Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Basements are the worst.

I'll try to give you a post later this week about what life is like doing "distance learning" with four kids indefinitely in 1600 square feet, but today? Today we talk about basements.

The basement we have at new house is great; in fact, we're building my office/craft/library room right now and we're sleeping in the main bedroom, which is down there.

I'm talking about the basement at our old house. That, too, is great. The basement itself is great but has even more potential to be amazing if someone has the time to get it finished and make it another living space. I mean, SO MUCH POTENTIAL.

The problem with that basement is its size. The house itself was 2180 square feet so you can see how much we've gone down already, and for a family of six that has been substantial. We're making tough choices and getting rid of things. A lot of things. I'm having to get creative with storage. Our closet for instance, I can have my things hanging but Matt will have to have his stuff folded. Ideal? Not really, but is it a crisis? No.

I knew emptying the basement was going to be a chore but I wasn't really aware until we moved everything else to New House and realized we have NO room and we still had an entire basement, shed, and garage to move.

I mean, after already getting rid of half that we owned and used daily, seeing how much stuff was left to go was daunting.

Naturally, we saved those spaces for last like the mature adults that we are.

Our goal is to have the house completely empty and cleaned out before we list, so now that we are out of room at New House we were down to option 1, rent a storage unit or option 2, rent a storage container. We opted for option 2 for cost reasons and Matt found a huge, 20 ft shipping container that goes on ships, for about $90/month.

I'm telling you, we have a lot of stuff.

Specifically, I take holiday decorating seriously and you will have to pry my outdoor illumination from my dead hands.

Saturday Matt and I started moving it. I wish we had moved more on Sunday but the weather was crap and we still have my office downstairs to work on so we (and I really mean Matt) is spread thin. I'm hoping to go to the other house sometime this week in the evening and maybe start cleaning each room one by one, maybe do some painting in a few areas. We'll have to clean all of the floors, replace carpet in one bedroom.

We also have to hope the weather warms up so we can get yard items unfrozen from the ground.

We only managed to get half of the basement items out and while it looks like progress, I know we have so much more to go. The container is filling up, and its hard to get Matt to make concessions and part with things. I will admit he made a garbage pile and that's great but there is still so much that needs to go. I don't know if he's emotionally ready to let go of a lot in the garage that we absolutely do not need.

Moving is such an absolute JOB and while technically we are only here five years, I'd really like this to be our last move. I just truly can't imagine doing this all again. It would be nice if we can get ourselves into a position to purchase this house.

Let's just hope Old House sells quickly.

On the BRIGHT SIDE, the best way to not be bored during a pandemic quarantine is to move! Truly, I am doing something nonstop every day so I haven't had a lot of time to watch the news or be completely overwhelmed with boredom. I've had a few days things have gotten a little nuts around here, and I resorted to watching Tiger King on Netflix like everyone else, but I've tried hard to stay busy.

How are YOU staying busy?

Monday, March 30, 2020

Book Review: Unicorn Untamed

You're so lucky to be getting two book reviews from me today and I'm not ashamed to tell you I picked this one solely for the cover.

Obviously.
Unicorn Untamed - Lin Reynolds

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of.
We all struggle with emotions we’re ashamed of.
We all have darkness we try to hide.
What if you could learn the tools to take the bad shit...and turn it into a beautiful sparkle?
Unicorn Untamed takes you on a journey of messy, uncomfortable self-discovery with some hard truths to help you become a better version of yourself...your true unicorn self.

I've had a hard time with non-fiction as of late because I don't really enjoy someone telling me what I should do or give me lift lessons just because it worked for them. I'm not really a self-help gal, and while this book kind of fits into this category, I looked at it more like a memoir and that helped me enjoy it a little more.

In this book Lin Reynolds talks about her life and some of the hardships she's gone through, some self inflicted and some not, and talks about going through them but also giving reflection in hindsight. A lot of this had me reflecting on my own life because as she mentions, so many of us in our 20s were probably the worst version of ourselves, and I have to agree that was true for me as well. I struggle with a lot of the things that, even on this blog, I've talked about that are maybe not flattering to me, and certainly not things I feel or would say now. Do I delete all of that in embarrassment, or do I leave it there as proof of how far I have come? I think about that a lot.

I did enjoy this because Lin writes in a way that we can all identify why, probably because of her self professed ability to include others. Its clear from the beginning of the book that this is a nothing-held-back memoir and she isn't afraid to air the ugly if it can help put something in perspective for someone else, and I really enjoyed that.

Overall I would give this a 3.5 star, rounded to 4. It's funny, it reminds you of a good night out with some girlfriends that we all really need right now. We can't go out because we are all quarantined, but we can read this book and feel like we're sitting with a friend, but also learn something about ourselves along the way too.
⭐⭐⭐⭐
   
Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Lin Reynolds for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review! All thoughts and opinions are my own, and this post contains affiliate links.

Book Review: Crave

If you've been a follower for long you know that I was a pretty big Twilight fan. A Twi-hard, if you will. I am, and will forever will be, Team Edward. You know why? Because werewolves like their own butt and I can't get down with that. It has been a few years since I've been able to get that fix. Sure, I've read a few vampire books and they just haven't given me that feeling that I got when I read Twilight.

You guys? I found it. I found our new Twilight.
Crave - Tracy Wolff

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

I don't want to compare this to Twilight because the only thing I really felt were comparable were the personalities of some of the characters, Grace's choice between Jaxon (vampire) and Flint (dragon), and a few other ideas were borrowed but absolutely, undoubtedly improved upon. While Twilight had Bella fairly helpless and dependent on everyone else, this story gives us Grace who knows life is short and wants to help herself. She's determined to use logic and doesn't fly off of the emotional handle. She's cool, calm, and collected and is the heroine we all deserve.

With all of that said, I absolutely loved CRAVE, and I cannot wait for more. I hope with everything in me I can be on the next tours because there will be more. CRAVE is set to be a trilogy and I am more than excited to read this and have it sit all pretty on my shelf!

OK. In this book we have Grace, forced to move to Alaska because her parents have died and she has no options. Her uncle Finn is the headmaster at Katemere Academy, which at first glance looks like a weird, elite boarding school in the middle of a frozen nowhere. Once you start really looking around it is quickly obvious that the students here aren't your run in the mill high schoolers. Grace is rooming with her cousin Macy who is being evasive when Grace tries to ask her questions. It turns out to be a terrible idea because Grace finds herself in danger at every turn. She assumes her accidents are all coincidences but Jaxon, the terrifying classmate that Grace is wildly attracted to, is trying to tell her that someone(s) is out to kill her. 

Of course, she refuses to believe this so she isn't using her brains at all. She refuses to believe that anyone would have any reason to kill her so she continues to learn about her classmates (once learning that monsters are real and they are all around her) and "making friends".

I absolutely LOVED Jaxon and all of his dangerous angst because its clear he really cares for Grace and eventually comes to love her. Jaxon is a born vampire from the reigning King and Queen of vampires, so he runs The Order (of vampires) at school. (Imagine the Vulturi from Twilight and how they walk around together... Jaxon and his friends walk through school like that, and command the attention of others.) I liked Macy, Grace's cousin, though I can't understand why she was so reluctant to tell Grace about school and the people there. I kept screaming throughout the book that someone needed to explain to Grace what the hell was happening, and why, because I felt like so many of her "accidents" and the end could have been different if they gave her a little more credit at being able to handle information.

I cannot go into all of the reasons I loved this book because it might ruin certain parts of the book for you and believe me when I tell you this book is worth your time. And money. If I had to give you anything that I would change, it would maybe be a little more at the end. Of course there is a big scene at the end and just when I thought we would ease into a cliffhanger, I'm left with a major character being... unavailable? I mean, I guess that's what I'd call it. Ha! I wanted to know how that kind of thing happened, first of all. But also, it made me think about all of the similar things like this that were in the library and it makes me excited to think of them maybe coming to life? Which would be amazing and bananas at the same time!

Of course, none of that makes sense but it will once you read the book. PLEASE read this book so we can talk about this because I have so many thoughts and I need someone to talk to about it.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
   
I have to give a HUGE thank you to EntagledTeen and MB Communications for having me on this tour and sending me easily the best book mailing I have ever received in exchanged for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Book Review: Reborn Yesterday

I've been reading off and on when I've got time and I'm behind in my reviews. Which is terrible. I know. I'm starting to get back on track though, so I'm bringing this to you today because you HAVE to read this one if you like romance. Seriously.
Reborn Yesterday - Tessa Bailey
A timeless love story with bite.
It was a night like any other for funeral home director Ginny Lynn, until the exceptionally handsome—and unfortunately deceased—young man on her embalming table sat up, opened his emerald eyes and changed the course of her life forever, making her feel quite fluttery while he was at it.
Humans aren't supposed to know Jonas Cantrell, or any vampire, exists. It's kind of a major rule. Despite his instantaneous bond with perfectly peculiar Ginny, he has no choice but to erase her memories of their one and only meeting.
That was the plan. Before a reluctant Jonas can wipe Ginny's mind clean, she reveals a secret that brings their worlds crashing together. Human and vampire. Past and present. Darkness and light. And while their love is strictly forbidden, it might be the only thing that can save them…
I jumped onto this tour because I am a huge Tessa Bailey fan anyways and I had no idea that this was going to be a romantic comedic suspense with a paranormal twist.

She's literally going for every genre and she NAILED IT.

I absolutely loved Ginny and her quirkiness. She's an awkward dork in all of the best ways. Then we have Jonas, a vampire who shouldn't fraternize with humans who suddenly finds himself obsessed with little oddball Ginny. I want so badly to explain how much I loved this, how often I found myself laughing out loud during this but it ruins it all. It would ruin the entire thing and you just need to go in knowing you are going to love this from page one to done.

The overview of this Ginny, a  mortician, has a body to deal with in her morgue but she can't quite bring herself to start because something isn't quite right. She's right because he pops up and instead of freaking out she seems oddly relieved. Jonas knows he needs to get out of there quickly but he can't really decide why, and knowing this, Ginny decides to stall to buy a little more time with him. It quickly becomes apparent that it isn't going to be enough and soon they find themselves inseparable.

Quite unfortunate really, because there are three real rules in vampire world and Jonas finds himself breaking all three with Ginny. Just when he is about to really say goodbye and erase her memory of him, he realizes she's in actual danger. Her life has almost ended a few times and nobody really knows why someone has it out for her, he knows if she died it would gut him.

He just doesn't know why. Yet.

I was absolutely glued to this book and could not put it down. I found myself laughing throughout while at the same time at the edge of my seat wanting to know who was trying to kill Ginny. I wanted Jonas and Ginny to make it and I got SO WORRIED that I would be left with a cliffhanger considering this is book on in the Phenomenal Fate series but rest assured, this is a stand alone. Not that you'll want to stop there, because Tessa Bailey gives us a fantastic cast of characters that we want to know more about and I can't wait to read their stories!
   
An incredibly HUGE thanks to Social Butterfly PR and Tessa Bailey

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Moving + Pandemic = Anxiety

I know this probably feels like the longest move you've ever heard of and I would agree with that but technically we've only REALLY been at it for two weeks. You think I'm nuts but no, aside from random boxes here and there, this has only been happening for two weeks and it has been the longest two weeks of my life.

In fact, March is the month that never ends and I just really need it to end right now.

So, updates. Well, we are officially in the new house. The only stuff at the old house is the entire basement, the garage, and then the yard stuff which is still frozen to the ground. We have no real game plan because we have no room in our current basement for our old basement's stuff but we also can't put it in the garage because we have garage stuff, and so we are left with a really unclear plan on what to do. I told Matt maybe we should just rent a storage space and be freaking done with it and he's not super excited about that. Apparently, he would rather live with crap everywhere and climbing over boxes to go pee, which is the current state of things.

In other news, our bedroom is is like 90% done. We have to trim out the window, door, and closet still. We have closet doors that need to be trimmed a little and then those go in. We have yet to purchase something to hang clothes on for in the closet. But other than that, totally done!
It isn't huge but it's actually really nice and Matt did a great job on it. Now if only he'd get my office/craft room/library done we can bring so much stuff down there that is currently spread all around the house. 
Since we are doing this while in quarantine, I've been home to watch TV. We only get local channels so I'm pretty much stuck between PBS, The View, Hot Bench, Dr. Phil, and Judge Judy. That rounds out my day mostly.

It is obviously very exciting.

The fun thing is on The View they often have the "View Your Deal" and I saw they had the Happy Wax things so I bought them because it was on my Christmas and Birthday wish lists and I did  not get them. Treat yo'self and all that.

Oh, and Wisconsin schools are closed until April 6 or 7 (so far) but the rumor is we'll be out for the rest of the year. Who knows if that will happen, I hope not because that would suck. We are supposed to be doing virtual learning and while Olivia and Jackson can handle it themselves with very little help from me, Penelope and Lucy need me to basically be the teacher.

THANKFULLY, Lucy's teacher from Head Start brought this bag FULL of lessons and activities, the supplies to do it with, pajamas, a book, a new toothbrush, and a new stuffed animal. Seriously, it was amazing. 
She was so stinking excited about it and we start her lessons this week. I have to sit down and get everything organized so we can make some kind of sense of it. 
Penelope's is online but I have to have Matt help me with the printer because I just can't comprehend things on a screen so much anymore, I really work best with it on paper so hopefully we can get that organized tonight. 
In the middle of this I had to finish packing up the last of my books and we moved big stuff out of the house, thankfully we had Matt's dad, brother, and sister to help since I can't do anything. It was kind of sad seeing my lovely candles in a box next to my Linda Howard books which are my favorite. Linda got her own box, obviously. 
Oh!! And I found a random cat hanging around the house. I still don't know if it belongs to someone or if it needs a home. Of course I throw all common sense and caution to the wind and snuggle a possible stray cat like its a baby, and Matt says its a miracle I've made it to 38. Which is probably true. 
I posted on Facebook how I was kind of sad when I saw Penelope and Lucy's room empty and fully cleaned out. I remembered how excited I was when I was pregnant with Penelope and I just thought it was sad that what I thought would be the start of an amazing chapter in my life ended up being the beginning of the worst. I obviously don't regret Penelope or Lucy, its just interesting to realize that is maybe the only time in years I had been able to reflect on previous events and see the last few years as a whole piece of my timeline. Which probably makes no sense but most of what I say doesn't anymore so I remain consistent.
Also sad? It was this weekend when Lucy really realized that we live in THIS house now and we won't be going back to the old house. The entire concept really upset her and even though we've reassured her all of her things are here, all of us are here, and talked about the things that are nicer here, she really was upset. I was reminded of what a gentle little soul she is. 
Pandemic continues, though. Wisconsin is now under an essential business closure on top of what we already had. I did have to go to Target on Sunday and it was so completely eerie driving around and nobody at all being around. Aside from my doctor appointment today, that's the only outing I've had (outside of driving back and forth between houses). I have another appointment on Thursday but I might just skip it because meh. 
Like I said, we start kind of home schooling. Yesterday I tried to get the girls to work quietly and it lasted a solid 15 minutes. 
But weren't they cute doing it? Look at that concentration! Perfect pencil grip! 
It all quickly turned into a who-can-do-it-faster thing even though they were doing two totally different activities. I have no idea how I'm supposed to do both kids at the same time. Oy vey.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Book Review: Little Wonders

In between the nightmare that is my life right now, I've been reading every chance I get because its one of the things that kind of helps keep my anxiety down. THANKFULLY, this was the next book on my review pile because this was a gem.
Little Wonders - Kate Rorick

Her mommy meltdown is seen around the world!

When Quinn Barrett’s son refuses to wear his hand-crafted costume to the Little Wonders Preschool Happy Halloween Parade and Dance Party she loses it -- complete with stomping, screaming, and costume-destruction galore. Not her best day. And caught on viral video.   Yep, “Halloween Mom” is now internet famous.

The posting culprit: tattooed, blue-haired, west-coast transplant Daisy McGulch, out of place in the posh New England town and unable to blend with the other perfect mommies of Little Wonders Preschool.

While she couldn’t care less about organic snacks (paleo-preferred) or the winter quarters of the Little Wonders chickens, she’s not about to admit she’s the one who accidentally brought Quinn’s worst moment to the entire world—she’d be kicked out of town!

But when Quinn and Daisy find themselves unlikely cohorts in the fight for Little Wonders Parents Association supremacy, they also discover they have more in common than they expected…but the internet is forever.  Can Quinn live down her new reputation?  And how far will Daisy go to keep the truth from coming to light?

So I'll start by telling you that this was compared to a few other books with similar ideas but I didn't find this to be like them at all. And that's OK! I think if you go into this thinking it is going to be similar and that's what you're looking for, you will likely be pretty disappointed. I feel like this is all on its very own and that's the way it should be. 

I felt like the book was funny, and this is honestly what I picture the preschools of elite suburbia to be like and I am forever thankful that it isn't like this where I live. To be frank, I would never make it. I liked the characters but there were a couple of characters I would have liked to see a POV chapter (or a couple) from, and that would be Shanna. She's painted as a pretty awful and sketch person but I kept waiting for the moment when we'd all find out what a great person she was all along. Except as I was reading it, I totally understood what she was doing and why and it was frustrating for me as a reader that the other characters weren't really seeing it. (Yes, I'm talking as if this is all real life.) 

The only other meh part of the book for me is it felt like it was taking on too many topics instead of mastering one or two. It's kind of been a trend in quite a few books lately where the author wants to start with all of these strings and then realizes you only have so many pages to put them together and some kind of drop because it doesn't matter and then others are rushed and that happened a little in this one. 

I will tell you, I thought it was funny. I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the situation quite a few times and it was a fun, light read. If you are looking for something to forget the evening news and the fact your own little wonders are tearing up the house, pick this one up. 
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Yesterday was this book's official release day (birthday) and you can find this on the HarperCollins website where you can shop for a million other goodies!

   
A big thank you to HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. All thoughts are my own and this post contains affiliate links. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

We're still moving. It's hard.

Despite a coronavirus pandemic, we are still moving. Matt is building our bedroom and my future office in the basement while the kids and I are trying to move as much as we can that doesn't require his muscles and can fit in my vehicle. We had been counting on asking for people to help us and that's quickly becoming not an option.

Unfortunate because I can't lift at all and Matt most likely needs surgery on his elbow and everything is just working against us, but honestly? What else can we POSSIBLY expect? I told Matt we should just expect the worst from now on because that's what it just is.

Another such scenario is our current couches would not fit in new house. Inconvenient? Yes. Crisis? No. I had some money saved up because we intended to buy couches soon but all of this kind of derailed that. Until it didn't.

So we got new ones which I bought online in a bargain bin basically and they were delivered.
Thankfully they aren't super ugly and awful, they are quite nice but are quite a bit smaller than we have become accustomed to. Not a crisis. 
We also had to downsize our kid book collection, which was quite extensive, and was almost two shelves, each 84 inches long. You can see I did a damn good job slimming us down. 
While Matt has been busy in the basement the big kids and I have been unpacking as soon as we can so we can reuse our boxes and hopefully return our unused ones and get some money back. Late nights make Jackson punchy. 
Thankfully I had the forethought to purchase Easter basket goodies ahead of time because I really didn't think I'd have the time or money to do it closer to April. That's actually turning out to be true because I've spent so much money on groceries and things we might need in the event we are all quarantined for awhile. Buying that kind of supply for SIX PEOPLE is really freaking expensive. 
Guess what else is tricky? Trying to get two rambunctious little girls to take naps on the couch while stuff is going on because I don't have beds for them here yet. That's fun. 
I managed to make that happen on Monday and I was so freaking grateful because they even went to bed at a decent time later on.

We've had to bring Twinky with us to the new house because we are spending basically all day there and he has to be taken out to pee and such. 
By the time we get home he finds his lady friend (stuffed dog that looks like hell) and he humps her for a long time. So that's fun to watch. 
A lot of the big furniture is moved out and its starting to look so bare in here. Which is bittersweet. I'm going to miss this house and all of the plans we had, but it also feels like I'm closing the last chapter of a really awful book, if that makes sense. Its time for someone else to make happy memories here. 
And because of my napping-on-the-couch abilities, I took a picture because it happened again today and Penelope and Twinky look super cute.

So I'm stressed to the max. We have no idea if our DC/NYC trip is being rescheduled. I have no idea if our dance season is done. I have no idea if we are even going back to school this year. I really have no idea what is coming up for us and I'm terrified but trying to get myself to calm the hell down. One day at a time. If anything, this just shows us how unprepared we all are and how much we take our everyday conveniences for granted. If nothing else, I really hope my family and I come out of this far more appreciative for little things, like being able to go get milk when we need it. Or go to the movies for fun.

Until then, I'm going to eat the last of my Sweet Tart jellybeans because I'm stressed out.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Pandemics are not fun.

Today I should be exploring Washington, D.C. and getting excited for a five hour bus ride to New York City.

But I am not because of a pandemic.

I have a lot of feelings about this pandemic and how people are handling it but the top two feelings are anger and fear.

I'm angry that people think it isn't a big deal, refuse to quarantine, and for whatever reason think this is all media hype for fun. I don't get it, but not everyone can be bright bulbs, right? I am legitimately scared because I am immuno-compromised. It is dangerous for me to get a cold let alone the flu. If I get any kind of sick I have to increase my medications and hope for the best. I can go to normal to organ failure in no time.

People like me really need you to Netflix and chill.

I really need you to stay home. Marie Kondo the hell out of your house. Do your spring cleaning early. Read a book (or ten). Learn to make something from scratch. Catch up on laundry. Take naps. Literally do anything except leave your house.

I know its hard and it really sucks. I have four kids, BELIEVE ME, I GET IT. Our governor has closed schools until April 6 and starting next week my middle school kids have to do school stuff on their laptops. I have no idea how I'm going to keep high energy Penelope and Lucy entertained in the house for weeks on end. It isn't like I can just whip out an activity, we're spread out between two houses right now so I have no idea where any of my stuff is. Crafts? No clue. We found books and games but if you think I want to play hours of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders you are insane.

I really hope Matt can make huge progress on our room so that we can literally move during this time and that'll obviously keep us all busy and I'm sure time will fly by.

In the meantime, I have no idea if our big adventure will be rescheduled, I really hope so. Cross your fingers. Olivia's dance competitions have been postponed, we have no idea when they'll happen. Dance classes are also postponed, which makes sense. I'm grateful that I was able to buy some groceries so we can hopefully make it. I am grateful that we had the ability to purchase extra things. I am grateful to have a medical team who understands my situation and is helping me through it. I am grateful my parents are here because that makes this stressful time a little less crappy.

Next week I have four doctor appointments and I just really hope I can get to all of them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Book Review: The Rich Boy

I know I've been kind of MIA but I'm still here! I do have my trip post coming up but of course, I've waited because of Coronavirus to see if it changes at all so I might bite the bullet and just post it. We'll see.

Because you know as soon as I do something drastically changes because that's how my life rolls. In the meantime, you should read this.
The Rich Boy - Kylie Scott

I’m the type of girl who’s given up on fairy tales. So when Beck – the hot new busboy at work – starts flirting with me, I know better than to get my hopes up. Happily ever afters aren’t for the average. I learned that the hard way.

But how can I be expected to resist a man who can quote Austen, loves making me laugh, and seems to be everything hot and good in this world?

Only there’s so much more to him than that.
Billionaire playboy? Check.
Troubled soul? Check.
The owner of my heart, the man I’ve moved halfway across the country to be with, who’s laying the world at my feet in order to convince me to never leave? Check. Check. Check.

But nobody does complicated like the one percent.

This is not your everyday rags-to-riches, knight-in-shining armor whisking the poor girl off her feet kind of story. No, this is much messier.

Lets talk about the pros first:

  • I loved Alice. I really liked the characters in general but Alice was really great and I liked her from the start. She's strong and independent and won't settle and she's EXACTLY the kind of character we need more of. 
  • Even though I mention Beck is a bit much in the beginning, together with Alice, they make a great couple. 
  • This almost screams Hallmark movie, but with sex. So.. would that be Lifetime? Netflix? I don't know, but even the setting is screaming made for subscription service movie. 
  • It gave me some warm fuzzies. 

I have to be honest and talk about some not so great:

  • It started really slow for me, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep reading. I try VERY hard to read a review book all the way through because that's what I signed up to do, but this was slow. Once it got going, my interest obviously was invested so I say stick with it. 
  • Beck is immediately attracted to Alice and he's already picking out wedding stuff and the first thing that came to mind was Clinger Alert. I'm all for a guy really into you but this was a bit much. Also, he's the total opposite of what we read in a romance male character. Yeah, he's rich and sexy but he's insecure in several areas and it just wasn't my thing. 
  • The sexy areas didn't blow me away but in hindsight maybe this was aimed more at the emotional connection aspect because that's where it really excelled. 

Overall? I liked this book. I'm a fan of Kylie Scott and I feel like every one that I read from her is different but also similar to her style, and I really like that. It's nice finding an author who doesn't follow the same recipe for every book. 3.5 stars, round up to 4.
⭐⭐⭐⭐

   
Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Kylie Scott for sending me a copy of this and having me on the tour! Of course all opinions are my own, and this post contains affiliate links.

Leaving on a jet plane. With Clorox wipes and soap.

I know I've mentioned it probably a million times, but Olivia and I are going on a trip with other kids from her school. It's not a school trip persay, but kind of. If that makes sense.

We leave Saturday and won't be home until Thursday, I believe, and are going to do all the things in Washington, D.C. and New York City. I'm super excited, she's even more excited, and its going to be good. My number one concern around three weeks ago was being able to do SO much every day for almost a week because our itinerary is a LOT. Here are the things were are doing (but it could change in order):

Day 1: Washington, D.C. (we leave our airport at like 5am or something)

  • Photo stops at White House, Washington Monument, and WWII Memorial
  • Smithsonian Museum (we get to pick)
  • Night tour: Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Day 2: 
  • Photo stops at Supreme Court and Library of Congress
  • Explore Tidal Basin (FDR Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, Jefferson Memorial)
  • Holocaust Museum
  • Mount Vernon: Mansion and grounds, museum and education center, Washington's tomb
  • Ghost tour in Alexandria
Day 3: 
  • Arlington National Cemetary: Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Kennedy gravesites
  • Photo stop at the Marine Corps War Memorial
  • Travel to NYC by bus
  • Empire State Building at night
Day 4: 
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Guided tour of Financial District: 9/11 Memorial, St. Paul's Chapel, Wall Street, Federal Hall, NYSE, Trinity Church, Charging Bull
  • Times Square
  • Broadway Show- Phantom of the Opera
Day 5: 
  • Guided tour of Midtown: Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Bryant Park
  • Central Park
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
Day 6: 
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Fly Home

But, Sara, what about coronavirus? 

Yes, so I'm super nervous because if I get sick I'm a lucky one who has a higher chance of dying, so that sucks. I'm bringing a TON of stuff to hopefully prevent that. The trip is still on as of yesterday, so I am packing and planning for such. 

Am I ready? Nope! I've got stuff kind of in piles but I haven't actually packed anything. I keep thinking I have a few more weeks and no, I have like two, three days, whatever it is. 

I am going to try to have a lot of fun and enjoy this trip with Olivia and her friends. I'll obviously get to meet new people and see things I've never seen before (and cross NY and DC off my map) and that will be worth it. If I stayed home every time  I was afraid I would never leave. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

38 and packing.

You guys, when I say that things have been chaotic, I'm not kidding. Matt and I are trying to get everything done and not stress out about life. Here are some things on the plate:

⭐I turn 38 on Tuesday. Normally I'm super excited, with a birthday wish list and specific cake demands but this year I'm so out of whack and my concept of time is seemingly getting worse. Unfortunate, because that's a skill you use a lot. As of right now there are no plans and that's OK.

⭐We are still moving. We have a lot of things to do (and buy) this weekend so that Matt can just move along with his tasks. He's making a bedroom for us in the basement there and so far he has two walls insulated and drywall up. He has the other two walls to do and then the process of taping, mudding, sanding, etc. He hates it but.. its gotta get done. The goal is to have that room basically done by the time we get back.

Yes, I realize that's a lofty goals but that's what goals are for!

In the meantime, we have been making loads every day of stuff and I've been unpacking as I go as much as I can.
We've had the kids there (mostly on the weekends) as we work so Matt brought over a TV and antennae so we can at least give them local channels. Shout out to PBS for having a non-stop cartoon channel now! 
Also shout out to Olivia and Jackson who have been so GREAT about all of this and incredibly helpful at keeping Penelope and Lucy out of the way. Mostly. 
I splurged last week on clearance dishes at Walmart and for a whole $18 I walked out with two boxes. It's really great because the dishes we currently have are pretty heavy and hard for Pep & Lu to carry, resulting in a bunch being broken. It was time for new ones so I'm really glad I just happened to get there during a last clearance sale, getting the last box of each color. 
Penelope and Lucy currently have a huge closet with so much storage, I've always been jealous of it. Unfortunately that means it can also be chock full of crap, and that's exactly what happened here. 
It took me THREE DAYS to clear everything out of here, sort it into piles: give to a friend, donate, garbage, keep. The best part of downsizing (a lot) is that its forcing me to really get rid of stuff and while my anxiety is overwhelmed right now, I know its for the best. 
So confession time. I've only moved as an adult three other times, this will be my fourth. Each time I've discovered I have an issue with towels. Both kitchen and bath towels. I cannot bring them place to place.

(Yes, I know this is dumb. No, I don't know why.)

I inadvertently bought new kitchen towels and washcloths the other day and as I was folding them it dawned on me that I did it again. Add it to the list of compulsive behaviors, I guess but it's annoying. It isn't so bad this time because the ones we currently have are ripped and some are so thin you can see through them, so the only ones legitimately worth keeping are the industrial ones I use for cleaning. It's just another strange habit.

Oh, and I have been saving cash for TWO YEARS so that we could buy new furniture. What we have is worn down and Matt said he refuses to sew it together one more time (ladies, get you a man who can sew furniture together). The furniture we have is BIG and HEAVY, but it also will not fit into our new space. I think we can get it in there (it would be a squeeze, that's for sure), but you couldn't have anything else in there. We decided to take the little bit we had saved already (just under $500) and find something smaller. A lot smaller. 
With my super shopping skills I managed to get us a small couch for what I thought was $300. I was so proud of myself and I paid the extra $100 for them to deliver it. 
So imagine my surprise when I was informed that in my online purchase I also bought a love seat/chair and a half thing. (It's maybe the smallest love seat I have ever been on.) The price I paid was accurate, it turns out this was a bargain clearance buy. So $400 total for a super small couch and this love seat/chair thing. The rest of the furniture fund will go into savings. Our current furniture will go to Matt's sister and brother, which will be good because now we don't have to figure out what to do with it.
While waiting for that stuff to come I sorted kid books. I wish I had taken a before photo of what our collection looked like because it was easily five times this. I could have filled this several times and still needed more room. Olivia and Jackson have novels of their own but they will keep those in their room, this is just for Penelope and Lucy. Don't judge- we read a LOT of books here.

We clearly downsized and I donated books to school, do little libraries all over town, and gave some to friends.

Monday I'll have a post about the upcoming trip Olivia and I are going on, we leave next Saturday! I'm excited and incredibly nervous because I'm still not feeling awesome. I have to spend some time this weekend packing I think. Olivia has her first dance competition of the season this weekend.

It's just a lot, all of the time.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Book Review: Better Than Sexy

Remember how last week I said it was going to be crazy busy? As it turns, so is this week. We have more conferences, band trips, family days, therapy, it's just a lot. Plus we're moving in between all of this so I'm super glad to have some ebooks to fill in here (like this one) because my actual books are in various boxes. I couldn't tell you where anything was at this point. HA!

Better Than Sexy - Carly Phillips

Insta-love only happens in the movies.

Insta-lust? That she’d buy into.

Until she meets take-charge club owner Landon Bennett and falls head over heels at a glance.

When hot as sin Landon Bennet offers sexy songstress Vivienne Clark a summer residency at his popular Manhattan nightclub, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and she can’t resist. Add in the man’s obvious interest and seductive attention and life is perfect. Until she puts together the pieces of his past. Fate might have brought them together, but is the intimate relationship they’ve been building strong enough to overcome one painful fact. She’s the sister of the man who killed his twin.

I haven't read the previous two in this series but its totally OK, this is fully a standalone. The only reason I tell you to read the other two is that the death they talk about in this book happens in a previous book and while the author does a great job getting you up to speed, you might like the other two given how great this one is.

My biggest annoyance in romance books is when you know there is a big secret and it ALWAYS happens at the end, and then the other person walks away, something happens, they end up together. I am so totally over that trope, I wish authors would stop. Good news! Carly Phillips doesn't go there with us! We learn what this secret is in the first half of the book and the second half is this couple trying to work through it. Landon certainly has trauma but he also has some triggers that remind him of his brother and he is hit with the trauma of his loss again, and I felt like the author did a really good job at covering that. Also well done? Vivi's point of view because she knows her brother wasn't always this way and had certain things been handled differently when he was younger and still malleable, Landon's twin may never have been killed. I liked how both of their experiences come together like the perfect storm.

Overall? I really enjoyed this book and finished it in one sitting easily. I'm definitely interested in reading the previous two, but I also want more from this author.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
   
Thank you to Social Butterfly PR for having me on this tour, but also Carly Phillips for putting this out there on tour! This post contains affiliate links.