Thursday, April 18, 2019

Twinky the (Super?) Dog

Pretty much everyone knows Twinky is our dog. He's a Morkie (Yorkie/Maltese mix). He's obnoxious and not super smart. He likes to hump his stuffed animal dog we call his "lady friend" and he has a specific purple toy he likes to play fetch with every day at the same times. He likes long walks and he has a hard time deciding when and where to poop. He pees a lot. He hates squirrels and the mail man. He's a jumper and believes everyone wants to love him so he jumps on people, shakes, and whines incessantly.

He is, hands down, worse than a newborn. I say it a lot that Twinky is the last dog I will ever own because he's just so much work. I'll stick to cats, thank you. I love Twinky, he's just a lot of work.

But sometimes I baby this dog because he's so doofy I can't help it.

On the weekends this dog wants a LOT of walks. He knows people are home to do it so every other hour this dog is patrolling the 'hood looking like a badass in his sweater or his bandanna from the groomers. He's literally the least threatening looking dog there is and nobody is scared of a dog in a sweater vest.

I mean, come on.

On Sunday though, neither kid wanted to walk Twinky so Matt begrudgingly did it and thank god.

We have a park right across the street from us that's usually pretty busy with kids but it takes up an entire city block (3/4 of that is just green grassy area and a few trees, but people use it to play football, frisbee, soccer, etc.). A lot of people bring their dogs there to play so it isn't unusual to see dogs here and to be honest, a lot of people around here walk their dog off leash and it drives me crazy. I have a fear of dogs and I really don't like being approached by a dog I'm not familiar with.

So Matt didn't think anything of it to see a dog at the park. Out of nowhere though, the dog at the park charged for Twinky and apparently Twinky never had time to turn around. Matt said it happened so fast but this dog had Twinky in his mouth.

Now, if this had been the kids walking the dog, Twinky 100% would be dead right now. It would have been traumatic for everyone there. Someone could have really gotten hurt.

Instead, Matt is a very take charge of a crisis person so he's physically fighting this dog and prying its mouth open to get Twinky out. Once Twinky was free, he took off and Matt couldn't chase him. Matt took this dog and located the owners who were super apologetic.

Meanwhile, I happened to be walking past the door and see Twinky shivering on our sidewalk and the gate open. I go out and call him in because I didn't want him to run, and I notice he's covered in mud. Annoyed, I have Olivia start drying him off with a towel. As she's doing that, she tells me he has blood on him. At this point, I have no idea what happened. So I start looking at the dog.
I see a little on his face and think he got cut on a stick or something, that happens. 
I see a dot on his ear and I think- weird. Not sure how that would happen. 
Then I see this and I think, alright- something happened. This didn't look that bad, I figured we could clean it and he'd be fine.

But then Matt comes home, relieved to see Twinky found his way home, and starts telling me what happened. He takes Twinky's collar and bandanna off and we see this. 
He's got a huge bite mark on the back of his neck. Matt starts really looking at it and realizes you can see "meat" (insert my gagging here because I can't deal with this kind of thing). Matt says he's got to get stitches and it'll get infected if we wait, so we start looking for an emergency vet. Thankfully, there was one local to us that was 24/7 on weekends so Matt took off for that at about 6. He calls me at 7:30 to tell me Twinky is going to live but he needs surgery because the muscle was separated from the skin (more gagging) and they have to put drains in, stitch other others, etc. The surgery would take about two hours, he needs blood work to make sure his organs could handle sedation, and oh yes- it's going to cost between $850-950.

Great. Seriously. Just great.

I tell Matt he's going to have to charge it because I don't have that kind of money, but I can't let my dog get sick and die with a hole in his neck.

So he hangs up and I wait at home. They didn't get home until almost 10:30 that night and my poor dog was high as a dog can get. He could hardly stand, they shaved his neck and ear and it's so gross, you guys. 
He actually has three drains (two on the back and on the side of the neck) and a ton of stitches. The dog took two big bites into him from different angles, probably trying to get a good grip. The vet said Twinky is pretty lucky to be alive because a couple of shakes would have done him in. He's got a bunch of medication for pain and antibiotics, we've got to put ointment on him and do the warm washcloth thing on him twice a day.

He can't go up or down stairs, so we have to carry him outside to pee. No collar for a long time. No walking for even longer. No leash or harness for a long time (like months) because his muscle is damaged. He has some trouble with crunchy food so we've got to a soft wet food for awhile. He can't shake, he likes to randomly shake his whole body but he can't do that for awhile. He can't play, no running, no humping the lady friend, and he can't lay in bed with anyone just to make sure his drains are OK. 
To say he's a sad sack is an understatement. He sleeps a LOT more than usual and sometimes when I pet him he whimpers and I feel terrible. His shaved ear doesn't really go down anymore. I'm not sure if that's a permanent thing or not. They didn't put stitches there because it's not a huge wound but it's a pretty bad cut. We're hoping he can have his drains taken out on Friday, but that's really depending on a certain level of healing so we aren't sure. I think stitches may be able to come out the week after? They need to be in 14 days, so we'll see.

The bill ended up being around $860 or something? I think the owners of the other dog are going to pay for it since it was their dog's fault. I really hope drain and stitch removal are in that price and not an added fee because the starting price to show up at the vet is $130 so yikes. I will say though, they were really great and Matt said they were very nice. They called us on Tuesday just to see how Twinky was doing, and I thought that was really nice of them.

I feel terrible for the dog and I wish there was more I could do for him. I took him out yesterday morning to pee and poop and he tried to run after a bird, then froze mid step because I think he hurt himself and he just walked back to me with his head down. It was pretty sad to see. We have to fight him to take his medicine but I think they do help, so that's something.

So just think good thoughts for Twinky the Dinky Dog. He's a hot mess for awhile.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Book Review: The Young Adventurer's Guide to (Almost) Everything

When I saw this up for review, I immediately thought of my son Jackson who is 11. I had to get in on this because he's all about these kinds of books, he likes funny, and I know with everything in me this covers every single thing this kid would not do. Nope. He is not my outdoors kid, he doesn't like adventure, he's just not that kid, so I thought if even if he liked this book- that's a big deal.

He loved it.

The Young Adventurer's Guide to (Almost) Everything - Ben Hewitt

45 step-by-step, illustrated activties that teach kids everything from how to see like an owl to build the world's coolest fort from sticks. (ages 8-12)

Calling all adventurers! Want to know how to build a fort from nothing but sticks? Or find your way through the forest? This survival guide is your ticket to getting down and dirty in nature and learning to make the coolest things with your own two hands.

Look inside to learn how to: 

• Use a knife without bleeding
• Sleep in the woods without freezing
• Escape a bear without getting eaten
• Poop in the woods without falling down
• Find your way home without a GPS
• Eat bugs without throwing up
• And so much more! 

I'm just going to start by saying if you have a Boy/Girl Scout in your family, this would make a really great gift for them. Full of practical tips and how-to's, this book also has jokes and fun thinks sprinkled throughout. So while your kids are reading a practical manual with information they could actually use in real life, they are being entertained and enjoying what they are reading at the same time.

Our family isn't real outdoorsy (dad has far more experience than the rest of us combined) but my older kids often go to their grandparent's home and they live in the woods. In the summer especially they play out there and this is going to be a cool book for them to take out there and try some skills out! I don't know that either of them will poop out in the woods, but I can definitely see them practicing new knots, making a whistle from a stick, or even a birch bark container. I could see this being a great gift idea for any kid or even a boredom buster over the summer when you want them off their electronics and outside doing something. Definitely consider picking this up!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bathroom. I'm coming for you.

When we moved into this house fiveish years ago, we knew we'd be updating things and fixing things but it wasn't at the level as our last house.

That remains true.

What also remains true is that this house is kind of ugly in the spaces we haven't updated a little. This bathroom, for instance. It's what we call the downstairs bathroom, but it's on the main floor, right around the corner from our kitchen. It's the one that guests use but also the one the kids use to shower and get ready.
I hate the cabinets, I hate the sink/counter, I hate the mirror, I hate the shower, I hate all of the wood. I appreciate wood but I really hate the look of wood. My house is full of it and I hate it so much. The sink drives me crazy because it isn't centered. The drawers aren't wide enough to really use for much. 
The cabinet above the toilet is handy. I'll give it that. The shower though? Awful. The shower head sprays everywhere and I know I just need to buy a new one. There's no shelving in there to put anything. It's very narrow and dark in there. The floor feels..... not good. I so strongly dislike shower doors, and we took the ones that were in the upstairs bathroom off but this is still there. Ideally, we need a whole new shower insert. 
The only thing that might have to stay is this tall cupboard. It is VERY narrow so you can't store much in it but I keep towels (rolled up otherwise they won't fit) and a few bottles of shampoo. But the back corner is slanted so I'm absolutely certain this is a custom made shelf. I really need an idea to still have shelving in here that you can't see (I don't like open shelves) but maybe not this shelf. I guess I could paint it and make it look alright but ugh... I don't know.

I am trying to convince Matt to take this project on over the summer. Do one thing at a time because it might be cheaper to do it that way. But I feel like if I can get him on board with this the upstairs bathroom might be next??? (CROSS YOUR FINGERS.)

But what kind of shelving/storage do you have? I need some ideas. I really only need to store 4-6 towels, extra shampoo/soap/toothpaste. I'd like to put the kids' hair and makeup stuff under the sink.

Also, what are the best lights for a bathroom? This bathroom is DARK even with everything on, it's not ideal for any kind of makeup. It has a fan/vent thing so the light fixtures I've seen with that incorporated are kind of ugly, but I could also put in other lights, I guess. I need help, guys.

Book Review: Say You Won't Let Go

I don't know why I don't go for novellas more often because there's some real satisfaction of finishing a book in a day when I have a ton of things going on around me. So I'm glad I had this one. I've finished the other books in the Return to Me series with an introduction of the Masters and Mercenaries series, which uggggggghhhhh... you know I'm going to get because I have no self control and now that I've "met" one character I can't go on with my life and not read the entire series. BUT! It doesn't exist yet so now I feel uneven and not OK.

You know how I am.

Say You Won't Let Me Go - Corinne Michaels

Emily Young had two goals in her life:
1. Make it big in country music.
2. Get the hell out of Bell Buckle.

She was doing it. She was on her way, until Cooper Townsend landed backstage at her show in Dallas.

This gorgeous, rugged, man of few words was one cowboy she couldn’t afford to let distract her. But with his slow smile and rough hands, she just couldn’t keep away.

With outside forces conspiring against them, Cooper hires the McKay-Taggart team to protect her. Emily refuses to let Cooper get hurt because of her. All she wants is to hold onto him, but she knows the right thing to do is to let go . . . 

I need to mention that I've read the other three books in this series so I'm familiar with all of the characters. Do you need to read them in order? No, I don't think it's imperative but I will say you may not understand Cooper as much in this book unless you read the previous book with Grace & Trent's story. Do you HAVE to? No, you'll be fine.

I had a lot of issues with the last book, Say I'm Yours, because I really didn't like Grace. I think she didn't give Cooper a fair chance and he seemed like a good guy. In this book we have Cooper and Emily's story and *surprise* I didn't like Emily. I liked her ambition and drive, I liked that she had goals and she wasn't going to compromise them for some guy and falling in love, BUT! She is an absolute moron when it comes to making rational decisions. Danger? "Oh, I'll not tell anyone- that makes the most sense!". You're told  not to go anywhere? "Yes, I'm going to run far, far away because I have never seen a movie involving a stalker!".

That's how stupid she is. I'm not kidding.

I really, really liked Cooper. He is willing to give her some space to live out her dreams, he's taking care of his obligations, and he's confident enough to make the long distances work. I really liked it. Sure, is he crazy protective? Yes, but not to the point where he drops his life to be around her 24/7, he knows his limitations so he hires a security team for her and entrusts others. I just really liked Cooper.

Now, I know it's a novella but I actually wanted more. I felt like this could have been more of a book and Grace & Trent could have been a novella because their story was boring. This at least had some action in it, and I liked that. When  you find out who the stalker is it was.... a little anti-climatic? There's a lot I could add here but it would give it away, but just know I have some thoughts about it and part of me was like, oh..... this is the easy way out. I felt like the author could have done more with this.

But it's a novella and it's OK. Calm down.

All in all? I'm giving this one a solid 3.5 stars. It's not quite to 4 for me but I really enjoyed it and like I said, I read it in just a few hours and that's always a good feeling. If you're a fan of contemporary romance (holla, holla!) I think you'll enjoy this series as a whole and Corinne Michaels. Definitely enough that you want to check out her other books too.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Book Review: Say I'm Yours

I'm trying so hard to work through my backlist books that have been sitting on my shelf for a long time. I'm not making any huge strides but it's nice to feel like I'm at least going forward. That doesn't stop me from buying more books but I refuse to acknowledge that I have any kind of problem.

Say I'm Yours - Corinne Michaels

From New York Times Bestseller, Corinne Michaels, comes a new second chance standalone romance.

I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted.

I’m done being invisible.
It’s time to move on.

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He’s kind, sexy, and attentive—everything a girl could want.

I thought I got it right this time.
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy.
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from.

In this book we have the story of Trent and Grace. Trent is hard headed and afraid of commitment. Grace is ridiculously sensitive and incapable of moving on even when Trent pushes her away. Now, that's kind of a standard trope in romance but the difference here is that this goes on for TWENTY YEARS. You guys, this girl settles for this for TWENTY YEARS.

*insert giant eye roll here*

Trent has some really dumb issues as to why he won't commit to her and we know they end up together but the way they get there is a little ridiculous. Secondly, I really did not like Grace. Not even a tiny little bit. Grace is the worst. She's a whiner, she's an idiot, she is needy and dependent, she's indecisive and can't make a decision for herself, and she's completely incapable of figuring anything out. I think the author was trying to paint her in the light of being SUCH a great girlfriend and willing to take the emotional manipulation but really I felt like Grace was an enabler and taking that kind of abuse from someone doesn't make you a great partner.

In all, I had a lot of problems with this story. I'm glad we get the answers to some questions at the end of this book that were kind of eluded to in the previous books, I'm glad they end up together, it's just the way we get there that doesn't sit well with me. I was kind of disappointed because I really liked the other books, but this one fell flat for me. It should be noted that though this is the third book in the Return to Me series, they are all stand alone so don't feel like you have to read them before tackling this one.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Keeping up with the Strands

I feel like I'm not doing a very good job updating on what's happening with the entire family like I used to. We're all super busy and it's basically chaos in this house every day. I'm at least living up to the blog's name, so there's that.
Over spring break, Olivia and Jackson got to go to Harry Potter World/Universal Studios with Matt's mom and sister. That was a big deal because they were told if they finished all of the books they would get to go. Olivia had read them a year or two ago but Jackson had just started at the end of last summer so in the span of four months that kid obsessively read all of them. They were really excited and ended up having a good time, even if the flight home ended up being a nightmare. (Flight was cancelled, plane issues, tons of delays and 14 hours later they made it home.)
Penelope and Lucy (in the middle) started a Teeny Tots dance class. It's only March-May and they'll be in the recital. I wanted to sign them up but I honestly wasn't sure if they'd even do it so I figured a shorter special session was the way to go versus signing up for a whole year and having them hate it. They are like three weeks in so far and LOVE IT. Every single day they ask if they have dance and no, they don't. It's only once a week for a half hour but they are all about it. They practice at home, it's so cute. Olivia also does dance now three days a week and it's really a joy to watch her.
Penelope is almost done with 3K, I think they are done in early May. Which seems crazy to me. Matt and I were just talking about what an incredible program this has been for her. She is a completely different kid. When she started we had tantrums multiple times a day, she didn't listen for anything, wouldn't follow directions, didn't want to learn anything, etc. She was difficult. I am so, SO glad that we put her in this because honestly my sanity is better for it. Not that she listens really well now, but it's better. She can follow directions, she's incredibly smart, she enjoys structured activities, she's just better for it. I think 4K next year for her is going to be really great and she's excited about it. 
Lucy has her speech and development assessment today so I hope they can help her out a little. We signed her up for 3K in the fall (same thing Penelope did this year) so we're waiting to hear if she gets in, I hope so. She's the opposite of Penelope and is very much a rule follower but I'd like to see her development get on par with her peers. I'm actually going to miss hanging with her all day, she's kind of become my little buddy. This week we went to the bookstore to use my gift cards and we had a great time reading books and playing trains. Oh, and her cold is back AND her eye is getting goopy again so we made it, what? Two weeks? Right on cue. Annoying. 
Jackson is gearing up for middle school. He has a transition night coming up soon, he turned in his instrument preference for band (drums, clarinet, or trumpet-in that order), we're going to get him a school lock so he can practice because he's worried about it. We got him signed up for summer school so he can get familiar with the school, and he's pretty excited. They always do a lot of fun stuff at the end of fifth grade at his school so that's something he's looking forward to.
Olivia is pretty dang busy. She has dance three days a week and loves it. That ends in mid-May and she's already asking if there are summer dance things so I'm hoping there will be. She gets her braces off at the end of May and I hear about it EVERY DAY. She's obviously excited. She's getting all A's in her classes, every teacher loves her, she's turning into a little comedian and reminds me of me a lot so obviously she's going to turn out awesome. She recently was selected for the Junior Curator program so sometime this summer she gets to interview a Veteran and develop a museum quality exhibit with other students. Kids have to apply for this but some students are pre-selected by teachers to participate and she was one of them, definitely a high honor. She's applying for the 8th Grade Leadership team for next year and she worked on her application for two hours on Monday. She asked for my help earlier but ended up not needing it and wouldn't let me read her application so I'm pretty proud she didn't need me after all. She's smarter than she gives herself credit for.

So that's what's happening with the kids. We're ridiculously proud of them. I'm not completely sure how we're doing but we're doing pretty alright with this parenting gig. So that's cool.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Toddler Induced Anxiety

I read an article once about how people who excessively clean may actually have anxiety and that's how they cope with it. Before my AFE, I used to clean. A lot. I was meticulously organized, my house always smelled like bleach, I had constant vacuum lines in the carpet, laundry basket was always less than a load in there, I was the over achiever when it came to keeping my house clean. Even when I had two kids and worked full time and volunteered 20 hours a week, meticulous. Our house was always very clean when I was growing up so I just had this standard and I felt like that's what it meant to be a good mom and wife. I never bought into the "excuse the mess- we're making memories" bullshit and I don't even now.

Then I died.

In my aftermath I am sick often. I tire easily. I can't focus. I can't stay on task. I can't prioritize what I need to do. I can't keep up. Is my house trashed? Not by any means. Is it too much for me? Everyday, yes.
I tried hiring a cleaning service but I've developed this bizarre fear of strangers in my house. I struggle with anyone being here at all but it's not as suffocating when it's someone I know and am familiar with. But I had a cleaning company here and I made it fifteen minutes into it and I had to send them away. I paid for the time they were supposed to be here, thanked them, and apologized for being an anxious mess, and closed my door.

I couldn't do it.

Leaving my house all together isn't an option at all because that is worse for my anxiety so I thought maybe being here would be easier. But no. It's really horrible. 
Everyday though, I am forever picking things up. Wiping surfaces down. I get so tired and sometimes I just can't and I'm forced to see all of this. 
I can't go anywhere without seeing a mess and disorder. Even on the best days it only stays nice for a short while and having two toddlers means it's next to impossible to manage it. 
Is this horrible? No. God, no. I'm not a hoarder climbing over piles and walking through tunnels of crap in my house. I do have some perspective about this, so I'm not delusional. 
But it is too much. I feel like I'm drowning. I want to just throw it all away but then I'd have nothing to entertain the toddlers with so there's that. I have a greater appreciation for myself back then because I don't think I ever gave myself credit for doing as much as I did. Back then it didn't feel like a big deal at all but there isn't a chance I could do that much now. I wish I had known  how to give myself grace back then. I guess I never realized I really needed it. I do now, though. 

We, as a family, have made some changes. Olivia and Jackson are responsible for cleaning the downstairs bathroom (that's the one they use to get ready and shower in), their rooms, and their laundry. That alone has really made a huge difference in the work load and now I know they'll have clean clothes when they move out. Ha! Matt has been doing the laundry on the weekends which is nice because I have a hard time walking down the stairs while holding a full basket, but also going up the stairs with a full basket is tiring. I try to work on one area a day (floors, kitchen, upstairs bathroom, vacuum, etc) but even still, it's tiring. I hate that doing something like sweeping or mopping a floor wipes out my energy for the day. I'm trying to not get angry about it but sometimes I slip up. I can't help it. 

So if you're out there and you're struggling to balance it all- relax. Give yourself some grace. It doesn't make you a better mom or wife if you can eat off your floors. I'm trying to relax and not let this kind of thing get to me because lord knows I have enough things that cause me anxiety, I have to learn to let this one go. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Weight Loss Check In (week 22) Bikinis and Goodbyes

Hey lambs! Well are any of you shocked that I haven't miraculously gotten skinny over the last week? Are any of you shocked that I've done oh... not a damn thing to lose weight?

I'm shocked I'm not skinny but I'm not shocked I chose the lazy route.

I think this weather is sucking the life out of me. I don't care how much Vitamin D you take to supplement, it just doesn't do it for me. I saw that there might be snow at the end of this week and I'll be honest, I kind of started having some anxiety because I can't do it, man. I really can't do it.

But I wanted to talk about something I've been doing kind of behind the scenes and I haven't talked about it here but I also haven't really said anything to people around me. A few months ago I applied to be a part of the first run of this Body Image Bootcamp. It's being facilitated through a local boudoir photography business (same one I used for my photos) and it's all centered around this model. To be honest I wasn't completely sure what this was going to entail or really be but I'm game for anything that could help me feel better about myself in any way.

I really went into this knowing I did not group up to have a positive body image about myself and I know I am my own worst critic, but I wanted to know how I could raise my three daughters and one son to be the complete opposite of me. I want them to feel comfortable in their skin, no matter what they look like, to look at their body as just that- a body. I don't want them to think anything about their body determines their value as a person. Being skinny doesn't mean you're better. Being fat doesn't make you any better or worse than the person next to you. It doesn't mean anything at all, it's just a body. It's a disposable shell.

"We don't have an epidemic of obesity; our epidemic is one of judgement, bias, and hyperbole."

So far we've really narrowed down the people in our life who we considered to be body positive or negative and why. Learning how to turn our negative thoughts in neutral or positive thoughts, and that's actually really hard. For instance, if I believe I'm not smart enough, what could I say to combat that? I could say I am a college graduate. I'm successful at my job. I accomplish goals. See what I mean? We have to keep a tally on how many negative things we think about ourselves during the course of the day and if you want a real sobering realization? Keep track of that. It's horrible.

Also having to stop ask myself WHY something bothers me when I criticize it. When I decide I hate my stomach- why? Why do I hate it? It's big, it's bulging, I'm worried what people think about it, I worry that people are looking at it. In reality? There isn't a damn person in the entire world that gives a second of thought to my stomach. Nobody. Literally nobody. But I obsess over it. I feel like everyone is staring at me. It's my job to overcome that. Also? We have to stand completely nude in front of the mirror for two minutes every day. That's not on my top 50 list of things I enjoy doing so you know, that's how that's going for me. But you know what I realized is a trigger for me?

My vertical c-section scar.

I realized I know it's there, I've felt it, but I've never spent any time looking at it. I know when I came home from the hospital I had staples and I was scared of them because I didn't know what had happened. I was terrified to have them taken out and rightfully so, they healed oddly so it was painful. But I haven't ever really looked at it. Now that I do it every day, I cry every day. That scar changed everything about my life and I'm angry. I'm angry and I'm sad. 

Last week it was mentioned again that there isn't one illness, disease, or disorder out there that is solely caused by your weight. Not one. Is it a contributing factor? Maybe. Maybe not. Does it put you at a higher risk for something? It might. But you being "obese" does not guarantee that you will get a specific illness, disease, or disorder.

That was an a-ha moment for me.

Secondly, we talked about dieting and how the dieting industry does not want you to succeed. If you succeed, that means you no longer need them or their services and they lose money. Sure, it's nice to have some results for awhile so that you're mentally engaged and thinking you need this but really, they are banking on your falling off the wagon and having to start over.

And that got me thinking. Now, my goal is to get to 160 pounds. That's where I was able to get to at my most active point and I know that I can do it. But I spent an entire weekend looking at my Facebook feed and my Instagram feed and do you know what I realized?

Seeing all of these physically fit people talk about feeling fat is not helping me. It makes me roll my eyes. It's their truth and I respect that, they feel the way they feel. It just doesn't motivate me to change myself. In fact it makes me feel defeated, like I can't get there. If this skinny person feels defeated, what chance do I have? So... I made the decision to say goodbye. I'm unfollowing groups, pages, all of it. I'm going to be my own inspiration. Their "accountability" isn't helping me but I also don't want to feel shamed. I know what my shortcomings are.

My goals? I'm going to set my own. I'm going at my own pace. I'm going to not compare my journey to anyone else because nobody else has my set of circumstances. I'm going to do this. I can do this. I'm going to do this in a healthy, non obsessive way. I'm not going to deprive myself but I'm going to enjoy myself. It's going to be OK.

My goals this week are:

1. Two walks
2. One bike ride
3. Two sessions on BeachBody

What is your favorite type of exercise? I honestly think walking is my favorite, probably because I can clear my head, so I am anxious for warmer weather so I can do it outside more.

Good luck on your journey this week, lambs. We can do this.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Cows, Flutes, Laminating, and Spaghetti. Ending the week in a bang.

I've had a whirlwind of a week and I feel like I was dragged backwards through a bush and that's how I got dumped onto Friday. That's how my week went, basically. So let's talk about life right now.

I was the milk cap counter for the kids' elementary school for a fundraiser. Sadly (not really) that program is done so our family (yes, this was a family event) counted every milk cap I could find in the school, in our house, collected from people who had some for me, etc. It ended up being 7,324 caps that we counted and boxed and Matt brought them to the post office to mail. It was a nice end to the fundraiser and I'm glad we could get it all done.
I do believe Lucy is going to be sad because she no longer gets to hug this plastic cow she has come to love. She hugs it, says hello/goodbye to it, blows kisses, she's really attached to the cow. Not enough for the cow to come to our house, though. 
One of my IG/blog friends (Hi, Lisa!!) got me a laminator for my birthday and it is the BEST. THING. EVER. Frankly, I'm angry I didn't get one sooner and I want to laminate everything I can find. Everything. I have been laminating all of Penelope's "homework" from 3K (animal sorting things, big/bigger/biggest activities, etc) so we can do them over and over again and I think she's pretty sick of it. I've done a few things for Lucy (these penguins, for example), too. If you have a resource for good and FREE activities for 3-5 year olds that I can print and laminate?

My friend Andrea brought over a couple of boxes of clothes for the little girls and it's so great because we're changing sizes and that's a nightmare and I hate buying clothes for little kids at full price so I've been clearance rack shopping but I don't get out much so the good stuff is usually picked over. Obviously Penelope is into picking her own ensemble. 
Speaking of ensembles, Olivia was in one! She plays flute and she was in a flute quartet and played in an ensemble and apparently they got the highest score you could get. Which was pretty cool. I got to go and watch but also embarrass her by taking her picture. She's really doing so great in school. Just yesterday she was picked from her wing (their school is divided into wings) to be a part of the Junior Curator Program. She'll be in a group and together they will interview a veteran and put together an exhibit at our local veteran museum for all visitors to see. She was so excited that she got picked among her peers because it was based on her grades, level of responsibility, and demonstration of Work/Respect/Belong. She was literally bouncing in the chair as she explained it to me. So sometime this summer she gets to do that and I'm excited to see what they come up with. 
Oh, and as of lunch time yesterday, Jackson is officially 11. Eleven, you guys. That means this blog? Is eleven years old. I started it a few months after he was born and I cannot even believe it.
Jackson is really one of the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful people I know. He's a mama's boy through and through and he's my favorite boy in the whole world. We're going to celebrate him tomorrow and I'm excited about it. I'm making his favorite orange creamsicle cupcakes tonight, I've got his cheesecake ready to go, I've got the ingredients for this alfredo and sausage pasta thing he wanted (I haven't made it before so cross your fingers!) and he gets to spend the night at Grandma Cindi's.

I bet he'll take the leftover cheesecake, too.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ears and Fatigue.

I feel like this week was more loaded down with doctor appointments but I guess not. I have an eye appointment yet this week but whoopty do.

We did take Lucy to her ENT appointment on Monday, though. Remember when I posted about how she's always sick and nobody knew what to do? Well as it turns out this guy doesn't either.
I had to wake Lucy up from a nap to take her so I wasn't sure what kind of mood she'd have because this girl LOVES to sleep. It turns out she was pretty great and doesn't mind the doctor at all, which is really nice.
So the first thing we did is her hearing test. That was actually pretty cool because I've always wondered how can they tell if a baby is deaf? Turns out they have this ear thermometer looking thing and with that they can tell. It takes literally 10 seconds. Lucy can hear but her left ear is greatly diminished and she has a lot of fluid in there. She has a little fluid in the right ear, not enough to get excited about. The game plan with that is to come back in two months and see if it gets better on its own. If it doesn't, she will need to have tubes put in and she'll likely have her adenoid removed because of her nonstop cold. I am VERY glad I went because Matt sucks at talking about symptoms and I'm basically a professional now. I also had pictures of her eye and how awful she gets and the doctor seemed taken aback by them and that's how the tubes and adenoid stuff came up.

But because we're coming back in two months we decided to cancel her ophthalmology appointment that was on Thursday because the last one is $400 out of pocket (insurance paid a whopping $2.10... yay!) and we know now that it isn't an issue with her actual eye, it's more of an ENT thing. So no point in going back to eye guy for him to say great, NEXT.
We did learn that little kids don't actually have a sinus yet, they aren't formed enough to get infected, so she definitely didn't have a sinus infection. Which I guess is pretty good. She did do her ten days of amoxicillin and seems to have helped because her eye isn't squinty and she doesn't have a cold (knock on wood). So I guess we'll see if that actually got rid of it or if we're just in a good patch and it comes back in two to three weeks like it's been. I'm not sure but I'm hopeful because she's just pitiful when she's not feeling well.

As for me I had my much awaited visit to psychiatry. He is really great and he's probably the only doctor in my lineup that I feel like sees the entire picture and knows what to do. He looks at things I'm experiencing and looks for connections and figures out how to improve what I'm dealing with without making something else worse.

I really appreciate that.

I think I've talked about being put on Ritalin to help with the chronic fatigue. I really am hesitant to be on stimulants but I also need to be awake at some point in the day and I'm out of options, basically. The decision today was because I didn't feel worse with my small dose of Ritalin, we're going to max me out but I can dictate how much I need in a day. So I can start at 10-20 mg and if that's not doing it or if I need another dose, I can take another 20 mg. I can only take 60 mg a day. I have to figure out at what time of day I can't have any more because I need to be able to fall asleep at night at a reasonable time.
We are leaving my anti-depressant and mood stabilizer the way they are because I'm not getting worse. I'm at the point where I know I'm not going to feel happy, joyful, etc so that's kind of unreasonable to expect out of a medication. The goal for me is to keep me even. I'm not happy, I'm not sad/mad. I still have a lot of days where I feel sad and I'm tired of getting up and going through another day. I have moments where for a split second I feel proud or I feel... like I can take a breath? Does that make sense? It never lasts long but it's something. I am getting better and better at faking it so I'm smiling, laughing, having a good time and people think I'm really feeling that.

I am not.

I've learned though that nobody wants to hang out with a person who visibly hates life. Have you seen the movie Inside Out? I'm Sadness. Basically that's my every day.

I did forget to ask about my anxiety. I'm noticing my anxiety is actually getting worse and I forgot my notebook with my notes and questions in it (actually, I forgot where I put it so there's that) so I didn't even think of it. Until I was leaving and I realized the way I drive home is going to be closed for construction starting next week so I was going to try to find a different way to go.

But then I got really nervous and anxious about it so I chickened out and went the way I know that I know how to go. It seems dumb, doesn't it? But things as minor as driving a new route is stressful for me because I have a fear of getting lost. What if I get lost and I don't know how to get back home? I don't like to drive on unfamiliar streets because now it's requiring my brain to really pay attention and try to figure something out but that part of my brain no longer works like it did, so that's a really huge task, and I get anxious and upset.

Actually, I'm noticing more and more often that I can't focus. I've had focus and processing speed issues since my stroke but for awhile there I felt like while it wasn't getting better, I was learning how to function with it. Lately though, I'm dozing off and spacing out. I will start telling someone something and I trail off because I can't remember what I was going to say or what the point was so I can't keep going. It's really difficult and I'm really struggling with it.

Alright, so that's the scoop. Hopefully Lucy is on the mend and is getting healthier. I'm crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Book Review: If You Go Down To The Woods

Honestly, I don't think I have read this many thrillers in a three year span combined than I have just the first three months of this year. It's crazy!

If You Go Down To The Woods - Seth C. Adams
We were so young when it all happened--just 13-year-olds making the most of the long, hot, lazy days of summer, thinking we had the world at our feet. That was us--me, Fat Bobby, Jim, and Tara--the four members of the Outsiders’ Club. The day we found a burnt-out car in the woods was the day everything changed. Cold, hard cash in the front seat and a body in the trunk. It started as a mystery we were desperate to solve. Then the Collector arrived. He knew we had found his secret, and suddenly, our summer of innocence turned into the stuff of nightmares.

I actually wanted to read this one because the preview gave me the feel of a Jennifer McMahon book and I am a big fan of hers. As it turns out, I wasn't really wrong. This book really starts out as a simple story of a couple of kids forming a little club and hanging out and maybe finding something not so great and it ends as something completely different and the transition between those two things is really fantastic.

The great part about this book is the nostalgia feeling it gives you. Reading this and you're brought right back to your days as a kid and I think we would all say we felt like an outsider ourselves so we'd feel like fifth member of the club. It's also compared to Stephen King's It and I will tell you- I am 37 years old and I think I was in sixth grade when that was a made for TV movie and it scared the crap out of me. To this day I won't walk past gutters and I do the running jump into my bed (even when I was VERY pregnant) even though I have drawers under my bed- you can't get under there. That made me a little nervous but I'll be honest, I didn't see a ton of comparison between the two but again, I have never finished It so I don't know. Maybe they end similarly but I wasn't scared reading this one. It's like Diet Horror. I think what helped to make it not scare me senseless is the fact these are kids and they are early teenage years. Somehow that made me think the scarier, more suspenseful parts were maybe a little more dramatized because it's a teenager. Do you know what I mean? Also, would the kids realistically do/say the things they do in the book? No, probably not and I'm pretty OK with that. What did bother me is some of the language, and you know I'm not a prude, there isn't much that offends me. I am trying to be more mindful of my own language and things I say so maybe that's why I picked up on things but there are some homophobic slurs and a few spots that I thought had a negative racial connotation and I tried to remember this book isn't taking place in 2019 so maybe this was true to the time, I don't know. But I felt uncomfortable in a few areas.

Overall? It was pretty good. I finished it over the course of a weekend. It was entertaining and I'd give it a 3.5 star.. maybe bumped up to a 4.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher (thank you!!) in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Book Review: The Vanishing Stair

I'm going to be coming at you with a bunch of book reviews this week and probably next because I finally am getting the reading groove back and finishing up books I've had on my desk. Lucky you, baby.

The Vanishing Stair - Maureen Johnson

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life. 

I read the first book in this series, Truly Devious, awhile ago so I didn't remember all of the details but I will tell you I think reading that is helpful before this one, but I suppose it isn't completely dire to do it. I didn't remember a good portion of book one and I felt OK through this one but if you're a sucker for details, read book one. OK? 

OK. So this book is mostly Stevie trying to solve the case so that she can get back to the things that are important to her. I really love kid detective stories because honestly, kids aren't stupid and they are often better at sorting things out than the adults because they are willing to consider the impossible or the improbable. I will say I really enjoyed this book and I got through it quickly with both of my older kids (ages 13 and 10) clamoring to get their turn. It does cover some subjects that might be kind of tough for some kids, like kidnapping and death, but my kids got through Harry Potter so they'll be fine.

I will say, if I had to find a thing with this book that made me feel kind of meh? It would be the thing we learn that's been a question from book one. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to know what it is BUT. It wasn't as big as it was hyped to be AND I feel kind of sad that it's not a carry forward to the third book. It would have been better (for me) for it to be an even bigger thing and get a few more clues in this book to get you excited for the next book. I guess it doesn't matter and maybe the author has another trick up her sleeve for the next one, and I'll find out because I plan to read it because this series is surprisingly hard to put down and really great. I always worry about a series when book one was really good- can the author keep it up? In this case, Maureen Johnson did just that. Bravo.

I'm the lucky duck who got an ARC of The Vanishing Stair courtesy of the publisher (THANK YOU!) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Happy reading!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Weight Loss Challenge (week 21) *weigh in day

So it's April. I'm pretty disappointed that I haven't gotten into a routine yet but also that I haven't miraculously woke up skinnier. It's pretty annoying.

This is where I'm at as of April 1:

Chest:  43.5 in
Right Arm: 14.5 in.
Left Arm: 15 in.
Waist:  45 in. 
Hips: 49 in. 
Right Thigh:  26 in.
Left Thigh:  26 in.
Weight:  215 lbs

Clearly I'm back to where I started in January and that really sucks.

My friend Amy is starting with the 21 Day Fix program this week so I'm going to do it with her and have an accountability partner. The plan is for me to just do it.

My struggle is motivation. I am so tired that I'm not even sure if my official chronic fatigue diagnosis even covers it. It really feels like I use a lot of energy just keeping my eyes open. While I have bursts of energy, I'm busy trying to do other stuff. I'm struggling with prioritization. I know my self care needs to be important and at some point I have to make myself a priority, but I also know I have a responsibility to provide a meal for my kids, clean clothes, all of that. It's really hard to know at what point do I draw a line and then deal with guilt. Is the guilt worth feeling marginally better?

I don't know.

I did decide to cut out soda completely (save for my one, maybe two a week if I go out to eat if I feel like it) and I'm happy to report I feel like I am over the headaches that seem to come with that, so that's progress. It took two weeks and for a few days last week I wasn't sure if I was going to cave or not because the middle of my forehead was killing me.

I also battled pink eye for awhile and guess what you don't feel like doing with pink eye?


The good news is I've also been pretty good with my diet and I don't feel like I'm over eating and that's been good.

I'm also pretty excited that the days are getting longer so it's not dark so early anymore, and the temperature isn't really cold anymore. I'm hoping I can get out and go for walks outside again and I really want Matt to dig the double stroller out of the garage so I can take Penelope and Lucy in the afternoons after nap. God knows they could use the fresh air too because they are getting a little bit stir crazy.

You know what else? I'm kind of getting the itch to do a 5K. I'm 98% sure I can't run it but I really want to do one because they are generally fun but also because it keeps me on track to keep moving, to keep walk/running because I don't want to die in a race with a bunch of people watching. Ideas I'm thinking:

So if you're a local buddy and you want to do any of these with me, let's make a plan!

Alright, keep on keeping on, lambs.

Friday, March 29, 2019

I love to pee and sleep. Oh, and Lucy sees speech.

I think I mentioned last week that I would be seeing my Endocrinology and Pulmonary doctors this week and that they were the first in a series of follow up appointments. I'm starting to get really confused because I have appointments, Lucy has a bunch of appointments, and I have to schedule physicals for four kids and it is just a lot and I am grateful I have a planner otherwise I would be completely screwed. But here's what happened this week:

I went to Endocrinology and I really like this doctor. I have had him since I was still in the hospital after having Lucy so he's aware of all of my issues and how I ended up here. Let me just note that the doctors I have had since the very beginning are really the best because they have seen my progress and know the obstacles I keep facing. They are the ones that believe me when I say I think that all of my current issues are tied to my AFE. The doctors I've picked up along the way usually say, "Oh, OK. But lets talk about losing weight." and they discredit everything I say.

So I'll just put that out there.

This visit though was so bizarre. I had a lot of questions about my emergency room visit not too long ago and questions about weight loss. Unfortunately I got a lot of "I don't know" answers from him and basically, I left there with a bunch of questions still, no answers, and told to do what I feel like works. That honestly is not good enough for me because I really need to be given very concrete, black and white answers. My brain doesn't work with the vague stuff.

Also though- he was OBSESSED with how much I pee. He wants to know if I pee too much and honestly, I feel like I pee an OK amount. I'm not upset about it. If I have to leave the house for several hours, I curb my water and take half a pill of my medication. I take half a pill before bed. I try to always have ice cold water on me to curb cravings. He didn't like my answers so I also left there with two urine collection containers and a bowl to pee in so that's happening.

I had to get some labs done, of which I don't know how they came out because he hasn't looked at them yet, but then I walked across the street to Pulmonary.

Carrying my urine collection goodies and that was fun.
The Pulmonary doctor is really nice and I don't hate going there. The women who work at the check in desk are rude as all get out but the actual doctor is fantastic. He does talk to me like I have special needs or that I'm slow but it's kind of funny and it's fine. I breathe alright, my lungs sound super, I need to keep using my inhaler for exercise and use my CPAP every night and I can come back in a year. Easy peasy.

I also had a meeting with the Birth to 3 program in regards to getting Lucy some speech development help.
I really have put it off as long as I could and I have done everything I know how to do and tried a few things that have worked for other people and things I've see on child development websites and still- her speech isn't where it needs to be. The plan is to start her in a three year old preschool program (like Penelope is in this year) and though that doesn't start until September, other people can't understand her. For the most part, I can. But she needs help.

The Birth to 3 person is so nice and we basically spent out hour or so together filling out paperwork and Lucy napped. She has a formal evaluation with the speech development person and the child development person in two weeks and that will determine what she needs and how we're going to do it. The down side is that the cut off to get an IEP started is like 33 months, and she's like 32 months. And I don't mean cut off like she'll never get help but they have this deadline so that services are in place and organized for her before she starts school because once she turns three all development help gets transferred to our school district. So of course, cue the guilt that I didn't do this sooner, etc.

I know. I know you're like, "God Sara, relax. At least you're doing it now, it's not a big deal." Rationally? I know this. I'm not neurotic.

But I am anxiety headquarters and no amount of you saying that or me thinking it makes those thoughts and feelings go away.

It is what it is.

I also had therapy this week and that was tough. Every time I think it will be a pretty easy session and I'll keep working on things, something always comes up and I end up crying for an entire hour, then I cry in my car ride home. I cry that night. I'm a mess. But I know I need it so I keep going.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book Review: Power Up

I'll have a little medical update for you tomorrow (promise!), this week has been BUSY and I'm equal parts excited that this week is almost over and worried about next week because it's even busier. Oh, and Jackson turns 11 next week and have I started anything? Gotten a gift? NOPE.

So. I'm trying to get as many book reviews off of my desk so I don't feel overwhelmed with those. These books are all read and ready for me to type a review.... it's just finding time to actually do it. I don't know how I did this all pre-AFE because I am barely treading water here. Yikes.

Power Up - Seth Fishman

Did you know there is enough energy in your pinkie finger to power an entire city? And that everything you do--running, jumping, playing, and exploring--uses that same energy inside of you?

In the companion to A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg explore the relationship between energy and the human body, breaking down complicated concepts into small, child-friendly segments.

I really enjoy reading and reviewing children's books because I have such a passion in making sure kids read, have access to books, and enjoy it. I really believe every kid can grow up to be a reader, it's a matter of finding the right kind of books for them. Not every kid will love classic literature and I think pushing all books onto a kid does them a disservice. When I saw this one come through my email I jumped onto it because for the first time in my mom life I have a kid who asks "Why?" enough times during the day I often say, "Because it just does!" or I claim I don't know. I saw this book and I immediately thought of my little Penelope who is going to be four soon so she's getting to the age where I can read a longer book with her and have a discussion and she really wants to know what's going on.
Lucy and Penelope both because they do everything together. 

I have to tell you- Penelope LOVED this book. The illustrations (done by Isabel Greenberg) are really quite interesting and will hold the attention of a kiddo easily. We did discover this really is not the book to read at bedtime because your child(ren) will keep you up asking endless questions, wanting to see pages again, asking what it says, etc. If you have a child who is obsessed with superheroes, this would be a great book for them because this explains how THEY are actually superheroes and talks about all of the cool and fantastic things their body already does.

If you have a child who loves random facts and tidbits of information? They are going to love this book. (Did you know a human once ran 310 miles in three days without stopping? Spoiler: It wasn't me.) After reading this book a few times it dawned on me that this would be a really great addition to a school library or even in a classroom. I can't remember what grade they talk about energy in elementary school but this would be a GREAT book to use at the start of that unit. If you're a teacher, consider this one for your next classroom purchase- your students, old and young, will enjoy this one.

I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Happy reading!