Thursday, May 29, 2014

TBT: Lunch dates, circa 2011 or 2012

One thing we've always been pretty consistent about is weekend family lunch dates. No matter what is going on, usually Saturdays, we all go out to lunch. Our favorite spot to go is Wendy's up by the mall because we end up doing all of our errands afterwards and it works out. Also because all of the employees know us by know, and, there is a really nice older couple that are there literally every day who know us well. They almost always have a little trinket or something for the kids and they get a total kick out of watching them grow and develop into bigger people. 

These are two pictures I took on my phone way back when  and I wish I had dated them, but I didn't. But it was either 2011 or 2012. 

Etched on Me

Oh, lambs. SUCH a good book. Seriously, SUCH a good book. I'm telling you right now- book club read.

Etched On Me - Jenn Crowell
Etched on Me
On the surface, sixteen-year-old Lesley Holloway is just another bright new student at Hawthorn Hill, a posh all-girls prep school north of London. Little do her classmates know that she recently ran away from home, where her father had spent years sexually abusing her. Nor does anyone know that she's secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism...until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital. 

Lesley spends the next two years in and out of psychiatric facilities, where she overcomes her traumatic memories and finds the support of a surrogate family. Eventually completing university and earning her degree, she is a social services success story, until she becomes unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties. Despite the overwhelming odds she has overcome, the same team that saved her as an adolescent will now question whether Lesley is fit to be a mother. And so she embarks upon her biggest battle yet: the fight for her unborn daughter.

Can I tell you right now that I couldn't put this book down? I was drawn in immediately to poor Lesley's story of sexual incest abuse. That's what it boils down to and basically how the entire system basically fails her. 

Lesley is sexually abused by her father for years and after realizing her mother isn't going to help her, she decides to run away and find help. She finds a sympathetic case worker that gets her set up in a hostel and over time, she begins to cut herself to cope with what her life has turned into. It's one thing to get a person out of that situation, but to provide absolutely no support for the mental anguish she's obviously dealing with, is almost cruel. Then one day she goes too far with the cutting and she ends up in ICU and then through various psychiatric hospitals. Eventually, she is able to overcome her demons and completes her schooling and everyone applauds her on being a survivor, a success story for them all. 


Until one day she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. And as it states at the very beginning of the book, she wants this baby. She wants this baby so much it's almost an intangible feeling yet it's there and it's like her life line. It's the one thing in life she has to forever cling to. All of the people who regale her as a success story now question her ability to be a good mother and are actively trying to relinquish her rights. 

I won't tell you if she is able to keep her child or if her child remains in the care of the surrogate family- it ruins the entire thing. What I will tell you is that this book will horrify you, it will make you want to scream on Lesley's behalf, you equally want to shake her and hug her, and you just want something good to happen to her. Just absolutely anything good because dammit, she deserves it. If being a mother is going to be the light of her life, then why can't she have that? Well, we learn more about her time in psychiatric care and all of the facets of what sexual abuse does to a person so you find yourself rooting for both sides at time. 

It's a really amazing book. I can only imagine the conversations book clubs would have about this because this is something that can be a really polarizing topic for people. Even I found myself struggling through parts when I would flip flop my opinions and it's never a cut and dry situation. Talk about blurred lines, really. Not to mention, the writing? Amazing. Jenn Crowell gets you right there and you feel like you are literally watching this play out in front of you versus words on a page. 

I absolutely, totally recommend this book. Seriously. Get this on your to-read list, it's pretty gripping. 


Book review time! Let's break up the downer posts this week with a review, shall we?

Broken - M. L. Young
Bailey Wrenn is a small town girl with a big back story. Her mother left when she was young, leaving her in the care of an out of touch alcoholic father that barely noticed her existence. After trudging through life with no clear direction, she begins to wonder if she needs to leave this scarred memory of a town behind and finally move on. When Bailey hears from her friend Julie that life in Chicago is great and she should come out sometime, she takes that open invitation, and comes to visit her old friend with no idea of when she’s going to leave. 

One night, after Julie drags her from the apartment to see a local fight, she sees Kyle, a mysterious MMA fighter with a winning streak and an elusive personality. He doesn’t talk to anybody after his fights, and disappears faster than Bailey can blink. One day during a chance encounter filling out job applications, Bailey runs into Kyle at his work, and the electricity between them is bright enough to light up the city. 

It’s only when they begin to get close, though, that things are turned upside down. An old boyfriend and a brutal and devastating past makes Bailey believe she can’t be close to another man ever again, even if he seems perfect. She feels alone. She’s broken. 

HEA and no cliffhanger! This is a standalone novel. 
*This book is recommended for readers 17 and up for violence, language, and some adult situations.*

I had actually been pretty excited to read this book and then I started reading it and yeah.... nothing really comes together. It's certainly not the worst book I've read. I will say there are a lot of areas this book could have some improvements to make it a better book. The dialogue is not great, it comes off of very... teenager angsty, which doesn't make sense since it's not geared towards teenagers persay, it does have violence and other things I wouldn't want my teenager to read. 

Bailey basically has a pretty crappy life. Her mom is missing in action, her father is a drunk who has checked out on being a parent, and she basically has zero guidance. So she leaves and heads to Chicago where she meets Kyle (well, she mostly sees him at first and later meets him) and things are kind of fun between them. Then we start learning more about Bailey's back story and her ex-boyfriend who's just a complete ass, and he essentially starts stalking her, which is ruining her life change in Chicago. But on top of all of this, she's trying to develop a relationship with Kyle and it's just really awkward to me and very.... vanilla. Not that I expected this to be a blazing romance, but to plan out a passionate evening weeks in advance? That's kind of weird, right? I mean, do people do that? I know I've never done that. 

Overall? Lots of improvements to be made on this book. I think the potential of a good story is 3 stars, the execution of it is 1, maybe 2 stars. It's just not what I had hoped it to be. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Slight hope dangles on a string.

So, we know I'm pregnant.

We know I didn't have a great reaction and Matt's wasn't any better.

Immediately when I got home I got the kids organized with homework and dinner, and I had a friend coming over so I could help her with her resume. I think I did a pretty good job of holding it together, I don't remember crying during any of it. By the time she had gone home, and I had gotten the kids into bed, I was pretty emotionally drained. I knew Matt and I had to discuss what we were going to do. It's not just what we were going to do with a baby, there are several aspects of our life to consider.

*We have two kids, ages 8 and 6. I am not loving the age gap between the two younger ones.
*We have NO baby stuff. We had gotten rid of it all years ago because we weren't going to have more.
*We have Matt's sister living with us, she'd have to leave because we'll obviously need that room.
*What are the kids going to say, think, feel? I owe it to them to be considerate of their feelings as well.
*Can I even handle another pregnancy?
*What if I have post partum depression again? I honestly don't think our marriage can handle it again.

We had discussions on whether abortion or adoption were options. I discounted adoption immediately- I couldn't see a way to explain this to Olivia and Jackson and not have it negatively impact them. I think no matter what you say, they will see it as "shape up or ship out like your brother/sister". I can't do that to them, no matter what it means for me.

The very same day I found out I was pregnant, I found out someone very close to me was expecting a baby in November. I'm due sometime in January. To me, that puts abortion off the table. I can't look at that baby and not think of what could have been. I would feel guilty and I don't know that I could emotionally handle that.

So that brings me to keeping it. And I'm going to be honest with you, never in my life have I felt more like I had no control of my own life. I feel like I never even had an actual choice. It's like the universe's way of forcing me into this. It feels cruel and like a punishment. Matt says I shouldn't worry- there's always a chance I could miscarry, I'm only six weeks- anything could happen. I feel like it would be a relief, but there's a really small part of me that would feel sad. I try to focus more on that small part because it helps.

I have good days where I think, oooh- baby stuff! Babies are squishy and cute and I want to bite their feet! Then I have days where I cry alone in my car to/from work, in the shower, and to sleep. And it makes me feel like a really terrible person. I feel guilty and ashamed and I feel like I should be excited all of the time. I feel terrible to feel like I'm really lucky to have a baby, one that somehow, someway made it despite TWO forms of birth control, and I have friends who just can't and my heart breaks for them. Then I feel guilty because someday, this baby will be born and I know it's unreasonable and stupid- but what if I feel nothing? What if I just feel indifferent? I want to love it, I want to be happy, I want to be excited and I'm so frustrated it just hasn't happened. I hate that I worry about everything to the point it sucks the fun out of things.

I bought a baby sleeper yesterday, thinking maybe having baby things around would help me get excited. Instead, I cried in the aisle at Target. It is cute though, a little white and yellow one with bunnies on the feet.

I'm sick of people telling me, "just see the positive", "you wanted this", "just get it together already". It's like, if I could snap  my fingers and have it come together, I would. I would do it non stop just to make it so. I don't want to feel this way. I hate this.

At this point, Matt said he's on board with keeping it, and he's kind of excited. We hadn't planned on telling the kids until closer to twelve weeks, but Olivia saw the ultrasound from yesterday's appointment and loudly declared, "Mom's having a baby!!!". Both kids were pretty stinking excited. My sister in law has moved out and the room is already cleaned up and painted. I'm only officially 6 weeks and 3 days but they couldn't see a heartbeat on the ultrasound yet. I have to go back next week so they can see that and then we go from there with my regularly scheduled prenatal appointments. It's really weird because if you had asked me last week I would have called a miscarriage a mixed blessing, but this week... I feel a little more attached and I think I would be sad. It's such a weird spot to be in because I'm so up and down. I feel like a ping pong ball and hourly I feel differently.

It also means that I have to drop out of school. I cannot realistically do college classes in my last trimester of pregnancy and still be a good mom and wife to my family. I can do a lot of things, but I know that would be a huge stretch. Spring is out as well because my due date is when classes start. It is really disappointing to see that dream fade away. If I'm being realistic, the chances of me having a job that would make that degree financially worthwhile is slim. I knew that, and with the ages of my kids I was OK with that. Now I have a third coming into the mix and I'm not naive- I know what this will mean to us financially as a family. I can't in good conscious spend money we aren't going to have on an education that isn't going to benefit us all. I hate that. It makes me sad and I haven't officially dropped my classes yet because I don't know if I can possibly handle it right now. I have until August to pull that trigger but I will.

As of right now, I feel more like I have a really bad flu versus pregnant. I've never had morning sickness before and I've definitely got it now. I'm still on my antibiotic for a bone infection and they told me to stick with that, so I am. I feel kind of achy, I'm exhausted all of the time, I have super sonic smell, and I'm starving all of the time. So, in that regard I'm pregnant. The baby doubled in size from last week so even without an official heartbeat, it's doing its baby thing in there.

I know I might get backlash for posts like this. I don't write it because I want attention, or for people to feel sorry for me. I write it because it's true. There are people out there in the same boat as me and you aren't alone. Pregnancy isn't always the happiest time of your life and you aren't a terrible person if you feel that way. We all have different paths. Who knows what this means for me- maybe this kid will grow up to cure cancer or something. Maybe there is something better heading my way and the universe is trying to get me to see it.

Messenger Blitz!

Messenger - Week Blitz

By Laury Falter

Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Date Published: May 8, 2014

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Maggie does not know she is a Messenger. She has never met her eternal lover. She has never survived a Fallen One. All this changes when a Messenger awakens in the Hall of Records only to die moments later, never to return.

As Maggie sets out to determine why the Messengers are suddenly beginning to die, she crosses paths with the infuriatingly appealing Eran and their story begins.

In this riveting account of Maggie's first life on earth with Eran, the star-crossed lover's romance transpires amidst treacherous enemies, their friends' resistance, and their own opposing wills. With the odds against her, can Maggie survive long enough to admit the feelings she has so carefully denied?

Messenger is the first prequel to the bestselling Guardian Trilogy - the breathtaking romantic saga about a love that has lasted centuries between a Messenger and her Guardian.


He strode to me and crouched at my hip. His shirt was already off and the nearness of his well-built chest made it a challenge to stop myself from glancing at it. To my astonishment, he seemed not to notice my internal plight, not even the tremble that shook me when he tenderly took my chin and turned it toward him.

"You're healing nicely," he observed, concentrating on my forehead.

"Mm-hmm." It was all I could muster.

This was the closest we had ever been. His lips were no more than a few inches from me and drew my attention.

"I don't think you'll even scar."

When I didn't answer, I felt a shift in his presence and my eyes darted up to find him staring back with his striking blue-green eyes.

We froze in place.

Only our chests rose and fell, and they did it more rapidly the longer we stared at each other.

As his eyes lowered to my lips, his fingers tightened gently around my chin.

The flare of his nostrils and the intensity of his stare mesmerized me, made me want him closer. And it told me that he was struggling too and was in profound debate over what we were doing. No ward should be this close to their guardian, even if the ward didn't recognize them as one. It was taboo, unheard of, an abject insult to the role the guardian had been given. Yet, here he was, looking at me, at my lips, tensing at the sight of them.

And he wasn't alone in the struggle. For the first time, I forgot my urge to throw him off balance, my need to establish my independence. I was the one quickly losing my poise and forgetting who was dominant. The charm I fought so hard to deny, the very one that drew all others to him, took hold of me. And I gave into it out of my own free will.

About the Author: Laury Falter

Author Laury Falter photo profile_pic_zps5fd369f4.jpg

Laury Falter is a bestselling author of young adult romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She is also an animal rights activist, a sailor, a one-handed golf putterer, and a Colorado River conqueror.

She has three series out: the Guardian Trilogy, the Residue Series, and the Apocalypse Chronicles.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble


First three books of the bestselling Guardian Trilogy

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Secret's in the Telling

If you don't know where that post title came from, I question our friendship. I really do.

So the big reveal. Most of you have guessed it and have sent me well wishes via email or Facebook, and that's nice. I really appreciate it- it's nice to know people are still here reading and genuinely care, or are at least morbidly curious, what's happening my life.

Basically, it comes down to I'm pregnant with baby number 3.

I know, you expected me to be over the moon excited- it's what I've always wanted, right? Well, I'm not. I'm ashamed to say it, but I'm not excited. I have had so many emotions go through me since finding out and I'm ashamed of all of them. When I was at the doctor two weeks ago, I knew something was wrong. I knew during my ultrasound when she asked to go from abdominal to vaginal. I knew when she called another tech in who said, "measure everything". I honestly thought it was cancer or a cyst, and I was actually fine with both of those things, which sounds really terrible. I had mentally prepared myself for something like that and I knew I'd be just fine.

While waiting, I got nervous. Only because who wants that kind of news? I mean, what's the acceptable reaction to that? So I sat, waited, and got nervous. I stared at all of the pregnant couples and was quietly resentful that Matt didn't come with me to this appointment. You should have your spouse with you if you are going to be told if you had cancer or needed surgery, right? I mean, what if I'm in no shape to drive afterwards?

So I get called in and they are insistent I get my blood drawn and pee in a cup. Both of which I do because I'm a fan of having as much information to make a decision. So I wait in a consultation room. I get scared. I kind of start to shake, but I'm holding it together. I wish Matt was there to hold my hand.

The doctor comes in, with a resident doctor, and puts my file on the desk and I see a snap shot of the ultrasound. She says, "You're pregnant." and I promptly vomit all over the place. I cry hysterically for awhile and it's all really undignified. It's everything I knew I wasn't going to hear. It doesn't make sense to me how a child can be conceived despite two forms of birth control. I leave there with instructions to make an appointment. She says it's early days, it'll be fine, babies are always a blessing, don't cry- you'll love this one too.

I don't believe anything she says and I just want to go cry.

I leave there with a stream of tears in my eyes and I can barely see. I run out onto the street, almost get hit by a car, and start having a panic attack in the parking lot. I calm down enough to call Matt. He doesn't answer, so I keep trying until he picks up. I have to tell somebody and I can't breathe. He doesn't take it well and hangs up on me.

I cry even harder and feel pretty fucking alone, in my car, in a hospital parking lot.

I feel selfish knowing I have friends who would do anything for a baby. I feel ungrateful because it was only a year ago I wanted a third baby so bad and here it is and I hate it. I feel overwhelmed and afraid.

Matt calls back and asks what I want to do. He says he's willing to take me somewhere if we decide to terminate it and it'll be OK. He isn't thrilled about this but no matter what we decide, we'll get through it. I know we will but it doesn't feel OK and in that moment, I felt like I was drowning.

I drive back to work because I have to work as many hours as I can- I work a certain allotment in a year and that ends in June, and I have it planned meticulously so I make my set hours. I can't take any time off between now and then. As soon as I get to work, I burst into tears and blurt out that I was pregnant and the shock on every one's face is pretty obvious. I also appreciate it's hard to say "congratulations" when the pregnant person is clearly a mess. I mean, what do you even say to that person?

So that's what it is. I'm pregnant. I'm not happy. I don't know what I feel but I have been crying pretty regularly since finding out. I'm not sure what life is going to be like and I'm not ready. I'll talk more tomorrow about what happened once I got home and just... the mental processing of it all.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

MK Glam, Mary Kay Voxbox!

Easily, the best Voxbox I have gotten to date!

Here's a peek at all of the goodies I received-
And for those who have no idea what you're looking at, here's a detailed list: 

I'll be honest, there is a real learning curve to gel eyeliner. I'm not very good at putting makeup on as it is, but I do like how the eyeliner looks once it's on. The only thing I wasn't a huge fan of was the lip gloss and that was because the Mango Tango color is really orange. So in the picture I had put on a bright red lipstick and then put the Mango Tango lip gloss on over it and you can see how much it settled the red down. Overall though? Really good quality lip gloss. 

Absolutely loved the cream eye color! I already have a Mary Kay Wish List started and I have a few more colors added. I didn't feel like the mineral cheek color added any color to my face, and my brush was loaded with color and yeah- you can't really tell at all. Also weird is that the cheek color comes in a small rectangle container, so your brush doesn't really get color all over, just half of it, if that makes any sense. Bottom line, it should be a round container so it's easier to get onto your brush. 

The mascara was also good. I did find that you need very little on your lashes otherwise this particular mascara will clump on you and make your eyelashes feel heavy. Huge fan of the translucent face powder as well. Admittedly, I haven't used the bronzer only because I am really pale and bronzer always tends to make me look like I have a weird skin condition. 

The cool thing about Mary Kay is they now have an eCatalog that you can use on your phone or tablet and create your own wish list, order, and look through the different products they offer. Overall? I was pretty impressed with everything I received. They were all things I would definitely buy again in the future and I would be interested in other Mary Kay products. I typically have really sensitive skin that will dry out easily and none of these products gave me any issues, which was really nice. If you are in the market for new makeup, definitely give Mary Kay a try because it's a huge improvement to what they offered ever five years ago. 

*I received these items compliments of Influenster for testing purposes.*

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Big changes are coming.

It's been a pretty.. interesting week to say the least. Last week was my doctor's appointment with lots of mystery I've left you with, and since then we've had to make some huge family decisions.

I have an appointment on Tuesday so I'm going to know more and I promise, I will reveal it all that evening. But in the meantime, I've been staying busy with this:

- My sister in law is moving out. She had been living with us since June of last year when we bought the house. We've already got a plan for the room and the plan is to have it finished in June because I won't have time for it July and beyond.

- I've come to a really difficult decision to drop out of school. I'm pretty depressed about it, and once you know what's happening, you'll get why this is kind of the thing to do. I don't anticipate being able to complete my classes (and do it well) this fall, and I certainly won't be able to concentrate on spring classes. It's even worse when I realize that financially, it's going to be not feasible for a few years and by the time it is, who cares. So, another dream down the toilet.

- Matt and I had a rough week last week, but it's certainly a lot better know. He's been really helpful for me and I am adjusting. The whole thing is weird and it's just not what I thought I would be dealing with.

- The kids are almost out of school for the school year. I'm kind of excited about this, but I'm trying to find some lower cost things for them to do over the summer. We also still have our trip to South Dakota set for August and I need to plan that out a bit.

- I actually started writing a book. It's weird. I feel like I should be following a plan and it's a lot more difficult to just free write. But the current situation I'm in spurred some creativity so we'll see where that gets me.

- Jackson has Kindergarten graduation in a couple of weeks. I already forewarned him I was going to cry and he told me I could do it in the car. Poor kid has no idea what he's in for. HA!

- We got new neighbors apparently and they are pretty ghetto. I hate to sound like a complete racist, but if you're black and you don't want your new neighbors to think you're straight out of the projects? Maybe trying speaking English versus Ebonics and telling your gaggle of children you "gon' whoop yo ass straight mutha fucka" at a park. I'm just saying, if you don't want to be discriminated against, maybe not play into the stereotype. So needless to say, I'm assuming our park time is going to be fairly limited this summer if I'm going to have adults swearing at their children there. I like a good swear word as well, but you don't see me shooting "fuck this, fuck that" at the park. Good lord.

- I am suddenly on a baking kick. I feel far more productive in the kitchen during warmer months, which seems strange because you think winter would mean comfort food and cookies. I don't know. I feel far more ambitious and productive in general in the summer so I'm planning out some projects for the house. I need to not spend as much time on Pinterest as I have been. I'm a junkie.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My life, according to my phone.

Who doesn't love a good dump of phone pictures? I know I do. Let's do this.

I saw this book and I don't even care what it's about, but I want it. Badly. 

I wake up most mornings with a dog's ass on my head. 

Not long ago, I had a customer at work say I dropped something down my shirt. Nope, just bra failure. 

I organized pens at work. And made my own dividers. It was a slow day. 

I am still upset I didn't get to go to the Manchester Orchestra concert this week. I wore my shirt from their last show to make me feel less sad. 

Jackson says I work too hard at home, at work and at his school. He demands to give me foot rubs. I'm not against this. 

Jackson and I agree these are unexpectedly delicious. Weird, but delicious. 

Jackson also said he is trying to save his money to get me either a pony or a goat (whichever is on sale, of course) but in the meantime, he'll just draw me one. 
Ignore the fact that this is a public bathroom. But take notice how big girl she is- sometimes I look at her and remember the chubby baby she once was and miss it. 

Bee Summers (and giveaway!)

Hello, lambs! The next couple of weeks is going to be kind of busy and I have some planned posts, some more book reviews and some much needed updates for you all. Bear with me as I'm still trying to make some decisions and once I do, I'll fill you all in.

Bee Summers - Melanie Dugan
Bee Summers
The spring Melissa (Lissy) Singer is eleven years old her mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer Lissy's father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

I will tell you upfront that the reason I chose to review this book is that when my mom was younger, her mother just up and left the family. Now, my mom and the kids all turned out fine, but it's always fascinated me how a mother could just seemingly leave their families behind and just not think twice about it. I think that no matter how well adjusted a child is, that does something to them and you can't always fix that. 

In this book, Melissa is only eleven when her mom just disappears and never comes back. She holds hope for the entire summer that her mom is at a rally, or maybe she has cancer and is just going to come back when she feels better. She embarks on a trip with her dad on his annual bee runs and she meets a variety of characters along the way. She sees another side of her dad and she can't help but think they know where her mom is and she worries she's doing the wrong thing by befriending some of them. In the fall, when she returns to school, it seems like the entire town knows about her mother and the whispers and bullying start. She loses her best friend who is too embarrassed to be with her and even still, her dad gives her no information and she's encouraged just to forget about mom and move on. 

So she moves on, but she never stops wondering what happened to her mom. 

As she gets older, things get easier and she finds a life of her own. When she has her own family and her dad remarries, she feels resentment and angry towards him and they never fully come back together. I can't tell you much beyond that but it's a bittersweet ending. I feel bad for her dad because I think he really thought what he was doing was the best way to handle it. Sometimes people don't think kids can handle the truth, I guess. 

I kind of adored this book. I felt terrible for Lissy, but given the circumstances she did pretty well for herself. She got some closure and though not all of her questions were answered, she was able to move on with her own family. It's not a long book, it's kind of sad, but it's also kind of triumphant because Lissy could have ended up badly, she really could have. She could have made a series of bad choices and gone in a hard direction for life but she didn't. She didn't let her parent's choices threaten what she wanted out of life and that's pretty darn admirable. 

Also interesting, is that this book can be purchased on Etsy through Upstart Press. What a creative outlet to sell your book for one, it certainly is handmade, and a unique way to get yourself out there. For one of my readers, you'll get your very own copy of Bee Summers!


1. Must be a follower of this blog via BlogLovin (see button below to make it quick and easy)
2. Leave a comment on this post and be sure to include your email address. 

Winner will be announced on Monday, May 26! I'll even open this up to International readers since I'll be mailing this out myself. 

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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Unfinished Child

Wow, wow, wow.

The Unfinished Child - Theresa Shea
The Unfinished Child
Theresa Shea's first book explores female friendships, prenatal testing, infertility, and Down syndrome. Shea tackles a complex moral issue with great sensitivity. This is a must read not only for parents in the Down syndrome community but for all parents, and for anyone who appreciates masterful story-telling.

When Marie MacPherson, a mother of two, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at thirty-nine, she feels guilty. Her best friend, Elizabeth, has never been able to conceive, despite years of fertility treatments. Marie's dilemma is further complicated when she becomes convinced something is wrong with her baby. She then enters the world of genetic testing and is entirely unprepared for the decision that lies ahead.

Intertwined throughout the novel is the story of Margaret, who gave birth to a daughter with Down syndrome in 1947, when such infants were defined as "unfinished" children. As the novel shifts back and forth through the decades, the lives of the three women converge, and the story speeds to an unexpected conclusion.

With skill and poise, debut novelist Theresa Shea dramatically explores society's changing views of Down syndrome over the past sixty years. The story offers an unflinching and compassionate history of the treatment of people with Down syndrome and their struggle for basic human rights. Ultimately, The Unfinished Child is an unforgettable and inspiring tale about the mysterious and complex bonds of family, friendship, and motherhood.

I can't even fully tell you how much I loved this book. This book had me from the first chapter all the way to the end. You have no idea what's happening but when things start clicking together at the end it just feels... perfect. Between the difficulty of pregnancy, have an imperfect child decades ago and now, friendships between women and even abortion- it's just everything you need to read. All at once, right here. 

The best part about this is that I hated both Marie and Elizabeth, the two friends highlighted in the story, but it doesn't take away from the story at all, it just makes it better. I felt terrible for Margaret, who gives birth to her first child only to be presented with a devastating ending with no real possibilities. We see what it was like to have a "mongoloid" child (Down's Syndrome) in 1947, where that child was sent to an institution and forgotten. Except Margaret can't forget her child, and eventually- she visits in secret and is subsequently horrified. But it doesn't stop her until one day she makes a heartbreaking and terrifying discovery and she knows she can't go back. 

Fast forward to present time, and Elizabeth so desperately wants a baby of her own but with multiple failed fertility routes, her marriage is falling apart, and her friendship with Marie is a mess. Marie has children of her own but isn't really maternal and struggles with the changes of being a mother, when she suddenly finds herself pregnant a third time, she feels equal parts terrified, doubtful, and guilty. Once Elizabeth finds out about the pregnancy, she's obviously upset and struggles with that. Then when it's clear Marie's pregnancy isn't the standard pregnancy and she's faced with an impossible choice. It puts their lifelong friendship at risk. But it gives light to how some friendships just fade away, life changes you and sometimes what was a good fit at one point in your life, isn't a good fit later on. Especially if you feel as if you are in some kind of competition with that person. But then we learn more about Elizabeth and her history as an adopted child, and how that gives her a new direction. 

What an emotional story. There was a passage in the beginning of the book that I tabbed off because I felt like it just grabbed at me, and you could maybe relate to it as well: 

"Finally, Barry quietly came upstairs. Marie regulated her breathing and pretended to be asleep. They had performed this scene so many times in their married life- she pretending to be asleep, he pretending to believe she was sleeping. But maybe this time would be different. Maybe this time he would apologize for his remark and seek some kind of reconciliation. It wouldn't take much, just a light touch on the small of her back, or a brief kiss on her cheek. Just a small acknowledgment that this pregnancy was not simply hers to deal with, now was it a way to measure her life against her best friend's. Why didn't he ever just say that she was doing a good job, that she was a good mother? But when he emerged from the bathroom he slid slowly into bed, careful not to bounce the mattress. The he turned over, his limbs contained to his side of the bed, and within minutes began to snore.

Sometimes loneliness was a physical pain that was worse than any cramp or contraction she'd ever had."

God- who can't just read that and feel what that means because we've all been there at some point? I didn't like Marie, but damn- I could relate to her right here. The struggle she goes through is awful and it's not something you would ever wish on someone or ever want to deal with on your own. What was sad to me was towards the end there was some conversation about how back in day, children with disabilities were often forgotten in some institution to be abused and neglected. Then we have a time where parents were encouraged to bring them home and love them. Now we're at a point where you can terminate a pregnancy and it begins an argument is that even right? I think some people cannot raise a disabled child, and it shouldn't be forced. It's just a hard decision with so many life long repercussions. 

I really recommend this book to really any woman, mom or not. It's such a fascinating story of womanhood, parenting, marriage, friendship and self doubt. So excellent, I can't rave enough about it. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Don't worry, I'm not dying.

First of all, THANK YOU for all of the concerned and kind emails and messages. You guys really are the best. I sometimes forget I even have readers since I don't typically get many comments, but then you read something and everyone contacts me personally and it reminds me you do read the blog and worry.

So for that, thank you. You really have no idea what a big deal it is for me to know that I have a LOT of people that support me through all kinds of insanity.

I have big news to share with you, just not yet. I have some more tests happening on the 27th, so maybe after that I'll share what little I know. Just know that I'm going to be fine and I'm certainly not dying. I'm thrown for a loop, it's a bump in the road, it means major life changes but it certainly isn't something we can't over come.

Which makes it sound like something horribly major is happening, and I assure you that isn't the case.

Matt and I are still trying to muddle our way through this like married people do, and we still haven't sat down with the kids to talk about what this means for us as a family, so once we get all of that squared away- I'll fill you all in. I'll give you all the dirty details, the stories which will be funny for you all and maybe funny for me someday, and you'll know as much as I know.

But in the meantime, I'll be mentally and emotionally working through this next chapter and figuring out what it means for not just me but all of us. I've talked to some people who said this is no big deal, you just do it. Others think I'm insane and want me to really look into my options because it'd be less stress on everything. And I hate that I'm being so vague about it with you, because I have some really great insight now that I've actually experienced some of this stuff and have had to really consider it.

As of right now, seasonal depression has officially settled over me and the days of barely cracking 50 degrees and it not mattering because of wind off of Lake Superior are getting to me. It's like living in the polar version of Seattle, that's how I'm thinking of it. I just want sunshine and heat.

I'm thinking of surprising Matt with a trip to a warm climate, kid free, for our ten year anniversary next month. Sure, we've not been in a great place as of late and Tuesday's news did nothing to help that, but I really think we need to get away from everything and say screw it all. Just for a few days at least. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh world, you're just not that funny.

Today I had my follow up appointment with my doctor. I ended up going alone because Matt preferred to go to work, which is a rant for another day. Needless to say, if there was ever a day that I could have used someone with me, it was obviously today.

I'm going to be incredibly vague about what is currently happening, because I don't really know what I'm going to do yet and I need some time to just mentally process it all and get to a place where I feel like I'm making the best choice for us as a family. I also have a couple of follow up appointments in the next couple of weeks that will fill in the holes and answer some questions I have.

But earlier today I just decided that whatever force rules things in the universe really likes to mess with me. Absolutely nothing can be easy, everything has to be completely uphill all of the time, and no matter what I do- nothing ever is done like I planned. It's like I no longer have any control over my own life. Every single precaution I take is basically for nothing. It doesn't matter, why don't I just say fuck it all and stop trying because it doesn't actually matter. If the universe wants me to do something, it doesn't matter what I do- it'll happen.

Right now, I have a fairly major decision to make. The result of the decision basically has two outcomes, neither of which are ideal. And it sounds terrible and selfish, but I'm kind of angry I'm being faced with this. I'm paranoid, and I'm scared. I'm not ready and Matt is basically not helping me make any decisions and that makes it really hard right now. I don't know what to tell the kids. I don't know what this means for our family long term. I don't know what this means as far as me going back to school. I don't know what is going to happen at all. I know things will turn out the way they need to be and it'll be fine. I'm sure it'll be fine.

I just don't know why life needs to bitch slap me from time to time.

I can't wait to tell you what's going on. Just know I vomited on a doctor when I found out the result of my appointment. Not only did I vomit on the doctor, I burst into tears. I almost got hit by a car on my way across the street because I essentially ran out of the building and I can't even tell you the route I took to work because I don't remember it at all.

I'm exhausted and confused. I'm just going to sleep on it and see what happens. *sigh*

Monday, May 12, 2014


Oh, I'm worried about tomatoes being thrown at me, so I'm wearing a helmet, just in case.

Nash - Jay Crownover
Nash (Marked Men, #4)
Will their past determine their future?

Saint Ford has worked hard to achieve her childhood dream of becoming of nurse. Focused on her work and devoted to her patients, there’s no room for love. She doesn’t need a guy making waves in her calm, serene life—especially when he’s the unforgettable hottie who nearly destroyed her in high school. Dark, brooding Nash Donovan might not remember her or the terrible pain he caused. But he turned her world upside down... and now he’s trying to do it again.

Saint has no idea that Nash isn’t the cocky player he once was. Uncovering a devastating family secret has rocked his world, and now he’s struggling to figure out his future. He can’t be distracted by the pretty nurse he seems to meet everywhere. Still, he can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them —or how she seems so desperate to get away from him. But the funny, sweet, and drop-dead gorgeous Saint is far too amazing to give up on—especially since she’s the only thing in his life that seems to make sense.

When Nash discovers the truth about their past, he realizes he may have lost her heart before he could even fight for it. Now, Saint has to decide: is Nash worth risking herself for all over again?

You know I'm a fan of Jay Crownover and her Marked Men series. I really am, I think she is tapping into a whole area of Young Adult that is exciting, new, and fun. Big fan. 

Not a big fan of this book. 

I will start by saying I loved Nash- he's a great guy. I think he legitimately is a good guy that tries to do good by others and keeps his life on the straight and narrow. I really hated Saint. Quite frankly, Nash can do a whole lot better than  her. I've read on some book blogs there is quite a bit of "Saint Hate" going around and the author herself basically refuses to acknowledge or read negative reviews. (Which, that's  her prerogative, but I think if you want to keep in touch with your actual fans instead of the ones who'll kiss your ass and tell you you are the best thing ever, you need to read those. There are some critical things they point out that should be worked on.) Saint is really awkward and shy, which in some female leads is kind of endearing. In this case, it is ridiculously frustrating. Saint has focused her entire adult life based on one party, and one thing Nash said back in high school. Just like anyone else who walks half way into a conversation, you can't base everything you know about a situation because of one statement. That's reckless and rude. But nope, Saint does this. Despite Nash doing everything for her and proving time and time again he really is a stand up guy there to pick her up whenever she needs, she essentially uses him and then goes bananas and runs away. 

And I wish she would have stayed. Unlike all of the other books that have a similar story line (couple meets, couple is sexually compatible, couple struggles, big blowout, someone runs away, they come back together, same recipe for every single book), Saint never really redeems herself with me. She comes back and is all, "I really DO love myself", um, no. You don't just decide, "hey- I'm going to love myself today", it's a process and it takes time. I just felt really frustrated with this book. I like the buildup for the next book, Rowdy, but this one fell flat for me. It's easily the least favorite of the series so far for me. Which is really unfortunate because I have really liked Nash's character throughout and I thought we'd have better for him than Saint. 

Also? As exciting as it is to have these books come so quickly after the last one, it makes me feel like she's rushing through them just to get them out. Now we have another series coming and I don't know if I'm even going to read that because every description has the main character, Bax, out and proud as a badass, sometimes asshole. Um, great? Because who isn't attracted to that? Eye roll. 

I hold hope that Jay can pull it together for Rowdy. Mostly because it's hard to keep an entire series successful as it is, and this... this didn't meet the expectations of the others. 

Wait, what? Why is this still a thing? WHO CARES.

So, the internet is a buzz with a few random things today but easily the most offensive thing I keep seeing is all of the polarized commentary on Michael Sam being the first openly gay football player to be drafted.

And I don't know why that's a big deal? Like, who really cares?

But people do care and there are an incredible amount of hateful Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram images, and blog posts that have titles like, "how to talk to your children about Michael Sam".

No, I'm not joking. That's a real thing. More than once.

What about Michael Sam? Is it because he's gay? Gay AND black? I mean, it's one thing to be one horribly offensive thing but two? Now you're pushing it? I find it kind of disheartening that in this day and age, when life is hard enough as it is that we can't just be happy for another person. Why are we so set on bringing someone else down all of the time? I'm the first one to say I'm not always the "bring your neighbor up" kind of gal because sometimes your neighbor is a jerk and needs to be kicked. But we're kicking someone because of how they are born. Because of who they choose to love.

Really? That's what it's come to? Maybe it's because with social media we are far more involved in the lives of other people far more than generations previously. We know exactly what you did last weekend, with who, what you wore, and what bathroom you maybe lost your panties in. We saw it all unfold on Facebook even if you didn't post it, surely one of your stellar friends did as a joke.

I always find it sad when someone comes out and is so incredibly ignorant and against gay marriage. It's like, is your life really that bad that you have be offended over people in love? It might not be your thing, you maybe have poor reading comprehension skills and a flawed book that tell you this is wrong, but who cares? Even if you in your heart believe it's wrong, why is it your problem? Why is it any of your business? The argument can be made that they "throw it in your face" but at the same time... aren't you throwing heterosexual love in their face? Maybe they find that offensive and disgusting. It's not so pretty when the table gets turned, right?

I guess it also bothers me when parents feel like they need to have this larger discussion with their children. Kids don't even care. I think Olivia asked me once what gay marriage was, shortly after it became legal in New York. When I explained to her it's when a woman marries a woman or a man marries a man because they love each other, there was a thoughtful silence. A short time later she asks, "Why wouldn't you get to marry someone you love?" GOOD QUESTION. That was a few years ago, and she's only eight now. How do I explain to her that you can only love certain people unless you want to be judged? That seems wrong. In addition to that, any conversation you start having that puts gay marriage and gay love into a negative light, you are really saying to your child that if that's the route they go in life, you aren't going to love them as much. If at all. What kind of parent would ever want to send that kind of message to their child for any reason? That seems a bit reckless. As a parent, I try really hard not to let my children form opinions on things because of what I think. Which is why I don't bring them to church. When they are old enough to really understand what church is, they can choose where they would like to go and develop their own beliefs. We discuss religion and things like that, and they attend various church things so they see that every place is different. I don't want them to feel like choices are made for them that make you who you are. I'll love them no matter what, and that's what is important.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It will always hurt. No matter what.

I know a lot of things about Matt. He's intelligent, he's shy, he's a hard worker, he's a good dad overall, and he's also really terrible when it comes to feelings. Specifically, when it comes to feelings towards anyone else, or anyone else's feelings, he just doesn't have that capacity. I don't know why, it used to be there, but it's gone now and I know that right now, I suffer the most. I'm mindful enough to know that someday, the kids will pick up on this and I don't know what I'll do when that happens.

I feel like I am a pretty good about being selfless. Sure, there are times when I'm selfish but people can be that way sometimes. Not all of the time, there are definitely times where you have to ignore what you want and feel and do for another person. You just do it. It's not something someone teaches you, something inside of you as a person triggers this and we have the ability to ignore it, which hardens us over time, or to go with it and maybe grow into a better person.

It is currently 10:20 at night and I'm alone, downstairs, feeling all kinds of sorry for myself. My babies are tucked into bed and adorable as ever. My husband is sleeping soundly upstairs as if nothing in the world is wrong.

But it is.

You see, today was Mother's Day. I don't expect grand gestures. I'm leery of them by nature and I don't know why. But there are only three times a year where it's nice to be recognized: my birthday, our anniversary, and Mother's Day. I don't know why every year I give my hopes up thinking that this year? This year Matt will finally take a few minutes to figure out how to do something nice for me. At the bare minimum, he could easily call my mom, ask my friends, or even ask our own kids what can he do to make the day a little bit special.

But no.

He doesn't do any of those things. Instead, he acts like an asshole all day to me, snaps at the kids, and never once says happy Mother's Day. No card, no flowers, no nothing. Doesn't offer to take us out to dinner, doesn't offer to make dinner, doesn't do anything nice to say, "hey- you work so hard keeping this family together, let me do this while you sit and relax."


Instead, it takes Jackson asking him why he didn't do anything nice for me for Mother's Day. Why did you get mommy a card? Or a present? And that? That breaks my heart. It physically pains me to think that Matt is teaching Jackson that this is how you treat someone you love. I have to work double time to re-write the lessons his father gives him.

So Matt, feeling shamed by his six year old, runs to Target to get me some shit card and a book off the clearance rack as if that's some kind of penance. It's not. In fact, I left it all on the counter with a note that said, "too little, too late". That was around 7 tonight. He's avoided me since but I see that it's all gone. I hope he feels shame. I hope he feels like once again, he's let me down. I hope he understands that yet again, I sit down here crying because it's yet another year where no acknowledgement at all happens. Even if he had said he didn't get me a gift because we don't have money, but that he really appreciates what I do and how  hard I work at being a mom and a wife- that would have been enough. I would have understood and I would have at least felt like I was loved.

But tonight I feel none of that. I just feel really sad.

In my head I know that Matt just isn't wired like some guys. In my head I know that these things don't come to him and he has no idea how awful he is sometimes. In my heart though, I still hold hope and it hurts every single time. Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result? So maybe I'm insane. But every year, I hold out hope that he'll remember how badly I felt the year before and he'd think maybe he should do something differently.

But no.

Every year it's the same. Every year it hurts.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Vodka Warrior

Oh don't worry, I haven't fallen off a wagon or started drinking. My liver is pink (or whatever color it's supposed to be) and happy.

Vodka Warrior - Mickey J. Corrigan
Vodka Warrior
The Hard Stuff: Book #2

A lonely divorcee living in a tacky development in Dusky Beach, Florida, Theresa Tierney is an educated hick and her own worst enemy. She has a wild streak and a bit of a drinking problem, both leading to a few too many bad choices.

When her neighbor’s new roommate arrives, a good-looking body god, Theresa is both curious and disgusted. A brash New Yorker, Vario Fumesti says what he's thinking and looks sexy as hell doing it. The brawny mountain of pumped muscle is mega alpha male. But his frequent hot tub parties with friends from a local strip club fire up Theresa’s anger. In fact, Vario continually makes her feel and do things she isn't expecting.

A series of screw-ups, lust, and love set Theresa on a rollercoaster ride that’s out of control and threatening to jump the tracks.

I haven't read the first book so I can tell you this can be read as a stand alone, though it is part of a series. It's also around 55 pages of text (at least on my Nook), so you can get this done in less than an hour if you're looking for a waiting room read. 

I didn't love it though. I actually read it twice thinking because I read this immediately after a really fantastic book with beautiful words and sentences that maybe I was being overly critical. So I gave it a few days, then came back to it. And still... I didn't love it. I think my main issue is that I really didn't like the main character, Theresa. Mostly because she's an alcoholic, she makes poor choices, she's brash, and she is a terrible tutor for a high school boy (how did his parents not ask for references or ask why she got fired from her teaching job?!) and that turns out to be a nightmare. Then in moves new neighbor, Vario, and he's kind of an asshole. I was expecting hilarious story line, and there was only one incident I cracked a smile and the rest.... maybe I'm really snobby and don't see the humor. Admittedly, I'm not one to enjoy drunken antics so that might be my issue here. But in walks Vario and sexual tension ensues. Except Theresa is basically a hot mess. But somehow, they make that happen and the ending? Felt rushed. I can't tell you what happens since that's a spoiler but it kind of reminded me of an episode of Teen Mom, featuring Jenelle. You know what I'm talking about. 

I am clearly the odd ball out because reviews for this book are 4 and 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads. I have to be honest, I'm a one star on it because it's not one I'd read again and it's not one I would gift or tell a friend she has to read this. (If you know me in real life, you know a few things about me. 1. I always have a book (or two) with me at all times. 2. If you ask me what you should read next, I'm going to give you like five options. 3. I gift books all of the time. I'm a book giver. And 4., if I don't like it, I'm always honest.)