Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Diaper changing table makeover- not even a Pinterest rip off!

You've been hearing me say I'm going to show you this diaper changing table I rescued from being ugly to being super duper cute. And it's true! I really did! I also didn't rip something off of Pinterest, I did this sucker all on my own

So it starts off way back in July. I see this super ugly diaper changing table on a Facebook garage sale site for $30. I haggle the lady down to $20. (Which, not really because nobody else wanted this ugly ass hospital reject looking thing.) 

Look at you, you ugly little thing. And you smell. Shame on you. 

But then I started working. I knew that I wanted the bedroom to be an ocean theme room so I figure maybe if I painted the metal rails a brown/almost sand color, that would work. It came with a "pad" which reeked so bad and was torn up and obviously not the one it was meant to be with because it didn't truly fit. So my first search was to find a fabric I could make a pad out of, but something I could easily wipe. 

And I found it. I found this really funky multi color plastic like fabric and it was on clearance. I bought some poly foam squares, some spray adhesive and had Matt cut me a super thin piece of random wood he had in the garage to fit the top of the changing table.
First thing was to make sure my foam fit my board. It did, thankfully, on first try. I sprayed the hell out of the back of the foam and adhered it to the board. I let that sit for awhile to set, but I also put a bunch of pots and pans and random heavy things on it so I would make sure it stuck.
Next I sprayed the board and the foam with more adhesive and essentially wrapped it like a present
And because I cannot work a glue gun and nobody is going to see the bottom, I used duct table to double make sure my fabric doesn't come off. But I also put heavy things on it to set overnight.
After three coats of spray paint (to cover all of the white and the rusty colored spots that weren't rust), here's what it is.
 Except... it felt naked.
And I had left over blue spray paint that I had used on a project in Olivia's room and I thought, what the hell. Spray the shelves!
Isn't it pretty? So we have three blue walls (the color of the shelves) and one green wall (shown here, it's like a key lime green color). 

But stay tuned, this bedroom is really kicking ass and I have more to show you. Soon. 

But this was a super easy project. And if this project looks similar, it's because I used the same technique to make the bench in my porch (here). Which, after all of this time and two winters so far, it's held up really well. The versatility of being able to just wipe it off is really nice too. Especially in a baby's room because as we all know, shit happens

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Plague... it is among us.

I can't even tell you how great our Christmas was because for the last two weeks I have been dealing with The Plague. Not for myself, but for the kids.

It started a week before Christmas. It was an insane week between holiday prep, work, and volunteering/running a holiday shop at the kids' school. I hardly had any volunteers so it was basically me doing it every chance I could between shifts. I had cancelled things I was supposed to do right after school so I could stay and essentially, my schedule was a nightmare. Of course on the worst possible day for anyone to get sick, Thursday, when I had no help at all and no parent could come,  Jackson gets sick. And not just at any point during the day, during the beginning of "open shop" hours so classes were sending all of their kids down. I'm alone, I've got waves up 20+ kids coming, and it was rough. In between waves, the nurse brings me Jackson with his 103 degree fever and it's like, no. This is not happening. He was FINE an hour earlier. Totally fine.


So I quick called Matt to see if he could get off of work, just until noon or so, and come get Jackson. Jackson meanwhile, lay himself on a bench and tried to fall asleep despite being surrounded by not so quiet kids shopping. Just as Matt was coming, I looked over at him and he's quietly crying and asking for doggy. Now folks, if Jackson asks for doggy? We have a problem. So Matt takes him, I close down the shop for the day and tell work I can't finish my shift.

The rest of the afternoon he slept and had a raging fever despite Tylenol or Advil, and I was kind of worried. FINALLY, around 8pm his fever broke and he's happy as a clam.

Fast forward 4 hours when fever comes back and he's emotional and clingy. Then he throws up in his bed, which lands him in my bed because I was so tired I didn't have it in me to change bed sheets in the middle of the night. Not a chance he was going to go to school on Friday.

Olivia was, because Olivia was fine. So I take her to school and all is well. Eventually Jackson agreed to some soup and 7 Up, but didn't perk up at all.
This is what my little guy looked like for about 7 days straight. He had his beloved Doggy, Billy Bear, Cow Pillow Pet, his blue baby blanket and demanded cuddles. It was pathetic. 

Then just as he was getting better, Olivia got sick. Then Jackson got sick again. Then he got better and Olivia has gotten sick again. She is currently dead to the world on the couch, curled up with her favorite things. The last three nights she has coughed non stop in her room, the entire night. It's not a croup or whopping cough, it's just phlegm and nothing we give her or do seems to help. 

Needless to say, I have gotten zero sleep for awhile. I'm so tired it hurts to blink. I can't sleep because even ear plugs aren't helping. If it's not noise, it's a kid waking me up to say they just "threw up boogers" in their bed. 

I'm over it. I can't even say I can't wait for them to go back to school next week because at this point, if they can go back to school next week I will feel like I have hit the lottery. I have sanitized and disinfected every thing in this house, washed countless loads of bedding, and I'm just completely over it. Done. Can't do it, I want to run away. 

Luckily, Matt hasn't gotten sick and I've only gotten a cold. An annoying one, but if that's all I get I'm fine with it. The only good thing is that it has gotten so damn cold here like a flip of a switch that I'm hoping it kills  off whatever germs people are incubating. I really hope that's not just something people say but rather, a scientific and proven fact. Cross your fingers, folks. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 Reading Challenge

I've now had five people tell me I should do the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge, so I feel like it's a must. Which, let's be honest, I might legit struggle with because I will be having Penelope and I don't know how much reading time I'll actually get. But I'm also going to try to combine that with my 2015 Good Reads challenge, and this year I'm going to go for 110 books.

Do you follow me on Good Reads? If not, head HERE and do so while looking at my 2014 challenge.


So the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge is kind of a tricky sumabitch because it's lengthy and it's going to require me to really dig deep for books. And because I am a ridiculous over planner, I've done just that. So I give to you the challenge AND the book I'm picking to complete that challenge. (Mostly to keep myself on track and help me with a shopping list. The bonus is that some of these I may have already purchased oh.... awhile ago and just haven't gotten to them. So it's going to make me read stuff I already bought.)

Disclaimer: for those of my local friends who are partaking in this and would like to borrow books, the ones marked with an * are ones that I currently own. 

*ALSO- I am including a link to the Good Reads page of EACH book, so you can add it to your list or see what it's about.

A book with more than 500 pages: Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin*
A classic romance: Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin*
A book that became a movie: The Maze Runner by James Dashner*
A book published this year: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
A book with a number in the title: Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day *
A book written by someone under 30: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh*
A book with nonhuman characters: Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur
A funny book: I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean by Alena Dillon *
A book by a female author: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova*
A mystery or thriller: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn *
A book with a one-word title: Halo Series (Halo, Hades, Heaven) by Alexandra Adornetto*
A book of short stories: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
A book set in a different country: Fog Island Mountain by Michelle Bailat-Jones *
A nonfiction book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 
A popular author's first book: Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts
A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet: Tears of the Renegade by Linda Howard *
A book a friend recommended: God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo *
A Pulitzer-Prize winning book: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
A book based on a true story: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 
A book at the bottom of your to-read list: Outlander by Gabaldon
A book your mom loves: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway 
A book that scares you: An Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice *
A book more than 100 years old: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy *
A book based entirely on its cover: The Siren by Tiffany Reisz *
A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
A memoir: Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir by Kathy Griffin *
A book you can finish in a day: A Hero's Heart by Amber Daulton 
A book with antonyms in the title: Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson *
A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman *
A book that came out the year you were born: The Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer
A book with bad reviews: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
A trilogy: Halo Series (Halo, Hades, Heaven) by Alexandra Adornetto*
A book from your childhood: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A book with a love triangle: Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur 
A book set in the future: Insurgent by Veronica Roth *
A book set in high school: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater *
A book with a color in the title: The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton *
A book that made you cry: Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson *
A book with magic: Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost *
A graphic novel: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh*
A book by an author you've never read before: The Devil You Know by Jenna Black *
A book you own but have never read: Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost *
A book that takes place in your hometown: The Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer
A book that was originally written in a different language: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy *
A book set during Christmas: A Hero's Heart by Amber Daulton
A book written by an author with your same initials: If Tomorrow Never Comes by Sidney Sheldon
A play: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
A banned book: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A book based on or turned into a TV show: Vampire Academy Collection 1-3 by Richelle Mead*
A book you started by never finished: Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie *

Yes, some of these books are listed twice. Nowhere in the challenge did it say I couldn't use one book to fulfill a few requirements. Some are books that have been on my shelf for quite a while and I haven't gotten to, so this will kick me into gear.

I hope you join in! If you are, send me a link to your blog post, or friend me on Good Reads!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Photo Play

Raise your hand if you are in the market for a really fast, erotic read? Perfect, here you go.

Photo Play - Pam McKenna
Photo Play
Shy Darla Carmody decides to jump-start her flaccid love life by presenting her fianc with sexy photos of herself. She doesn't bargain on the photographer, Kon Drummond, being a hunky Dom determined to personally demonstrate what she's been missing. The photo session turns into a BDSM marathon as Kon introduces Darla to the erotic pleasures of bondage, spanking and complete sexual submission-all under the unforgiving lens of his camera. Never has Darla imagined herself on the receiving end of such treatment, or guessed the ecstasy it would bring. Kon has been burned by three expensive divorces and refuses to acknowledge his emotional connection to Darla. He taught her to embrace a part of herself she never knew existed. Will he let her return the favor?

On my Nook, this came in at 57 pages and I read it in about a half hour. So if you are a fan of erotica, and you don't have a ton of time and really don't want to get involved in a deep story line, this is definitely a book for you. It's basically a one night stand for readers. 

The story is basically about Darla, who is engaged but having basically a lackluster sex life, so she comes to Kon Drummond to spice things up. Her goal is to have sexy pictures of herself that will hopefully make her look irresistible to her fiance and maybe encourage him to do more than the basic three minute duty he's currently doing. 

Only it turns out that Kon Drummond is a little bit of a pervert who straddles the line of rape kind of close. Now, he doesn't rape her in the story so calm down. But he basically persuades her to the point where she agrees to essentially cheat on her fiance and have a really mind blowing afternoon of beginner BDSM sex. Kon is steadfast that he wants nothing more than an afternoon of play and is surprised that afterwards, he has some feelings towards Darla that he doesn't fully understand. 

Darla, for her part, feels the same way. She realizes things won't work with fiance because she's bitten the forbidden apple so to speak, but she isn't sure what to do about Kon, either. 

I can't give you much more than that without fully ruining the ending for you, but I think you get the general idea. But this is a great book if you are a fan of erotica. If you aren't at all, steer clear because about 90% of this book is sexually explicit and you'll hate it. BUT, if you're a fan, you'll love it and you'll feel like a badass getting a book done so quickly. 

S.E.C.R.E.T Revealed

It's going to be absolutely painful for me to write this review. So painful. I loved book one. I bought several copies of it and handed it out for friends for birthdays and holidays. I got a little annoyed with book two, but in the end, I still really liked it. But book three? Ugh. I just... I can't love it.

S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed
S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed (Secret, #3)
The only thing that Cassie Robichaud has ever really wanted is Will Foret, the love of her life. But when Will discovers that Cassie is part of S.E.C.R.E.T., an underground group devoted to helping women experience their deepest sexual fantasies, Will breaks it off. Heartbroken, Cassie dries her tears and devotes herself to helping the latest S.E.C.R.E.T. recruit, Solange Faraday. Cassie also reignites her relationship with sexy bad-boy Jesse, even if he can never love her as deeply as Will did.
     Meanwhile, beautiful, brilliant Solange, a local news anchor and divorced mom, has a great career but a wilting love life. She rekindles long-lost passions, going deeper and hotter than any other S.E.C.R.E.T. candidate before her. Will she find what her heart most desires? And when Will realizes he's made a tragic mistake, will Cassie be able to forgive him? In the end, as both women blossom as sexual beings, they also discover that ecstasy and true love are closer than they ever imagined.
     SECRET Revealed is the explosive, sensual and sexually-charged finale to the bestselling S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy.

I will agree, the erotic scenes in the book are amazing, and on par with the other two. I can't say they are lacking at all. I think what gets to me the most is Will being all judgmental and pretty freaking rude, and Cassie being kind of a moron. Which to be fair, wasn't a huge part of the book because it was mostly focused on the newest member, Solange,  and her journey. The downside to that is that Solange is kind of boring. I didn't root for her like I wanted to because I kind of didn't care. I almost felt... burnt out by this book. I mean, it almost felt like this series could have stopped after book two and that we're really forcing a trilogy out of it. 

But let's talk about Cassie and Jesse because that was bad all over. What the eff is wrong with Cassie? Seriously? You can't have Will, so instead of trying to work it out with him, you're going to do EXACTLY what he accused you of, and run to Jesse? You are an idiot. And I feel like Cassie is a little too empowered and in a way it kind of reminded me that maybe too much of a good thing isn't always good. So I really ended this trilogy not really liking Cassie and I hate that because I rooted so hard for her in book one and got so excited for her in book two, and I'm left feeling like she's a hot mess. 

Overall? I think I can really only give it 3 stars- it was just OK. It wasn't great and honestly I would tell people to skip this book all together because it almost felt like a waste of time. 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books for an honest review. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

All I want for Christmas...

Mostly because it is December 21 and Matt hasn't started Christmas shopping, and partly in case there is a Santa out there, here are some ideas for Christmas gifts for me:

1. Kitchen Aid Hand Held Mixer
KitchenAid® 5-Speed Hand Mixer
I have had several hand mixers over the years and I have always been told to not spend much. Well guess what? Those suckers burn out. So I'm saying I need a good one.

2. Cricut Explore (or Cameo Silhouette)
Cricut Explore Machine
A few years ago I got rid of my Cricut machine because I never used it. Mostly because I couldn't afford cartridges for it. But NOT you download your images and cut those. I could really use that not just for scrapbooking, but also for PTO stuff at the kids' school.

3. Maternity Clothes
Long Sleeve Cable Knit Maternity Sweater
I am in need of Large/Xlarge long sleeve sweaters. I can't find any locally that aren't completely hideous, but I can find plenty of short sleeve things. Which, wouldn't be so bad, but I am literally always freezing.

4. Books
I know Matt took pictures of several books that I showed him in Barnes & Noble, so there is no excuse for books to not be under the tree. But I'm also a fan of a gift card because there are a few books coming this spring that I will want for sure.

5. Earrings
I'm a fan of earrings. I wear them all of the time.

These black ones are super pretty.

6. Boots!!!
Womens Sorel Joan of Arctic Knit
The good news is that I'm a size 8 and the mall in Duluth has these.

7. Socks.
I need some new socks. Kind of warm ones but not super warm. I'd like browns, blacks, grays, or patterns. Anything but white. I have enough white.

8. Birthstone necklace

Fortunately for me, the March one is beautiful!

9. A new purse
Merona® Satchel Handbag with Removable Crossbody Strap - Gray
I need a new purse, preferably a cross body one that can double as a diaper bag in a pinch. I texted a picture, it's still in stock on Target, this is an easy one. Oh, AND I gave him a Target gift card to boot.

10. A fuzzy blanket
Threshold™ Microplush Blanket
I figure it might be nice to have a big fuzzy blanket to keep warm while I rock Penelope to sleep, right?

BONUS: a chair back massager. My back is killing me and it would be glorious to have a thing that will massage it on demand.

I'm kind of excited about Christmas. This year we were fortunate to have enough money (and spent hours of couponing and bargain planning) to get the kids most everything on their list. Which normally I would feel kind of embarrassed about, but considering I don't buy them fun things all year, and they get one birthday present each, I feel OK about Christmas overload. Plus, Olivia got a few games I'm kind of eager to play with her too, so that's like a gift to me, I suppose.

I might be a bit quiet this week with Christmas and all, but I'll be back with a back with book reviews and some other fun stuff.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

And the gender is.....

... well let me tell you how the appointment went first, mmkay?

First the kids were so stinking excited the night before that I honestly don't know how much sleep they got. I had been talking this up for them for awhile, so I figured they totally knew what this was going to be. I feel like I do a good job at preparing them for things but apparently, I dropped the ball. As soon as we get there, Jackson asks me how we're getting the baby home if we don't have the car seat. I said, "Oh buddy, we're just going to see what it looks like, while it's in my belly. It doesn't come home until after your birthday." He quickly declares, "Then why are we even here??".

Okey dokey then.

So once it started I was super excited. Then I got worried we weren't going to be able to find out because as it turns out, the baby kept it's foot in its mouth pretty much the entire time. Except for a few seconds where it stuck it's tongue out at us, which Jackson kind of liked.

But for a quick moment, we got a quick image of a butt and a money shot.

So the tech is pretty certain we are having a girl. Which means that little Penelope is on her way in May. Or maybe she'll keep with tradition of her sister and be a week early, and show up in late April. We just don't know.

Olivia is thrilled. Jackson... well he wasn't. But the good news is that maybe his reluctance was just for show for me, because when he got back to school he eagerly told classmates and pretty much every adult he saw that he was having a baby sister. So that made me feel better.

He also woke me up this morning to tell me that the "good news" is that at least he'll still be my "favorite boy", which is what I've called him since he was a baby. So I think we're going to be just fine over here. We'll add some mermaids and pink to the ocean themed room and things will be ready for her to come join us.

And how do I feel about it?

I feel... kind of scared? Which sounds ridiculous because I have one of each so it's not like I don't have experience or I'm going to be getting into something new. But at the same time, because I have one of each, I feel like I at least have something to compare to. I'm kind of nervous because I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing with Olivia, and here I am, adding another girl to my mix. With Jackson it feels easy because I get him. I think Penelope is going to be so different, personality wise, from Olivia and Jackson and that scares me because anyone will tell you I have really great kids. Very sweet, very polite, very fun, good kids. I couldn't be any prouder of either of them. So now it feels like we're going to find out if they are a fluke or if we're really good parents after all. Does that make sense? It's so strange, I feel so much pressure this time.

This is clearly all hormones, I'm sure come May I'll be fine. HA!

So there we have it. Penelope is on her way.

And yes, her name really will be Penelope.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gender Prediction?

So tomorrow is the big 20 week ultrasound where, if the baby decides to spread eagle for us, we will hopefully be able to tell what gender teh baby is. A few people said they couldn't guess without seeing what I look like right now because that is apparently helpful. So here we are:

 Side view of 19 weeks.
 Front view of 19 weeks.
 This was when I was 18 weeks pregnant with Jackson.
And 18 weeks pregnant with Olivia.

With Olivia I felt like I had spread out more and with Jackson I had a perfectly round tummy. So who knows. As far as the heartbeat rate, I was always 170's with Olivia and 140's with Jackson. This time I have one rate in the 170's and one in the 140's, so that's not super helpful.

Neither pregnancy before this one you could tell I was pregnant from behind and you can't tell this time either, so again, not helpful. My gut reaction at our very first ultrasound was girl. I specifically had the "there's our daughter" thought go through my head and at the time I was taken aback that I had any kind of thought happening other than, "is there a heartbeat?". But then every once in awhile I find myself referring to it as a boy, so who knows. I'm not helpful. But it's OK because whatever we have it just going to be bonus considering we already have one of each. I'm just excited to buy baby clothes!

So what do YOU think it is? Of course I'll post tomorrow what we found out and the kids' reactions. They went to bed tonight very excited and Jackson has come down three times in the last hour to let me know he doesn't think he can sleep tonight, he's so excited. I'm also very excited and when I think back to my other two pregnancies, I wasn't as excited as I am about this gender reveal. Is that weird? I'm not sure, but it's kind of nice.

This weekend marked a LOT of movement and kicking, definitely getting stronger. According to my pregnancy phone apps, the baby is the size of a cantaloupe right now. I have also felt really run down and I think I'm fighting whatever plague is currently going around at the kids' school. I also have had a LOT of round ligament pain/stretching. Which is really strange because I never had that with the other two, not joking- never had it at all, not even with my first. This time though it's no joke and it's annoying. You'd think with how chunky I am this wouldn't be an issue, there should be plenty of cushion in there for this baby. Ha!

So let me know what you think I'm having in the comments section!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Top 11 BEST books I've read this year.

Every year I get asked for a list of my favorite books of all time and honestly, that list is SO hard. Mostly because I love too many, all for very different reasons, so one of these days I'll make this huge definitive list that you need. But for now, some of you are still shopping for holiday gifts and if you have any awesome friends, they are readers. And readers want books for gifts, it's just a fact.

So without further making you wait, here is a list of top eleven books that I read this year.

This Dark Road to MercyThis Dark Road to Mercy- Wiley Cash: Talk about a book that grabs you from the first word and keeps you hanging on to the end. I really identified with the older daughter, Easter. These girls are essentially orphaned when their mother overdoses on drugs after living a hard life. But instead of going to foster care, good ol' dad comes back out of nowhere and tries really hard to do the right thing. It's a hard book, and it's sad, but it was great.

Orphan TrainOrphan Train - Christina Baker Kline: One thing I really love is when two generations learn about each other and can connect through stories of a time long passed. Then you get a book like Orphan Train, which is that and so much more and it's everything. Not only was I hooked on Molly's story, but more so the one of Vivian, who was a passenger on the oft forgotten Orphan Train, but I wanted to learn more about the orphan trains and really- they were kind of horrible. You never knew where kids would land and it didn't actually matter so long as they weren't taking up government funds in an orphanage somewhere. Then Vivian's ending? GUT PUNCH. I cried and had to take a break from the book just to read the final few pages.
Trinity Stones (The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, #1)

Trinity Stones- L.G. O'Connor: I recently read and reviewed the second book in this series as well, and it's just as good as the first. So I'm going to honorably mention it here but you really need to read the first before you get to that one. But this was a really great book and if you are at all a fan of paranormal, you are going to love this. The story is great, the character development is great, you are completely hooked. You finish the book feeling satisfied but already wanting more because this is going to be a pretty in depth series and I cannot wait. Can I mention how fantastic the writing is??

The Unfinished ChildThe Unfinished Child- Theresa Shea: Oh man. Well this was a book that originally I didn't remember signing up for, was a little worried I would hate it, and it turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. It's about two friends, one who desperately wants a child but can't for some unknown reason, and the other who has kids and finds herself pregnant again and isn't thrilled. Even more so when she finds out that her child will likely have Downs' Syndrome. But mixed in this is the story of a woman who gave birth to a child in 1947 with Downs' Syndrome and back then, you gave that baby up, you certainly didn't keep it. But she kept in touch with the home her daughter was at, and that proves to be  horrific when she finds out what happens. But it ties in with the two friends. And it's such a moral gut wrench of a story and every opinion you thought you had on this would be questioned. Amazing story.
Alias Hook
Alias Hook- Lisa Jensen: If there was an award for book that I talked about most this year, this book would get it. It's a re-telling of the classic Peter Pan, except the brilliance about this is that Peter Pan is actually portrayed as the bad guy, and poor Hook is the hero, the guy you root for and oddly enough, the guy you fall in love with by the end. No, I'm not even kidding. I said in my review that I had a slow start on this book but once I got into it, I was absolutely riveted and I could not put this one down at all. It was amazing, I am such a fan of Lisa Jensen and I will go wherever she wants to take me next. It was such a great concept of a book and honestly, I had no idea how she was going to make me love Hook but she did.

Sea CreaturesSea Creatures- Susanna Daniel: Another author I will throw all of my money at just to buy whatever she is selling. Her first book, Stiltsville, is one of my all time favorites and it has a line at the end that will always gut punch me. I was so worried that feeling and love couldn't possibly be conveyed over another book with a totally different cast of characters and story, but it did. Oh, did it. It's about a mom who is in a difficult marriage with her work-aholic husband who reluctantly agrees to parenthood but kind of leaves it to her once the boy is here. She doesn't mind, she loves being a mom, even if her son won't talk for no reason. Bring on a job with her going to Stiltsville to help organize artwork for a recluse and you worry where this story is going, BUT! Cue a major accident, a hurricane, and an unexpected death and you are left reeling at the end. You feel like you're on a boat yourself and you might fall right off the edge. Absolutely loved it, I can hardly wait to see what she produces next.
Prophecy's Power (Prophecy, #3)
Prophecy's Power- Brenda Dyer: YES. As book three in the series, I feel like I went in thinking there is a chance it won't be as great as the other two, and that's kind of allowable with a series because it has to be hard to write them. But no, it was just as amazing as the first two and I was so upset when I finished it. That moment when I'm hitting "next page" on my Nook and it's blinking at me like I'm an idiot and I realize that oh hey, this book is done. DAMMIT. I am quietly stalking Brenda's Facebook updates and she is furiously writing book four, which sounds equally amazing and I'm all over here wanting her to stop sleeping and just write. *sigh* SUCH a great romance series with a paranormal twist.

Made for YouMade for YouMade for You- Melissa Marr: Oh man. Here is another book I had no recollection signing up to review, and the cover is creepy enough to remind me that was probably why I picked it, and I absolutely was not disappointed at all. It's basically about Eva, who after almost being killed by some nut job who is fixated on her who refers to himself as "The Judge", discovers she has developed some unusual powers during her recovery. She connects with an old love interest and this seems to only fuel the psychopath who one by one starts murdering people in school as some kind of "I'm sorry I tried to kill you, but I do these other murders because I love you" thing and it's creepy. It's like a really terrifying Lifetime movie. The book is so fast paced and you have no idea who the culprit is until the end and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

I Shall Be Near to YouI Shall Be Near To You- Erin Lindsay McCabe: All of the tears in the world. Absolutely do not read this if you are having your period or for whatever reason find yourself to be highly hormonal. Just don't do it because you will hate yourself afterwards and eat all of the ice cream you can afford. The book takes place during the Civil War, Jeremiah enlists and Rosette can't bear to be without him. She's not convinced he will come home and that's not the kind of life she wants, so she decides to pretend to be a man and also enlists. He's rightfully furious when he finds out, but also kind of relieved because he also is madly in love with her. I can't even tell you any more without ruining this beautiful story, but I'll tell you what, nothing in this lifetime prepares you for the ending. Nothing.

Accidents of MarriageAccidents of Marriage- Randy Susan Meyers: If you are married, and you have ever had the "is it worth it to stick it out" thought, this book is for you. The wife is a pill popper to cope with the stress of parenting a teenager who seems more and more disconnected, and a son who she doesn't relate to, and a husband who is never home. The husband, doesn't see how far his family has spiraled out but doesn't actually care because if you don't see it, it's not a problem. Until one day an epic marital fight results in a horrifying car crash, leaving wife in a coma and fighting for her life. During that hospital stay, and subsequent recovery, we learn all about their marriage. Her problems, his infidelity, and all of the issues the children have had right in front of them. No holds barred, it was a great book.

Black IceBlack Ice- Becca Fitzpatrick: Yes, I know this brings my list to 11 and that doesn't conform to standard end of the year lists and I really don't give a damn. I don't give a damn because I am a HUGE Becca Fitzpatrick fan and she could doodle on a napkin and it'll be on this list. That's how strongly I feel for her and her books. Yes, she writes YA and I am 32 years old and again, don't care. This is about Britt, who is basically your average dumb teenage girl, who makes a series of really terrible decisions which ultimately almost get her killed. BUT, we meet a cute guy who may or may not be a psychopath, we have Britt developing a little Stockholm Syndrome and then? THEN it all goes to hell in a hand basket (or forest after a terrible blizzard, as it so happens) and nothing was the same. The best part? You're left devastated at this ending- like was everything a lie? Does anything mean something anymore? But *deep breaths* we have an epilogue and it's amazing. It's so good, it's what you want. I flew through this book in a day and that was bittersweet because Becca is hands down, the slowest writer ever, or so it seems because we wait FOREVER between her books. Seriously. I think it's been years since this and the ending of the Hush, Hush series, which is one of my favorites of all time. So this is my plea to you, Becca: please dear god, write faster.

So there you go. You need all of these books in your life, right now. You also need to make sure any awesome reader friends on your shopping list get something off this list because they will thank you, you will look super awesome and knowledgeable, and then you can pay me in cookies.

Friday, December 12, 2014

When did the dream of Santa die for you?

I realize that it's not realistic that my kids will believe in Santa forever. I know this. I really have been in some serious denial that my kids are inching closer and closer to that point where I have to explain to them what Santa is and how to still celebrate Christmas and not feel like you've been cheated. Does that make sense? I have no doubt that my kids know what Christmas is really about and how to celebrate it with a bright and giving heart. No doubt.

I'm still sad.

Here's the thing: a few weeks ago Olivia mentioned in the car, on the way home from school, that some kids in her class were talking about how Santa wasn't real. Thank god I was driving because I don't think I would have been able to keep a straight face. I very calmly asked her what she thought about it, and she told me she still believed.

But my heart broke a little bit. Because I know my time with her like this is coming to an end.

So this year I'm trying to just soak it all up with her. I think even with all of this, she's doubting everything. I do know this is the last year for all of this with her, I just know it. So now my next issue is how to explain to her about Santa and not have it be a let down for her. Does that make sense?

My fear is that she'll say or do something and ruin it for Jackson. I don't think she would do it on purpose, I really don't. I just feel a little brokenhearted that kids really do grow up. It feels like once a kid doesn't believe in Santa it's like a little piece of childhood dies.

So here's my question for you:

How do I explain Santa to Olivia without ruining Christmas for her, and how to get her to not feel like it's not as fun? 

I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Like this is the first tough conversation we'll have with her so I feel all of this pressure to get it right. This is the kind of thing they don't explain to you in those parenting magazines or What to Expect books. Diapers and teething are nothing compared to this kind of stuff.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

19! 19 weeks!

You guys, this feels weird. Mostly because next week? Next week means I'm halfway done incubating a tiny human. It's so weird. Again, it's always a mix of "how am I already here" and "holy shit, this is all the further I am?!?!

The really cool thing is that I have my ultrasound and hopefully we'll find out if we have a girl or boy. Olivia is hoping for a girl, Jackson is hoping for a boy. We did decide that we were going to pull them out of school for the appointment so they could see. Both are very interested in what an ultrasound is, how I get the pictures, and I'm pretty sure they'll be asking a ton of questions. They are eagerly counting down the days until the appointment and have already told their teachers they would like to share what they learned when they come back to class.

So that should be enlightening for their classes. Let's hope they keep it PG. Unlike when Jackson told his table a baby was going to come out of his mom's vagina. Which he learned from a friend in another class. Ahem.

But as far as predictions, my initial gut reaction the first time I saw our little bean was that it was a girl. A lot of people think I'm having a boy. When I compare it to previous pregnancies, this one seems to be pretty similar to Jackson. The baby doesn't move a whole lot, and I remember Olivia being highly activate literally all the time. I joked that she never slept and as it turned out, it was true because she barely sleeps even now. Jackson on the other hand, hardly moved. I kept having to go in for ultrasounds because I wasn't feeling the four movements an hour, ever. He'd kick once or twice and they'd send me home. They ended up inducing me on my due date because they were worried there was a reason he wasn't moving. As it turns out, he was just super lazy and slept a lot. Which is pretty similar to his personality now.

Then if we go by the heartbeat, the first one was 175 bpm, which the old wives' tale says girl. The second one was 146, and that says boy. So that's not a conclusive thing, either.

So I don't know. We'll see. What is YOUR guess?

As of pregnancy, it's not as rough anymore which is great. I am starting to sleep like crap again so that's not ideal. The last two nights I have had bouts of restless leg syndrome, which is easily the worst. I'd rather puke than have a constant feeling like I want to run a marathon for no reason. I am hoping this isn't a long term thing and that it doesn't get worse. I'm starting to feel larger. I still look like I'm just unfortunately fat and not pregnant, so hopefully things round out soon. But in the shower I'm noticing a difference in size. I can't bend over while standing anymore, squats are my friend. Last week I was absolutely starving all of the time and this week not so much.

So things are just moving along swimmingly. Which is reassuring and good. I feel like once I'll know what we're having, I'll go into full crazy mama mode. Have I mentioned we have names picked out? I'll share those next week!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Wanderer's Children

YAY! A sequel!

The Wanderer's Children - L.G. O'Connor
The Wanderer's Children (The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, #2)
The Wanderer’s mission three decades ago: secretly sire children to hide his bloodline, and protect them until their destinies can unite in the final battle between good and evil. That time has come...

Cara Collins, the First of the Holy Twelve, longs for one last peaceful weekend with her bridesmaids as she plans her wedding to Simon Young, her former Trinity Guardian, before duty calls with the Angelorum to gather the Twelve and prepare them for battle. Life, as she knew it, has changed; weird is Cara’s new normal. Her newly acquired Nephilim DNA is wreaking havoc on her and those closest to her as her body transforms into Amazonian proportions and an overabundance of pheromones threatens to land her in hot water with Simon—not to mention a sudden suspicious outbreak of “insta-love” among her friends.

Michael Swift, Cara’s Trinity Messenger, has spent months running from his attraction to Cara’s brazen best friend Sienna, the only woman who has ever skirted his considerable defenses. But if he wants a future with her, he must confront his tormented past head on, or risk losing her and destroying the future of the Angelorum.

As dark forces and outside threats gather, Cara has more to worry about than fitting into her wedding dress and playing Cupid to her friends. A second encounter with rocker Brett King shows Cara once again that there are no coincidences. One of the Wanderer’s children, Brett and his secret siblings are the key to gathering the rest of the Twelve.

When the newly forming team finally comes together, an unexpected revelation shakes them to their core. They must all look deeper into their souls as new secrets come to light to discover what's really at stake in the final battle between good and evil…if betrayal and Lucifer don’t rip them apart first.

YES! I absolutely LOVED the first book in this series, Trinity Stones, and it's been awhile since I read it. I wondered if I would have to re-read that one to feel like I was ready for this one, but as it turned out, I didn't have time and it didn't even matter. Not only is L.G. O'Connor an excellent writer, she keeps an entirely brand new story line moving quickly but also reminding you of key things from the first book so you don't feel left behind. The other great part? I remembered the main characters, Simon and Cara, from the first book but I had forgotten a bit about Brett, Michael and Sienna. I absolutely loved how they became a focal point of this book. It's so great to still have so much story for previous characters, and bring in more story for who used to be a secondary character, and keep it amazing and not overwhelming. 

That? That right there is talent and so many authors can't do that. This author absolutely can and that right there makes me a fan for life. Take all of my money, and keep these books coming because I cannot get enough. 

I can't be the only person totally frustrated by Constatina, right? Because she's so cryptic and gives half answers and I keep wondering if she would just give all of the information she had, would things not be so difficult and terrifying? I get you can't interfere with fate or free will but come on. And can I just say that Jonas? Yeah, Jonas is scary. I'm so annoyed that Cara seemed kind of oblivious to him and basically clue off people how totally clueless she is. But also, if she's such a major player in this, I feel like Constatina should give that kind of information up. I mean, if I were Cara, I'd be much more OK with that crappy piece of news if I had ample time to mentally and physically prepare for what was going to happen. 

The great thing? Is that there is no sign for this series to slow down or be done, and for that I am thankful. I can't wait to see what is in store for book three because just when I think the plot can't get any more intense? It does. And again, I feel like we have enough conclusion for this book to feel done but it's a perfect set up for the third book. 

Add this book to your Goodreads list HERE, or just go ahead and buy the book HERE

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bills and budgeting is a downer.

So with having a new job, it means my income is less. Ideally, I would have liked to have worked both jobs at least through the end of the year and  use the extra money as paying things off faster. Unfortunately, that wasn't an option. So now I'm on less income, and we have Christmas happening, and I have a LOT of things that really need to get paid off before I have Baby Strand. Mostly because I'll be off of work until the fall, and that's being optimistic and assuming I can find affordable day care for 15 hours a week (3 hours for 5 days), for an infant, that doesn't cost my entire paycheck and then some.

If I can't find that, then it looks like I'm staring down stay-at-home-mom as my every day. Which is terrifying all on it's own. There is a reason I didn't do it with my other two, and that's because I like adult interaction and I get bored easily. Which is not to say I'll be bored. I can tell you right now I wouldn't be the mom with the messy house and McDonald's for dinner. Even when Olivia and Jackson were younger, I was that highly productive mom who still had handmade gifts, meals, and a clean house with an infant and toddler. So I have no doubt in my ability to rock it, because I totally would.

I just would really miss working. A whole lot. I like feeling like I'm needed somewhere, and yes, babies need you but it's not the same.


So right now we are doing some serious budgeting and planning, and mostly not spending. It sucks a whole lot. Like, it's not even fun a little bit.

The kicker is that every time we start making really good headway, something keeps happening and we're back at square one. It's like the universe really does not want us to be financially OK. Which, that's kind of rude, universe. But all of this means I have to get back into meal planning seriously (and sticking with it), and couponing. It's so time consuming for me considering I'm tired all of the time, both kids have activities happening, they both have homework and reading and things they need my help with, we still need to eat, and sometimes my family is all, "Why don't we have clean socks??" and it's just annoying. Because I'm just so *yawn* tired, that I just need a million dollars and then it'll all be fine. Right??

The really good thing is that at least I've had the foresight to start buying things in advance that I know I'll need over the summer but we might be too broke to get. Things like diapers, wipes, shampoo, toilet paper, etc. I mean, all of that stuff I can store in closets and such and it'll be helpful. I feel almost like I'm planning for a four or five month Armageddon with the stock piling. So I feel like at least that is under control.

And then, and then Matt tells me that we really need to get a new roof. He'll do the work to save us a TON of money, but oh yes, let's start buying shingles every pay day so we have it all for this summer.

Yes, let me bend over and pull out my secret stash of money I hide for things JUST like this.

So yes. My life right now is stacks of coupons, budgets, financial plans, and a list of what still needs to get done.  Thinking about it, and certainly looking at it all, makes me that much more tired.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Life has calmed down... a bit.

So this week marked the first week where I am officially not working at the college anymore. I'll be honest, it's been really bittersweet. Part of me is really sad to go because I loved that job. I think it's really scary to leave anything that you really love because anything else is just uncertain. What I do know about me is that while I freak out and stress out quite a bit beforehand, I look back at my life and I'm really not afraid to make big leaps. At the time I think I am, I don't have confidence, but looking back, I've really made some huge decisions that most people don't do.

And I've always come out OK. It maybe doesn't turn out the way I think it will, but I'm never worse off.

So that was the sentiment I had going through my head as I finished out my last days. And I felt confident I was leaving it better than when I came. I felt like the person who takes over my spot will be OK because it certainly was a fun job, my supervisor was amazing, and I left some really good notes that I hope helps them feel like they made the right choice taking that job.

Why did I leave? It's hard to really pinpoint it, I guess. It was a lot of little things. Some things I felt weren't done right, that I wished had turned out differently. I fully understand things change but there is a right way and a wrong way to bring that about, and I feel like that wasn't really done. I also felt like there wasn't anywhere else for me to go, that I had hit basically the ceiling of what I could do there. And that was kind of a tough conversation to have with myself because one thing about me is that sometimes I'll stay in denial about something for a little too long.

So now I'm working at my kids' school and it's been a challenge. A good one, for sure. I can't say that I have ever worked in a library and I'll be honest, I figured it was easy peasy. As it turns out, it's actually really difficult. I thought I was pretty tech savvy, as it turns out, I am not. I'm learning something new every day and that's been fun. I'm interacting with kids, I get to see them blossom in front of me, I get to challenge them to do better. I get to help a kid find a new book, and I can't say that I have had two similar days, at all. Nothing is ever the same, and that is so not what I'm used to at all so I'm trying to not be so rigid with a schedule in some aspects, yet bring schedule and order to others because it would be valuable. So I don't know. I think I can make some positive changes there and that's kind of exciting.

Matt is still working a ton of hours and I'm at the point in my pregnancy where I'm really craving attention and reassurance from him and I'm not always getting that. I'm refusing to complain though because it's not as if he's out drinking with the guys, he's working. He's providing for our family so I can work part time still and we can give our kids really great opportunities. I don't want to be that needy, selfish, annoying wife. So I'm trying really hard to not be that.

But I'm officially 18 weeks pregnant this week and that feels weird. Honestly at this point, I feel like I have been pregnant forever. Someone today mentioned I'm almost five months and I'm like, "WOAH- let's not get crazy. Seriously." because that makes it feel like I need to get going on things I want to have done before the baby comes. My fear is that once Christmas is done, things will start really flying by me and I'll be delivering before I know it.

So as I finish out this post, I'm going to curl up with a new book, feel the baby kick away, and try to fall asleep at a decent hour tonight. Oh yes, insomnia is back in full force and it's really annoying. This baby better be the best sleeper in the WHOLE WORLD, that's all I'm saying.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beat it, turkey. Hello, Santa.

I've made it pretty clear I basically hate Thanksgiving. I particularly love how people are so righteous about the holiday when it basically is us celebrating the fact we took over land from the Native Americans and feel pretty OK about it, and we call it being thankful for what we have. It's kind of ludicrous. But that's for another day.

My  most favorite holiday EVER is Christmas. I feel so happy the entire month of December. Even with strangers who would normally make me angry and irritable, I find myself far more patient and more tolerant of others being really stupid. It just doesn't matter, I feel great the entire month. I love shopping for gifts, I love giving the gifts, I love receiving gifts. I love baking (mostly), I love decorating, I love finding one fun thing after another to do with my kids and take a million pictures. I just really enjoy every aspect of Christmas.

So every year we have a tradition where each kid gets to pick out their own special ornament from a store. It doesn't matter what it is, so long as they picked it out. This year Olivia picked out a leopard print stuffed heart and Jackson picked out a minion. Those are always the first ornaments to go on the tree. And though I didn't take a picture for here, we also get ornaments over the year from places we've been, OR if we haven't gone on vacation, we get something that represents a milestone or something fun from the year. This year we have lots of ornaments from our South Dakota trip. Usually then I take a picture of our new ornaments and I have a small photo album I put them in, write why we have those ornaments, and then when people come over they page through the book and try to find the ornaments on the tree. 

Matt generally hates decorating for anything, so the tree is basically something the kids and I do together.
They were particularly proud of the tree this year. We don't have any boring ornaments, every ornament is handmade by someone or from a special family moment.
Afterwards we watch Christmas movies in our pajama. (Jackson also opts to wear his Abdominal Snowman hat he refuses to acknowledge that is getting too small on him. We need a bigger one, stat.)

My other favorite thing is having them write out their Christmas wish lists. They spend such a long time on it, they really want to make sure they convey EXACTLY what they want.
Olivia's is on the right, and she's pretty straight forward. She's asking for things I've heard her talk about pretty much all year. Thankfully I was able to find amazing deals on almost all of this. Jackson's is a bit more hilarious because he has given Santa 16 things. My favorites being a "fart blastor" and "Money- $50". I appreciate that he wasn't vague at all, but rather very specific on the denomination he is expecting. I can tell you right now he's going to be disappointed that $50 is nowhere in his pile. He also is not getting a tablet. BUT, he is getting the Nintendo DS so we're calling it a win. He also got a lot off his list thanks to really great deals on Thanksgiving evening and Friday morning.

I'm pretty much all done with my Christmas shopping except for a couple odds and ends I can only buy online and I hope to do that on payday. I also will get all of the boxes I need to mail in transit this weekend (crossing fingers) so then I can work on my Christmas cards. I hand make our Christmas cards and write up a little letter, because I'm really a little old lady at heart. AND because I think people should get back into sending Christmas cards. I absolutely love receiving them, and hearing about their year's highlights. Because again, I'm basically a little old lady at heart.

Are YOU ready for Christmas? What fun traditions does your family have?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Glimpsing Heaven

I don't care who you are, if you can tell me you aren't even a little bit interested in a book like this, you are dead inside. And then if you read this and say it doesn't affect you in some way, again, you are dead inside.

Glimpsing Heaven - Judy Bachrach
Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death
If you caught a glimpse of heaven, would you choose to come back to life? Investigative journalist Judy Bachrach has collected accounts of those who died and then returned to life with lucid, vivid memories of what occurred while they were dead, and the conclusions are astonishing. Clinical death—the moment when the heart stops beating and brain stem activity ceases—is not necessarily the end of consciousness, as a number of doctors are now beginning to concede. Hundreds of thousands of fascinating post-death experiences have been documented, and for many who have died and returned, life is forever changed. These days, an increasing number of scientific researchers are turning their studies to people who have experienced what the author calls death travels -- putting stock and credence in the sights, encounters, and exciting experiences reported by those who return from the dead. Through interviews with scores of these “death travelers,” and with physicians, nurses, and scientists unraveling the mysteries of the afterlife, Bachrach redefines the meaning of both life and death. Glimpsing Heaven reveals both the uncertainty and the surprising joys of life after death.

I am not a religious person. I don't believe in God, but I do believe it's not totally evolution that we're here. When I was a little girl, about 6 or so, I remember playing on the sidewalk in front of our house. I was playing Barbies, and my mom and uncles were sitting in chairs. It was a gorgeous day, I remember the sun, the gentle breeze, I remember the exact doll I had in my hand, I remember my little brother near me. I also remember asking my mom are we really just dolls and someone was playing with us? I think she looked at me oddly and I remember her asking me what I said. And I remember saying something like, how I was playing with Barbies, what if someone was doing that to us? What if everything we do is because someone was making us do it? 

I think at the time that maybe freaked her out because I was quickly shushed and I very much understood that it wasn't to be brought up again. 

But my whole life I've been interested in space. I can't understand how we have planets, and a universe, galaxies, stars, and just.. nothing. How does that go forever? Because everything in my life has perfect little boundaries that are easy to say it starts here and ends there.

Interestingly, it was the SAME DAY that I got this book in the mail that my son Jackson, who is currently 6, asked me if I thought that maybe giants were playing with us, like he does his Lego guys. I stood there, shocked, in the kitchen with this book in my hand and all of a sudden it felt like a confirmation that I wasn't actually a bizarre, crazy little kid once, but that this is an actual thing. That maybe I've passed on a greater wonder about the world and I didn't even know it. 

So basically this book is about people who have had death experiences. They have clinically died, passed on from this realm to the next but for whatever reason, have come back. But in those moments that they were gone, they experienced a variety of things. Some experience a blissful sensation, where they feel all of this joy and love, and such a calm that they don't want to come back to life, so to speak. Others have the exact opposite and come back knowing they'v experienced a terrifying realm and that they are now terrified of dying for fear that's what they will go back to. 

The most interesting thing to me is that those who experienced the blissful state weren't necessarily religious and worked at moving to heaven for all of eternity, yet that's clearly where they were. A few people experience their time in a place beyond space, essentially. I think I connected most with them because of my own wonder first as a little kid, but even more as an adult. 

After reading the book I had to take some time to really think about what I read, I re-read a few chapters, and I'll be honest, I don't know if I'm more scared or at peace with death. I don't think I was every really at peace. I've felt, for awhile, that I would die kind of young. In all of the things I think about in the future, I don't ever see myself as elderly, I don't see grandchildren. In every dream or thought I have, I always worry that my kids will grow up OK and that Matt will be OK without me, and I also always know it's coming. That makes me think maybe I'll have a prolonged illness or something. And it's really strange because at random times I'll think, "I'd like this at my funeral. I better plan that out, just in case." And it's completely morbid, I know, but I can't help it. The thing I hope is that whatever happens to me when I die, I really hope it's the blissful area. I hope I can still see my kids, or have some kind of reassurance that they really will be OK, that I did the best for them that I could while I was here. 

I don't want to give much more about the book away, because I really feel like each person is going to take different things away from it. The things that hit home for me, maybe don't mean anything to you. But it's really an amazing book. I really cannot recommend it enough. You can purchase this book through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound. It's an absolutely riveting, can't put it down book that makes you think differently about death, however you feel about it. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On Dublin Street

And yes, I have been reading books all of this time. And maybe I'll even get around to posting all of my reviews, but let's not get crazy.

On Dublin Street - Samantha Young
On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street, #1)
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

I keep forgetting that romance novels are so where it's at with me. I like reading other things, but I can literally read an entire romance novel in one sitting and then wish I had more. Luckily for me, I hit up a really good sale at a consignment store and bought a bunch more that Matt doesn't know about because I have them hidden where I keep pots and pans. (Don't worry, they'll get moved once he goes into the shower). 

But this one has been on my "to read" list and I actually bought it for $.99 off of the Barnes & Noble marketplace, so it's used but who cares. Who is passing up a $.99 book? Nobody, that's who. So yes, good book. 

I will say though, Jocelyn drove me nutty. Mostly because she is one of the characters I can't stand, the ones who take a couple of events in her life and somehow thinks that being a cold and uncaring bitch that it'll make that original hurt go away. WRONG, you are stupid and you need to stop. I really liked Braden because although you want to peg him for a man whore, he really is anything but. I get the feeling he's essentially a giant romantic sap who likes to cuddle, but he's always really hot and just this manly man that makes your lady bits feel like she's going to the moon, and who doesn't appreciate that? I also loved all of the secondary characters, which I normally don't care about, but I felt just as invested in them as I was Jocelyn and Braden, so that was really nice. 

Overall? I'm going to give it 4 out of 5 stars. I'm knocking a star off because Jocelyn was annoying and I wanted to smack her a lot. But overall it was a good, fast read. Perfect for your current dry spell or really cold afternoon. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

I'm an auntie. First time EVER.

Way back in May when my brother told me that he was not only getting married this summer but that he'd be a daddy in November, I thought for SURE he was kidding. Not because I didn't want those things for him, but because he told me for years he didn't want kids at all. And Matt's sister doesn't want kids and his brother maybe does but hasn't met a good girl yet, so I had resigned myself to never having any nieces or nephews to spoil and love. 

But then Travis was getting married and having a baby. Well, Krystle was. I cried at their small wedding because he's my baby brother, you know? I was beyond ecstatic the entire time Krystle was pregnant and totally got to give them a baby shower. I bought tons of cute girl outfits and toys, and having her pregnant really helped me get through my miscarriage earlier this year. I figured at least one of us would have a baby, and if it isn't me, that's OK because I could still love this baby too. 

Then as it turned out, I got pregnant again, and I won't lie, I feel like I can't be super excited because I don't want to steal their thunder. They are first time parents and they should be getting showered with cute and adorable baby things, attention, and just tons of support and love. I never wanted to be that annoying sister and sister in law trying to outshine, and I just want to be 100% supportive. 

Because I get it. Being a first time parent is hard. It's not hard when you are surrounded by family who are helping you and making you feel like it's totally OK that your baby is crying because that's what babies do. They get all cute, then they cry. And that's my goal- I just want to be here without being overbearing. 

But dammit if I wasn't on the damn EDGE the day I knew Krystle was being induced. I think I only texted my brother three or four times. I almost did at least 50 but I thought no way- I would drive him crazy. But no joking, when he told my mom and I to come up to the hospital around 4:30 p.m., I got so excited and I was so thrilled and humbled he wanted us there. I totally wanted to be there but no way in hell was I going to ask. We drove there super quickly, we got semi-lost in the hospital and got there thinking it would be any minute and no. No, it wasn't any minute. 

In fact, Adriana wouldn't be born until 6:13 a.m. the next day. And you know what? That was OK. Because having had two kids of my own, I never got to see it from the other side of the bed. And it was a pretty amazing experience for me, especially when I tried to mentally take notes knowing I'd be doing this very same thing again in May. And dammit if Krystle wasn't a damn trooper, because she was. You never know how you'll be in labor until you're there and she did amazing. I can't even tell you how amazing. This girl pushed for five hours. She never gave up, she just did it. And Travis was literally the best coach. So while I'm watching life be brought into this world, and I'm so proud of her, and I'm tearing up because my brother is being an amazing dad already, I look to my mom and she's tearing up because I can't even imagine what's going through her head, and it was just amazing. I see Krystle's mom tearing up, and her dad is just being a great coach too, and honestly? I don't think a baby could possibly be brought into a room full of any more love. I really don't. And she was just the sweetest little thing. 

But shortly after she was born, mom and I left. We had all been up for well over 24 hours, we were all exhausted, but I figured I'd come back to snuggle Adriana the next day and let the new mom and dad get their wits about them. 

Me and my niece, Adriana, one day old. 

Can I just tell you that holding that baby for two hours made my uterus hurt? I had cramping, I felt movement, I think Baby Strand was jealous. I told Matt as we were leaving that if I wasn't already pregnant, I would have been the next day because if holding an adorable baby doesn't give you baby fever, you are dead inside. Plus, she clearly smiled at me. She clearly loves me. 

But they've been busy. Adriana is a week old now and I got to see her before Travis and Krystle went back home. I hope to see them before Christmas. Maybe I can sneak a weekend down there to get a baby fix and let them go on a lunch date or something. 
Visiting Auntie Sara

Matt took this picture. Can I just say she has a perfect baby butt? Totally fits in the palm of your hand. 

 She woke up as they were leaving, after she had been fed and changed (I got to change a diaper! It was kind of adorable.) so I had to get this picture of her eyes open. Such an adorable baby. After they left, Matt said he was worried I wouldn't hand her over, ha! But I did because Krystle is a natural mom and Travis is totally smitten with his little girl. I have no doubt they will do a great job. I can't wait to see her grow up and do great things.