Saturday, July 30, 2016

Crafty Saturday: Baby's First Shoe Shadow Boxes

One of my favorite baby gifts to give to someone is a shadow box to eventually display baby's first shoes. It's something I came up with when Olivia and Jackson were little because I wanted to keep their shoes, but didn't know how to necessarily do that.

I have them hanging on the wall by their room next to my 4x10 collage photo of them at 9 months.

So when I had Penelope I knew that I would do the same thing so I'm consistent with every kid. Plus I always think maybe in 40 years or something, these shoes will look super old fashioned or something, and would be a cute thing to have in their homes to show their kids or grandkids, who knows?
I just finished her box and have a box ready to go for Fetus Four. No shoes yet, but who knows. And I always use my favorite pair of their shoes that I would always put on their feet, not necessarily their first walking shoes.
But I've made them for gifts, as well. I tried finding more photos of other boxes I've done but this was the first (and most recent) so we'll go with these. I sent t his as a gift to a blogger friend because I had noticed her daughter always wore a pair of green shoes similar to the red ones Olivia had above, but without a bow. So in my head, I thought those would go in this box really well. That and their daughter isn't girly girl so much so I thought the orange/green combo is girly but not overtly so and would look nice together.

I have gotten lots of requests about making these as custom orders and YES. I would happily do that for anyone! I'd need a general idea of what the shoe looks like so I can match colors, so I always suggest that if you are giving this as a gift, maybe buy a super cute pair of shoes to go with it so it's like a gift set. People often email me a picture of what the shoes look like and I go from there. So if this is something you are interested in, let me know and I'm happy to work with you!

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Practical Navigator (and giveaway!!)

YOU GUYS. It's not often that I pick up a book like this and I am so glad I did this time. Seriously. It's really in a league of its own, I can't think of another book like it.

The Practical Navigator - Stephen Metcalfe

Michael Hodge is a struggling contractor living in Southern California raising his autistic son, Jamie, on his own. When his long-absent wife Anita returns unannounced wanting--Michael isn't sure what--a reconciliation? A new relationship? Her role as their son's mother back? Michael must decide whether to give her a second chance or protect his son from more hurt. Meanwhile, a burgeoning relationship that could be heading towards love is put on hold while Michael reexamines his feelings for this woman who abandoned them years earlier.

With pitch perfect emotion and a beautiful portrayal of the relationship between a father and son, Stephen Metcalfe's The Practical Navigator has drawn a rich and layered portrait of a what it means to be a family and what it means to be truly loved.

So first and foremost, I hate to be that totally sexist person who assumes a guy can't write a story like this but I am 100% guilty of that. I am, and I am a jerk. I am a jerk who was 100% dead wrong. Here's a story about a guy who just treads water no matter what is thrown his way. He has a son with Asperger's, and he isn't sure what to really do with that, what would be best for his son long term. He has a wife who he never divorced from, but who has been gone since their son was young, who randomly shows up and wants to be a mom. The problem is that she doesn't know how to be a mom, let alone to her son with Asperger's, and she then looks at that as another reason why she's such a failure. Michael also runs a contractor business, with employees dependent on him to keep finding jobs for them, and he doesn't know how to make that business grow in the current economy. Add to this and Michael's mother, Penelope, may or may not have the beginnings of Alzheimer's so he's struggling at keeping her independent but always keeping an eye on her. He depends on her to help with Jamie's care so the fact she might not be able to much longer adds more stress. The greatest thing about this book is that no matter how many things are seemingly out of control in his life, Michael navigates it calmly and perfectly. He does his absolute best for everyone around him, even when it means more on his plate.

In between all of this, we have glimpses of Anita (the ex-wife) to give insight as to why she's such a mess. Her family, which are HUGE messes and the highlight of dysfunction. We have Michael's relationship with Fari, who struggles with intimacy and really likes Michael but doesn't know what really to do about it. But heartbreakingly, we also have small glimpses from Jamie, Michael's autistic son, and what things are like for him. And there is a scene where Jamie is at school and there is a bathroom incident and while everyone else is panicking, my heart just goes out to Jamie and I think- what must life be like for him? As a mom I can't help but want to hug him and tell him things are OK.

I absolutely LOVED this book. I said above I wasn't sure how much I would get into it, but I finished it in a day because I couldn't put it down. I just wanted things to be OK for Jamie, and I wanted him to know even though his mom is a mess that she loved him. I wanted her to pull her crap together. I wanted Michael to tell her to beat it and keep his relationship with Fari. And man alive, I really wanted Anita's mom to tell her dad where the hell to go and how exactly he could get there. The author does such a great job at telling this story, from all points of view, and nailing each one. I absolutely have to give this book 5 stars, and you know I don't throw those out often. But this book just grabbed me from the first page and didn't let me go until the end.

You can purchase your own copy of The Practical Navigator on Amazon now, it become available on August 9. In the meantime, be sure to enter the giveaway below, I have one copy up for grabs (US only). In the meantime, you can visit Stephen at his website. Good luck and happy reading, lambs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Owlcrate: Good vs Evil

I got my Owlcrate this weekend and are you amazed I'm getting this post out so soon? Usually I'm weeks late but here I am, Little Miss Efficient!

The theme this month was Good vs. Evil and you had no idea what box you were going to get and you didn't get to pick, basically. I have to think pretty much everyone wanted an Evil box but wouldn't you know it, I got a Good.


So here is the box contents this month. The big tease this month was that we would be getting a POP Figure, which is becoming increasingly popular in book boxes and I'm not not against that at all- these look adorable on my book shelf.
The good boxes got Luna Lovegood and the evil boxes got Dobby. So there's Luna. She's chillin' next to Dumbledore on my shelf. The sticker was hand designed by OwlCrate and made by Drop And Give Me Nerdy, and it's a nod to Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The sticker is beautiful but I have to ask myself, WHY?? Why send stickers? What are people doing with these? I'm not 12, I'm 34 and I'm too damn old to be sticking stickers on my laptop or on my walls. so it just sits. I'm sure I have a bunch of stickers just hanging out in a drawer somewhere waiting to eventually be tossed. 
We also got a Millennium Falcon necklace from Vector Engraving. Actually, I wasn't sure what it was, I had to confirm with my husband that it was a Star Wars things and he looked kind of ashamed that I didn't know. He tried to get me to watch Star Wars on a first date and no. I'm not lame. So this is going to go to my sister in law because she likes this kind of thing. We also got an Alice in Wonderland magnetic bookmark created by Jane's Tiny Things. Which, you know I love me some Alice in Wonderland but I'm kind of over the bookmarks. I literally have hundreds and these do not hold up well at all and this one has already torn the top of the page in my new book. I am not pleased about this.

Another thing we got was some weird adult coloring book (which, not really a book, more like a booklet) of YA covers that we can color. Which.. *sigh*. I'm so sick of getting stupid shit in these boxes, let's be honest.

The book this month looks SO GOOD, though. It's This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab and it sounds so much like something I'd read from Becca Fitzpatrick, and you know I love her, so I'm excited. We also got a signed bookplate and a letter, both of which I always store in my book.

This box is always so 50/50 on the swag. It's cool stuff, but a lot of it seems pointless to have (like the stickers, crap bookmarks, coloring book, etc). When there is the POP figure and/or jewelry, it's fun. The books ARE always newer releases and interesting, so I don't know. I'm torn on whether I'll keep subscribing.

The theme for next month is...
The teaser for this is that we will receive an exclusively designed piece of jewelry inspired by Eleanor & Park.. so we'll see. This could be a really amazing box or more crap. I'm on the fence.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Now, Please

I've been whipping through books during my insomnia at night, which is good for you, right? Of course it is.

Now, Please - Willow Summers

His secrets could tear us apart.

I've done what no other woman has: I've made the legendary Hunter Carlisle make a compromise. I have a toehold into his solitary life.

Unfortunately, the pain of his past still lingers.

When we're forced to go to a work conference out of state, secrets emerge. Damaging secrets that shut him down and make him push me away.

Somehow I have to make him confront the past or I'll lose him forever. 

Full disclaimer, this is book two in the Please series, and it is NOT a stand alone. You really need to read the first book, but it's OK because these are relatively short books (for me) coming in at just under 200 pages. You can easily get through one in a weekend, even if you aren't a fast reader. Second disclosure, the writing style is NOT the greatest. It just isn't. I don't know if it's just the edition I have or what, but I have found quite a few grammatical errors and things that were missed in the editing process. I'm OK with that because I'm used to reading advanced copies of books so I've learned to read beyond those, but in this case, this isn't a requested review- this is my fun book off my shelf, reviewing it just because I can kind of review.

But let's talk about the meat of the book, because that's what matters here.

We come back to Hunter and Olivia, and the complicated relationship they've worked themselves into. In this book Olivia is still working for Hunter, she's officially accepted her role as his admin which means she's working for him but she's also having sex on demand. He warns her repeatedly that he isn't the guy that can give her forever after and she tells him she knows that but let's be honest- we know that's going to be an issue later in the book because that's the blueprint of these types of books. The nice part of this book is that we start to get to know Hunter, his past, and the strained relationship with his father. We also get to see Olivia step up and not be a push over like SO MANY female leads in romance novels. Hunter wants her to use her charm to find out how he can come ahead his father in the buy out of another company, which she can easily do.

It all comes to a head when Hunter shows his jealousy, Olivia does her best to keep it together but despite it all, they struggle to maintain what they have. They have a falling out, everyone is sad, but one of them comes back and it's like a fresh start. It's an absolutely perfect ending for the book and a great set up for the third book... which you know I'm going to start right away. Overall I'd give this book 4/5 stars. The sexy scenes are great, the complicated nature of their relationship is great, and I actually really like the characters despite others not liking them so much. I feel like they are more likable than characters in similar books so there's that.

See for yourself how good these books are and order Now, Please on Amazon. If you're really smart, you'll just order the four book series HERE and save yourself some money, plus you'll have them all on hand to read one after the other.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

38 weeks... are we there yet?

Admittedly, I'm typing this post out in advance so by the time you read it I may have given birth. We just don't know, so let's pretend that I'm still pregnant and know that as soon as I can, I will update you when the baby is born.

I would never leave you hanging, lambs!

37.5 weeks

Well let's see. Last week I talked about being 100% done with pregnancy. I think Matt is done with me being pregnant as well though admittedly, I haven't made him run out to get me pizza, nachos, and/or ice cream in a few days so he should stop whining. I had my weekly appointment on Thursday and I went from 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated to 50% effaced and 2.5 cm dilated. She looked back in my file and historically, I do most of my effacing when I'm in active labor so she thinks based on my last three pregnancies, I'm doing well. Especially considering I'm this much dilated already. Again, I usually don't do much of that until around week 38 to 39. The really nice thing about me and pregnancy is that I am pretty textbook and pretty consistent. She did my exam and all of a sudden, if felt like she was ripping something out of my, like you would when you take the guts out of a pumpkin. 

It didn't occur to me at all while this was happening but in the parking lot I wondered if I just had my membranes stripped? I hadn't ever had that done so I wasn't sure, and a few of my friends confirmed via text that it sure sounds like that. 

So clearly, I went home super excited that this was IT! I was going to totally go into labor! 

Except that I didn't. 

We went out to eat because it's been hotter than the gates of Hell and I'm not trying to cook in this kind of heat, and we wanted to be in the AC somewhere. Which ended up being comical because every table was full so we were given a booth, which I barely squeezed into. Matt had to help me get out while everyone was staring. Nothing humbles you more than being stuck in a restaurant booth, folks. 

Then on Friday I felt kind of blah. I wasn't sure if it was just the heat making me tired and crappy feeling (totally possible since Penelope wasn't having it either), or what. But I ended up taking a one hour nap because I just could not handle staying awake any longer, but that didn't even help. About two hours after I woke up though, I noticed I was starting to lose parts of my mucus plug, which with Olivia and Penelope were my cues that labor was coming. It was just clear, it wasn't as much as I know can and will come out, and it usually five or six hours before my contractions start I have brown/reddish goo so I knew I had some time.

This weekend I felt pretty horrible in general. I'm so run down to the point where it's become a joke. I can't walk the 20 steps from my living room to kitchen without feeling like I have run a marathon. Naps don't help. The baby, which has been pretty lazy this entire pregnancy, decides it's going to do be an American Ninja Warrior this weekend and is violently moving to the point of it being painful. Add to that and the super fun sensation of feeling like I'm being stabbed in my belly button and my butthole (sometimes at the SAME TIME) and I'm so ready. I need to be done. It's also worth noting that I'm an emotional mess. I'm crying at the drop of a dime. I don't know if it's hormones, the heat, feeling fed up, or frustrated at the lack of progress.... I'm not sure. I really don't know and it's awful. 

But overall? I'm totally ready. Assuming I'm not already in labor, my next appointment is on the 29th. My brother is rooting for me to have the baby on his birthday, the 28th, so we'll see. Cross your fingers. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Just Kiss Me and giveaway!

It's kind of nice to start the week with a book review, isn't it? I always feel like I've done something when I finish a book over a weekend and can pick up (or order) a new one.

Just Kiss Me - Rachel Gibson

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns with this dazzling love story filled with sizzle, sass, and just a bit of southern charm...

"Hello, Ms. Vivian . . . it's been a long time."

And with those words, Vivian Leigh Rochet nearly melted. It's been years since she last saw Harrison Whitley-Shuler. She was a teenager scrubbing houses for a living. He was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

Vivian had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star, and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry.

She got what she wanted—and more—but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Harrison got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until a heart attack forced him to trade in his cufflinks for a good set of hand tools.

Making furniture soothes his soul, but escaping the Whitley-Shuler heritage is nearly impossible. And now he's come face-to-face with the one who got away. He's not looking for love. He's not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he's ever done? 

I haven't read anything by Rachel Gibson before but this certainly won't be my last! If you are a fan of a solid romance novel that's sweet, a little bit funny, and a little sentimental, this is definitely going to be your next read.

We have Vivian, who throughout the books gives us flashbacks to her diary entries as a child, who couldn't get away from Charleston fast enough. Her mama and her earned a living by cleaning the home of the Whitley-Shuler family, much to Vivian's disgust. She was destined for bigger and better things and she vowed to do better for her mother one day. Eventually Vivian became a popular actress and bought her mother a home on the street of her dreams and thought that she had done everything right. Her mother passes suddenly and Vivian finds herself back in Charleston, not only to find out she really never knew her mother but she's also back among the Whitley-Shuler's who seemingly were closer to her mother than she was. Her mother abandoned the house, had gone back to living on the Whitley-Shuler compound and was seemingly friends with the Whitley-Shular matriarch.

But being back in Charleston also means that she is now in the presence of Harrison, who goes by Harry. Despite what her diary says, it's clear that Vivian had a little crush on Harry, and he was so annoyed with her as a child that he assumes she hasn't changed a bit. But Harry is back in Charleston after issues of his own and we wonder- are they both in Charleston to stay? Will they come together and be the adorable couple we all know they could (and should) be? I loved them as a potential couple, their chemistry and banter (and past history) is so adorable, it's like every great couple that you know that seemingly make it for the long haul. And while the story is fun and cute, it has it's tough spots as Vivian tries to sort out the end of her mother's life and not just her funeral arrangements. It's a reminder for us all to really step back and not assume we know what's best for our family and what we wouldn't want for ourselves is perfect for them. I'm such a fan of stories like that because it's really a hard thing for us as we become adults and have children of our own, to remember that WE are still our parent's children no matter our age.

Overall? I'll give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It's everything I want out of a romance novel, the only complaint I had was the ending felt a little abrupt for me, but it wasn't unsatisfying. Everything gets tied up nicely so maybe it's me just being a little selfish wanting more time with our characters. But definitely a book I would recommend if you are looking for a fun romance!

You can purchase your own copy of Just Kiss Me on Amazon! In the meantime, Avon Books is giving away three print copies of Just Kiss Me, and I highly suggest you enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts are my own.*

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Crafty Saturday: Baby Announcement edition

If you know me at all, you know I am ridiculously prepared for most everything. I am currently planning out our family Christmas card because it always takes me awhile to cut and assemble things and I want to get a head start on them while I can. But I also have my baby announcements done, which I have always filled out before I leave the hospital.

Don't laugh, I can't help myself.

People always laugh and wonder what is wrong with me, but I know if I don't do it right away it will never happen. Plus, it gives me something to do since I'm not a big TV watcher and newborns sleep... a LOT. So I always pull the bassinet up to me and fill the cards out with TV as background noise and take my time.
 My options for paper choices at Michaels was kind of limited, but I found a few pattern papers that looked pretty and were all in the same purple and teal color family. I bought myself a new stamp set and my first little die cut set to go with the stamps so I can use my Sizzix machine Matt got me for Christmas, and Michaels had some purple flowers in their dollar spot.
I had a general idea of what I wanted to do so one evening I spent cutting all of the pieces out.

And over the next few days I assembled. Penelope is at a very need/whiny/be-with-me-all-of-the-time stage so I can only get a few done at a time. Which was OK, I clearly had plenty of time to finish these.
And finish I did! Aren't they cute? My only regret is that the piece directly under the circle? I wish I had matted it in white or something so that it stood out from the background paper. But by the time I noticed it I was already committed so I said this will be good enough.
I found my little foot print stamp and a generic birth info stamp for the inside. I've got my envelopes all labeled and stamped, my little invites for our Meet the Baby/End of Summer BBQ party ready, and everything in my hospital bag. The only thing I'll need to do is print a baby photo and insert it, but I can do that when I get home and do the one hour photo thing and voila- baby announcements are done!

It felt SO GOOD to get that project off of my desk, that's for sure. Not that I don't have a ton more lined up but still. One down..

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kitchen Remodel.. the pilgrims have died.

One of the projects we knew we had to do (and by "we" I really mean "Matt") when we bought this house was the kitchen. The cabinets are great, the appliances need to be updated, the curtains need to be less old lady but the number one complaint was the pilgrim and windmill tile on the back splash.
I apologize that it isn't a close up, but it's bad. They were really bad and I wanted those suckers down and down immediately.

Also, anyone who knows Matt knows that he will not start a project unless I have damaged something to the point where it needs to now be fixed.
Which is how I got new counter tops and a new sink. Dammit if that red Kool-aid didn't spill everywhere.

I hate when that happens.

But the new counters and new sink look really nice and have been up for some time. The next phase of the project was going to be the back splash and Matt said it would be loud and messy. So much so that he kept putting it off until he "had time alone" so Penelope and I made that happen. The big kids went to my parents to spend the night for fun, Penelope and I went to run errands, and I left him a bunch of tile removing tools in the kitchen.

After all of these years of marriage, I've learned it's best to spring a project on him because if you give him the luxury of starting it himself, it will never get done. But while I was out and about, this is the text I got.

Worrisome, sure.
I ended up coming home because I wanted to see what was happening before he got too far in. This is what I saw and I immediately thought he was being a tad over dramatic.
Then he continued on and as it turns out, he wasn't joking. Chunks of wall were coming off because the sheet rock wasn't installed correctly.
In all, we had two major chunks of wall come off. Not the end of the world, but it obviously added more work to the job for Matt having to replace those sections.
The silver lining to chunks of wall falling off, especially near the outlets, is that Matt discovered none of the electrical in the kitchen is safe or done correctly. The people we bought the house from were do-it-yourself people with zero knowledge or experience. They relied on word of mouth on what to do and YouTube videos.

I don't think I have to really mention this, but if you have no idea what you are doing, JUST HIRE SOMEONE. Seriously. It's going to save you money in the long run and the next owners will not curse your name and wish terrible things on you.

Matt spent hours re-doing the electrical. And I'm not kidding. We had live wires touching wires in the wall, nothing was grounded. The guy thought he grounded things but no, it was either done completely wrong or the ground wire was just hanging out, not connected to anything. Matt used his light up plug thing to figure out what was wrong and every outlet had it's own issue. Nothing was even done the same way, which is bizarre. I won't even get into the absurdity or our breaker box. Absolutely nothing was wired to that box in any kind of planned fashion. For example, one outlet in the kitchen shares a breaker with a basement light, a front porch outlet, and half of Jackson's room upstairs on the other end of the house. Matt said if he took the sheet rock off the walls, we'd see an actual maze of wire crisscrossing the house in every direction.

The great news is that Matt actually does know what he's doing, so after spending hours in our walls the electrical in the kitchen is 100% safe. And done correctly. Which is really exciting because as it turns out, it's not normal for the garbage disposal to come on when you flip the task light above the sink on.


The project this evening is to go to Home Depot and get the grout for the tile and whatever the stuff you put on the wall to make the tile stick to it. Once we get home Matt is going to tape and mud the drywall that he had to fix and my job then tomorrow (hopefully) is to sand. I'm not very good with much, but by god I can sand drywall! So I offered to do that while Penelope naps tomorrow and he's at work. Hopefully we can get tile installed next week? We'll see. Being that I'm on the verge of giving birth any day now who knows. We're just going to keep plugging along.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Penelope... almost 15 months

It seems like I haven't really updated you on life with Penelope. She's going to be 15 months on July 29, and it's so weird. I thought her first year flew by (it did) but it seems this year is going just as quickly. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, maybe it's because time is unforgiving, I don't know. But it seems like she changes SO much every day and it's hard for even me to keep up.

Penelope absolutely loves being outside. I don't blame her, being in the house all day, every day can get really boring no matter what I introduce as fun new stuff. So we try to get out for a little bit every day.
She's not good at slides, doesn't understand the concept of sitting down and sliding and she's not adventurous about it. Which is so unlike her because this is the kid who is an absolute maniac in every other aspect.
Gone are the gentle days where she's sweet, shy, and apprehensive. Sure, she's shy and apprehensive around people, but give her time and she will be jumping on furniture, climbing on everything, running everywhere, throwing things. She is so unlike Olivia and Jackson in the activity department.
We've been going to a Baby & Me class geared for kids 0-3 years on Tuesdays. It's such a pain for me to get there because I'm so tired and it's exhausting peeling her off of shelves that she wants to climb.
But overall, it's been good. She gets to play with kids but doesn't understand the whole sharing concept and will go right up to a kid and take whatever it is they have. Some kids just stand there dumbfounded while others will push her down. Then she cries and runs to me like she's the absolute victim here.

Have I mentioned this is exhausting?
She is obsessed with play jewelry and floral lei's. She really likes her Minnie Mouse with snap on outfits. We can't snap them on yet, but she will sit there quietly and try for the longest time.
Oh yes, and she's very concerned about the animals eating and drinking. Usually when one of them are at the dish, she's right there supervising. I keep telling Matt it's a matter of time before she eats and drinks out of the bowl with them.
Oh yes, and she really, REALLY loves flowers. If she sees them outside, she must pick them. She likes to bring them and stick them on my belly because it's very table like right now.
And the water table... we cannot get enough water table. She will happily soak herself and if I'm lucky, go over to the sand box and lay in it to fully get every bit of dirt she can.
I don't get nearly enough pictures of her with her siblings, and I need to do better, because it's really the sweetest. Olivia carries Penelope around and Penelope likes to go into Olivia's room and just touch everything that's normally off limits. And Jackson is basically the love of her life. He doesn't always know what to do to make her happy but he sure tries and she knows he's the one to go to if she wants to get wild and crazy.
She is still a full mama's girl though. Absolutely my total love bug.
Oh yes, and she still feeds Twinky treats and her snack even when I say no. These two are best buds for sure.
But she has the sweetest little personality. She's so shy and will hide her head, or bend over and touch her head to the ground if you try to talk to her. OR she'll give you the rudest look ever and I'm sorry I haven't gotten this on film yet but I'm trying! She takes after me in so many ways and she's going to be the kid to let you know she doesn't care for you despite your feelings. I have to work on that with her for sure.
Oh yes, and sometimes our outdoor adventures aren't easy. On this day she fell into my mom's garden and she's still not a fan of grass so she sat here saying "out" with her hands up until I got her. It was kind of hilarious and you know I had to take a picture to document it before I actually helped her.
She really is happy almost every day. We've had some particularly trying days as of late and I'm chalking it up to massive teething (my guess is four are coming in on top and possibly two more on bottom) and it's been really quite challenging to remain calm and tell myself that she won't cry all day every day forever.

Oh yes, and her hair. She has this swoop of hair that is kind of too short to put in a pony (though I clearly tried on the Fourth of July as you can see) but she doesn't really like hair clips or bows and promptly pulls them out. You'd think she'd like not having hair in her face but apparently I don't know what is cool in toddler fashion.

Overall? She is a fun kid. She really is. She is also moody now and can be a super lovable beast. She gets hungry at the same time every day and I keep saying she's like a real life Snickers commercial- she's just not her when she's hungry.

I'm really worried about life with a newborn and Penelope and how I'm going to wrangle all of that together. I'm grateful my mom lives only a few minutes from me so she is willing to help me at least until I can get some kind of routine established. I already feel like the month of August is going to be an absolute blur. So think good things for us as we enter the land of life with four children. The brochure makes it sound terrifying.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

37 weeks - we are READY.

And when I say "we" I really mean I am ready and fetus four needs to just get right with that. I had my 36 week check last Thursday and I was 50% effaced and dilated to 1. Which isn't a whole lot, but any kind of progress at this point feels great because it's confirmation the end is near.

 37 weeks

In general, I feel OK. Not great, but not ridiculously awful. I'm very sore all of the time but that's because she's as low as can possibly be without actually coming out, a good sign. My lower back has started to really hurt all of the time, which isn't normally a complaint I have during pregnancy so I really hope that doesn't mean I'm in for back labor. I've never had it before and I'd like to just as soon skip it if possible. My vagina hurts like a MOTHER. I can't sit, I can't lay, I can't even stand- it all hurts. I would be lying to you if I said I haven't sat with ice packs in my pants because it was the only relief I could get. 

I'm also down a pound from week 36 and I was down four pounds from week 35, which is another sign (if I go by previous pregnancies) that labor is coming soon. People have said it looks like I've dropped but I don't feel any relief- it's just as hard to breathe now as it was the entire time. 

I am a little nervous that I'm actually carrying a boy and not a girl. My doctor said at week 36 she looked at the ultrasound and she's not sure she would have called it so quick. They can't get me in for another ultrasound because they are down a machine and the other one is booked, and they can't bump someone else because I don't have anything wrong with me, which I understand. So now I'm kind of panicking. 
I have my hospital bag packed and on the dining room table- I just need to put my makeup bag and my hair brush in there and go. I have the baby's bag packed (pictured). I treated myself to a new, much more functional, diaper bag (pictured) so I'm excited about that. I have a home made burp cloth my friend made me for Penelope, a muslin swaddle, a regular receiving blanket, NB and 0-3 month outfit for girl (in case she's big like Penelope was), and yes, a boy outfit.

Don't laugh. I bought a few boy outfits for friends who are having boys around when I'm due for gifts and if I need it then... I guess I'll get them something different. Or take all of their clothes I bought and get them a gift card. Ha! But seriously, I would much rather be prepared than not. But that bag is in my van. The car seat is installed. The bassinet in our room is set up. Matt is going to haul the baby swing up from the basement for me so I can wash the seat liner and have that ready to go, too.

I've been walking every day, resting when I can. Eating ice cream and pizza. I'm ready. I feel like I'm as ready as I can be. And you know what's really weird? I told Matt that as much as I am DONE, 100% done being pregnant, having babies, and all of the hard work that comes with babies and toddlers and beyond.... I have this fear that in a few years I'm going to miss it and want more.


I really hope that once this baby is born I get that wave of "this is for sure it and you're totally fine with it". I hate feeling like I can't wait to be done because truthfully, feeling the baby move and being pregnant is really incredible and I'm lucky to not only have had one child but soon to be four. I know I'm lucky. I am worried I'm taking these last few weeks for granted because I want to be done so badly. It's a weird emotional, mostly hormonal, spot to be in.

So we'll see. I have my 37 week check on Thursday so we'll see if I have had any more progress. I sure hope so.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Under An Adirondack Sky

Let's start your week off with a book review, shall we? Plus, it's still summer and this is another really great summer read for your beach bag!

Under An Adirondack Sky - Karen Rock

Can he juggle everything…including her? 

After raising his siblings and running the family pub for more than a decade, Aiden Walsh has set his own dreams aside. Until the most beautiful woman he's ever seen stumbles into his bar, and his arms. Too bad Rebecca Day is the school psychologist in charge of his brother's future. Who's he kidding? He doesn't have room in his full life for romance anyway. But forced to join Rebecca and her group of troubled teens on an Adirondack wilderness adventure, he realizes keeping his family afloat isn't enough for him…not by a long shot. 

Have you noticed I'm kind of hooked on Harlequin books lately? Can't stop, won't stop, lambs. Yes, it's a romance novel but this one falls under their Heartwarming category so you aren't going to get raunchy sex scenes and an over the top, slightly unbelievable story line you love anyways. It's a really lovely story about a woman, desperately trying to earn tenure at the school she's been at as a school psychologist, and earn enough to stay afloat financially on her own without relying on her well off aunt to help her. Enter Aiden, who after his father's death ten years earlier, has assumed responsibility for the family tavern, become dad to his younger siblings, and caregiver to his mother with dementia. It's a lot to take on and in the midst of it, his brother Connor is on the verge of being kicked out of school because of his behavior and Aiden is at a loss. He thinks what Connor needs is stern punishment whereas Rebecca, the school psychologist, thinks what Connor needs is Aiden to actually parent him.

Enter the wilderness adventure with children like Connor, and their parent/caregiver, which will hopefully be Rebecca's hail mary for tenure but also make a difference for these children.

Of course, Rebecca and Aiden, though they butt heads during their first professional meeting, it soon blossoms into a romance and once they go there, it's hard for them to stay away. It's a sweet romance but more importantly, it's full of characters you will actually LIKE. You'll not only like them, but you'll be rooting for them. You'll want Aiden to get his priorities together and put his family first, you'll want Rebecca to get the family she always wanted, and you want these teenagers to get back onto the right path for their own futures. And honestly? I kind of loved Connor. I could see why Rebecca had a soft spot for him, you know he's a good kid that just wants to be heard and actually listened to. Overall? I really liked this book. I flew through it during Penelope's nap times and it was a nice way to just relax after chasing her for several hours!

You can connect with Karen Rock on her website, Facebook, and Twitter! You can purchase your own copy of Under An Adirondack Sky on Amazon right now!
I received a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review, all thoughts and comments are my own. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Crafty Saturday: supply stock up and Back to School card!

I've been on such a roll with scrapbooking that it was becoming pretty obvious I had to stock up on some supplies so I could keep up with my current pace. I haven't found a really great place to get scrapbooking supplies at great prices, but one website I do check fairly frequently is Crafty Steals. They often have kits in various sizes and prices that you can actually do a lot with and get a lot of use out of them. I bought a few recently and I've been tinkering with some of the products.

This was the entire shipment that I got. It's a pretty wide assortment of stuff and I think I paid around $80 after shipping for it all? The only complaint I have is that you don't get shipment tracking information and it takes a long time for you to get your stuff. I think I waited almost three weeks before it arrived.
One of my favorite companies is Doodlebug Designs, so I bought this summer/mermaid kid thinking some of it I could use for Penelope pages and some I could even use for Fetus Four's future book. I also bought a summer kit by Echo Park, and then some Fourth of July kits because I have nothing for those pages!
So here's my Doodlebug Designs Fourth of July Kit. It came with a bunch of paper but look at all of the embellishments I got! I can use those on pages but I can also use them on cards and not just Fourth of July stuff!
Also, that was the summer/mermaid kid I got that is also Doodlebug Designs. Their stuff is automatically geared towards kid pages but I always love the bright colors and fun embellishments. My next confession is that sometimes I get something and it's SO CUTE I don't want to use it. Which is insane, I know, but it's totally true.

But all of that aside, this baby is due in what, three weeks? I have to get my butt into gear when it comes to Back to School.

I know, some of you just had the first stab of a panic attack, didn't you? Well my goal this year was to be 100% done with my clothes shopping as well as the school supply shopping because I know full well I'm not going to want to battle the crowds with my two school age big kids, a toddler, and a newborn.


But in addition to all of that, I also give a Back to School teacher gift to my kids' teachers every year. I don't know what my plan is once they get to middle and high schools when they have more than one teacher, but at least for the elementary teachers, I always do a fun little basket. I'll post more on that basket perhaps next week, but I wanted to share the card I made to go into the basket! I always, bare minimum, do a card with my contact information and just a general "good luck/looking forward to the year" note for them. Honestly, I have to think Back to School is just as stressful for them as it is for us. They have to learn a whole new set of kids, their strengths and weaknesses, a new schedule, sometimes a new curriculum, and I feel like whatever I can do to encourage them, I'm all for it.
Just a simple little learning worm card. The inside is blank, but isn't the front super cute? I have this little stack of accent paper I've had for a few years now that is all school related so I've been using that for teacher cards for a few years.

Do you love it? Do you want it? Do you feel like totally not making it because you don't have the time? Head over to my Etsy shop- I have three in stock! I know, you're like- holy hell, Sara! I know, I'm going to try to resurrect my shop in the hopes of a little extra income (we desperately need it) but also to help out you non-crafters who want to give super cute, original, unique stuff. I've got you, boo. I'll be adding things periodically (hopefully) and I have a few larger gift items I can custom make for people in the future... but more on that soon.

Until next week lambs, happy crafting!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Finished in June, what's up in July Book List

I know, it feels like July is almost over but I forgot to wrap up what I read in June, what's on the list for July and give you links to everything you have maybe missed.


Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
Saving Abby - I have actually read this one twice in June. It was THAT good.
Follow the River Home
Sleepless in Manhattan - super fun news, lambs! I'm reading another book by this author for review, but you won't see that until September. But still exciting!
Lone Star Nights
Keep You Close
All Summer Long - my most requested to borrow book from local friends from my June list.


I have kind of a full month, and if you've been catching up with the blog, you maybe have already seen some of these reviews go up already. These aren't listed in any particular order, but these are all of the ones I would really like to get through this month. Most are for reviews I've signed up for, one is a fun book that I haven't gotten to and I feel TERRIBLE about. My Nook has basically died, but Matt has it rigged so I can read off of it while plugged into my laptop but only for half hour increments and then it dies for a few hours. Needless to say, this is my third e-reader in what, four years? I'm done. TOTALLY DONE with e-readers, folks. *sigh*

I do have a few reviews lined up for August because I have a hard time looking at the damn calendar when signing up for things so I will somehow manage to read with a newborn and toddler here. If anyone can do it, it's me, so stay tuned!