Thursday, November 30, 2017

Break Me

I can't remember when it was but I ordered a couple of books from The Bookworm Box store, they offer various titles signed by the author for purchase. They were on sale and I figured I'd just grab a few shorter ones so I can play catch up with my Goodreads goal. This was one of them.

Break Me (TBX #1) - Ashley Christin

Returning back for the spring semester of college, Brealynn and her best friend, Kelsey, are ready to start a new chapter. 
After the loss of their mother, Pro BMX rider Colt Taylor and his brother, Parker, hope to rebuild their lives by concentrating on competitions. 

One night brings them together.
One night shatters it all.
Can they survive the break?

I guess the best way for me to start my review for this is buying telling you I have zero interest in the sequel, Kelsey and Parker's story. If you know me at all, you know that I am a sucker for a series and even when I'm not in love with a book, I will force myself through it and this is one of the very few times when I can say... I don't really care if I read the part two. Yikes.

The book centers around Brealynn, fresh off of a break up with high school boyfriend who turned out to be a complete douchebag, and Cole, a playboy BMX pro-rider, fresh from his mother's death. Unlikely duo but you know what happens- good girl hooks up with bad boy, both have terrible communication issues, she's a general moron, and he believes you can never ever love someone without it going to shit.


We've read this story so many times, haven't we? Change out the names and his career/hobby/whatever it is, and it could be any basic self published romance novel out there. My overall opinion is that it isn't well written. My friend Shirley (who has almost the same opinion I do on most books) said the dialogue is ridiculous and far fetched, and she's right. None of this is stuff you would say in real life. Would a girl ever say, "Breathe me in" in reference to letting her into his heart as he's pushing his penis into her vagina? No. No that would never happen, and if she did I would strongly suggest that guy run like hell and change his phone number. No normal girl will say that. Also, would a guy suggest a girl move in after what, a handful of weeks? No. Clinger alert! CLINGER ALERT!

At best I'm giving this one 2/5 stars. I didn't like Brealynn's character at all- she goes from clueless, insecure, bitchy and unreasonable all over the place. If I were Cole I'd honestly wonder if she was stable. Cole is better, but his hang up on his dad being a jerk thus making him incapable of loving a woman is bizarre and I wish authors would give this reasoning up. STOP IT. There are so many other reasons a person would be hung up on falling in love, use them.


I will say it's a rather fast read, but only because you're busy waiting for something exciting to happen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Check available storage space.

One of the most annoying messages I get on my stupid phone is the "check available storage" meaning my phone storage is full. Which, I don't understand it because I have less than 20 pictures, all my music is in the stupid cloud and I have hardly any apps.

Sigh. A problem for another day.

But it reminds me of how my brain works differently now. For the last year I have heard countless times that I only have so much working memory, so much space to put stuff into because once that's full, I'll start forgetting things. It's my brain's way of making room for new stuff, but it doesn't differentiate between stuff I need to keep and just useless stuff. I will be the first to tell you I am my harshest critic, I give myself no slack, no grace, and if you could hear the things I say to myself when I hit a road block- you would cry yourself to sleep.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, can put me down better than I can. I have done it for years, I am an absolute professional when it comes to being cruel to myself. I know my flaws before you do. I know my short comings, every reason I am a terrible person, daughter, wife, mom, friend, neighbor, etc. I can list a hundred things I should be doing better because frankly, there is no excuse not to. Brain injury? Stop being a baby. Physical limitations? You're being a pussy. You died? Yeah, everyone dies. BIG DEAL.

Trust me, I am far harder on myself than I should be, but it's the one thing that's remain the same. The only thing that makes me feel like me. It makes me feel like there's at least one thing that hasn't changed, that hasn't failed me.

I know it's messed up. I can't help it.

I've found that my inner voice is now coming out to people who don't deserve it. Well, I suppose sometimes they do and I've always tampered it down but that filter is fully gone now. I'm rude because my anxiety is through the roof and I just want to hurry up and get out of there as fast as I possibly can and go home. Then I get here and I wish I could leave because I feel like my spirit is dying more and more every day.

But the biggest thing I've noticed is my inability to give a damn. People tell me stories, things happening, whatever and I used to be able to care. Really care. I would think about what I could do to help, or how I could ease the burden for my friend, I'd bank the information so I can use it later as a random act of kindness. I could fake it better than any actress and it was OK because it made people feel good that someone was listening to them.

I can't do any of that anymore.

More than once I've had to tell people "Please stop talking. Really. I'm not listening, I don't care, I can't fill my head up with this crap.". I really don't mean to be rude, it feels like an act of self preservation at this point. I'm trying so hard to get my memory to improve, losing valuable information every day is terrifying. I want to be social but a lot of times I really can't. I just can't do it.

Cue feelings of guilt and anger, the internal voice describing all of the way I'm awful, and my depression deepens. I'm faking it every day. I'm trying really hard to keep it together. I'm grateful, I just can't keep everything afloat. I feel like I'm drowning for the sake of keeping everything else out of the water.

Honestly, I don't know if this is going to get better. I'm not hopeful. I'm doing the therapy. I'm taking the medications. I'm going to all of my appointments. I'm doing everything I need to be doing. It feels like it's all for nothing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Last Mile

I tried to read this one slowly because I did not want this series to end. I am surprised at how much I liked all of them.

Last Mile (Vicious Cycle #3) - Katie Ashley

After her father was murdered in the line of duty, ATF agent Samantha Vargas is determined to take down the scumbags of the drug trade. When her partner takes on a case to infiltrate the Hells Raiders MC, Samantha agrees to go undercover as his old lady but is surprised to find herself drawn to the very man she is investigating.

Benjamin “Bishop” Malloy has worked hard to carve a place for himself both in and out of the MC world. Working days as a mechanic, he spends his nights rebuilding motorcycles with the hope of one day owning his own shop. After taking one of the club’s new hang-arounds under his wing, Bishop is conflicted over his growing attraction for the man’s girlfriend.

Even though she’s determined to bring down the Raiders, Samantha discovers their world isn’t as black-and-white as she thought. And as the stakes grow higher, she’s in danger of losing more than her heart.

Every one of these books begins with some heart wrenching set up so you know why the characters are the way they are, the difference in this one is it actually starts with Sam, not Bishop. We know right away Sam doesn't like bikers (with good reason) so the fact she is able and willing to go undercover and assimilate into a MC is kind of a big deal for her personally. She isn't alone though, she goes in with her gay best friend/partner Gavin who poses as her boyfriend. Things don't go as planned and all at once Sam finds herself on this mission alone. Before she can dig the dirt on the MC, Sam learns that they actually are going legitimate, that Bishop isn't the bad guy she assumed he was, and that she is in far deeper than she wanted to be. It all comes to head when the MC gets raided on an anonymous tip, evidence is planted, and Sam finds herself trying to exonerate the MC. 

Alright, this books is fairly action packed, we see more deaths and almost deaths. Sam is... she's tough to like, if I'm being honest. Overall? This was my least favorite of the three books but it's still good enough to be 4/5 stars. I was so impressed with this new to me author that I already have some of her other books on my Christmas wish list. She's my author to watch. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for the reader in your life that likes bad boy romance, this would be a great option.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Close Contact

I am on a romance kick right now it seems, but anytime I get the chance to read Lori Foster, I jump on it because she's a favorite of mine. The great thing about short term memory loss is I don't remember books like I used to so she is one that I read and re-read multiple times and I love them every time. This one won't be any different.

Close Contact - Lori Foster

MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.

Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.

I'm going to tell you that though this is book three in the Body Armor series, this is absolutely a stand alone. We see the other Body Armor guys (and their girlfriends) but this story is all about Miles and Maxi. Miles and Maxi were at one time, a casual fling. They met up three times and that's all it took for each of them to feel the impact of the other. Maxi up and disappeared without explaining to Miles her situation, and Miles had no way of contacting her. Lo and behold, Maxi shows up in the Body Armor offices in need of a bodyguard, and she went there because she knew that's where she would find Miles- the only guy she trusts. Maxi recently inherited her grandmother's farmhouse and since then, odd things have been happening. All of that was nothing compared to the time she woke up in the gravel near the pond on her property and had no idea how she had gotten there. She learns she was clearly drugged, but the fact someone did that to her and was in her secluded farmhouse, was enough for her to admit she had a larger problem on her hands.

Enter Miles. Miles wants to reluctantly take the case but he knows he would never leave Maxi and her problems to anyone else. He wanted her, and if this was how to do it? So be it. Miles moves in as her bodyguard and immediately assimilates into farm life with her. They live like an actual couple and no surprise, they are both really terrible with communication. Ha!

As he's protecting Maxi, he's looking around and trying to figure who is putting Maxi at risk. We meet some town people, including her unassuming neighbor Woody and the local cop, Fletcher. Fletcher is kind of an odd duck with plenty of means, but what's his motive? Maxi has awful siblings who want her to sell the farmhouse and land and give a portion of the proceeds to them so they can pay their legal bills, but Maxi doesn't want to budge. She has a loser ex-fiance and her first boyfriend is an even larger deadbeat, believe it or not. Lots of potentials- so who can it be?

I'm usually really good at figuring it out but I didn't! Of course looking back all of the signs were there. Overall? I really loved this book. I loved Miles and Maxi as a couple and how they do this little dance throughout the book, they've crossed the professional line but can Miles convince her he's there to stay? Can Maxi get over her past relationship mistakes and trust Miles' true intentions? You'll have to read it to find out. I highly recommend this. If you like romance with a little suspense, this is your next read! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bookworm Box and... Uppercase!

If you know anything about me, you know that I love happy mail. I don't care if it comes as a surprise or I mail it to myself, but I love it. Anything to break up the daily pile of bills and crap I don't know why companies waste their money to send. Surely they'd be far more profitable to not send me the exact same offers four times a week.


I've been eyeing up the Uppercase box for some time now and finally, I got an email with a discount for your first box. (You also know that I love a good deal.) So I signed up for it, but also ordered a few things from past boxes in their store, and I actually forgot all about it.

Until it showed up and it was exciting because YAY! It's happy mail!

So here is what I got:
The book this month is Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne, and I'll be honest- it's not one I'd even pick up to read the back cover description.  Then I went onto Goodreads to see what it's about and yeah... I'm not impressed at all. I paged through it and I'm not sure I'm even going to read it anytime soon. I have so many other interesting books on my shelf, so this one might get donated to a school. Surely some kid will love it.
Here is the little card included in my package detailing what I got. The only thing I really loved was the Moby Dick notebook. I don't need another notebook to save my life, but it was kind of cool and fits in my purse so I put it in my drawer for future use. The neat thing about Uppercase is that you get a bookmark with read along opportunities, so you read to a specific page and can discuss with others reading the same book and you don't have to worry about spoilers because you're with the people who are at the same spot as you.

To be honest? I'm going to cancel this box. I tried it, didn't love it.

So then a few days later I got my Bookworm Box, which is a box that traditionally has always had great books. I can only remember one, maybe two boxes in a couple of years that I didn't love. The swag you get is kind of lame (unless you love pens, bookmarks, and random pins or magnets), except for the one month we got insulated cups! Those were hands down, the best ever. 
They have recently gone back to offering a two book box subscription so I obviously signed up for that because my favorite thing about this box was always that we got two books, and this was the first month that was put into motion. In our box this month was a small notebook, a Bookworm Box ornament (like, really? Do you really think I want a Bookworm Box ornament? Garbage.), a bookmark, and a pin. Which I tossed because where would I wear that? Nowhere.

But let's talk about the books. We got Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel and Whisper If You Need Me by Dina Silver. If you are a long time reader you'll remember that I have already read and reviewed Whisper If You Need Me, which you can read HERE. I really liked it even though the first part was kind of boring, but the rest of it I liked. I've read a few more from Dina Silver and she's pretty good. So that book is being mailed to someone who has a kiddo who might like to read it.

I knew going in to the two book box I might get a duplicate (they said so in their live Facebook video) but I figured because I had such a long span between my cancelled subscription and my renewal that I might not. Well, I did. So this month kind of sucks, but I remain confident the rest will be interesting.

So because I cancelled Uppercase, I have something in my fun money to do something new! So that means I'm going to try Bubbles & Books, because this you can customize a little more. AND it's only $24 a month, so it's a little cheaper. My issue is you can choose from three boxes - paranormal, bad boy, or swept away. I CAN'T CHOOSE. No, that's not true. I'll cross out swept away because historical romance isn't my favorite. But now I'm down to two and I am having a really hard time deciding.

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ant bites, adjusting, and an auditory nightmare.

It's getting harder and harder to come up with catchy post titles for boring medical posts. The last couple of weeks have been kind of interesting. It's really strange to think it's been a year since my medical nightmare really ramped up. Last year August-October was follow up appointments and signs of other things were just starting to happen, but November was THE month for doctor appointments. I feel like I saw everyone and I started counseling. I don't remember much from that time but I remember my first therapy visit and just sobbing the entire 90 minutes. I wasn't sure if I was going to stick it out and here I am, a year later, and I rely on those visits so much. I honestly know that without those I would have been gone months ago.


Well let's talk about NEW diagnosis stuff and my adventures with new medication!

First up, rheumatology! My lab work was really funky and interesting in what it doesn't have. I test negative for Rheumatoid Arthritis (my mom has this) and Lupus, but my inflammation tests are through the roof. So clearly, I've got something going on. I have a lot of the signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis, like joint pain and stiffness, swelling, inflammation, fatigue, morning stiffness, etc and combined with the lab work I've been diagnosed with (wait for it)

Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis!

It's a strange way of saying Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I'm different because my blood doesn't have the antibodies present in other patients with RA. It doesn't mean anything special, but I might later on have those antibodies. The theory is my symptoms have come up first and the rest will come later. To treat this, the doctor gave my Plaquenil, two times a day. I was not thrilled with yet another medication but if it helped me move throughout the day without feeling like I've been hit by a car? I'll stand on the corner with a change cup if I have to.

So I started taking that. It took a couple of days before I felt anything but holy hell! You guys! I got out of bed easily, I got down the stairs without hanging on for dear life to the rail, I could have both Lucy and Penelope on my lap! I did not realize how incredibly crap my life was being in near constant pain. It was so great.

And then the itching started.

I saw in my pharmacy handout that itching is a common symptom. I didn't think I'd really notice it because with Diabetes Insipidus I drink an ungodly amount of water and my skin is unbelievably dry. I'm always putting lotion on so I figured it would be fine. It started out just annoying. A week in and I realize I am itching my ear raw, it was that bad. Then it was my arms. Then my back. Back to my face. Back to one arm.

You guys- it was HORRIBLE. It felt like I was being bitten by ants. All over. I sent a message asking if this is normal and is that going to fade out once I'm on it awhile, she responds and tells me to stop taking it immediately. Alright.

Cue two days later when I feel like someone has run me over with a car and I could hardly move. I could immediately feel the difference of no Plaquenil. I laid in bed weighing the pros and cons of the itching but honestly, it was painful. I looked online for other people's reactions and I guess the itching is very common but the severity is different on everyone. But the best part? It takes weeks for it to be out of your system. So that's great. I've been off of it a week and randomly the itching starts in one spot and even if you itch it gives you no relief because it feels like it's just under your skin.. enough the itching does nothing for it. Ugh. So I'm going through a lot more soothing lotion and hoping this quits soon.

Let's see, my other new diagnosis is Acute PTSD/Postpartum, which is PTSD derived from labor and delivery. It finally explains why I have a panic attack when I see pregnant women or newborns. I have had to unfollow a lot of mom pages on Facebook because the constant images, stories, and questions about labor and delivery were too much. I have this fear these women are going to die and I want to tell them, but I know it's totally crazy and nobody wants to hear MY story while pregnant. So I'm working on it in therapy. It's not easy. I have a new appreciation for veterans because I know they have it so much worse, but I understand not being able to control it and always having the fear of freaking out in the middle of a store. It's horrible.

And finally, I had it drilled home to me that I had a Traumatic Brain Injury, I need to treat myself as such, and it explains why I have Auditory Processing Disorder. Can I be stupid for a minute? When I hear TBI, I think of people who are vegetables, who can no longer function day to day as a result to an accident or something. My therapist, OT, and primary care doctor all explained multiple times that I'm wrong and this is what's wrong with me. I'm having issues with noise, primarily that I can't handle it. I hate the sounds of my children, I can't function when they are talking, the TV is on, Matt's asking me a question, the dog is whining to go out, etc- it's too much. I just shut down (in the form of yelling at everyone to shut the hell up) and I have to put myself in a time out. I sleep with ear plugs and I often have them in my purse to put in if I'm out shopping. If I'm listening to someone speak, after awhile it all sounds like Charlie Brown's mom and I have no idea what you're saying. Or me, if I'm speaking, after awhile I'll forget all together and it's like I can feel my brain shut down. This has been the hardest thing to adjust to because I feel like I can't function, I can't relate to people, I can't communicate, it's tough.

So that's my latest medical round up. I keep saying I hate having new things wrong with me, but at the same time, at least I know what it is. If I know that, I can find solutions or ways to cope. I keep saying that to myself at every appointment.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Redemption Road

You guys, it's not even Thanksgiving yet and I'm over it. I'm itching to put my Christmas tree up and our tradition is to do it on Black Friday. I know that's only a few days away but honest to God I don't know if I'll make it. To get my mind (and yours) off of that, let's talk books.

Redemption Road - Katie Ashley

Looking for a walk on the wild side, Annabel Percy, the daughter of a powerful politician, starts dating a biker she knows is completely wrong for her. But she finds herself living a nightmare when she’s kidnapped and transported into a hell on earth she never could have imagined.

Born and bred into the Hells Raiders MC, Nathaniel “Reverend” Malloy lives and dies for his brothers. But when he becomes the unexpected savior of a rival club’s captive, Rev makes it his personal mission to nurse Annabel back to health—and to shelter her from the nightmares that torment her.

Once Annabel heals, she’s stunned to realize she is falling for the seductive man who saved her. Faced with their impossible attraction, can she accept the life he leads, or will Rev walk away from the only life he’s ever known for the woman he was never supposed to love?

I am so glad I've stuck with this series because I'm really loving it. The first book had a first chapter that kind of made me squirm, but this book has an equally awful back story. Rev's character is exactly like Opie from Sons of Anarchy, so if you're fans of that show and his heart tugging character, you are going to really like Rev.

What makes this book stand out is that the Hells Raiders MC go into danger to save Sarah, the daughter of Raiders member Breakneck, who is being held hostage in a sex trafficking ring. They go in for her and leave with Annabel, daughter of a prominent politician. I was all geared up for one heroine and I got a totally different one. Not complaining, because I think it adds to the frantic situation they find themselves in afterwards. Annabel is in rough shape having suffered horrific abuse and Rev can't help but nurse her to health after having a similar history as a rape survivor.

Yes, you read that right, Rev is a rape survivor, which let's talk about how great that is? Not great to be a rape survivor, but great that we're talking about MEN being a victim and the stigma placed on them.

We see Annabel through recovery and we see Rev kind of coming around, but when one starts making decisions for the other things get hairy.

We also have a pet deer. Just throwing that out there.

Overall I am giving this one 5 out of 5 stars because I really, really liked it. I think I like Rev better than his brother Deacon from book one, and I really liked Annabel. I think had she not sustained the abuse she did I wouldn't have loved her character as much, her resilience makes her pretty endearing.

The next book features the youngest Malloy brother, Bishop, and I'm not sure if he's going to be my cup of tea, he's a little more of a playboy than Deacon or Rev, which is saying something... at least for Deacon. But this one is much better than the first one and if you are a fan of Sons of Anarchy or motorcycle clubs in general, I think you're going to love this series.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Christmastime Cowboy

This is only my second book by Maisey Yates and I love her so much. These books feel like Hallmark movies when you read them so if you're a fan of that kind of romance? This is the series for you.

Christmastime Cowboy - Maisey Yates

Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery's new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair? 

Thirteen years ago, Liam's boss at the winery offered him a bribe—leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn't good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he's back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together…

If you are in need of a good holiday themed romance book that isn't heavy in explicit sex scenes, this is going to be your read this year. The best part is it's well under $10, so that's even better for those of us who are a little tight with the budget. My copy also had a bonus story included, which was a fun little read too and compliments the main story. 

Overall, this is a story of young love gone awry because parents meddle and nobody thinks they are good enough. Which maybe isn't the worst thing because while Sabrina is a 30 year old virgin, Liam left and became successful in his own right and is coming back to Copper Ridge a little more reformed. And I say a little because he's still a bit of a man whore but once he sees Sabrina again for the first time in 13 years, it's game over. 

To turn it up a notch, they find themselves working together to open The Tasting Room where the winery Sabrina is a part of comes together with the Donnelly farm and other local food artisans. Sabrina is set on being professional and Liam wants to put their past behind them, resolve it once and for all. I don't need to tell you it doesn't happen that way, things are rekindled, they both take risks, and find themselves doing exactly what they didn't want to do. 

I read this in the car waiting for Olivia to finish dance and Jackson to finish his tennis lesson, I really enjoyed it. The problem with reading Christmas themed stories is I now want to put my tree up. Maybe this weekend. I'm just grateful I didn't read this in October because it would have been impossible to convince Matt to put the tree up THAT early. I am going to give this one 4 out of 5 stars. I can't quite give it 5 because some parts of the story are redundant and I always get annoyed when characters talk about the same thing over and over again. It makes me feel like something got missed in editing or something. Or maybe I'm just overly picky. Either way it's still a great read and it's a stand alone. You don't have to read the others to understand and love this one but I promise you'll want to read more. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Overtaken by toddlers

Someone asked me the other day if I thought have two kids only fifteen months apart was like twins. I think having twins would be easier in some respects but harder in others. I know that right now I struggle. These two are the sweetest handful ever.

It is no surprise that the main instigator is Penelope, she often says, "do it, do it Lucy" when Lucy is doing something she shouldn't. Lucy is always trying to copy Penelope, and we've had some serious showdowns over toys. It's honestly easier to buy two of everything.
A big change in the last few weeks is transitioning Lucy to the toddler bed. Everyone gives me a look when I say this, and I often hear, "But she's just a baby!". Technically, she's a toddler. She's a baby in a lot of ways still, sure, but Matt and I really need sleep. Lucy has been sleeping in a crib in our room since she was born. We honestly didn't think this would be a big deal but as it turns out, it kind of is. Neither one of us feel comfortable doing anything in the room with her right there... even if she is asleep. It just feels wrong. Lucy is also kind of a noisy sleeper, just like her dad. She snores, grunts, cries, and moves around a LOT.... all in her sleep. It's enough to drive you nuts. We thought long and hard about it and we realized that Penelope was only 15 months when she basically got forced into the toddler bed because we needed the crib for Lucy, so now that Lucy is 15 months we felt that it could be done.
How is that going? Well... not bad. Not as bad as we anticipated. Night time is actually pretty great, if she cries (she normally wakes up crying around 4 a.m.), it hasn't woken up Penelope (yet) and we're able to get her back to bed. She's pretty willing to get up in the bed on her own, she'll pull her blankets up, but I think the pillow is odd for her. Often times you'll find her next to the pillow. Penelope has adjusted pretty well to sharing a room, which that alone was surprising.

It's nap time that kills us. Even if I get Lucy in there and wait until she's sleeping and then bring Penelope in, it's a 50/50 chance on whether either of them will sleep. I will say, it isn't always Penelope at fault. I've heard Lucy getting out of bed and waking Penelope up. Other times Penelope will go to Lucy's bed and tell her it's "morn" and they start giggling and playing. The best is when I go to get them in the morning and Penelope says, "Lucy poop". As if the overwhelming smell didn't clue me in. 
Let's talk about Penelope- she is pretty damn smart. She can count to ten, knows most of her letters, knows her colors and shapes, we're working on drawing lines and circles (she is definitely left handed!), she follows 2-3 step directions, and is talking really well. I'm pretty surprised at what this kiddo can do. She's only 2 1/2 but she is having a good time learning things. She hasn't really gotten the hang of crafts, or maybe she isn't interested. She loves Play-Doh and Lego's, where Lucy is more into pretend play, Little People, and cars. Oh! Penelope is really interested in the Disney Princesses. We're watching all of the movies, except Frozen because I hate it and I cannot stand Idina Menzel and that damn song which is just terrible. She really likes Moana and Rapunzel the best, she thinks SHE is Rapunzel because they both have the same color of hair.

Some days are just LONG with these two. I honestly am not cut out to be a stay at home mom, I really don't enjoy it, so knowing this is all I can do? It's pretty depressing. I think I could have handled all of this better had I not had an AFE- I could at least leave the house with them, but the only time I leave my house during the day is for a doctor appointment and I go alone. I think if I didn't have depression and anxiety I would be doing better. Some days I'm fine, some days I can fake it and only cry for a minute in the bathroom, and some days I can't handle anything and I'm flying off the handle about something really pointless, but I'm overcome with rage. It's horrible. I don't see it coming, I can't control it when it happens, and often I don't recognize it until later. Sometimes I don't remember at all. I'm not sure if that's better or worse, really.

Last week I was really at my end with all of the whining, and Penelope testing boundaries, and finally I just yelled at her. I took away the thing she wasn't supposed to be swinging around and she just said, "You no like me". My mom asked if I heard it and of course I did. I have sonic ears now, I hear everything. And I feel like shit. I feel like I am a terrible mom and I'm angry I can't just pull it together. I am angry I need help, I'm so tired of dealing with it that I just shut down and say I'm fine. I'm 100% not fine but I'm sick of explaining it. I'm sick of feeling like I'm not explaining what I'm feeling and thinking well enough for people to understand.

I do know that I love them. My life wouldn't be complete without them, I know that. Some days they just hug me and I can just see how much they love me, I see I'm their favorite person and that at some point I did OK because they feel safe with me. They feel loved. But I always feel like I'm failing someone. I'm always failing someone. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Weekend Shopping (My Top 5 Linda Howard books)

If you know anything about me, you know that my favorite author is Linda Howard. I know, some people strongly don't like her, most don't know her, and a few love her.


I've always been a reader but when I discovered Linda Howard, I bought every book I could find of hers. I have read all of these countless times and I love them so much. So for this week's Weekend Shopping, I give to you....

My Top 5 Linda Howard Books

It's so hard to put her books in order of favorites, and I struggled with this list even though I narrowed it down to just five books I think you'll really like.

5. Open Season
I picked this one to start this list off because this is actually the first book of hers that I read. It was featured in an issue of Cosmopolitan under a "hot reads" column and the one chapter I read sold me. It's about Daisy, who is kind of a naive and sheltered gal, and she's in her mid-30's. Wanting to revamp her life and maybe make it a little more exciting, she transforms herself into a party girl. It gets the eye of the new Sheriff in town but also the eye of a killer. She finds herself in danger, the good guy saves her and it's just a really fun read. I enjoyed this one a lot. 

4. Cover of Night
I'm going to be 100% up front- the plot line in this book is RIDICULOUS. It absolutely would never happen, but I don't care, I kind of wish it would. We have Cate, a widowed mother running a bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere Idaho. We have Calvin, retired from the military, quiet guy, who kind of has a crush on Cate but he's happy to help her out anytime instead of just telling her how he feels. SUDDENLY! We have bad guys come to town, stuff happens, they think Cate has something of theirs so Cate and Calvin find themselves trying to save the entire town (cut off from all communication, obviously) and they land in dangerous situations in the mountains. The love story between Cate and Calvin is what seals this book for me and Calvin is the hero I'd go for.

3. All the Queen's Men
There is actually a book before this that introduces all of these characters, but you don't have to read that before you read this one. The first chapter or so is a good summary of that book and gives you an idea of why the characters in this book are the way they are. Easily one of the hottest characters in all of Linda's books is none other than John Medina. He's Black Ops CIA, he's lethal. His new mission requires the expertise of Niema, who's husband (who was killed during a mission) was a team mate of John's, and there's some history. She reluctantly agrees to help out knowing the greater good, and it turns out to be an excellent decision. The heat between Niema and John is strong and when we finally get to some romance... it's pretty great. I finished this book wishing SO much that we'd see John Medina in future books but so far, that hasn't happened.

2. Up Close and Dangerous
We are also going to put this in the "never going to happen" category, but dammit if it didn't make me re-evaluate what I pack in my bag when I fly. In this book we have sexy pilot Cam, who finds himself as the last minute change of pilot to escort rich and snobby Bailey to her destination. They can't stand each other so they keep the conversation minimum but! (Dun dun dun) Their plane goes down in the snowy mountains and though injured, Bailey finds herself having to rescue Cam and nurse him back to health. The best part of this book is how they used ordinary, stupid items to survive and of course, even though he's on the brink of hypothermia, his penis still works and wants to play. Why did the plane go down? Was it intentional? If so, why? Do they survive? This was a pretty fast read for me and it involves snowy mountains, so it would be a great winter read. Or, of course, a great airplane read. You can think about what you would do if your plane goes down and all that.

1. Cry No More
If you asked me what my absolute, hands down, no questions asked, favorite Linda Howard was, it will always be this one. This book had everything you want in a book, we have romance (obviously), we have suspense, we have murder, we have kidnapped babies and a mother's heart wrenching search for her child. The first couple of chapters were tough for me to read simply because I don't know what I would do if my child were ripped from my arms in the middle of a market and I never saw them again. What would you do? Well, Milla forms a non-profit agency who search for missing children like her own. She gets desperate and finds herself speaking with the elusive and mysterious James Diaz, who flies under the radar but is really good at finding people Soon Milla and James are on the trail to finding who took her son and where her son is. I'm going to spoil it and tell you two of my favorite sex scenes of all time happen in this book, one on the banks of river and one in a shower towards the end when Milla is in just extreme grief. Ugh... just thinking about that makes me want to read the book right now. Though the book is their mission to finding Milla's son, it poses the moral dilemma of what would you do? If you found the child, and they are happy in a home- do you separate them from that? Would you sacrifice your happiness for your child's? I really loved this book so much, for so many reasons, and James Diaz was perfect. He almost surpasses John Medina in favorite male hero. Maybe they are tied. Ah! I can't decide. I just really loved this book. If you are new to Linda Howard, I want you to try this one for sure.

Stay tuned for next weekend! I think I might do another round up like this one for another author. Oh.. yes! I just looked at my calendar and YES. I already have it planned out. STAY TUNED! 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fat Kid Class, Vaginas, and Treats.

Last week I made the trek to Rochester, Minnesota to go to the Mayo Clinic. I'll be honest, I'm kind of sick of going. It seems to be a total coin toss on how it'll go and sometimes I feel like I'm getting really great information and other times I feel like they are looking for a reason to charge me out the rear on tests and stuff I definitely don't need.

This visit was two parts: 7:00 fat kid class about weightloss and how to do it, and then a 10:30 appointment in the Women's Health Clinic about estrogen replacement options. I drove down on Monday after my therapy appointment, so that meant I didn't get to my hotel until 9 at night. I was exhausted, and hungry, but it was so late and I didn't really know what to do for food. The gift shop was closed, the cheap restaurant was closed, Starbucks was closed, I didn't know how to get to any of the places within walking distances and not sure I'd find my way back, so I opted to eat the granola bar I brought for breakfast and call it a night.

Can I also just mention my thermostat was set to NINETY DEGREES?! I turned it off completely and it still never got below 78 in my room. I sweat my ass off all night because the fun part about beginning of menopause are the night sweats. I didn't get more than two hours of broken up sleep because it was so hot, the pillows are awful, and I forgot my CPAP machine at home. Frustrating.

So I got myself dressed at 6 and was out the door by 6:30. I got myself a water quick and headed to my class.
It was me, a couple, and another woman. That's it. We got a folder with information on how to count calories, good foods and bad foods, basically all of the common sense stuff we already know. They briefly talked about the services the Bariatric Clinic provides (medication, surgery). We did a little PowerPoint deal for about a half hour and then we all wait to see a Dietitian one on one. I wasn't last, so that was something. I was kind of worried I was going to be late to my next appointment because my schedule said this could last 3+ hours! Finally when it was my turn to see the Dietitian, I grabbed my stuff and headed over.

And dammit if he wasn't cute in a alternative band lover kind of way. He had Vans on his feet, a sweater vest that looked like he picked it up from a thrift shop and yeah.... he was pretty cute. Very distracting.

He's going over all of my paperwork and says I'm eating well below my recommended calorie intake, that's good, but he encouraged me to try to eat more. He mentions that I should add exercise in, and I say I couldn't because I feel like I have the worst flu of my life every single day and like I've been hit by an actual bus but nobody knows why. He agrees that if it's an auto-immune disorder I have to be very careful because exercise can trigger flares. He then sees I'm on steroids, for life, and got a bit of a dejected look because (bingo!!) that's why I'm not able to lose weight. He then starts talking about medications I can take that basically suppress your appetite. I can't take Topamax because it made my nervous system go haywire, so that's out. I'm already on Wellbutrin and I eat one meal a day, maybe a snack, too, but I'm legitimately not hungry. Ever. The only reason I eat at this point is with my medication because I'll throw up if I don't. Who says anorexia works? It's not working on me! Sigh. He looked pretty deflated by the end of my session, he didn't know what to tell me. Suggested I ask my Primary Care, which is how I got here in the first place.

I'm starting to get used to being passed around because nobody knows what to do, but it's pretty discouraging anyways.

My next appointment was at the Women's Health Clinic because of my panhypopituitarism I make no estrogen. Well, I don't make any hormones, estrogen is just one of them. All of my other ones I have prescription replacements (thyroid and cortisol), and I take DHEA as the female testosterone replacement but I can buy that over the counter. (You want to increase your sex drive ladies? Take one of those every day. HOLY.) I was given birth control pills and told that would be good enough, have a great day. But then I stared to get daily migraines (which is the norm for me and birth control) and I can't live like that. I'd rather risk heart disease and bone loss over daily migraines, so I stopped taking it and flat out said you can't make me.

Turns out though, estrogen is super important. As soon as you have a dip in estrogen, your bones start to deteriorate and you're at risk for fractures. (Which could be serious when I start exercising again.) A lot of things in your body need estrogen so you really can't just stop, and because I'm so young (35), it's really not a good idea for me to just go cold turkey with the estrogen, so I need a replacement. She agrees that birth control is not a good option for me because it's so up and down through the month, I need something steady- that leaves me with patches. Not birth control patch, but just the estrogen patch for the older gal.

It also turns out my vagina wants to be in a commercial because you know those commercials about dry, papery thin vaginas? THAT'S ME. Turns out my vagina is now Golden Girl status so not only do I need the patch, I need the cream, too. And it wouldn't hurt to have a moisturizer.

You guys, they make a vagina moisturizer. IT'S AN ACTUAL THING.

She was a little concerned about the breast cancer history in my family and wanted me to get tested for the BRCA gene. She would have taken my ovaries out that day if I let her, said there was no reason for those to have been kept. I tried to say that removal isn't always the best option and it's kind of an old school thought and she was having none of it. She was going to call in my prescriptions but was shuffling me over to the teaching nurse for "review". I had no idea what that meant but that's fine, I'll go there.

Yeah, it turns out I had to have a full on demonstration on how to apply cream to your vagina. I watched her do it and then I had to do it to this very creepy and very lifelike vagina model to demonstrate that indeed, I can do it by myself.

Cross that off on my life's bucket list, y'all. 

I left there feeling stupid, feeling frustrated, feeling like I don't ever want to go back. My entire drive home I thought about how I think I'm better off with my local team and only going to Mayo if something serious happens, or something gets significantly worse and I need another opinion. I saw someone from Mayo was calling me while I was driving, but since I don't use my phone when I drive, I ignored it.

I got home in time to go trick or treating with the kids. Matt was finishing getting them ready as I walked in, so I grabbed my mittens and went out with them.
The only picture I got and not everyone is looking. Don't let it fool you, Lucy cried almost the whole way and Penelope just wanted to eat everything as we went.

When we got home, I saw I had a message from Mayo, telling me I had to come in ASAP for labs before they could call in my estrogen patch. I returned their call and asked if I could just do the lab here and have them send it, because I'm not driving 3.5 hours one way for ONE LAB. That's insane. They said no, they don't like that.

So I told them to pound sand. I'm not doing it.

Fortunately, I see my primary care next week so I'm going to ask her. By then she'll have the notes from Mayo so she'll see their recommendations. So right now, I'm estrogen-less still but I have my cream! I haven't used it yet because I feel weird about it. To be honest I have to look it up online and read more information on it because that's the problem with Mayo- they bombard you with information and it's overwhelming, you feel pressured to agree with them and go blindly in. I don't normally second guess doctors but with medication, I do. I'm on so much of it that I'm nervous about adding more to my stack. So I've got a few days to get some questions written down to ask my doctor here what she thinks. She's pretty great and I trust her, so I'm going in hopeful.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Daily Kindness: 365 Days of Compassion

If there's one thing I've learned this year, it's that National Geographic has some GREAT books.

Lead your best year yet through 365 days of kindness. 
With enriching quotes from celebrated luminaries and striking National Geographic photography, each page of this moving book will inspire you to live with sincerity, compassion, and benevolence. Each month, you'll practice virtues like patience, respect, and generosity that will focus your mind and heart, creating fulfillment and contentment. Both inviting and motivating, Daily Kindness invites you to reflect on life's big and small moments, providing a way to embrace new ideas--and enrich your life every day of the year.

I think I've done reviews for maybe four or five books by National Geographic this year and every single one of them have been really interesting and books that I would gift anyone. I chose this one because in the last year I've also learned that people are kind. Everyone has the capacity to be kind every day, all day, and sometimes the large gestures aren't everything. Simple gestures that are meaningless to you are potentially big things that can turn things around for someone else.

This book is small but mighty. It might have a page for every day of the year, but it's not a large book and works perfectly as something to put on a table in your house, office, waiting room, gift it, so many uses. The photos are what you've come to expect from National Geographic, they are so perfect they almost don't seem real. I wanted to share just a few with you that were kind of important to me. Naturally, the one for my birthday, March 10, was interesting: "The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is. Desiderius Erasmus". The one for Jackson's birthday reads, "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. -Lao-Tzu". Um, if you've been following my personal story this last year, you can see why that one was especially profound. But let us share the one from Lucy's birthday because dammit if it doesn't sum her beginnings up: "Beautiful things are difficult. -Plato".


To be fair I didn't read this book cover to cover, I jumped around to dates that mean something to me but I spent a couple of days getting to every page. Some were sweet, some were profound, some were reminders, and some were punches to the gut. They were all good. Honestly? I know a few people who are in the struggle with me trying to recover from our trauma and this is something I'm going to gift them. One the days I was particularly low, reading a few of these pages were reminders for me to keep going. Keep trying. To just keep swimming. So if you know someone who is maybe stuck in a rough patch of life, this might be a nice gift for them with a few self care items, just to say you get it and it's going to be OK. Those are the best gifts.

You can find this book for sale on the National Geographic website, but I invite you to look at their other books because I had no idea how many great ones they put out. I've really enjoyed all of the ones I've read so far. (If you're looking for a Christmas gift for me, I'd like any of the National Parks books.) You can also find this book on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Forever, Please

Gah- I know I say it in every post but I really enjoyed this series. If you were a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey (not the BDSM aspect so much but more the really dominating male lead), you'll enjoy these. Plus they are all short books so you could (in theory) read all four over a weekend. Just saying.

Will he consent to forever… 

I know that he loves me, that’s not the problem. And I know that he’ll be there for me. 

But he hasn’t mentioned forever. Not only that, but he refuses to tell his mother. 

Some scars run too deep, and this one is the deepest of all. 

I have everything on the line. To lose him now would be to lose it all. 

YES. Everything I wanted to finish this series off is in here. We have Olivia set to have Hunter's baby, we have Hunter totally on board and excited about it, Olivia's game is doing very well, and Hunter is making secret plans to lighten his workload to have more time with Olivia and baby.

All of that is awesome, but Olivia wants to be Mrs. Carlisle. Hunter treats her as such and she's certain he won't leave but having that final commitment is important to her, she doesn't want people to think she trapped him with a baby. I'm going to spoil it and tell you that when he does plan it out? SWOON, ladies. My heart melted a little bit because Matt literally handed me a ring in the bedroom of our apartment and said, "So, do you want to get married?". THAT'S IT. He's not super great in the romance department, that's for sure. So I loved it.

You know I always try to give the good and the bad with every review and for this one... I'm going to just say it: the resolution with Hunter's dad is TERRIBLE. Really? She goes against Hunter, goes "under cover" in the most bizarre stunt and Hunter is totally OK with it? Are you serious, right now? No. None of that happens that way given how their characters were set up in the previous three books. That plot string felt too contrived and easy to resolve and I really felt annoyed. My other complaint? I really kind of wanted to hear about Olivia going into labor, Hunter's reaction when baby is born, etc. We get a snapshot of a year later but even that felt.. odd. It's great all of the plot strings dangled in front of us all of that time are resolved and nothing leaves us hanging, but ugh... I really hoped for that. Oh well!

Overall? I'll give this a solid 4 stars. The series was pretty good and if you're in the mood for quick reads, this isn't a bad one.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

More, Please

Oh lambs... I have enjoyed this series SO much. Just know that today and tomorrow I'll review book 3 and 4 and I need you to know I finished BOTH books in ONE day.

I know.

They aren't long books but I couldn't stop myself.

His ex-fiancée won’t let him go. 

Stupid me. I thought life would get easier once Hunter admitted that he needed me. So what could go wrong? 

Blaire. That’s what. 

His ex-fiancée is a crazy b*tch with a capital B. She doesn’t like another woman going after “her” man. She’s vowed to slice me out of the equation. Physically. 

And then something happens. Something that might make Hunter do as Blaire wants, and cut me out of his life forever. 

I'm going to be up front and tell you my only quirk about this is I wanted Blaire to be even more bat shit crazy. Yes, she does some pretty awful (and disgusting) things, but I wanted this to be even more of a show down. I expected Hunter to stake his claim on Olivia in some over the top, possessive way and that would send Blair totally over the edge. Instead, it wasn't as much as it was hyped to be and Blair kind of peters out and that was that.

But let's set that aside because YES. This book set up book four perfectly and I could not love it any more. OK, I guess I do have another complaint. When Olivia slips up and the consequence of that is huge for the BOTH of them, I really expected Hunter to basically shut down and freak out. Instead he's surprisingly OK with it, he's not demanding confirmation, it's just... easy. It's not at all what I expected. This book sees Olivia becoming more successful in her coding project on the side but also realizing she might have to leave her job as Hunter's assistant, but she doesn't really want to because then she'll hardly see him, and her slip up kind of forces her to choose.

I can't really talk about more without it being a spoiler, but just know I really liked this book. I liked it a lot. So much in fact, that I immediately pulled out book four to read...


Monday, November 6, 2017

The Purple Turtle Graded Readers - Level 1!

My favorite thing in the whole world as a school volunteer was to watch little kids learn how to read. At the beginning of the year they stumble over simple sight words, maybe not understand what they just read, and sometimes they don't like to read at all. I firmly believe that every kid can be an avid reader, you just have to find a topic they really enjoy. Not everyone needs to read the classics to be well read, find something you really like and go for it.

I also have found that books with animals as the main characters are always a favorite of the kids. Kids love animals and the fact that animals are going on adventures exercises their imagination. I got the opportunity to try out this beginning reader system and it was pretty great. Keep in mind, my two littlest are only one and two years old so they aren't necessarily learning to read, but Penelope (the two year old) is pretty bright. She can anticipate what's going to happen in a story, she can tell me how a character feels by the look on their face, and she really likes books. Lucy loves to read as well and I find myself reading the majority of the day with them. The older two kids learned to read when they got into Kindergarten, but I really think Penelope and Lucy might be readers before they get there! Penelope can identify all of her colors, count to ten, and identify most letters already. So far, Penelope likes the Counting Insects, The Animal Parade, and Purple's New Shoes (we have a bit of a shoe obsession right now). Lucy likes Music for Melody because I usually give her one of her toy instruments to shake or bang while I read it. The bonus is is that each book has some activities at the end that tie in with the story, and at the front of the book it gives a quick summary of the book so kids can make some guesses at what might happen.

If you home school, or maybe you just want to do some at home reading practice, these are great sets to try out! There are three sets and they are very affordable considering you get 12 books in a box! The next best thing? Is that the books are small enough that you can easily keep a few in the car, put a couple in your purse or diaper bag, put it in their little bag (I know my kids aren't the only ones who bring their own purse or bag everywhere we go, usually full of rocks and crayons, sometimes rogue socks!). Also, if you're traveling, you can bring a few of these and store them in your luggage easily without having to haul around heavy books- these are rather lightweight!

Boxed Book Set Details:

Book Title: Purple Turtle Graded Readers Level 1 (12 Titles)
Category: Children's Fiction,
Genre: Educational
Publisher: Aadarsh Pvt. Ltd.
Release date: April 1, 2017
Tour dates: Oct 30 to Nov 24, 2017
Content Rating: G (informative content intended for and available to children & their parents/educators to enhance and support learning. Suitable for: Family audiences with younger children.)

Boxed Book Set Description:

A1 Edutainment takes you to the world on an amazing new reading programme with Purple Turtle. The first level of Purple Turtle Graded Readers includes a set of 12 books with interesting stories and activities and 150 word count. This level is exclusively for learners who have just started reading. It is based on ATOS and Lexile reading level system.

To read more reviews, please visit Purple Turtle's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Boxed Set: 

Watch one of the book trailers:

Meet the Publisher:

Purple Turtle is India’s 1st International brand with its educational content in several languages sold in more than 30 countries including Russia, China, US and UK. The character of Purple Turtle has delighted children across the globe through beautifully created Purple Turtle books, rhymes and videos available on YouTube.

Purple Turtle was created with the idea to spread education through a wide range of innovative books for children. To give them the experience of convenient online learning, Purple Turtle also brings both learning and entertainment on a common platform to give a wholesome learning experience to young minds.

Connect with the publisher: Website ~ TwitterFacebook

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