Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Review: Cooper

I'm trying to get through my series' on my book shelf but I'm doing it so slowly. Hopefully I can pick up the pace a bit, I have one left in this series and I can already feel that it's going to be massive.

Cooper - Harper Sloan

Do you take me seriously? Because I don’t. I use my jokes and easygoing personality to hide the pain I’ve felt since he took his last breath. I’m adrift without my partner in crime, my best friend…my brother. I can taste the vengeance just within my grasp. 


Until she barges into my life. Promising me happiness and a peace I’ve been craving for years. She is the sun to my darkness, the happy to my despair. 



But she holds secrets. Just like I do. She holds hers close, where I just pray mine don’t rock the walls we’re trying to build. 



Now I’m stuck at a crossroads between my desire for revenge and my craving for her and the life we could have together—and I have no idea which road I should travel. 



All I know with crystal clear certainty is that the past has the power to destroy it all. 

I know I've said that you don't need to read the other books to understand the current one, but I lied. The more I read these the more I feel like you do need to read the series, especially if this one. Asher Cooper comes into the fold because his brother is essentially murdered trying to protect one of their own. Asher is grieving in a self destructive way, and Chelcie is there to pick up the pieces.. or take the brunt of his grief.

Once Asher gets over himself, and learns Chelcie is pregnant with his brother's oopsie baby, he's determined to crawl out of this hole he's put himself in. He is trying to seek revenge for his brother's death not realizing that it could take him away from Chelcie and the baby forever.

I won't lie, I really liked this book. I like all of these leading men in the series so far and this book was no exception. The best part? Is there is a MAJOR twist in plot towards the end of this one, I thought for sure it was going to end differently and bam- we've got a surprise. I can tell this is Harper Sloan's earlier work because her newer books have a more refined feel to them but these are really good and I recommend this series if you're looking for fast reads with hot guys.

   

Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Review: Love Hack

I'm a fan of short books so when I heard about this one coming in at around 160 pages, I was all in.

Love Hack - Kimberly  Dean

Security analyst Spencer Weiler is excited when he lands a job at Afire Industries. The responsibility is daunting, but nowhere near as exhilarating as working with Josie Johnson, the pretty program manager in charge. Spencer lusts after her, but knows that she only sees him as a work friend. He needs to make himself over if he’s going to have a shot with her. 

Josie is all too aware of the cute computer geek watching over her. He was tempting before, but with his newfound muscles and sexy haircut, he’s suddenly an irresistible stud. She makes the first move and is stunned to learn that her hot IT guy is just as studious in the sack. Their affair turns hot and heavy, but Josie had broken her rule about dating coworkers once before. It hadn’t ended well. When her ex returns and posts scandalous pictures of her on the Internet, it’s not Spencer’s muscles that she needs. She needs a hacker. 


So in this book we have Spencer, newly hired to Afire to help with security after a hack in the start up company portion of Afire. As soon as he meets Josie, who runs the start up, he's instantly smitten. In love, even. He's never seen anyone like her and he can't help but lose his cool around her. She has sworn off dating people she works with after her ex Nolan continues to harass her. That doesn't stop Spencer though, when he finds out some compromising photos of Josie are unleashed onto the Internet, he steps in to save the day... which jump starts their relationship.

I'm giving this one a solid 3.5 stars and I'm only knocking it down a bit because I hate that Spencer feels like he has to buff up for Josie. I'm appreciative that he did for description purposes, but I hate when people feel like they have to change who they are to impress someone else.. is that a good basis for a relationship? I don't think so. I did like the story line with the compromising photos and the ex, and I love how Spencer steps in to save the day (repeatedly). If I had to find another fault it would definitely be Josie and her damsel in distress, over-reacting, and unable to help herself for all of her logical thinking, it almost doesn't jive. Her pen collection? Love it and I'm secretly jealous.

Overall? It's a great little read, plenty of sexy action and a pretty solid little story to go along with it, minus the little things I didn't care for. Solid 3.5 star.

   

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is it really spring? Like for reals this time?

The last week in northern Wisconsin  has been pretty decent. I won't say great because I reserve that for shorts and flip flop weather, but it's been decent. We had a day there where I rode around town with my sun roof open and I got cocky because now it's back down into the 40's. 

But Matt and I ordered a big slide/climber thing for our yard because in the summer our park gets crowded with big kids who aren't always gentle with a couple of toddlers and this way, once we fence the yard in, I can let them play and have fun without worry. So while that was being shipped, we made do with what we had. 
Including the one bubble gun everyone fights over. 

We've gone on family lunch dates again like we usually did on Saturdays. It's been nice. 
 This last week I took pictures of Lucy because she was especially happy and cute. 
 And excited for food. If you ask her to show you her excited face, this is what she does and shakes as she does it. 

We came home to play outside on our old/smaller slide/climber. 
 It served us well for two years. 
 But it's a little small for even Lucy, so it was time for something a little bigger. 
 That arrived on a semi truck this week and Matt was outside until 9:30 at night putting it all together so the girls could play on it on Wednesday. It's hard to tell but Lucy's face is kind of priceless in this picture!
 They had a great time on it! We're hoping to move it to the front yard once the fence goes in but for now, right by the back door is just fine. 
And another of Lucy who I think was trying to say "cheese". 

But tonight we are going to grill for the first time because I have some burgers to use up and the wind isn't off the lake quite yet. This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, and Sunday is Penelope's birthday so we are going to do a little family get together and then Matt and I are going to dinner and a show for a date. I'm pretty excited, I might even dress up. We'll see. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

That time Penelope pooped herself.

I honestly can't believe I've waited so long to post about this because it was funny at the time. Now it's even funnier because it's absurd.

A few weeks ago now, we were having a fairly regular day. My mom was here helping me and the little girls were in my office playing, I must have been in the dining room or something. Out of nowhere, the most terrifying scream erupts from my office so we all come running.

Only to see Penelope standing there, shaking like a leaf, clearly terrified. Of what? We don't know.

What we do know is that she was so scared she actually pooped herself.

My mom changes her, I go looking for a cause, finding nothing. I gently ask Penelope to show me what was so scary but she won't. She took forever to go back to playing in there and I never did figure it out.

Fast forward a few days and she's playing in the living room, starts screaming just the same again. This time I'm intrigued so I ask her what was going on. She tells me it's a spider.

FINALLY! Something I can look for!

Except there is no spider.

All there is a furball from a cat.

Penelope believes they are spiders and therefore, is absolutely terrified of them. We have three cats. I bet you can assume how fun my life is right now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ultrasounds, not just for babies.

Can I just say that it was extremely strange to have an ultrasound done when I'm not pregnant? I didn't really put much thought into it before I got there but as I'm laying down and she put the gel on my stomach, I had a little bit of a panic attack and decided I absolutely couldn't look at the screen.

I was getting an ultrasound done before my endoscopy in June to figure out why my stomach and abdominal area hurt all of the time. This was checking for gallstones, I think.

But it just reminded me that I will never be pregnant again. Don't get me wrong, I don't want another baby- four is quite enough, thank you very much. But the idea that I can't ever do it again feels... constricting. It's one thing to know you could technically still have another baby, even though you don't want one versus knowing that the option was taken away from you. My parts don't work the way they should anymore and there is no fix for that. It won't get better.

So as I was laying there it was a really strange feeling. It got me wondering if things like this will always pop up and take me aback, surprise me. Will these feelings ever just go away? How do I make them not happen? I'd really like to go through my life not being affected by pregnant women, ultrasounds, vaginal exams, new babies, all of it. I feel like such a terrible person who can't be happy for people in the mix of all the greatness that is a new baby because of my terrible experience. I shouldn't feel sad or angry, I had four babies, more than so many women get.

Which only reminds me of being angry because I can't remember their new baby smell, their cries, things they liked. Did they like to snuggle? Did I? Did they like fresh pajamas and baths? Lullabies? What was my favorite thing about them? Did they have fuzzy hair on their heads? Did I rub my face on it?

None of this is fair and I don't know how to get over this hump. It feels like a mountain some days.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: You All Grow Up & Leave Me

I wanted to review this one because the premise is so much like what we've seen in the news within the last couple of years- teachers running away with their students. It's so bizarre, it makes it fascinating.

You All Grow Up and Leave Me - Piper Weiss

A highly unsettling blend of true crime and coming-of-age memoir— The Stranger Beside Me meets Prep—that presents an intimate and thought-provoking portrait of girlhood within Manhattan’s exclusive prep-school scene in the early 1990s, and a thoughtful meditation on adolescent obsession and the vulnerability of youth.

Piper Weiss was fourteen years old when her middle-aged tennis coach, Gary Wilensky, one of New York City’s most prestigious private instructors, killed himself after a failed attempt to kidnap one of his teenage students. In the aftermath, authorities discovered that this well-known figure among the Upper East Side tennis crowd was actually a frightening child predator who had built a secret torture chamber—a "Cabin of Horrors"—in his secluded rental in the Adirondacks.

Before the shocking scandal broke, Piper had been thrilled to be one of "Gary’s Girls." "Grandpa Gary," as he was known among his students, was different from other adults—he treated Piper like a grown-up, taking her to dinners, engaging in long intimate conversations with her, and sending her special valentines. As reporters swarmed her private community in the wake of Wilensky’s death, Piper learned that her mentor was a predator with a sordid history of child stalking and sexual fetish. But why did she still feel protective of Gary, and why was she disappointed that he hadn’t chosen her?

Now, twenty years later, Piper examines the event as both a teenage eyewitness and a dispassionate investigative reporter, hoping to understand and exorcise the childhood memories that haunt her to this day. Combining research, interviews, and personal records, You All Grow Up and Leave Me explores the psychological manipulation by child predators—their ability to charm their way into seemingly protected worlds—and the far-reaching effects their actions have on those who trust them most. 

This one was kind of hard for me to get through and I'll be honest, I could have put it down by the mid point and called it good because I just couldn't get into it. Though I finished it, it felt kind of pointless. The book is kind of odd and uncomfortable in a lot of ways and that's saying something for me because I'll read most anything. There are large chunks of this book that feels pointless and could be taken out, it took so long to get to the dramatics of the story that it's hard to get (and stay) engaged.

What was interesting is that the question that basically spurred the book was "why not her?". Why was she not the attempted kidnapping victim? What was it about that particular student and not her that would lead a man to throw his life away? It is a true crime story memoir so if you're a fan of that, you likely will enjoy this book a lot. Or if you are a fan of the early 90's tennis scene you might relate to all of the references and information about it.

It just reminded me of that recent case where a teacher abducted his student who he was in love with and seemingly held her hostage. I will never understand what sends people over the edge like that.

Overall the book was just OK for me. It wasn't great but it wasn't awful because once we get into the meat of it, I perked up, it just took awhile to get there. The writing feels like we're wandering aimlessly sometimes and that makes it hard to stick with. But this would be an interesting book to pick apart at a book club or discussion group because there were so many opportunities this guy had to do this with any of this students but he picked this one girl for a reason. She fought back but I wonder if in hindsight he thought of another student who probably wouldn't have fought back? What if that girl never did fight back, do you think he would have continued picking students? It's strange because I guess we'll never really know how the human mind works in these situations.

I'm giving this one a solid 3 stars. I would have given it 2 but the true crime aspect of it was fascinating for me even if the memoir aspect didn't grab me as much.
   

Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: Sometimes I Lie

This book was heavily promoted this winter and just the premise alone was intriguing, so I didn't read any reviews and I impulsively bought this while at the mall visiting the Easter Bunny.

Sometimes I Lie - Alice Feeney

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 
1. I’m in a coma. 
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. 
3. Sometimes I lie. 

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth?


When I immediately finished this book my first thought was that it didn't live up to the hype and was stupid. Fast forward a day and I'm still thinking about it and the more I do, the more I like this book. Things that didn't make sense at the end kind of do now and it's like a slow burn- the author's talent in this book comes out so slowly but in the most perfect way. To be honest, I have no idea who is really who, which girl really wrote the diaries, and which girl really belongs with the parents. I have no idea and it's so bizarre but I'm left thinking both sisters are absolutely sociopaths, hands down.

So in this book it flip flops from before Christmas and after Christmas, there was an accident somewhere in the middle that leaves Amber in a coma. She's aware of her surroundings but she can't remember what exactly what happened, but the police seem to think it was her husband that left her covered in bruises behind the wheel of a car. Or was she? Maybe she wasn't driving. Maybe it was the guy she inadvertently found herself having an affair with? Or maybe her sister Claire is involved? Her friend Jo might know, but nobody knows where Jo is. And how is Madeline connected in all of this?

The first 3/4 of this book are SO SLOW and you're reading it thinking you need this information, it's all important somehow but you don't know why, so it takes you such a long time to get through it. Then, out of nowhere, the ball picks up and all of these facts and details are coming at you and you're left feeling like you have whip lash because it's like, WHAT?! What is even going on here?! The ending was very good but it's killing me to not know where the damn bracelet came from?? When the story unravels and you figure out what's going on, you feel so stupid that you didn't read between the lines the whole time and to me, that is a master storyteller.

Excellent book, I highly recommend this one if you're a fan of thrillers.
   

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Book Review: Break Point

I can't wait to tell you about what I did yesterday but that'll come soon enough. But I had an amazing day. To top it off, I finished this book so it made it an even better day.

Break Point - Rachel Blaufeld

Juliette Smith, star tennis player, is starting over at a new university. Traumatized by hazing at her last school, all she wants is to attend classes, win tennis matches, and be left the hell alone.
She should have known her coach, Drew King, would be a problem from the moment he flexed his sexy-as-hell forearms.
What happens when you mix a pissed-off woman with a bunch of snooty teammates and a hot coach? 
A heated match, complete with team politics and a forbidden game of singles with the coach.


It’s reckless and hot until one of them taps out.

Unable to admit she may be better off as a double, Jules is convinced she needs to play the game of life alone. Then life throws her a lob and she runs smack into her past.
Coach King is back, and he wants to take control of the game. But she’s not certain she wants his advice when it comes to the life she’s built.
The power struggle is on, but this time off the court.

Alright, so this book actually moves pretty quickly and I really appreciated that. I hate books that take FOREVER to get to the point and this book got good almost immediately.

We have Juliette, Jules, who is a college student/tennis player who is transferring from another college after a fairly traumatizing experience. She is smitten with her coach, Drew King, almost immediately and he takes an interest in her as well. Obviously a forbidden romance, they begin a relationship in secret and when it threatens to expose them both, Drew up and disappears, leaving Jules devastated. Time brings them together again six years later but things are totally different for them. Jules has a secret she's kept from Drew, can they work past that and start again?

This book was so great. I really enjoyed it, flew through it in a short amount of time. It's not overtly sexual, we've got some love scenes but they aren't in explicit detail, but you get enough to feel steamy. I loved their story, I loved their characters, but Drew is so stand up and good that you can't help but root for them. My only criticism is that Jules is a little too stubborn that it almost makes me doubt if her feelings for Drew match his for hers. It's not major but it's enough to knock it down a little from a 5 star review.

I received this one in my recent Bookworm Box subscription and it's another 4.5 star book from them. As expensive as the box is, their book selections have been on point. I can't remember a book I've received that I haven't loved.

   

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book Review: That's What She Said

I picked this one to review because I'm raising three daughters (and a boy) and I want them to all grow up to be feminists. This is such an inspiring book to have on your table. Go get it.

That's What She Said- Wise Words From Influential Women: Kimothy Joy

An artist and activist committed to the empowerment of women and girls has created a gorgeous illustrated volume, blending watercolor and short biography to showcase the contributions of more than fifty influential female leaders whose words and actions are a passionate call to arms.


Distraught by the results of the 2016 election and the realization that the nation was not ready for its first female president, Kimothy Joy found herself poring over the biographies of brave women throughout history—those who persisted in the face of daunting circumstances—to learn from their experiences.

Turning to art, Joy channeled her feelings to the canvas, bringing these strong women to life in bold watercolor portraits surrounded by inspirational hand-lettered quotes. With each creation, Joy found catharsis and hope. She shared her watercolors with her online community and encouraged everyone to raise their own voices and recharge for the battles ahead.

Now, in this beautiful gift book, Joy has gathered her stunning illustrations and quotes and paired them with surprising, illuminating biographies of her subjects to inspire women of all ages, races, and backgrounds. That’s What She Said honors a powerful and diverse group of over fifty women—from Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Virginia Woolf to Sojourner Truth, Malala Yousafzai, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—role models whose words and insights remind us that we must never give up the fight for a more just and equitable society.

Reclaiming the derogatory cultural barb "that’s what she said," this stunning book celebrates strong female leadership throughout history and empowers current and future generations to find their voices and inspire change in their communities.


I have to say I'm not sold on the cover, but I can see why an understated and simple design would be pleasing to the eye. If you are looking for positive affirmations and encouraging words every day, this is a great book to add to your collection. Forget Pinterest motivational quotes from nobody, this has what you need from people we all know (Maya Angelou, Anne Frank, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, etc) and some that aren't household names (Zaha Hadid, Wilma Mankiller, Patsy Mink, Emmeline Pankhurst, Shirley Chisholm, etc).

The book includes a short bio of each woman featured, including why you should know about them, and the opposite page has a stand out quote from them. The book also has each contributor drawn in a brilliant illustration. I got through the book rather quickly (it's just over 100 pages) but I finished it feeling more pride in women than I did before and had a greater appreciation of the trials these women went through to get to where they are today (or when they passed away, in some cases). If your daughter has the task of dressing up as someone famous, this is your one stop shop on who to pick and the choices are pretty fantastic.

It's currently available on Amazon (of course) but I encourage you to peruse the HarperCollins online store because you're going to find great deals on this book and many others!

   

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An endo what?!

So I figured I'd give an update before I forget about it. Or forget that I told you. Both are viable options here.

Yesterday I went to yet another specialist, Gastroenterology, so I continue to make my rounds to every practice within the St. Luke's health system. I've been having stomach issues since my AFE that I'm just now dealing with.

At first I was told that major surgery (emergency c-section) was to blame and give it time to heal. Did that. Then I was told maybe it was my medications so maybe I should adjust them. Did that. Maybe it was my diet and I should change it. Did it. Maybe I needed to get more exercise. Been doing that.

And still, I continue to have issues. The worst being random, intense pain in my entire stomach region. Below my boobs but above my belly button, it feels like I'm in labor but I'm clearly not. Sometimes I can deal with it and it doesn't stop me. A few times it was so intense I had to lay down. About a month ago it was so bad that I debated going to the ER for it. I didn't because by the time I convinced myself I should just go already, it was getting better and fading away. I'm dealing with everything from gas, constipation, to diarrhea, sometimes within the same hour.

Needless to say I hate going out into the world because I literally have no idea what kind of day it's going to be.

I consulted with Rheumatology, we ruled out my medications. I consulted with my primary care doctor, she felt it was best I go right to Gastroenterology because I would likely end up there anyways. I had spoke to my Endocrinologist about it but he said that while some of it likely is related to my steroids and hypopituitarism, the intense pain is not common so he thinks I should see gastro, too.

So I went.

The doctor was really very nice and he asked me a LOT of questions. I think this man knows more about my poop than I do so that's exciting. I think he had a few ideas in his head as to what it could be, but he also confirmed that a lot of the motility issues with my intestines and stuff are related to the hypopituitarism and that it in fact, will only get worse as I age. Something new about my acquired condition that I didn't know about. Makes me wonder what else is waiting for me that I have no idea is coming. But he has ordered a crap ton of labwork, an ultrasound, and an endoscopy.

What you should never do when you hear of a new test is Google it. Sometimes I feel like Google should just go away already because nothing good comes of it. You're either dying or going to be gutted by a camera on a string basically. So that procedure is scheduled for June 25 and has "prep" that goes on up to three days before. Luckily my prep is on a weekend versus during the week so I'll take it. But I'll have to have Matt drive me because I'll be put out for this thing being shoved down my throat and into my upper GI tract to take a look around.

Normally I wouldn't freak out, I'll be sleeping, what's to worry about? It's not like I'll see it going down my throat. My fear is coming into play because this will be my first major procedure since my "routine" emergency c-section. I'll be put out which means I need an IV of Cortisol because my body doesn't produce it and your body produces a lot of it during "stressful situations", which this would be one. I have to make sure they know that and do it otherwise I could go into adrenal crisis right away and if not treated, I could die. So nothing is routine for me anymore. I'm really worried about it. I have a million questions and I already feel a ton of anxiety thinking about it. Which makes me wonder if things like this will always worry me?

The bright side is I'll have Matt there so he'll be in charge of making sure they are doing what they need to and I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm probably worrying about nothing. I'm more worried about the procedure than I am of them finding something wrong with me. But dang, I almost hope for something because the pain is pretty awful. Sigh.

Book Review: The Line

I bought two more of Amie Knight's books after I read See-Through Heart and this is one of them. I'm so glad I've discovered her as an author!

The Line - Amie Knight

I was a thief. 
The invisible girl only he could see. 
The woman who wanted to be more. 

He was the mark. 
The extraordinary cowboy who stole my sixteen-year-old heart. 
The damaged man who still owned it, even four years later.

The Line was where we began.
Where fates collided. 
Where truths derailed.
The place where our love story ends.

I'm going to start by telling you this book? All the feels. I finished this in one sitting because it was just that damn good. I am such a fan of Amie Knight after two books out of the ball park, I highly recommend her books.

In this book we have Everly, an abandoned baby turned homeless teen, doing everything she has to in order to get by. One fateful evening she bumps into a cowboy on a train and she falls in love. It's not meant to be because they are from different worlds, but neither of them forget each other. Fast forward four years and Everly has come to work a summer job on a peach farm but she has no idea that the head farmer?

The cowboy. Who isn't a boy anymore, he's a man now. Mmm-hmm.

They get off to a rocky start because while he never forgot her, not just because of her beauty but because she stole his wallet. He's fresh from a broken heart so he isn't ready for the feelings he's developing with Everly.

I won't go too much into it but I'm going to tell you I loved it. I loved Everly's sass and her tenacious attitude. Though it got a little dicey towards the end when we have some major plot turns, I appreciate that the epilogue that takes place ten years later shows us what an ending they all have. I flew through it in one sitting and I think you will, too. Excellent book, another hit for Amie Knight.
   

Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review: 1001 Ways to be Creative

You know why I picked this one, don't you?

1,001 Ways to be Creative- A Little Book of Everyday Inspiration - Barbara Ann Kipfer
Let your imagination run wild! Whatever your passion, this exquisite book invites you to dive in and harness the creativity within. Filled with glorious illustrations, these colorful pages overflow with whimsical ideas, helpful tips, inspiring quotes, and endless encouragement to help you find a life of fulfillment through the power in ingenuity. 

You know that I am such a fan of the National Geographic store and their gift books and this one is another example why. If I can just get nerdy really quick with you, these books are the best size (6.25 x 6.75) and it's almost a perfect little cube in your hands. It's a small enough size to throw in your purse or your bag and read it on your commute or to give as a gift. I just love these little books and they make me so happy to page through them to get ideas and inspiration.

Some of them are rather broad "create a happy family life" and some are things you an tackle in a day "train a dog to play Frisbee". Some are questions left to ponder about yourself or maybe ask your friend or partner what their answer would be, "Are you afraid to call yourself creative? What part of the word's definition do you believe you don't fulfill?"

I've used this for myself to help get my creative juices flowing again but it actually made a great boredom buster for my older kids. When they spend too much time on their devices we unplug and find something creative to do and this one was helpful, they fought over looking for ideas!

This would make a fantastic gift for a friend and maybe pair it up with some interesting art supplies or a coloring book with funky crayons. Maybe you have someone in your life who needs a little pick me up? This is for them. Great little book!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Crafty Saturday: Shoe Boxes

This project has been in the works for oh... two years? I just finished it because I'm lazy but desperate to cross things off my list.

It's not a super great photo, but for every kid I framed their first pair of shoes and hung it up next to their nine month photos. Every kid had a striped shirt and a ball in their nine month photos so they all match.
Olivia and Jackson's has been up on the wall since they were 10 months old because back then I had life together. I just got Penelope and Lucy's shoe boxes done and it's SUCH an easy project and it makes a cute gift for a new mom.

You just need a wood shadow box, a piece of paper, some paint, and shoes! I have the shoes glued onto the back wall of the box with some E6000 so those suckers aren't going anywhere. Poor Lucy's shoes were only worn once maybe so they are basically brand new. Everyone else's shoes look worn. I guess that kind of displays my abilities as a mom, huh? Interesting.

Friday, April 13, 2018

March Book Boxes! Swag for days!

I almost forgot to share what I got in my March book boxes with you, which is CRAZY because my April boxes will be here before I know it! 

First up- The Bookworm Box!
 This box was heavy because the Beauty in the Ashes book is massive. I hate large books, they feel like such a time waster and 90% of the time I could pick out large amounts of stuff that can just be taken out to make it a more reasonable read. I haven't started it yet but I do  have Break Point on my  night stand. The swag this month was a pen (yawn) and a compact mirror, which I put into my purse because my other one broke. Handy! 

Next up, PageHabit!
I'm going to get pissy here because their shipping process is really terrible. Like legit terrible. This is the second month in a row my box was just sitting on a counter somewhere for days before moving. Again, it didn't start moving until I contacted customer service so I was late in getting my box. I think it's just me because other people seem to be getting their box with no issues much faster than me so who knows. I'm kind of annoyed. I'm not even impressed with the books this month, historical romance? BARF. Ugh. I've read one by this author before and I wasn't impressed so I'm not even sure if I'll read these or donate. I'm kind of annoyed to get two books by the same author, to be honest. The swag this month was pretty great though. It included an adult coloring book, a really pretty bookmark, a cool key chain, and a photo hanging cord (which I gave to Olivia).

I have to confess that I'm kind of thinking about signing up for OwlCrate again. I KNOW, I'm out of control but I can't help it. I really enjoyed that box and I've been on a YA kick lately and at least the books would get extra life because Olivia would read them, too. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Can - Do Kids Series

I don't get the opportunity to read and review kid books as often as I'd like but when I saw this come up as an opportunity, I took it!

Can - Do Kids Series - Kayla J. Marnach
(I Can Do That! * My Actions Matter * My Body's Mine)

I Can Do That!: helps children learn self-regulating techniques. Told through rhyme from a child's point of view, strategies are shared empowering the child to effectively learn and practice ways they can control their emotions and actions when they feel themselves becoming dysregulated. The questions at the end of the book provide an easy transition for counselors and parents to open a discussion, assisting the child in exploring ways they can learn to manage themselves. 
This one is SO GREAT because it talks about children controlling themselves. Nervous energy, anger, anxiety, etc are hard things for children to deal with and this book gives the child different techniques they can do to calm down and relax. Chewing gum, pushing a wall, chair push up's, and more are different techniques they can use at home or at school. This would be good for kids who have a hard time at school and sitting for long periods. Perhaps working with the teacher to allow some of these techniques would be beneficial for the student and the rest of the class. Or something to incorporate into the day for all of the students?

My Actions Matter: helps children learn life value skills, creating a foundation on how they can connect with others. Told through rhyme from a child's point of view, this book provides strategies for the child to learn how their actions influence others. The questions at the end of the book provide an easy transition for counselors and parents to open a discussion, assisting the child in exploring ways they can effectively correct their behavior and connect with others. 
Probably my favorite because I think we all know Penelope needs this. HA! This one highlights a child's actions and how it relates to others around them. What I like about this one is that it talks about being sassy, not just with words, but with looks and attitude as well. It really pushes the topic of respect and being respectful to people around you but also objects, too. Nice and short, would be good for late three/early four year old's for an introduction. Older children would be able to answer the questions at the back of the book and would be able to engage in a conversation easily.

My Body's  Mine: helps children learn they have the rights to their body. Told through rhyme from a child's point of view, this book on boundaries empowers a child to say no when others approach him or her in ways that make them uncomfortable. It also gives clear instructions on what to do if they are approached in an  unwanted manner. The questions at the end of the book provide an easy transition for counselors and parents to open a discussion to prevent abuse or to further explore if abuse has occurred. 
This one is rather short and easy to read, the rhyming throughout makes it almost sing song like. I like how this book reviews what is OK and what is not OK, but also what a child should do if they get an uncomfortable feeling. I also am glad that the author chose to include recognizing when you feel uncomfortable, almost like a beginner's guide to your gut instinct, because I think kids need to learn that their gut instinct is important and they should always follow it. It reiterates that the safe grown up's in their lives should be their defenders. It's a great introductory look at what is safe and unsafe touch.

If you're looking for an introductory series on self regulation, this would be a great place to start!

      

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Weight Loss Wednesday.. doing it, doing it, doing it now

Despite having a ROUGH couple of weeks, I've actually been pretty alright with my weight loss goals. I haven't lost any weight yet but I have been active almost every day.

March 26 - 31: I rode on my recumbent bike every day before lunch for 3 miles, 25 minutes. I've been doing that as Penelope and Lucy's lunch is cooking and that's kind of an ideal time to do it.

April 1 - 8: I rode on my recumbent bike every day for 3 miles, 25 minutes again, AND I did the Beachbody YouV2 program twice that week. That's a fairly low impact workout that lasts 30 minutes. I can't make the full 30 minutes but I'm working my way into it and the most I've done is 17 minutes and that was exhausting. I have to skip a day in between because it takes a full day to recover and be able to move. I also went for a 1.5 mile walk one night at the YMCA with my friend Tammy.

So far this week I only have done my recumbent bike once, but tonight I'm back at it plus I'm going to the YMCA to walk with a friend. I might go by myself on Thursday, we'll see. Friday for sure. I have to start getting use out of my membership plus getting out of the house will be helpful for me.

I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app again onto my phone and I can't remember my username. Sorry. But I have been doing well tracking my meals and I'm WAY under my daily calorie intake allotment so I'm not sure why weight isn't just falling off of me. Maybe it's my medications but I'm on such a low dose of steroids, I don't know if I can blame that anymore. Maybe. It's frustrating, though.

Next week I have my photo shoot and I still look pregnant, and even better, I have the equivalent of diaper rash between my fat rolls on my stomach by my c-section scar. So hot. I've never had that as a common occurrence before so that's something.

Alright. I'm going to keep at it, keep trying.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Random thoughts from a scattered mind.

I feel like my brain can't stop and focus on one thing but instead ping pongs from thought to thought and it is EXHAUSTING. I feel like I never get a break and I would kill to relax for just an hour. Then on other days it's like my brain is so slow it can't focus on anything. It's like slow moving honey. Or the sloth on Over the Hedge. Or whatever movie that was. See? Brain is malfunctioning. But here are some of the things bouncing around.

1. I have therapy today and I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL for therapy. I honest to God would have killed myself long ago if not for my therapy sessions. I need one so badly. I have a lot of things I'm struggling with that I feel ashamed and selfish to admit so I'll do it there. Maybe I'll do it here soon. Maybe.

2. Olivia is done with one of her dance classes at the end of this month and I'm so grateful to have one less thing to do every week.

3. Jackson ran into a book case in the library at school yesterday. He has a HUGE knot on his forehead. I thought around midnight that maybe he has a concussion from that hard of a hit. Is that possible? I have no idea. I didn't do anything about it and he seems alright.

4. I decided yesterday that I am too far gone to effectively parent my younger two children. I'm too tired, I'm too old, I'm too broken to give them the parenting I need to. I'm really struggling with that.

5. Yesterday I cried over spilled milk. The irony is not lost on me. Penelope spilled her milk all over the floor and as I'm trying to clean it, realizing it's going under the baseboards, I started crying and declared that I hate my life. And I really do. I hate my life so much. I should never have had more than two kids. I should not have done it and I regret it daily.

6. I can regret my decision and still love my kids.

7. I know my depression is ramping up because I've hardly been reading lately. I'm going to force myself to work on a book tonight that I'm like half through, but I have no idea if I'll be able to retain the story at all.

8. I've been invited to a whole load of things and outings in the last 24 hours and I've turned down almost all of them. I feel badly but I know it's better to turn something down than not show up when you're expected. I'm on a day to day thing right now, I don't know how I'm going to feel.

9. I need sunshine. Badly. I have every urge in my body to max out every credit card I have to go somewhere warm and sunny but I won't. We can't afford it and I know that. We have a lot of medical bills rolling in and those have to get paid before we can do anything. Bright side is I hit my medical insurance deductible for the year... holla!

10. Why aren't birds coming to my bird feeder? I have food! Come to my stupid feeder.

11. I want a sunny day so I can vaccuum out my car. I haven't blogged about my new car, have I? I'll have to take pictures and do that, even though I've had this since right before Halloween. I love it. It's SO MUCH BETTER than my stupid mini van.

12. My cats are fighting. I'm sick of it.

13. I submitted my second article for the Duluth Moms Blog and my first one was shared by Denver Metro Blog, that's pretty cool. And I met another survivor, which is also cool.

14. My house is over run with toys. I have to get rid of some and figure out how to store big ones. It's making me anxious having them everywhere.

15. I miss my friends. I miss being fun and cool.

16. I need new running shoes.

17. I bought new sandals. I'm not sure if I like them. Damn you, Zulily.

18. I am 100% sick of the movie Frozen. I hate it. I hate it so much.

19. Why am I not sleeping? I wish I could take a nap today. I'm going to be so sleepy at therapy, aren't I?

20. The bright side is Matt and I are in the best spot in our relationship we've been in for a long time. I guess dying and coming back broken is helpful to our marriage. I'm grateful that he understands where I'm at and doesn't push me to do more because I can't. I'm barely treading water as it is.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Worst Weekend... in awhile.

I almost didn't write about this weekend because it's embarrassing. I haven't had time to process it, or talk to my therapist about it, but this is the reality of my life. These things happen now and I can take every precaution possible and they will still happen. 

I think I talked last week about being switched around on my depression medication and I'm still in the process of that so that means my emotions and feelings are basically all over the place. I have some other medications to help, I have calm down tactics to turn to when things get tough, and I'm not without help but sometimes it's hard for me to resort to them. 

Why? 

Because I'm really angry that I even need any of that. I am angry that I had an AFE with a pregnancy I didn't want or was prepared for. I am angry that my life has been changed so dramatically that all of the HARD work I put in for years to better myself was thrown out the window in a blink. I am angry that I have become a weak bitch. 

There. I said it. I really hate myself, I really hate the shit mother I have become, and I am having a hard time living life like this. I can tell you I feel this way 100% of the time, just my medications normally mask it and I can fake it better. This weekend? Not so much. 

This weekend was Olivia's last dance competition for this year. She was really excited and I was excited for her. We got up early to make the almost three hour drive to Eden Prairie, Minnesota in time for her to stretch, practice, and get her hair and makeup done. 
 Did that. Took a quick selfie while we waited for others to show up because we were the first ones there. We were having a good time, and by the time other families showed up I was feeling alright. I wasn't great, but I felt like I was faking it pretty well. 

The girls went to do their first dance, and I thought they did a great job. They were in a large division and it looked like they were all having fun and that's all that matters to me. 
They didn't place again so I could tell they were disappointed, but Olivia told me she had a lot of fun, so I was fine with the result. We aren't going to win, we're going to have fun with friends. Everything else is just a bonus. 

Then there was a five hour break until our next dance and all of the other families were leaving and finding something to do. I hadn't planned on that and what I can't do anymore is go with the flow. I have to have a concrete plan, I have to mentally get ready for it, and I have to have a back up plan. I can't just drive around and hope to find something, I have to have a destination already picked out ahead of time. The pressure of having to be back in five hours, plus find parking, I just couldn't risk it. I knew we had to stay... and sit on the floor for five hours. I knew I would be in screaming pain by the end of five hours, I knew we'd likely be eating vending machine food for dinner, and I knew we'd be alone. 

I started crying. 

At first it was just a few tears and I thought I would be able to hide it. Then they started coming faster and I was getting a panicky feeling in my chest. My hands were tingling and I had an urge to run, run as fast as I possibly can. I just wanted to full out sob and lay down but I couldn't. I was avoiding eye contact because I knew I would really lose it if I did. People were asking me what's wrong and how do you explain you're crazy? You're a mental case who probably needs psychiatric care right now? How do I explain that this isn't cause for concern because this is my every day life. People see my Facebook feed and assume I'm doing OK for the most part, a couple of rough days here and there, but no- this is every day of my life. At some point every day I get overwhelmed and I can't do it. The thoughts that I should kill myself are loud and are on a continuous loop in my head. It's a terrifying place to be in as it is, but this weekend I did it in front of people and my daughter. 

Kudos for Olivia because once everyone left she says that we can sit there for as long as I want and that she didn't care if we weren't going anywhere. 

Bless her damn heart. Seriously. 

The five hours went about as slow as you can imagine and I didn't get any better. I was able to not cry the entire time, but I didn't feel great and mentally I was done. I was completely done. 

I sat, alone, in the auditorium waiting for her to dance again. I sat in the dark and kept to myself. I was so proud of Olivia, she did so well the second time and I think they should have at least gotten third place but were beat by a bunch of seventeen year old girls shaking their butts and boobs around and a bunch of girls twelve and under can't compete with that. Again, they were disappointed but I didn't even stick around to get another group photo. Freedom was imminent and we hustled out that door as fast as I could. 

So I could cry in the car some more, of course. 

We didn't get home until almost 11:30 at night and I had a ton of thinking time in the car since my road buddy fell asleep almost immediately. I thought about how differently this weekend would have been like had I not had the AFE, I thought about how I am so tired of being dependent on medication to stay alive in more ways than one. I'm tired of feeling like garbage, in more ways than one. I'm just tired. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Last Black Unicorn

I wanted to read this book after I saw her interview with Trevor Noah, where she is talking about Roscoe. I'm not even going to spoil it for you because it's great. Then the book was sold out everywhere and I had to order a full priced copy online and wait. Totally worth it though.

The Last Black Unicorn - Tiffany Haddish

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.


The book follows Tiffany Haddish from her sad beginnings to her rise to fame as a movie staring, stage dominating comedian. My only wish is that I had gotten this on audio book because Tiffany does the reading and to hear this book in her voice would have been everything. As it is, you can read it and picture her voice because it is written EXACTLY as she would say it out loud, grammatically incorrect and made up words, even. It's amazing. It's also an incredibly fast read so you could bang this out in a weekend, easy.

We follow little Tiffany as she navigates the State of California's foster care system, why she will not deal with bunk beds, growing up illiterate (basically), and how she pulls herself from all of that to become the successful person she is today. If there was ever a "celebrities are real people, too" book, this would be it. Except her stories are so outrageous you're almost glad it isn't you, but you're really glad you know this person because no matter how bad YOUR life is, she's got it way worse. In the best, most funny, way possible, of course.

My only complaint is I wish she came with receipts! Name these douchebags! She's the queen of the #metoo movement in comedy if this was only half of what she experienced coming up the ranks.
   

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hero's Return

I'm so glad I was able to get on this book tour because I'm loving this series!

Hero's Return - B.J. Daniels

Tucker Cahill disappeared from Gilt Edge, Montana, hoping to escape a secret that has haunted him for nineteen years. Then, when a young woman’s remains are found in the creek near his family’s ranch, he has no choice but to face his demons. The truth that sent him running years ago could take away his freedom now.

Kate Rothschild came to town looking for vengeance—and Tucker Cahill. What she finds is a tortured and irresistible man who’s more than meets the eye. Caught up in the past, they are drawn deeper into a twisted game that’s not over yet. And the consequences could prove fatal for them both… 

Let's start with my rating, a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I'm only knocking it down because Kate's revenge and her lack of a plan kind of annoyed me. Tucker had the most right to be outraged and he was level headed and calm about the entire thing.

Anyways.

The book starts off giving us a tragic beginning of a young woman, presumably holding a baby, jumps off a bridge and that's it. Fast forward several years later and a woman's bones are discovered in a river bank, which spurs Tucker to face his past and deal with the consequences. The young woman was his girlfriend, with their baby, or so he thinks. Turns out the young woman is one of three identical sisters so Tucker, and Kate (who lost her brother because of the same young woman) don't really understand WHAT happened long ago. Was it scam? Was it legitimate? Which sister died that night? Where are the others? Can either Tucker or Kate move on, even if they never get the answers, or even if they do?

Overall? It's a good book. I had no problem flying through this one because unlike the rest of the series, this one feels more like romantic suspense. We've got murder, unexplained deaths, scams, backstabbing friends, and Montana politics at play here. I had a good time reading this book and even though Kate's character was a little shaky for me, I liked her and Tucker as a pairing. She keeps him on his toes and he calms her down a notch. If you are a fan of romantic suspense, you're going to enjoy this one!
   

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

My favorite boy turns 10.

I always tell the kids I don't have favorites, but that's not true. In their own way they are a favorite. Jackson happens to be my favorite boy. I say it often and he rolls his eyes but I think he secretly loves it. 

 I have so many pictures of him that I adore so it's hard to choose. But this was when Olivia met him for the first time. I remember he was just a peanut, just a tiny little thing. 
 He was so excited to get his big boy bed. According to my scrapbook he kept thanking us for the new bed. He was two years old. 
 A lot of my memories are gone from Olivia and Jackson's childhood so far, but I do remember always getting him from 4K on Fridays (my day off) and going on lunch dates with just him. He loved it. 
 That was him on one of our lunch dates. It's one of my favorite pictures of him. He's just the sweetest, kindest little guy. 
 I have to include something with his beloved doggy. He STILL carries dog around to sleep overs, if you go into his room at night dog is always nearby. He has duck too, but doggy is special. It was the only thing he ever loved, no pacifier or blanket, just dog. 
Now he's growing up and next year he's going to be in fifth grade, then off to middle school. He's still just my little guy (literally), he's hilarious, he has a distinctive laugh, he has a questionable sense of style, all of his friends are girls, he loves tennis and Minecraft, he's the neatest/cleanest of my kids, he's the most sensitive, and by god that boy still believes in everything. 

He's my favorite boy in the whole world.