Monday, February 27, 2017

Financial Peace University Week Three: Cash Flow Planning

**This post contains affiliate links that I may make a commission from.**

I know I'm behind on these posts for you again, but trust me when I say live has been INSANE. I have so much to catch you up on, so just stay tuned for it all.

During week three of our class, we focused solely on cash flow planning, or how we spend our money during the month. The key is to have an assignment, a plan, for every dollar that comes into your account every single month. You don't deviate from your written plan unless you actually consult that plan and figure out where that money is going to come from, but always being in step with your partner. Most of the time when you say "budget", people freak out and say there's no way they could live like that.

But you actually can if you simplify it. In class, the video mentioned it is going to take us three to four months to really get the hang of the budget. You are inevitably going to forget something (I originally forgot dog grooming because that happens every six weeks, but Matt and I decided we should put money aside for that every month just in case.)

I can't find a video for you this week, but on Dave Ramsey's website is all of the information on the zero based budget, including forms! Matt and I are using the Monthly Cash Flow Plan worksheet, I've printed enough for the rest of the year, and each month we are going to sit down and decide what we are going to spend in each category. And stick to it.

The next task is to set up your Money Envelopes. Categories like food, gas, household shopping (your Walmart or Target runs), entertainment, allowances, etc are things you would use the Money Envelope system for. I am going to set ours up in about a week and I'll share with you what we decided on.



The key about the envelope system is that it emphasizes that you need to feel your money leaving. Swiping your card doesn't give you that gut punch that you just spent money. Handing over actual cash gives you that but it also makes you make better choices on what you spend your money on. Do you want to spend another $5 on coffee or do you want to save it for something better?

The other thing that was a breath of relief is that it's not about punishing yourself. If you don't want to give up your movie date, don't. Budget for it. You want a little spending money to treat yourself, maybe get your hair done or buy a new book? Budget for it. The nice thing about having your budget all worked out is you can see on paper where your money is going. If you are spending $200 on cable, ask yourself is it really worth it? Where could that $200 be going to make more of an impact on your financial well being. Add up what you spend in a year on cable, could that pay off a credit card?

There are a lot of different options for your money envelope system, it kind of depends on how many envelopes you want to use and what works for you. In the video above she uses clips but for me that doesn't work because I like different dividers. Someone in class mentioned that they use a coupon organizer, which would be an inexpensive option to start off with. If you want to get a little fancier, here are a couple of options for you:





If you are following along and maybe want to implement some of this into your own finances, I really implore you to check out Dave's page talking about budgets. If you do nothing else, this is what will make a huge difference in how you spend and how you track your money. Later this week I'll talk about the next lesson, Dumping Debt! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Where Do Dreams Come From (review)

I love reviewing children's books because our family loves to read. Well, everyone except my husband, but that's OK. I read to my children all of the time and I love books that can be personalized so when I had the opportunity to review this one, I jumped at the chance.

Where Do Dreams Come From - Kim Delgado

A magical story that will satisfy even the most curious child and expand their imagination about Dream Land, the place where dreams are made. After all, what child wouldn’t love to know "Where Do Dreams Come From?” 

In this magical adventure, your child’s imagination takes them on a visit to Dream Land where they see how dreams are made. They learn about the "Dream Machine" and the fairies that work very hard to make sure that happy dreams are delivered to children around the world. This is the perfect bedtime story to expand your child’s imagination, encourage reading and instill pleasant dreams!


Can I just tell you that when I read this book for Penelope, she was so excited to not just have her name mentioned in the book but also her brother and sister, too. The author, Kim Delgado, is the owner of KD Novelties, an independent publisher of personalized books. I really invite you to look around on the website because there are so many unique gifts (books, CD's, puzzles, bags, etc) that you can personalize, perfect for a kiddo who maybe has a unique of uncommonly spelled name.

The book itself is an adorable story of a child who learns about the Dream Machine and the fairies who work in the factory. The illustrations are fun, the story is fun, and Penelope totally enjoyed being involved in the story. It's a really great bedtime story and though Penelope (almost two) can't read yet, she enjoyed making  machine like noises and acting surprised/scared/happy as needed throughout the story. Plus, it's a fun book we'll likely keep in her forever box once she's grown out of it.

You can find your own copy of Where Do Dreams Come From on the KD Novelties website, The other cool thing is you can read the story on the website (click on the above link and scroll down until to the personalization area and click on the "read story" tab) and see where the personalizing information goes in the story. Overall? I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. It's a cute and fun read, it has great illustrations, it's a good read for kids up to age 7ish, and it's a great book for getting ready for bed!

Monday, February 20, 2017

I'm sorry.

One of the things I say on a daily basis to no less than five people, is I'm sorry. And I'm sorry for a lot of things. If you think the people in my every day life have had to adjust to me being different than I was before my AFE, it's nothing compared to having to adjust myself. I've always assumed that when people have something happen to them that changes who they are, how they move around in the world, they adjust and move on. And maybe I'll get to that point, but I'm almost seven months out and I'm still not there. I think a lot of the people around me look at me and assume I'm doing OK because I'm out of the house, I can communicate and seemingly be able to conduct a conversation. You see me interact with my kids and I can laugh and smile, by all standards, I look OK, but inside I'm not anywhere near OK.

The biggest struggle I deal with is clearly the depression and anxiety. I can no longer be near a pregnant person without feeling anxious. I try hard to hide it so I don't make someone feel badly but I'll excuse myself when it gets too much. Leaving the house is so emotionally taxing because all of the commotion is too tiring. It's too much sound, action, lights, stimulation on every level and I just want to go back into my quiet little home. Aside from that I have the memory loss that I try really hard to hide from people. But still. I'm sure people have noticed.

If I don't respond to calls, texts, emails, and messages right away like I normally would, I'm sorry.

If I don't answer the door, or I call you at the last minute to let you know I can't meet up, I'm sorry. 

If I look spaced out, I probably am. If you think I'm avoiding you on purpose, I'm not. I'm sorry. 

If you think you can count on me to step up and volunteer like I always do, you can't. Please don't assume I can do anything. I'm doing my best, but I can't. I'm sorry.

I might be smiling or laughing, but I don't feel joy in anything anymore. I can fake it for awhile, but not for long. If I look like the Energizer Bunny with half dead batteries, that's an accurate description on how I feel. If you expect me to be fun and funny, joking around and up for a last minute adventure? I'm sorry. I want to be the old Sara, I really do. I miss that Sara so damn much. I look in the mirror and I don't recognize that person at all. The best description of what it's like is that show Wife Swap, where the wives switch lives and their families are horrified. That's me. I feel like I've gotten swapped out and I'm struggling. But I'm sorry. I'm trying every day, I'm trying to fake it, mostly for everyone else's sake, so just go with it.

And you know, it's OK for you to tell me how I'm different or seem different. It's really OK. You aren't going to hurt my feelings because what you notice, I assure you I have noticed it months ago. It's really OK.

I think perhaps the biggest change in me as a person is my level of empathy for strangers. I have always been an empathetic person but I feel more so now. When I read an article about someone who has killed themselves, I feel relief for them because I get it. I know what it's like to be so done with it and wishing I had the courage to do the same thing. People say suicide is a selfish act and while I can't disagree, I think being selfish is sometimes OK. There are times where we have to do what's best for us despite what other people think. Because at the end of the day, nobody knows what is best for us except for us. That's a lesson I'm learning now, and I am wracked with guilt every single day because I do worry about what others think I should be doing. I don't want to be a disappointment, but I do know I'm at a point in my life where I'm at a crossroads. I have to take care of myself. Who knew that would be the hardest thing to learn how to do?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wild Horse Springs (review)

*This post contains affiliated links that I may earn a commission from. All opinions are my own.*

I can't remember if I've already mentioned it, but I'm probably going to beat this horse until it's good and dead, but I have started a humble little Facebook page for this blog. I would love it if you would head over and give it a like! 

Dan Brigman may not lead the most exciting life, but he's proud of what he's achieved: he's a respected lawman, and he's raised a bright, talented daughter on his own. But finding a lone, sparkly blue boot in the middle of a deserted highway gets him thinking maybe the cowgirl who lost it is exactly the shake-up he needs.

After losing her baby girl, Brandi Malone felt like her soul died along with her daughter. Now singing in small-town bars to make ends meet, she's fine being a drifter until a handsome sheriff makes her believe that parking her boots under his bed is a better option.

College grad Lauren Brigman has just struck out on her own in downtown Dallas when a troubling phone call leads her back home to Crossroads. Her hometown represents her family, friends and deepest hopes, but also her first love, Lucas Reyes. Will Lauren's homecoming be another heartbreak, or a second chance for her and Lucas?

I have to tell you that this is the fifth installment in the Ransom Canyon series, but this is the first one I've read. It's actually the first Jodi Thomas book I've read but it certainly won't be the last because I found her to be as entertaining as authors such as Delores Fossen, Lori Wilde, and Linda Lael Miller so if you are looking for similar styles of contemporary romance that isn't raunchy and overt, this is a great book to add to your to be read pile! 

It's a few love stories in one, always appreciated. We have Dan (the sheriff) who isn't so much a loner but he's not busy with the ladies. Enter Brandi, a singer with a troubled past, not ready to settle down. They meet and Dan falls for her but he knows she isn't ready to be tied down so they kind of hit a crossroads. Dan's daughter, Lauren, has moved away to basically find herself and hopefully become a writer. She's homesick but wants to live in the city. She is also a crossroads. (I have to warn you, this character was incredibly annoying to me because I feel like I would be eye-rolling nonstop if I knew her in real life.) 

Then we have Cody.. kind of a bad boy, lots of trouble following him. Lucky for him, there's a beautiful woman who just happens to be out and stumbles across him. She essentially takes him in and almost mothers him but can their romance make it? This romance was far more interesting for me to follow than Dan and Brandi, mostly because Tess just takes over and I just expected Cody to.. not sit in the back seat so much? I don't know, it was kind of strange so I kept reading wondering if this was even going to work out. 

Overall, I'd give this a 4 out of 5 stars. It's a solid, entertaining romance read and it's refreshing to not have penises and vaginas flipping out every chapter. I'm not saying I'm against that, I'm very much for that, but it's nice to have just a regular ol' romance filling this niche.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Penelope and Lucy - a tale of opposites

I haven't given you a proper update on Penelope and Lucy in awhile, so it's about time I do that. These girls couldn't be more different from each other, but they make every day exciting, that's for sure.
It's hard to believe that Penelope is going to be two at the end of April already. She is a mini tornado and I keep telling Matt this is probably a glimpse into her college years. I certainly hope not because she often runs around topless. Or pantsless.
I signed her up for a toddler class and we went to a bunch of the classes. She is one of the youngest in the class so it's been interesting to see how she interacts with the other kids.
She's mostly really shy but she hands the babies (some parents bring their babies along with their toddlers) toys and of course, she's interested in the classroom turtle.

We are very gently introducing potty training with her. She can recognize when she has "booped" so it's time. Well, that and she has now taken a liking to taking her diaper off at night. We had several mornings of me walking into her room only to be greeted by a stark naked toddler and pee ALL OVER her bed. Truly, it's a disgusting thing to deal with in the morning. Then it's a race to get the bedding all washed before nap time, which is like an Olympic effort on the best of days. So I took to Facebook to ask for ideas. The most commented? Duct tape.
We told Penelope we were putting a fashion belt on her. She wasn't so sure.
But she's a sport.

It actually worked, too. She can't get the tape off and in the morning she might have her pajamas off but her diaper is still on. Which is glorious.

Except sometimes I forget to put the tape on her at nap time and one day it was an emergency. I heard Penelope wake up from a nap, and then start screaming. I race up the stairs faster than ever only to find the source of the screaming....
...nobody messes with her beloved Kitty Kitty. ESPECIALLY a bunch of poop balls.
Then I look in and there's Penelope, crying and showing me her poop balls (that she put there, obviously) but I had to rescue Kitty Kitty.
Oh, and she loves powdered donuts. Look at that powdered donut grin.

Penelope has also started talking and has the cutest little voice. My mom and I have decided she's like a real life Sour Patch Kid- first she's sour, then she's sweet.

Lucy, on the other hand, is always sweet. Lucy is the sweetest, chunkiest little thing and you can't help but love her to bits.
No kidding, this is how she looks at me all of the time. It's like she knows more than we think she does. She's always watching and looking for me.
Officially six months old now, she loves her jumper and anything that lights up, music, and loud things.
She rolls over and is SO close to sitting on her own. The problem is so she's so damn chunky that she kind of just topples over.
Penelope is an excellent big sister and she's always very concerned about Lucy. She will bring me the pacifier, pick out toys, she'll tell me exactly when and where to put her down.
It's going to be fun to see them playing together in just a few months. I can only imagine the shenanigans they'll get into.
So yes, Lucy is a love bug. She can blow raspberries and she absolutely loves kisses and hugs. She will try to grab your face and pull you in so she can kiss and/or slobber you.
She sleeps mostly through the night, she's tried a few foods and is just learning how to deal with those. She loves sucking on her toes and sitting up like a big girl.
She looks so much like her daddy, it's weird. She's officially in 12 month clothing and she has her six month check up on Friday so we'll see how much she weighs then - I'm curious. Oh! And I can always get her to fall asleep in my arms if I sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to her. I don't know why I love that, but I do. She's still sleeping in a bassinet in our room only because she sometimes gets up in the night, AND she goes to bed later than the other kids so I don't want her waking up Penelope. (Who is an absolute bear if she doesn't get enough sleep.) But soon. Soon she'll be going to the big girl crib.

Maybe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Spring cleaning... it's never too early

One of the biggest things I have struggled with since having Lucy is cleaning my house. If you knew me before Lucy, you would know I always had a clean house. Things were never piled up anywhere, my laundry basket was always manageable and lord knows my closets were never over flowing with stuff.

Post Lucy, I struggle. My biggest problem is everything feels overwhelming. I can't multi-task like I used to and I can't even make a list because I can't prioritize things like a normal person. It's actually kind of annoying all of the things I can't do and some of them I'm not sure how to explain it, but I know I'm not firing on all cylinders anymore.

But I decided that if I take on small projects, one at a time, I won't be overwhelmed. Like a moron, I started with Olivia's room. I won't put it all out there, but I've decided my kids are hoarders, but Olivia is by far the worst. I can't even tell you how much junk came out of her room, but it was a lot. I spent hours in there but it was worth it.
We got the corner of her room, which was a catch all for everything, cleaned out and her closet.
Then we were given a new-to-us bed frame so Matt carried that to her room. We also got a bunk bed for the Penelope and Lucy from the same friends, but that won't come into the house quite yet. Olivia got her posters hung up from the two concerts she has been to, we got her dresser completely cleaned out and sorted. Her room is actually not gross anymore. Praise the lord.

Thankfully Jackson's wasn't near as bad. His problem was he had all of his Christmas gifts stacked up and needed help organizing things, which wasn't that bad actually.
He has SO much more room to play Lego's, which is his favorite thing to do. He had me move his bed so he was up against the wall again, which is fine.
Then he cleaned up his corner and "found" his chair again (which was under a bunch of clean blankets he couldn't put away in his closet and Christmas gifts). We cleaned out his closet, too and I have three bags of clothes to bring to a friend who has a son that can fit into them. Jackson's clothes are actually in great shape so I'm happy to pass those along to someone who can use them.

Both rooms turned out to be an entire day of cleaning, so probably not the best project to start with, but it's a start. My goal is to get our room cleaned out and painted this spring, but we'll see. I have so many other things to clean out and purge things from before then so I realistically might not get to it. We have had a couple of days of warmer than normal weather for our winter season so I'm in the mood to start spring cleaning. I guess on the bright side by the time it actually is spring, I'll be able to enjoy it, right?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Financial Peace University: Week Two- Relating with Money

I know I'm behind on this by a week, but we have been doing the homework and getting into the class, so I have good reason. If you remember from week one, our homework was to tally up all of our non-mortgage debts, which was.. I can't lie, was daunting. And that number has only gone up because since we did that, we've gotten new medical bills in the mail. So that's depressing. 

But this week centered around men and women and how we each relate to money differently. We all know that financial issues can cause stress in any relationship and in some cases, can end a relationship. It needs to be an absolute priority to be on the same page with your partner when it comes to money and the first way to do that is to figure out if you are a nerd or a free spirit. The nerd likes doing a budget, feels a need to be fiscally responsible where the free spirit looks at a budget as a way to be controlled. Not surprisingly, I'm the nerd and Matt is the free spirit.


I don't know if I'll always be able to share the videos from our classes because they are actually pretty tough to find. But when I can, I will. 

I have SO many friends who are in the same boat Matt and I are in, one wants to get on a budget and be debt free, and one has impulse buying issues. And sometimes we flip flop those roles, depending on what's going on! But through this class I'm starting to think that anyone that doesn't want to go through this process is in serious denial of their financial future. 

Our homework this week was to identify our accountability partner, which is our spouse. (If you're single, you're expected to find a friend who will sit down and help you be on track with your budget.) We prepared a Quick Start Budget and we were supposed to call our firs Budget Meeting and talk about the strengths and weaknesses we each bring to the table. We also had to register for the online tools, which we did, but we haven't used any of them yet. I'm assuming we'll be using those soon. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

That time I saw a psychic. True story.

As I recover from my AFE in August, I feel like I have really been on this greater journey to figure out what is next for me. I don't feel at peace with any of it and I don't know how I'm going to get there but you can rest assured that no stone will be left un-turned. I'm exhausting every resource I can afford.

A friend of mine has talked before that she has seen a psychic in our area and has found great comfort and guidance with her readings. The only psychic I have ever seen was at the local fair when I was 18 and she was a total loon. I took nothing away from it, it was all very generic information that anyone could have rattled off but it was fun anyways. I've gone through a lot of message boards of people who have been through traumatic life events and lots of them have gone to psychics just to have some peace. My friend offered to go with me for my first reading and at this point I'm ready for anything.

I have to tell you right away, I went in with some healthy skepticism because I'm a realist if nothing, so like everything else, I go in with low expectations. She started right away asking my children's names and birth dates, and she zoned in almost immediately that I've lost two children, but one of them is tied to someone here (Jackson had a twin that I lost before 12 weeks), she sits on my left shoulder. She's being cared for by my grandmother, who wasn't nurturing while on Earth, but she is in the next realm, and she is caring for this little girl. She talked about my death, and obvious revival, but also talked about my past lives, where I've died in childbirth many times.

(Which is unnerving because I am 100% convinced I knew what was going to happen to me when they said I was going for an emergency c-section and I wonder if I knew I was going to die? This convinces me I'm not nuts.)

She told me that I have to do things for myself, get away and take care of myself. The only problem is I'll feel guilty because people will tell me I'm being selfish, and I'll want to give in and not care for myself, which will lead me to be unhappy. I can't be guilted into decisions. What else? Oh, she knew my biological father was an alcoholic and it's imperative I stay away from him; he's evil.

What also was interesting is she said that once you go to the death realm and you come back, your talents can be more pronounced. I'll observe that time flows differently (which I keep telling people but they look at me like I'm growing a third eye), my intuition will be more pronounced (I've always had a strong gut feeling but it's so intense sometimes that I feel like it's another person in me pushing me towards something) and I'm going to be able to read people and their intentions easier. (Which again, it's like I can look at a person and I immediately feel good air or bad air around them and I can't really explain it.)

The best part of the visit? Was being told that my job, what needs to be my absolute mission, is to write. That I have an unnatural talent and I need to use it. I am my own worst enemy and road block but I have to overcome that and write no matter what. I am meant to share information with people. And with that... I leave you. There was SO much from the visit that was absolutely uncanny that nobody would ever have known but she was spot on. I have to tell you I'm going to be back. I'm writing feverishly. My next obstacle is to find someone who can do regression therapy- I want to go back to the moment Lucy was delivered and see, with my own eyes, what happened. I feel like I will always have this hole in me until I have that. So I begin my search for that.

Have you ever been to a psychic? Would you ever?

Friday, February 10, 2017

50 States, 5000 Ideas (review)

**This post contains affiliated links that I may earn commissions from, but all opinions are my own**

For long time readers of this blog, you'll know I love to travel. My goal in life is to see all 50 states and go overseas to another country sometime. I don't know when or where, and I'm a little terrified since I'm such a weird eater and hate everything, but it is a dream of mine.

50 States, 5000 Ideas - National Geographic

This richly illustrated book from the travel experts at National Geographic showcases the best travel experiences in every state, from the obvious to the unexpected. Sites include national parks, beaches, hotels, Civil War battlefields, dude ranches, out-of-the-way museums, and more. You'll discover the world's longest yard sale in Tennessee, swamp tours in Louisiana, dinosaur trails in Colorado, America's oldest street in NYC, and the best spot to watch for sea otters on the central California coast. Each entry provides detailed travel information as well as fascinating facts about each state that will help fuel your wanderlust and ensure the best vacation possible. In addition to 50 states in the U.S., the book includes a section on the Canadian provinces and territories.

I have had this book sitting on my dining room counter (which is the equivalent to the coffee table for us, everything lands there) for a few weeks now and everyone who has come over has picked it up and paged through it. It's a really beautiful books with amazing photographs and countless ideas. It features all 50 states but also Canadian provinces so if your travels take you north, you are well covered.

The great part about this book is that every state has a wonderful write up with the standard tourist areas that really shouldn't be missed, but it also features out of the way destinations. You'll also find "Hidden Treasures", "Local Flavor", "Festivals" and other highlight areas so if you have a state in mind, these will help you narrow down what time of year to visit. I have to tell you that after going through the book I have a bizarre urge to backpack through Olympic National Park for one. This book makes you want to tackle the outdoors, fill up the fanny pack you know you have in your closet, and tour the country. Even as someone who doesn't LOVE nature and the outdoors, this book makes me want to get out there. Landmarks and museums you've never heard of are highlighted throughout. I so highly recommend this book not just for yourself but your friends who always seem to have wanderlust. Definitely 5 stars for this book, it's going to be my first resource when it's time to plan a vacation. It's a United States/Canada bucket list!

You can find this book on Amazon (link below) but also on the National Geographic website HERE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Possessions (review)

*This post contains affiliate links that I may  make a commission from. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

I don't want to sound cocky, but I'm ahead of my Goodreads challenge. Sure, it's by one book but doesn't matter because I'm ahead!!

The Possessions - Sara Flannery Murphy

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies“, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients. 

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls. 

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets. 

A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion. 


Man alive, this book was so weird! The entire synopsis of this book is completely bizarre, which of course is why I even agreed to review it. Not in all of my years as an avid reader have I ever come across a book with this kind of story line, which is the first reason you should read it. It's getting harder and harder to find books that aren't like anything else out there. We have Edie, who is able to let people connect with their dead relatives by essentially becoming them. Kind of. Enter Patrick, bereft from his wife's passing, seeks out Edie's services. Only Edie realizes quickly that Patrick isn't totally forthcoming and that maybe Sylvia's death has more to it. But the more Edie digs into that she's almost taken over by Sylvia (kind of? I can't really explain it, because it's bizarre but fascinating enough that you can't stop reading) and is desperate to keep Patrick. Some irks about the book is the over the top metaphors. Not every description needs to be a metaphor. I feel like metaphors can be amazing, but when used sparingly- make them pack a punch. The writing itself is beautiful but I have to knock it points for the metaphors because lordy... there are SO MANY.

But just stop and think of all of the implications if something like this was possible. It's 100% creepy and weird but you can't look away and you are fully interested. Edie is kind of an odd duck all on her own but when she is channeling someone else she almost becomes even more bizarre (obviously) but in a really different kind of way. The ending was a little... anti-climatic for me? I honestly expected a whole lot more (no spoilers) but Edie's character is so strange that I guess when I have had some time to think about it... I guess it makes sense. I'm not fully satisfied, which is why I'm giving it 4 of 5 stars. You also need to keep in mind this is a literary debut so the fact an author comes out the gate swinging with something like this makes me already anticipating the next book in what I'm sure will be a diverse catalog.

The book is available on the HarperCollins website, and in the meantime you can visit Sara Flannery Murphy on her website, Facebook, and Twitter!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mayo, round two - disappointment and emergency kits

So last week I went for my second trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. This one I was a little more hopeful about since my last appointment went so well, but as it turns out, I should have gone into it with less optimism.

The plan this trip was going to be split up between brain testing, a visit with a nurse to show me how to inject my emergency medicine, neurology consult, and then a follow up with the endocrinologist.

I was a little worried about doing more brain testing because it's long, it's exhausting, and it's not what is wrong with me. But I went in, hoping that perhaps this new set of doctors could give me new information. The testing they did this time was nearly identical to what I had done in Duluth in January, with the exception of a few things. After my test I met with a neurologist who quickly glanced at my test results and basically asked what I was even doing there. I explained my story, my memory issues and how these might be considered normal for most people, they are so far from my normal and it's having a negative impact on my life. As it turns out, he realizes how rare AFE (amniotic fluid embolism) is but goes on to tell me that it doesn't really warrant studying so they just don't.

Mic drop.

Needless to say I left there feeling rather discouraged. I almost cancelled the rest of my appointments and went home, to be honest. I'm so tired of hearing from doctors that they don't know what to do for me, how to make things better.

Instead, I found a cafeteria. I got myself some lunch, with extra dessert, and I took my time eating it. I decided it would be stupid to cancel my appointment with the nurse considering I had no idea how to inject my emergency medicine into me. Sure, I suppose I could have figured it out in a pinch, but I'm here, I may as well find out how to do it correctly. As it turns out, it would turn out to be the most informative visit I've had since I had my AFE in August.

While my diagnosis hasn't changed, I've learned a LOT more about hypopituitarism and secondary adrenal insufficiency, specifically how serious they are when I get sick. A lot of the symptoms I have are also symptoms of both of those and even though I have mine under control with the help of medication, it doesn't mean those symptoms will go away, they just aren't harmful to me. So my feeling of constantly on the verge of getting the flu, complete with full body aches? Yeah, that's forever. YAY.

But I did learn that not only do I need to order my medical alert bracelet, but anytime I'm sick with fever and no vomiting and/or diarrhea, then I need to double or triple my dose of hydrocortisone for three days. If I'm vomiting and/or diarrhea, then I need to use my injection and go to the ER immediately to ensure I don't go into adrenal crisis. If I have surgery or have any kind of medical procedure (which is considered a trauma to your body), then I need to have additional Cortisol (hydrocortisone) in my IV and then double or triple my dose for three days when I come home. I also have to be especially careful on hot days or while exercising. No more super heavy exercising for me, which is really horrific because I have gained so much weight since having Lucy.

Which (laugh with me, folks) is because of the hydrocortisone!

On Friday I met with the neurologist who had a more complete view of my testing and my records. I came in pretty optimistic because he wanted to hear from me what my issues were before he looked at any of that.

Which, THANK YOU.

I talked about what I was like before I had Lucy, and what I'm like now. I talked about my brain blinks, chronic migraines, dizziness, memory blanks, trouble concentrating, not being able to understand simple instructions, being confused on how to do regular tasks I know I know how to do, etc. Then he tells me my tests show I'm normal.

Cue frustration.

I start telling him that sure, I can remember the lists of words within an hour, but ask me about that list at the end of the day? Can't remember. Ask me tomorrow and I won't remember most of this visit. Apparently memory loss after losing so much blood is normal and there is nothing they can really do for me. I'm not a candidate for cognitive rehabilitation and I may or may not get better. They don't really know.

All in all?

I learned that neurologists don't have great bedside manner. And that I just wasted my time on that entire department. I left there feeling pretty down I wasn't leaving with at least something other than "take notes for yourself". I'm certainly not wanting to add another medication (which the neurologist insinuated) because I'm up to my eyeballs in prescription medication costs. He also made it sound like I actually want to be sick and maybe if I just stopped being depressed I would feel better.

Because certainly, if I could stop myself from being depressed just like that, not only would I do that, but I would sell it and cure others while becoming ridiculously wealthy at the same time.

Overall I'd say the only worthwhile part of my visit to the Mayo was the nurse visit. She gave me so much information, things I'm experiencing make SO much more sense now, so at least I have that. I learned that when I'm tired, I'm tired for a reason and I might not be able to fix it. I might actually just have to take a nap. I learned that as I get older, maintaining "normal" is going to get trickier since all of my medications will need to be adjusted so I can maintain at a level close to what I would be with a perfectly functioning pituitary gland. But I left there not taking that weird, blueberry sized gland for granted. Who knew something so tiny could wreck havoc on your body?!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Born Speaking Lies (review)

*This post contains affiliate links in which I may make commission from, but all opinions are my own*

I've got another jam packed week of posts for you, but before we get into today's book review, I want to make sure you know about (and are following) me on Facebook and Twitter! I'm trying to grow the fan base over there so follow and share, lambs!

Born Speaking Lies - Rob Lenihan
In Born Speaking Lies, New York mobster Billy the Kid gets a chance to escape the violent world of 1990s Brooklyn after being shot and left for dead in a Pennsylvania forest by members of his own crew. Billy tries to disappear into small town life with Lora, a local woman who finds him bleeding by the side of the road, but his desire for revenge and his rapidly deteriorating health drives him toward a bloody confrontation with his former friends.

Do you remember that show Law & Order: Criminal Intent? It's not been on the air for a few years but if it were still there this book would make for an amazing season ending two part episode. I'm just saying. It's a hefty story, coming in at just over 500 pages so this isn't going to be your quick and casual read, this is a commitment. At the same time, the story flows quickly because the writing is superb but also because it's so drama driven, there is always something happening. The story switches character perspective throughout, which is really key in this book because everyone has their own agenda, which seems par for the course in a mob story.

The story itself is violent. If you avoid books with violence, then you'll need to skip this because it starts violent, it's violent all of the way to the very end. And again, it really has to be to hold the weight of it being a mob centered book. It starts with Billy being killed by some of his friends only he doesn't actually die. But it's the perfect set up for him to start all over. We have flash backs of his earlier decades in organized crime which explain the start of the book but also you know more is coming since a man of Billy's character can't stay hidden for long. Of course once his old crew finds out Billy isn't truly dead, they are out to finish the job. I won't tell you how it ends or give a spoiler but it's bloody and it feels like a justified ending, though maybe not what I would have preferred? But the writing is so great and you feel like you are on the streets of New York City with a bunch of young men and teenagers, no parental guidance, trying to make a name for yourself in organized crime. What I appreciate is that the phrases and characteristics of each character feel true to life whereas some mob books use the generic stereotype and it's just forced. Not the case here so if you are a fan of mobster stories and characters, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with Rob Lenihan's offering.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

You spin me... to the ground.

I know Workout Wednesday was technically yesterday, but I'm still posting this week to keep myself accountable. I can't even remember when the last time I posted about a workout, and I'm going to be honest, I fell off the wagon as hard as a fat girl could. It's not that I don't realize that I have to start losing weight, but I've really struggled with energy and my entire body hurting.

Long story short, it almost always feels like I have been hit by a car. It reminds me of when I was pregnant with Olivia way back in 2005 and I knew something was up because everything hurt, even my hair. Turns out I was pregnant. This time I can't be pregnant, but they suspect it's just that my body is just out of whack, which is so exciting to hear.

Another challenge I'm facing is that I'm taking steroids for my Sheehan's Syndrome and it's true what they say, steroids make you fat. They make you fat even without over eating.

It's totally depressing.

One thing I've wanted to try is a spin class. Thanks to my local Facebook friends, I learned there is a local gym that has an evening spin class and I can pay as I go. Which is nice because I can't afford a membership anywhere and I really can't go more than once, maybe twice a week, to make a membership feel like I'm getting my money out of it. So I found a friend who wanted to go as well and we went.
You know what nobody told me about spin classes? That your butt is going to hurt and it's going to hurt a lot. My butt was screaming within a minute and the class hadn't even started yet. I will say though, the 45 minutes flew by. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to make it through the entire class, minus three breaks for less than 30 seconds each, mostly just to get feeling back into my butt. I'm hoping to go again soon because while I don't think I'm going to lose a ton of weight doing it, something is always going to be better than nothing.

Then I decided that February is going to be my 30 Day Shred month. But since February is a short month, I'd start in January. My goal? Not feel like a gross whale for my birthday. If all goes according to plan, my friend Tammy and I are going to Las Vegas for a long weekend/mom's break/my birthday celebration.

And you know what? It sucks as much as I remember it. This will be my third time doing it and this time is, hands down, the hardest. I am so out of shape and it's defeating. Did I even complete day one? No. No, I didn't. I did about half and I had to quit or take a break. I know if I keep at it, I'll have my endurance get better and I'll be able to complete the entire workout. So think positive things. 

My current weight is 220 and my goal weight (where I was pre-Penelope) is 160. That's a LONG road to go. Little bit at a time. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Law and Disorder (review and giveaway)

*This post contains affiliate links which I may make a commission from but all opinions are my own.*

Have I ever mentioned to you how much I love Heather Graham? I really do and I really adore the fact that her books typically aren't very long so you can get through them quickly and go to her next one!

Law and Disorder - Heather Graham

Trust the enemy? 


Desperate to escape her kidnappers, Kody Cameron can turn to only one man…and he's holding a gun. Outnumbered and trapped in the deadly Everglades, she has little recourse, but something in this captor's eyes makes her believe she can trust him. Does she dare to take the risk? 



Undercover agent Nick Connolly has met Kody before and knows she might very well blow his cover. Though determined to maintain his facade, he can't let Kody die. He won't. And his decision to change his own rules of law and order are about to make all hell break loose.


I've been a big Heather Graham fan for quite awhile so I jumped at the chance when this one came up for review. And I want to give this book more than 2/5 stars but... I can't. I really can't and I hate myself for it. I think the bizarre beginning is what got to me and I couldn't get over it. We have Kody, who is kidnapped from page one, and she is remembering her childhood while having a gun pointed at her head. But she's remembering how when her and her friends used to play in the area they would use the names of gangsters as their code names and that's what these kidnappers are doing, so does she know them? Surely she must because the one voice sounds familiar and the specific names being used.. she's convinced she knows someone in the group but who? And why would they kidnap her? Anyways- it's a bizarre hostage situation where the captors want to use Kody's personal knowledge of the area to find the hidden treasure of a mobster.

Kind of bizarre, right?

Well the plot wouldn't be so weird if it was executed well but it just wasn't. The book itself is really very short (250 pages or so) but there is a lot of fluff about mobsters and the setting, so not only does the entire hostage situation feel forced, but the romance didn't develop well. Everything felt rushed, and this felt like it wasn't given the editing attention it should have gotten given Heather Graham's history of great writing. And to be fair, I think maybe because I have read a lot of Heather's books that makes me a little snobby when it came to this because I had high expectations. I will say that this is the first in a series so I am hopeful that the rest of the series picks up and I'm looking forward to it.



What's really cool is Heather Graham is offering a $25 gift card giveaway right now, so I invite you to head over HERE to enter. In the meantime, leave me a comment with what you're reading right now, I'm always in the market for a new read!