Saturday, January 31, 2015

Reese's Spreads? Give me more.

I had forgotten that I had signed up as interested for an Influenster box that would let you try out Reese's Spreads. Until that baby arrived in the mail, conveniently so, because I was starving AND I had just bought some fruit.

Here's what I can tell you: Reese's Spreads on apple slices is not heaven. It's alright, I'm certainly not going to turn down anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter because that's just as amazing as peanut butter and jelly. But it wasn't amazing enough for me to feel like I had found my new craving.

UNTIL.

Until I tried Reese's Spreads on plain bagels.
Especially if you let the spread melt a little?

You guys.

I have eaten pretty much this entire jar. I say pretty much because the kids put some of the Reese's on their waffles one morning I was taking a shower and they report it was delicious.

I also then put the Reese's a little bit higher in the cupboard.

It's pretty darn good, you guys. The jar itself isn't huge, it's a little smaller than your standard peanut butter jar, but it's very thick and if you put it on something that's warm (like my beloved bagels), a little bit really does go a long way. This is something I most definitely will buy, because it's that good.

And this is coming from a girl who doesn't even love Nutella and don't understand the big deal.

But chocolate peanut butter spread? All about it.

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes*

Thursday, January 29, 2015

25, 26, and 97

I'm not Rain Man, but those numbers do all make sense, I swear!

25 weeks, with Olivia and Twinky

So last week I was 25 weeks pregnant. And the only notable thing about 25 weeks is being exhausted, literally all of the time. I don't know how I did it being pregnant with Olivia and Jackson and working full time from beginning to end, but I did. This time I'm only working 15 hours a week and I can barely function. Most days, the act of getting out of bed is only happening because my bladder is so full and I just really don't want to pee my bed. That and I have to get the kids to school. I swear, if I didn't have to get them to school I don't know that I'd be able to wake up and do anything. Never mind the fact that I'm not even working three solid hours each day. I work a half hour in the morning when I drop them off, come home for about three hours, and then I go back and work 2.5 hours and then bring them home from school. Which is kind of handy because I have that three hours to run errands, work on blog things, do book reviews, clean, etc. 

But let's not kid ourselves, I spend most of that three hours watching Law & Order SVU on Netflix and eating my lunch in the recliner. 

And even still, I am so exhausted I don't even feel safe to drive back to work some days. And when I get home? Forget it. It's a constant war of what time is reasonable to go to bed and still sleep through the night, or at least not end up wide awake at 4 a.m., but then being dead tired at 7 a.m. 

But this week I am 26 weeks pregnant, and there are a few things that are kind of terrifying that snuck up on me: 
  • It's officially my LAST week in my second trimester. That means next week? I can say I'm in my last trimester and it's like the home stretch kind of. 
  • Which makes me wonder why I never got a second trimester second wind, and I feel cheated. 
  • Then I realized that as of today (Thursday), I only have 97 days until my due date. That's double digits, folks. 
  • Double digits mean my anxiety over not being ready has kicked in. 
  • Which is ridiculous because my nursery is basically completed except for a few things to be hung up. 
  • I'm only a few weeks away from my baby shower, and I'm so excited for that. Because I love baby things and I just want all of the things. 
  • I also mostly can't wait for organizing all of the new baby things. 
  • Heartburn hates me. It's official: Penelope is going to be hairy. I hope she doesn't end up with that rare disorder where the person is covered with so much hair they almost look like an ape. But my fear is real because heartburn is no joke. Literally not one over the counter thing approved and OK for pregnancy has done a thing for me. WATER is giving me heartburn. Literally everything gives me heartburn. I had really awful heartburn with Olivia and she had a full head of dark hair that never really fell out. Not much heartburn with Jackson and he only had a little fuzz that didn't make it past day 3. But this time? Woah. It's to the point where I've almost thrown up because of it. I've definitely never had that issue before. The only positive here is that I never get heartburn, unless I'm pregnant. So the end is near.
  • I'm still tired in week 26. Like even more. I told Matt honest to god, I don't know if I will even be awake for the birth, I'm that tired. 
  • OH! Braxton Hicks. I have also NEVER had them before with either Olivia or Jackson. My stomach never got tight, or uncomfortable, etc. I actually thought maybe that Braxton Hicks wasn't a real thing but a really easy thing pregnant people could use as an excuse to take it easy. 
  • Turns out? It's totally a thing. My stomach is hard for almost the entire day. I'd say the time that it is not rock hard is maybe a full hour if you added up all the short spans of non-hardness. It's literally hard as a rock all of the time. It's really not a pleasant feeling, but I figure if this is the worst I'll have, not the end of the world. It's like squeezing your abs while exercising, except never letting the squeeze go. That on it's own is kind of exhausting. 
So that's the update, straight from the uterus. I didn't take a week 26 picture because not a lot of growth, belly wise, has happened. It looks basically the same. So don't feel like I'm not providing accurate belly pictures. You're as up to date as you can be. 

The Grown Up's

Some days I don't feel like a grown up at all but then having two kids remind me they need lunch money like, three days ago, snaps you right back to reality and you realize that you absolutely are a grown up and you have no idea how you actually got here.

The Grown Up's - Robin Antalek
The Grown Ups: A Novel
From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together

The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.

Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.
 

I loved this book. I really did. Normally there's at least something I didn't like about one of the characters or how it was written when a book spans across so much time and gives you the point of view of several characters. The really great thing is that even though you may not have dedicated points of view of a lot of the characters, Robin Antalek writes so incredibly well that you know these characters. You get it. You get what they feel, why they are doing the things they are doing, and it's like you actually know these people and you've grown up right with them.

The story is mainly about Sam, who after falling into a boyhood lust with Suzie, kind of finds himself adrift in life. Suzie moved away when they were still in high school bu can read more abut not without revealing something kind of catastrophic to a teenage boy. Not only that, Sam's mother abruptly leaves him, his brother, and his father behind and so while reeling from Suzie's departure, he's now dealing with his mother's unexplained escape. Sam's older brother goes to college and Sam... well he kind of makes it. He finds himself in a relationship with Bella, one of Suzie's best friends, and though it's a comfortable, predictable, and non-demanding relationship, it's also not as exciting as what he had with Suzie. Though he'll never know for sure if what he felt for Suzie was reciprocated, he's not sure what to do with any of it. And then when Bella's mom dies, Suzie unexpectedly returns for the funeral.

Easily, one of the best lines out of the book was this:

"They were here now, all of them. Relationships slightly rearranged, but still together. That was more than any of them would have imagined years before. They had watched their parents stumble and vowed never to do the same, only to fail one another in different ways. They experienced love, but they also caused disappointment and sorrow. They felt fear, and they knew loss. They ran away, only to return."

I mean, can't we all relate to that in some way? The great thing about this book is that every single character goes through something that we have all been in. Marriage, divorce, death, financial problems, college woes, feeling unsuccessful and unsure in life, Feeling like a disappointment and confused when your parents don't regard you as such. Watching parents age, and then sometimes die and questioning if you had been good enough of a kid all along, if you should be doing more, but also being afraid to do more because it makes their impending loss from life seem more real. 

I'll be honest, it was a bit of a slow go at first. I thought immediately I was going to hate some of the characters, but then I got hooked. I think it was right after Bella's mom died because I could empathize with how she felt as her mother was dying and then how she felt immediately after. And then, I just fell in love. If you are someone who has life long friends, maybe they come and go in  your life, but you know that no matter what, they'll always be back- this is definitely a book for you. 

You can read more about Robin on her website or on her Facebook page. This review is part of a blog tour and you can see what other bloggers are saying on the TLC Book Tours page. But if you want to skip all that, and just buy the book, you can do that at Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Not a comma, but maybe a period?

Undoubtedly the hardest part about being a parent, that I hadn't ever really thought through when I decided to become a mom, was how to talk to my kids about big things. I mean, I figured I'd just do it as I needed to and I'd be awesome and calm and not freak out.

Except that's basically what I'm not doing. Well, I'm freaking out.

Rightfully, it might be for nothing. I might be totally freaking out over nothing, I know this. And I'll be honest, I kind of cried a little before bed last night because it felt like this was such a huge turning point for not only me as a parent, but also for Olivia.

You see, for months now Olivia will randomly complain of headaches. Honestly, I thought it was just a lack of water and so I've made sure she's been hydrated. Then shortly after that she started having a random zip pop up here and there. No big deal, so we talked about maybe being a little more diligent with the face washing. For Christmas Santa got her a "spa set" that had body wash and one of those face cleaner things that spin? Well she loves it. Totally feels like a big kid, and has been doing really well.

Then I mentioned a few weeks ago how she complained about her armpits itching and sure enough, she's got hair starting to grow there. Which, I can understand how that's scary for a little girl not to mention annoying.

But yesterday?

Yesterday, after school, Olivia said her stomach hurt. I didn't think anything of it. But then she's laying on the couch, holding her stomach. I take notice of that and she tells me her belly button hurts, it feels like she has rope and it's being twisted around. At first I thought, weird. Then it hit me.

Holy shit. These could be the start of menstrual cramps.

She could be getting her period.

Oh god.

We haven't had The Talk.

Which means I have to have The Talk. I have no idea how to have The Talk. How much of The Talk do I give? How do I make a period not sound scary? "Oh, it's just this little thing where once a month what looks like a lot of blood comes out of you, it's sometimes painful, it'll last about a week and you'll get this every month for the rest of your life."

Because that's not terrifying at ALL.

Poor kid.

Today she isn't complaining. I feel like hopefully I can wait until this weekend? Like maybe I'll send Matt and Jackson off to do manly things, and then her and I will do a girly at home spa day and I'll explain it? Maybe I'll get lucky and this isn't an immediate thing. Maybe it was just a freak stomach ache and we're years away from a period.

But maybe we aren't.

I remember when I was 12, it was almost the end of the school year and I remember feeling awful all day. Shortly before leaving school, I saw brown stuff in my underwear. I absolutely panicked, but didn't want to go to the nurse because what was I going to say? I think I maybe peed brown in my pants? Except nothing is really wet like pee? So I got on the bus to go home.

When I got home, I immediately changed clothes and hid my underwear like any 12 would do.

But within an hour, I realized it was happening again. Not sure what to do, I hid a second pair of underwear. After the third pair of underwear had what clearly looked like blood in it, I freaked out and cried in the bathroom. I wasn't sure what was wrong with me, not sure if I was going to get into trouble, but I knew if anyone would know what to do it would be my mom.

I remember she was doing dishes in the kitchen, it wasn't long before bed time, and my dad and brother were watching TV. I very quietly told her I had brown stuff in my underwear, but that I was bleeding and I wasn't sure where to put a band aid. And bless my mother, who could have burst into laughter, did not. She was as calm as can be, walked me to the bathroom, handed me a pad and asked if I needed her to show me what to do with it. I said no because I didn't want to sound dumb, but when she left I read the packaging and figured it out. When I left the bathroom, my mom was in my room and just told me if I had questions, I could always ask, but that I had gotten my period. That it happens to every girl, it'll happen every month and if it hurts I need to tell her.

And that was pretty much it. I remember crying in bed because it just felt awful. Like my life was ruined. I also didn't know, do you tell your friends? Did they know about this horrible thing that happens to you? Are kids at school going to know I'm wearing a pad to school? Oh god, what do I do when it's gym and I have to change?

Fortunately, I figured my way through life with a period rather quickly. I also realized all of my friends started getting theirs not long after me and that was kind of nice because it was like a dirty secret and at least you weren't alone.

But Olivia is only NINE. I was twelve, so she should technically have three more years until this is a thing. Nine. That's just so young. She just informed me yesterday she was too big girl for Barbies and now I have to talk about periods?

Oy vey.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Once upon a time, Daddy danced.

One of the highlights of Olivia's year is easily the Father Daughter Ball. I can never afford it but I always buy the tickets anyways because it's important to Olivia. Matt hates people, socializing, events, basically hates a lot of things in life, but he never has a choice.

He's always going to these things under duress because I say so. Because it's important for Olivia to feel like her daddy thinks she's the prettiest, most special girl in the whole world. Because that kind of thing is going to count later on.

So I spent the last of the money I had at the end of December to buy the two tickets and a dress for Olivia. Which, fortunately, she was able to use for Christmas and the holiday concert at school. And she was so excited to go to the dance and asked me every weekend how much longer until the dance.

The bummer is that I didn't have enough money to get her hair professionally done, so we did what we could with my embarrassing lack of hair styling skills. But her and Matt got all ready to go. The really impressive thing? Is that Matt wore a tie. Not even a clip on tie, but he watched a YouTube video on how to tie his own tie. (Because I cannot do it. I'm such a fail to wifehood, it's terrible.)
It'd kind of a tradition that Matt and Olivia go to the dance with our friends Chad and Kennedy. Chad's wife Tammy is one of my closest friends, so it's kind of cool our daughters hang out, despite the two year age difference. I made sure Matt had some cash because the girls have a thing about kiddie cocktails.
Olivia actually danced with Matt, more than once. He said he's pretty sure that she had a great time.
Olivia told me she had a great time with her dad, that he wasn't totally embarrassing, and she can't wait to go with him next year. 

While they were gone, Jackson and I went on a date. I wasn't feeling very good but Jackson was so excited about it and had been looking forward to it all week. I couldn't tell him we'd go a different day. So he decided that we would have dinner at Applebee's, and have two desserts. I convinced him that going out to a movie was lame, so we came home to make some cookies and I let him pick out a movie on Netflix. Which wasn't a movie, instead, it was two hours of Lego Ninjago episodes. I think he was pretty happy and he fell asleep on the couch, snuggled up with me. 

Next year, we'll have Penelope in the mix. She's too young to go to a dance, obviously, so Jackson and I will have to have a special mom and son date, even with a baby tagging along. Fortunately for me, Jackson is the best little boy who is easily the most adaptable. I just want to try really hard that each kid feels like they are the greatest thing to us ever. I feel like that'll be a struggle for a little while, but I'm confident we can do it. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 18.

I wasn't sure how I would write about it, I wasn't sure if I should, but then I thought it would be weird if I didn't acknowledge it, because it was a tough day.

So way back in June, I suffered a miscarriage. I chronicled what it was like to lose it in the days after. It would feel strange to not say anything about what it's like for the due date to come and go and you realize at that very moment, you could have been holding a newborn.

But you aren't.

And it's tough. It's really tough because I've gotten kind of a mix of responses to my posts.

1. You get the people who are absolutely, 100% sympathetic and kind and wonderful. They are there when it's tough and they don't try to minimize what it means for you to be going through it.

2. There are the "Oh, yeah- I've had those too. You'll be fine." group. I don't think they realize how awful that sounds, and they are probably trying to be really supportive and let you know that hey- shit happens, and you'll actually be fine.

3. Then there are the people who say nothing. Or they think I shouldn't share it, that it's something that should be handled in private. I don't really understand the reasoning on this point of view, and I wonder if it's only because it makes them uncomfortable, for whatever reason.

But here's what I learned: that it's important to share good things, and it's important to share bad things. There's always that fine line on social media where you hear about every terrible detail about a person and you realize you know more about the marriage of some loser you went to high school with than you do your best friend because it's just out there all of the time. Then there is the other end where people are practically pooping rainbows and they have the BEST kids and the BEST husband and the BEST everything and go on the BEST trips, several times a year, and Jesus did it all for them because isn't he just the BEST?!

I'm here to call bullshit on the rainbow poopers because I happen to know Jesus doesn't pay your bills, you're probably in debt to your eyeballs, your husband has days where he's a jerk too, and your kid is probably going to be a mean girl in high school.

So after mulling all of that in my head, I decided to share with you what it was like to see my due date come and go. Because it's all part of the process.

It was hard.

It was really hard when I realized that this was it. I knew it was coming and somehow I kind of spaced it out the couple of days before. I wasn't feeling very well and my level of exhaustion was high and I was already feeling low on life. I woke up that morning, feeling sick as hell, having contractions, and I hadn't had my blood pressure medicine in three days because I didn't have money for it, but it was my niece's baptism, so I was trying to rally.

I managed to rally and get the kids and myself to the baptism and while sitting there, I realized that it was January 18. And I started to tear up. I could feel Penelope moving, and I had Olivia and Jackson on either side of me. I left as soon as I could, and thankfully when I got home, Matt was just getting home. He got the kids some lunch and I went upstairs to lay down.

And I just cried.

It's weird how all of these months later and it feels all the same. It feels like I just lost that baby. The only solace I've had is that I've got my little Penelope just baking away, seemingly perfect in every way. I have nothing to be sad about. But it was hard. I think the worst thing was that Matt didn't even say a word. It didn't even occur to him that the day held any significance. I tried to talk to him about it but he's kind of an emotional mute when it comes to this kind of thing.

The nice thing is that every day it gets better. I know I won't always feel sad about this. I know someday, I will maybe not even acknowledge the due date. Maybe not the day I lost the baby. Which also makes me feel guilty, I feel like if I don't acknowledge it, it's like I'm saying that baby isn't worth it. Like it didn't mean anything, so easily forgotten.

So I am going to scrapbook the ultrasound photos I do have. I don't want that baby to ever be a thing forgotten. For the rest of my life I'll have to acknowledge that I had a miscarriage on medical forms. But it'll be OK. I'm going to be OK. Pretty soon, my days (and nights) will be so full of Penelope it won't hurt as much. Heck, with her due in May, maybe I'll be too exhausted to acknowledge the one year anniversary of my miscarriage? There's some optimism.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why am I crazy and talking about hypnobirthing and such?

I got two really good emails from readers that asked if I had two good experiences giving birth, why am I looking to do something that could be considered to be radically different?

And that's actually a really great question.

Anyone who knows me knows I am the furthest thing from a hippie. I enjoy processed foods, I think fresh fruit and vegetables tastes weird, I like pain medication, I think breastfeeding is definitely not for me because I like my sleep and dad should have to do something, and I have given my kids Happy Meals when they were one. Yeah, I gave BOTH of my kids Happy Meals since they were one.

The good news is we're all alive, healthy, and fans of chicken nuggets.

But this time around I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born which is kind of Rikki Lake's baby. Mostly because it was free on Netflix that weekend and I vaguely remember it being kind of taboo at the time and something about seeing Rikki's nipples.

(Side note: you do see Rikki's nipples. They are huge. Good lord.)

Anyways.

So I go into a lot of these hippie things with an open mind but I'm also very practical and I just think there are some people who go the all natural route just so they can lord it over other mom's like they accomplished something far more noble than just birthing relatively pain free. Same with the breastfeeding moms, not all certainly, but there are a few who just inherently think they are better because they do it and are exhausted all of the time. For me, I tried. I tried with Olivia but it became clear that I was going to feel like a dog laying on my side letting a baby have its way with my boob and I would get next to no sleep while Matt sleeps soundly. No, I'd prefer to make him do his duty as well.

Anyways.

So I watched the documentary and surprisingly enough, I really agreed with a lot of the highlights. I'll be honest, I still really feel like I got great care both times I've gone. I have a great OB who answers my questions and I really enjoyed almost all of my nurses and medical staff. I say almost because I totally had a bitchy, awful nurse when I came in for Olivia who was just rude and you could tell I was a pain in her ass at 1 a.m. Like how dare I go into labor. Which, I get it, I also was annoyed because I was tired and I'm not at my best when I'm tired. But overall, I really had positive experiences. Something mentioned in the movie was that no matter what, a woman will never forget her experience while delivering her child(ren), good or bad. And that's so true. I'm 9 and 7 years out and I can remember every detail of both births like it happened yesterday.

But what prompted me to try for something different was the piece about how, while in labor, your body starts delivering oxytocin to your brain and that basically is what signals your mothering instinct, so to speak, but it also gives you this natural high to help get you through the most crucial pushing phase but also this elation at the end.

And I feel a little cheated that I haven't had that.

With Olivia, I got my epidural as soon as I could because I was absolutely certain I was going to die. I had been dilated to 3cm at my last appointment (38 weeks) and I went into labor right at 39 weeks (on Labor Day no less!). So I was pretty excited to know that I didn't have to wait it out, I could get an epidural right away. I also wondered why would anyone willingly go through pain when you can be pain free? I slept through all of my labor, and then I was threatened with Pitocin because the nurse apparently never checked me and assumed that my peaceful sleep meant nothing had happened. Fortunately, Olivia is a champ and this uterus can get things done because she was crowning when they checked me and she was born minutes later. But I had NO idea what I was doing and she was a vacuum assist, and when they handed her to me I just felt... tired. I really just wanted to go back to bed and I wasn't sure why everyone on shows were all teary and emotional. I was just tired and annoyed that it was such a big deal.

I also then had a little more than a year with post-partum depression.

With Jackson, I ended up being induced on my due date with him because he wasn't moving as much as I felt he should (turns out he's just lazy) and they said because this was my second baby, I could just induce. Which was fine by me, I was ready to be done. But being induced is intense and I'll be honest, I would never do that again unless I absolutely had to.Those were hands down, the worst contractions ever. I got an epidural again and it was super. For an hour. Then that somabitch wore off. It wore off.

It wore the fuck off.

I delivered Jackson not longer later with no epidural helping me and I fully understand now when women scream that it burns and I know why there is mention of a "ring of fire" in pregnancy books. Because it honest to god feels like someone has lit your vagina on fire.

But the thing about his birth was that even though I was pretty drugged up, I felt a lot different than I did with Olivia. I was weepy and reluctant to hand him over and I felt like finally- I get, I get these cry babies on these shows because I am a cry baby!

This time my whole premise for going as intervention free as I can is because I really want to feel like I did it. That I told my uterus who is really the boss and feel like I've accomplished something. I want to feel what it's like to be high on love immediately after pushing a little bean of gooey cuteness out.

The only thing I'm really worried about is that the fact I'm already in a hospital will make it easier for me to just scream for an epidural when it gets tough. I really wish I could afford a birth center because I think that would really set me up for success. Sadly, I can't do that and they don't accept payments. I also can't afford to hire a midwife or doula to help me, so I'm stuck with Matt.

So that's my reasoning. It's not that I'm turning into a hippie. Don't worry. I am still going to be that mom who has her husband smuggle in french fries and Pepsi immediately after I give birth, rules be damned. I'm also going to utilize a nursery at night because this chick is already counting down the days of TWO NIGHTS of uninterrupted sleep, meaning I won't hear Matt snoring or have pets sitting on my face, etc. It's like a vacation. I'm so excited just for that. Even if my girl parts are drippy and sore for weeks. I mean, it evens out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Where Have I Been All My Life

Here's a book I was surprised I was interested in, but then found myself completely intrigued.

Where Have I Been All My Life - Cheryl Rice
Where Have I Been All My Life? A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness
Where Have I Been All My Life? is a compelling memoir recounting one woman's journey through grief and a profound feeling of unworthiness to wholeness and healing. It begins with the chillingly sudden death of Rice's mother, which is followed by her foray into the center of mourning. With wisdom, grace, and humor, Rice recounts the grief games she plays in an effort to resurrect her mother; her misguided efforts to get her therapist to run away with her (or at least accept her gifts); and the transformation of her husband from fantasy man to ordinary guy to superhero. In the process, she experiences aching revelations about her family and her past and realizes what she must leave behind, and what she can carry forward with her. Poignant, tender, and sometimes hilarious, Where Have I Been All My Life? is Rice's universally relatable story of how she found sustenance for the difficult but vital journey toward love and wholeness in an unexpected place: herself. 

It's kind of self help, self discovery, but it is absolutely and completely easy to relate to. It starts with Cheryl losing her mother to a really quick bout of cancer. It throws her for a loop, especially when it becomes her mother is basically over it and ready to go to wherever we go when we die. Cheryl has basically had her entire life revolve around her mother so losing her left her in a tailspin- who was she as a motherless person? I think none of us are ever really to lose a parent, much less a mother. No matter the relationship you've had with your mother over life, it's still a bit jolting to one day realize you no longer have her.

So Cheryl decides in order to save her marriage, which kind of starts waffling as Cheryl is working through grief, she starts therapy.  Except she starts falling for her therapist and of course, that's no ideal considering she's married. I really don't want to tell you more because it does kind of ruin the book for you, but know that you reading the chapters, which felt more like short essays, make you feel like you are on this journey with her. It felt wrong to laugh during this book because this is a woman who is clearly trying to find herself and is struggling, but I did. And Cheryl feels like that one friend we all have who always says they need to find themselves and we roll our eyes because who has? What does that even mean? Well reading this kind of brought that to a more concrete understanding of what that is, though I do still feel like it's a bit hokey.

Perhaps the most useful thing I took away from the book is to appreciate what I have, right now. Not worry so much about what I am missing from life, and not give any more time to things that don't matter. Basically, not dwell on the things that have been upsetting or have prevented me from living a good life now.

Cheryl has a website and actually leads seminars and you can get more information on that HERE. Honestly, if you are looking into a book that helps you look into yourself and not be too lofty but as an easy, fun read? This is easily it. It's under 200 pages, I whipped through it in an afternoon because she writes about heavy topics with grace and humor and makes it fun to read about her struggles. Which sounds terrible, but that's the best way to describe it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Relaxing is hard.

Do you remember I mentioned I wanted to try hypnobirthing this time around? Well I've ordered a book, which hasn't gotten here yet but I expect it to this week. In the meantime, I have a mp3 file of a hypnobirthing relaxation exercise that a friend told me was really helpful for her. So now that Matt has gotten it into my iTunes, I figured I would give it a shot tonight.

And it's really hard.

I decided the best place for me to do this and not fall asleep would be in Penelope's room and sit in the rocking chair with my feet up on the ottoman. I had the lights dim, the door shut, kids in bed, Matt was out walking the dog, and things were quite in the house. So I listened to the introduction, which seemed pretty straight forward. I then went into part one of two, which was getting yourself relaxed. Part two is supposed to get you more relaxed and help you while you are actually birthing.

It was actually a really soothing thing to listen to.I was really enjoying it. And then I realized I can't stop thinking about things. I can hear sounds in the house, pets running down the hall, Olivia's radio down the hall, the sound of cars outside, etc. It's really hard to just concentrate on relaxing. I'm wondering how the hell am I supposed to maintain this calm while I'm in a hospital bed, having contractions, nurses coming in and out and people talking? I will keep trying, maybe this gets easier the more and more that I do it?

In other news, at my appointment last week, I had asked if going to a labor and delivery class was worthwhile considering I have already had two kids. My OB laughed and laughed and said yes, absolutely go because enough has changed in labor and delivery practices in the seven years since I had done this that it certainly wouldn't hurt. SO, I grabbed a calendar and had Matt sit down with me to figure out when we could go. Ideally, we'd do the 9-5:30 Saturday class but since there isn't one in March, the one in April is really late. Late enough that I'd be beyond 37 weeks and could already be in labor. That leaves us with the two night class that goes 6-9:30 each night. Conveniently enough, this is during the kids' spring break, so I am hoping Olivia and Jackson can spend two nights at a Grandma's house so that we aren't having them stay up late waiting for us.

Also not awesome? The class takes place on my birthday and the day after. So... party. I hope the other preggies aren't offending if I'm eating cupcakes during the class. HA!

In other preparation news, I have started watching YouTube videos of births and people's commentary on birth and different techniques they used. And you know what I've learned? They are all horrifying.

If I was a first time mom, this would be the absolute worst thing to do. Thankfully this is my third time around so I do know what I'm in for. So I feel like my job in the next 16 weeks is to seriously work hard at preparing myself. The other thing is I feel like my labor team kind of is lacking. I do know that Matt really sucks in stressful situations and despite being my partner for 13 years, has absolutely NO clue how to read me or determine what I need. I've decided that isn't something you can even teach a person either, they either get it or they don't. So that's where I'm at. I'm basically going to try to get myself ready to birth alone, essentially. Sure, people will be there, but I'm going into this thinking I am basically on my own. Which is kind of daunting? So we'll see how this goes. But I'm hoping that once the book comes, the whole hypnobirthing concept will make more sense to me and I will be able to do this whole relaxation thing.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pregnancy depression update

Yes, I realize that last night I gave you an update on what pregnancy is like at 24 weeks, but I failed to mention depression. Just like I said I would, I did ask about it and what I should be doing. I'm being as proactive as I can because I know what it's like to be that depressed with a new baby and I really don't want to go there again. I really don't think it would be good for any of us.

So it comes down to yes, I could take a few different anti-depressants now and it would be totally fine for me and baby. After talking about it, I'm deciding to hold off for as long as I can. Mostly because while it's safe for baby and I, I'd like to not take something I don't absolutely need right now. I can still function and I'm not suicidal or crying non stop. Things aren't in crisis mode. They are in like, pre-crisis mode. I feel like I can manage what I'm already doing a little longer. I'm thinking maybe when I'm six weeks from my due date, maybe I'll start them then just so I'm not dealing with acclimating to a new medication immediately after birth.

But other than that, things really aren't better. They certainly aren't worse, thankfully. I get very frustrated with myself when I feel like this because I feel like I should just snap out of it. I fully understand it has everything to do with brain chemistry and biological things, but it doesn't mean I don't get impatient with myself. I do know that so long as I have my lists and I can keep plugging through them, it keeps me busy enough where I don't have times to wallow and get sad for no damn reason.

You know I worry about my kids every being this way. Between me and my issues, and Matt and his issues, I feel like I've doomed them to a life of depression and anxiety. It's kind of a terrible feeling, to be honest. But I'm trying to be upbeat and not be sad around them. I don't want them to think there is something wrong with me. At the end of every day, I feel like this weight just settles right on my chest. I get them all tucked in, stories read, and as I walk down the hall from their rooms it's like a cloud settles right on me. I'm trying to just ignore it and carry on, act perky and upbeat, and honestly- if this would qualify me for an Emmy, I'd have one by now.

So that's the plan. I'm going to keep plugging on for now and then probably start medication around week 32. That's not so far away, really. I'll be OK. Then hopefully once Penelope comes I'll be OK. I just really don't want post partum depression. I just don't know if I could handle that at all again. That was really one of the lowest points in my life and I feel like I missed so much in Olivia's first year. And after having Jackson, it was really obvious all that I lost. So here's hoping things get better. Or at least a little easier.

But you know what IS surprising to me? Is that I am exhausted. Every day, all day. I don't know if it's just the stage of pregnancy or if it's depression related. Which is annoying. But I am barely getting out of bed in the morning, I'm going to bed early every day, and even still, I feel like if I could just take a five hour nap during the day I would be just dandy. But no, I can't do that. *sigh*

Do you have any experience with depression during pregnancy? What helped you cope?

Fog Island Mountains

Here's a book review that even counts as something towards my 2015 Reading Challenge under "book set in a different country".

Fog Island Mountains - Michelle Bailat-Jones
Fog Island Mountains
What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

If there was maybe an award for book with the least like-able character, this one would certainly be in the running. The book is set in Japan, kind of in the middle of some mountains and they have a huge typhoon heading their way so people are in various stages of storm preparedness. But it starts out with Alec, who is in a consultation room at a hospital, about to get some of the worst news anyone would get- he has terminal cancer. He was waiting for his wife, Kanae, to be at the consultation and take the news with him but she's seemingly a no-show. Instead, she's off being self absorbed and basically a terrible human being, and not realizing how her actions would impact Alec. 

Very strange thing about this book is that while it does offer different points of view from a cast of characters, instead of starting a new chapter like most books, it's like every few paragraphs it's a new character we're hearing from. Granted, we have some line spaces so you could figure it out, but for me it made it harder to read and I really felt like I was ping ponging between people. Also, the story is short, we don't even come in at 200 pages, so what should have been a fast read wasn't. Between the ping ponging and the almost poetic way it's written, it doesn't feel like a fast read at all, instead it feels as heavy as the material we're reading. It's certainly not an uplifting book by any means. 

I spent pretty much the entire book feeling sorry for Alec, who is facing the remaining time of his life and hating Kanae who despite being a highly intelligent person, makes a serious of terrible, selfish choices. It would be one thing if she was just holed up somewhere prematurely grieving the soon to be loss of her husband, who she very clearly loved. Instead, she's cheating on him and leaving him to face death alone. Some could say maybe her love for him was just so huge that the thought of him being gone was not something she could handle mentally or emotionally so she chose intimacy with someone else as a grieving process, but that feels just so wrong and selfish I couldn't wrap my head around it. I really couldn't find any sympathy for her at all. 

But what redeemed this book for me was Alec. His story of grieving on his own, his process through death, and every emotional piece of luggage that comes with it just pulls at you and you can't stop reading. It really is the car wreck you can't look away from. It really feels like as a reader, you have to be there with him to the end because his loser wife isn't doing the job, and nobody should face that alone. Not ever, not for nothing. 

So I teeter between a rating of "I liked it" 3 stars or "It was OK" 2 stars, because I'm really down the middle. So for that, I guess for estimation I would round up to 3 stars. But I tell you, characters like Kanae can really ruin a book and that was a pretty ballsy move for this author to take, because I don't know that many people would keep reading once they saw the writing on the wall with her. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

24- she is frisky!

Man, it feels weird that it's been two weeks since my last update yet so much feels like it's happened?
So first off, I have really popped out. I no longer look just fat, I look pregnant. Which is always kind of fun. I definitely feel pregnant while moving around, rolling over in bed is trickier. I can still shave my legs, paint my toes, put my shoes on, etc. Admittedly, I never had any issues with Olivia or Jackson's pregnancies so to be frank, I think women just milk pregnancy for every bit that they can.

I do notice that my back hurts a lot more and I have definite tightening of my stomach, which I think are maybe Braxton Hicks? I don't know since I never had those or this tightening with the other two so I'm just making the assumption on that. My blood pressure looks awesome, though I wonder if I'm too low sometimes- I have some bouts of dizziness where it's not just from getting up, it's even when I'm laying down or sitting in my chair and I feel like the entire room is spinning. I've only gained eight pounds this pregnancy, so I'm kind of right on track like with my other ones, so that's nice.

This week was my 24 week check and I had to have a follow up ultrasound because at our 20 week ultrasound, Penelope decided to put her foot in her mouth (literally) the entire time so we didn't get to see her heart or her face and they check a few things in each area, so they wanted me to repeat it. Which is kind of cool because I got to see pictures of her and she's really grown in four weeks!
Sorry this picture sucks. I have no idea why it keeps turning when it shows that it uploaded correctly. Who knows. So turn your head to the right and that's her face.
She actually had her hands by her face most of the time but would pull on the umbilical cord, which explains the really sharp, random pains near my belly button. She yanked on it hard and I felt the pain so.. she's feisty. But here is her sucking her thumb.
It's kind of hard to see but part of the umbilical cord is in her face, but you can kind of see her hands curled up right next to her face.

So who does she look like? Well as it turns out, I didn't have very many ultrasound pictures of Jackson so this is going to be hard to tell.
This was my ultrasound with Olivia. She always slept with her arms above her head, still does.
And this was Jackson. He looks like he's covering his mouth with one hand and waving with the other. This is exactly how he sleeps most nights as well, even still.

So I don't know. It's kind of exciting to see ultrasounds at this point in a pregnancy because I got to see her bounce around and be all adorable. So I'm pretty excited. And oh yes, verified that she is very much a girl, no extra boy parts dangling anywhere!

We also changed the name a little bit. Just the middle name. She'll be Penelope Rose Mary for sure now. For sure, no more changes. Rose is after my step-dad's mother (who recently passed away), and Mary for my paternal grandmother (who passed away when I was 2), and it is also Matt's maternal grandmother's name (who passed away years ago) and his mother's first name, though she doesn't go by it. So we have a nice mix and I'm glad all three kids each have two middle names that are some how family related.

I probably won't update again until maybe 28 weeks, so in another month. That's when I go for my glucose test (boo*gag*hiss) and my first cervical check to make sure things are locked up tight still. Then I start with my two week visits, which feels like it'll go by so quickly then. But it's very exciting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Puberty is for the birds. And the bees.

Easily the worst part of being a parent is having to answer the tough questions. Every year it's getting steadily harder. I thought I'd just pull from my own growing up and see if I needed to add to it.

The hard part, is that I just pretty much don't remember a lot of this from when I was a kid. I don't think I really ever asked questions. I remember asking if I could shave my legs, I must have been fifth grade or so, and my mom said no. So I totally did it on my own, with no help and no idea on what I was supposed to do, and I totally slashed the hell out of my ankle. I then tried to hide a bloody towel because I didn't want to get into trouble. Obviously, my mother was far smarter than I gave her credit for, and she found the towel. And she really nicely and very casually mentioned in passing that she'd show me what to do but not to do something behind her back- she'd always know. And to this day, I believe that. She was like a super psychic.

So right now I'm on the brink of these big conversations with Olivia. About two weeks ago she complained of itchy armpits. Sure enough, she's getting hair. She asked me why she would get hair and I said well, that's puberty. It happens to all of us. She, in turn, bursts into tears and declared she doesn't want to go through puberty. Which absolutely breaks my heart. Because I do remember how scary it was when I got my first period, and I worry that she'll be just as scared.

But for your mom's who have been through it:

1. What age did you let your daughter shave?
2. What age did you let them wear makeup to school?
3. How do you explain a period without scaring the poor girl?

She is hugely hormonal right now, we go from one mood to the other fairly quickly. I was 12 when I got my period, and she's only 9. So that's scary, for me as her parent.

All of this aside, you know what else is hard? Trying to explain to her that girls are mean. They just are. Not all of them, but a lot of them are. She has these friends who will be nice one day and then the next day ignore her completely. She comes home and just is so heart broken. Twice in the last two months, she cries up in her room after school.

The only silver lining about this is that all of her accident issues? I am now almost totally certain it is anxiety related. I've noticed that the times where she has issues with friends at school or seems to be having a hard time, we have accidents. When things are good, nothing. Which is really scary to me. Because I'm dealing with accidents now, which are frustrating, but what is it going to be in a few years? Cutting? God. It's terrifying.

I'm struggling with this parent thing. The longer I do this, the more I want to slap these newly pregnant women who think it's going to be fun and cute. Honestly, I'm starting to think that the fun and cute times are few and far between. I spend more time worrying that I'm screwing them up and terrified of keeping them safe and happy.

Man, no wonder I have such high blood pressure.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wildalone

Sometimes being a book reviewer is really difficult. On one hand, you will inevitably get really terrible books and you have to write about them, being fully honest on what you didn't like, but word it carefully so that a person wouldn't automatically dismiss it, maybe try it for themselves and form their own opinion. On the other hand, sometimes you get books that are so incredibly great that you aren't sure you can even make a convincing argument why a person should read this book other than, "it's so great and it'll move you". Because ultimately, as a book reviewer, you hope that what you write convinces someone to go purchase the book, get it from the library, do something with it beyond adding it the to "to-read" list we all have and likely will never finish in our lifetime. Because some books? Some books are worth bumping to the top.

This is absolutely one of them.

Wildalone - Krassi Zourkova
Wildalone: A Novel
In this darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery, a Princeton freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two enigmatic brothers and discovers terrifying secrets about her family and herself—a bewitching blend of TwilightThe Secret HistoryJane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches
For every world, there is an underworld.
Arriving at Princeton for her freshman year, Thea Slavin finds herself alone, a stranger in a strange land. Away from her family and her Eastern European homeland for the first time, she struggles to adapt to unfamiliar American ways and the challenges of college life—including a young man whose brooding good looks and murky past intrigue her. Drawn to the elusive Rhys and his equally handsome and mysterious brother, Jake, she ventures into a sensual mythic underworld as irresistible as it is dangerous.
I feel so unequipped to give this a worthy review, but I'm going to really try. After reading the book it really is a mix of Twilight (Jake and Rhys both vying for Thea is very much like Edward and Jacob), it's so very much like Discovery of Witches (lots of Greek mythology, art history, magic, witchery, etc), but I also felt it was a little like Angelology (with Thea uncovering a mystery in her past and the ending... the ending is so much like the ending of Angelology that I had a little gasp). This book is the absolute perfect blend of thriller, mystery, paranormal, romance, magic and even a little chick lit because you can't help but be endeared by Thea, a Bulgarian trying to make it in America and understand culture here. 
But what sets this book apart is that no matter how you feel about Greek mythology, whether you have no idea about much of it and could care less (me), or you are an avid fan, you find yourself interested and learning. Your heart hurts for Thea who lost her sister (literally) at Princeton 15 years earlier under mysterious circumstances. She died and her body was found... but then disappeared from the funeral home and nobody has any clue why or where it went. And that's not good enough for Thea, who can't help but feel like there was far more to her sister's mystery than what meets the eye. It doesn't help that seemingly everyone who knew her sister Elza speaks to Thea in riddles and she's having to figure it all out on her own. It feels like her death is somehow connected to strange rituals thought long forgotten but that surely doesn't make sense, does it? 
Enter Rhys. Mysterious, definitely brooding, enigmatic, alluring, everything you want in a bad boy. Something is very off with him though Thea can't place it and she's not even sure she wants to because what she does know is that she can't be without him. Thoughts of him consume her and though her friends think he's a bit much, a little over bearing and definitely possessive, she doesn't care. Then she meets Jake, his almost identical looking brother who she finds out is who she thought Rhys was (sounds weird, but I can't explain it further otherwise it ruins a good part of the book for you) and here we begin the battle between brothers. One is the safe choice, one is definitely not but she doesn't know why. She doesn't know the strings that comes with the one brother, until the end, and when she makes a decision- it's almost too late. 
Because with every great book comes an ending. And the ending isn't always what it should be. What you want it to be. Angelology is one of my favorite books because I felt all of the torment and the struggle the main character had once she learned what she really was. And she had to make a choice at the end and I don't think she made the right one. Not at all. But in Wildalone, as we're getting to the end, and I feel my heartbreak coming on because one of the brothers loves Thea so much that he is willing to die for her, Thea makes a desperate visit to the Underworld and... we learn so much while she's there. She does as well. We learn how flawed her sister was, how nothing was really as it seemed and.. we cut to her seemingly on her way to a decision. But that's it. So it's almost like... a build your own ending but not really. I don't always say this and I might regret it as I did with Angelology because the sequel to that books was TERRIBLE and made me hate everything I loved about the first one, but I kind of hope Wildalone has a sequel. Just to indulge me, not because one is needed. This is the type of book I don't want to part with the characters, I feel like I know too much of the story and I still want more. Does that make sense? But I'll leave you with this- it is my absolute hope that the unsaid ending is not like Orpheus essentially giving up and letting the maenads kill him because he lost the love of his life, Eurydice. (Which is the Greek myth heavily referenced in this book, so stay with me, I'm not talking crazy.) I hope the brother, the one so madly in love with Thea, doesn't end this way because I don't know if I could bear it. I just couldn't. Because what Thea feels for the safe brother isn't the kind of thing that lasts a lifetime, or even beyond. It's not. It's safe and secure. But the other brother... that's happiness beyond what she could hope for. Even with the strings attached. 
And with that, I leave you. Please add this to your to-read list, go and buy the book (Amazon or Barnes & Noble) and then let me know what you think. I said it last night on Facebook that though this is only January, this is a contender for book of the year for me. I cannot get enough of the writing, the characters, the cover (God this cover is gorgeous and now I want a bouquet of poppies. I need a guy to give me a vase of poppies, and my husband said poppies are stupid.), just the amount of research that goes into putting such a great novel together blows my mind and truly. It's so great. I can't say how great this is enough. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hypnobirthing- thoughts?

With the birth of Penelope coming soon, I am trying to figure out what kind of birth I would like to have. I have had two very good births, all things considering.

Olivia, being my first, I was expected to have a really long labor. I thought for sure I'd be in agony for hours. What actually happened is that it was really textbook. We walked all day (it was Labor Day) and around dinner time I felt kind of blah. By 9 p.m. contractions started, I was 39 weeks. Nothing too bad. By 11 p.m., my water broke at home. I was at the hospital by midnight. I had an epidural at 3 a.m., and Olivia made her triumphant entrance into the world at 8:58 a.m. The really nice thing was that I slept through pretty much all of my labor. That epidural was so good I felt nothing. I had no idea how I was supposed to push, and wasn't sure if I was even pushing.

Then with Jackson, I ended up being induced with him right on my due date. Again, my labor was far faster than I expected. I mean, I knew being induced meant it could be faster, but I wasn't totally sure. He wasn't moving as much as he should have been, which is why I was induced. But they started me at 8 a.m. with Pitocin. I got my epidural at 9 a.m. because wow- Pitocin contractions are no damn joke. I got a little bit of sleep but by noon, my epidural was wearing off. I called for the nurse and she very nicely told me that I had it as high as it would go. It was that moment that I realized that I was grossly unprepared for the amount of pain I was about to be in. Let us just say, that when I started pushing at 12:30 p.m., I quickly understood why women scream that it burns. Jackson was born at 12:58 p.m.

This time I really want to try to do this drug free.

I know, you're all laughing. I'm also laughing, but it sounds more like a manic laughter. Like I fully recognize that I am crazy pants.

Yes, thousands of women do this all of the time. I have lots of friends who have and say it's really not that bad. But that's all bull shit because I don't care how great I'll feel afterwards, or how accomplished I'll feel, or how much better for the baby it is. I get all of that, I'm sure it's glorious, and maybe if I can accomplish it, I'll totally be on that hippie band wagon telling you all about it.

Right now, my main concern is pain. I find that as I get older, my pain tolerance is less. I am trying to figure out different things I can do to prepare myself. One thing I've heard a lot about is hypnobirthing. Basically it's self hypnosis during labor. Which... sounds hokey, I know. But at this point, I do know that the labor breathing techniques I learned before Olivia were absolutely useless. So right now, the plan is to look up and purchase a book so I can read a little more about it. I want to give it a try, at least. There are classes locally but they are EXPENSIVE, like around $300 expensive.

But have any of you done hypnobirthing? If yes, do you have any advice or good resources? If you haven't done that, and have had a natural birth, what helped you?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mini van & the eternal sadness.

So really long story short? We bought a mini van on Saturday. My beloved Gideon the Escape is gone. I could be super happy and gracious that we were able to buy a 2015 Grand Caravan. I could be relieved that we had an issue, we solved it, and are officially ready for Penelope.

I could be all of those things, but I'm not.

I'm not at all.

In fact? I'm angry. I'm incredibly angry. Not just because I'm stuck in a god damn mini van, which feels like a total injustice, but because I have no choice.

You see, despite being sometimes ballsy, a little outspoken, and sometimes I can be a total bitch when I feel like I'm being rolled over, I get no choice. I feel like I'm allowed to state an opinion, but it's not like it's heard. Sales people nod, smile, and give me quips about their kids (as if I give a damn), and then focus on Matt. Matt, for his part, sometimes lets me talk but then shoots me down and I just shut up versus starting a scene. He steam rolls every major decision and it's always me that gets to deal with the fall out. I'm the one managing money and cutting corners so we can pay for things. I'm the one driving a vehicle that has less features than my 1988 Ford Taurus had in high school despite it being $80 a month more than the vehicle I had even when I said we cannot afford t. I leave for two minutes to pee and all of a sudden I come back to decisions made and I look like the asshole if I say no to anything.

Now I'm stuck with this van that I absolutely hate. It's so bad that every time I get into it, I cry. I cry because I'm frustrated that it doesn't matter how hard we work at it, I can't make him be considerate. I can't make him think of someone other than himself or what's easier for him. I can't do that because that's something you're taught as a small kid and your parents hope you retain it for life.  But it's frustrating because again, it's me dealing with the fallout.

Then not only am I dealing with that, but I'm dealing with not one, but two instances where people close to me just assume my position on something. Oh, Sara doesn't like this thing, so obviously she wouldn't want to come or be involved. That type of thing. Well guess what? I might think it's pointless, you're making a mistake, or you could do better- I might think all of that or more. But you know what? None of that would prevent me from being there, being 100% supportive and gracious. You know why? Because it's not about me. You want my opinion, and I'll give it to you. But the fact that I'm invited to things, or included in something as a fucking AFTER FACT because someone made an assumption? No. That's not OK. That's rude. That tells me you need to learn basic social etiquette. I'm being included now because people feel bad or obligated? No. I don't really want to go now. So now I stand on the line of going despite feeling not wanted, or not going to prove a point nobody would get or even feel bad about.

I have my 24 week prenatal appointment on Thursday and I hate, hate, hate that I am finally at the point where I have to talk to my doctor about depression. I am at my brink. I have been for years, and I've done a really good job managing without medication and learning how to cope with life being really hard and awful. But now I feel like I'm basically navigating things alone. I know that every one is out for themselves and nobody is going to pull you along. I get that. I just hate feeling like nothing I do matters. I could bend over backwards for anyone, be there any time I'm asked, I do for everyone else, I work myself to exhaustion so life is easier for others, and I take care of everyone else before me, and nobody gives a damn. They just look at everything I could be doing more, and have their own ideas of how I should be.

And it's weighing me down. I feel like I don't want to get out of bed anymore because it's just too damn much. It's too much on me and I wonder why can't people see I'm floundering? I feel like things are falling apart around me and I'm the only person who sees it or cares. I'm sure everyone assumes I'll just pull it together and be fine, because that's what's expected.

And I probably will. Because if nothing else, god knows I feel guilty more than I feel sad and hopeless. And I hate it. I'll just keep soldering on, because as I'm reminded every day, I have nothing to be sad about. I have not one reason to feel depressed.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mom vans, I might join your flock. AGAINST MY WILL.

With Penelope on her way, we are trying to do things differently. I am that person who cannot wait to do something- if I see an issue, we deal with it now and be done with it. I just am not able to not do that because then I feel like I have this thing hanging over my head.

One issue is my vehicle. You guys- I am in LOVE with Gideon. Gideon is my 2013 Ford Escape. I love him. He's the greatest thing. We still hug. Kind of regularly. It fits my butt perfectly. I feel like the youngest chick ever, even with two kids in the back. I love it. It's the only vehicle I ever bought brand new. I literally skipped through the lot as they took my mini van away and I ran to this like it was my savior. I was prepared to keep this sucker until it died, because we're that much in love.

And now.

And now I'm pregnant. I won't lie, the first thing I thought of was my vehicle. I figured everything else would come together, but it's not like you can just go change vehicles. We still owe on it, so we're weighing the pros/cons of trading it in, and then what do we get instead? When we were looking at replacing my last van, it was the Escape versus the Explorer. I said, several times, we should get the Explorer. I said the room would be handy seeing how I sometimes haul other kids and lots of stuff. Matt said no. Matt said the Escape would be better long term. I said, "what if we have another baby?", and Matt said we weren't. No issue.

HA! I TOLD YOU SO.

(That right there is so immature but absolutely justified in this case.)

So here we are. Having a third baby. Yes, I can get an infant car seat in my Escape with Olivia and Jackson. It is TIGHT. When we move the baby from an infant car seat to the next one? I don't if the kid in the middle can buckle their seat belt. Because yes, no matter the car seat, I can't fit it in the middle and fit Jackson's booster seat and then Olivia on the other side. So the only option is for the baby's seat is behind the driver's seat.

After a lot of discussion, Matt and I decided that we were going to start looking now, while we have time. I don't want to be doing this any further in my pregnancy and I don't want to do it when I have an infant.

Now is our moment.

Last night we looked at several vehicles. All of the SUV's with a third row and enough storage in the back to accommodate a stroller and groceries (as an example) are FAR above our price range. We don't really want to increase our payment from what we already have, which was an all time high. We are also in this weird pocket where our vehicle has just enough trade in value that it would be do-able. We're still technically upside down in our loan, so that also makes a difference in what we can get. So our absolute maximum is $20,000. We also don't want to go older than a 2013, because that's what we have, and we ideally would like to stay at 40,000 miles or less, knowing full well this next vehicle will be in the family for a long time.

So we test drove an Explorer, which would have been a stretch. Not sold. I absolutely loved it, I want it badly. BUT. The second row was a bench versus bucket seats and that's hard. It's also $5000 more than our limit and that's also hard. So after doing several rounds of math, that would add more than $100 to our monthly payment. For SIX years. I just... I can't do that. That hurts. I want it, but that hurts. I almost vomited.

Which means that no matter what, that's out.

Tonight we've been researching vehicles with the bare minimum things we need in a vehicle, with our price range and mileage range and you know what?

The ONLY things that came up in a 200 mile radius? Mini vans.

God damn mini vans.

I think tomorrow we are going to test drive them. They are pretty comparable, one is a 2013 and one is a 2014. The 2013 is a $1000 less, but it has almost 70,000 miles. The 2014 is $1000 more, but it only has 40,000 miles. It's also white, which I hate.

Fun fact: I owned a white car for seven years. It was my college car, first one I bought on my own. I had a loan limit of $10,000 and there was only one car on the lot so that's the one I got. And you know what? I almost was killed at least once every winter because white cars are hard to see when you're surrounded by SNOW. So that makes me nervous.

But I won't lie. I'm irrationally attached to my vehicle. I already told Matt I am probably going to cry when I watch my baby leave. And I'll cry hard. Real hard. This is not good when I'm hormonal. But I also recognized that family wise, this is probably better.

Dammit.

A glimpse of the life..

I recently took pictures from my phone and moved them to my computer and I figured.. I should share here? Sure, if you've found me on Facebook or Instagram, you've maybe seen them.

BUT!!!

They are all awesome and worthy of a second look.

A cute note from Olivia, complete with a picture of me painting the walls in the basement family room. I look like I'm wearing gaucho pants or something.
I miss summer. Even more because Jackson would wear things like this all of the time. I'm not sure why, we just go with it.
Batman is a fat ass who believes we bring him home things for him to sit in.  Don't think I don't notice the cat fur in the baby's crib, asshole.
Easily my favorite picture from 2014. The kids challenged Matt to a water fight. They were armed with water balloons and he sneak attacked with the hose. IN THE FACE action shot!
Jackson is a Tiger Scout and it's the cutest thing ever in the whole world. Still only really wants to know when he will learn to start fires.
Matt and I went on a date way back in October to see Anberlin play their final show in Minneapolis. It was a great concert, an even nicer day for a date and (get this) the FIRST TIME EVER we ate dinner outside. No, I'm not even kidding. I realize now why this is a thing. It's a nice thing.
Every day with Jackson is an adventure in shenanigans.
Lola is a fat ass who warms said ass on heat vents. Absolutely no shame at all.
Jackson has taken to laying in dog beds at my inlaw's house. Thankfully, the dogs don't give a damn and he will drag this thing around. He actually slept in it one night.
Can we talk about how sweet Olivia is? She's just the biggest love bug ever and I want to squeeze her guts at least once every day.
Twinky has been on uterus watch. He will not sleep anywhere except directly on my chest (as shown) or between my legs as if he alone will block the exit. It's probably best that I'm not doing a home birth because he would try to deliver on his own. I'm sure of it.
Let's talk about how much Twinky loves outfits. He maybe doesn't look like he loves it, but trust me, he does. He really likes his blue flannel and his new turtleneck. 

So there's a quick run down of life, according to my phone. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Budgeting and planning groups are out of control.

So this year I am really going to get back on track with planning things out and budgeting our expenses. It's kind of a necessity at this point so I shall do it. I thought a good way to motivate me and maybe keep me on track would be to join some Facebook groups that are all about that, maybe I would get some good tips and learn some new things to make it easier on me.

Unfortunately, it has done the exact opposite.

Mostly because people are really stupid. And I try really hard not to call someone stupid but these people.... I'm telling you. Here are a list of questions that have come up on the various groups I'm in, just in the last week:

I can't afford my car. What should I cut out of my budget so I can afford it? I really love it. Yes, that's a real question. There are still people out there driving cars they like, but cannot afford, and are willing to not eat so they can keep it another month. The suggestions on this post all ranged from "reduce how much you eat", "turn your heat off and just bundle up", "sell stuff out of your apartment", "try to go without insurance", etc. Not one of the 50+ comments said, "If you can't afford it, you need to sell it and buy something you can afford. Pay off your debt and you can afford a super fun car then." Not one.

We are over $20K in debt, just with credit cards. That doesn't include our mortgage, two car payments and our boat. I'm so mad my husband said we can't afford a vacation, I feel like we can. I also hate that my spending money is now only $200 a month. This feels like I'm living in a third world. It was ALL I COULD DO to not comment. Because judging by the responses that were given, I would have been burned alive. First off, if you have $20,000 on CREDIT CARDS, you are in serious trouble. I can't even fathom that. Just from the question alone I would assume they drive nice, expensive vehicles and have a swanky house. None of which they can afford, clearly. And then to "only" have $200 in spending money? Oh my god. I didn't know people had a budget line item for spending money. To me, that doesn't exist. At least it shouldn't when you're this far in debt. God damn. Learn some self restraint, people.

How much do you budget every month for planning stickers and supplies? Yes. This is in a group where people are learning how to SAVE money, pay off debt and be more frugal. Then the responses are anywhere between $20 and $100. ON STICKERS. Let me be clear, people are paying MONEY for STICKERS that go in planners that you eventually THROW OUT. This is a real thing.


(source)


(source)

Now, I'll be honest. I've used Washi tape in my planner for re-occurring things and I needed to find them fast in my planner on a moments notice. To my credit, I'm a scrapbooker and card maker so I already had it on hand and made what I had work for me. There isn't a chance in hell I would actually buy something in the name of decorating my planner. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. And then to spend that much on STICKERS. This isn't middle school where we decorate our book covers. Come on, now.

I'm absolutely astounded that people don't understand basic money management skills. There are a lot of people out there who have no idea how to make a budget, have no idea what you need to pay down first when trying to be debt free, have no ability to say no to themselves or to say, "You know what? I really want _____, but I'm also broke, so I'm just going to wait." None. Not able to do that at all. I can't even wrap my head around this. The only positive here is that at least I feel like a genius if I peruse through posts long enough.