, the level of exhaustion at this point is truly unbearable. 
  9. We have zero Easter plans. I can't afford to make an Easter dinner this year (it was Easter dinner or a present for Jackson's birthday and Easter baskets for the kids. I chose the latter two.) and I'm kind of OK with it. Easter is kind of a lame holiday for me, but I celebrate it because the kids love it so. Now the struggle is to not eat all of the jellybeans I bought to fill the plastic eggs I always hide in the yard. 
  10. I need to find ways to bring in some kind of income in this summer. It doesn't need to be a lot, but it has to be something I can do with my kids around. Matt's work schedule is such that he is in no position to watch the kids while I work an evening job. By the end of his 12-14 hour shifts every day he's basically a zombie. I'm lucky he even showers at this point because he's so tired. So if you've got idea- let me know. 
Here's to a good weekend. My plans involve cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, and clearing out stuff we don't need. It's spring, and spring cleaning is happening. Or nesting. This year we can call it nesting. 

Long Hill Home

You know what this book should be? A TV mini series. I'm not even kidding. If they can make an entire show based on one slap, surely they can do something with this book because wow.

Long Hill Home - Kathryn Pincus
Long Hill Home
Kelly Malloy is a wife, a mother and a successful lawyer whose world is shattered when she is brutally attacked while running along the banks of the Brandywine River. Chad McCloskey, a lonely teenage boy from a dysfunctional home, stumbles upon Kelly Malloy’s unconscious body immediately after the assault, and he is falsely accused of the crime after he tries to help her. Maria Hernandez, a young woman who emigrated illegally from Mexico, is reluctantly thrust into the role of witness to the crime, putting her in jeopardy of deportation only weeks before she is to give birth to her child.

Kelly, Chad and Maria all suffer tremendous adversity in the wake of the crime, and they ultimately discover that their lives and their fate are inextricably and permanently connected. Long Hill Home is a story of crime, mystery and the legal process—but it is also a story about the human condition, and how, regardless of vast differences in background or circumstances, all people strive for the same things—love, security and a fulfilling life.

So this book isn't very long, only 244 pages if you don't count the very interesting question and answer section at the back. Though it isn't long, it is jam packed with drama. I so very appreciate when a book doesn't screw around and give you a ton of back story that just isn't needed in the beginning but instead gets right to the meat of the story, that's what happens here. The quick and dirty of this book is that Kelly is brutally attacked on a morning run. She's drugged, beaten up, brutally raped, and seemingly left on her own, unconscious. She's found by Chad, who is coming from a highly dysfunctional family and he makes some pretty damn poor choices when he finds Kelly. Basically, anyone who has EVER seen an episode of Law & Order knows you don't mess with the original crime scene and you sure as hell don't move a body, even if you are hoping that means she's found faster. You could, you know, call 911 yourself. Enter Maria, an illegal from Mexico working nearby who happens to not only see Kelly get shot with the dart that drugged her but she later sees Chad leaving Kelly's body. Her fiance, Juan, is adamant that she absolutely not call the police no matter how awful she feels because they aren't here legally and he fears they'll be sent back to Mexico, or worse. Maria, being a good person, pretty much goes against what Juan says and doesn't understand that the police can track you down, there really isn't such a thing as an anonymous call anymore. So that sets it up. 

But since every character's day is basically intertwined, we go back and forth in the different points of views as each of them try to come to grips with what happened to them, their role, and what their individual outcome is going to be in the search of justice for Kelly. I mean, it's really a story about how fate brings people into your lives in mysterious ways and how those people make an everlasting impact on you. I will say, shortly after Kelly is discovered and she's going through the process of evidence collection and examination at the hospital, I got a little angry at her. I KNOW she's the victim and we should be sympathetic towards her but her level of anger towards her husband is just awful. I mean, it's not like he did this to her. He's a guy, and guys are dumb, and he was clearly so upset seeing his wife in this condition and who even knows what is the right way to handle a situation? So I was getting a little irritated with her and it took me a long while of reading to come around to that character. I also felt bad for Chad. I mean, he isn't the brightest crayon in the box, and he made some really poor choices but at the heart, I felt like he means well. And his experience in jail is pretty horrific and I just felt terrible for this kid. Like you knew this was all 100% preventable and it makes you wonder how many others are in similar situations because of dumb decisions, not because of actual guilt? 

The only complaint about the book is that some of the dialogue feels a little unnatural. I get what is being conveyed, but the way the conversations flow doesn't always sound like they way it would come out if you were having it in your living room, for instance. Does that make sense? It's definitely not a reason to not read the book, it was more of an after thought when I had finished and then re-read some sections. 

Overall this was a really great book. It's basically a Law & Order episode, like an extended length episode, with so much information and knowledge of the legal system put to good use. I couldn't put it down and finished this in one evening. If you are a fan of crime dramas, you are definitely going to enjoy this one! 

The book is available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author:
Kathryn Pincus was raised in the New York metropolitan area, received her undergraduate degree (B.A., Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Delaware, and her law degree (J.D.) from the Georgetown University Law Center. Pincus honed her writing skills in her law practice, presenting complex factual and legal matters in clear, compelling, and persuasive writings. Since her “early retirement” from the practice of law, she has filled her days taking care of a busy household and family, supporting numerous charitable and community causes, and writing fiction.You can learn more about Kathryn through her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Don't do it if you are easily disgusted.

I'm big into buying things used to save some money. Totally all for it. I seriously wish I would have had listened to people tell me not to spend a lot of money on baby gear when I was pregnant with Olivia. I learned by the time I had Jackson and thank god I had the brains to not buy girly pink everything with Olivia because everything she had, Jackson used. And it was glorious, perfect and smart.

Then Matt declared we were done with babies. Sell all of the stuff, he said. You don't need to keep any of it for any reason, he said.

Fast forward seven years and here we are, on the cusp of Penelope's arrival and we had saved NOTHING. A few people have been like, "Whoa- you've gotten so many gifts, it's like it's your first born!" and truly, it is. Mostly because these people know we had literally nothing. I mean, not even clothes. I sold everything at yard sales because Matt was SURE we were totally done. The only thing we did still have was the crib my mom used at her house when she watched our kids. Yes, it's "older", like ten years old. But you know what? I don't give a damn. No kid ever got a limb stuck in it and quite frankly, I think some parents take things far too seriously. It's going to be just fine. It just is.

So this time around I was all about finding anything for free, or as low cost as possible, and making it work for us. Fortunately, most of our friends are done with babies so we've gotten a lot of really great stuff from them at no cost. The level of gratitude for all of that can't be measured, that's for sure. But not everything has been that way so I have been looking at the Facebook garage sale sites for months and getting things here and there.

One thing I acquired was a pack and play with changing table thing for $20. Now, we are those hard core parents that don't co-sleep and we don't do the bassinet bullshit. The kid has a crib and it's best you learn to use it because I'm not doing this sleep transitioning crap more than once. (Same with potty training. I'm never, ever, ever going to do the potty seat bullshit again either. Did that with Olivia and going from that and then to toilet? WHY? Why are you essentially training twice? Ludicrous, I tell you.) But the pack and play was always super nice when they were way little because they'd cat nap while I'd try pumping, or sometimes I was allowed to pee and I'd stick them in there. Or when they first came home and I couldn't change their diaper on the floor because I had so many stitches keeping my vagina in tact (level four tear, both times, HUZZAH), I used the changing table part. Super handy.

So anyways.

I bought this sucker for $20 and put literally zero thought into cleaning it. So a few weeks ago I found this pin on Pinterest about cleaning a pack and play and I was like, is that a thing? Are people that fanatical? They actually are. And because I love to clean and I've got time, I thought- why not? Why not fill my bathtub up with chemicals and clean this sucker?

Like a totally terrible blogger, I did not take a "before" picture of the pack and play. But I will say that honestly? It didn't smell weird and it looked totally clean. But I figured I had already carried the son of a bitch upstairs to my bathroom with a tub (the downstairs bathroom is a shower stall only), so we're already committed.

I filled the tub about half way with scalding hot water and put the pack and play in. The bottom portion of the pack and play is on the bottom of the tub, pretty much all of the components are in.
Oh, for the "cleaner" I used about a cap full of laundry detergent and then a scoop of OxiClean. Every tutorial I found had varying ingredients and measurements and I don't do math so I winged it with that concoction.
After about an hour, I went back up. And holy fucking DISGUSTING, people. That was what it looked like after soaking. I had to rotate it so all of it got clean.

After about another 45 minutes, I drained the tub and rinsed everything off with hot water. But then you have to dry the damn thing. The instructions I saw had people drying these outside in the sunshine. I do not have that luxury because at the time, it was still freezing cold and it would just freeze. So Matt said my best bet was to do it in the basement. But that meant carrying this dripping thing down to the basement from the second floor and that's a nightmare. Thankfully, he's such a good sport and used my brilliant idea to use a huge plastic tote to carry it down. So we did that. It took basically a full week to air dry out. The bottom of the pack and play had a weird board in it, so in order for that to not warp, we had it set up on sawhorses in the basement and I'd rotate twice a day so it was drying evenly.
Ta-da! We got it all put together (mostly) and it looks (and smells) great. And is totally freaking clean. I mean, who knew this was a cleanable thing?! Even though we likely will only use this for a few weeks, knowing I only spent $20 on it doesn't make me feel so bad. But now I'm looking around my house wondering what else I can clean?!

I Regret Everything

Oh... I bet you came here thinking I was going to make some super huge confession, didn't you?


Instead, it's a book review!

I Regret Everything- A Love Story by Seth Greenland
I Regret Everything: A Love Story
A modern love story, I Regret Everything confronts the oceanic uncertainty of what it means to be alive, and in love. Jeremy Best, a Manhattan-based trusts and estates lawyer, leads a second life as published poet Jinx Bell.  To his boss’s daughter, Spaulding Simonson, at 33 years old, Jeremy is already halfway to dead.  When Spaulding, an aspiring 19-year-old writer, discovers Mr. Best’s alter poetic ego, the two become bound by a devotion to poetry, and an awareness that time in this world is limited.  Their budding relationship strikes at the universality of love and loss, as Jeremy and Spaulding confront their vulnerabilities, revealing themselves to one another and the world for the very first time.

A skilled satirist with a talent for biting humor, Greenland creates fully realized characters that quickly reveal themselves as complex renderings of the human condition – at its very best, and utter worst. I Regret Everything explores happiness and heartache with a healthy dose of skepticism, and an understanding that the reality of love encompasses life, death, iambic pentameter, regret, trusts and estates.

Admittedly, I did not love this book like so many others have. And by that, I mean I might be the only person to give a 3.5 star review that I would bump up to 4 because Goodreads refuses to work in halves and whole numbers makes me feel like I'm making a commitment I'm not ready for. Also, I'll be the first to say I feel like maybe I am not smart or hipster enough to read this. I feel like to really just get this book and have it move you so, you almost need to be like a cast member in Portlandia, a show I don't get the fuss about. 

There, I said it. I'm like the anti-hipster and I don't know what's wrong with me. 

But this is the story of Jeremy and Spaulding. The really GREAT thing is that the chapters alternate between their point of view, so it does make for a rather fast read. I will always appreciate books like that because it's like a mental trick that keeps me reading when I legitimately should be sleeping. The only thing that kind of drove me a  bit batty is that there literally are no quotation marks. Now, I don't know if it's just my review copy, or if this is a thing now, we just snub our noses at punctuation. It's very reminiscent of James Frey who uses no punctuation and his paragraphs follow zero grammatical rules and yet I love it so. I don' t know, but until I got used to this in the first few chapters, I found myself re-reading passages and determining that they are indeed, part of a conversation. 

Here's what I love about the book: character development? Spot on. Spaulding is a bit of an odd duck for me, but she's quirky and she feels like someone you would know. Jeremy as well, he's trying to be a lawyer and while he's not bad at it, he really wants to be a poet. And poets really don't make enough to pay bills so he struggles with this and balancing adulthood. Together, it's kind of an imperfectly perfect match. Although the book is a bit of a downer, it's a realistic downer. You totally know a couple like this and you find yourself not sure if you are rooting for them or not because they don't make sense together, but maybe that's why they would make sense together. 

I'm sure you're following my logic, here. 

There are some one liners in the book that are hilarious, but they are so far and few between that you wish there were more. If there were more, I feel like I would have been hooked by this book. Instead, I'm left feeling indifferent. It wasn't bad by any means, it just isn't one that I would readily blurt out when someone asks for a book recommendation. It's one that will be on my shelf and I'll casually remember. Seth does have a website and you can visit that HERE. If the name sounds familiar, it's probably because you recognize him as a writer-producer for the HBO series Big Love. Which I didn't watch because I'm too poor for HBO, but I have friends who were obsessed with the show . 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Siren

Oh lambs.... I am going to apologize that it has taken me this long to review this book. I have been reading this a few pages at a time in between review books and I am sorry. I absolutely should have made this more of a priority.

I have failed you all.

The Siren - Tiffany Reisz
The Siren (The Original Sinners, #1)
Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she's sure it'll be her breakout book... if it ever sees the light of day.

Zachary Easton holds Nora's fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it's no deal.

Nora's grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining... and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him... or returning to his bed?

Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.

The only complaint I'm going to give is god dammit, I don't have TIME for another series. I don't. And you know me, I can't just read one and be done. Oh noooooo, I've got to read them all because there is something mentally wrong with me, I'm sure of it. 

If you are looking for a romance book, with erotica, and a little BDSM, a whole bunch of sass and an amazing cast of characters that are all so bizarrely different yet great- THIS IS YOUR BOOK. I haven't ever read anything by Tiffany Reisz and again, I have failed you all. Except if you have, and you haven't told me about her, YOU have failed ME. Do better in your life. 

The book is about Nora, a fledgling author who has written several erotica novels but hoping to make it big in a large publishing house. In order to do that, she needs Zachary Easton, an in-demand editor, who has given her the seemingly impossible task of essentially re-writing her entire novel so it will interest a larger net of readers. Always up for a challenge and a dominating man, Nora begins work. She has Wesley, her in-home, really young intern who is madly in love with her though she doesn't fully understand that. But what Zachary doesn't know about Nora, and Wesley does, is that Nora is THE best Dominatrix in New York City. She spends some evenings basically beating the crap out of and performing an array of BDSM acts on willing participants who demand her time. 

Oh yes, because Nora is what is considered a Switch. She's amazing as a Dominatrix, but also was a long time sub for Soren. And let me just tell you- the second I realized who Soren was? 

Holy shit- just stop the entire train and let us back that up. I had to re-read a particular sentence no less than ten times and even then, I'm pretty sure my jaw never went back up. It takes a lot to really make me stop reading and pull myself together, so slow clap to Tiffany Reisz because damn girl. You did it. 

So now we have three guys, all vastly different. All at different points in their lives. All of a view of Nora but only one of them truly gets her. Only one of them can really fulfill what she needs, though she's learning that maybe there are other things she needs as well. I can't give you any more than that. And oh god, do I want to. I will tell you we have some really fantastically written sex scenes, we have scenes that would give you blue balls if you had balls, and we have scenes that'll make you squirm in your seat but also leave you a little bit curious. 

Everything all together? Makes you want to get book two because god dammit, that ending!!! THAT ENDING, I TELL YOU. 

All I'm going to say is that you absolutely, hands down, need to buy this book. And I'm going to apologize right now because there are so many books by Tiffany that go with this series and goodbye summer. I better hope to god Penelope is the best newborn ever because I have to figure out how I'm going to read and you know, mother a newborn at the same time along with two other kids. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Penelope's Nursery. Quite possibly, the most put together room in our house.

I've been working on this post for so long. So, so long. But every time I thought it was done, something cool would arrive or I'd find something new for her room, and then I felt good about not prematurely posting the greatness that is this room.

The only thing missing are these super adorable vinyl mermaid's my dear friend Jamie is making, and I've already seen them (via text) and seriously- so cute. But those will come soon and I'll do an update photo. But because I don't know when those will be coming, but when they do, I'll show you what they look like on the wall. When I say her room is probably the most put together? I mean it. Both Olivia & Jackson's looked really awesome after I was finished, but they are kids and they aren't organized and accessorized like I had them.

Of course.

So the bonus is that Penelope is a baby and for at least a little while, her room will still look this way.

Here is the view when you stand in her doorway and look left. The rug? An amazing, last minute find at IKEA. It is cleverly hiding a giant blue paint stain on the carpet. Because there was ONE TIME where I said I totally didn't need Matt's help but as it turns out, when he says to use a drop cloth, he isn't kidding and is right. Just that one time.
And this is if you are looking straight ahead from the doorway.
Next to her crib, I have a shelf that I bought years ago at Target in the bathroom storage aisle. It used to be scrapbooking supplies, then kid craft things, then scrapbooking, and now it holds Penelope toys.
The Itsy Bitsy Spider artwork is from Hobby Lobby, and The Little Mermaid artwork is from Olivia's room, but originally came from Michaels. We (and by "we" I really mean "I") knew we were going to do an ocean themed room right from the beginning, but if baby #3 was a girl, I figured I'd add mermaids and jazz it up. So the mermaid artwork was the first mermaid thing I added. 
On the shelf is the cute octopus even Olivia and Jackson like that was a gift from my friend Kim. I also have a quote from Goodnight Moon in a sparkly blue frame. That, coincidentally, was a table decoration for my friend Emily's "children's literature" themed shower I did, and because the book is a beloved one in our house, I decided to save it. 
Above the crib is a super adorable, totally custom made sign that reads "Make a wish upon a starfish" that my blogger/etsy/Facebook friend Kayla made. She is amazing. The gold "P" was a birthday present from my friend Amy and I knew right away it was going above the crib.
Also made by Amazing Kayla are the eight wooden ocean themed art pieces above the dresser and changing table. Remember that changing table project? Super easy, but it looks amazing in the nursery. I didn't take a close up of the top of the dresser, but I have a handmade Noah's Ark guy that my mother in law made, a little hat that says "New Sister" the kids got at the school holiday shop in December, a little basket of headbands, and a green vase with shells from Florida (from our honeymoon, even) and some flowers that were on my diaper cake from my baby shower.
Aren't these adorable? I sent her paint swatches of the wall colors and found some images I thought would be cute, and she did the rest. And SUPER fast, too. You can check out Kayla's Etsy page HERE, or her Facebook page HERE.
Now, if I'm standing at the dresser and turn to the corner, this is my view.
Oh! So I found these two ornaments at Kohl's around Christmas time. I bought them, forgot about them, but then couldn't figure out what to do with them. I couldn't find any table top ornament hangers and certainly didn't want to order any online. But then! I happened to find these two wall hangers, which I think are for towels or something, in the summer area of Hobby Lobby. They matched the room and I figured I'd make them work.
I took the floating shelves out of the living room since the new TV stand is where these were, and put them in Penelope's room. The bears were in a huge assortment of toys my friend Michelle gave us. The little blue wooden sign on the top shelf is from Kohl's, and it's a quote from Guess How Much I Love You.
On the bottom shelf is another table decor quote from Emily's baby shower, and a golden mini "P" that I got at Hobby Lobby. Actually, I found it on accident on my search for paper to make my baby shower thank you's. It was totally not anywhere it should be so I figured it was a sign I should have it.
Under that is a picture of Penelope's last ultrasound and well wishes from people from my baby shower. That was such a great surprise and obviously, that's a keepsake. It looks so perfect under the shelves.
And then! I am so damn lucky to have a friend like Shannon. Shannon's owns her own stained glass store called Shannon's Stained Glassery and  not only does she hold classes, but she makes incredible things. The really great thing about being her friend is that she makes you incredible things nobody else will have and she puts so much thought into them. Seriously. I have an amazing goat pendent she made me, and recently I got a really kick ass spoon rest I'll share soon, but by far my favorite gift was this mermaid night light. I hadn't found a night light I liked and little did I know she was making me one. AND the blue glass perfectly matches the wall color and that was a total fluke. So gorgeous.
I am re-purposing a small white cabinet (again, was in the bathroom storage aisle in Target) as a night stand/bookshelf for Penelope. The books that survived Olivia and Jackson are in here, along with a bunch of little kid cd's they don't listen to anymore. Except I don't have a small CD player for them, so that's on my shopping list soon.
Penelope also has a pretty huge closet. The clothes in here are 9 month and up, basically. Her dresser is literally loaded and there is a lot in here. She even has an entire basket of varying size shoes already.  I have a plastic pink chair Olivia used to have in there that I'm sure we'll use someday. Also I have her bath seat and an infant tub, currently inside of her laundry basket. You can't see it, but on the floor I have her play mat my friend Kim also gifted her. Otherwise the cats fight over it, so now I keep it locked in the closet. Jerks.
The shelf is stock full of wipes, lotion, baby bath, extra receiving blankets, bibs, hats, mittens, etc.
The diaper hoard. Organized by size, obviously. I also have kid games in here because we ran out of room on the hallway shelf. But I have enough newborn and size one diapers, I think. The rest are 2, 3, and some 4's.
My inlaw's won a cedar chest in some raffle at a fundraiser they were at. They donated it to Penelope and you can't see it super well, but the inside of the lid says "Penelope Rose". Even though her name is Penelope Rose Mary. But that's OK. So in there I have a baby carrier, some swim diapers, a teddy bear and I think a few other random things Jackson threw in and decided she needs.

So that's her room. It's kind of great. It's easily the happiest little room in the house. I've been doing a little bit as we go and the major things were done awhile ago, it's the little touches I have been working on. But I feel a huge relief having it totally done, so it's ready for her whenever she comes home.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Every time you kick, I pee myself.

Can we talk about how when people talk about pregnancy, they don't really tell you what it's like. I mean, they might say something negative and before you can say anything else, they will undoubtedly cut you off with, "But OMG! You are SO lucky! Think of all the women who can't experience this!", or "It's so worth it though. It just is.". And it's really annoying. While pregnancy is an absolute miracle, babies are blessings (most of the time), babies are adorable (until they have an explosive poop in a baby carrier attached to you), and parenting is rewarding (until they can give back talk well enough to rival your own skills)- it's really fucking hard.

I know when I was pregnant for the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. There are not enough pregnancy websites, books, pamphlets, message boards or friends who have done it to give you enough information to make you feel like you know what to expect. Sure, you know that you'll get bigger and you'll get uncomfortable. You know that labor is scary and it's going to hurt like hell. You know it'll be exciting when you feel the first kicks and the gentle sways of baby. You'll be excited to buy baby items and prepare yourself for the next stage of life.

What they don't tell you, probably because nobody would ever get pregnant if they knew this stuff, is that pregnancy is really difficult. Even with the best and easiest pregnancies, there is always something. With Olivia I had horrendous heartburn and I thought she was too active. With Jackson I had no heartburn and he wasn't active enough, which led to me being induced. Thankfully, there wasn't anything wrong with him, he's just super lazy and that's his current personality. Right now, Penelope is a ninja beast. She is a ninja beast who if she doesn't come out with mad ninja skills warranting at least a blue belt, I'm going to be grossly disappointed. She also will likely come out looking like a chimpanzee considering the heartburn situation is a real struggle right now.

Perhaps the worst thing I'm dealing with is easily, the ninja moves.

I cannot stress enough the amount of violence this child is inflicting on me. She is active for at least 15 hours a day. Let that sink in, 15 HOURS A DAY. Does this mean this child has no intention of napping? Will she give us the middle finger at bedtime and shit herself in retaliation? Somehow, I highly doubt this is all for show because she's bored and her personality is going to do a 180 when she's born. I'm not a moron.

But right now? Right now every time she kicks, I pee myself.

I'm not even going to say I'm ashamed at saying this, because it's not like I'm being super lazy and refusing to get up and empty my bladder. No. I empty my bladder frequently. It feels glorious and for a full minute I feel like I could do anything with my empty bladder.

But then Penelope kicks and it's like she's saying, "HAHAHAHA- lemme help you out" and she kicks and swooshes and my bladder suddenly, feels like I haven't emptied in hours. Which, if I have already cleaned up and gotten myself together, I will then pee my pants. Sometimes I decide I will win the battle, and I stand up, do a little dance and/or jumping, and then sit back down forcing her hand to move so I can pee again.

Oh no. The best is when I get up in the morning and you realize right away that your bladder is very full despite not having had anything to drink in hours and you emptied it an hour ago. So full that you lay there and ask yourself if you are even going to make it to the bathroom. (Spoiler: you won't.)

Basically, it's me versus Penelope over bladder control.

I only see this ending with my water breaking in epic fashion at the exact moment it would be absolutely mortifying for it to happen. Like when I'm standing in front of dirty romance novels at Barnes & Noble. It's bound to happen there and there is no graceful way to get out of that aisle and explain the situation.

I was talking to my friend who has four kids and she flat out told me that retaining control over my bladder after two kids is an absolute joke and so don't be surprised if I'm wearing some kind of pad the rest of my life. Which is horrific. But I'm telling you what- I'm kind of angry with magazines like Glamour and Cosmopolitan who had me absolutely convinced kegel exercises would be my savior. Kegel exercises are an absolute joke because I am a black belt kegel master and still, I pee my pants when Penelope kicks. It's ridiculous. But this is the state I'm in.

Hilariously enough, these are also my glory years apparently. Apparently, I'm going to look back on this time and wish for it back. And that's not true. I'm actually wishing for age 20 back when everything was tight and working right. I wish for that. But with babies.

Instead, I'm going to just go ahead and do a slow waddle to the bathroom in the hopes I make it without accident.

An Uncomplicated Life

One of the things that surprises me as a reader is how much I love books about Downs Syndrome. One book the resonates with me long after I read it was a book called The Unfinished Child. It just.. it stuns me how people treat children with disabilities even now, but certainly what it would have been like even 50 years ago or more. It's pretty horrific, really. But in my current life, my kids go to school where children with varying disabilities is accepted and they are welcomed into classrooms. "Normal" kids are encouraged to include these children in activities and daily classroom interaction. Which is really great because I'd like to hope that that kind of start is a great way to help children realize acceptance is something we should all embrace.

An Uncomplicated Life: A Father's Memoir of his Exceptional Daughter - Paul Daughtery
An Uncomplicated Life: A Father's Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter
A father's exhilarating and funny love letter to his daughter with Down syndrome whose vibrant and infectious approach to life has something to teach all of us about how we can better live our own.

Jillian Daugherty was born with Down syndrome. The day they brought her home from the hospital, her parents, Paul and Kerry, were flooded with worry and uncertainty, but also overwhelming love, which they channeled to "the job of building the better Jillian." While their daughter had special needs, they refused to allow her to grow up needy--"Expect, Don't Accept" became their mantra. Little did they know how ready Jillian was to meet their challenge.

Paul tells stories from Jillian's mischievous childhood and moves to her early adulthood, tracing her journey to find happiness and purpose in her adult life, sharing endearing anecdotes as well as stories about her inspiring triumphs. Having graduated from high school and college, Jillian now works to support herself, and has met the love of her life and her husband-to-be, Ryan.

In An Uncomplicated Life, the parent learns as much about life from the child as the child does from the parent. Through her unmitigated love for others, her sparkling charisma, and her boundless capacity for joy, Jillian has inspired those around her to live better and more fully. The day Jillian was born, Paul says, was the last bad day. As he lovingly writes, "Jillian is a soul map of our best intentions"--a model of grace, boundless joy, and love for all of us. 

A really great book that documents the journey of parents Paul and Kerry, who embark on a special path of parenting when their second child is born with Downs Syndrome. What was interesting from the start was how it was mentioned that during Kerry's pregnancy, they encountered several children and adults with Downs Syndrome and she anticipated that as a sign. What with her maternal age, and in a time where genetic testing wasn't like it is now, in the back of her head she felt like maybe that was a sign. Turns out, it was because shortly after Jillian's birth, they learn that Jillian does in fact have Downs Syndrome. (Side note, I totally believe that somehow our body just knows what's happening and tries to clue you in. My miscarriage was very much like that for me.)

What makes this different was the positive attitude both parents really took from the get go. Not to say they didn't struggle, have doubts, or weren't sure what to do sometimes, but overall- they really do a fantastic job raising Jillian to continually challenge herself, to not give up, and to not tolerate being treated differently. They really took on the role of advocates for their daughter and are such an example of what parents should be for their children. 

I loved how this was written, even with sports comparisons (the author does write a sports column, after all), because he's such a dad. Personal stories of struggle and successes are told with humor and endearment. You finish the book feeling just as proud of Jillian as you would if she were your own child. I highly recommend this book if you are in need of something uplifting, if you are the parent of a child with Downs Syndrome (or pregnant, debating your options), or work with children with disabilities. I think you'll finish the book with a renewed sense of what these kids can really do if given the chance and positive guidance. 

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Paul DaughertyAbout Paul Daugherty

Paul Daugherty has been a sports columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer since 1994. He has covered nearly every major American sporting event, as well as five Summer Olympic Games. He is the author of Fair Game, a collection of his sports columns, and coauthor of books with Chad Johnson and Johnny Bench. He blogs daily at The Morning Line on Cincinnati.com. He lives in Loveland, Ohio, with his wife, Kerry.

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33 weeks!

You know what's weird? In theory, I am considered full term in just four weeks. Hypothetically, Penelope could be here in mid-April. Which is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. For the most part, I'm pretty ready at this point. The only thing I'm focusing on is working on some projects that I've wanted to do for awhile and I'm taking this time to do them so I feel like I got a lot done before she comes.

The only dilemma I'm in now is work. I submitted for my unpaid leave to start on March 30. Turns out, you can't just do that unless you have a medical reason. So right now, I'm waiting on my doctor to give me a letter saying she recommends rest. My level of exhaustion is to the point where I'm having a really difficult time staying awake to function. Not to mention, that by the time I finish my shift, I have contractions, my back is excruciating, and my pelvic area hurts so bad I can't stand to sit but it's all I want to do. Honestly, I know for certain I won't make it through April like this. So here's hoping I can be at home and rest.

As far as depression, I'm better. I'm not great but I only cried once randomly this week! That's a big improvement. I talked to my doctor and she wants me to wait a little longer before starting on a prescription. Which I'm OK with. I really don't want to take any medicine for depression because it all makes me feel awful and completely numb. I don't want to feel like that as Penelope grows. I don't want to miss any of those things because I'm at the other end of the spectrum.

I go back to the doctor next week, but by the time I'm week 36 I'll be going every week until she's here. Which is kind of exciting. I'm in that stage where I'm anxious and just want her here but also want to be pregnant for awhile longer. I'm feeling ready to be done but torn because she might very well be it for me. Matt and I haven't fully decided, we're kind of taking a wait-and-see position. Maybe she'll get here and we'll for sure feel absolutely done. Maybe she'll get here and we'll think well... maybe one more is what we need. I feel like we'd have to decide quickly, I want to be done with pregnancies and babies before I'm 35. I just turned 33, so time is ticking for sure.

So it's a good time. The kids are very excited. They can't wait to meet Penelope. Jackson has taken to saying good night to her when he gives me hugs and kisses. I've caught Olivia checking out Penelope's toys and clothes. Of course, she totally says she wasn't, but I think she's kind of excited too. She's been very sweet lately. The only thing that worries me is she did say this weekend that this means she won't be my favorite girl anymore. I said true, but she's still my first baby, so that makes her special in her own way. I know I have a big job ahead of me to make sure each kiddo feels loved and special.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Girls of Mischief Bay (and GIVEAWAY)

I have such a hard time with chick lit books usually, and Susan Mallery is a a new-to-me author, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Fortunately, this was a great book and is perfect for warming up weather to get you ready for beach reads.

The Girls of Mischief Bay - Susan Mallery
The Girls of Mischief Bay (Mischief Bay, #1)
Nicole Lord wants to be a good wife, but there's a difference between being supportive and supporting her husband, who quit his job to write a screenplay she's never seen. He won't even help take care of their son, leaving Nicole to run the house and work full-time at her Mischief Bay Pilates studio. Can she say enough is enough without losing the man she loves? 

Sacrificing a personal life for her career is how Shannon Rigg rose to become vice president in her firm, but she wonders now whether she made the right choice. An exciting new relationship with a great guy convinces her that it might not be too late—until he drops a bombshell that has her questioning whether she can have it all. And if she can, does she want it? 

Although Pam Eiland has a beautiful house and a husband she adores, she feels… restless. She wonders who a stay-at-home mom becomes after the kids are grown. Finding sexy new ways to surprise her husband brings the heat and the humor back to their marriage, but when unexpected change turns her life upside down, she'll have to redefine herself. Again. 

Through romance and heartbreak, laughter and tears, three very different women will discover that friends can become family, and that life is richer with sisters at your side.

To give you the quick and dirty, we have three friends all at different stages in life who come together to help each other when they come to a cross roads. Nicole is a mom to a five year old boy, running her own exercise studio, all while supporting the family because her husband quit his job to be a screenwriter. She doesn't know if he's successful or not but she does know that he's not bringing in an income and she's starting to feel like she's being taken advantage of. Her crossroads is a bit of a blow and I felt awful for her. I don't know how she doesn't end up on a show like Wives with Knives because he was a jerk. A totally ungrateful jerk. 

Shannon is a successful career woman who isn't sure what she wants. Well, she knows she wants to meet a good guy and get married and she thinks she wants children. Except she's pushing 40 and to say her biological clock is ticking is an understatement. She meets Adam, charming and handsome, seemingly everything she could want in a life partner. He comes with a bit of baggage, an ex-wife and two kids, and Shannon isn't sure if she can blend into that kind of family. To me, her crossroads are a little more manageable and I feel like she's makes a bigger deal out of it than it should be. 

Then we have Pam. Pam's at a bit of a mid-life crisis but not dramatically so. She's the oldest, and kind of the mentor, guiding the way and being an example for Nicole and Shannon. Her crossroads happens unexpectedly and I'll be honest, hers was the worst for me. By that I mean I could feel what a blow this was for her and I couldn't even imagine. 

The entire book reminds me of the movie Waiting to Exhale where each woman goes through something pretty pivotal in their lives and yet they band together to move forward and they are only successful with each other. I really enjoyed the writing, I really liked the characters, and I think Susan Mallery did a marvelous job weaving each character's story and giving it enough depth to feel satisfied and then being able to pull it all together cohesively. It really reminded me of something you'd read from Dorothea Benton Frank, who I really enjoy as well. 

Susan has a website that you can check out HERE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter

Luckily for you, I am able to give away ONE copy of The Girls of Mischief Bay to a lucky reading in US/Canada. 

All you have to do is comment on this blog post with a book you've been enjoying lately. One winner will be drawn on Friday, March 20! 

In case you aren't a winner, this book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Indiebound, Kobo and Target!