Thursday, January 29, 2015

25, 26, and 97

I'm not Rain Man, but those numbers do all make sense, I swear!

25 weeks, with Olivia and Twinky

So last week I was 25 weeks pregnant. And the only notable thing about 25 weeks is being exhausted, literally all of the time. I don't know how I did it being pregnant with Olivia and Jackson and working full time from beginning to end, but I did. This time I'm only working 15 hours a week and I can barely function. Most days, the act of getting out of bed is only happening because my bladder is so full and I just really don't want to pee my bed. That and I have to get the kids to school. I swear, if I didn't have to get them to school I don't know that I'd be able to wake up and do anything. Never mind the fact that I'm not even working three solid hours each day. I work a half hour in the morning when I drop them off, come home for about three hours, and then I go back and work 2.5 hours and then bring them home from school. Which is kind of handy because I have that three hours to run errands, work on blog things, do book reviews, clean, etc. 

But let's not kid ourselves, I spend most of that three hours watching Law & Order SVU on Netflix and eating my lunch in the recliner. 

And even still, I am so exhausted I don't even feel safe to drive back to work some days. And when I get home? Forget it. It's a constant war of what time is reasonable to go to bed and still sleep through the night, or at least not end up wide awake at 4 a.m., but then being dead tired at 7 a.m. 

But this week I am 26 weeks pregnant, and there are a few things that are kind of terrifying that snuck up on me: 
  • It's officially my LAST week in my second trimester. That means next week? I can say I'm in my last trimester and it's like the home stretch kind of. 
  • Which makes me wonder why I never got a second trimester second wind, and I feel cheated. 
  • Then I realized that as of today (Thursday), I only have 97 days until my due date. That's double digits, folks. 
  • Double digits mean my anxiety over not being ready has kicked in. 
  • Which is ridiculous because my nursery is basically completed except for a few things to be hung up. 
  • I'm only a few weeks away from my baby shower, and I'm so excited for that. Because I love baby things and I just want all of the things. 
  • I also mostly can't wait for organizing all of the new baby things. 
  • Heartburn hates me. It's official: Penelope is going to be hairy. I hope she doesn't end up with that rare disorder where the person is covered with so much hair they almost look like an ape. But my fear is real because heartburn is no joke. Literally not one over the counter thing approved and OK for pregnancy has done a thing for me. WATER is giving me heartburn. Literally everything gives me heartburn. I had really awful heartburn with Olivia and she had a full head of dark hair that never really fell out. Not much heartburn with Jackson and he only had a little fuzz that didn't make it past day 3. But this time? Woah. It's to the point where I've almost thrown up because of it. I've definitely never had that issue before. The only positive here is that I never get heartburn, unless I'm pregnant. So the end is near.
  • I'm still tired in week 26. Like even more. I told Matt honest to god, I don't know if I will even be awake for the birth, I'm that tired. 
  • OH! Braxton Hicks. I have also NEVER had them before with either Olivia or Jackson. My stomach never got tight, or uncomfortable, etc. I actually thought maybe that Braxton Hicks wasn't a real thing but a really easy thing pregnant people could use as an excuse to take it easy. 
  • Turns out? It's totally a thing. My stomach is hard for almost the entire day. I'd say the time that it is not rock hard is maybe a full hour if you added up all the short spans of non-hardness. It's literally hard as a rock all of the time. It's really not a pleasant feeling, but I figure if this is the worst I'll have, not the end of the world. It's like squeezing your abs while exercising, except never letting the squeeze go. That on it's own is kind of exhausting. 
So that's the update, straight from the uterus. I didn't take a week 26 picture because not a lot of growth, belly wise, has happened. It looks basically the same. So don't feel like I'm not providing accurate belly pictures. You're as up to date as you can be. 

The Grown Up's

Some days I don't feel like a grown up at all but then having two kids remind me they need lunch money like, three days ago, snaps you right back to reality and you realize that you absolutely are a grown up and you have no idea how you actually got here.

The Grown Up's - Robin Antalek
The Grown Ups: A Novel
From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together

The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.

Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.

I loved this book. I really did. Normally there's at least something I didn't like about one of the characters or how it was written when a book spans across so much time and gives you the point of view of several characters. The really great thing is that even though you may not have dedicated points of view of a lot of the characters, Robin Antalek writes so incredibly well that you know these characters. You get it. You get what they feel, why they are doing the things they are doing, and it's like you actually know these people and you've grown up right with them.

The story is mainly about Sam, who after falling into a boyhood lust with Suzie, kind of finds himself adrift in life. Suzie moved away when they were still in high school bu can read more abut not without revealing something kind of catastrophic to a teenage boy. Not only that, Sam's mother abruptly leaves him, his brother, and his father behind and so while reeling from Suzie's departure, he's now dealing with his mother's unexplained escape. Sam's older brother goes to college and Sam... well he kind of makes it. He finds himself in a relationship with Bella, one of Suzie's best friends, and though it's a comfortable, predictable, and non-demanding relationship, it's also not as exciting as what he had with Suzie. Though he'll never know for sure if what he felt for Suzie was reciprocated, he's not sure what to do with any of it. And then when Bella's mom dies, Suzie unexpectedly returns for the funeral.

Easily, one of the best lines out of the book was this:

"They were here now, all of them. Relationships slightly rearranged, but still together. That was more than any of them would have imagined years before. They had watched their parents stumble and vowed never to do the same, only to fail one another in different ways. They experienced love, but they also caused disappointment and sorrow. They felt fear, and they knew loss. They ran away, only to return."

I mean, can't we all relate to that in some way? The great thing about this book is that every single character goes through something that we have all been in. Marriage, divorce, death, financial problems, college woes, feeling unsuccessful and unsure in life, Feeling like a disappointment and confused when your parents don't regard you as such. Watching parents age, and then sometimes die and questioning if you had been good enough of a kid all along, if you should be doing more, but also being afraid to do more because it makes their impending loss from life seem more real. 

I'll be honest, it was a bit of a slow go at first. I thought immediately I was going to hate some of the characters, but then I got hooked. I think it was right after Bella's mom died because I could empathize with how she felt as her mother was dying and then how she felt immediately after. And then, I just fell in love. If you are someone who has life long friends, maybe they come and go in  your life, but you know that no matter what, they'll always be back- this is definitely a book for you. 

You can read more about Robin on her website or on her Facebook page. This review is part of a blog tour and you can see what other bloggers are saying on the TLC Book Tours page. But if you want to skip all that, and just buy the book, you can do that at Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 18.

I wasn't sure how I would write about it, I wasn't sure if I should, but then I thought it would be weird if I didn't acknowledge it, because it was a tough day.

So way back in June, I suffered a miscarriage. I chronicled what it was like to lose it in the days after. It would feel strange to not say anything about what it's like for the due date to come and go and you realize at that very moment, you could have been holding a newborn.

But you aren't.

And it's tough. It's really tough because I've gotten kind of a mix of responses to my posts.

1. You get the people who are absolutely, 100% sympathetic and kind and wonderful. They are there when it's tough and they don't try to minimize what it means for you to be going through it.

2. There are the "Oh, yeah- I've had those too. You'll be fine." group. I don't think they realize how awful that sounds, and they are probably trying to be really supportive and let you know that hey- shit happens, and you'll actually be fine.

3. Then there are the people who say nothing. Or they think I shouldn't share it, that it's something that should be handled in private. I don't really understand the reasoning on this point of view, and I wonder if it's only because it makes them uncomfortable, for whatever reason.

But here's what I learned: that it's important to share good things, and it's important to share bad things. There's always that fine line on social media where you hear about every terrible detail about a person and you realize you know more about the marriage of some loser you went to high school with than you do your best friend because it's just out there all of the time. Then there is the other end where people are practically pooping rainbows and they have the BEST kids and the BEST husband and the BEST everything and go on the BEST trips, several times a year, and Jesus did it all for them because isn't he just the BEST?!

I'm here to call bullshit on the rainbow poopers because I happen to know Jesus doesn't pay your bills, you're probably in debt to your eyeballs, your husband has days where he's a jerk too, and your kid is probably going to be a mean girl in high school.

So after mulling all of that in my head, I decided to share with you what it was like to see my due date come and go. Because it's all part of the process.

It was hard.

It was really hard when I realized that this was it. I knew it was coming and somehow I kind of spaced it out the couple of days before. I wasn't feeling very well and my level of exhaustion was high and I was already feeling low on life. I woke up that morning, feeling sick as hell, having contractions, and I hadn't had my blood pressure medicine in three days because I didn't have money for it, but it was my niece's baptism, so I was trying to rally.

I managed to rally and get the kids and myself to the baptism and while sitting there, I realized that it was January 18. And I started to tear up. I could feel Penelope moving, and I had Olivia and Jackson on either side of me. I left as soon as I could, and thankfully when I got home, Matt was just getting home. He got the kids some lunch and I went upstairs to lay down.

And I just cried.

It's weird how all of these months later and it feels all the same. It feels like I just lost that baby. The only solace I've had is that I've got my little Penelope just baking away, seemingly perfect in every way. I have nothing to be sad about. But it was hard. I think the worst thing was that Matt didn't even say a word. It didn't even occur to him that the day held any significance. I tried to talk to him about it but he's kind of an emotional mute when it comes to this kind of thing.

The nice thing is that every day it gets better. I know I won't always feel sad about this. I know someday, I will maybe not even acknowledge the due date. Maybe not the day I lost the baby. Which also makes me feel guilty, I feel like if I don't acknowledge it, it's like I'm saying that baby isn't worth it. Like it didn't mean anything, so easily forgotten.

So I am going to scrapbook the ultrasound photos I do have. I don't want that baby to ever be a thing forgotten. For the rest of my life I'll have to acknowledge that I had a miscarriage on medical forms. But it'll be OK. I'm going to be OK. Pretty soon, my days (and nights) will be so full of Penelope it won't hurt as much. Heck, with her due in May, maybe I'll be too exhausted to acknowledge the one year anniversary of my miscarriage? There's some optimism.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why am I crazy and talking about hypnobirthing and such?

I got two really good emails from readers that asked if I had two good experiences giving birth, why am I looking to do something that could be considered to be radically different?

And that's actually a really great question.

Anyone who knows me knows I am the furthest thing from a hippie. I enjoy processed foods, I think fresh fruit and vegetables tastes weird, I like pain medication, I think breastfeeding is definitely not for me because I like my sleep and dad should have to do something, and I have given my kids Happy Meals when they were one. Yeah, I gave BOTH of my kids Happy Meals since they were one.

The good news is we're all alive, healthy, and fans of chicken nuggets.

But this time around I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born which is kind of Rikki Lake's baby. Mostly because it was free on Netflix that weekend and I vaguely remember it being kind of taboo at the time and something about seeing Rikki's nipples.

(Side note: you do see Rikki's nipples. They are huge. Good lord.)


So I go into a lot of these hippie things with an open mind but I'm also very practical and I just think there are some people who go the all natural route just so they can lord it over other mom's like they accomplished something far more noble than just birthing relatively pain free. Same with the breastfeeding moms, not all certainly, but there are a few who just inherently think they are better because they do it and are exhausted all of the time. For me, I tried. I tried with Olivia but it became clear that I was going to feel like a dog laying on my side letting a baby have its way with my boob and I would get next to no sleep while Matt sleeps soundly. No, I'd prefer to make him do his duty as well.


So I watched the documentary and surprisingly enough, I really agreed with a lot of the highlights. I'll be honest, I still really feel like I got great care both times I've gone. I have a great OB who answers my questions and I really enjoyed almost all of my nurses and medical staff. I say almost because I totally had a bitchy, awful nurse when I came in for Olivia who was just rude and you could tell I was a pain in her ass at 1 a.m. Like how dare I go into labor. Which, I get it, I also was annoyed because I was tired and I'm not at my best when I'm tired. But overall, I really had positive experiences. Something mentioned in the movie was that no matter what, a woman will never forget her experience while delivering her child(ren), good or bad. And that's so true. I'm 9 and 7 years out and I can remember every detail of both births like it happened yesterday.

But what prompted me to try for something different was the piece about how, while in labor, your body starts delivering oxytocin to your brain and that basically is what signals your mothering instinct, so to speak, but it also gives you this natural high to help get you through the most crucial pushing phase but also this elation at the end.

And I feel a little cheated that I haven't had that.

With Olivia, I got my epidural as soon as I could because I was absolutely certain I was going to die. I had been dilated to 3cm at my last appointment (38 weeks) and I went into labor right at 39 weeks (on Labor Day no less!). So I was pretty excited to know that I didn't have to wait it out, I could get an epidural right away. I also wondered why would anyone willingly go through pain when you can be pain free? I slept through all of my labor, and then I was threatened with Pitocin because the nurse apparently never checked me and assumed that my peaceful sleep meant nothing had happened. Fortunately, Olivia is a champ and this uterus can get things done because she was crowning when they checked me and she was born minutes later. But I had NO idea what I was doing and she was a vacuum assist, and when they handed her to me I just felt... tired. I really just wanted to go back to bed and I wasn't sure why everyone on shows were all teary and emotional. I was just tired and annoyed that it was such a big deal.

I also then had a little more than a year with post-partum depression.

With Jackson, I ended up being induced on my due date with him because he wasn't moving as much as I felt he should (turns out he's just lazy) and they said because this was my second baby, I could just induce. Which was fine by me, I was ready to be done. But being induced is intense and I'll be honest, I would never do that again unless I absolutely had to.Those were hands down, the worst contractions ever. I got an epidural again and it was super. For an hour. Then that somabitch wore off. It wore off.

It wore the fuck off.

I delivered Jackson not longer later with no epidural helping me and I fully understand now when women scream that it burns and I know why there is mention of a "ring of fire" in pregnancy books. Because it honest to god feels like someone has lit your vagina on fire.

But the thing about his birth was that even though I was pretty drugged up, I felt a lot different than I did with Olivia. I was weepy and reluctant to hand him over and I felt like finally- I get, I get these cry babies on these shows because I am a cry baby!

This time my whole premise for going as intervention free as I can is because I really want to feel like I did it. That I told my uterus who is really the boss and feel like I've accomplished something. I want to feel what it's like to be high on love immediately after pushing a little bean of gooey cuteness out.

The only thing I'm really worried about is that the fact I'm already in a hospital will make it easier for me to just scream for an epidural when it gets tough. I really wish I could afford a birth center because I think that would really set me up for success. Sadly, I can't do that and they don't accept payments. I also can't afford to hire a midwife or doula to help me, so I'm stuck with Matt.

So that's my reasoning. It's not that I'm turning into a hippie. Don't worry. I am still going to be that mom who has her husband smuggle in french fries and Pepsi immediately after I give birth, rules be damned. I'm also going to utilize a nursery at night because this chick is already counting down the days of TWO NIGHTS of uninterrupted sleep, meaning I won't hear Matt snoring or have pets sitting on my face, etc. It's like a vacation. I'm so excited just for that. Even if my girl parts are drippy and sore for weeks. I mean, it evens out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Where Have I Been All My Life

Here's a book I was surprised I was interested in, but then found myself completely intrigued.

Where Have I Been All My Life - Cheryl Rice
Where Have I Been All My Life? A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness
Where Have I Been All My Life? is a compelling memoir recounting one woman's journey through grief and a profound feeling of unworthiness to wholeness and healing. It begins with the chillingly sudden death of Rice's mother, which is followed by her foray into the center of mourning. With wisdom, grace, and humor, Rice recounts the grief games she plays in an effort to resurrect her mother; her misguided efforts to get her therapist to run away with her (or at least accept her gifts); and the transformation of her husband from fantasy man to ordinary guy to superhero. In the process, she experiences aching revelations about her family and her past and realizes what she must leave behind, and what she can carry forward with her. Poignant, tender, and sometimes hilarious, Where Have I Been All My Life? is Rice's universally relatable story of how she found sustenance for the difficult but vital journey toward love and wholeness in an unexpected place: herself. 

It's kind of self help, self discovery, but it is absolutely and completely easy to relate to. It starts with Cheryl losing her mother to a really quick bout of cancer. It throws her for a loop, especially when it becomes her mother is basically over it and ready to go to wherever we go when we die. Cheryl has basically had her entire life revolve around her mother so losing her left her in a tailspin- who was she as a motherless person? I think none of us are ever really to lose a parent, much less a mother. No matter the relationship you've had with your mother over life, it's still a bit jolting to one day realize you no longer have her.

So Cheryl decides in order to save her marriage, which kind of starts waffling as Cheryl is working through grief, she starts therapy.  Except she starts falling for her therapist and of course, that's no ideal considering she's married. I really don't want to tell you more because it does kind of ruin the book for you, but know that you reading the chapters, which felt more like short essays, make you feel like you are on this journey with her. It felt wrong to laugh during this book because this is a woman who is clearly trying to find herself and is struggling, but I did. And Cheryl feels like that one friend we all have who always says they need to find themselves and we roll our eyes because who has? What does that even mean? Well reading this kind of brought that to a more concrete understanding of what that is, though I do still feel like it's a bit hokey.

Perhaps the most useful thing I took away from the book is to appreciate what I have, right now. Not worry so much about what I am missing from life, and not give any more time to things that don't matter. Basically, not dwell on the things that have been upsetting or have prevented me from living a good life now.

Cheryl has a website and actually leads seminars and you can get more information on that HERE. Honestly, if you are looking into a book that helps you look into yourself and not be too lofty but as an easy, fun read? This is easily it. It's under 200 pages, I whipped through it in an afternoon because she writes about heavy topics with grace and humor and makes it fun to read about her struggles. Which sounds terrible, but that's the best way to describe it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Relaxing is hard.

Do you remember I mentioned I wanted to try hypnobirthing this time around? Well I've ordered a book, which hasn't gotten here yet but I expect it to this week. In the meantime, I have a mp3 file of a hypnobirthing relaxation exercise that a friend told me was really helpful for her. So now that Matt has gotten it into my iTunes, I figured I would give it a shot tonight.

And it's really hard.

I decided the best place for me to do this and not fall asleep would be in Penelope's room and sit in the rocking chair with my feet up on the ottoman. I had the lights dim, the door shut, kids in bed, Matt was out walking the dog, and things were quite in the house. So I listened to the introduction, which seemed pretty straight forward. I then went into part one of two, which was getting yourself relaxed. Part two is supposed to get you more relaxed and help you while you are actually birthing.

It was actually a really soothing thing to listen to.I was really enjoying it. And then I realized I can't stop thinking about things. I can hear sounds in the house, pets running down the hall, Olivia's radio down the hall, the sound of cars outside, etc. It's really hard to just concentrate on relaxing. I'm wondering how the hell am I supposed to maintain this calm while I'm in a hospital bed, having contractions, nurses coming in and out and people talking? I will keep trying, maybe this gets easier the more and more that I do it?

In other news, at my appointment last week, I had asked if going to a labor and delivery class was worthwhile considering I have already had two kids. My OB laughed and laughed and said yes, absolutely go because enough has changed in labor and delivery practices in the seven years since I had done this that it certainly wouldn't hurt. SO, I grabbed a calendar and had Matt sit down with me to figure out when we could go. Ideally, we'd do the 9-5:30 Saturday class but since there isn't one in March, the one in April is really late. Late enough that I'd be beyond 37 weeks and could already be in labor. That leaves us with the two night class that goes 6-9:30 each night. Conveniently enough, this is during the kids' spring break, so I am hoping Olivia and Jackson can spend two nights at a Grandma's house so that we aren't having them stay up late waiting for us.

Also not awesome? The class takes place on my birthday and the day after. So... party. I hope the other preggies aren't offending if I'm eating cupcakes during the class. HA!

In other preparation news, I have started watching YouTube videos of births and people's commentary on birth and different techniques they used. And you know what I've learned? They are all horrifying.

If I was a first time mom, this would be the absolute worst thing to do. Thankfully this is my third time around so I do know what I'm in for. So I feel like my job in the next 16 weeks is to seriously work hard at preparing myself. The other thing is I feel like my labor team kind of is lacking. I do know that Matt really sucks in stressful situations and despite being my partner for 13 years, has absolutely NO clue how to read me or determine what I need. I've decided that isn't something you can even teach a person either, they either get it or they don't. So that's where I'm at. I'm basically going to try to get myself ready to birth alone, essentially. Sure, people will be there, but I'm going into this thinking I am basically on my own. Which is kind of daunting? So we'll see how this goes. But I'm hoping that once the book comes, the whole hypnobirthing concept will make more sense to me and I will be able to do this whole relaxation thing.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pregnancy depression update

Yes, I realize that last night I gave you an update on what pregnancy is like at 24 weeks, but I failed to mention depression. Just like I said I would, I did ask about it and what I should be doing. I'm being as proactive as I can because I know what it's like to be that depressed with a new baby and I really don't want to go there again. I really don't think it would be good for any of us.

So it comes down to yes, I could take a few different anti-depressants now and it would be totally fine for me and baby. After talking about it, I'm deciding to hold off for as long as I can. Mostly because while it's safe for baby and I, I'd like to not take something I don't absolutely need right now. I can still function and I'm not suicidal or crying non stop. Things aren't in crisis mode. They are in like, pre-crisis mode. I feel like I can manage what I'm already doing a little longer. I'm thinking maybe when I'm six weeks from my due date, maybe I'll start them then just so I'm not dealing with acclimating to a new medication immediately after birth.

But other than that, things really aren't better. They certainly aren't worse, thankfully. I get very frustrated with myself when I feel like this because I feel like I should just snap out of it. I fully understand it has everything to do with brain chemistry and biological things, but it doesn't mean I don't get impatient with myself. I do know that so long as I have my lists and I can keep plugging through them, it keeps me busy enough where I don't have times to wallow and get sad for no damn reason.

You know I worry about my kids every being this way. Between me and my issues, and Matt and his issues, I feel like I've doomed them to a life of depression and anxiety. It's kind of a terrible feeling, to be honest. But I'm trying to be upbeat and not be sad around them. I don't want them to think there is something wrong with me. At the end of every day, I feel like this weight just settles right on my chest. I get them all tucked in, stories read, and as I walk down the hall from their rooms it's like a cloud settles right on me. I'm trying to just ignore it and carry on, act perky and upbeat, and honestly- if this would qualify me for an Emmy, I'd have one by now.

So that's the plan. I'm going to keep plugging on for now and then probably start medication around week 32. That's not so far away, really. I'll be OK. Then hopefully once Penelope comes I'll be OK. I just really don't want post partum depression. I just don't know if I could handle that at all again. That was really one of the lowest points in my life and I feel like I missed so much in Olivia's first year. And after having Jackson, it was really obvious all that I lost. So here's hoping things get better. Or at least a little easier.

But you know what IS surprising to me? Is that I am exhausted. Every day, all day. I don't know if it's just the stage of pregnancy or if it's depression related. Which is annoying. But I am barely getting out of bed in the morning, I'm going to bed early every day, and even still, I feel like if I could just take a five hour nap during the day I would be just dandy. But no, I can't do that. *sigh*

Do you have any experience with depression during pregnancy? What helped you cope?

Fog Island Mountains

Here's a book review that even counts as something towards my 2015 Reading Challenge under "book set in a different country".

Fog Island Mountains - Michelle Bailat-Jones
Fog Island Mountains
What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

If there was maybe an award for book with the least like-able character, this one would certainly be in the running. The book is set in Japan, kind of in the middle of some mountains and they have a huge typhoon heading their way so people are in various stages of storm preparedness. But it starts out with Alec, who is in a consultation room at a hospital, about to get some of the worst news anyone would get- he has terminal cancer. He was waiting for his wife, Kanae, to be at the consultation and take the news with him but she's seemingly a no-show. Instead, she's off being self absorbed and basically a terrible human being, and not realizing how her actions would impact Alec. 

Very strange thing about this book is that while it does offer different points of view from a cast of characters, instead of starting a new chapter like most books, it's like every few paragraphs it's a new character we're hearing from. Granted, we have some line spaces so you could figure it out, but for me it made it harder to read and I really felt like I was ping ponging between people. Also, the story is short, we don't even come in at 200 pages, so what should have been a fast read wasn't. Between the ping ponging and the almost poetic way it's written, it doesn't feel like a fast read at all, instead it feels as heavy as the material we're reading. It's certainly not an uplifting book by any means. 

I spent pretty much the entire book feeling sorry for Alec, who is facing the remaining time of his life and hating Kanae who despite being a highly intelligent person, makes a serious of terrible, selfish choices. It would be one thing if she was just holed up somewhere prematurely grieving the soon to be loss of her husband, who she very clearly loved. Instead, she's cheating on him and leaving him to face death alone. Some could say maybe her love for him was just so huge that the thought of him being gone was not something she could handle mentally or emotionally so she chose intimacy with someone else as a grieving process, but that feels just so wrong and selfish I couldn't wrap my head around it. I really couldn't find any sympathy for her at all. 

But what redeemed this book for me was Alec. His story of grieving on his own, his process through death, and every emotional piece of luggage that comes with it just pulls at you and you can't stop reading. It really is the car wreck you can't look away from. It really feels like as a reader, you have to be there with him to the end because his loser wife isn't doing the job, and nobody should face that alone. Not ever, not for nothing. 

So I teeter between a rating of "I liked it" 3 stars or "It was OK" 2 stars, because I'm really down the middle. So for that, I guess for estimation I would round up to 3 stars. But I tell you, characters like Kanae can really ruin a book and that was a pretty ballsy move for this author to take, because I don't know that many people would keep reading once they saw the writing on the wall with her. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

24- she is frisky!

Man, it feels weird that it's been two weeks since my last update yet so much feels like it's happened?
So first off, I have really popped out. I no longer look just fat, I look pregnant. Which is always kind of fun. I definitely feel pregnant while moving around, rolling over in bed is trickier. I can still shave my legs, paint my toes, put my shoes on, etc. Admittedly, I never had any issues with Olivia or Jackson's pregnancies so to be frank, I think women just milk pregnancy for every bit that they can.

I do notice that my back hurts a lot more and I have definite tightening of my stomach, which I think are maybe Braxton Hicks? I don't know since I never had those or this tightening with the other two so I'm just making the assumption on that. My blood pressure looks awesome, though I wonder if I'm too low sometimes- I have some bouts of dizziness where it's not just from getting up, it's even when I'm laying down or sitting in my chair and I feel like the entire room is spinning. I've only gained eight pounds this pregnancy, so I'm kind of right on track like with my other ones, so that's nice.

This week was my 24 week check and I had to have a follow up ultrasound because at our 20 week ultrasound, Penelope decided to put her foot in her mouth (literally) the entire time so we didn't get to see her heart or her face and they check a few things in each area, so they wanted me to repeat it. Which is kind of cool because I got to see pictures of her and she's really grown in four weeks!
Sorry this picture sucks. I have no idea why it keeps turning when it shows that it uploaded correctly. Who knows. So turn your head to the right and that's her face.
She actually had her hands by her face most of the time but would pull on the umbilical cord, which explains the really sharp, random pains near my belly button. She yanked on it hard and I felt the pain so.. she's feisty. But here is her sucking her thumb.
It's kind of hard to see but part of the umbilical cord is in her face, but you can kind of see her hands curled up right next to her face.

So who does she look like? Well as it turns out, I didn't have very many ultrasound pictures of Jackson so this is going to be hard to tell.
This was my ultrasound with Olivia. She always slept with her arms above her head, still does.
And this was Jackson. He looks like he's covering his mouth with one hand and waving with the other. This is exactly how he sleeps most nights as well, even still.

So I don't know. It's kind of exciting to see ultrasounds at this point in a pregnancy because I got to see her bounce around and be all adorable. So I'm pretty excited. And oh yes, verified that she is very much a girl, no extra boy parts dangling anywhere!

We also changed the name a little bit. Just the middle name. She'll be Penelope Rose Mary for sure now. For sure, no more changes. Rose is after my step-dad's mother (who recently passed away), and Mary for my paternal grandmother (who passed away when I was 2), and it is also Matt's maternal grandmother's name (who passed away years ago) and his mother's first name, though she doesn't go by it. So we have a nice mix and I'm glad all three kids each have two middle names that are some how family related.

I probably won't update again until maybe 28 weeks, so in another month. That's when I go for my glucose test (boo*gag*hiss) and my first cervical check to make sure things are locked up tight still. Then I start with my two week visits, which feels like it'll go by so quickly then. But it's very exciting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Sometimes being a book reviewer is really difficult. On one hand, you will inevitably get really terrible books and you have to write about them, being fully honest on what you didn't like, but word it carefully so that a person wouldn't automatically dismiss it, maybe try it for themselves and form their own opinion. On the other hand, sometimes you get books that are so incredibly great that you aren't sure you can even make a convincing argument why a person should read this book other than, "it's so great and it'll move you". Because ultimately, as a book reviewer, you hope that what you write convinces someone to go purchase the book, get it from the library, do something with it beyond adding it the to "to-read" list we all have and likely will never finish in our lifetime. Because some books? Some books are worth bumping to the top.

This is absolutely one of them.

Wildalone - Krassi Zourkova
Wildalone: A Novel
In this darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery, a Princeton freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two enigmatic brothers and discovers terrifying secrets about her family and herself—a bewitching blend of TwilightThe Secret HistoryJane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches
For every world, there is an underworld.
Arriving at Princeton for her freshman year, Thea Slavin finds herself alone, a stranger in a strange land. Away from her family and her Eastern European homeland for the first time, she struggles to adapt to unfamiliar American ways and the challenges of college life—including a young man whose brooding good looks and murky past intrigue her. Drawn to the elusive Rhys and his equally handsome and mysterious brother, Jake, she ventures into a sensual mythic underworld as irresistible as it is dangerous.
I feel so unequipped to give this a worthy review, but I'm going to really try. After reading the book it really is a mix of Twilight (Jake and Rhys both vying for Thea is very much like Edward and Jacob), it's so very much like Discovery of Witches (lots of Greek mythology, art history, magic, witchery, etc), but I also felt it was a little like Angelology (with Thea uncovering a mystery in her past and the ending... the ending is so much like the ending of Angelology that I had a little gasp). This book is the absolute perfect blend of thriller, mystery, paranormal, romance, magic and even a little chick lit because you can't help but be endeared by Thea, a Bulgarian trying to make it in America and understand culture here. 
But what sets this book apart is that no matter how you feel about Greek mythology, whether you have no idea about much of it and could care less (me), or you are an avid fan, you find yourself interested and learning. Your heart hurts for Thea who lost her sister (literally) at Princeton 15 years earlier under mysterious circumstances. She died and her body was found... but then disappeared from the funeral home and nobody has any clue why or where it went. And that's not good enough for Thea, who can't help but feel like there was far more to her sister's mystery than what meets the eye. It doesn't help that seemingly everyone who knew her sister Elza speaks to Thea in riddles and she's having to figure it all out on her own. It feels like her death is somehow connected to strange rituals thought long forgotten but that surely doesn't make sense, does it? 
Enter Rhys. Mysterious, definitely brooding, enigmatic, alluring, everything you want in a bad boy. Something is very off with him though Thea can't place it and she's not even sure she wants to because what she does know is that she can't be without him. Thoughts of him consume her and though her friends think he's a bit much, a little over bearing and definitely possessive, she doesn't care. Then she meets Jake, his almost identical looking brother who she finds out is who she thought Rhys was (sounds weird, but I can't explain it further otherwise it ruins a good part of the book for you) and here we begin the battle between brothers. One is the safe choice, one is definitely not but she doesn't know why. She doesn't know the strings that comes with the one brother, until the end, and when she makes a decision- it's almost too late. 
Because with every great book comes an ending. And the ending isn't always what it should be. What you want it to be. Angelology is one of my favorite books because I felt all of the torment and the struggle the main character had once she learned what she really was. And she had to make a choice at the end and I don't think she made the right one. Not at all. But in Wildalone, as we're getting to the end, and I feel my heartbreak coming on because one of the brothers loves Thea so much that he is willing to die for her, Thea makes a desperate visit to the Underworld and... we learn so much while she's there. She does as well. We learn how flawed her sister was, how nothing was really as it seemed and.. we cut to her seemingly on her way to a decision. But that's it. So it's almost like... a build your own ending but not really. I don't always say this and I might regret it as I did with Angelology because the sequel to that books was TERRIBLE and made me hate everything I loved about the first one, but I kind of hope Wildalone has a sequel. Just to indulge me, not because one is needed. This is the type of book I don't want to part with the characters, I feel like I know too much of the story and I still want more. Does that make sense? But I'll leave you with this- it is my absolute hope that the unsaid ending is not like Orpheus essentially giving up and letting the maenads kill him because he lost the love of his life, Eurydice. (Which is the Greek myth heavily referenced in this book, so stay with me, I'm not talking crazy.) I hope the brother, the one so madly in love with Thea, doesn't end this way because I don't know if I could bear it. I just couldn't. Because what Thea feels for the safe brother isn't the kind of thing that lasts a lifetime, or even beyond. It's not. It's safe and secure. But the other brother... that's happiness beyond what she could hope for. Even with the strings attached. 
And with that, I leave you. Please add this to your to-read list, go and buy the book (Amazon or Barnes & Noble) and then let me know what you think. I said it last night on Facebook that though this is only January, this is a contender for book of the year for me. I cannot get enough of the writing, the characters, the cover (God this cover is gorgeous and now I want a bouquet of poppies. I need a guy to give me a vase of poppies, and my husband said poppies are stupid.), just the amount of research that goes into putting such a great novel together blows my mind and truly. It's so great. I can't say how great this is enough. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hypnobirthing- thoughts?

With the birth of Penelope coming soon, I am trying to figure out what kind of birth I would like to have. I have had two very good births, all things considering.

Olivia, being my first, I was expected to have a really long labor. I thought for sure I'd be in agony for hours. What actually happened is that it was really textbook. We walked all day (it was Labor Day) and around dinner time I felt kind of blah. By 9 p.m. contractions started, I was 39 weeks. Nothing too bad. By 11 p.m., my water broke at home. I was at the hospital by midnight. I had an epidural at 3 a.m., and Olivia made her triumphant entrance into the world at 8:58 a.m. The really nice thing was that I slept through pretty much all of my labor. That epidural was so good I felt nothing. I had no idea how I was supposed to push, and wasn't sure if I was even pushing.

Then with Jackson, I ended up being induced with him right on my due date. Again, my labor was far faster than I expected. I mean, I knew being induced meant it could be faster, but I wasn't totally sure. He wasn't moving as much as he should have been, which is why I was induced. But they started me at 8 a.m. with Pitocin. I got my epidural at 9 a.m. because wow- Pitocin contractions are no damn joke. I got a little bit of sleep but by noon, my epidural was wearing off. I called for the nurse and she very nicely told me that I had it as high as it would go. It was that moment that I realized that I was grossly unprepared for the amount of pain I was about to be in. Let us just say, that when I started pushing at 12:30 p.m., I quickly understood why women scream that it burns. Jackson was born at 12:58 p.m.

This time I really want to try to do this drug free.

I know, you're all laughing. I'm also laughing, but it sounds more like a manic laughter. Like I fully recognize that I am crazy pants.

Yes, thousands of women do this all of the time. I have lots of friends who have and say it's really not that bad. But that's all bull shit because I don't care how great I'll feel afterwards, or how accomplished I'll feel, or how much better for the baby it is. I get all of that, I'm sure it's glorious, and maybe if I can accomplish it, I'll totally be on that hippie band wagon telling you all about it.

Right now, my main concern is pain. I find that as I get older, my pain tolerance is less. I am trying to figure out different things I can do to prepare myself. One thing I've heard a lot about is hypnobirthing. Basically it's self hypnosis during labor. Which... sounds hokey, I know. But at this point, I do know that the labor breathing techniques I learned before Olivia were absolutely useless. So right now, the plan is to look up and purchase a book so I can read a little more about it. I want to give it a try, at least. There are classes locally but they are EXPENSIVE, like around $300 expensive.

But have any of you done hypnobirthing? If yes, do you have any advice or good resources? If you haven't done that, and have had a natural birth, what helped you?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mini van & the eternal sadness.

So really long story short? We bought a mini van on Saturday. My beloved Gideon the Escape is gone. I could be super happy and gracious that we were able to buy a 2015 Grand Caravan. I could be relieved that we had an issue, we solved it, and are officially ready for Penelope.

I could be all of those things, but I'm not.

I'm not at all.

In fact? I'm angry. I'm incredibly angry. Not just because I'm stuck in a god damn mini van, which feels like a total injustice, but because I have no choice.

You see, despite being sometimes ballsy, a little outspoken, and sometimes I can be a total bitch when I feel like I'm being rolled over, I get no choice. I feel like I'm allowed to state an opinion, but it's not like it's heard. Sales people nod, smile, and give me quips about their kids (as if I give a damn), and then focus on Matt. Matt, for his part, sometimes lets me talk but then shoots me down and I just shut up versus starting a scene. He steam rolls every major decision and it's always me that gets to deal with the fall out. I'm the one managing money and cutting corners so we can pay for things. I'm the one driving a vehicle that has less features than my 1988 Ford Taurus had in high school despite it being $80 a month more than the vehicle I had even when I said we cannot afford t. I leave for two minutes to pee and all of a sudden I come back to decisions made and I look like the asshole if I say no to anything.

Now I'm stuck with this van that I absolutely hate. It's so bad that every time I get into it, I cry. I cry because I'm frustrated that it doesn't matter how hard we work at it, I can't make him be considerate. I can't make him think of someone other than himself or what's easier for him. I can't do that because that's something you're taught as a small kid and your parents hope you retain it for life.  But it's frustrating because again, it's me dealing with the fallout.

Then not only am I dealing with that, but I'm dealing with not one, but two instances where people close to me just assume my position on something. Oh, Sara doesn't like this thing, so obviously she wouldn't want to come or be involved. That type of thing. Well guess what? I might think it's pointless, you're making a mistake, or you could do better- I might think all of that or more. But you know what? None of that would prevent me from being there, being 100% supportive and gracious. You know why? Because it's not about me. You want my opinion, and I'll give it to you. But the fact that I'm invited to things, or included in something as a fucking AFTER FACT because someone made an assumption? No. That's not OK. That's rude. That tells me you need to learn basic social etiquette. I'm being included now because people feel bad or obligated? No. I don't really want to go now. So now I stand on the line of going despite feeling not wanted, or not going to prove a point nobody would get or even feel bad about.

I have my 24 week prenatal appointment on Thursday and I hate, hate, hate that I am finally at the point where I have to talk to my doctor about depression. I am at my brink. I have been for years, and I've done a really good job managing without medication and learning how to cope with life being really hard and awful. But now I feel like I'm basically navigating things alone. I know that every one is out for themselves and nobody is going to pull you along. I get that. I just hate feeling like nothing I do matters. I could bend over backwards for anyone, be there any time I'm asked, I do for everyone else, I work myself to exhaustion so life is easier for others, and I take care of everyone else before me, and nobody gives a damn. They just look at everything I could be doing more, and have their own ideas of how I should be.

And it's weighing me down. I feel like I don't want to get out of bed anymore because it's just too damn much. It's too much on me and I wonder why can't people see I'm floundering? I feel like things are falling apart around me and I'm the only person who sees it or cares. I'm sure everyone assumes I'll just pull it together and be fine, because that's what's expected.

And I probably will. Because if nothing else, god knows I feel guilty more than I feel sad and hopeless. And I hate it. I'll just keep soldering on, because as I'm reminded every day, I have nothing to be sad about. I have not one reason to feel depressed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Budgeting and planning groups are out of control.

So this year I am really going to get back on track with planning things out and budgeting our expenses. It's kind of a necessity at this point so I shall do it. I thought a good way to motivate me and maybe keep me on track would be to join some Facebook groups that are all about that, maybe I would get some good tips and learn some new things to make it easier on me.

Unfortunately, it has done the exact opposite.

Mostly because people are really stupid. And I try really hard not to call someone stupid but these people.... I'm telling you. Here are a list of questions that have come up on the various groups I'm in, just in the last week:

I can't afford my car. What should I cut out of my budget so I can afford it? I really love it. Yes, that's a real question. There are still people out there driving cars they like, but cannot afford, and are willing to not eat so they can keep it another month. The suggestions on this post all ranged from "reduce how much you eat", "turn your heat off and just bundle up", "sell stuff out of your apartment", "try to go without insurance", etc. Not one of the 50+ comments said, "If you can't afford it, you need to sell it and buy something you can afford. Pay off your debt and you can afford a super fun car then." Not one.

We are over $20K in debt, just with credit cards. That doesn't include our mortgage, two car payments and our boat. I'm so mad my husband said we can't afford a vacation, I feel like we can. I also hate that my spending money is now only $200 a month. This feels like I'm living in a third world. It was ALL I COULD DO to not comment. Because judging by the responses that were given, I would have been burned alive. First off, if you have $20,000 on CREDIT CARDS, you are in serious trouble. I can't even fathom that. Just from the question alone I would assume they drive nice, expensive vehicles and have a swanky house. None of which they can afford, clearly. And then to "only" have $200 in spending money? Oh my god. I didn't know people had a budget line item for spending money. To me, that doesn't exist. At least it shouldn't when you're this far in debt. God damn. Learn some self restraint, people.

How much do you budget every month for planning stickers and supplies? Yes. This is in a group where people are learning how to SAVE money, pay off debt and be more frugal. Then the responses are anywhere between $20 and $100. ON STICKERS. Let me be clear, people are paying MONEY for STICKERS that go in planners that you eventually THROW OUT. This is a real thing.



Now, I'll be honest. I've used Washi tape in my planner for re-occurring things and I needed to find them fast in my planner on a moments notice. To my credit, I'm a scrapbooker and card maker so I already had it on hand and made what I had work for me. There isn't a chance in hell I would actually buy something in the name of decorating my planner. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. And then to spend that much on STICKERS. This isn't middle school where we decorate our book covers. Come on, now.

I'm absolutely astounded that people don't understand basic money management skills. There are a lot of people out there who have no idea how to make a budget, have no idea what you need to pay down first when trying to be debt free, have no ability to say no to themselves or to say, "You know what? I really want _____, but I'm also broke, so I'm just going to wait." None. Not able to do that at all. I can't even wrap my head around this. The only positive here is that at least I feel like a genius if I peruse through posts long enough.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I feel totally ready. And then sometimes I am totally terrified.

Someone asked me the other day how completely excited was I to be pregnant and having another baby. Obviously, I responded with, "Totes, ma goats- so excited", because I am.

Then at night, when I can't sleep and I'm listening to Matt snore, I realize I am ridiculously terrified and I wonder what in the good hell I was thinking.

Not because I don't know what I'm doing or what to expect, but because I totally know what I'm in for. And I made a conscious decision to get pregnant, knowing exactly what I'm in for.

I think it maybe would be a different story if my kids weren't currently 9 and almost 7. I think if they were still little and Jackson was just getting ready to go to school, I wouldn't feel so scared. I wouldn't feel so much like my life was over, mostly because I didn't have a life or any kind of freedom. We're at that sweet spot where freedom is kind of close. We can see it on the horizon. We're almost to the point where we could leave Olivia at home and run to Target without her. We can sleep in on the weekends and know that the kids will feed the animals, feed themselves, keep themselves entertained, get dressed and clean up- all without us.

It's really a glorious thing.

And it's all going to be gone soon.

I lay in bed this weekend thinking, shit- my days of laying in bed until 10 a.m. are numbered. I'll be getting up at 5 a.m. because a baby will have shit it's diaper and refuse to go back to bed. I'll be back to watching PBS cartoons while feeding a baby hoping I can shower that day. I have to learn to navigate the world of play groups and mommy cliques all over again.

It's terrifying. If you've never had to walk into a play group as the new mom who doesn't belong, you don't know that debilitating feeling. It's worse than high school, I swear. And god forbid they see you with a bottle versus your breast to feed or you casually mention you sometimes feed your kids a Happy Meal, you think cloth diapers are disgusting, you vaccinate and you circumcised. It's brutal.

At the same time, I am ridiculously excited. I can't wait to have all of the baby milestones and I feel far more mentally prepared this time around. I feel like a part of me has something to prove to myself. That I can absolutely do this, I can be super mom. I also worry, rightfully so, that I'll have Penelope and it'll be glaringly obvious that my first two are total flukes and I, in fact, am a terrible mother and it's a miracle I've kept two alive this long.

I feel all of this pressure to be good at this again. I am really scared that I might end up being a stay at home mom and I'll be so terrible at it. That I'll end up hating it and resenting my baby. That'll I'll be jealous that Matt gets to leave and not smell like baby poop and have formula in his hair.

So it's a weird spot I'm in. I don't ever remember feeling this way with Olivia or Jackson. With Olivia I just so stupidly assume motherhood was this thing I'd just be good at and I'd have all this instinct and it would be fine. Then it became obvious in less than five minutes after birth that oh shit, being a mom is HARD and please god let me take a nurse home with me. By the time I had Jackson, I was so tired and depressed that I figured surely it can't get worse. And it didn't, I was the exact opposite with Jackson- I felt like an old pro and I handled the transition from one to two amazingly well, much to the shock of basically everyone who watched me struggle with Olivia for two years. So this time, I don't know. I feel like it could go either way and I'm scared. I'm scared I'm doing the wrong thing for Olivia and Jackson. I feel like because our family trips are kind of done, at least for awhile, I'm ruining the childhood they could have had.

All because I wanted to nibble baby toes again.

At least we know I've got the mom guilt thing nailed.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Hero's Heart

I am seriously flying through books right now. It's kind of amazing. I'm also crossing off the FIRST book on my 2015 Reading Challenge list, so if you are also doing this, you better step it up, folks.

A Hero's Heart - Amber Daulton
A Hero's Heart
Ten years ago, Jarrett Brandt left home and abandoned everyone of importance. After a hard reality check, the irresponsible young man matured into a ballsy DEA agent with a kickass Harley Davidson and a million-dollar bounty on his head. Ordered by his superior officer to take refuge at a safe house just days before Christmas, he headed back home to Washington State, instead, to make peace with his deceased brother’s memory. 

Marissa Reinn Brandt never expected to see Jarrett again. Best friends since childhood and lovers as teenagers, immaturity, over-demanding parents and illicit drugs ripped them apart. Now a successful chef at a posh restaurant, the young widow and her son offered Jarrett a place to stay for the holiday. Even though she expected nothing from her former lover—the twin brother of the man she married—fate intervened. 

As Jarrett and Marissa rekindled the flames of love and lust that once bound them together, an enemy from his past and a trusted mentor from his present vied their time in the snowy dark and threatened to destroy everyone he held dear. Needing a Christmas miracle to save his family, Jarrett needed the love of a good woman to save his battered heart. His second chance with Marissa meant the world to him and nothing, no one, would stand in his way of cherishing her for all time.

Let's talk about this cover, mmkay? Yum. I'll be honest, I didn't even read what the book was about and agreed immediately based on the cover. 

Quick synopsis is we have Jarrett, who is a recovering drug addict who had a good thing at home with Marissa and because his parents and him have a rocky relationship, he took off. Meanwhile, Marissa married his twin brother, but twin brother died and he didn't even know it. Upon coming to pay his respects, he runs into Marissa and one thing leads to another. BUT! But then he has to come clean about what his real job is, as a DEA agent not a construction worker, and Marissa comes to grips. UNTIL! Bad guys find him and insanity ensues. 

Overall? Pretty decent. It's a fast read, I think it was like 92 pages on my Nook so easily something you can finish in a day, which is the category it's fulfilling on my reading challenge list. Some of the dialogue is a little weird in spots and in the epilogue especially, I always roll my eyes when characters basically rehash the entire major event in the book as if the other wasn't there when they absolutely were. It's not a conversation you'd have in real life, so I don't know why that kind of thing is written in a book? 

I do think the sex scenes were pretty steamy, and I like how Marissa was a bit of a temptress and not at all what we come to expect for a female lead in a book. Not even in a slutty way, but in a totally believable, normal girl kind of way. So I absolutely applaud that because there aren't many romance novellas or novels that can do that, it's either "demure, practically a virgin" or "totally filthy slut you wonder if she was a paid prostitute at one time". So that was pretty damn refreshing. 

Overall? I'll give it a 3/5 star review. I liked it. I liked the romance scenes, I liked the story line and then all of the action and the conclusion. There were a few areas that the writing felt a little wonky, but overall a solid little romance that would entertain you for an afternoon. 

You can purchase this book on Amazon for a really great deal HERE. Amber does have a blog you can follow her on, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Just like we're 22.

No, I won't bust out a super annoying Taylor Swift song.

You're welcome.

Instead, let's talk about what 22 weeks pregnant is like for the third time. Because what I'm learning is that no pregnancy is the same, like one can be absolute night and day. Or, in my case, two can be super easy and awesome and one can be hard and frustrating. I'll let you guess which is which.

Here's the thing folks, I'm fucking huge. I feel huge. I feel like a beached whale. Don't give me the, "but you're GLOWING!" or the "you're growing a human, so it's OK!" or any of the like because I'm tuning it all out. With my other two babies I was totally fine with weight gain and getting bigger and kind of reveled in my tummy growing. This time? No, not so much.

Here's a fun fact: yesterday? Yesterday I got stuck in a booth at the roller rink. To the point where Matt had to lift the table to get me out. Like, I was stuck. I could wiggle from side to side a little, but I was going nowhere without assistance. It was kind of mortifying. Not to mention about two weeks ago I had a complete stranger tell me I was a fat ass. Because the kicker of it, is that I don't really look pregnant. I legitimately just look fat. If I had a round belly, like with Jackson, it wouldn't be an issue. But I don't think I need a second ultrasound to confirm I'm indeed having a girl because I am carrying just like I did with Olivia and while I only gained 15 pounds in all with her, I went into labor tipping the scales at 200 pounds. Folks? That scares me. Fortunately, as of my last appointment I only was up 2 pounds in 18 weeks so that's really good.

Other than being large, here are some other noteworthy things about 22 weeks:

  • I've decided this is the exact moment in which rolling over in bed should be classified an Olympic sport. Matt is enjoying watching me try to gain momentum by swinging my leg. There is nothing dignified in being pregnant. 
  • I really am loving pizza and nachos. Except those days need to be gone because hello- cheese constipates you and I need to slow my weight gain roll. 
  • Constipation is a very real thing. I can tell you with 100% honesty I have NEVER IN MY LIFE been constipated until week 22 of this pregnancy. Which only baffles me more when Olivia chooses to be constipated. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? This is awful. 
  • Penelope is very active, a sure sign I have a girl versus a boy. Jackson was always super lazy and did nothing and he's kind of still the same. Olivia was always non stop and I questioned if she ever slept. Turns out, she doesn't. Thankfully, Penelope has definite rest times and definite wide awake, let's kick the shit out of mom's bladder times. 
  • Unfortunately, peak activity is from 9 p.m. until midnight. This is going to be an issue. 
  • I also have never had Braxton Hicks contractions, like ever, and I'm not even sure that's what I'm having, but there are times where my stomach feels significantly harder. Like, I'm all Flabby McGee and then bam- stomach of steel. So, that's weird. It's not uncomfortable at all so I'm not totally sure why women whine about this? 
  • Yesterday I had legit contractions though and I really considered going in. I decided to tough it out because my gut told me I needed rest, water, and more poop to come out. Which I think all three helped, but I am kind of worried this might be an issue as the weeks go on. I've got a niggling feeling that I may not make it all the way to my due date with current activity level, unlike my other two pregnancies. 
So that's where I'm at. I don't go back to the doctor until January 15 and it's another ultrasound, most likely my last. We didn't get to see much of her face or her heart for more than a second, so we need to go back. I'm sure it'll all be fine so I'm not worried. I do hope we maybe get a few more pictures for her scrapbook though, I basically only have one of her girl parts (fuzzy), a leg and an image where it looks like her foot is in her mouth. So we'll see. 

It is very strange to feel like I've already gone beyond the half way point, though. I only have like 18 weeks until my due date. Which sounds far more terrifying than May 6. So we'll see. I feel grossly unprepared and I'm trying really hard to not be that crazy mom buying everything right now before my shower. It's hard, though. Thankfully I have friends who will yell at me if they catch me doing it. HA! 


Seriously, I felt like I was in a reading slump. Thankfully, having a few days off for the holidays and not having to work has snapped me out of that because I've been reading quite a bit.

Greed - Karina Espinosa
Greed (Sins of the Fallen, #2)
Maximillion can never return to the normal life he once had—not now that he's Wrath—one of the seven Nephilim. After the failed battle with Abbadon and his demons, the death of a loved one, and the betrayal of the person he trusted the most—Max was forced to go into hiding. But not before devising a plan to look for answers: to search for the other Nephilim.
Max and his best friend/guardian angel, Jones are on the run for a month before their first clue leads them to Sin City, Las Vegas to find the Nephilim of Greed. But Nikolai's reluctance to help and fear of an unknown force leaves Max with more questions than answers.
Will he discover who is hunting the Nephilim? And if he does, can he overcome the forces of evil against them?
Find out in the sequel to Sins of the Fallen, where Karina Espinosa pulls readers back to the saga unfolding in the world of angels and demons—a world where everything falls part.

I forgot that I had read the first in this series so I quickly re-read it because it had been awhile and I hate feeling like I'm missing something. Thankfully, these are pretty fast reads so I got through that quickly and then moved onto this one, fully ready. I will say that I liked this book a lot more than the first one. Sure, there was lots of action in that one, but this one had far more.

For the first half we find Maximillion really struggling with his new identity, knowing his mother is gone and his father has seemingly sided with the girl he loved, who basically stood and did nothing as her father killed his mother. Got all of that? So, he's rightfully angry. The only issue is that his new found Nephilim powers are coming into play and while trying to get a handle on those, he's looking for the other Nephilim, specifically Greed.

Oh, he finds Greed all right. Even at the end of the book, I don't know how I feel about Greed- is he a good guy or is he going to turn on Max when he needs him the most? We find Max's dad, we find Angela, we have more of Abbadon (the bad guy who killed Max's mom, and is Angela's father), and we meet the third Nephilim, Lust. I can basically assume the next book is mostly about her as this book gave us glimpses into Greed and how he got to where he is today and highlights some of the tragedies that have essentially shaped him. The best part is that Lust? Well Lust isn't a new character. How's that for keeping you hanging? The book leaves us with an absolute cliff hanger, but it's OK because we're left knowing major things are on the way in future books. Mostly because a Seer gives Max a really bizarre, and cryptic, message that he's about to encounter a lot of tragedy and loss. So... does he lose some of his group that's been helping him through this? I don't know, but I'm all in for future books.

The author, Karina Espinosa, has a website that you can check out for her other books as well.