Thursday, September 23, 2021

Rage cleaning.

Are you a rage cleaner? I didn't realize that was a thing until a few years ago. My therapist told me it's an anxiety overload thing, but also probably some OCD thrown into the mix, too. I realize now that all of my crazy cleaning marathons that I would go on years ago were likely my anxiety taking over because life was hard. Life was busy and I only had two kids then, but I was working full time, so I just never had time to do.... nothing.  

Fast forward to now and while technically I have the time to do nothing, I don't have the opportunity. Most of my days are spent trying to keep up with all four kids, but trying to keep the house relatively clean. I've long since given up my magazine worthy kind of clean for my house, because I don't have the energy levels to do that but also, just vacuuming the one rug exhausts me and I have to lay down for a half hour just so I can then make some toast for myself for lunch. 

God knows I haven't done a deep clean on anything in years. My standards have gone down drastically. 

This last weekend though, I realized the front porch was out of hand. It's the catch all area for toys and kid things, it's basically a play room for them. We never needed a play room before but since we moved, and downsized in space by almost half, we've had to get creative with space and storage. The front porch became the toy room, play room, storage for kid crafts and books, and other. It doesn't take long for things to get out of hand, let's put it that way. So I decided that I was going to spend the time to clean it out and get rid of the things we no longer need. 

I was hoping for help, but this is what my helper opted to do instead. Granted, it was significantly warmer outside than I thought it was going to be, so I know it slowed me way down. Twinky decided he was going to live his best life on the couch while the fan above blew cool air onto him in his indecent position. Jerk. 
It took me hours and I really mean hours to go through every box, every drawer, and every shelf. I went through every single toy piece by piece. Matt ended up hauling out two bags of garbage and a couple of boxes of things to donate. We were able to get all of the kid things onto one side of the porch, so it's not a spread out mess. 
Now we have this whole other side to either leave it empty or do something with. I think the horse (behind my rocking chair) might go soon, I'm not sure. The cats like that cat tree there since they can be the neighborhood watch from there. I'd like to get some kind of lounge chaise or something so I can read out there in the sunshine. Other than that though, I don't have any ideas. I might move some plants out there to see if they do better with more sunlight. I'm trying to get into house plants but so far I've not been real successful. I'm trying, though! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Self care, parenting insanity, and bad drivers

I try to be pretty honest about life around here, and I really don't sugar coat things. When I say that I am literally driving the struggle bus, I am not joking. I feel like I was having a pretty good stretch this summer but right before our trip to Iowa, things kind of imploded and it's been absolute chaos ever since. 

I haven't been taking care of myself like I'm supposed to. Not so much out of purposeful neglect, but things have been so chaotic and stressful that my memory is just shot, so I am forgetting to do all of the things I am supposed to be doing for myself to stay functional. So the other day I decided screw it. Can we afford me to go get my hair done? NOPE. Am I going to go do it anyways because I need to do something relaxing for myself? YUP.  

And that's just what I did. I decided that I'm over the blonde because summer is over, fall and winter are on their way and I just needed a change. I found a last minute appointment with someone new to me and took a chance. 
Best chance ever because I love it. It's darker but depending on the light it looks completely different. It has different shades of brown in it, a super light blond going through it in spots, it's just really very pretty. It's like two shades darker than my natural, so that's kind of my limit on how dark I'll go, but I'm glad I went. It was almost a four hour process and it was nice to be alone, talking to another adult, and not giving any kind of crap on anyone else in my house. It was glorious. 
Which made up for the day before, where I took Lucy to a physical medicine physician for a second opinion, only to come out to see that some asshole clearly scraped my car as they were (likely) backing out of their spot. I'm parked perfectly dead center in my spot and even still a person couldn't get out. This is a brand new vehicle, I got it in March and now someone has totally scraped it. Leaves no note, nothing. How freaking rude. I think Matt is going to take it to get it looked at, maybe it can just be buffed out (crossing fingers) but it just makes me mad because I try really hard to keep my things nice, I don't touch or ruin other people's things, and I feel like people are just assholes. Sigh. 

To make up for it though, I got this amazing package in the mail from a friend. It's a sunshine box and it was the CUTEST thing ever. I mean, I may or may not have eaten candy under my desk while crying the other night, but it's hard to get too sad when I can aggressively throw a mini beach ball around my office while I rage at the things that are making me angry. 

I have really been struggling as a parent lately. I find myself bouncing between wanting to be a really, really good mom and being available at all times, but then also being completely over everyone sucking me dry. I think my family doesn't understand that my capacity for caring and being available isn't what it used to be, that tank is very small now. Sometimes I'm not sure if they don't understand that or if they just don't care and think I should just do things for them anyways. I'm learning that part of saying no to things in life means saying enough is enough to your own family sometimes. I'm also learning that part of letting them grow up is realizing I'm not responsible for their happiness. I can do nice things for them, I can be supportive and encouraging, but coddling isn't love. I feel like I'm maybe crippled them into thinking it is, so I'm trying really hard to fix that. It's incredibly difficult to explain to someone that I love them but I also can't be an emotional crutch anymore. At some point you have to pull your own weight. 

Throw in some puberty mood swings and teenager angst that only highlights how immature they are, and we've been having fun times. Then on the other end of the spectrum, I have an incredibly artistic and intelligent six year old who needs to be challenged more and that's exhausting on its own, and I have a five year old having on/off mobility issues that I haven't really had time to look into because the other kids are sucking me dry. I feel like I'm tapped out, I've got nothing left for anyone. 

It won't be surprising at all to you then, when I say that I've been sicker than sick. Oh yes, because when life gets stressful and chaotic, your body pumps out cortisol to help you and your brain function with the changes. Guess what my body doesn't do because it doesn't have a functioning pituitary gland? That's right, it doesn't pump out cortisol! So that means that I am constantly sick, and even when I take extra medication, it's never the right amount, so I always feel like I'm depleted and lethargic, I'm often throwing up with a headache, constantly dizzy, and exhausted. That's especially fun, because it's usually on the days I feel my actual worse that I get to hear how one of my kids wishes I was a better mom and did more. 

Yes, because I don't feel guilty enough. 

I'm just over it. I'm really over all of it. I'm tired of everyone relying on me for every part of their life. I'm tired of everyone expecting me to make them happy. I'm tired of everyone expecting me to do something for them. I'm tired of listening to people tell me I'm wrong and don't know anything when in fact, I'm not wrong and I actually do know things. It's so frustrating. I feel like I'm supposed to be enjoying this time as a mom and I'm not. I actually really hate it. I'm exhausted and I'm finding it hard to even care. I'm sure some of this is my own depression at play because this is a really awful time of year for me, but of course, I can't even work on me because all of my time and resources are going to people who just take, take, take. 

It's exhausting. Some times I wish I could just disappear. Walk right off the side of the planet and never come back. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Book Review: Stalker Stalked

It feels like I haven't blogged in forever, and to be fair, that's probably true. Life has been really busy and crazy for me and I'm really struggling. It's just a really crappy season of life. 

Stalker Stalked - Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lexi Mazur is a depressed, alcoholic, pill-popper whose only joy has become her reality TV shows, often fantasizing that the people on TV are a part of her world. After her boyfriend Steve leaves her, she fixates on the show Socialites and its star Magnolia Artois, following every facet of the girl’s life on social media in the hopes of befriending and becoming more like her.

But stalking isn’t new to Lexi. She ultimately won over her ex Steve by following and manipulating every minute detail about him so he’d fall for her. In fact, she landed her other ex-boyfriend Jeremy in the same way. Being a pharma rep, she’s used to manipulation to get doctors to buy her drugs, along with the perk of saving pills for herself.

But what happens when the stalker gets stalked?

Recently, Lexi has felt someone watching her: in her apartment in Queens, at her job. At first, she thinks her mind’s playing tricks, but the watcher is behaving just like she would. And soon they begin leaving threatening clues like she starts to do to Magnolia once her obsession grows more dangerous. Is it one of her exes out for revenge? Her only real friend from childhood who she’s always had an unhealthy rivalry? A detective who may have figured her out? The reality star Magnolia trying to turn the tables? Or even someone she might not know?

Lexi learns the only way to beat her stalker is to use her own stalking prowess to outsmart them at their own game. But has she finally met her match?
I haven't been reading as much (or as fast) as I wish I was right now. I'm really struggling in all areas of life, so you'll notice my reviews are slowing down. I'll catch back up soon, but I do have a couple for you this week and they are pretty dang good. 

Today though I'm bringing you Stalker Stalked, a really interesting story that I don't know how to really explain this one.... in a good way. Our main character very clearly has mental health issues but she also drinks a lot.... and does a lot of drugs, neither of which really help the mental health issues obviously, but let's just keep that in mind as we go through this. She really believes she's being stalked, which is an ironic thing for her to deal with because she's used to being the one who does the stalking. She's basically pro level of nuts, and it almost kind of feels poetic because it's karma, right? 

I'm not going to go through the whole book because honestly, it's best to go in with as little information as possible because the whole premise is a bit bananas, and it's really entertaining to constantly be blown away as things keep happening. Every time you think it can't possibly get stranger, it does. The creepy factor keeps going up, and then throw in the absolute obsession with reality TV, and this book feels like it's going off the rails but you can't stop. You literally can't stop because every time you put the book down, your brain wants to know what's going to happen with Lexi. This isn't even the kind of book you are rooting for the character in a good way, you're really torn between wanting something to turn around and go well for her and wanting her to get what she deserves. But what does she deserve? I still don't know how I feel about the ending. The best way to describe this is it really is the car wreck you can't look away from. It's disturbing in a way, but it also makes you think about things differently, like how we consume reality television and how invested we feel in celebrities lives. 

A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Lee Matthew Goldberg for having me on this tour and sending me a copy of the book for review. This was a good book to break a rut, that's for sure, easily 4 stars for me. 

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Book Review: Deer Season

I am so behind in life right now, I'm just trying to keep up. I have so many things going on all at once and I don't know how I did this kind of stuff before Lucy and liked it. Honestly, that blows my mind, because I really hate being this busy now. I'd like to just nap and watch crime shows. That feels like the extent that my brain can function right now. 

Deer Season - Erin Flanagan

It’s the opening weekend of deer season in Gunthrum, Nebraska, in 1985, and Alma Costagan’s intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, has gone hunting with some of the locals, leaving her in a huff. That same weekend, a teenage girl goes missing, and Hal returns with a flimsy story about the blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight. When the situation escalates from that of a missing girl to something more sinister, Alma and her husband are forced to confront what Hal might be capable of, as rumors fly and townspeople see Hal’s violent past in a new light.

A drama about the complicated relationships connecting the residents of a small-town farming community, Deer Season explores troubling questions about how far people will go to safeguard the ones they love and what it means to be a family.
I live in an area where we're surrounded by the woods and forest, many people look to the fall as hunting season and plan their lives around it. Every year we hear about a couple of people being accidentally shot, sometimes people go missing and we find them after they've passed away from exposure, so right away this story grabbed me. Reading it felt like a cross between a Jennifer McMahon thriller and something else... I can't quite put my finger on it, but it was really good. It ended up being the perfect book to pick up now that kids are back in school, summer weather is really gone, and I'm curled up on the couch with a good blanket. 

In this we see the disappearance of Peggy, a girl like so many in towns like mine, who sneak out on weekends to go drinking and partaking in other activities in fields away from supervision. Until one evening, and Peggy just doesn't come home. After a few days, rumors are rampant in town, and suddenly what began as whispers become a quiet rumbling of accusations towards Hal, a grown adult with intellectual disabilites, who doesn't understand social cues or flirting, which becomes the sticking part in the accusations. 

While we do find out what happened to Peggy and that gets solved, that really isn't even the focus of the book. Once you get into it and we start meeting new characters, figuring out how they are connected with different people, we learn some pretty damning things about many. It's like Peggy's disappearance was what kicks up all of the dirt everyone in town was covered in. Old hurts are rediscovered, hurtful words are heard again, and we learn that those things are never really forgotten and people never really lose that hurt. It's all things that stick with you for life. 

I'd give this one a solid 4 star. It got a little slow for me in parts, but as soon as I realized this book isn't so much about the crime (which is what I was expecting), and more about this crazy web of secrets within this town, I perked right up because it felt like I was reading a whole new book and that's what kept me engaged. The writing is lovely, the setting and character building are great, I could easily picture any small town around me as being the location. 

If you're looking for a solid read to get you into the fall mood, definitely pick this one up. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and University of Nebraska Press for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. 
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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Depression, still a thing around here.

I haven't been super vocal about my medical stuff going on, mostly because it's the same thing over and over: people just don't have a clue so they optimistically send me off and tell me things will "probably be fine".  

I don't know if you know this or not, but that's literally the most unhelpful thing to tell someone with a chronic illness. I mean, if you don't know what's wrong, that's fine, but maybe send me to someone who would know instead. 

I still don't feel well physically and at this point, I've just decided this is the best I'm going to get. Every day I feel like I have the worst flu, with body aches all over, I'm so tired I'm barely functional, and if I'm not sick to my stomach and/or vomiting, it's a good day. I'm just tired of advocating for myself because as far as I'm concerned, that's just some bullshit people say to be motivational or encouraging. 

I'm already struggling but now that it's fall I have moved firmly into the worst season of the year for me with mental health. I know it's going to happen every year but this last weekend I hit my wall and I've steadily slid down it into a dark hole. I'm just over it. I'm trying to keep myself afloat and I have one child dealing with their own mental health issues and I'm having to drag them along with me. It would be helpful if they made some efforts to help me move them but no, it's straight resistance and I'm struggling with forcing them to get help or saying fuck it, because until they want it, it won't work? Does that make sense? I also love being told they wish I was a better mom. I mean, I already know I'm not the same mom I once was and it's taken me five years to not feel tremendous guilt and just angry about it, I was finally feeling like I could let that go. 

To have one of my kids point blank say they wish I was a better mom not only felt like a stab to the heart, but it was like confirmation for my brain to start the "you're a shit mom, you're better off dead, they're better off without you" track that plays on repeat. I know they are just a kid so they don't understand fully that what they say has a direct impact on someone else, it doesn't make it hurt any less. So since then, I've really had some dark moments where I've been worried to be home alone. I'm doing the best I can, I can't give anyone what I don't have. I feel like I'm being sucked dry by other people and nobody gives a flying fuck that I'm struggling. 

I continue with my therapy and my psychiatry because I know it's the best thing for me. It's the only place I can say what I really think and how I really feel. Because I am so angry. I'm starting to feel resentful and I feel like I don't ever get the chance to get better because it's always me having to come to the rescue of someone else. I spend 90% of my time taking care of and doing things for other people. I'm always running someone around to appointments, activities, or places with friends. I do my best to plan out a menu, shop, and cook only to have people not eat or tell me they decide to starve themselves to lose weight they can't afford to lose. I don't understand why people don't seem me melting down until nothing. I just don't get it. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Book Review: The Shadow in the Glass

Nothing like the mid-week slumps, am I right? I was doing so well this weekend but as we inch towards the end of the week, I'm starting to feel like a damn slug. Which... ugh.  

The Shadow in the Glass - JJA Harwood

A deliciously gothic story of wishes and curses – a new dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke.

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…
You know I love a good retelling, and when I saw this one coming down the pike, I immediately went for it. Judging by the name Ella, you would be safe to assume this is a Cinderella remake, but not quite. I definitely could see the similarities, and glaring differences, I just wish this gave me more. 

Instead of an evil stepmother, we have a lecherous stepfather who really ought to be in prison because he's disgusting. We learn early on in the book that he takes a liking to the young women in his employ and once they end up pregnant, they are sent off in shame. Ella is fairly naive, but also kind of not, it's hard to really get a read on what she knows and doesn't know. She knows enough to watch out for the younger girls though. She doesn't have evil stepsisters, but there are definitely other servants that don't like Ella at all and make her life an absolute nightmare and make it impossible for her to leave. 

What they can't take away from her are books. When her stepmother was still alive, she taught Ella how to read. She taught her other things as well, but reading was a mutual love of theirs, and Ella seeks refuge in the books when her stepfather is out getting drunk or once he's asleep in his stupor. She does have a fairy godmother of sorts and though she is granted seven wishes, they don't come without a cost. With that twist it starts to feel like the author is weaving some other classic fairytales into this so it doesn't feel like a Cinderella remake totally. 

The story itself is darker than I thought it was going to be. I also went through the entire book with the ending I wanted in my mind and I won't tell you what that was, but I will tell you I very much did not get it. In the end, though I was mad at the ending immediately following, the longer I sit on it the more it felt right. There is a line on page 400, almost the last page, that reads: 
"Why, why had Eleanor thrown her trust away on this puppet? The only person worth putting her faith in was herself." 
Isn't that a lesson we all learn at some point? I felt like Ellie was such a likeable character, one that you can't help but root for because we're all a little bit of her at some point. Also, this book is classified as young adult, and as a whole I would agree with that, but the story does dip into horror at times and is definitely more macabre than what a young adult audience is used to, I think. It would definitely be worth mentioning to someone that this gets kind of dark. To me it had the dark feel like The House of Salt and Sorrow, and you know I loved that one. I would have to give this one a solid 4 stars.

Thank you to HarperVoyager for sending me a copy for review!
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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Book Review: Poison for Breakfast

Are you a fan of Lemony Snicket?  I used to read all of his books when I was in elementary school, I was in love with them. I even watch A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, and Neil Patrick Harris is PERFECT in that role. My kids loved the books and show as well, but I think I was maybe more excited than them. 

When I saw Lemony Snicket had this one coming out, I literally jumped at the chance because I'm basically a grown up child at heart so here we go. 

Poison for Breakfast - Lemony Snicket

For more than twenty years, Lemony Snicket has led millions of young readers through a mysterious world of bewildering questions and unfortunate events. With this latest book—a love letter to readers young and old about the vagaries of real life—longtime fans and new readers alike will experience Snicket’s distinctive voice in a new way.

This true story—as true as Lemony Snicket himself—begins with a puzzling note under his door: You had poison for breakfast. Following a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his own demise, Snicket takes us on a thought-provoking tour of his predilections: the proper way to prepare an egg, a perplexing idea called “tzimtzum,” the sublime pleasure of swimming in open water, and much else.
The best part of any Lemony Snicket book, for me, is that he writes as if he's a weird grandpa. You know what I'm talking about, someone has the kind of grandpa that kind of rambles while telling you something important so you kind of tune out a bit, but then you realize he was saying something important the whole time. I often glaze over what seem like minute details but find myself going back to re-read something because it makes the part of the book I'm in make more sense, it's basically always an interactive story, I'm always going back and forth. You could say he's a bit of a messy, or chaotic, writer and that would be true, but if he were any other way his books wouldn't be as entertaining. 

Poison for Breakfast was certainly entertaining and a quick read. Though I can't go into much about the plot because it would really give the entire surprise away, I will say that if you are a fan of classic Lemony Snicket, you won't be disappointed. This isn't so much a murder mystery/who-dun-it, but more of a pondering of life and death as he goes around town trying to solve this mystery. It does talk about death quite a bit, and how death will come to us all, so if you (or your children) aren't ready to explore that concept in a very matter of fact way, perhaps this isn't the one for you just yet. It's considered a nonfiction because it's a "true story", and our main character is both the victim (because he had poison for breakfast) but also the detective (because over the course of the day he has to figure out why and who did it).  

I really loved this one. It made me nostalgic for my childhood and the time spent in my school library. I know this is geared for ages 9-99, but I think kids won't get the full message of this and that maybe adults would appreciate it more. Not to say kids couldn't/shouldn't read this, I just don't know that they would learn the lessons Lemony is trying to show us. 

Thank you to Liveright Publishing for having me on this tour and sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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