Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Beck

I'm steadily reading this series and fortunately this counts as part of my Beat the Backlist challenge, so that's a bonus!

Beck - Harper Sloan

Dee
I’ve always been good at wearing masks. Not letting anyone see the real me. I’m content being the happy-go-lucky best friend. The strong willed boss. The independent woman who doesn’t need a man. 

But the truth is I’m just as broken as the rest of you. I’m terrified that all it will take is one person to make all my carefully constructed walls crumble into fine dust. So I guard my heart with everything I have. Determined to never let anyone get close enough to hurt me again. 

All is perfect until HE walks into my life. No… he doesn’t just walk. He struts his good-looking, sex-oozing self right into my space and demands that I see HIM. Making me want what I know I can’t have. 

So I did the only thing I know how to do. 
I run. 
But he just won’t let me go. 

Beck
The second I see her, I know she will be mine. I see past the gorgeous smiles and heart-stopping laughter. I see HER. She doesn’t want me to know her secrets or the past that haunts her, but I make it my mission to find out. 

To make her mine. 

She can run all she wants, but it will never be far enough to stop me from coming after her. 
She’s it for me and she knows it. 
She’s just too scared to admit it. 


Alright, so this is book 3 in the Corps Security series, but it's fully a stand alone. Each book connects with the others and some story line overlaps, but if you didn't read book 1 and 2 you won't be lost. Secondly, if you like romance but don't want to hear details so much, this book is not for you, nor is the series.

In this book we have Dee and Beck, two characters I'm on the fence about. Well, I don't like Dee so I guess I'm not on the fence with her. But Dee has clear mental health issues that extend all the way into her childhood, so as an adult she is a fake adult. She's as fake as they come, she acts like a bitch for no reason, pretends to be the mothering type with her friends, a man slayer, bad ass, independent woman. When REALLY she's insecure, unhappy, has PTSD, completely unable to tell the truth about how she feels, and has a bizarre obsession with not getting close to anyone and being pissed off with herself for not doing it. The majority of the book is all around that, and how Beck just takes her crap and sticks with it until (no shocker) he gets the girl!

Then all hell breaks loose with a drug addict/gunman, a master criminal, someone dies, and someone gets engaged. If you're following along you get little updates on previous characters, one of them are pregnant with twins! But what makes the whole thing crazy is the fact that Dee is crazy for book 1 and 2, and 3/4 of this one but faced with a gunman? Calm and totally OK. Not freaking out. She doesn't even panic when she meets the master criminal. Nope, calm and collected. Which is so bizarre and implausible I almost threw the book right there.

Overall? I can only give this book 3/5 stars and that's being really generous. I liked book 1 and 2, but book 3 was a dud and I think it's all because Dee is nuts and I don't like her. I don't think those type of characters are endearing and you can't redeem that. The only thing saving this book is Beck being such a great guy and Dee's right- she doesn't deserve him.
   

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sometimes when you think you're helpful, you're being lazy.

I'll start this by saying that my feelings about this are no way indicative of every person who is or has been in my position. I'll also put out there that I used to do all of these things, be that person, but I genuinely thought I was doing good.

I used to be one of those people who heard about suicide and immediately thought, "That is incredibly selfish. You're surrounded by people who want to help you and you don't even care enough to let them help." I was that person, no question. Full stop.

Then I became suicidal and I realize what an asshole I was. I wasn't helping by pointing any of this out, but what I was doing was trying to guilt the person into staying here. Guilt is not a reason to stay on Earth. Nobody should stay here because of what they can do for you, whether that's supporting you or just being the person under a title in your life (mother, father, friend, spouse, etc), or because you have fond memories and you like that person: that is not a good enough reason for them to stay alive because what that is is YOU being selfish. You're thinking about what you would be feeling with them gone instead of what it feels like for them to be alive every single day.

Sure, some depression is passing. We all have days where we think, "fuck it all, I'm done" and we have them in varying degrees. Some of us say it, don't mean it, and that's that. Some say it and maybe think about it in passing but it's enough to convince them it's just a bad day. Some people think about it hard, really weigh it out, but ultimately it passes and they are able to move on and be OK. Then there are some people where it is like a continuous loop of negative in our head. It's a cassette tape that never ends, it's on repeat, and you never shut it off. At best you can turn the volume down a bit but out of nowhere it gets cranked up and you suddenly feel like you have no control over it. If you hear something enough times, you agree with it. It's making valid point and it starts sounding like a better idea every day.

One of the resources available to all of us are suicide hotlines. I have called it one time in the last year and it was the worst 12 minutes of my life. I got a young sounding guy, sounded like a young boy, and he was reading of a terribly written script and when I detailed why I felt the way I do, he gave me silence. He had no answers for me, didn't have any information about where I should go for help, and I hung up that phone feeling worse than ever. I don't remember how I got through that night but it was hard. While I laid in my bed, with tears streaming down my face and my husband asleep next to me, I remember countless friends telling me to "reach out" if I need help.

So I did.

I made a lot of phone calls. Maybe because it was the middle of the night, but I got no answers. No returned texts. Nobody even returned the missed call they had to have seen on their phones. I can't fault them because we're all busy with our lives and I get it. I hate talking on the phone, so I understand about anxiety. I also know that nobody wants to be the last person someone talks to, it's a lot of pressure. What if they kill themselves, is it because of something you said? Did you motivate them to jump off the bridge?

I get it.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I will say this though, if you know someone who needs help, who is maybe on the fringe, do something. If they matter to you, do something. Call around and find the mental health resources in the area, sit with them, bring them food and hugs, let them cry no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, listen to them, don't tell them to be grateful or think of everyone who has it worse because in those moments? This is worse than cancer. It's worse than babies with cancer. I'm not kidding. In those dark moments the tape is so loud and it says every negative thing. It overpowers everything good in your life and you just want it to stop. If ending your life makes it stop, it is worth it, in those moments.

I won't pretend to tell you I've beaten it because I very much haven't. While my medications quiet the noise, I still hear it. The medication numbs my ability to plan but I still want to die each and every day. The medication slows me down and makes me tired, and I don't think I'd have the energy to do anything even if I had a solid plan. I'm also not begrudging anyone around me. I think you all genuinely think you've done everything you could or are comfortable doing. I get it. I'm with you, I don't know what I would do if the tables were turned. But I ask you, I beg you, please don't tell me to call a hotline, to reach out, to be grateful, to look at all of the good around me, because none of it helps and none of it matters. Give me an actual solution.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Crafty Saturday : kind of a thing

I haven't done a Crafty Saturday post in well over a year, possibly closer to two years. To be honest, I don't craft very much anymore. I've lost interest, my brain doesn't function great so trying to think about what to do and how to do it is really tough, and I feel very overwhelmed. But in recent months I've started feeling guilty because the kids love the scrapbooks, they spend a lot of time looking through them and talking about what we've done, and they subtly (or not so much) remind me that Penelope and Lucy will like it too.... if only I'd keep up with it. So I'm trying. 

This week I did two pages and finished putting together the Michigan trip album (from 2010). I forgot how good it feels to get things off of my desk and scrapbooking has always been a great way to get that feeling. 
They aren't great, but I guess it's a start? 
I'm so behind in photos so I've been trying to do the ones that are easiest thinking I'd gain momentum. And I was but now I'm out of adhesive and the thought of going to the store is overwhelming. 

Also this week I went to a painting class with my friend Tammy. The instructor was kind of rushed and it felt like a complete frenzy because there were multiple projects being done at once... it was just a lot. So our paintings were.. kind of interesting.  
In case you can't find up, we're in the lower left hand corner, front row. We're going to a string art class next for one of my friends, that should be fun, too. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

You Don't Look Adopted

Calm down, I am not adopted! But this is a very cool book about someone who is and what that can be like for someone.

You Don't Look Adopted - Anne Heffron

Adoption can be tricky. It's a wonderful thing to be chosen, to be brought up by loving parents, but in order for this to happen, there has to be an initial abandonment, and this loss can settle like a seed of unease in the adopted person, quite possibly affecting the entirety of his or her life. 
Anne Heffron, who'd been adopted at ten weeks old, embarked on a three-month journey she called "Write or Die", leaving California for her birth place, New York City, in order to do the one thing she'd been unable to do her entire adult life: tell her own story, and not the one she'd heard all her life that began, "The day we got you." 
You Don't Look Adopted is an intimate look at what it means for an adopted person to live in the world as someone who was both chosen and given away. 

I'm giving this one a solid 4 stars, right out the gate. I'm not adopted but I was able to finally "get it". I never used to get it when people had a disconnect and never felt part of something because of their adoption, or maybe they just don't know one of their parents, because I have few memories of my dad. He didn't want us, he couldn't contribute,  he was an alcoholic and that was more important. I eventually gained a step dad but I never felt like I was missing out, like a part of me is unfulfilled. But after reading Anne's book I get it.

I've not been shy about my struggles this last year and being suicidal but I never had a good statement to wave and say, THIS! This is how I feel. In Anne's book early on there is a line,

"What does valuable even mean? It means worth protecting, worth keeping alive. It means that sometimes I cross the street without looking both ways because I don't care if someone hits me."

THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL.

Another line that just called to me was on the next page, I think, and its in relation to her writing this book. She says,

"If you think your voice is dangerous in its ability to hurt the ones you love, you learn to keep it quiet. And then the real trouble starts."

I'm writing a book now and I struggle with writing my truth how I see it versus sparing feelings. I shouldn't spare feelings if it's my personal truth, right?

The entire story, from her childhood to adulthood, the author is able to show us why hers was different, what mistakes she made, what points of her life were maybe impacted by being adopted. It's written honestly and beautifully, your heart strings will be tugged hard. As a mom, I can't imagine what it is like to hand my baby over. I think when we look at certain issues we only see one facet of it, we don't look at the full circle. People often say that love can fix anything but that's not really true. This book highlights how that can be the case. Even the best of parents can't fix all of the broken pieces, fill all of the holes. I have no connection to adoption myself but I really felt the impact as if this was written for me. I love this author's voice so much, it makes it an easy read.

If you, or someone you know, is adopted this would be an excellent book for them. Maybe a great read for a newly adoptive parent, so you avoid the pitfalls of screwing your kid up more? HA! But truly, this book is so well written, it's going to be one I hold near and dear for a long while.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

17 Months

It feels so strange that Lucy is 17 months old but she definitely is. When I say 17 months in reference to her age it feels like such a long time, but when I think of 17 months in terms of my trauma? It's nothing at all. 
 Miss Lucy at 17 months is a copy cat. Whatever Penelope does, she can do better. Such as coloring on the walls. She's big into coloring now and prefers markers but will take all of the crayons as a substitute. 
 Lucy absolutely loves food. This girl enjoys food, she might end up being the foodie in the family. She gets excited when you tell her it's time to eat and she frantically runs to her chair to push it out. 
 Which is maybe why she loves the play kitchen so much. She particularly enjoys her tea set but she's just now getting into the "washing dishes" part of her kitchen. 
 Lucy and Penelope fight over these stupid Water Wow pens. We have four books, four pens, but it doesn't matter because they always want the one they don't have. It's frustrating. 
But at least these she can't draw on her face, or the walls, so that's a bonus. 

She isn't talking yet but every once in awhile we hear beginnings of: yes, no, dadda. Her hair is almost a reddish tint, which means every kid has a different color of hair! She remains a total sweetheart, loves to give hugs and kisses, really likes The Wiggles, dancing, music, her soft purple blanket, socks, and wearing shoes. She's the shoe fanatic. She loves to throw Twinky's toy, and she's starting to get vocal/angry/scream because Penelope does it over everything. Terrible two's are horrific and I hate that Lucy is picking up tips. 

We'll see what this month brings. My hope is it gets "warmer" so we can play in the snow. I hate winter but I'll take one for the team if it means they'll nap. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Maybe not a beach body but better than current?

If you are a long time reader of the blog you know that I have struggled on and off with my weight all my life. You might even remember me doing my walk/run thing on the fuckmill (treadmill) and successfully completing a bunch of 5k's. I was never fast, or skinny, but I was actually enjoying what I was doing and looking forward to races. 

Which sounds down right CRAZY TOWN to me now. 

I do know that I have some stumbling blocks to overcome. Things like my actual health, how I'm not supposed to exert myself too much and I will dehydrate alarmingly fast. I have an auto immune disorder so if I do anything too strenuous I will pay for it for several days, I'll have limited mobility and high pain. I also have diastasis recti, which just means my abdominal muscles never moved back into place after my last baby. Well, I don't think they ever went back after any of the babies, but I'm just now learning about it. I always look to be pregnant and I've had people ask me how far along I am. 

It's embarrassing. 

Right now, I vary between 3-6 months pregnant looking depending on how I feel, how much I hydrated the day before, etc. 

I decided that I would join Beachbody, try out a few programs to see if I can at least get some kind of jump start on feeling better. I have very low goals, 5 pounds lost this year, but that's going to be an uphill battle. I might lose 10 right away but my weight fluctuates wildly from day to day but the weight on file is 203.8. My heaviest ever was 212, so I'm right back where I started my first weight loss challenge. 
 So here is my obligatory "before" shot so you can kind of see where I'm at. 

I'm starting with the YouV2 program because it's low impact and really the most ideal for people who are grossly out of shape. Each session is like 30 minutes long and on day one I made it 17 minutes before almost passing out. 
 Lucy was proud anyways and kept giving me encouraging pats to my butt and then gave me total slobber kisses as I lay on the floor wondering if a tummy tuck would just be easier. 

I've legitimately thought about surgery but seeing people's drains and scars... I get the willies thinking about it. I just truly don't think I can do it. 
Here is the photo of me the day after that top one is taken, just so you can get an idea of how much I fluctuate. My pants, I never know what size I need that day so I have three sizes in rotation right now. Thank god I never got rid of any of them! 

So here we are, I'm trying. I'm expecting all of you to properly shame me if I fall off the wagon and/or drag my ass back onto it. 

(I got my shirt from Meowingtons, but you can also get them on Amazon)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The flamingo lives!

I was really glad that we were able to pay some things off so that Olivia could continue with dance this year. It's her favorite thing and I really enjoy watching her every year. Last year was the first year for our new coach and I'm not going to lie, the girls were terrible. I think it was just a new thing and it takes awhile to find a teaching style that matches up with the kids you have. You wouldn't know any of that this year at our first recital in December- these girls were GREAT. 

 Olivia was front and center. Her kicks were straight (not this one), high, and on sync with the counts. 
 She also gets the award for best smile because my girl had a smile on her face the entire time. She is totally ready for competition this year. 
 Look at her pose!! This one was my favorite because her legs are so long and thin, they remind me of a flamingo. I call her my little flamingo and it's our little thing. Sometimes I'll find a flamingo thing and hide it in her backpack or in her bed- she gets a kick out of it. 
 She was so proud of herself after the recital and she should be, that was a tremendous performance. We also got to see the high school dance team (a goal for Olivia) and she really enjoyed watching them. They did two dances but the Harry Potter dance was my favorite. 
We start hip hop this month and both of those teams will be going to competition this year. I'm always nervous for her and them but after seeing their routine in December? These girls are on point. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Slave

If you aren't a long time blog reader you might not know why I would have chosen this book to read for review. First, I had an uncle who was in what you would consider a vegetative state for five months before he passed away. You always hope that they can hear you and that you're making them comfortable and doing the best possible thing for them but you never really know, do you? Also, there was a time during my AFE that I was in a coma and nobody knew if I was processing anything that was happening to me or not, and I don't know because I have no memory of it. I wish I did though.

The Slave - Anand Dilvar

A profound and paradigm-challenging book that guides readers through a transformative journey to personal freedom.

Trapped in a vegetative state, following a terrible accident that has paralyzed his whole body, the narrator is unable to communicate with those around him. Cut off from family and friends so begins an inner conversation with his spiritual guide, a conversation which takes him on a journey of self-realization, bringing him eventually to a new state of consciousness, and an understanding of his deepest self.

Written with an engaging simplicity, this is a truly profound book which can change your life. In fact to use the authors own words, it is designed to shake, shudder and wake us up. It is a book that has nothing to do with success, social recognition, with the accumulation of goods; but everything to do with joy, love and peace.

This is the Spanish to English translation of the book so I'll tell you some of the phrasing used in the book doesn't feel as natural as it maybe would in Spanish, but don't let that deter you from this. This is so well written that I often wondered if it was a true story, to be able to get into the mind of a young man in a vegetative state is kind of unbelievable. We have a young man, The Slave, who we first meet by learning he's in this state, the morning light is blinding him but he cannot blink. He's discovering her cannot move, he cannot communicate that the light is blinding him and he actually wonders if this is death. Unfortunately it isn't and he spends a great deal of time wishing her were dead until he "meets" The Guide, an inner voice who helps him ponder the meaning of life and death, really. He's fully cognizant of everything around him, the kind nurse (Faith) who cares for him so gently, to the meaner nurse who callously says he should just be unplugged so someone else can still use his organs. (The interaction with her at the end of this book is SO GREAT.)

The Slave learns he's about to become a father unbeknownst to him and he's trying to decide if that baby is worth living for even if it means he could never communicate or hold it, is that really going to be enough? I can't tell you what he decides or what happens after he makes that decision, but this book.. wow. It's only 127 pages long but it will get you right in the feels, it'll make you look at people differently, approach humanity in a different way, make you wonder what qualifies as living, it would make an EXCELLENT book club choice. Heck, I'd even use it for high school or college kids to discuss, the discussions from it would be fascinating.

It feels weird to give a book 5 stars right out the gate in 2018 but I have to. This book has stuck with me and I find myself thinking about it in different ways long after I've put it down. If that isn't 5 star material, I don't know what is.

   

You Need A Budget

Every year people make resolutions and often times, improving their finances is one of the top ones we hear. But how many of those people actually improve their finances? Make the hard decisions and lifestyle changes that got you into the mess in the first place?

Almost none.

You Need A Budget - Jesse Mecham
A guide based on the tenets of the award-winning financial platform, "You Need a Budget," argues that a well-planned budget does not involve deprivation and counsels readers on how to prioritize financial goals, reduce stress through strategic cash flow allocations and meet the challenges of unplanned expenses.
As a graduate of the Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, I can tell you that this is almost identical. Sure, there are a couple of differences and the steps are condensed, but it's almost the same thing. Not a bad thing if you aren't real religious (Dave's program is really God centered and that might not be your gig.). This is like the short cut to Dave's program, so in theory, that would make it easier.

Every dollar has a job is a line you read throughout the book and it's exactly what Dave says, instead of flitting your money away, give every single dollar coming in a very specific job in your budget. Is it going towards existing debt? Your savings account? Maybe one of your month to month bills? It's not saying you can't have a fun money fund, but you don't actually have fun money until your debt is gone, your month to month bills are under control, and you have something in your savings. Not many people want to hear that and telling people no, you can't do this because you can't afford it isn't a popular thing to do as they clutch their credit card.

What sets this apart from Dave is that Jesse Mecham talks about how to get your kids on board and teach them to look at budgeting in their lives. Maybe they get birthday money, allowance, mow lawns in the summer, at some point they will have money and it's easier to teach good money practices now than it is trying to reverse several years of bad practice later on. He ends the book with parting words but also a whole section dedicated to those times you feel like giving up and charging all of the things. It's a great motivational piece with practical tips on making a realistic budget we can all maintain.

I'm giving this one a solid 4/5 stars because it's practical and good for beginners and those of us in the practice of using a monthly budget already.
      

Friday, January 5, 2018

Secret Baby, Second Chance

Before I get into this post, CALM DOWN, it's just a book review. I'm not pregnant or running away, just calm down lambs. OK?

OK. Let's do this.

Secret Baby, Second Chance - Jane Godman
A terrorized young mother and her secret child return home, where a killer awaits...She's alive! Vincente Delaney has finally found his girlfriend, Beth Wade, who disappeared a year and a half ago, alive. But he's shocked to discover someone with her: their child, a little girl he never knew about! Once upon a time, lone wolf Vincente never expected forever with Beth, but now he must put everything on the line to protect her and their family.Beth was forced to leave Vincente to protect everything she held dear. But now the threat to her loved ones' lives has reared its ugly head again. As danger approaches, she and Vincente must delve into her past to cast out the darkness jeopardizing their future.

I'm kind of mixed on this one for a couple of reasons. One, this is exactly the same cheesy cover you would associate with Harlequin from years ago. Normally this would be a turn off for me, I wouldn't see this on a table or shelf at Barnes & Noble and pick it up, it feels run of the mill. So the cover was blah. I should also note that this is the third in the Sons of Stillwater series but these are stand alone. I didn't even realize it was further into a series until I had finished it up, and I didn't feel like I was missing important plot information from previous books, they are all their own story, so don't let that hold you back.

Alright so this book is mostly about Beth, on the run with her baby from an unknown killer. Vincente is the baby daddy and her lover with which she had a very hot and cold affair with, and he's set out to find her. When he does, he discovers he has a child and his immediate anger at Beth for keeping that from him is replaced by concern, and maybe a little love, when he realizes that Beth has a legitimate fear for her and her baby's life. The concern is around a hiking trip she took years ago in which a hiker was severely injured, and later murdered. Someone is taking out each hiker one by one and taunting them until they get to them. Vincente vows to protect Beth and bring this murderer to justice.

Overall? It almost reminded me of Dean Koontz's IceBound, something I read way back in my high school days (adult books were far more entertaining), because of the connection with snow and mountains and hidden killers. I had a hard time sticking with it but once the story got going and my interest in who the real killer was, and why, I stuck with it and was pleasantly surprised that I couldn't figure out who the killer was despite the clues that I put together in hindsight. Overall? A solid 3/5 stars. I will say that Harlequin continues to deliver solid romance and this one is accurately dubbed as Romantic Suspense, it delivered for its genre.

   

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Random musings from the homestead

It seems like forever since I've just chatted with you, so let's do that.

Currently


  • Matt is fixing the upstairs bathroom shower pipe thingie. Apparently it's a nightmare because the guy who we bought the house from fancied himself a handyman and (spoiler alert) he was not. A lot of things are done really wrong in the house and we are fixing them as we find them but this is a nightmare. I'm hearing swear words, loud grinding that shakes the entire house, and he's opened a hole in Jackson's closet. I just.. I'm just hoping this is done by bedtime. BUT! I will be grateful when it's done because for weeks now it started as a drip, to a steady drip, to sounding like someone is peeing all of the time in the tub. I can't sleep like this. 
  • Olivia has her first band concert at school in like 15 days. She is practicing the flute non stop and I hate the flute. I strongly suggested she do choir, but nope. She wanted flute. I think she hates me and is doing this on purpose. 
  • Olivia also wants to babysit SO badly, but I'm nervous about turning her loose on someone else's kids without knowing if she can do it. I talked with her for awhile about babysitting Penelope and Lucy for an hour or two, alone, to get a feel for it and see how comfortable she feels. I'd pay her, obviously, and that was all she cared about. So we'll see. I'm confident she can do it but I'd like to know how well she can handle it on her own without me here as backup. 
  • Matt got me a Tyme Iron for Christmas. I've been mesmerized by the how to videos on YouTube for years. I almost never do my hair and I cannot operate a curling iron, but I can use a flat iron, so I figured this would be a breeze. It is not. It's really effing hard and I hurt my elbow trying. I just want pretty girl hair. 
  • Something loud just crashed upstairs and the expletives are flying. So glad I didn't clean the bathroom earlier, it sounds like it would have been for nothing. 
  • I just started reading a really cool book that's about a man in a vegetative state who is fully aware, just unable to communicate with people. I didn't think it would be a tough read but man... I'm on chapter two and it's a gut punch and makes me feel a little panicky. 
  • I am SO glad my sister in law got me fingerless gloves for Christmas- I wear them a few times every day and it really helps with my hands not turning purple. I'm supposed to keep my hands warm and that's tough because I can't regulate my temperature well and these really help. 
  • I joined a Beachbody team and I'm going to start the YouV2 program. I hoped to do it tonight but I feel like I'm going to barf on myself so probably not. Instead, I'll do my recumbent bike and listen to hip hop from the 2000s because that's where it's at this week. 
  • I found a mom on a Facebook group I'm in who got NOTHING for Christmas from her family. I felt really terrible so I'm mailing her a box of fun stuff. I need to get to the post office and do that. That will be my random act of kindness this week. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Anxious energy = bookshelf organization

One of the things in my house that always makes people say, "Holy crap, Sara!" are my bookshelves. It's my pride and joy. I'm not even kidding. 

I have a lot of people who come over to borrow books and I realized I'm always going from one side of the room to the next, and it's crazy. Olivia wants to read Young Adult and I have those all mixed around and it's just a mess. 
 See? 

So my solution was to spend the afternoon on New Year's Day and organize it all. 
 So that's what I did. I  made my own genre dividers for non-fiction and young adult because everything else is fiction. But now Olivia will know exactly what books are OK for her to read. I don't need her picking up Fifty Shades of Grey and asking me questions I'm not ready to answer. 
 I also had artwork and cute things friends had sent me and I thought now would be an OK time to finally hang them! The dot photo in the middle is from my blog reader, Bev and she makes the coolest pictures! 
 My two photo frames that are falling apart so I put them on the wall so they wouldn't get knocked over and break. I also found that cool wooden sign at a local funky junk store. 

But you want to see my after shelves, right?? 
 So these shelves are on the wall you can't see from the dining room area. I have a lot of my dirty romance novels on here, not all of them but the majority are over here. All of my Linda Howard books are on the very top. Oh- and you can see the hand drawn goat picture my Australian friend Jandy made me, the coffee mug Jackson made me and the maracas from my grandparent's trip to Mexico forever ago. 
 This is my large wall of books! You can't see my dividers well here but the bottom row and three quarters of the second row are my YA books, the rest of the shelf is non-fiction. The top three are fiction. Some are chick lit, some are romance, basically I have every genre covered here somewhere. 

I didn't take a picture of my third set of shelves because I'm still working that area out. It's my review books, my to-do basket, random things. I have to figure out a good way to manage it.

I've mentioned last year my goal was to read the things that have been on my shelf for awhile versus buying new books. I found the PERFECT motivation for that!


If you're interested in joining, head over to NovelKnight for challenge details. Every time you read a book published in 2017 or earlier, you get a point for your team (teams are randomly assigned). The team with the most points at specific points in the year are then eligible to win prizes! It'll be a good way to keep me accountable, get me to my 105 book goal for Goodreads, give you reviews, and justify my ridiculous amount of purchases. WIN for us all. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Christmas.

We do our Christmas in three parts, Matt's family, my family, and then our little family. This year was the first year we didn't have my Grandpa Dennis and Grandma Linda with us, and it was really strange. Grandma Linda has cancer and isn't doing well, so she wasn't on hand to bring deviled eggs (which I hate cooking and refuse) and jello jigglers for the kids. Jackson and Olivia both kept saying how much they missed my grandparents. It was kind of a bummer.

So this year my brother, his wife, and their daughter were going to be up on Christmas Eve so that morning we went over to my mom's house to open presents and hang out for a bit. 
Lucy took to Aunt Krystle easily and I love this picture of the two of them.  
 Penelope was ready to open everyone's presents so we had to stick her by me so we could slow her roll. 
 Lucy was a bit hesitant at first. 
 Then she fully understood what to do and was all about it. 
 My parents got Jackson a metal detector. His face does not fully convey how totally geeked out he was about it. 
 Olivia got a really nice jacket from Abercrombie & Fitch, and both her and Jackson got maroon Converse, which they asked for. She got a bunch of crafty stuff, too. 
 Matt and I wore our National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation shirts I ordered off of Etsy. They were amazing. 
 Penelope and her cousin Adriana sort of played together. Penelope is kind of bossy and she wants to be friends but I don't think Adriana is used to a rough and tumble kid like Penelope. Ha!

After that we grabbed a quick lunch and headed out to Matt's parent's home to continue with Christmas Eve. The roads on our way were absolutely horrible so that was not a fun drive. Thankfully the ride home was much smoother. 
 Lucy wasn't excited about wearing hats but I grabbed a quick picture of us before she threw it. 
 By this point the kids knew what to do. Uncle Karl got Penelope real markers and that was fun. She's already colored on the wall here. 
And on her face and clothes the day of. I cannot wait until Karl has kids of his own. I'm making a list of all of the worst toys and I'm going to be the coolest aunt ever.  
 Jackson sat on my lap for a bit and he said we should take a picture, so we did. 

After that we headed home and Penelope and Lucy were exhausted by the time we came home so they went straight to bed. We had Olivia and Jackson go, too because I was beat and wanted to clean up quickly before Santa came. 
 As you can see, Santa literally threw things around the tree and called it good. Probably because I forgot cookies and milk. 
 The next day I got literally the only picture with kids and tree and it sucks. 
 The just kids picture isn't any better but I guess everyone's technically in it so we shall call it a win. 
 I'm kind of a mean mom because I require everyone to eat breakfast first so I made cinnamon roll french toast and eggs, we cleaned up, and then we got down to presents. It's just so much more relaxed and calm and I'll take it. By this point Lucy was a pro.
 Penelope's favorite Disney Princess right now is Rapunzel so I found a big Rapunzel and Maximus horse (who she calls "pony") on super sale. Normally $69.99 and I got it for $14.99. I could not pass that up and it's currently in bed with her right now. 
 Olivia has asked for Ugg boots for years. This year I decided I would get her some because she needed warmer boots to walk to the bus stop in and I found a good Cyber Monday deal and only paid $75 for them. I ended up ordering a size bigger hoping she can use them for next year, too. 
 Jackson has wanted this robot for months. He looked at it every time we went to the store, looked up YouTube videos for it, and when I saw it on clearance at Walmart? Totally bought it. This thing is over $100 normally and I got it for $60. He was clearly excited. 
But the big one? He got to join a coding club at school and they code (whatever that means) and use this Dot & Dash Robot thing. It's expensive but Jackson kind of gets the shaft in everything and he's been raving about coding non stop so I thought what the heck. His face was the best thing ever. He's played non stop with it and is learning things like crazy. 

The big kids also got TV's for their rooms (really small ones that we bought on super sale months ago and just stored them in the garage) and they lost their shit. I wish my phone hadn't blinked out otherwise I would have a great photo of it. 

Overall? It was a good Christmas. I am really glad I started buying things in February because that worked out for me this year. I wasn't stressed out and I had everything wrapped by December. It's the way to go so I've got my eye out on some things for next year for people.