Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Strand Annual Ornament Unveiling

I think every year I've blogged about our Christmas ornaments for the year. Christmas in our house is a big deal and it's probably the only holiday that I go all out for. I really enjoy the insanity that December becomes. I love shopping Thanksgiving night, Black Friday, I love wrapping, I love getting cards out in the mail with our letter, I love the kids' holiday concerts at school, I love the tree, the decorations, the cookies, literally every single thing about Christmas is my favorite. The feeling I get during this season is something I wish I had the entire year. I feel like things would be a lot better if that were the case. 
 Our tradition has always been that the tree goes up on Black Friday. We all participate, we eat candy and leftovers, we watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, it's a big deal. This year I'm just so anti-Thanksgiving that we decided to put the tree up early. It's not a great photo, but you can see Lucy was here for it. She kept looking at the lights in amazement and looking at the rest of us, making sure we were seeing this too. It was pretty adorable. 
 New to our house this year was this Poppy Troll blow up for the yard. It was in the box but the girls BEGGED for us to open it and turn it on. They were loving it. 

Our tradition, as it has been since our very first Christmas, is that we buy one ornament that sums up our year, or that meant something to us. The very first ornament on our tree the very first year we spent Christmas together was a bulb that my Grandma Linda had hand painted with our names and year put on it. It's kind of bittersweet that her and Grandpa aren't here this year but such is life, right? 
 This year I bought an ornament from the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney. Of course I didn't go to Disney this year but I found it online and I had to have it. I think I bought it when there were talks of getting rid of that ride and it's my favorite so I wanted something to remember it by. 
Our family ornament this year is this beaded zebra. I bought him when we were at Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells. We also went to Great Wolf Lodge in the summer but I already have a cool wolf bulb ornament from there. The zebra is very cool and it's as fragile as he looks, he's pretty sturdy! 

Then we also let the kids pick out an ornament each. The hope is that someday, when they go out on their own, I can hand them a box of ornaments so they'll have a little piece of home with them.  
 You can tell Lucy really took this seriously. 
Here are the 2018 selections. 
Jackson chose Harry Potter, Olivia chose Voldemort, Penelope chose a glittery roller skate, and Lucy chose Moana. (She struggled between Moana and Spiderman). The big kids were big into Harry Potter this year and I'm certain Penelope picked hers because it's shiny. She's like a squirrel in that way. 

So that's it. 
That's our tree. 

Every ornament has a meaning, and every meaning has a story. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Book Review: Wrangler's Rescue

It's been so long since I've given you a book review for grown ups, but here we are!

Wrangler's Rescue - B.J. Daniels

She’ll risk everything to bring her cowboy back home…
One week ago, Cyrus Cahill told Ashley Jo “AJ” Somerfield that he’d be back in her arms by the weekend. He just needed to buy a bull for his ranch, and then they’d pick up where they left off after that romantic ride through the foothills. But now he’s gone missing and everyone—even the sheriff—believes he’s dead. 
Everyone…but AJ. She suspects foul play and she won’t rest until Cyrus is back home in Gilt Edge, right where he belongs. Because Cyrus isn’t the kind of cowboy who breaks a promise. And since she’s not the kind of woman who gives up on her man, AJ will risk anything to help bring him home…even her own life. 

Some housekeeping: though this is book 7 in the Montana Cahills series, it is a stand alone. Some of the previous characters/couples make appearances in this book but that isn't going to take away from those stories if you go on to read them. It also doesn't make an impact in reading this book. I highly suggest you read the rest of this series because I've actually really enjoyed it and I look forward to each new book in it. B.J. Daniels gives you some angst and suspense, she gives you some romance but it's not blatantly sexual. It's subtle and I think that's a good market to be in because not everyone is looking for a 50 Shades of Grey romance. So for all of that alone, I suggest this one. 

In this book we focus on Cyrus and AJ. Cyrus, right on the cusp of making a move on AJ, goes out of town for a cattle sale and leaves AJ back in Gilt Edge waiting for his promised return. That goes awry when the folks in Gilt Edge are informed that Cyrus has fallen off the side of a cruise ship in the Caribbean and his wife is distraught. Obviously they think this is a scam, but it turns out Cyrus was swept off his feet with this woman, went on an impulse cruise and got married aboard the ship, only to mysteriously fall over the side in the night with nobody around to see it. The whole family is upset but AJ doesn't believe Cyrus is dead. Though the search has been called off and the wife has arrived in Gilt Edge to meet everyone, AJ thinks everything about this feels off so she is determined to figure out what really happened and hopefully, bring Cyrus back home where he belongs.

I have to be honest with you, I wasn't a fan of AJ in the other books, she just seemed kind of... whiny? She just kind got on my nerves and I wasn't looking forward to her being featured heavily in a book, but here we are. And I was pleasantly surprised. She wasn't as awful as I thought she would be and she turned out to be quite a spitfire and a heavily intelligent one to boot. The way this story plays out is GREAT and rolls out like a Hallmark movie. I'm not going to tell you what happens but just know that things really start rolling once AJ gets to Dominica. It feels like there are two different stories going on here, AJ and Cyrus, but also the wife and her own plot and somehow they merge together really well.

I'm becoming a solid fan of B.J. Daniels and I really enjoyed this book. This kept me on the edge of my driver's seat as I waited for my daughter to finish dance!
   

a Rafflecopter giveaway http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/82ae250c88/?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Weight Loss Challenge, ep. 5 - gobble gobble

I officially have done a Gobble Gallop on Thanksgiving. Specifically, I did the Tough Turkey one miler. 
Their swag was actually pretty cool, even if they didn't order enough of my size and I had to take a smaller one.. that was kind of a bummer .
 While waiting Penelope and Lucy did snow angels. (Olivia and Jackson spent the  night at Grandma and Grandpa's) Clearly Lucy didn't understand why she was laying in the snow. 
 This must be a regular thing for Penelope because she was all about it. Snow angels all over the place. 
 I only got one pre-race selfie, and I need to just mention it was cold. People kept saying it wasn't bad compared to other years and to me that's insane because I was freezing. I didn't know how to dress for a run in the winter so I wore my base layer clothing, a pair of workout pants on top of that. On top I had a polyester base shirt, another base layer on that (the blue shirt), then my race shirt they gave me, and then my Under Armour thin jacket which no longer zips because I'm chunky but it's the only thin layer jacket I have. Then I had mittens and Olivia's ear muffs because Matt threw away my hats and gloves and his snow blowing gear. He did his big basement clean out and got a little TOO excited about throwing things out that he threw out things WE USE REGULARLY. 

The run itself was new to me because I've never ran or walked in the winter, and certainly never on ice or snow. The road wasn't snowy but there were some slick areas and I almost fell a couple of times. Once was by the guy at the turn around spot and he's like, "Oh! Oh! Oh- she saves it!" and then gave me a high five. So that was cool. I also want it noted that I didn't walk the whole thing, I ran for about half of it, even though it felt like my uterus was going to just fall to the ground. 
 I finished! I had no idea how long I was gone, but I know I was at the last of the pack of one milers, there were still people behind me, so that was kind of nice. 
Later on I got my results and I did it in 16:36 minutes, that's pretty good! I finished last in my age group, but that's alright. I kind of knew that was going to be the case. I had two friends who cheered for me as I started and then I had Matt on the side with Penelope and Lucy. Lucy apparently cried the entire time because she thought I was leaving them. HA! But once I saw Penelope at the end she's saying "Go Mommy Go" long after the race. So...delayed support, but support nonetheless. 

I hope you're doing something. I'm struggling but I haven't gone a week where I've done nothing, so I feel like that is something. 

TRICSS up his sleeve.

I know I didn't blog a whole lot last week but I've been pretty busy. It's hard to believe November is basically over, right? 

Well a big thing in November was Jackson's robot competition. He's in 5th grade and their school decided to try and compete in the local LEGO Robotics competition. They would most certainly be the youngest group there but these kids worked so hard. They only had a few weeks to pull together a presentation, build a robot, complete missions using computer coding, and have very little help from adults. They had two advisers that coordinated it all and Matt went a couple of nights to trouble shoot their coding issues, but for the most part, these kids did it all themselves. Jackson talked about this every single day. I'm not kidding you. Every day he had his binder of information out and he was thinking of ways he could help his team (he was a builder, other kids worked on the project, and the others were the coders) and I was just really impressed at seriously he took all of this. 
 A few days before the actual competition the parents all got to come watch their trial run presentation and I'm not kidding- it was all I could do to not run up there and squeeze his guts. 
 He was SO nervous the day of competition. Their team name was The Robotic Ice Cold Space Sporks, and their robot's name was Spoon. All of us supporters got to walk around with sporks pinned to our shirts. But he was so nervous and there were six other teams besides them, some of these kids have done this type of competition before, all of them were older than them so their math skills are better (helpful for the coding piece) and have more experience with presentations. I reminded him that this was just practice for robotics for next year. He wants to be on the middle school team and I said don't have high hopes of winning this year, but pay attention because then you'll know how this all works for next year. 
 We got to go into all of the sessions except the one about Core Values. That was secret and that's just fine because after the first two I was a nervous wreck. One was just a presentation of their mission and they chose getting food into space- they came up with a vitamin that you would take instead of food so they wouldn't have to weigh down a space craft with food. Which.. is kind of smart. The second one was showing off their robot and explaining how it works, why they went that route, and how they worked as a team. Then they did the Core Values thing and Jackson didn't really say much about that. 

Then we went to watch the robot do its missions. 

You guys- that was the most stressful and heartbreaking thing I've ever seen. Their robot didn't do well at all and they are pretty sure it was because they use a light sensor and the lighting for these tables is MUCH different than at their school so they don't think their robot saw the lines correctly. But they had three rounds and they came in dead last each time. It was awful because you could just see their faces and as a mom I just want to go up there tell them how proud I am of them, that even being able to compete with these other kids is a big deal. 
 While we waited for the awards I took a quick picture of him in front of their presentation display. 

During awards it was totally obvious which teams were going to win and they were so exciting to watch. One team had lots of missions completed and just one after another they did them, and it's amazing at what these kids can program a robot to do. I'm not a nerd at all and I don't understand any of this, but it was pretty exciting to watch. 

While they didn't advance to the next level of competition, their team won the award for Core Values. It's a pretty great award to win and I didn't get a picture because they were too fast but they ran up to get their certificates and the absolute JOY on their faces was completely priceless. 
The teachers gave the kids this medal with the mission logo on it and Jackson has it hanging with pride on his mirror. I am not kidding- I think this might be his thing. He's totally fascinated with this kind of stuff and it turns out that Jackson is a really good team player and he really shines as a leader. I could have burst with pride for this kid. 

So of course I went to see how much one of these robot things so he can practice and learn new things. 
$300 on sale
Needless to say, this won't be under our tree this year. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Review: Meet the Bobs and Tweets

I know I have a lot of readers who have kids and I know some of us struggle with finding books our elementary age kids are interested in reading. I want to introduce you to this series, which I think strong readers in second and third grade will love, but even readers in fourth and fifth grade will appreciate the humor in a different way.

If your kids are fans of Captain Underpants or even The Diary of a Wimpy Kid they are going to really like these books- they are funny and the illustrations really reminded me of the ones you would find in the Dr. Seuss classics, but maybe a more modern update to them. The other similarity to beloved Dr. Seuss is the writing. Each chapter reads just like Dr. Seuss, fully of witty rhymes The Bob family are a bunch of slobs and the Tweet family are very neat and orderly, so you can imagine how these are going to be a fun read, but maybe challenging for a child to read in a rhyming cadence.

Each story is funny and I had my ten year old read the books aloud to me and two of his sisters and we all had a good time laughing throughout all of them. The younger girls (3 and 2) even had a good time reading these with us because of the way it's written but combined with the cool pictures and the humor. The other perk to these is it shows you how completely different people, with nothing in common, can come together and work to a common goal when they need to.

If you're looking for a book gift (as you should because books are GREAT GIFTS), these would be a really fun set to add to your list!
      

Monday, November 19, 2018

Weight Loss Challenge, episode 4 (vlog included!)

Before we talk about the weight loss, I wanted to share with you my latest contribution to the Duluth Moms Blog! This month I'm talking about my disdain for Thanksgiving, which I know I've mentioned quite a bit on my blog in previous years. Appropriate for this week, right?


So I really briefly mentioned my stomach issues in my vlog. I've been having issues consistently since my AFE, and nobody knows why. Every doctor has said they don't know, so ask a different doctor. It went right down the line until the last person was like, "Maybe you should see a gastroenterologist" and they sent me there. I went, I had every test, lab, scan, whatever I could have and they found things, but nothing conclusive. 

I had my follow up last week and the guy, as nice as he is, legitimately has NO idea what's wrong with me. Has no idea where to refer me. The problem is that I have a lot of the markers for several different things, but not enough markers to definitively say I have a specific thing. He totally believes me that I'm in pain and when he presses on my midsection I basically howl and I almost kicked him. The plan right now is to keep me on the anti-heartburn medication (I forget the better name for that) because of the Barrett's Esophagus so that it doesn't turn into a larger (ie. cancerous) problem, and he's going to research some more. I'm going to ask my endocrinologist if he thinks this is a sign of worsening adrenal insufficiency or something, because I see him this week. I also have my physical tomorrow so I'll ask her too. 

Another challenge I'm facing is my depression. I've always had depression in some capacity but I've always been able to work through it, around it, over it, whatever I had to do to keep it moving. I no longer have that ability anymore. I've gotten really good at faking it, putting on a good face, and being a good trooper because that's my job as a person in the world. I've been raised to not get down, to not feel sorry for myself, know that nobody actually cares about my problems, etc. And that was fine for a lot of years.

It isn't anymore. 

I'm really struggling with that. I'm pretty good in the morning and I'm fine through lunch. It seems like consistently every day after I put Penelope and Lucy in for a nap, I can feel my mood go down. My ambition leaves. It feels like a dark cloud moves right over me and I do one of two things- I either go downstairs and snack and watch VH1 reality shows or I go in my room for a nap and cry until I'm asleep. Either way, by late afternoon I'm DONE. I'm in a foul mood, I can't handle anyone talking or crying, I don't want to get snacks or drinks, I'm dying for Matt to get home. Then he does and I'm so irrational and angry and then I feel terrible because I know nobody in that house is getting the best of me. It's very much Jekyll/Hyde and I hate it. I cannot even control it because I don't realize until long after what I've done. I've said hurtful things, I've thrown things, I'm taking my depression out on people. It's exhausting. I'm constantly apologizing for things and I'm always wondering- at what point does this get to be too much? At some point me being gone has to be easier than dealing with this volatility and unpredictability every day. 

I don't know. 

In the meantime, I'll just try to work out when I can. I have my one mile Gobble Gallop on Thursday. I'm going to really push myself to do something this week. 

In other news- Matt and I argued whether a chicken has a vagina. Go ahead and Google it, but I'll let you know that I was RIGHT. Obviously. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Book Review: The Language of Spells

I know it's the weekend but I am trying to get out as many book reviews as I can so I can clear off my book shelf but also give you more options for gift giving this season!

The Language of Spells - Garret Weyr
Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo—but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free. As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the question everyone's forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them? At once richly magical and tragically historical, The Language of Spells is a novel full of adventure about remembering old stories, forging new ones, and the transformative power of friendship.
I'll be honest and tell you I wasn't totally sold on this and it almost had a Fantastic Beasts wannabe feel to it so maybe that's why I wasn't grabbed. BUT!! My ten year old son actually really loved this book and he finished it over the weekend, so what do I know? 

I think maybe my biggest issue with this book is really how slow it is. I think as an adult I'm used to faster paced books and I want a plot to really start moving by page 50 and that's not the case with this one. The entire book is Grisha (a dragon) wanting to "investigate a human" so he goes into town and he comes across Maggie, who is kind of a strange kid who can see dragons, which is unusual. Dragons aren't really around anymore because of a spell and this is about Grisha and Maggie saving the dragons from this spell. The entire book is kind of strange because it feels like a chess game- they make a move, stop and think about it, make another move, etc. My son said he really liked it and didn't understand why I thought that was slow and at times, boring. So again, maybe I'm just a dud who doesn't know what's cool anymore.

I really thought this was going to be the start of a cool series, but it's really not and there is a fairly precise ending. Jackson DID agree with me that the ending wasn't really what we thought it was going to be so I guess some points could be given that it wasn't really a predictable ending, though it wasn't entirely exciting. My only other complaint is this taking place after World War II and is a historical fiction, but there is literally no mention of the Holocaust. Do I think kids reading this book is going to pick up on that and be bothered? No. Will adults notice? I think so. Does it matter to the greater story? I'm not sure.. but I'm not sure how I feel about something that large in history not being mentioned. But again, my son didn't even think twice about it so maybe that was omitted on the premise that it wasn't important to the story. I'm not sure.

Overall I would give the book 2 stars but Jackson said he would give it 4 stars, so we're going to compromise at 3 stars. He thinks we should give our copy to the school library because other kids will like it, so that's what we'll do.
   

Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review: The Planner Book

I know many of us have already started our holiday shopping, so this week I'm going to share with you some books that will be good for the reader in your life. Keep checking back because I'll share with you the things I'm getting for people in my life to maybe help you make some decisions. Today we're talking about a book that will be good for a crafter or maybe someone who needs a little help keeping track of their busy lives.

The Planner Book - Jean Sagendorph and Dawn De Vries Sokol

Creatively organize your life!


The Planner Book! will help you design, create, an embellish the perfect planner.



Forget about boring calendars and ancient date books. Nowadays planners are gorgeous, colorful works of art--one part organization, one part art journal, and two parts keepsake. Loaded with projects, how-tos, tips, and tricks The Planner Book! has all the information you need to tap into your creativity, take control of your to-do list, and craft a custom planner.



Featuring color photos and interviews from more than 20 creators, the book is full of ideas to spark your creativity and keep you organized. With 24 projects, from simple tricks like making your own washi tape to more ambitious projects like crafting a leather planner, you'll soon have the best looking to-do list around. Whether you're juggling a hectic work schedule, keeping track of a busy family, or trying to balance your class schedule, getting organized has never been this fun or this cute!


Ideally, this book is going to be for an absolute beginner, not someone who is an established planner. If you're looking to get started in using a planner or you just want to see what the hype is about, this will be a good resource to you.

The book is divided into three main sections: Planner Basics, DIY Elements, Make Your Own Planner. I really liked the Planner Basics section because it really highlights Bullet Journaling, and that's something I haven't really incorporated into my planner but now I see why this might be a really helpful thing to do. I might start doing this in my planner... though some people have another planner dedicated to bullet journaling only, I don't think I'll get that intense with it.

What's really cool about this book is that this really encourages you to decorate your planner but not fall into the trap of stickers and purchased elements. It has several chapters on how to make your own washi tape, make your own page dividers (I loved these!), bookmarks, and more. I really loved the no hassel tassel and I really have to find my jar of random ribbon because I could definitely make some tassels with that. If you're feeling especially ambitious this book has an entire section on how to make your own planner or notebook using things you likely have just around the house.

If you're really struggling with a gift idea, this book is a pretty great resource perfect for any beginner!

If you get the book you can pair it with some supplies to make a cool gift basket, too!
      

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Is it seriously November?

Not only does it not feel like November, but it's basically the end of November because it's all about Thanksgiving right now. Our plans for Thanksgiving are to go to Matt's parent's home and do dinner on Thursday. One of us will brave the crowds on Friday in hopes of getting the $99 laptop or cheaper iPad since those are the big gifts for the kids this year and money is TIGHT. Then we are going to my brother's house to celebrate my niece's birthday. It should be a fun way to end the week, but super stressful. 

And before we do any of that.... I have to get new tires for my vehicle. It dawned on me that since becoming a car owner when I was 17, I have never had to buy more than one tire. I've replaced radiators, transmissions, countless belts/fuses/spark plugs/brakes/etc.... but never tires. So imagine my surprise when they gave me the estimate for four tires for my 2015 Ford Explorer AWD with 22" rims. 

I wasn't sitting down and I should have been. It's a really good thing I hadn't taken a Linzess that day
 In other adulting news, I bought boots. I bought a pair of every day snow boots that don't make me sound like a troll coming over a wooden bridge. They are light weight, cute, and are called Duck Boots. A few friends have made fun of me because they say they look ridiculous so I've been texting them photos of me in my boots and having dry and warm feet. That was an exciting adult purchase. 
I voted this month. That was nice. Not all of my candidates won but I did my civic duty. I suspect Matt did NOT because he said he did but "lost his sticker". Who loses their "I voted" sticker? Come on, now. So I think I have a lazy citizen in my house.  
 I've looked five or six months pregnant basically all month. I'm not, obviously, but I'm strongly considering buying maternity pants at this point. 
 Anyone who knows me knows I pretty much don't like Thanksgiving. I'd be happy to skip it, I don't enjoy anything about it. I love Christmas a lot. So much so that I convinced Matt to put the tree up.... three weeks earlier than usual. Clearly Lucy was excited about this as well. She kept squealing and pointing to the tree to see if any of us was noticing this amazing thing happening. 
I put up all of the rest of the decorations today (Matt doesn't know this yet... whoops) and Lucy is all about it. Last night they really wanted to see the Poppy inflatable I bought for the yard on clearance last year, so we just put it in the house to see. Matt says he's going to put yard lights up this week but he hasn't for the last two years and if I let it slide a third year I feel like he'll never do it again. So I'm putting my foot down- for the betterment of their childhoods- yard lights MUST go up. 

If they end up in counseling it won't be because of a series of crappy Christmases. 

That's all there is to it. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Weight Loss Challenge- ep. 3 (vlog)

If you are interested in the two books I talked about, you can find them here! I'm about half way through each one, so I haven't officially started, but I'm already working on a menu for our next cycle, which will be November 21-December 7. And yes, I know there are Kindle versions but this is the kind of thing you really need to have the actual book to look through. 
   
Lucy working out with me this morning

I talked about sugar and carbs being kind of a struggle for me, but my next issue? I need quick meals. My go to is usually a sandwich, but carb city, so what else can I eat? I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is a protein bar and I've tried 3 and jesus- it's like chewing on a chunk of cardboard. Is there any out there that taste sugary and delicious? If there is, you have to show me the way because for how expensive you are, you'd think they'd be tasty. 

I have to tell you something kind of funny that happened last week. I think all of my long time readers know I have an issue with vegetables. I really, REALLY don't like them and it's such a bummer because I know if I liked vegetables I'd be in a better dietary boat than I'm in now. BUT. I really try hard to convince my kids these are good. For the most part, Penelope and Lucy have no issues. Lucy will eat anything you give her and Penelope really likes green beans and peas so already she's leaps and bounds beyond me. 

Every day when she comes home I make a point of asking her what she had for lunch at school. (They provide a free breakfast and lunch for all the kids and they work on table manners and all that so meals are a learning opportunity, too.) Most days she tells me they had soup (when really, they only have soup once a week or so). One day last week she was kind of incredulous because her teacher made her eat LEAVES. Obviously I'm thinking we skipped the lunch conversation and a kid made her eat a leaf outside or something. Nope- it was definitely her teacher and it was definitely a leaf. 

I looked on the lunch calendar to just see what she's talking about. 

You guys. 

They had salad. 

Penelope calls salad LEAVES. 

*cue hysterical laughter*

She then tells me it had a tomato on it but she really doesn't want to eat leaves. 

Me either, baby. ME EITHER. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Then it hits you.

I can't even remember when it was that I was at the psychiatrist last to have my medications adjusted. It wasn't that long ago. But I know he increased my Trileptal and says I should take so much in the morning and then half of that at night before bed. Keep my Wellbutrin the same (highest dose available) and I don't know, it works I guess. I do know the Trileptal kind of evens me out, if that makes sense. I don't feel angry and ready to throw things all of a sudden, so I guess that's improvement.

Just a few weeks ago the slightest annoyance would send me from 0 to 60 just like that and I would lose it. Someone spills milk? I'm done, I'm throwing their plate and literally anything not bolted to the floor, and leaving the room. I legitimately had no control over it. It would happen so fast that I couldn't even process what I had done until I was cleaning it up and everyone was crying.

Sometimes I think the memory loss is the worst part of my brain injury but for the most part, not being able to control my emotions has been the hardest. Not just because I don't have control but because that affects other people around me. It's no longer MY problem, it becomes a family problem.

So we increased my medication. He said I would know when I'm on too much if I start having seizures, that's basically the sign that you know you need to back off on dosage. Fortunately (knock on wood) I haven't had seizures. So that's nice. But for the first time in kind of awhile, a few months at least, I had a really horrible day.

On Friday I kind of started felt this depression setting in. It's really strange, it's almost like an illness just starting. Sometimes that's what it feels like. Friday night I started feeling unwell and just down. I was kind of annoyed with a few things but I figured I would just go to bed before my mood soured any further. On Saturday I woke up and right away I knew the day was going to be crap. Matt had gone to work, Olivia and Jackson were spending the night at Grandma's so that meant I was on my own for all of the morning chores plus Penelope and Lucy's neediness. And that's all fine, I know I can get through a morning like that. I don't like it, but I can do it.

By the time we got to lunch time I was just a mess barely keeping it together. It's this constant barrage of why I'm a terrible mom, and a terrible person, all the reasons my life is awful, reasons I should kill myself, ways to do it, and it does not stop. I think that's what people don't understand about suicidal thoughts: it's not a matter of "thinking negative things" or "think about good things" because it's like a recording you cannot shut off on a continuous loop in your head. It gets louder and louder, so then I get more and more irritable and I cry, and it's really difficult to go through the day like this. So by 3 p.m. I was done.

I just cried.

Penelope is having a meltdown over Lego's, Lucy is upset because Penelope tried to take her Lego's, Matt is either not doing enough to settle this or he flies off the handle, there is no in between, so I get frustrated because WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THE GOOD PARENT?! At this point I feel like I shouldn't have to tell someone how to handle conflicts like this without being a jerk and then I feel like I can't have a meltdown because he can't just handle our life. Then I'm angry because it feels like he's being selfish. I should be able to weather the storm of a suicidal day and go through my self affirmation rituals so I don't fly off the handle but I can't because yet again.... it's me having to pick up slack. Then I start thinking, why am I the only one who took parenting classes to be a better parent? Why can't he do that crap? Why am I the only one who goes to conferences, schedules doctor appointments, handles after school activities, keep on top of grades and homework and what the kids are each doing every day, then making the meals, planning the meals, maintaining a house, and RAGE.

I feel like I'm at my boiling point. Thank god I have therapy this week because that always gets me off the ledge.

I went to bed just feeling so sad, and so defeated, and I feel so angry that people assume I'm doing alright. I look alright, I can hold a conversation (mostly), I'm trying to keep up with responsibilities but a lot of days I can only pick one thing and that's what I do and everything else falls through the crack, and I cry a lot. I cry every single day and it is so exhausting convincing people I'm OK when I'm very much not. But I know people are sick of hearing it, and I know nobody really cares about my trauma and how it has irrevocably messed me up and that won't get better so I'm trying to cope, and I'm angry because I feel alone. I have family around me but nobody else is really checking in with me anymore, or the ones who do don't really want to hear how it is because they're helpless. I get it. I really do. So I have all of this, plus the continuous loop of reasons and rationalizing why I should kill myself going in my head every day and it is so loud. I'm trying so hard and every day feels like an actual war.

So Saturday was a bad day. It's a bad day, not a bad life. I'm trying.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Weight Loss Challenge (ep 2)

Let's get started! 

Now, I mentioned I'm doing the Gobble Gallop Tough Turkey 1 miler and I fully intend to dress up. Life is too short to not own a turkey hat, as far as I'm concerned. I just don't know which one I should get: 
   
In my hunt for a suitable hat, I found turkey socks that I absolutely NEED. 
I am actually pretty excited and I'm going to try to get it done faster than 30 minutes. It took me an hour to do 3.1 miles so I'm really optimistic about this. 

I wanted to share a thing or two each week that I found to be inspirational or even motivational. I'm really going with the idea that happy and positive things are going to lead to good results, and you can tell I'm really grasping at bottom barrel, right? I'm not quite at the point where I have a motivational Pinterest board but don't assume I won't get there when I hit a rut. Ha! 

But this week I've really enjoyed listening to the 300 Pounds and Running podcast. I actually stumbled onto it by accident and since then, I have seen it referenced quite a bit, so it's definitely popular. I know I have a lot of friends who always say, "Oh I can't run" and I know I was definitely in that camp. Until I started doing it and then I can't say I enjoyed it, but I definitely felt like I had accomplished something. My issue has always been coming in dead last and feeling like somehow my accomplishment wasn't good enough because I'm last. I'm definitely not in the boat where I'm thrilled coming in last, but I'm trying to learn grace and how to give myself grace. 

It's a work in progress. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Florence & the Machine. Epic.

I'm going to apologize for lack of pictures, and the crappiest quality of the two I took. I only had my phone, which was almost dead, so I couldn't go hog wild on capturing memories and all that. 

But a couple of weeks ago my friend Tammy and I had tickets to see Florence & the Machine. I hadn't seen them before but I've always heard really good things about their live shows so when cheap tickets became available, I went for it. 

LUCKILY FOR US, we happened to be in the right nosebleed section because they moved all of us to much better seats fairly close to the stage. 
 I mean, these seats were a lot more money and our original seats were like... top row of the highest set of bleachers. Ha! So that was a pretty cool surprise! It was at the Target Center in Minneapolis, which was completely re-done, and I hadn't been in the new and improved version. I have a go-to restaurant at every venue I see concerts at so I just plan to eat there. Except my go-to for Target Center? Closed. Gone. Adios. 

You know what I ate for dinner? 

A half order of nachos. Like the worst nachos I had ever had. And a bottle of water. Cost? $21. 
 Oh well. So we got our super awesome seats and took a quick picture. Clearly the people behind us weren't the happiest ever. The people in front of us were really nice, two older couples, all of them doctors. Real friendly. 
I hadn't looked beforehand to see who was opening and really it's no big deal because I enjoy watching the opening band anyways- I've found a lot of new and great artists that way.

This concert?

Perfume Genius was the artist.

It was HORRIBLE. Tammy reminded me we once saw and opening band that literally only played bells and that wasn't as bad as Perfume Genius. IT was like.... really bad performance art? I honestly don't know how to even describe it and it went on FOREVER, then suddenly he walked off the stage and was done. It was the most bizarre opening set I think I've ever seen. 
But then Florence came on and you guys- the rest of Florence & the Machine all come out like a beautiful parade, flowing down these wooden stairs... and then Florence comes floating down and starts the show with June, and honest to god- it felt like a religious moment. I am not even ashamed to tell you I completely cried during that song because it's one of my favorites off their new album.

The set wasn't terribly long but decent, she played all of the fan favorites of course. I didn't stay for the encore because I wanted to try to get out ahead of the crowd because I'm always so worried about getting lost or disoriented in an unfamiliar place and people, so yeah. I missed that.

I'm not very hippie like so when it got to the point where she wanted you to hold hands with everyone, give strangers hugs, etc that is a little beyond my comfort zone. I did really appreciate when she told everyone to put down their phones at least for a few songs, that was just really nice. Maybe my favorite part of seeing her live is she has this meek, almost child like speaking voice and then she sings and it's this power house, can take the wind from your chest and it's just so unexpected, maybe that's the charm of this group.

Overall this was a pretty amazing concert and I would 100% see her again. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Weight Loss Challenge, ep. 1 (vlog included!)

Someone said that if I'm going to start this and really put it out there, I should mention how I got so chunky, because it wasn't by poor diet and total laziness. Some of it was, certainly, but the majority of it has come from having a fourth baby and dying twice while doing so. If you are new here and you have no idea what I'm talking about, or what an Amniotic Fluid Embolism is, please click that link and catch up.

Anyhoodles.

So I'm officially starting a Weight Loss Challenge. I'm posting pictures, I'm vlogging, it's the real deal this time. I did it years ago, it worked and I lost a lot of weight, and it's not just being accountable to one person, but many.

I had a friend preview this, someone who hasn't seen me in person in a long time and she said I look and sound different. I don't really feel like I do, but I also don't watch myself on video regularly, so there's that. 
Right now, at this very second (I'm lying, this was yesterday at 2 in the afternoon but it has not changed), I am 211.4. I'm only 5'3 so I am REALLY over my BMI and though I think the BMI is kind of nutty, I'm very close to being able to do a weight loss surgery, something I don't ever want to do. I really want to work at this because I know that I can. It's going to be slow, but it can be done. 
I am going to take actual measurements this weekend (trust me, they won't go down by then) and share them on my Monday post. 
Obviously my biggest insecurity area is my stomach, complete mid-section. It seems to change daily- some days it's not actually so bad and I feel OK. Other days it seems to expand and instead of looking 3-4 months pregnant, I look around 5 months pregnant. I know my thighs and waist are larger, my arms are larger, but those things don't feel so important anymore. But my midsection makes me nervous because my Grandma died of bile duct cancer which could have been found sooner had she lost weight sooner. I have a LOT of abdominal issues right now and I'm so paranoid I have something really wrong with me. I probably don't but I'm always thinking what if
It was a sobering moment taking these photos. I almost didn't do it but I'm in a Facebook group that is to motivate you to do better for yourself and everyone says they wish they had true "beginning" photos to really see how far they came. That's why I did it. 

I'm realistic and know that I won't have a flat stomach. From the belly button down, like way down I have a pretty gnarly vertical scar from my emergency c-section, and then being re-opened to find where I was hemorrhaging. I always say that area is dead because I don't have a lot of feeling there and the muscles are completely shot. Basically, I won't ever be a Victoria Secret model. And that's OK! I really just have a goal of size 12 pants, being able to go upstairs and down without using an inhaler, and doing active stuff with my kids again like hikes and adventures. Thankfully, at age 36 I'm completely over wanting to be attractive by what society says is pretty and I'm moving into aging gracefully. (That alone is really very freeing, you guys. I promise.) 

So on Monday... I'll check in again. Every Monday I'll get an updated post for you. If you have weight to lose, or maybe you just want to get more fit and feel better, FOLLOW ALONG! If you follow me on the Facebook page for this blog, I will maybe post daily thoughts and struggles.