Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Waterboarding with babies.

When we found out we were going to have Lucy everyone said, "Oh, it's going to be so fun to have two close together! They'll be best friends!". I had no idea if that was going to be true or not or if this was just something people said to be polite to your face but then they really say, "Oh man, they are so screwed!" among themselves when they walk away.

Now that Penelope is two and Lucy is almost one, I suspect it's the latter because they are anything but best friends. Most days it's chaos in here now that Lucy is cruising along furniture, so close to walking on her own. Penelope doesn't want her to play with anything, must less touch it. Lucy has quite the temper and Penelope is twice as bad.

Thankfully it's "summer" in northern Wisconsin which means for one day a week it's nice enough to go outside and, if we're lucky, the girls can go in the play pool. I only have a rather small pool for the girls because when I bought it, I only had Penelope and had no plans for a fourth kid. I'm not buying another one because I know I'm not going to use it beyond the few weeks of summer that we have for Wisconsin so we're just going to make this tiny pool work.
When Olivia and Jackson were little, they played so nicely together in the pool so I just assumed Penelope and Lucy would as well. It ended up not being the case at all. You can see early on Lucy knew it wasn't going to go well for her. 
She knows from bath time that the key is to take a wide stance with her legs and brace her arms on the bottom because then Penelope can't push her all of the way down into the water. Otherwise her sister tries to drown her. You can take your eyes off the girls for even a second. She feels total joy when she's on her own and her sister is busy running through the yard.
Then she comes back and Lucy is looking for a way out.
This was after her sister dumped a large bucket of water over her head (cold water, no less) and Lucy is having none of this, is telling us all about it because we clearly did nothing to stop this. She's demanding answers.
Lucy took the toy away in retaliation and now Penelope is angry and coming to tell me about it. Apparently sitting a foot away isn't enough.

I ended up telling her to go play with Jackson because some days she's just TOO MUCH. She's a mama's girl and she's too clingy. I feel like the problem is I don't leave the house enough. But I also don't really have anywhere to go. I don't have money or anywhere really to go. Anyways.
So we brought the sprinkler out and let her run through that which was freezing cold water and she had no idea what was going on.
But if Jackson was doing it, she was all about it. She thinks he's the coolest kid ever and she's under the delusion that she's a much larger kid than she is (the clear downside to this major age gap) so she is much braver and more fearless than Olivia and Jackson ever were.

Poor Lucy though. She's going to be the toughest baby on the block only because she has Penelope for a sister. Penelope is so rough and tumble. Her latest thing is "hug time" from the movie Trolls (her absolute favorite) and she tackles Lucy in her attempt at hug time. She will tackle and do a choke hold. Lucy, for her part does her best attempt at playing dead in the hopes that hug time stops. Poor Lucy. She's such a trooper. Maybe she'll end up in the Marines or something.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Almost one. Trigger happy.

I had been noticing the last few weeks that my sleeping patterns have been worse than usual, which isn't saying much because I don't sleep well as it is anyways. I have been feeling irritable and on edge, panicky, and nervous. I feel like running and I don't know why. I feel scared, terrified and I couldn't figure out why.

Until last week when Olivia asked me what we were doing for Lucy's birthday. And then it dawned on me. She's going to be one soon. I'm having a PTSD trigger episode. I vaguely remember my counselor telling me I may or may not experience this, not everyone does, but here I am.

The closer I get to Lucy's birthday the more scared I get. I have no reason why, rationally I know I have no reason to be scared, I know I'm not going to die again. I'm home, my medications are managed, my health is managed as well as it can be, the Amniotic Fluid Embolism could not have been predicted nor prevented, I did nothing wrong, all of this I know.

I know it.

Logically, I know it.

Mentally and emotionally?
I'm terrified. I'm nervous. I'm angry. I'm reliving all of the emotions I've spent the last year working on moving past. I'm angry that any of this has happened to me. I feel like I'm being punished. If I hadn't wanted more children, this wouldn't have happened. I should have just been happy with what I had.

I feel guilty for feeling that way. There are millions of people in the world who would give anything to have a baby and look at me, being a hot mess of a mom. They could be doing a better job. They could love them better.

I feel frustrated because this entire year every doctor has told me, "it's only been XX months, wait until it's been a year, you'll be so much better" and now we're approaching that year and surprise... I'm not better. I'm not like I was the day I came home, thankfully, but I'm still not the Sara I was when I went to the hospital on August 1, 2016. Aside from my pituitary issues and my water regulation issues which bore people to death but are life threatening and serious, its my depression and memory issues that scare me the most. I can't remember to feed my baby. You'd think by kid four feeding and and changing a diaper would become muscle memory but it doesn't. I forget I have to feed Lucy. Or change her diaper. Put her in for a nap. Driving? I run red lights. Stop signs. I can't figure out four way stops. I space out if the radio is on so I often drive without it on now because it's distracting for me. I never drive with just the babies in the car because I'm convinced I'll forget them in van. Reading books isn't as easy as it was, it takes me longer because sometimes I don't understand what I'm reading. If I'm tired I can't understand what people are saying. If someone gives me directions I won't remember them. I can't count coins without help. I'll start crying for no reason. Stress makes my ability to remember and do things go right out the window.

I went in as me and I came out as a totally different person and nobody told me how to do that. Nobody told me how to get used to people treating me differently because I'm not the same.
I spent this weekend looking at some of Lucy's pictures thinking I should start her baby book and I realize I don't know how to do that. I don't remember my pregnancy. I don't remember any of it. I don't remember giving birth to her. I get so angry that all of those first moments with her I have no memory of. She is my last baby and it feels so cruel to be punished in such a way that I don't have the memory of holding her the first time. It's bad enough that I don't remember delivering her but to not remember having her handed to me and getting to kiss her? It's awful.

That's what I keep saying to my therapist, that I don't think people truly understand what it's like to have died and then come back from that and then be missing entire chunks of memory. It's not like I'm missing things like what I ate for breakfast today, I'm missing my wedding day. Birth of my children. Major events of my life, those are things I can't recreate. Those are gone. It's not like a vacation and you think, well- I'll just go there again and use my pictures as a road map! Nope, I can't make another Lucy. Or another Jackson. I can't get married again.


So yes. Almost one year. It's hard. I'm getting there. I'm trying. I'm trying so hard. I don't know what I'm going to be like on the actual day, I'm almost scared to think about it to be honest.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Beach at Painter's Cove

*I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review; however all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links that I may make commission from.*

If you're adding books to your summing reading list, add this one if only because it's got a beachy cover that I love and because it reminds me of a Dorothea Benton Frank book and you know I love her.

The Beach at Painter's Cove - Shelley Noble

From the New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Beach comes another heartwarming story of four generations of women who reunite in their crumbling family mansion by the sea for a dramatic summer filled with love, family, secrets and sisterhood.

The Whitaker family’s Connecticut mansion, Muses by the Sea, has always been a haven for artists, a hotbed of creativity, extravagances, and the occasional scandal. Art patrons for generations, the Whitakers supported strangers but drained the life out of each other. Now, after being estranged for years, four generations of Whitaker women find themselves once again at The Muses.

Leo, the Whitaker matriarch, lives in the rambling mansion crammed with artwork and junk. She plans to stay there until she joins her husband Wes on the knoll overlooking the cove and meadow where they first met. Her sister-in-law Fae, the town eccentric, is desperate to keep a secret she has been hiding for years.

Jillian, is a jet setting actress, down on her luck, and has run out of men to support her. She thinks selling The Muses will make life easier for her mother, Leo, and Fae by moving them into assisted living. The sale will also bring her the funds to get herself back on top.

Issy, Jillian’s daughter, has a successful life as a museum exhibit designer that takes her around the world. But the Muses and her grandmother are the only family she’s known and when her sister leaves her own children with Leo, Issy knows she has to step in to help.

Steph, is only twelve-years-old and desperately needs someone to fire her imagination and bring her out of her shell. What she begins to discover at the Muses could change the course of her future. 

As Issy martials the family together to restore the mansion and catalogue the massive art collection, a surprising thing happens. Despite storms and moonlight dancing, diva attacks and cat fights, trips to the beach and flights of fancy, these four generations of erratic, dramatic women may just find a way to save the Muses and reunite their family.

I absolutely loved this book. Immediately from the beginning of the book it reminded me of a Dorothea Benton Frank book and I basically start my summer reading with her latest, and this to me had a similar cast of characters. We have a flawed family, we have a gorgeous beach setting, and we have a summer to fix so much dysfunction- can we do it?

The best part about this is that it isn't just one or two generations, we have four generations trying to come together, we have these children who are essentially abandoned by their parents but Leo is ill so their aunt has to care for them. We have Fae (who I kind of love because she's the crazy and I have a soft spot for the family crazy) but she's the recluse who has some secrets that end up being revealed by the end of summer. Jillian is kind of a mess who thought she was going to be a star actress so she abandoned her children (Vivian and Issy) but she's turned out to be broke and out of options so she's come home and needs to sell everything to keep up with her lifestyle. Vivian (who was the one who has abandoned her own kids to chase a man) is gone, so Issy now has to take care of her sisters kids but realizes that while she's back "home" her mother, who she hasn't seen in years has also shown up basically to sell the place and place Leo and Fae into assisted living and clear them out of their stuff.

Do you see how a storm of personalities are brewing? How basically all hell is going to break loose in this house? Yes, well it does and it makes for an amazing read. Add in some romance for a few characters, there is some humor thrown throughout, family drama, and it keeps you on your toes. It's just over 400 pages so it's a little longer than what I'd like for my casual reads (you know I'm picky) but I was thoroughly enjoying this book the entire time and I highly recommend it if you need a light and fun read for the beach or the patio while you're keeping an eagle on the kiddos.

You can order a copy on the HarperCollins website and I see they have a limited time offer of 20% off on their website, so that might be worth a try! Author Shelley Noble can be followed on her website, Facebook and Twitter as well.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Widow of Wall Street

*I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links that I make commission from.*

Are you reading over the summer? I hope you're getting in more reading than I am, I am hoping to get more in over the next few weeks so stay tuned for more reviews over the next months!

What’s real in a marriage built on sand and how do you abandon a man you’ve loved since the age of fifteen?

Phoebe sees the fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers in Brooklyn. Eventually he creates a financial dynasty and she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

When Phoebe learns—along with the rest of the world—that her husband’s triumphs are the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. Lies underpin her life and marriage. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Did she partner with her husband in hustling billions from pensioners, charities, and CEOs? Was she his accomplice in stealing from their family and neighbors?

Debate rages as to whether love and loyalty blinded her to his crimes or if she chose to live in denial. While Jake is trapped in the web of his own deceit, Phoebe is faced with an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning Jake, a man she’s known since childhood, feels cruel and impossible.

From Brooklyn to Greenwich to Manhattan, from penthouse to prison, with tragic consequences rippling well beyond Wall Street, The Widow of Wall Street exposes a woman struggling to redefine her life and marriage as everything she thought she knew crumbles around her.

I had so many thoughts as I read this book because I know what a Ponzi scheme is so I came into this book with a preconceived assumption of Phoebe- I automatically didn't like her. I figured there's no way you live in a marriage and just have no clue that your husband is scamming that many people all these years and just have no signs at all. Right? Well, I don't know. But what I do know is that this is one of the most dysfunctional marriages I have ever read about and that's what Randy Susan Meyers nails as a writer. The last book I read of hers, Accidents of Marriage, featured a very dysfunctional marriage but this book tops it. 

If you are looking for a fast read, you'll not find it here, because this book begins with Phoebe and Jake as teenagers. Phoebe comes from a fairly well off family and Jake from the wrong side of tracks as they say. Phoebe's mom is sure she can do better and her dad thinks Jake is a good kid with potential and to leave them be. After remaining a virgin throughout high school and through most of college, Phoebe makes a critical mistake in college with a married professor that changes the course of her life and sets her up for a life time of guilt and deceit. She ends up marrying Jake because at this point she's lied to her family and to Jake and if you think of that time period, it would be unheard of for her to be on her own so she's got to stick with it. Plus Jake loves her, he absolutely adores her and she knows it. 

You know from early on in the book that Jake is obsessed with not just doing well but he wants to be rich. He isn't content with getting by and being able to provide, he wants to be the best. He wants to be better than his parents and it becomes almost an obsession. The stress of it eats at him and while he loves Phoebe it's clear he doesn't see her as an equal. So we have this push and pull throughout their marriage, this undercurrent of unhappiness yet neither of them unwilling to leave for their own reasons that make complete sense when you really think about it. She because she has this awful secret of deceit, he because she really does believe in him and knows the kid who started from the bottom and worked his way up. So they become the only person the other one can depend on even though, in a way, they hate that that person is a crutch they hate to have, if that makes sense? They end up having children, he goes to prison because it's a Ponzi scheme and you know those always go to hell, and in the end- her children make her decide, them or Jake. 

And Phoebe struggles because she knows she owes nothing to Jake, the man who stole millions from everyone they knew, left their lives in ruins and left her with nothing and yet... she can't help it she feels like she does. But at the same time her children so desperately want her to cut the ties and rebuild what life she has left (she's in her sixties) and move on, and she's not sure what to do. 

The book is absolutely riveting. It IS a slow read and I almost didn't finish it but I found myself picking it back up time and time again because I just had to know what Phoebe was going to do because that's the thing with this author- she writes characters that you really can't stand, then you kind of sympathize with, then you find yourself totally annoyed that you're even kind of liking them, then in the end you realize that was the point- you realize it's to make you understand how judgmental we all are and how we shouldn't be because we can't possibly know what it's like unless we're walking in those shoes. We might think we know what we would do but unless those shoes are on our feet we have no idea. Excellent read, I highly recommend this especially if you like reads about dysfunctional marriages! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wolf Hollow

*This post contains affiliate links that I may receive commission from; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

My reading goal this year was to read a variety of genres, not just my favorites. I have so many thoughts on this book, let's just get to it.

Wolf Hollow - Lauren Wolk

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

I have to tell you this book is geared towards the elementary reader but I'm almost inclined to push it to the middle school reader because it's that... I am really at a loss for the right word (thanks, stroke!). You know how they say some books just come to you for a reason? I feel like this book was that for me. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will recall a recent post where I talked about some struggles my oldest daughter has had with a classmate of hers that has, in some ways, mirrored Annabelle and Betty's relationship. In Wolf Hollow, Annabelle is 12 (which is about the same age as my daughter) and their school gets a new student, Betty Glengarry.

Annabelle is kind and tries to befriend Betty but quickly learns that Betty is cruel and manipulative. She's mean to everyone but she finds Annabelle an easy target and things quickly escalate as her actions become threatening towards Annabelle's younger brothers, and Annabelle's best friend becomes victim to a particularly violent attack. Things take a more sinister turn when the local recluse, Toby, becomes a target for Betty as everyone blames him for her disappearance, fearing the worse. Annabelle, certain of his innocence, needs to find the courage (and evidence) to stand up to Betty and show all of the adults what Betty has been doing.

Now. That's a really watered down version of the story because I don't want to give to much away. Basically, Betty is a sociopath. She's pure evil. This story is taking place during a time when mental health isn't taken seriously and we don't know much about it, it's taking place during a time when World War II is happening (or just happened, I can't remember- I finished this book about 3 months ago, I'm behind on reviews! Oops!), so people aren't happy with Germans in particular and we're in small town America. Small town America all that time ago and you can kind of picture what would happen if a young girl goes missing and a town recluse is assumed to have taken her, it's guilty until someone else confesses situation.

And then we have the whole issue of Betty herself, she's bad news. Annabelle tried to ask for help and she tried to warn others of Betty but no adults believed her. Surely Betty wouldn't really be that cruel, girls wouldn't do that! But yes, girls can and often do awful things. Throughout this book I kept picturing my daughter as Annabelle. This entire school year I had told her, several times, "just be nice", "try to be kind, you don't know what her home life is like", "it isn't her fault her home life is bad", or "maybe if you try to be a good friend you can lead by example", and a variety of other things. I kept telling my daughter to just be nice- and what did it get her? It got her low self esteem, loss of friendships she's had since kindergarten, anxiety and panic attacks, danger for self harm, and a professional mental health counselor. So while I'll absolutely own my part in this, I'm absolutely angry at the other adults she confided in (teacher, counselors, other parents, etc) that didn't do anything and just felt sorry for this other girl. But I love the cover because it says, "The year I turned twelve I learned how to lie. The year I turned twelve I learned what I said and what I did mattered." I know one of those is true for my daughter, I hope the other is true as well.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that the book has two significant deaths in it and that both deaths may be hard for a child, particularly fifth grade and under, to process. Both almost feel profound to me, as an adult reader, because they are two major characters, good and evil, but I don't know if a young child will understand what a big deal they are in terms of the greater story. If you're a parent who doesn't want your child to read a story with death in, definitely stay away from this book. I also would recommend reading this book ahead of your child in general anyways because this book begs some conversation, it really does. The cruelty of Betty and the lack of action from all of the action from the adults in Annabelle's life, and just her hidden fear begs a conversation. It makes me wonder if this is how my daughter felt every day this school year and I had no idea? Which just makes me more angry.


Excellent writing. Anytime a book that is entertaining for an adult, which was intended for a child, I greatly approve of. And of course, it was a 2017 Newberry Honor Book and it's no wonder- it's excellent. It gets you right in the feels.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

All Things New

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and this post contains affiliate links for which I may earn a commission from; all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

I know I haven't been posting too many reviews lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading! I promise I'll have quite a few reviews for you soon ranging from adult reads, some elementary reads and some YA books like this one, I've been all over the map! A little something for everyone.

All Things New - Lauren Miller 

Jessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn't help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. 

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world, perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

I finished this one in just one sitting, it's a relatively fast read at just over 300 pages or so. The book features Jessa, who is an anxious 17 year old. She's dating Wren, she's at a party she doesn't totally want to be at because of her anxiety and panic disorder (Wren is really the only person she's comfortable with and she's grown dependent on him.) and she's about to discover that Wren has been cheating on her.... and everyone knows it. This leads her to a devastating accident which leads her to with a fairly severe brain injury but even more noticeable facial scars. Knowing she can't face going back to her school knowing that she's the laughing stock after the incident at the party and now her disfigured face, she moves to Colorado to be with her father, who left years early after her parents divorced (the source of her anxiety and panic disorder). She begins school at an alternative school for kids with varying issues and soon makes friends with Hannah and Marshall, twins with their own issues. Hannah is obsessively practicing piano to get into a prestigious school and Marshall has a heart malformation that requires a risky surgery that he isn't sure he wants to have. But Jessa soon learns that while her exterior is healing, she needs to heal her interior and get to source of her anxiety versus running away from the things that hurt.

This one was just "meh" for me. I'll give this one 3/5 stars. It didn't blow me away, it's one I'll likely forget about down the road? Jessa is your typical teenager full of angst, she's rude to her dad, she is anxious almost to an outrageous point. (I'll never understand the argument of anyone who thinks when their parents divorce it means they've been abandoned and it means they are destined to not be loved ever, I just really will never get it. I just.. I can't understand it and I say that as a kid with divorced parents. And not just that, but a dad who left and literally never talked/saw me ever again- he actually DID abandon me so if anyone could use that argument, I legitimately could. Ha!) I can see how teens would enjoy this book, I liked the romance between Jessa and Marshall, I thought they would make a cute couple, and I kind of wanted to see more of that develop. The ending felt so abrupt. What happens with Hannah? What happens with Marshall? If nothing else some kind of epilogue would have been nice maybe? I do appreciate that I'm seeing more and more books focusing on mental health and mental health in teens because it is such an important topic and I don't want anyone, especially teens, to feel any kind of shame in reaching out for help if and when they need it.

I have to say, this is my first book I've read by Lauren Miller but I liked it enough that I would read more by her. I enjoyed her style of writing. My eleven year old is reading the book now because she has an anxiety disorder and struggles working through it and she wanted to read it so we'll see what she thinks!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer has begun, but when does the relaxation start?!

You guys, I've been waiting for summer since September. For real. I've felt so cooped up in the house the entire winter and spring because by the time I felt well enough to be mobile and doing things, it was so damn cold outside and you know I strongly dislike snow and having to wear winter gear.

That and, as it turns out, being on steroid medication it makes you gain a LOT of weight that you just can't lose so all of the winter gear I finally own?


*cue hilarious, ironic laughter*


So it's been relatively decent out this last week so I've been able to get outside with the littles and my mom still comes every day to help me, which to be honest has been the best thing ever because there isn't a chance in this lifetime I would have made it without her. I try hard to get out for a little bit everyday before lunch, and this week the goal is going to be to get out for a walk right after breakfast and then yard play. But last week, yard play.
It turns out that Lucy absolutely loves to swing. This kid loves it. She doesn't love to wear a hat, but her skin is so fair, and she has pretty thin hair still so she burns easily on her head so the poor girl really needs to wear it. But if she swings, she wears it. Is there anything cuter than a smiley baby in a swing?
Perhaps an eager to swing on her own toddler who wants to swing like a big kid but also is plagued by motion sickness? She also loved to swing as an infant but now if you swing her you can tell sometimes it just does not agree with her and she'll loudly tell you, "down!!" and you better get the girl off. She'll stumble a bit and then take off doing something else. But she doesn't want to be in a baby swing, she wants to be a big kid. Speaking of being a big kid, she thinks she's a legit big kid and climbs with absolutely no fear at all and is going to give me a heart attack. I have survived motherhood with no childhood injuries so far but this will be the kid to rid me of that record, I just know it.
Speaking of big kids, these two... Jackson is officially a fourth grader and is so excited. He's a little nervous to be at the elementary school all by himself, which seems weird to me because he knows the place like the back of his hand but I suppose, Olivia has been with him for everything. But next year Olivia is going to be at the middle school as an official sixth grader. She's so excited because this is a big deal, we've been talking this up for years. I'm not going to lie, I'm actually pretty nervous about this transition. Had you asked me last year I would have told you this would be absolutely no big deal, she'd be absolutely fine. No worries, no issues. Fifth grade ended up being a lot tougher for her for a lot of reasons, the first of which was Lucy's birth and the emotional trauma of what happened to me- that was really hard on her. It wasn't handled the way I would have handled it (but of course, I was kind of busy) and in the immediate aftermath I assumed talking it out at home, and letting the school counselor help would be enough, and it very much wasn't. Add to that the influence of a really inappropriate kid and Olivia had a really tough year. Middle school was supposed to be a completely fresh start for her and I really had hoped that given all of the issues we have had this year the people in charge of dividing kids into the wings for middle school would have tried really hard to separate Olivia from this other girl, knowing full well how damaging and toxic this girl was for Olivia.

But no.

They did nothing.

So now it's up to me to advocate for my kid because it's clear nobody else will. I'm so disgusted and disappointed with the entire situation. I know this other kid has a crappy home life and that's unfortunate, it is. But it doesn't excuse bad behavior. It doesn't give them a free pass to be harmful to another person. And the fact that people don't recognize that this other kid has seriously scary mental health issues that need to be addressed? It does a disservice to her, ultimately. But in the meantime? I now have to figure out how to get my kid as far away from this kid as possible so that her middle school years, which are already going to be tough because it's middle school and it's just an awkward time for everyone, aren't made worse by being in daily contact with this girl.

I just wanted a quiet, relaxing summer. That's all I wanted. But nope, I've got a summer of stressing out and worrying about this.

Oh, and she's signed up to play the flute in the sixth grade band. So if you know of any high quality ear plugs, let me know.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Budgeting sucks, math is hard, and adulting blows.

As we enter the month of June I feel like I'm getting my ass handed to me by life and adulthood in general. We were doing really well with budgeting and then we had some pretty hard core expenses come at us.
  • Lucy had to have an ECHO, and it turns out she's totally OK (yay!) but that was just over $3300, and we of course don't have that kind of money just laying around. 
  • Our refrigerator died the day after I bought $300 worth of groceries. Because it somehow knows it, right? Fortunately it happens the day my dad just happened to be in town and my parents were able to finance one for us because we absolutely couldn't because we would literally be without a refrigerator even still. Not kidding. 
  • I, very stupidly, mistakenly made my hotel reservation for my Mayo Clinic appointment for the wrong day and didn't realize it until the very last minute. I couldn't get a refund but I was (thankfully) still able to secure a room for the correct day, so I got to pay for the same room twice. 
  • I didn't realize that an oil change without a coupon costs $80. Guess you won't ever forget the coupon EVER AGAIN? This gal. (I also won't ever go almost a year between oil changes either because as it turns out, I got the overly enthusiastic mechanic who lectured me the entire time. It really reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where the mechanic drives off with Jerry's car because of his lack of commitment to car care. I feel like had I gotten out of the van, that would have happened.) 
  • I did not plan out summer activities well at all and so I am scrambling to have enough money for summer dance, summer birthday parties the kids go to, fun things, and the tennis class I wanted to sign Jackson up for. 
  • We are going to Florida at the end of June, come hell or high water, and I'll be honest, I opened a credit card just to go. I KNOW. I KNOW HOW TERRIBLE THIS IS. I don't want, or need, the lecture. I know how terrible and irresponsible this is. But then I think, life is short and we are going to go. I know I'm going kick myself in the ass come August, but we have to get the hell out of here. I'm suffocating. We need something fun and I just can't care anymore. So we are literally throwing caution to the damn wind. 
I figure I'll worry about adulting later. I just can't. I have too much happening at once and it's suffocating me. I keep saying it because I mean it. It's too much. 

Today is the big kids' last day of school and all of the emotions. Jackson is going to be a fourth grader next year which feels... it overwhelms me. But not as much as Olivia being a sixth grader. Between that and realizing I'm only two months away from Lucy turning one, which means it's only two months since the anniversary of my AFE, it's a LOT. And I honestly didn't think it would be a thing. I really didn't. I saw other survivors talk about it and I wondered why they talked about it with such weight and now I get it. It's heavy. I feel terrified and I don't know why. Every time I think about it I cry and I get scared. What am I going to be like on her birthday?! Is it just going to get worse the closer I get? I don't know. But yes. I just want to get through today, helping Olivia finish out elementary school, she looked nervous leaving for school this morning. Thinking of her today. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Busted Mayo, disappointment oozes

The thing about having a rare medical thing happen to you is that you're often left in limbo as doctors figure out what to do with you. I'm lucky to have a really great team of doctors here locally, and I feel like they genuinely are trying to do the best for me. They all have said that most everyone dies during an Amniotic Fluid Embolism and those who do survive have such a variety of things to deal with in the aftermath so there isn't anything for them to look at as a guidebook on what to do for a patient.

As for me, the things I'm currently diagnosed with are:

  • hypopituitarism 
  • secondary adrenal insufficiency
  • low thyroid
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • adjustment disorder
  • PTSD
  • OCD
  • suicidal ideation
  • migraines
  • Raynaud phenomenon
  • hypoxic encephalopathy 
  • Sheehan Syndrome
  • Secondary Amenorrhea
  • Diabetes Insipidus
So, it's a lot. I'm trying to juggle all of it and I'm really having a hard time keeping track of not just my medications and what is for what, what each thing is supposed to be doing for me, and how do I know if it is or isn't working, but I'm having a hard time keeping track of my physical symptoms and what each one is associated with. Some days I feel like I almost need a health professional here to just keep track of it for me. And when I have an issue? Who do I call? Do I call my primary care? Do I call my endocrinologist? Do I call my neurologist? Or do I need a different doctor? 


Last week I had my three month follow up since my last appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I wasn't totally sure what the point of the appointment was because they didn't tell me, so I went in not knowing what to expect. I knew I was going to have a lot of lab work and then my appointment, so I was there for an entire day. Nothing in my paperwork told me not to take my medication, it only mentioned not to take a multi vitamin or any medication containing biotin, which I don't take so I was in the clear. I even asked the lab technician, and she said I was good to go, which is great because if I don't take my medicine in the morning I am really nauseous and dizzy, just generally unwell. So I give my blood and I'm off to wait for several hours of waiting. I brought a book so I was OK with that. Had a small lunch in the cafeteria because I didn't have much money, and off to wait on the 18th floor. 

At my appointment the doctor informed me my labs were a total waste of time because I had taken my medication, which I should have just known to not take. Apparently she told me this three months ago and as a stroke victim with memory loss, I'm supposed to just remember this. 

(You're right, you're sensing a little sarcasm there. By god the ol' gal still has it.) 

I start telling her my symptoms: extreme exhaustion, nausea, feeling like I have a fever and the worst flu of my life though I have neither, dizziness, my hands/arms/feet frequently go numb or feel tingly, and when I do any kind of activity (like walking a few blocks) I feel like I've been beaten with a bat. I walked for a few blocks a few weeks ago and for three or four days after I could hardly move, I mean, hardly move and I'm not exaggerating. Every muscle and bone in my body hurt. There are some days I get out of bed and I really can't even lift Lucy anymore, let alone carry her down the stairs- I have to rely on Olivia to get Lucy and Penelope down the stairs in the morning. 

I'm detailing this to her, she's typing on the computer (I'm assuming she's documenting all of this), and she says to me, "Well, as long as you aren't dealing with nausea and fever, dizziness, that kind of thing..." 

Um... are you kidding me? Did you hear me? Did you seriously not listen to me? I just told you all that? 

So then I say it again. I go over it all again. I show her my emergency sheet where it says the 'warning signs of adrenal fatigue' and I explain to her that's how I feel EVERY DAY. Even if I take an increased dose of hydrocortisone, I still feel like that, what should I do? No answer. 

So I do what I absolutely hate, I absolutely hate because it's weak and it's not me at all. 

I start crying. I start crying because I'm confused, I'm overwhelmed, I'm frustrated, I don't know what else to do. I feel like, again, nobody is listening to me. Like I can't explain my situation well enough. That 10 months ago this would not be happening to me. That I would be able to explain how I was feeling and get my dilemma solved. But now? Now I feel like I'm speaking in a foreign language and nobody understands it. 

Overall? The appointment felt useless. I left there feeling like I wasn't heard, like none of my issues were worthy of being fixed. I honestly don't know if it's worth my time (or money) to go back. I have a message into my endocrinologist here in Duluth so hopefully he'll have some ideas for me. I also have one in for my primary care doctor too because maybe she can help me with the numbness and tingling in my hands and feet since that's relatively new. 

The most frustrating thing is every doctor wants me to lose weight, which I agree, I want to as well. I'm the heaviest I have ever been. The problem is that they all acknowledge that being on a steroid forever makes that difficult but to do the best I can. But every time I do any kind of exercise I'm in so much pain for days... what do I do about that? I can't be left immobile. I have to be able to move, be able to get out of bed. People keep asking if I have Fibromylagia and I just don't know enough about that. I've read a lot of articles and it's split 50/50 down the middle of it being real or not. I do know that I don't want to be on pain medication and I absolutely cannot afford another medication. Even if it does bring relief, I just can't afford it. I'm already worried about being able to afford what I have come January once my deductible starts over. 

So I'm going to keep plugging along. I'm still seeing my therapist every other week, and my psychiatrist who I feel really sorry for because I feel like he's really working hard to help me, and my myriad of doctors. I am having a sleep study done in June because the pulmonary doctor said my exhaustion could be my adrenal insufficiency, but it could also be me sleeping like junk at night. So we're going to do a sleep study to either rule one of those out. I'm kind of nervous about that because while some people can do a sleep study at home I have to do mine in the hospital because I tick off enough things that they want to be able to monitor things more closely. So that will be an experience, I guess. 

It's kind of strange to think I'm quickly approaching the one year anniversary and I feel no different. I feel like I haven't healed at all, I've not improved in my health, and I still feel like I'm in limbo. It's been such an awful, strange year. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Please be kind to me this week.

Last week was rough. There just isn't any way to sugar coat it. The week before it wasn't kind, either. I am really struggling with my memory and it becomes a snow ball effect, it just gets worse and worse once I notice that I have forgotten something. I get frustrated with myself. I feel like, at almost ten months out, I shouldn't be this much of a mess still. I'm angry that I'm not any better. Granted, I'm not completely helpless but I don't feel like I'm any better. I'm still struggling. I'm not anywhere near functioning where I used to be. MY normal. I feel like I'm suffocating and nobody cares. Nobody gets it.

Last week I discovered that I booked my hotel room for my visit to the Mayo Clinic (which is this week) for the wrong day. I didn't panic right away, I figured I could change it. I called down, but I was out of luck. Not totally, they were still able to get me a room at the cheap rate, but I was out of luck on not being charged because they need a 24 hour notice. I was calling on the same day that they thought I was checking in. And from a business stand point? I totally get it, they could have booked that room in a heartbeat, that place is busy. I can't get angry at them. I'm angry at myself for being so stupid. For not double checking what the hell I was doing.

The next day our refrigerator died. Approximately $200 worth of groceries? Garbage. I mean, thank god my dad was in town and my parents are amazing because they went and bought us a refrigerator that day and got it installed, no question. Matt was at work, I'm at home crying my eyes out as I'm throwing away food I can't afford to replace and still haven't, and my parents are out buying me a refrigerator they can't afford to buy me either. Then I go to my psychiatrist appointment, who informs me, in great detail that I just can't remember that I'm basically brain damaged. The stroke that I had during my AFE damaged a crucial little chunk of brain and that's why I'm struggling with life. So bottom line, I will always be on a cocktail of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, etc.

And I don't know why, but that is really upsetting to me. I don't know why I'm OK with being on something for blood pressure for life but tell me that I need something for my head for life and that is just completely unbearable.

But he increased my dose of Topamax, which is our plan for awhile longer to see if it makes a difference. I will say there is an improvement with this compared to the Cymbalta, which was totally useless. The other perk is I hardly eat at all while on Topamax, so maybe in time I'll stop looking like I'm seven months pregnant? Though the endocrinologist said, sadly, that is a side effect to being on steroids- you get the distended stomach and there isn't a whole lot you can do about that. So that's exciting. I'll always be fat, apparently.

As you're reading this, I'm wandering around the Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, Minnesota. I'm there for my follow up appointment for Endocrinology. I'll have labwork in the morning and see the Endocrinology team in the afternoon. I don't know really what they'll be doing, but I'm kind of nervous. I have some questions, most of which I don't know if they can answer for me. I've been so tired these last few months and honestly, I'm wondering if it's adrenal fatigue? I can't even go for a short walk without feeling like someone has hit me with a car. Surely this can't be normal. I mean, is this just how it's going to be my whole life? What kind of quality is that? How do people function like this? I carried Lucy to the park (just across the street) about a week or so ago and I'm not kidding, my back hurt so bad for days I could hardly move. Like you hit me with a bat. It's really frustrating and it's hard to plan my life. I should be able to go for a damn walk without feeling like I'm on death's door the next day.

I'm trying really hard to stay positive. Sometimes I feel OK and then out of nowhere, I'm upset. I'm hearing a voice in my head and it's just this never ending loop of why everything is crap, why I'm crap, why I'm a terrible mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, person, why I should just end it all. I think paranoid things that, in the back of my head I know aren't true but then I have to keep telling myself that. I feel crazy. I feel like I am actually going completely crazy. This is the worst feeling in the word. I can't even explain it. I feel like I'm not making any sense. It's just a really tough road I'm on right now. But I'm trying. I don't know why, it doesn't even feel worth it to be honest.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Same Beach, Next Year (review)

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review; however all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links that I may earn commission from.*

I have a feeling this is going to be a rough week for me, just as last week was and I'll talk about that tomorrow, but I'm going to start this week with a book review. And not just any book review, a review from an author that is the epitome of summer- Dorothea Benton Frank.

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank returns to her magical Lowcountry of South Carolina in this bewitching story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with her warm and engaging earthy humor and generous heart.

One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Bursting with the intoxicating richness of Dorothea Benton Frank’s beloved Lowcountry—the sultry sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and starry velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a dazzling celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love.

I feel like I say this every time I read and review one of her books but it's true- it just isn't summer until I have the newest Dorothea book in my hands. I can't lie to you and say that I have them all, but I have quite a few and I love them. I think in one of my posts from last week I mentioned that it's my dream to go to a book festival? Well it's also my dream to do an entire vacation around the Lowcountry settings of Dorothea's books. I can't help it, of all of the books I have ever read, I think the setting of these books is perhaps my absolute favorite. The way she describes the area, the homes, the people, the food, and the lemonade- it makes you want to grab a chair and head to the beach. Even if it is hotter than the bottom floor of Hell. HA! My second favorite thing about her books are always the characters. There is always at least one loon in the bunch and in this book we have Cookie, but Clarabeth is a close second. (And if you're a mom who has been stuck watching The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for hours on end, you'll appreciate her because I kept saying her name as Clarabelle and picturing that character in my head and it made her even better. You're welcome.) 


So in this story we have two couples, Adam and Eliza, and then Eve and Carl. Way back in the day Adam and Eve had a bit of a first love fling that neither ever talked to their respective spouses about. Fast forward to present day when they run into each other, on vacation in Lowcountry. Adam invites Eve and her family over for drinks and Eliza- the good wife that she is, though annoyed, goes along with it. This begins a 20+ year friendship which, though awkwardly strained, is valued because of the longevity. They vacation each year together and Adam and Eve secretly pine for each other. Eliza deals with it because she knows Adam loves her, appreciates what he has. 

Until Carl and Eliza walk in on something. Adam and Eve swear up and down it isn't what they think. Is it? Isn't it? Nobody knows and everyone needs to cool down, gain perspective. Everyone takes some distance, takes some time to look at their own relationships for what they are. Is the grass greener on the other side? Can young love be rekindled? 

Overall? This book comes in at just under 400 pages and I finished it in one afternoon, that's how much I enjoyed it. One sitting, lambs. Perfect summer read. I have a hard time finding fault with books by this author because I really enjoy her writing, her stories always feel like you're sitting at the table getting the gossip from your friends and that's just what this story is. I was starting to feel like Eliza was a little harsh with Adam and I wasn't sure how the author was going to turn it around but when Adam get sick.. perfect. The ending? OK, that's the fault. Can I just say I feel like Max could do SO MUCH BETTER? So much better for a wife?! Ugh. I feel like he's going to end up just like Carl and it makes me sad for him. That's my only gripe. I'm definitely giving this book 5 stars because even with that gripe.. I loved this book. The fact that I couldn't put it down all afternoon is worth that extra star. Absolutely. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Novel Destinations (review)

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review, though all thoughts are my own. This post also contains affiliate links that I may make commission from.*

I know I already gave you a post today about Penelope's second birthday, but I also have a book review. It's a bonus post, but this (finally) puts me on track with my Goodreads reading challenge. I was so behind there for awhile and now I'm on track again. Phew! I can't get cocky about it because I have to finish another book this week to keep up otherwise I'll fall behind again.

Follow in the footsteps of much-loved authors, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen, and many more. For vacationers who crave meaningful trips and unusual locales, cue National Geographic's Novel Destinations a guide for bibliophiles to more than 500 literary sites across the United States and Europe. Check into Hemingway's favorite hotel in Sun Valley, or stroll about Bath's Royal Crescent while entertaining fantasies of Lizzie Bennett and her Mr. Darcy. The fully revised second edition includes all of the previous sites with updated locations plus color images and an expanded section on all things Bronte. The book begins with thematic chapters covering author houses and museums, literary festivals and walking tours. Then, in-depth explorations of authors and places take readers roaming Franz Kafka's Prague, James Joyce's Dublin, Louisa May Alcott's New England, and other locales. Peppered with great reading suggestions and little-known tales of literary gossip, Novel Destinations is a unique travel guide, an attractive gift book, and the ultimate bibliophile's delight."

If you know me at all you know I absolutely LOVE a road trip. If I can somehow incorporate a literary stop on a road trip, even better. The only bummer about this is that a lot of this book features things that are abroad... as in places I most likely will never get to see in my life time. So that's a total bummer. But don't fret, pets! There is still a ton of stuff in the United States for you to see!

Let's break down the book though because the book is two parts: travel by the book and journey through the pages. In the first part there are author houses and museums (my favorites were southern comfort and vampires, ghosts, and ravens), writers at home and abroad, literary festivals, tours, and more (this was my FAVORITE part of the entire book), literary places to drink, dine, and doze. The second part of the book, Journeys Between the Pages, was more of like a dedicated vacation. Clearly the one that would be up my alley was the Island Time: Ernest Hemingway in Key West, Florida only because I am a Florida girl through and through. But there was also a California Dreaming: John Steinbeck in Monterey and Salinas, California that I kind of thought would be fascinating.

Another section I really enjoyed was the "Libraries Worth Checking Out", but I have decided I really, really, REALLY want to go to a book festival. WHY HAVE I NEVER BEEN TO A BOOK FESTIVAL?! Have any of you been to one? Sigh. The other cool thing is that if you are going on a little trip and you've got some time, check out the index on the back for the state that you're visiting, there is a good chance it's mentioned in the book and you can make a quick day trip to a literary landmark! We are driving to Florida at the end of June and I'm hoping I can convince Matt to squeeze a stop, or four, in. They are practically on our way so it's not like we're losing time. Surely someone will have to go to the bathroom and I can just take a quick peek!  Right? Of course I'm right.

I totally loved this. It's such a fun, nerdy book to page through with lots of fun facts, lots of things I didn't know, it gave me lots of ideas for future trips (maybe not family trips but definitely trips with my friends!) and it's just an enjoyable read. Who doesn't love a good non-fiction book every now and then?!

You can find this book on the National Geographic web store and also on Amazon.

Penelope is two. The terrible two. Surely you've heard.

I used to always say that two had nothing on three. Two was EASY compared to three. You could still reason with two, you could bribe a two year old, you could still pick a two year old up even when they took the limp noodle tactic in a parking lot.

But you haven't met Penelope.

Penelope is a beast all her own.

When I got pregnant with Lucy, my grandpa jokingly said that one in four become a serial killer. I don't know if that's true but at the minimum, Penelope is the one to put your money on if you were placing wagers on which one of my children will grow up to lead a prison gang. I'm not saying I'm giving up, I'm just saying that you can nurture all you want but genetics have gone wrong I think. Most mornings we start the day with her whipping her door open and screaming at us that she's "happy". She goes to bed almost every night in full tears screaming that she's "happy" as well.

It's really awesome.

But, our little darling has turned two and despite not feeling up for anything, we whipped together a really haphazard party. Fortunately enough, our local PBS station had their Kids Club Circus event the same day as Penelope's birthday so the plan was to do that in the morning, poop her out enough for nap time, and then party for dinner and hopefully have a decent bedtime.

She got to meet George. She loves George, not that you'd know that by her obvious lack of enthusiasm.
Lucy was totally excited.
Penelope played games. And when I say "played games" I mean she blatantly cheated and demanded prizes.
My niece Adriana was able to come up for the day, so that was really fun. Her and Penelope are only a few months apart so I thought they'd have fun playing together. Adriana mostly had a great time playing with the big kids.
Penelope had more fun showing the characters her new Rosita stuffed animal than taking pictures.
She didn't like Nature Cat touching her but she did look to see if he had a tail.

Fortunately all of the running around and jumping DID get us a solid nap from both Penelope and Lucy, so that was nice. I had underestimated how exhausted I was going to be so by the time the party started I was kind of over it. I was pretty grateful I didn't invite that many people and of the few I did invite, some couldn't come, because I was pretty tired.

I had purchased this bounce house thing on Amazon on some one day super sale for $40 months ago and it was basically all I had planned for entertainment. Unfortunately, it was absolutely freezing so the kids didn't get to play in it for too long.
Just long enough for me to get only one picture, but not of all four.

Matt grilled up burgers and hot dogs, Matt's mom had helped us with food and his sister brought fruit and veggies.
If you know Penelope at all, you know she's all about a meal.
She's also all about dessert. I bought cupcakes and little ice cream cups- which basically was the greatest part of her day. She would have eaten "cream" all night if you let her.
Then, of course, presents.
All kinds of presents.
She got a tricycle, which she enjoys sitting on and wants you to push her on, but she doesn't totally get it.
And this phone... oy. Lucy gets a turn every once in awhile with it! She also got an Elmo that talks (and says her name!), some Play Doh, new bed sheets, a big Poppy doll for her bed and a Troll blanket, a stuffed bunny and a cool kickball, a Minnie Mouse with snap on outfits, lots of cute new outfits for summer, and I got her a new book. Not a bad haul for being two.
It's hard to believe this kid is two. Already. She's got all of the personality in the world. She is SUCH a handful, but she's such a love bug, too. She says lots of words, can identify some colors and some letters, loves to read, her favorite movie is Trolls, her favorite show is Super Why, she loves to rub soft things in her ear for comfort, loves the color purple, she runs 100 mph, she's bossy, sassy, hilarious, loves animals, and has big feelings. She's going to be the one to give us a run for our money. That's for sure.

Monday, May 15, 2017

American Gods (review)

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review, but all thoughts are my own. This post also contains affiliate links that I may make commissions from.*

A bit spoiled today with two book reviews, but tomorrow you're going to get a non-book review post from me so that's a bit of a teaser for you. 

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

I didn't even know about this book until I heard it was going to be a show, and then of course I don't have cable because I'm poor so I wanted to read the book! Then I saw it was on the list for possible review and I got super excited and thought for sure I wouldn't get picked, surely by the time I responded everyone else would have jumped on it but no- I got picked. What is wrong with all of you people?! 

The thing about Neil Gaiman books that I love so much, and this is going to sound bizarre, is that I have no idea why I love them. I know, I know. I usually finish the book and I wonder to myself why I even finished it, and why I even liked it because there usually isn't anything about the book that really stands out about them but oddly enough it all comes together and it all just... it just fits? This book was kind of the same way, it's full of traditionally bizarre characters and a story line where it constantly feels like something big is going to come but it never really does but yet... you don't end the book unsatisfied. It also has really weird dream sequences, which I didn't know where dream sequences at first and I was SO confused and I found myself re-reading passages a few times. 

Needless to say, this is a really difficult book to read if you are a recovering stroke and brain injury patient. FYI. 

I also really struggled with some of the story lines and keeping track of them, to the point where I actually considered starting a little stack of notes next to me but then I figured if I have to do that, I am done with the book because no book is worth that kind of time. I have an entire shelf of books to read and very little time and my brain is slow. It's hard to write a review for a Gaiman book because I can tell you what this book has in it: it has the weird cast of characters, it has coin tricks, it has a road trip of sorts, it has a man with a dead wife, but the dead wife kind of visits him as a ghosts, there's a guy kind of swallowed by a vagina, there's a buffalo man, the book is creepy and totally weird, but even with all of that, it doesn't tell you what any of it was really about? If that makes any sense? It's Gaiman's strange little love letter to America. It's easily the strangest book I have ever read in my life. Hands down. 

Of course, you're going to have to pick this up for yourself and you can do so on the HarperCollins website, or on Amazon. Don't forget the show is airing on STARZ, and of course I can't watch it so I'm hoping eventually it'll make it's way onto Netflix or something. Crossing my fingers!!