Friday, October 19, 2018

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Way back when I started this blog in 2008 my only goal was to put up cute pictures of my kids and tell funny stories so my family who don't live near us could be up to date. Somewhere around 2010 I started gaining a lot of followers and it was mostly because I was sassy and snarky.

I still am... just differently.

I know it sounds stupid but dying on the table really changes you. Honestly, sometimes I'm physically and mentally too tired to really care about anything. But I have noticed that I'm generally nicer.

I will admit that sometimes having a brain injury doesn't allow me to stop and thinking something through before I say it. I've struggled with that but I feel like I'm getting better as time goes on.

I hate to say that I'm having a Perez Hilton moment but I am. I know I've had a few comments of people asking me when is sassy Sara coming back. I've ignored them for the most part and I know I blogged about maybe it's maturity or age, and the more I think about what it is... the less that I care.

I just know I'm going to be nicer. I'm going to be more productive. I'm going to be more positive, I want to lift people up.

But I swear to god, if you're wearing a romper I'm going to let you know you look ridiculous. I may even follow you to the bathroom and crack jokes about you being naked just to go pee. Because that's what real friends do. OBVIOUSLY. 

I'm going to be starting a fitness challenge pretty soon. It's going to be old school, I might even bring back the vlogs... that's assuming I can figure out how I did them in the first place. I will always give you the good and the bad. There's always going to be bad and I will never shy away from sharing that because what I am, and what I will always be, is 100% authentic. What you get on the blog is what you'll get in real life. Except in real life I'm not always wearing pants, or clean clothes for that matter, and my hair is in a messy bun so often it retains the shape when I take my ponytail holder out. I'm going to focus on giving you really good content but still have fun. 

I will always encourage people to email me if they have a topic they'd like to see me write about (sarastrand9438 AT hotmail DOT com) and I will see what I can do. 

I feel like I'm entering an entirely new season of my life and it's kind of weird, like I'm physically turning around a corner. And it's OK. I'm OK with this because I'm not the same gal I was all those years ago so hopefully you'll help me figure out what I'm supposed to do next. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Movies and Harry Potter- do it up!

We have had kind of a busy two weeks which is why I didn't post much of anything last week and was quiet on the Facebook page this weekend. 

I have been feeling like a really crappy mom for oh... two years. I feel tremendous guilt over this and I know it's not rational but here we are. I feel bad because Olivia and Jackson knew me as a great mom always doing awesome stuff and now they have this version. Then I feel guilty Penelope and Lucy will only know this version and will never get that super fun mom because I'm not capable any more. So yeah. It's complicated and weird but I'm trying to come to grips with it. 

But I'm trying. I'm trying really hard to make sure they don't feel like I'm just leaving them without a mom at all. 
 They had been wanting to see The House With A Clock In Its Walls as soon as they saw a preview, and of COURSE we can't ever go on the cheap $5 days because Olivia has dance. 


I had to pay full price. FULL PRICE AT A THEATER. 

I know you know that pain. 

Then we had to buy snacks. Do you know how much snacks were? 



All for popcorn and drinks. Not even larges! God. They want to see Goosebumps 2 (click on that if you want to watch it on Prime Video!) but good god I don't know if I can willingly for that much money over again.  

That was Wednesday. 

While I was there I had gotten a message from my old boss who is working at a local bookstore now saying she had someone buy four tickets to this Harry Potter event they were doing and wanted to donate them. She thought of us and messaged me. Penelope and Lucy are nightmares beyond 5 p.m. so that definitely is a no go, but Olivia and Jackson are into Harry Potter so I thought they'd like it. 

So we went. 
 It was a lot of fun, it had a bunch of themed games and snacks. Olivia was easily the worst at the Quidditch game. 
 Jackson raked in a ton of tickets playing games. 
 Olivia is surprisingly freakishly talented at keeping a balloon afloat with a wand (or pencil because she didn't have a wand). That game was definitely her jam. 
 Jackson was much better at the Quidditch game and he clearly had a technique down. 
Oh! And they got sorted- Jackson is Hufflepuff and Olivia is Ravenclaw, both pretty accurate for their personalities. 

That was a really fun night out. It felt so weird to be out of the house 4 of the 5 days last week. Then we had a busy weekend, more on that tomorrow, so I was pretty winded by Sunday afternoon. Ugh. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lucy goes to (toddler) school

Now that Penelope is in pre-school, Lucy is starting to feel kind of left out. I've taken her on a handful of shopping adventures but no joke, EVERY DAY she thinks she's going to school too. Fortunately where I live we have a pretty great community program aimed at babies and toddlers and they have play groups and such. I signed Lucy up for an "Early Explorers" class and it's only one day a week for an hour and a half or so. It's kind of nice because we call it school and she's all about it. 
 Seriously you guys, she puts her empty backpack on and she wants to go. 
 They always have a sensory table area (this week was paint, which she's never done before), a story, crafts, and a snack. They also get a free play time and the parents separate and do our own parent tips type thing. I remember doing this with Olivia and Jackson and back then it was Fridays (handy because I had Fridays off) and it was my life line to other new moms, I learned a LOT about child development and parenting in general and I really credit those parent sessions for my ability to raise Olivia and Jackson to be as great as they are. 

Lucy is pretty excited about this and she loves running from new toy to new toy. She especially loves this ride on thing and she is all over the classroom with it. 
Of course she's all about snack. She sees someone getting napkins out and she's dropping everything in her hands and going for snack. Ha! 

She's basically the only non-verbal kid there. She's not totally non-verbal, she can say a few words but she's not stringing them together in any kind of sentence. She's not helpless, she can make it known what she wants/needs and it's really easy to figure that out so I know her brain is firing, we just have to get words coming out a little faster. 

It's actually been good for me because I'm gaining a little more confidence taking her places. I still tire out ridiculously fast. I'm also noticing the more tired I am, the less clear my head is... if that makes sense. I get confused easier, I can't put together thoughts and have it come out coherently, and I get more forgetful. I'm trying to write all of this down so I can tell my doctors because they always ask how my memory and cognitive function is and my automatic answer is "fine" but it's really not. I have to remember (ha!) to give them this information. So I'm trying to get better at that, too. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We ran for our harvest! Just kidding, we walked. But we didn't DIE.

Remember a few months ago and I told you I was training for my first 5K since my AFE? Well I did really well that first month. I did alright the second month. I did absolutely nothing my third (and most crucial) month. I mean, I did NOTHING. No walking, no jogging, no exercise at all. I did nothing. 

Then I realized the 5K was THAT WEEKEND and I was (rightfully) a little bit worried. 

I mean, I was fairly confident I would finish. I have never, ever been picked up during a race and I was not about to start that tradition now. My fear was the condition in which I would cross that finish line. 

Thankfully, I had my friend Amy with me, and THANK GOD, because had I been alone.... that would have been a sad state of affairs. I know I would have cried. Alone, like a loser. I am pretty sure Amy was trying to keep me talking the whole way so I wouldn't be thinking of the fact we were dead last for most of the race. (Which thank god- because Amy is the best and I am so, SO glad she agreed to do this with me!!!) 
Morning of the race was actually pretty gorgeous out. It was chilly, like mid-30s, but it wasn't awful. If you kept moving it wasn't really that bad, but I am really glad I brought my mittens because I ended up wearing those the entire time. 
Duluth, you're so pretty. 
And you know it. 
The cool thing about this race is that it is almost totally along the shore of Lake Superior but in order to get to the start line, you ride the North Shore Scenic Railroad. It drops you off and you start walking. 

It was kind of cute because as we were pulling up to the starting line, this older couple were standing there waving and suddenly the guy starts running alongside the train!! It was a fun start to the morning for sure. 
This was us, pre-race. We ended up not talking one after the race but I kind of forgot which was probably for the best. Ha! 

Hilariously, once we got off the train we were walking at a pretty decent clip, feeling motivated and like we've got this. 

We got what would be a few city blocks down only to realize we hadn't even crossed the start line yet. 

That was kind of a morale killer. 

So once we got started for real, I felt like we were pulling a pretty good clip. I thought that surely we had some folks behind us and that would be fine. There was a guy, who I think had some disabilities of some kind because he had a guy with him who was motivating him. Telling him to go faster so he'd run a little while and this guy was just walking. Anyways, Amy realized this guy was using us as a pacer. Every time we caught up, he would have this guy run and so he'd take off. After awhile it got a little frustrating because that puts us dead last and by mile two I was starting to feel my morals take a dive and I decide that if we are pulling up to the finish and I see this guy, I'm willing to sprint and push people out of the way. I'm not coming in last. NOT TODAY, SATAN. 

Also by mile two I feel like my cortisol levels are taking a total nose dive and you know those old Energizer Bunny commercials where he starts to slow down and eventually stops? That is exactly what I feel like- it's like I can actually feel my ability to function slow down and then I just can't. I know I hung onto Amy at least once and I'm like- please god just let me finish this because I had enough people telling me this was stupid, I shouldn't be doing this race, I'm going to be sick, etc. Doctors and people who know me had been telling me variations of that for weeks. 

And justifiably so because I really hadn't done anything to show them that I think I actually can do this. 

But by about 2.5 miles in we pass the guy and his coach and I'm like.... if I can just keep this pace... I'll be OK. Granted, this pace is ridiculously slow. By the time I could see the finish line, I actually thought I was going to collapse. 

But we finished. 

I got excited knowing that guy was behind us so we didn't finish last. 


According to the website, her and I came in last for walkers. That guy must have registered as a runner. 

Obviously, that is my worst time for a 5K, for running or walking. 


I am trying really hard not to thinking about how far I've gone down in fitness but focusing on the fact I finished a 5K when everyone said I couldn't. I actually FINISHED

In the aftermath, I can't say that I've done a whole lot of fitness stuff, but I can say I'm honestly thinking about it more. I'm pumping myself up. I remember doing this before and that led me to losing a lot of weight, running 5K's regularly, and exercising a lot. So in my time of mentally preparing myself, I've been following Running Fat Chef online through her blog, Facebook, and Instagram and just really listening to what she's saying. It also made me reminisce about the time when I was really hard core about fitness and I did a Weightloss Challenge. Do any of you guys remember that? I only vaguely did but I know going back to watch all of my old vlogs was kind of hilarious, kind of made me cry because I miss that Sara a whole lot, but also made me feel like maybe I can do this again. 

So let's do this again. 

Go back and see my first vlog and we're going to kick this off. 

PS) You guys, it's taken all this time but I finally understand the accent you all say I have. I feel shame. I hate that I have an accent. GAH!! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review: The Doctor, the Chef, or the Fireman

A few months ago I read another book by Debbie Lum and I really kind of loved it, called I Can Handle Him. She reached out and asked if I wanted to read and review another of hers and I said sure. I am so glad I did because this was a great little read to fly through while I work my way out of my reading slump.

The Doctor, the Chef, or the Fireman - Debbie K. Lum

Kendra King ran away from her boyfriend so fast, she almost left her favorite Louis purse behind. Newly-minted doctor Christopher Randall had been the man of her dreams, until she uncovered his dangerous secret. 
Moving from Richmond, Virginia to nearby Cory City was easier for the 26-year-old than confronting her ex, and she busied herself with her new career. Soon, handsome fireman Matt Livingston softens her broken heart and life in Cory City looks as rosy as the flowers Matt sends her every week. Even daily breakfast at the local diner seems magical, and she quickly bonds with a misfit group of regulars including young chef Nolan Ford, who warms her soul with his blueberry pancakes and adorable southern smile. 
But when one of her new friends becomes suspiciously ill and scandal engulfs the fire department, Kendra sets out with Matt to prove his boss is crooked. She learns nothing in Cory City is as it seems and when her ex arrives in town, Kendra’s not sure who to trust. She begins to uncover the good, the bad and the ugly among the three men closest to her: the doctor, the chef and the fireman. And if she’s not careful, she might unleash the evil in one. 

I'll start by saying I'm giving this one 4.5 stars. I'm only knocking it down a bit because I wish we got a little more follow up with some of the characters at the end. I can't tell you who because it ruins it a bit. 

In this story we have Kendra who is fresh off a not so great relationship with the doctor. She's left him, moved into a new place and is starting over in a new town with a new job and soon, a new boyfriend. Immediately upon moving in she meets Matt, the firefighter. Attraction flies both ways and soon she finds herself in a fast paced romance with him. She discovers the local watering hole, Silver Spoons diner and see the chef's hot buns. Literally. Nolan is swoon worthy and can work a frying pan like nobody's business. BUT, she's with Matt right now so she's in a complicated space.

Soon things start unraveling. Her ex comes to town, her current boyfriend is trying to uncover possibly corrupt city leaders, and the chef is getting a little flirty with her. People in town are mysteriously getting sick and more and more evidence starts to pile up to prove Matt's theory right. But who is really behind all of this? Is the ex really the dirt bag she thought he was? Is Matt really the genuine guy she thinks he is? Is Nolan more than she thinks? You don't know and you're left guessing right to the end.

For being only 174 pages we get a lot of story, a lot of characters, and a sweet romance. If you are in the market for a romance without all of the sex (but implied sex) this is going to be your read. Perfect to throw into your purse and read between hauling kids to different activities, this book kept me glued to it and I flew through this in a day. No joke. I'm a fast reader anyways, but I wanted to know who the heck she picks!! Don't you dare cheat and skip to the end either, the unraveling of it all is the gem of this.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Review: A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas

I know I haven't talked about how my 5K went, but you can see by this post I'm still alive! This week has been especially stressful so just bear with me as I get through it. So today I'm giving you a book review for a holiday book but it's so great you'll want to start it early.

A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas - Maisey Yates

Grant Dodge didn’t expect to find a woman sleeping in an abandoned cabin on his family ranch. Or to find her so intriguing. Unlike every other woman in town, McKenna Tate doesn’t know Grant’s a widower. There’s no pity in the looks she gives him. McKenna wants him, and Grant has forgotten what it’s like to feel like a man. A no-strings fling for Christmas might be the kind of holiday cheer Grant needs…

With only a suitcase to her name, McKenna came to Gold Valley to confront her birth father. She didn’t plan to work at the Dodge ranch or fall for the gorgeous cowboy who keeps his heart roped off. But there’s no denying the way their broken pieces fit together. Hope brought her to Gold Valley—but will it be the gift that could finally heal Grant, and McKenna’s own wounded heart?

I am such a Maisey Yates fan so you know when I saw this come up for review I was all over it! I've read others in her Gold Valley series and I really have enjoyed them so I love that she made this holiday book a part of that series. You don't need to read the rest of the books to enjoy this, it's fully a stand alone. If you're fans of the rest of the series you see cameos of previous characters so that's kind of nice.

In this book we have Grant, who is basically a functioning alcoholic since the death of his wife/high school sweetheart. He gets the pity of people around town and that drives him crazy so he hasn't pursued relationships ever since. Enter McKenna, a woman with no ties to anything and only the contents of her backpack to her name, but she's in Gold Valley to hopefully find her birth father. She takes refuge in an abandoned cabin and Grant finds her. Instead of treating her like an unwanted criminal, the Dodge family take her in. She starts work on the ranch and they give her use of one of the cabins which is the nicest place she's stayed in for as long as she can remember.

The best part of this is that you know these two are going to end up together and they both need each other. They are both a little bitchy, for lack of a better word, and they get on each other's nerves, constantly snipping back and forth. They both need love and to be cared for in different ways and they can give that to each other... if only they can stop barking long enough to see it.

Overall? I'm giving this one 5 stars. Honestly. I really love Maisey Yates because she gives you a story that grabs at your heart strings, throws in some fun romance, and brings it all together for a great ending. This book all comes around Christmas so it adds another layer of Hallmark movie goodness that makes me love it even more. I really liked both characters because independently they have pretty tragic back stories, but together they make a pretty great couple and you can see it early on. This might be the holiday book I recommend the most, you guys. Get it now while it's still in stock!


Friday, October 5, 2018

Flappy core, motivational whipping, probably going to die

This has been a fairly insane week. I committed to a lot of things this week because I'm at the point now where I'm getting really angry about not being at the level that I used to be. Realistically, I can't be at that level. But I'm angry. So I sign up for a lot of things, can't do them, then I'm angry at myself because I can't do it and let people down. Cue shame and guilt and that my friends... is what's keeping me around. My therapist will flat out tell you she doesn't work with me on any of that because if that's what keeps me here then it needs to stay.

I started the week off with therapy. I feel like that's a really good way to start the week, to be honest. I make a lot of my therapy appointments on Monday. But this was in the evening so I have a friend who got Olivia to dance and I was able to pick her up. (But also cry in my car for a solid hour after without her seeing, so that's a bonus win.) Therapy was tough and I can't imagine not having that safe space to get out everything I hold in during the week. 

Also this week I made a goal of wanting to work out in some capacity three times a week. I know, I know, I KNOW I have made this goal a lot this year but I am sticking to it. I just can't handle this weight anymore and I'm getting so frustrated. Clearly moderating my diet is doing nothing because I'm down to a structured 1200 calories a day for the last six months and I've gained ten pounds over that time. Like... what the hell?? 

So in my quest of finding something low impact to get my started I settled on a pre and post natal workout program on Beachbody on Demand. I figure if pregnant and just given birth women can do it, I can do it. 
 Lucy tried participating as well. That was her version of a modified plank. She mostly just whipped me with resistance bands and that actually started to hurt once she got the hang of it. 

I did that on Tuesday and to be honest, I felt like it was more of a stretching workout and that this maybe wasn't going to have much impact at all. Like maybe it was TOO low impact. 

Wednesday I couldn't get down the stairs and had to scoot. I couldn't sit on the toilet, let alone get off of it. (Obviously, I did not take a Linzess pill.) I was so surprised at how badly my legs and my arms/shoulders hurt. 

Yesterday my legs hurt so bad that I had a hard time walking as much as I did. My workout yesterday consisted of hauling Lucy in/out of her car seat a LOT and walking her in and out of buildings. Which I know sounds stupid, but we walked about a mile and a half in all. I was EXHAUSTED by the time I got home with Penelope and Lucy. 
 I have to just share this photo. This was on Tuesday and for a good portion of my workout she sat in the chair, patiently waiting for her lunch time movie. She was pretty good about it after she stopped whipping me. 

But all of this freaks me out because tomorrow? Tomorrow I do the first 5K I've done in oh.... three years? I'm doing the Fitger's Harvest Run with my friend Amy and we're both going to walk the 3.1 miles. The kicker is that I did not finish my "training" so technically I have not actually walked three miles in about three years. So yeah... I am confident I will make it across the finish line but I am not confident I'll be able to move on Sunday. 

Stay tuned. 
Super great share from this week came from my friend Jennie. Her sister was having her baby at the same hospital I've had all of my kids but when you first come in on the window sill is the plaque I gave them in recognition of saving my life. It has the picture of when I first met Lucy (while awake) and basically saying this hospital is equipped and capable of saving you should this happen to you. It was really pretty but it's kind of nice to see it again. I've actually had people say (after hearing my story) that they saw something at the hospital and I say, that was me! So maybe not everyone knows what an AFE is, but they see this and maybe decide to Google it. The more people know about it, the more we can save. 

So that was my week. Wish me luck for tomorrow. I'll take pictures and report back on Monday!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Saying goodbye.

A few weeks ago I posted briefly about my Grandpa dying. It really hit us suddenly because we had just lost Grandma and literally the day of her funeral my Grandpa complained that his stomach hurt. Fast forward a couple of weeks and it turns out he had stage four pancreatic cancer that had spread to his stomach. We knew it would be fast but honestly we all thought we'd get the holidays with him. At least with Grandma she fought for two years and it was a slow decline so we all really had the time to get used to knowing she would be gone. It was a sad funeral but we all knew it would happen and by then it felt like a blessing so she didn't have to endure any more. With Grandpa it just felt really cruel because we all thought we were going to have more time. 

But that's not what we got. 

His decline was actually pretty rapid and my parents were there every step of the way and that was such a blessing. Both Grandma and Grandpa expressed being scared about the end and I think no matter how prepared you are, we all get scared. You are walking into an unknown and nobody can tell us what it was like. They're gone and we just hope it's gentle and not scary. 

Heck- I've technically died twice and I have nothing to report. I don't remember any of it so I don't know if there is a bright light or someone to guide you. It really scares me when I think about it. 

I was really bummed because I had planned on visiting him that weekend because I would have Matt home to watch the kids and I figured I could go up for a while and watch game shows with him. I didn't get that chance because he passed away peacefully on September 11, the day before him and Grandma's anniversary. Honestly, I really hope that was on purpose and I hope we do get to see our loved ones and I really hope him and Grandma are together. That's really the only peace in all of this. So I didn't get to see him and my dad sent me a message letting me know while I was at the Bruno Mars concert and my drive home was pretty emotional. 

When I told Olivia and Jackson the next day they were pretty upset. They had gone to Grandma's funeral so they knew what to expect and I wasn't worried about that. We got the funeral details and planned our day around that. 

The visitation was sad. The moment we walked in Jackson burst in tears. I hadn't expected that but I think maybe the whole thing just overwhelmed him. We sat and talked about the fun things he got to do with Grandpa and his favorite memories of Grandpa. My Grandpa really was a gentle giant. He was tall and always muscular and he was a Vietnam veteran. He saw John McCain's plane go down, he did special missions, he was a big deal during the war. He never talked about it and we all kind of knew it was hard to talk about but he was well respected. He was to get full honors at the burial, and I had never seen that so I was excited to see that and for my Grandpa no less. 

But I was surprised Jackson asked for me to go with him to the casket. Neither kid wanted to go up for Grandma and I said it was OK because it was their first funeral and I'm not going to make them do anything. But Jackson really wanted to see Grandpa and honestly, do you know what I remember the most about my Grandpa? His hands. He had lost so much weight and was so thin but to me, his hands looked just the same. 
He was buried at Fort Snelling and that's where Grandma is so we knew where we were going. The strange thing about national cemeteries is the casket is put on a pedestal of concrete, you say a quick prayer and comment, and then you have to literally go. You get maybe 15 minutes because they have that many funerals there every day. I remember with Grandma when we left I felt so terrible just leaving her there like even though there's a guard there. And with Grandpa, I was such a dang mess I didn't really look as we left. But there was a soldier standing there and it just felt so respectful. 
Flags throughout are at half staff because a soldier was being buried.  
 I had never seen a flag folding ceremony be done and this was the only non blurry photo I got because I was crying and shaking so badly. 
They had a gun salute and I've never seen it happen before and man- it was somber. My dad gave my kids the gun shells from this. 

This was easily, the saddest funeral I have ever been to. I have ever cried that hard at a funeral and literally everybody there was in tears. The funeral home people were in tears because they knew my Grandpa after burying Grandma and it just felt like we really lost a good one. 

Jackson cried the ENTIRE way home. I mean, he was legitimately distraught and I felt like I had no idea what I could do for him. 

But it occurred to me later that night, we were all in our stages of grief, but Jackson was crying at dinner and I had said to him, "It's OK bud, don't cry." and I didn't think anything of it. Until bedtime and it struck me that it's such an automatic thing we say but it's such a terrible message. I want him to know he can cry as long as he wants and that it's totally OK. So I called him into my room and I explain that to him and we're talking about death and dying, and he asks me if I will bring him to Florida when my other grandparents die. My heart broke a little more and promised I would. He wanted to know if he could have something of Grandpa's to remember him by and I said I would see what I could do. 

My dad totally came through and he got a dresser but both kids got these very cool military coin/medallion things and these coin holders my grandpa ALWAYS had. 

But you know what gutted me? My dad was going through my Grandpa's important papers from a safe and he came across an envelope we had sent him a few years ago. I open it up and it was two handmade Veteran's Day card Olivia and Jackson had made him. I couldn't believe he had kept them. With important papers, no less. My kids loved them so much and I know my grandparents loved them so much more in return. 

It just really feels like the end of an era. All of our holidays for the last 20+ years have revolved around getting together with them. I always counted on a cookie plate and pie from Grandma for Christmas. Grandpa would tell jokes. Even when I really messed up a holiday dish they would tell me it was fine. Grandma would tell me I have the worse baster and I needed new lights in my kitchen. Scoff at jarred gravy and quickly make real gravy. I think that's when it's going to really hit me. I'm sad now but I think when these moments should be happening and they don't- it'll hit me. 

Oh! But I have to tell you quick before I go. So years ago, when Furbies where popular, my Grandpa was obsessed with them. He had a LOT. Like a whole room full. We got him one as a joke for Christmas one year but he really took a liking to these. When they moved Grandma finally got him to sell some and we joked at the funeral that man, we hope they aren't in the storage unit and all come to life when someone opens the door! Well it turns out, one Furby was left. It hadn't gotten sold and my dad gave it to Jackson. That kid has been playing with this Furby more than any toy since his Batman Batcave when he was 3. I'm not even kidding. 

"Every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time." - 'What Sarah Said', Death Cab for Cutie

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Book Review: Lone Star Christmas

You guys.... I am SO COLD. It's only early October and already I feel like I'm going to freeze to death. That's probably not a good sign for this winter, is it? Yikes. But if I'm going to be cold, I may as well into the Christmas spirit, right?

Lone Star Christmas - Delores Fossen
A family crisis brings him home...Just in time for Christmas Cattleman Callen Laramie has no intention of returning to his hometown of Coldwater, Texas, until a Christmas wedding and a family secret convince him he has no choice. And when he's reunited with his childhood crush, the girl who'd always been off-limits, Callen knows leaving might not be so easy this time. Shelby McCall is as pretty as a Christmas snowfall, and Callen wants to kiss her under the mistletoe...and the Christmas tree...and the stars. But once Shelby knows the whole truth behind this homecoming, will their holiday fling come to an abrupt end? Or will she accept the gift of his heart? 
I know I've reviewed other books by Delores Fossen on the blog before and I've really enjoyed them so it won't come as a surprise that I'm giving this on a solid 4.5 stars. I'm only knocking it that little bit because Callen kind of comes off as a callous asshole in the beginning and I really hate that romance stereotype in almost every romance. The guy starts as a jerk and gets less jerkish throughout the book. What I really loved? Shelby. Shelby is a take no nonsense kind of gal and when Callen decides he won't go to the wedding of his foster father even though he gets a personal message saying he needed to talk to him, Shelby decides to drag him back. She goes to Dallas with the sole intention of getting him to this wedding.

Shelby isn't just anyone though, she's Callen's childhood crush who was deemed off limits. Shelby harbors a little something for Callen too so the expected sexual tension keeps this book floating. The development of their relationship is really good and it reminds me why I love Delores Fossen's books. Unexpected perk of this book? It's FUNNY. I suspected when the book starts off with a stuffed armadillo wearing a veil on a wedding invitation, but there are many laugh out loud parts in this book that breaks up some of the parts that could really drag this down. Completely fit for a Hallmark movie, this book is a sweet romance between two fun characters, but the book is so enjoyable you'll be disappointed when it's over.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Book Review: The Secrets We Carried

I am so, so glad this came up in my pile because I was starting to feel I hadn't really read any fall books and this one hit that mark. It felt fallish for me and I really enjoyed getting cozy under a blanket with this one!

The Secrets We Carried - Mary McNear

Sometimes life changes in an instant.  

Quinn LaPointe grew up on beautiful Butternut Lake, safe, secure, sure of her future. But after a high school tragedy, she left for college and never looked back. Becoming a successful writer in Chicago, she worked to keep out the dark memories of an accident that upended her life. But now, after ten years, she’s finally returned home. 

Butternut is the same, and yet everything is changed. Gabriel Shipp, once her very best friend, doesn’t want anything to do with her. The charming guy she remembers is now brooding and withdrawn. Tanner Lightman, the seductive brother of her late boyfriend, wants her to stick around. Annika Bergstrom, an old classmate who once hated Quinn, is now friendly. Everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Determined to come to terms with the tragedy and rebuild old relationships, Quinn settles into Loon Bay Cabins, a rustic but cozy lakeside resort, where she begins writing down her memories of the year before the accident. Her journey though the past leads her to some surprising discoveries about the present. As secrets are revealed and a new love emerges, Quinn finds that understanding the past is the key to the future. 

This book is being marketed towards people who like Susan Wiggs and Susan Mallery and I have to agree, if you are a fan of either of those authors you will like this book. It's the same writing style and it gives you the same feel as you read it. It also should be noted that this book is sixth in the Butternut Lake series but it is a stand alone book. I haven't read the others in the series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading them, but now I'm interested in picking the others up because I really liked this book.

The book follows Quinn and her recovery/grief/reckoning of the deaths of her boyfriend Jake and his friends Griffin and Dom. After the accident and graduation she left town and vowed to not come back. She gets an announcement in the mail of a memorial going up in their honor by someone anonymously so she decides that she needs to put the past behind her. She finds that people that she thought were friends aren't so much anymore and people who should be angry with her aren't and she's surprised at every turn. The entire book is Quinn navigating awkward encounters, stilted conversations avoiding obvious topics, and her trying to work through her guilt of that night because she believes she had a key part in their deaths. She soon discovers that others feel that same guilt and they have all been kind of stuck in that moment.

Overall? I really liked this book. I'm actually giving it 5 stars because I couldn't put it down, and it felt like the right book to read right now. I'll admit that Quinn is almost a little annoying and it feels like she takes on too much responsibility that I don't think a reasonable person would. It's hard to remember that the accident happened when they were still kids so I guess maybe that guilt would be expected. The best part of this book is that everyone is kind of webbed together and the ending is fantastic. I finished the book with an audible "wow" and immediately texted my friend that they had to read this book. Sometimes books with so many characters and different pieces gets tedious to keep together but the author really did a great job bringing it together to give us a great ending with no loose ends. Absolutely fantastic. You can pick up The Secrets We Carried on the HarperCollins website!


Monday, October 1, 2018

Fall: Pumpkins, Cleaning, Freezing

It's officially October and I have my Halloween decorations up. This is the start of my most favorite stretch of the year and I'm all about it. I don't know if I even decorated the last two years but I did it this year. I don't have a whole lot for Halloween and someday we'll get yard decorations but for this year I put up a few things and Penelope and Lucy were thrilled.

On Saturday Matt took the kids out to his parents' house to get our pumpkins. His dad has a large garden and grows a LOT of pumpkins and a fun tradition is going out there to find your pumpkin. He carves everyone's names into one and you have to find yours. You never know if it'll be little or big and this year Penelope and Lucy got to go find theirs.
Matt didn't get many pictures but he sent me a couple. I didn't go because I accidentally took one of my Linzess pills and I can't take the chance of leaving the house. Turns out it was a good plan because I finished a book while in the bathroom yesterday. That was fun.

But he also got to visit with two of his aunts who live a few hours away and they got to meet our kids and it's nice to just hang out with family. It's also really nice to go out to Grandma and Grandpa's because they get to RUN in the field, go on woods walks, play with the dog (and Twinky goes and gets to run with a big dog and feel like he's more than just a tiny dog if only for a few hours), play with Daddy's old toys, and see Auntie Kate and Uncle Karl. And Grandma almost always has baked goodies!
We also try to get a picture of everyone with their pumpkin and in all of the years, never once have we gotten one where everyone is looking at the camera. Not even when it was just Olivia and Jackson. I don't know why this is such a hard concept. Olivia got the biggest pumpkin this year, Penelope was the one for last year.

Also on the docket for this weekend was CLEANING and PURGING. I do a major clean in the spring and a major clean in the fall. I have gotten onto a minimalist kick so I've been getting rid of stuff that I've hung onto thinking maybe I'll need it. Let's be real- I don't need it. So a lot of stuff got donated this weekend, I gave old Halloween costumes away, found a bunch of Olivia and Jackson's old clothes that I didn't want to keep so gave those away. Matt put up shelves in the basement and we loaded those up and cleaned out an entire room. It's really nice- our basement hardly has anything in it now. I did all of the closets upstairs and we got rid of SO. MUCH. STUFF. We have free days to go to the dump coming up and I've convinced Matt to take a lot of his junk, so here's hoping it actually goes.

And lastly? You guys--- I'm FREEZING. It's not even cold considering where I live but my body doesn't regulate temperature very well anymore so I feel like I'm overly cold. We normally have a no heat until November 1 policy but I don't know if I'm going to make it. I'm going to try. I own two sweatshirts, so if you see me in the same two sweatshirts for an entire month, don't judge me.