Friday, March 29, 2019

I love to pee and sleep. Oh, and Lucy sees speech.

I think I mentioned last week that I would be seeing my Endocrinology and Pulmonary doctors this week and that they were the first in a series of follow up appointments. I'm starting to get really confused because I have appointments, Lucy has a bunch of appointments, and I have to schedule physicals for four kids and it is just a lot and I am grateful I have a planner otherwise I would be completely screwed. But here's what happened this week:

I went to Endocrinology and I really like this doctor. I have had him since I was still in the hospital after having Lucy so he's aware of all of my issues and how I ended up here. Let me just note that the doctors I have had since the very beginning are really the best because they have seen my progress and know the obstacles I keep facing. They are the ones that believe me when I say I think that all of my current issues are tied to my AFE. The doctors I've picked up along the way usually say, "Oh, OK. But lets talk about losing weight." and they discredit everything I say.

So I'll just put that out there.

This visit though was so bizarre. I had a lot of questions about my emergency room visit not too long ago and questions about weight loss. Unfortunately I got a lot of "I don't know" answers from him and basically, I left there with a bunch of questions still, no answers, and told to do what I feel like works. That honestly is not good enough for me because I really need to be given very concrete, black and white answers. My brain doesn't work with the vague stuff.

Also though- he was OBSESSED with how much I pee. He wants to know if I pee too much and honestly, I feel like I pee an OK amount. I'm not upset about it. If I have to leave the house for several hours, I curb my water and take half a pill of my medication. I take half a pill before bed. I try to always have ice cold water on me to curb cravings. He didn't like my answers so I also left there with two urine collection containers and a bowl to pee in so that's happening.

I had to get some labs done, of which I don't know how they came out because he hasn't looked at them yet, but then I walked across the street to Pulmonary.

Carrying my urine collection goodies and that was fun.
The Pulmonary doctor is really nice and I don't hate going there. The women who work at the check in desk are rude as all get out but the actual doctor is fantastic. He does talk to me like I have special needs or that I'm slow but it's kind of funny and it's fine. I breathe alright, my lungs sound super, I need to keep using my inhaler for exercise and use my CPAP every night and I can come back in a year. Easy peasy.

I also had a meeting with the Birth to 3 program in regards to getting Lucy some speech development help.
I really have put it off as long as I could and I have done everything I know how to do and tried a few things that have worked for other people and things I've see on child development websites and still- her speech isn't where it needs to be. The plan is to start her in a three year old preschool program (like Penelope is in this year) and though that doesn't start until September, other people can't understand her. For the most part, I can. But she needs help.

The Birth to 3 person is so nice and we basically spent out hour or so together filling out paperwork and Lucy napped. She has a formal evaluation with the speech development person and the child development person in two weeks and that will determine what she needs and how we're going to do it. The down side is that the cut off to get an IEP started is like 33 months, and she's like 32 months. And I don't mean cut off like she'll never get help but they have this deadline so that services are in place and organized for her before she starts school because once she turns three all development help gets transferred to our school district. So of course, cue the guilt that I didn't do this sooner, etc.

I know. I know you're like, "God Sara, relax. At least you're doing it now, it's not a big deal." Rationally? I know this. I'm not neurotic.

But I am anxiety headquarters and no amount of you saying that or me thinking it makes those thoughts and feelings go away.

It is what it is.

I also had therapy this week and that was tough. Every time I think it will be a pretty easy session and I'll keep working on things, something always comes up and I end up crying for an entire hour, then I cry in my car ride home. I cry that night. I'm a mess. But I know I need it so I keep going.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book Review: Power Up

I'll have a little medical update for you tomorrow (promise!), this week has been BUSY and I'm equal parts excited that this week is almost over and worried about next week because it's even busier. Oh, and Jackson turns 11 next week and have I started anything? Gotten a gift? NOPE.

So. I'm trying to get as many book reviews off of my desk so I don't feel overwhelmed with those. These books are all read and ready for me to type a review.... it's just finding time to actually do it. I don't know how I did this all pre-AFE because I am barely treading water here. Yikes.

Power Up - Seth Fishman

Did you know there is enough energy in your pinkie finger to power an entire city? And that everything you do--running, jumping, playing, and exploring--uses that same energy inside of you?

In the companion to A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg explore the relationship between energy and the human body, breaking down complicated concepts into small, child-friendly segments.

I really enjoy reading and reviewing children's books because I have such a passion in making sure kids read, have access to books, and enjoy it. I really believe every kid can grow up to be a reader, it's a matter of finding the right kind of books for them. Not every kid will love classic literature and I think pushing all books onto a kid does them a disservice. When I saw this one come through my email I jumped onto it because for the first time in my mom life I have a kid who asks "Why?" enough times during the day I often say, "Because it just does!" or I claim I don't know. I saw this book and I immediately thought of my little Penelope who is going to be four soon so she's getting to the age where I can read a longer book with her and have a discussion and she really wants to know what's going on.
Lucy and Penelope both because they do everything together. 

I have to tell you- Penelope LOVED this book. The illustrations (done by Isabel Greenberg) are really quite interesting and will hold the attention of a kiddo easily. We did discover this really is not the book to read at bedtime because your child(ren) will keep you up asking endless questions, wanting to see pages again, asking what it says, etc. If you have a child who is obsessed with superheroes, this would be a great book for them because this explains how THEY are actually superheroes and talks about all of the cool and fantastic things their body already does.

If you have a child who loves random facts and tidbits of information? They are going to love this book. (Did you know a human once ran 310 miles in three days without stopping? Spoiler: It wasn't me.) After reading this book a few times it dawned on me that this would be a really great addition to a school library or even in a classroom. I can't remember what grade they talk about energy in elementary school but this would be a GREAT book to use at the start of that unit. If you're a teacher, consider this one for your next classroom purchase- your students, old and young, will enjoy this one.

I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Book Review: Say You Want Me

I read the first book in this series, Say You'll Stay, way back in 2016 and I didn't remember it at all. I went back to read my review and I was surprised to read that I didn't like Presley back then, and she makes appearances throughout this book and I liked her just fine. Weird. I've had this book and the next one on my shelf a LONG time and I'm just now getting to them, and I'm glad.

Say You Want Me - Corinne Michaels

There’s no way I’ll fall for Wyatt Hennington.

He can keep his Southern drawl, irresistible smile, and those pick-up lines all to himself. I made the mistake of sleeping with him not once, but twice. I’m not stupid enough to give him round three, especially after he left me in the middle of the night so I could see myself out. I vow to return to Philadelphia and forget him.

It proves easier said than done.

When the doctor informs me I’m the winner of door prize number two, I put my life on hold and head back to Bell Buckle. Three months and if we can’t make this work, I’m gone.

The problem is—when the cards are stacked against us, and I can’t bring myself to leave him, I’ll finally know if he truly loves me or if all my fears were real . . .

Alright, so in this book we have the story of Wyatt and Angie, two people who have never had an actual relationship let alone a long time, committed one. After having some fun hookups, Angie has gone back to her established life in Philadelphia and Wyatt stays in Tennessee doing the farm thing. Suddenly Angie realizes she's pregnant and the only possibility is Wyatt. Scared out of her mind, she reluctantly returns to Bell Buckle to tell her best friend (Presley from book 1) and Wyatt. That ends up happening relatively quickly and suddenly Wyatt and Angie decide to give their relationship a go for three months and then Angie would decide, does she stay... or does she go? Of course nothing is that easy and a HUGE plot twist happens and nothing is the same again.

Unlike the first book where I didn't love the characters (odd since I like them just fine in this book) I actually really liked Wyatt and Angie. Normally I think I would think Angie was a bit too dramatic but actually... I could see myself feeling the same way. It felt more relatable than the first one for me and I think that's why I really enjoyed this one. So much so that I declared myself out of my reading slump because I stayed up past bedtime to finish this one in one day. I really am so happy that Presley pulled her head out of her own ass and kind of become the hero here.

Overall, I'm going to give this one 4.5 stars. The only thing knocking it a bit for me was there were parts where Angie was almost discrediting the possibility that love could happen and I wish she had gotten it together a little sooner. Better late than never, though.

If you're a fan of contemporary romance, I think you're really going to like this one. I'm excited to start the next one and Corinne Michaels is an author I'm really enjoying.
You don't HAVE to read book one before this, but in case you do (you really do)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Book Review: The Right Side of Forever

If you didn't see my review for The Left Side of Perfect which is book one of this duet, you have to do that and you have to read that before you can read this one. It's literally non-negotiable. It's really good and both of these books are really short, they would make a perfect vacation read or a kid-free weekend. Seriously. You will fly through these.

The Right Side of Forever - Meghan Quinn

In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish . . .

It sounds so simple, to love someone unconditionally. 
To give them your heart.

So why is she slowly eating away at my soul with every unanswered phone call, every unread text, and every door left unopened?

She said yes, and yet, in order for her to be with me . . . I need to let her go.

In this book we have Colby and Ryan, at a weird crossroads. We start the book with Colby engaged to Sage but neither of them are really feeling it. Ryan is feeling Colby and Colby realizes he's feeling Ryan. Alright?

Well Colby is in the Air Force and his assignment is changing so as soon as Colby and Ryan get their crap together, Ryan freaks out and decides now is the time to work on her. They separate, they do their thing and you have to read it to figure out how they wind back together. It's no secret that's what happens but the story is in the way that actually happens.

I really like Colby. He's a stand up guy who does anything and everything for anybody. I've liked his character in both books BUT I feel like he's lost some of his grouchy spunk that I kind of loved in book one, so that was kind of a bummer. My issue is and has always been Ryan. She's a hot mess. She couldn't be any  more of a hot mess. I understand where her issues stem from and I get that because I've been in that same boat. BUT! At the same time, grow the hell up. I say that with love. Grow up. Stop being stupid. She complains for a book and a half that she never has anything good in her life, she gets that, and says, "Nevermind, I'm going to do me"? Are you serious right now? I don't know. It feels almost like... she dooms herself. What if Colby had found someone and said goodbye? Would we have book three of Ryan doing the "nothing good happens to me" storyline? I don't know. She is just a really tough character to like for me.

With that said though, I did like this book and the duet. I really enjoyed how quick of a read they both were, I really, REALLY like this author a lot, and I think this author does a really good job at writing a romantic drama and she succeeds here with no question. Also? Who doesn't love a story with an alpha male and a military background?! It's hot and the scenes between Colby and Ryan are hot, I wish we had a couple more. Worth it!

You need to pick this one up because it's a really good weekend read. Take it on vacation. Keep it in your purse when you're waiting to pick kids up, or a little getaway on your lunch break. It's a good read and definitely fast, you'll have a hard time putting it down.

But you need book one before you read this one!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: What She Gave Away

I'm getting back into my reading groove and I love it. I'm slowly working into it but thankfully I've had some really great review books (almost all thrillers, oddly enough) and that's really helped. Today I'm reading this one because it sounded really good and bizarre. Let's chat.

What She Gave Away - Catharine Riggs

Revenge is anything but sweet in this twisty thriller about two women with very different lives locked in the same deadly game.

Imagining the best way to destroy a person’s happiness is Crystal Love’s favorite game. Devious and unpolished, the plus-sized loan analyst couldn’t be more out of place in her new town of Santa Barbara, where the beautifully manicured women never age and the ocean views stretch farther than the million-dollar lawns. And yet her eye for the power dynamics at play in this tony community is dead accurate.

Kathi Wright, on the other hand, has made it her life’s work to fit in with the plastic people who surround her. But when her husband—a wealthy bank president—dies suddenly, she’s left with nothing. Then the FBI shows up, asking questions she can’t answer and freezing assets she once took for granted.

While Kathi struggles to outrun the mess caused by her husband’s mysterious death, Crystal seems focused on her game. But why? And who are her targets?

Spanning two years and told in Crystal’s and Kathi’s alternating voices, this tautly plotted novel reveals the power of choice and the price of revenge. 

I was really excited to start this book and thankfully it was actually a pretty fast read. Instead of chapters it just flip flops between Crystal and Kathi's voice so you keep thinking you'll read one more section but then you realize you've just read half the book.

What's really interesting is there is so many reference's to Crystal's weight and Kathi's skinniest and I thought that was just really strange. I'm actually going through a body image boot camp and we talk a lot about that and society's obsession with it. Now, had I read this book even six months ago I don't think I would have even noticed it but now I do, and it's constantly being tossed into your face and it's aggravating because why is Crystal's weight such a big deal? Does it make her seem more like a villain than if she was skinny? Is Kathi more sympathetic because she's smaller so if it were a show down in the street you'd think, "Oh poor Kathi- Crystal is going to kill her!"? It's strange and that kind of turned me off on the book once I realized how often this was going to be referenced.

I liked the premise of this book, I liked the idea of the story and I though this would have made a really great thriller IF a lot of clues weren't given in the first 100 pages or so. I was able to figure out how the book was going to end, the path to get there, the entire thing. That was pretty disappointing. Still, I hung in until the last page because I wanted to see if by chance I was wrong but nope. I was completely on target and I was a little disappointed- I wanted a crazy twist at the end that blew me out of the water but it didn't happen.

Also, Crystal is set up as a villain but honestly? I kind of liked her. Which probably says something about me as a person, but her birth parents were kind of terrible people. It doesn't justify what Crystal ultimately does to them but I understand why she would do it. It also kind of makes you wonder how far the apple really goes from the tree, right?

In the end, I'm giving this one a solid 3 stars. I liked it, no more and no less. It has a good plot, my only complaint is I wish I didn't really make the connection so early on in the book.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The sickness. AGAIN.

If you know us in real life you'll know I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with Lucy for years. Yeah, I said years. Since she was six or seventh months old when she got her first cold, she's had this never ending runny nose and goopy eye. Sometimes it clears up for one to three days but it always comes back and her one eye is never not swollen a little. Her face is really chapped and honestly I can't tell if it's eczema or just dry from wiping her nose all of the time. 

It honestly could be either. 

Last week though it was just really the worst. 
It started with a small runny nose. Nothing too crazy, just an annoying drip periodically, but her eye was really swollen.  
 Another day she went to the ophthalmologist because her doctor thought maybe her eye issues (swollen, goopy eye) was from a blocked duct. It turns out he wasn't actually sure. He referred us to Ear, Nose and Throat (which we already had a referral for April 2) and told us if they couldn't help us, come back, and the only way to check about this specific duct was surgery, but in the mean time he gave us these drops to use 4 times a day for 4 weeks. 

Which sounds grand. 
 So we started that and honestly, her eye seems MORE swollen to me. 
 I will say though, she's s pretty lovable kid so she really just wants cuddles. She will let us wash her face and she really likes a warm washcloth on her eye and it's really the only way to get all the gunk off her eyelashes otherwise they harden and it hurts. 
 Then she woke up with a LOT of boogers. Enough where I had to wash her entire face first thing because they were literally all over her face and in her hair. 

Combine this with Penelope having blow out poops in her pull up and trying to handle it herself some time in the night. I woke up to poop EVERYWHERE in my bathroom, the hallway, her room, it was a SCENE. I stepped in it carrying Lucy to the bathroom because she stinks and her eyes are basically crusted shut. 

Actually, my entire week was like this every morning and it wasn't great. I went to bed completely exhausted every day last week. 

 So Lucy really wasn't feeling well and she had a LOT of boogers and she had this really low fever all week. On Friday I had Matt take her to Urgent Care while I stayed home with the other three because I feel like at this point, it's got to be a sinus infection. Her cheek hurt, she said her teeth hurt (all on the side with the swollen eye) and she's miserable. 

The doctor there said there really isn't a test for that but he's going to give us an antibiotic because whatever she has will probably be knocked out by it. Which, alright. I don't think Lucy has ever been on an antibiotic but she HATES taking any kind of medicine and having to hold her down 4 times a day for one eye drop is traumatic for us all, so let's try to force an antibiotic down her throat. 

Yeah. No problem. 
 On Saturday she woke up like this and it scared the crap out of me when I rolled over and saw this. I took her to the bathroom and her one eye is totally shut, she's got a LOT of dried blood and boogers on her face and she's kind of whimpering. Like Jesus- I've never had a kid with a bloody nose. The only time I've ever had that was in tenth grade when I broke my nose. 

So I get her all cleaned up, we get some fresh clothes on and once I got her eye washed really well she could open it a little. So I go get her beloved blanket and penguin off her bed. 
 And see that she actually bled a lot because it's soaked through her pillow, all over the sheets and her big blanket. So now I'm washing bedding. 

My mom runs out to get me a small humidifier for their room because I'm thinking maybe it's just dry in there? I don't actually know but it's worth a try and probably good to have anyways. 

On day 4 or 5 of her antibiotic I'm seeing a little improvement. She doesn't have the massive amounts of boogers coming out but I don't know if it's the antibiotics working or if we're in a good stretch here. I just wish I knew what was wrong with her so she could be a perky lovebug again. She never really seems like she feels good, you know? 
Also, Matt took this picture this weekend because honestly, this is what every day of my life is like. If the big kids could get up here, they would, too. Everyone sits with me. I know people always say "I can't go to the bathroom myself!" and I really can't. I can't pee, I can't work on stuff, I can't eat, I can't go to another room, I can't sit and watch TV, I can't read, I can't even nap without someone wanting to be right on me. 

It's suffocating. 

I'm so tired. If it's not me with health issues, it's a kid. I can't keep anything straight or stay on top of symptoms of anyone. I feel like I'm missing little things that are actually big things. Then I feel completely paranoid. It's terrible. I have therapy next week and thank goodness. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Medical frequent customer care card? It's an idea.

I haven't given you a health update in awhile and while it's nothing exciting, it's worth sharing even if only for my own memory later on. I keep saying there should be punch cards for every doctor visit you go to and when you get a free card you get a prize or a discount. Something.

Rheumatology: My doctor has officially retired now and they haven't hired a new one so I'm seeing a nurse practitioner in the meantime. That's OK, it's not like I'm a snob on who I see, and I really only go every few months so it's not a big deal. Actually I go every six weeks but whatever. At every visit I have to do a lot of lab work because I'm on Methotrexate and that's something that needs to be closely monitored apparently. My C-Reactive Protein (which tells them the inflammation situation in my body) is still really high despite being on Methotrexate. The current theory is that I do not absorb or process medications well (which makes sense because that's what other doctors think about other medications) so I need to start splitting my dose to see if that makes a difference. I've been taking my 8 pills on Wednesdays all at once in the morning, so now I'll do 4 in the morning and 4 in the evening and we'll see how that goes. If that doesn't work then my next option is injectable Methotrexate. I am NOT excited about this because I hate needles and I absolutely cannot do it myself. I really can't. Even thinking about it makes me anxious and I feel like I'm going to cry. I really can't do it. If I don't want to do that I have to do infusions of Remicaid/Humira/Enbrel, etc. I don't want to do that because those gave my mom cancer AND who has six hours to sit for an infusion? My options aren't great and I keep feeling like maybe I want to save all of that until I get worse? I mean, I can deal right now and if I am going to get worse, let's save all of this until then.

In the meantime, she gave me this ibuprofen cream? I had no idea this existed but it does and it actually kind of works. I used it on my hands, my back, and the tops of my feet and by god- it works. It's supposed to be direct application of the ibuprofen but without all of the side effects of ibuprofen that can make your liver angry. So we'll see how that is long term.

Gastroenterology: I see this guy again in May. I think after that appointment I'll have to schedule for my follow up endoscopy to see if my Barrett's Esophagus has changed, if I have any more inflammation anywhere, if the polyps in my stomach have changed or if I have more gall stones. They did an MRI a few months ago on my liver lesion but it didn't look like it changed but they'll check it out anyways I think he said. I don't know what to even think about any of that. I take my omeprazole every day and I don't know if it does anything, I never felt like I had acid reflux before but it's clear that I do, so who knows? I still have stomach pain all the time so clearly that wasn't the fix. I am going to ask about Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth because I have almost all of the symptoms and honestly? I look six months pregnant right now. I keep thinking maybe it's my steroids I take, and that might be part of it, but this is just ridiculous at this point.

Endocrinology: I see him next week and I'm sure he's dreading it. I have a LOT to ask him and honestly, I get the feeling that my case is so complicated and weird that he just doesn't have time for it. But the other guy doesn't want me either and they keep trying to make me go to the Mayo Clinic, who doesn't do regular check in's. They find the problem when nobody else can and send you back to your local doctor. The endocrinologists in the other hospital won't see me because I have too many other overlapping things and they won't see me unless I change all of my care over, which I'm not willing to do because all of my doctors are actually really good. So I'm kind of stuck. I absolutely, 100% do not believe my last ER visit was stomach flu. So he's going to hear about that.

Pulmonary: I get to see this doctor next week, too! He's actually really nice and I always forget his name and what he looks like, but I remember he's really nice and talks to me like I'm special needs. But this is, according to my planner, my one year follow up to see how I'm doing with my c-pap machine and how I'm doing with my inhaler for activities. I actually really suck at remembering my inhaler which explains why my lungs feel like they are seizing when I do exercise, but I put an inhaler near my TV and where my exercise bike thing is so hopefully that helps. But the c-pap machine is AMAZING and I love it forever.

Therapy: I won't lie, therapy is really, really, really hard. My depression is still really bad and I've not improved at all on my scales they make me do every few weeks. I get better in one area, get worse in another. Then they flip flop. Then something else will get worse when something else gets better. It's frustrating. I keep going every two weeks and I've never missed or rescheduled one. I'm trying.

Psychiatry: Oh, I see this doctor pretty soon, too. I have to tell him that while my irritability/anger/unstable mood is better (not great but better), the Ritalin does literally nothing to keep me awake/alert/aware. I have also noticed I have a weird inability to cry. When things happen and it's reasonable for me to cry, I can't. It feels like when you have to sneeze but you can't, and you're standing there willing yourself to sneeze? That's what it feels like when I want to cry. But then, out of nowhere, I'll cry about absolutely nothing and I have no idea what's going on. It's really weird and I don't like it. But the Ritalin thing is not good so I don't know if he will try to increase my dose or just switch  me to the next option, Adderall, which really scares me. I hear that and I think Lindsay Lohan and let's all see where that led her.

Overall? I feel like doctor visits have really slowed down, which is good. I feel a little more normal now. I think I am going to buy myself a really nice journal and start writing down every stupid thing that I feel or that happens. I'm finding that something will happen and I think, "Oh man, I'll remember THIS and tell the doctor!" and then I don't and when I go I just shrug my shoulders and say I have no questions. But a few days later I remember and I feel stupid sending a message to ask. I feel like I'm wasting their time and I hate feeling like I'm crazy.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Weight Loss Challenge (week 19)

Again, this week I did nothing. Well, nothing in terms of exercise.

In nutrition I have been doing some research on diets that are gluten, dairy, sugar free. As you would assume, it's a lot of food that I don't eat. At all. I am a little fearful that I'm going to be put on this diet at my next GI visit to see if it makes any difference with my stomach pains and I know for damn sure I'll lose weight because I will be eating mostly nothing. I can have cucumbers and iceberg lettuce so there's that.
I'm probably going to die. According to Google I can live for like three weeks with no food so we'll see. It's kind of daunting. SO..... if you have any recipes that are gluten, dairy, and sugar free.... help a girl out.

In other news, it's getting nicer outside. By nicer I mean it's over freezing and things are melting, so that's basically summer for northern Wisconsin. The plan for this week is:

  • Two Beachbody Workouts
  • Two walks either outside or on the treadmill
  • One session on my bike
I know it seems ambitious but honestly I really have to start pushing myself, you know? I am feeling like I'm coming out of the weird depressive fog I've been in, which only confirms I have no idea why they come or why they go, which is frustrating. To say the least. 

The other thing is I'm trying to get into podcasts but I'm kind of struggling with finding good ones. Right now I listen to The Mental Illness Happy Hour, Phil in the Blanks, The Arm Chair Expert, and (sometimes) 300 Pounds and Running. I just added the new Conan O'Brien one so we'll see how that is. I want something to listen to as I walk so if you listen to a good podcast- help a girl out. 

So that's what my week is going to look like. Wish me luck. Olivia has dance until 8:45 tonight so that's going to be late so... tonight might be my bike night. Or maybe I'll get crazy and do a walk. I'm not sure yet. Cross your fingers for me. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Book Review: The Left Side of Perfect

Let's end the longest week of all time with a book review, shall we?

The Left Side of Perfect - Meghan Quinn

For better or for worse,'til death do us part . . .

The better captured me; she's who stole my heart. 
And made me realize I couldn’t live without this woman.
The worse of her took my breath away--kicked me when I was down and twisted me into a million knots.

When I first met her, I thought she was someone I would never see again. 
The second time I ran into her, it was a random coincidence.
The third? 
I didn’t know it at the time, but she was the girl I was going to marry.

But life isn’t always perfect. You have to take the better and the worse--even if it means giving her up, having her slip between your fingers, and letting her walk away. 

I’m getting married. 
This is forever, 'til death do us part.

I asked for this duet (book review for book #2 coming soon) for Christmas and I got it. I'm a fan of Meghan Quinn so I had to have these. I definitely wasn't disappointed.

This book features Colby, totally responsible and an overall good guy. It has Ryan, the fun time girl who really has a lot of self esteem and self worth issues. They are paired at the wedding of their friends and have a one night stand basically. He moves on and she moves on and all is well. Until Ryan finds her life in an upheaval and she finds herself living in Las Vegas (where Colby lives) but by the time she gets the guts to reconnect with him, he's dating Sage. I'll be honest... something about Sage seems really off but whatever, I'm not the one dating her. Colby and Ryan pick up their friendship and end up becoming best friends as Ryan rebuilds her life and Colby is helping keep her on track.

At some point Ryan realizes she has feelings for Colby but is it too late? I can't tell you the answer to that but I am telling you that you better have book two on standby because you'll want to read it RIGHT NOW.

Overall I really liked this book and it's on par with Meghan's other books. These are actually pretty short books (a little over 200 pages) so these would make for great vacation reads. I've been carrying book one and two around in my little purse for awhile with no issues. Colby is a really great, normal guy with no crazy issues. Ryan has issues but she has issues I'm sure almost all of us have, she's insecure, she lets people's opinions of her play in her head, and she's convinced she can't get a nice, normal guy. I really liked them and there was a part in the book where Colby was saying how you can't have two bright stars in a relationship, someone needs to be the grounding force. Each person offers something to the other person and it becomes a good balance, and that's what it feels like Colby and Ryan are but.... we'll find out in book two.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: The Antidote

I'm still kind of in a reading slump but I'm trying to get myself out of it. I'm not sure what my problem is, so don't take the length of time it takes to read a book as an indicator of how the book is. I'm having a hard time keeping focus so bear with me.

The Antidote - Shelley Sackier

Magic is not allowed, under any circumstances — even if it could save someone’s life. Instead, there are herbal remedies and traditional techniques that have been painstakingly recorded in lieu of using the mystical arts. Fee knows this, so she keeps her magic a secret.

Except her best friend, Xavi, is deathly ill. He’s also the crown prince. Saving him is important, not only for her, but for the entire kingdom.

Fee’s desperation to save her friend means she can barely contain the magic inside her. And after the tiniest of slips, Fee is thrust into a dark and secretive world that is as alluring as it is dangerous.

If she gives in, it could mean she can save Xavi. But it also means that those who wish to snuff out magic might just snuff her out in the process. 

I'll start by saying I'm going to give this one 3 stars and I don't want you to look at that and disregard this book, it's worth the read. My biggest complaint is it's a little too slow moving for me and as someone who has read a lot of YA fantasy, this was a little lacking for me. BUT!! If you are new to this genre or maybe have only read a couple, give this one a try. I do think the targeted audience (young adult, young teen) is going to love it because it tackles a lot of things that will feel like they are reading a really heavy book (murder, self-harm, disease, etc) but to an adult these topics aren't actually a big deal. Well, they are a big deal but they don't pack the punch they should for an adult reader. The book also didn't have any big.... event/thing/oh-my-god moment and I always really enjoy that when I'm reading a fantasy. Would a young adult miss that? Probably not.

Let's talk about the things I did like. I really liked Fee. A couple of moments where I was a little on the fence but in the end, I really liked Fee. (Also Xavi is kind of great, too.) I really liked the drama, this would be kind of perfect for a middle/high school reader because that age thrives on drama and there is so much of it in this book that it feels like that's what really drives this story forward, leaving the magic and fantasy as a subplot almost.

Overall I'm giving this a 3, like I said. I think it's a great read and kids are going to really gravitate towards this and they are going to really love it. I did enjoy this and I read this during nap time and I was always bummed to put it back down and wait until the next day to start up again. If you are a die hard fantasy reader and you're thinking about this... I think you'll like it but it might not leave you feeling like you've just read a really good fantasy.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC in exchange for a review, all opinions are my own! You can also pick up a copy of The Antidote on Amazon.. it might make a fun addition to the Easter basket. Just saying.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Feel better soon.

I think in almost all encounters in person or even online and on the phone, I hear "feel better soon", "I hope you feel better" or some variation of it. I know I used to say it all the time because what else do you say? Being on the end of the spectrum where people say it to me now, it drives me crazy.

I know I've been asked in therapy before what a good day would be. What will normal look like for me, how will I know I'm doing better?

I honestly don't know.

I don't know how I'll know that I'm better. I don't know what feeling better is going to look like so telling me to get there is really stupid because I have no idea. If I could just get there, I would. I feel like I'm trying really hard, I'm taking every step I can to get there but here I am. I'm still... here.

On Sunday it was my 37th birthday. I used to really love my birthday and it seems like every year I really look forward to it. But then it comes and it's just another day. I don't feel anything. I'm not happy and I'm not.. sad. I feel down but I don't think it's sad, really. I kind of feel nothing at all. I got a bunch of presents, and that was pretty dang cool. My friend Lisa sent me a laminator (and I'm not kidding, I want to laminate ALL THE THINGS!), another friend Katherine sent me those cool coolers for the car for trips (handy because we're 80% sure we're going to Missouri this summer), I got a weighted blanket and my mom gave me cash. I had cupcakes and ice cream cake. My parents took Penelope and Lucy on Saturday to have a chill night home with no kids and that was really nice. I do notice that Matt and I aren't the same. We don't know how to relate to each other anymore since my AFE because I am not the same person and really, neither is he. So it was weird. We fought. We ate fast food. We went to sleep at our normal time. It was a pretty crappy date night.

But then my birthday comes and I didn't feel any different. It's really weird to be an age you didn't think you would be. I once told friends years ago that I wouldn't see 35. I really never believed I would make it beyond 35, I just wasn't vocal about it. I barely survived it and now I'm at 37 and I feel really lost. I don't have a career and that ship has sailed, so now I have to find my self worth somewhere else. I don't like how I look and I likely will never get down to where I was so I have to find my self esteem somewhere else. I always thought my purpose was solely to bring my kids to life and now they're here, so I have to find a new purpose somewhere else. I have brain damage and I'm medicated to the hilt to function so I don't/can't feel happiness, that lightness in your chest when you realize you're just really happy right were you are, so I have to figure out what my substitute of that is going to be.

It's really a jarring situation to be in. I feel so lost and every day I think I'm not supposed to be here. I wasn't meant to stay and I hate thinking I took the place of someone who wanted to be here. That sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it? I feel like it sounds a little woo woo.

Back to feeling better. I've decided that saying, "feel better" or the sort is kind of a rude and dismissive statement. You don't really care if I feel better because if you did you'd ask what would help and try to help. Or you'd acknowledge that the situation is really awful and while you can't fix anything you're open to listening to it and really listening... not just saying that and then not listen.

Now that I'm in this situation I really pay attention to what people say flippantly or what they do (or don't do). A lot of people will tell you to feel better and they forget all about you once they see someone else. The best is when people reach out on social media but subtly sneak in the junk they are selling or "lifestyle" they recommend and it's infuriating. Nothing says "I don't give a damn, I just need to sell this" like friending someone on social media and then asking how they are and ignoring it completely to go into your spiel.

I'm trying to be more conscious of myself, too. If I know someone is struggling, I try to make myself a note in my planner to check in on them in a couple of weeks, see how they are doing. I don't want people to think they or their struggles are forgotten. I feel like that a lot, I think people assume I must be fine now or they get sick of dealing with it because it's scary and makes you feel helpless, and I fully get it. I do. But I'm still here. I'm still struggling. So I try really hard to check in with people. That's better than all of the "feel better!" or "it'll be OK"'s in the world. Try it sometime.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Weight Loss Challenge (week 18) Oh, jellybeans.

I'll be fully honest with you and tell you that I didn't do a damn thing last week. I can't really go into the things I'm dealing with because the person specifically asked me not to talk about it and also, the other stuff I don't want to talk about because I'm still trying to process it all and figure out what to do.

Needless to say, I cried a lot, I'm worried sick (literally) and I realize that my brain injury means I don't have the capacity to take all of this on anymore. I have reduced processing speed and it's just really hard. I'm coping and not well and it's hard. I just want one thing to be easy, you know? I don't have an area in my life that is stress free and OK. Not one. I did reach out to friends this week so I have some dinners set up to talk through it and hopefully have help going through it. So there's that.

This week I do want to get back on the wagon. I am realizing that the happiest I've been was when I was working on myself and being fit. I know that I have to do this and I'm sure that once I do it for a month long stretch it'll become routine and it won't be such a big deal for me. I feel like my depression is really pulling me down so I'm not sure how to rise above it.

And if you tell me vitamin D, sunshine, CBD oil, essential oils, shakes, cellophane wraps, whatever.... I'm going to punch you. Just stop.

The other thing I have to start looking into is dairy and gluten. Lucy has had some serious eczema issues and though she's going to see an allergist in April or something, we were told that dairy would be on the shortlist of things to look at. That's a bummer because you know, ice cream. I've tried dairy alternative milks for the girls before (soy, almond, etc) and they were really gross and nobody would drink it. I'm not sure what to do there. Also, gluten is amazing. I love gluten. I love it a lot. I know that I should probably curb the gluten for my own issues but Lucy has had some crazy weird poop that's grainy/sandy and I've read it might be a gluten issue. I've tried gluten free things and alternatives and god.... it's all so gross. I don't know how I'm even going to live gluten free, to be honest.

I need ideas! How do I switch a family (and me) to gluten and dairy free without us all crying about it?

Also, jellybeans are in store and that is the best part of Easter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Birthday Wish List: age 37

Every year I do a wish list for Christmas but I like doing the birthday wish list the most because birthdays are a big deal. I have always liked my birthday and wanted to celebrate it but since having Lucy and dying on the table, it gives a new meaning. I don't know if you watch The View, sometimes I do, but Whoopi Goldberg often says we should all cherish and celebrate our birthdays because there are so many who can't. I have never understood the people who lie about their age, I've worked HARD to get to age 37 and dammit, I want presents.

Disclosure: I'm pretty sure this was my brother's first birthday but who cares- I'm completely adorable. Secondly, I see so much Penelope and Lucy here so obviously they will end up awesome. 

1. Laminator: One of my favorite things of all time are office supplies. Give me a catalog and I will go through it page by page and I will come up with a reason that I need all the things. But truly, I could really use a laminator. I've been trying to do activities with the little girls that this would come in handy but also, I've come across things and wish I could just laminate it.

2. Flat Iron: It's almost embarrassing to say that I need a flat iron. AGAIN. I'm not kidding you, my hair is SO thick and SO wavy/curly that most tools just can't handle it. Hell, I can't handle it yet here I am. But here I am... I need a new one. But I need one that's wide so it doesn't take three hours to do my hair. 

3. DNA Test: I so badly want to do one of these just to see if anything pops up that would be a clue into all of my bizarre health issues. 

4. Block Shot: I read the first book in this series and LOVED IT so I really want to read this one! 

 5. Back Seat Coolers (4): We are going on a road trip this summer and now that I have a slightly smaller vehicle (it doesn't have the floor area that my van did) I'm looking for storage solutions to carry snacks/drinks. How cool are these? I could have one per kid and it would be great! 

6. Birkenstock Sandals: I don't know what my size would be in these so I'd have to try them on and I'm not completely sure what color I want, some version of brown, but I'm all about shoes I don't have to tie or do anything to get them on. 

I'm going to treat myself and get a hair cut in mid-March and I'm pretty excited about it. I want to get highlights but I have to find out how much that will cost and set a little money aside. If you could pick a birthday gift right now, what would it be? 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Book Review: Before She Knew Him

If you want a book that will make your head spin, ta-da! It has arrived!

Before She Knew Him - Peter Swanson

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door 

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

It took me a little bit but I realize I have read another book by this author called Her Every Fear and that one was pretty good so I went into this one having high hopes. Which ended up being a good thing because this one was even better. 

You find out almost immediately that Matthew is a serial killer and that's not even the interesting part. The author introduces this like it's just another quirky fact about your neighbor but I mean, who DOESN'T have a serial killer next door, am I right? Hen and her husband Lloyd have moved into a great house in a pretty great neighborhood. There's a block party and like any good person with anxiety they debate on going but you have to attend some of these things because you don't want to be those people who don't attend social things. So they go. They meet Mira and her husband Matthew. They play nice but end up being invited to a one on one dinner with Mira and Matthew. Again, they reluctantly agree and that is where the real story begins.

All is going well until they take the obligatory house tour where they enter Matthew's office area which is a scene out of a hoarder's paradise and full of weird, small things. Supposedly he picks them up at yard sales and the like and all seems odd until Hen notices a small fencing trophy. Not sure if anyone else sees her surprise at this and though she can't totally make out the name on the trophy she wonders... could it belong to the young man who was murdered not too long ago who also won a fencing trophy? No, it couldn't be, because that would be really weird, right? Why would your neighbor have that? Well weirdo neighbor notices Hen noticing this and he wonders... is she connecting the dots? Turns out, Hen IS thinking about this and soon starts connecting dots.

The interesting thing about serial killers is that some of them have reasons for who they kill and in their head it's completely justified. It makes sense.

This book is FULL of twists. Every time I felt like I handle on the story and where we were going to go, something else would happen and I'd have to put the book down just to mentally recover from what I just read. We have deaths all over the place, mental breakdowns, everyone is lying, stalking your neighbor in the middle of the night, useless police department, suddenly a brother shows up, and by the time I got to the end I know I said, "What the actual HELL JUST HAPPENED?!" I had no idea what was going on. It's like being on a roller coaster screaming you want to get off but NOPE, hang on to your britches because the worst is yet to come.

If you like a good thriller, a book that leaves you smacking your head and rubbing your eyeballs because your brain can't handle another twist... this is your next book. You have to read this. Honestly, even at the end I'm not even completely sure who did what when or why.

I received a copy of this courtesy of TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review, but you can get your own copy through HarperCollins directly (and buy others because who can stop at one book??) and then let me know what you think.