Thursday, April 30, 2020

Books That Should Be On Your Radar

I've been meaning to post a lot of these sooner but moving had them in boxes but guess what? They are free from their dark cardboard dungeon! Let's talk about them!

Gotham High - Melissa de la Cruz
No surprise here that this is a great book, Melissa de la Cruz consistently brings us great stuff, and always with a little twist. In this one she partners with DC Comics and illustrator Thomas Pitilli and together they give us a young adult graphic novel. Now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes but this was actually really interesting and fun. Not to mention, its an incredibly fast read! It gives us the younger versions of Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker slogging their way through the doldrums of high school. If you are a fan of Riverdale or even Gossip Girl, you'll enjoy this one and your teen will, too!
Close Your Eyes - Darren O'Sullivan
I gave this one five stars because it was pretty great. We have a man who clearly is having memory loss issues (something I deal with daily) after waking up from a coma. Years later someone is demanding he find something that he apparently stole, except this guy has NO idea what they are talking about. I think this was compared to Gillian Flynn novels and that is pretty accurate, the twist at the end had me shrieking. 
The Sound of Stars - Alechia Dow
To be honest, I'm only half way through this but I really love it. I think my daughter is itching to get to this one herself. A really interesting dystopian/sci-fi young adult book has a teen girl named Ellie being helped by a lab created AI named Morris to basically save the world. It really reminds me of a modern version of Fahrenheit 451, where books are illegal and destroyed. In this one it is books and music, basically art in general. Its really interesting and strange but if you want something different from what you usually grab, this is the one to do that with. 
What I Want You To See - Catherine Linka
Easily one of the prettiest and coolest covers I've gotten this year so far. I read this one a few months ago, so did my daughter, and she really enjoyed it. This one centers around a high school graduate heading to art school who finds out higher education isn't like what the brochures sell you on. She realizes that it is competitive and nobody is really your friend, even the teachers who are meant to guide you along. She inadvertently finds herself in the middle of a crime and nobody to really help her. Again, this one is YA but adults will enjoyed this one a lot too. Definitely an interesting one if you have a teen interested in art. 
The Last Letter From Juliet - Melanie Hudson
I know I'm not the biggest historical fiction fan but sometimes on sounds so good I have to give it a try, and I am so glad I did. Yes, this is a WWII book and I don't know about you but it feels like there are SO many in the market right now. I'm not going to say much because this one had me misty eyed at the end and I think I read the last third in one sitting because it was beautiful. So far, this has been my favorite historical fiction of the year and it will likely make my top ten list for the year.
Little White Lies - Philippa East
Oh guys. One of my worst fears is for myself to be kidnapped, but also having one of my children abducted. In this one we have a young girl abducted but is found seven years later. By this time she's a teenager and not only do we find out exactly what happened to her during her time away, but her mom has some confessions of her own and basically she's trying to bond with her daughter again but also find out if her daughter really remembers all of the details from the day she disappeared. It started a little slow for me but once it got moving I really enjoyed this one.

Alright guys, I think that's all I have for right now. I have so many review books coming up (mostly romance) but I spent the last of my gift cards on books that were specifically NOT romance just to shake things up a bit.

Have you read any good ones I haven't read yet? Let me know because I have room for more books!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Penelope is FIVE.

I don't remember a whole lot from my pregnancy with Penelope, but I remember being so excited she was coming. The last couple of weeks were rough, but on the day she was born I was ready. And at 10:52 p.m. Penelope was here.
She was the largest (and still is) baby I've birthed but I think her birth was my favorite one. I had the most fun during that, which is odd to say, but its true. I know I had post-partum depression and really struggled being alone at home with her. By the time she was six months old I was already pregnant with Lucy and that was really tough. 
Penelope is easily, hands down, the hardest child I have. She isn't bad or anything, she just challenges me in way none of the other kids do. And that's OK. By the time she was one year old she was absolutely certain what she would and would not eat, cupcakes and other baked goods were always acceptable. She was walking, babbling away, and had the softest hair. 
Age two was rough but she really developed her personality. I think this was a hard year for her because just when she really needed a lot of attention and support, Lucy was born and kind of stole her thunder. Penelope has always made sure we knew she needed love too, and even now she will say, "I need some loving, too." and I love that about her. I love that she is always able to tell us exactly what she needs. 
By three we learned she is for sure left handed, loves art, and is incredibly smart. She started a 3K program and did so very well. We also learned that she is terribly shy, which was bizarre for us because she is the exact opposite at home. She's bossy and demanding here, totally quiet at school. 
Four was a pretty great year for her. Challenging a lot of the time but man. She is such a neat kid. She always brings me to the brink of insanity but always makes me laugh, too. She really is so stinking smart, and it's obvious her brain works differently. I feel like she really is the classic middle child a lot of days but when she gets in the zone, she's a dynamo. 
She doesn't listen worth a dang at home though. She tests boundaries far more than any other kid and when she decides she wants to do something, she will do it. Traits that will be great as an adult, but also really awful as a four year old who has no issues running into a road. This was the year a fence went up in the yard. Ha! 
She looks like me so much and it's so great to really have a mini-me. My mom says I was just like Penelope and if that's true I'm so sorry, mom! But also, how lucky were you to get me? ;) 
Her favorite things are candy, swimming in the pool, being outside, jumping and running like a maniac, 
Trolls, princesses, playing dress up, and UNICORNS. In 4K this year she got to pick one of the animal units and she picked unicorn. Her teacher is so amazing that she absolutely went with it and Penelope was so incredibly happy. We also learned that what we thought was just normal shy is a bit more. She's really painfully shy and it was heartbreaking to see her on the playground at school, in tears, holding her teacher's hand. Her teacher said it seems like it is really a fear of rejection that holds her back. Which bums me out because she's such a cool little kid. 
Having her turn five seems so weird to me. A lot of the times I feel like I missed so much with her because I'm trying to treasure my time with Olivia and Jackson, but also Lucy because she's my absolute last, and Penelope gets shuffled along. I don't know how parents of more than four kids do this and feel like everyone is getting an even amount of attention.

I tell Penelope every day that she is my favorite Penelope in all the land, that if there were a million Penelope's, she would be my very favorite. I give her lots of hugs, snuggles, and kisses. I am trying so hard with her. I hope she knows that. 💗

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

It would've been a good week.

I haven't really looked at the calendar much except to stay on top of book reviews because everything is obviously cancelled. It really hasn't been a big deal because we don't do much, but this was supposed to be a big week.

  • Olivia would have had high school transition night yesterday. She is going to be a freshman next year and I'm so nervous and excited at the same time, and I know she is too. I think she was looking forward to that just to learn more about high school and ask questions to calm her nerves. She's like me in that way, she wants to be as prepared as she can ahead of time and it helps. 
  • Today would have been Penelope's spring concert at school. I was going to buy her a cute spring dress to wear and she was going to sing some songs, probably have a family craft day afterwards like for the holiday concert. 
  • Tomorrow Penelope turns FIVE, if you can believe it, and no pandemic can cancel that so we'll still celebrate. 
  • Olivia would be having her final middle school band concert on Thursday. She was looking forward to that too and her songs sound amazing. I think this is the first of a few things she's sad about as she closes out her time at middle school. 
  • Friday would have been big, Penelope should have been going to Kindergarten Round Up. She would be meeting teachers and seeing classrooms. Maybe doing a craft alongside some other kids. It would help her be less scared when we (hopefully) start in the fall again. 
  • Sunday would have been a finale practice for Olivia's dance recital. The recital would have happened on May 9th, but the show I know she worked so hard for is cancelled. Well, they are doing some kind of performance on Zoom and its going to be lame and she likely can't even do it because we have zero room in the house to do it. We get zero internet in the yard so that's out. I'm so angry that our costumes can't be used next year which is a whole other thing, and Matt is livid that we're expected to shell hundreds of dollars for more costumes when we didn't get to wear these. I get it. Sigh. 
Some good things, though: 
  • Penelope turns five tomorrow and I'm so excited. She has been counting down for months and her little brain just about exploded when she realized tomorrow is the day! We have a cake for her, some presents for her, and some ice cream, of course. I think a couple of friends are going to drop something on the porch for her, too. She was really bummed that she can't be the birthday star in her little 4K class, but her teacher DID mail her a little card and she was so excited and as she put it, had "happy tears". 
  • My library/craft space/office is amazing. I know I keep talking about it but truly, it is so amazing and I'm so grateful and I thank my lucky stars Matt is so great at everything. 
  • Its getting warmer, which means I can walk outside more often. I am hoping I can find my winter hat and just got now. (It's still chilly and my ears get too cold.)
  • Twinky got to go to the groomers and thank goodness because I think he was just as nervous as I was when I told him I was going to try to give him a hair cut. 
I'm trying to write out the good and the bad every day. It's OK to get the bad out there as long as I don't dwell on it and I am able to throw up some good there, too. I hope you have some good happening, too. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Weeds, weight loss, hair loss, over it

Let's just do a week/weekend roundup. I'm trying really hard to take more pictures of our day to day life because what if this becomes like the 1918-1920 flu pandemic and people want our souvenirs for museums one day? I don't know what I'd even give them. Maybe I'll save an empty container of Lysol wipes and my masks.

What would you save??

Anyways, it seems like forever since I posted about having to lose weight and I bet you thought I feel off that wagon but nope. I'm still bumping along the road. For the most part I make good food choices but I'm honestly never hungry. Since having my gall bladder taken out I have lost all appetite. Not only that but anytime I do eat anything (or drink something other than water), it becomes a repeat of the Linzess situation and I just can't live like that.

It isn't even reasonable.
I've eaten quite a few salads and I just have to ask, and maybe I'm an idiot, but why do they put weeds in it? WHAT IS THAT? It looks like the weeds that grow in your yard that you spray chemicals on so they go away. Seriously. I asked Matt and he almost choked on a crouton laughing at me. 
In other news, Lucy has taken to reading to her baby dolls. Well, she comes up with her own colorful story but it is always hilarious, especially when she tells the doll to settle down. 
The girls got to wear swim suits for dance (via Zoom) and its clear we need to get some new ones. Well, I'll buy one for Pep and then Lucy will get Penelope's old ones. This week is pajama week I think, AND it will be on Penelope's birthday!
A few things here: 1. I hate telehealth doctor appointments. I hate them. I don't even Facetime people because I had all video calls. Strongly dislike. 2. I can't remember if I told you I'm losing hair. Like, a LOT OF HAIR. If you know me in real life you know that I have VERY thick hair that is normally curly/wavy (I usually straighten it because its easier for me to maintain day to day). You can kind of tell in the photo that my hairline is receding. I'll have to get a better photo, but my hair is half the thickness it used to be.  Half.

I'm 95% sure it is from taking Arava for my rheumatoid arthritis, so I've stopped taking it. It's been about three weeks now and the loss isn't near as bad as it was, so I'm hopeful it'll grow back some? The doctor tried to tell me that isn't a side effect but it clearly is but ALSO, it turned out to be why my mom doesn't take it. So clearly I'm not nuts.
Oh yes, my neighbor snow blows his grass, apparently. I do feel like there is more action/more people doing stuff outside in this neighborhood than my last, so that has been fun. Olivia and Jackson helped Penelope and Lucy ride their bikes down the street and some guy was cheering them on and honking his horn. 
We also had our first freezies of the year. It was chilly so Penelope and Lucy had to put theirs in oven mitts to hang onto them but still, its a win. (Notice Penelope's shoes are on the wrong feet?)
You can also see Olivia trying to give Twinky some of hers but I'm not sure if he likes cold things so much. 
Jackson being an absolute dork. He's really been helping me with hauling things out of the house or bringing things from the garage to the house so that's been nice. 
Matt and I have been trying to go on lunch dates on the weekends because we really need to spend some kid free time together (it is a priority of ours this year) to de-stress. I saw on Instagram that one of our favorites, Chilly Billy's was open with very limited hours so we went and it was fantastic!
It was even sunny! And hey- you can see how much hair I've lost! Not just hair on my head but eyebrows and some eyelashes, too. Totally sucky because I was really feeling good on the Arava but man... I can't handle that kind of hair loss. 
Oh! The big library/craft room/office reveal is coming soon! Matt worked SO HARD on this room and I am so grateful. I told him yesterday that it really is better than my old room. For real. Even better? I'm in the basement, as far away from people as possible, with a door that locks. It's so great. But here's the sneak peek I posted on Instagram this weekend
Oh- so back to weight loss! I can't find a before picture (?!?!?!?!) but here is today. I'm down to a size 14 pant but I think I might be close to a 12? Some of my 14's are big but the 12's are just a little uncomfortable still.
And! Let it be known that my boobs are no longer perky, but officially saggy. Matt asked if it was a no bra day today and nope. I had a bra on. A new one, in fact. He even checked for a strap in the back to confirm and yeah. That made me feel crappy. Sigh. Treasure your perky boobs, ladies. Treasure them. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Haunted Princesses, Trying to Learn, and Home Improvement

Well, still quarantined. I told the kids to figure out how long we've been in but they have no clue. It makes me wonder how they are even keeping track of assignments. Admittedly, I've stopped checking the PowerSchool app because honestly I give zero fucks at this point. Just pass, kids. Just pass.
We've been trying to go out every day but if it isn't cold it is windy as hell. Yesterday I had to get out of this house so I went and drove around town, twice, and it was so windy and I gave up. I did manage to go to the old house to bring the cans back to the garage which was good because one had blown half way down the alley. 
Things have gotten bad enough that Olivia and Jackson have taken it upon themselves to do an Elf on the Shelf type thing with these Disney Princesses we have. We have like seven of them and they are running around and moving them all day. It has gotten pretty annoying, but Penelope and Lucy are convinced the house is haunted. 
Lucy is trying really hard in "class". She loses attention so quickly though and has a hard time staying focused and I can't help but wonder if she's like this in real school. I can't remember if it was ever mentioned or not but it definitely makes it a challenge. 
Some days Penelope and Lucy get along so well and will hang out together and play so nicely. Other days it all goes to hell and I find myself sitting in my car crying because I need the silence.
So, our room is like 80% finished, I guess? We're in there so there's that. We still have to put trim in, closet doors, and finish out a window,. I feel like it probably is a solid weekend (maybe even a day?) or work. Matt did put in a ceiling light though so that was exciting.
Also exciting is the progress on my craft/office/library room. It is smaller than what I had, and that's sad, but i'll make do. It's going to be fine. I think he's going to finishing sanding and maybe more mud and more sand? I'm not sure but I'm REALLY hoping that by the end of the weekend it'l be painted and ready for carpet! (That little spot that would be a closet is going to be my desk with computer, printer, files, etc.)
He will have to put bookshelves up for me and I have yet to decide how deep I want them to be. I also have to figure out what I'm doing for a craft table, I'm really glad I didn't have the money to commit to something in January because obviously the room I'm working with is different. I'm thinking maybe the same general idea of something in the middle? I did get my paint picked out (which was going to be the kitchen, but it was too bright, but the new paint for the kitchen I forgot and used it in our room and it looks lovely- kitchen is still white- ha!) I still need to figure out a situation for lights (the one you see is a temporary one). Good news though, my DOOR WILL LOCK.

Finally!!!! I have an office that has a door that locks! See ya, family. HA!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review: Barefoot on the Beach

I know it isn't summer yet but because I'm home all of the time, and surely wishing it were summer, I'm all about beach reads at this point. I feel like if you read summer books early it gets you into a summer mindset!
Barefoot on the Beach - Katlyn Duncan

Renee may be thrilled to be planning her sister’s wedding, but after witnessing her mother’s two failed marriages, she has always vowed that she is better off on her own.

But when Renee discovers that Luc Hardy has moved next door, her world is knocked off kilter. Luc was her whirlwind summer romance as a teen and, more importantly, her first love. Now he’s back in West Cove, looking more handsome than ever.

There is no escaping the romance in the air this summer. With the wedding planning in full swing, Renee begins to believe that she might be able to put her childhood reservations about marriage aside.

Yet when her mother arrives, she stirs a torrent of emotions in Renee’s heart. She’s up to her old tricks again – boasting about her latest conquests – reaffirming Renee’s lack of faith in love.

As Renee’s happily-ever-after hangs in the balance, will Luc be able to convince her that true love can last forever?

It's always nice to find a new to me author, and Katlyn Duncan is certainly that! In this book we have Renee, who has decided that love and marriage wasn't for her after watching her mother cycle through husbands her entire childhood. Over summer though, she finds herself becoming a last minute wedding planner for her sister who is getting married in a month. One morning her dog runs into the neighbor's house which is when she realized that the guy next door this summer?

Her first crush and definitely the guy she lost her virginity to. Their summer fling ended abruptly and she never heard or seen him again.

They end up hanging out over that month and she finds herself reluctantly rekindling things with him though she has no idea what she's doing. Between that and planning her sister's wedding (who doesn't seem to have a care in the world), having to deal with her mess of a mother, and trying to keep her freelance work afloat, this is an incredibly stressful time for Renee.

Overall? I liked this one, I'd give it a solid 3.5 star for sure. Renee wasn't really someone I would want to hang out with, she wasn't warm or approachable, and it seemed like using her mother's failures as her reason to not even try was just an easy excuse. What she really was feeling was scared to fail herself and she wasn't very nice to Luc. I really liked him a lot and he seemed like a genuinely good guy, he definitely didn't deserve the attitude Renee through his way.

Also, Renee's sister is the worst. I get it she has anxiety and stress but she is incredibly selfish and self-entitled and I really wanted Renee to tell her exactly where to go and how to get there. Don't even get me started on the mother.

If you are looking for a light read, something to enjoy while your kids run around screaming during quarantine, this should be your next pick. It's a fast read, you won't be swinging by the last thread of your emotions, and that's what we all need at this point!
A huge thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing a copy for review!  All thoughts are my own, of course. Happy reading, friends!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Chaos, Easter, and Pogo Battles.

I feel like so much has happened but nothing at all. Time is a really strange concept and if there was ever a time that it was made blatantly obvious I have no life, it is definitely my time in quarantine. I miss people. I miss going to the movies and paying for outrageously priced concessions. I miss concerts. I miss going to Target to see if there is anything new in the dollar spot. I miss going to the bookstore to wander the aisles.

I miss going places and having things to do.

Right now I have no concept of time. Sure, days go by but it feels like the last month has lasted forever and I have NOTHING to show for it. Not a thing. When I try to think about the first thing I would do when this over, the first thing in my head has always been, "What if it never ends?". What if our lives will never be the same? What if we'll never go to the movies again? See live music? Hug our friends? Be able to travel?

Clearly, my anxiety is on a roller coaster, so just ignore me.

Let's talk about life though.
The great thing is that while I'm not really losing weight, I seem to be losing inches. Which, I'll take it. My pants are all too big and some of my shirts are too. Incidentally, while moving I found a bunch of shirts I bought pre-Penelope and never got to wear. I've been excited trying things on and being pleasantly surprised they actually fit. 
Oh Penelope. Penelope turns 5 next week, if you can believe it, and she is all about it. She asks if its her birthday EVERY SINGLE DAY, multiple times. I already have her presents here (I just have to wrap them), she informs me she wants hot dogs for her birthday dinner (oh yay), and I have to order her some kind of a unicorn birthday cake.

We've gotten to do some Google Hangouts with her teacher and class, but those are basically chaos with a bunch of preschoolers. She likes to see her teacher anyways and I know that she is missing kids. 
Oh Lucy. Lucy also is desperately missing school and her teachers. She really doesn't understand why she can't go back and it breaks my heart. Her last day of school is actually May 7 and I am really sad about it. I feel like having her teacher post on the SeeSaw app every day is so important for her. Some days its a story, some days it is seeing the bunnies in her teacher's yard, or it is just a check in hello, but it has become kind of routine. I really worry about it when I tell her that is all done. I might keep "homeschooling" the girls and finding activities everyday because they are not as well behaved when they don't have that, oddly enough. 
The weather here is just crap and every year I wonder how I made it through another winter and why do I stay and do it? It's not quite spring here (it is still freezing) but we try to get outside every day even for a little bit. It dawned on me my kids haven't be in a vehicle since mid-March. Isn't that crazy?  But, Matt brought our bird feeder from the other house and so we are hoping some birds will find it in our new yard. I need some new ones though.
Easter happened. Easter was pretty low key. That was Penelope's basket. We are on year three of this one, still going strong. Some candy but mostly play things (bubble, chalk, bathtub paint, flower seeds, etc). 
Same with Lucy. Oh, and a small notebook that had a scratch and sniff cover (which smell as gross as I remembered), but they also got a pogo stick (more on that later). 
Olivia got some cards to send, new face wash, candy, face mask, and these LED lights that go around the room.  
Same with Jackson.  Matt help them put the lights up, and I wasn't allowed to get a picture, but they are pretty cool. They use an app on their phone to turn them on, and they can change the color or make them blink/strobe/etc. I totally would have liked that as a kid.
I only got one photo with all four kids but that's a step up because I usually don't even bother. 
The big kids hid eggs all over the yard the night before, which was nice to hand that job down. Pep and Lu had the best time running around looking for them. 
A few years ago I got Olivia and Jackson this pogo stick for Easter. They were terrible at it, and it took a year or so and then they got the hang of it. Penelope and Lucy so badly want to do it but those are way too big for them and I couldn't find a smaller version.

Thank you, Internet ads, because I saw these foam ones and I thought this would totally work. They are a foam block with a bungee attached to a handle. Super lightweight and the girls LOVE THEM. We've only used them inside (even though it squeaks, they can't bounce long enough for it to get annoying) but once it is reliable more dry outside we'll use them out there, too.
We've had some rather intense pogo battle stare downs. Clearly. But if you're looking for a different outside thing and you've exhausted bikes, scooters, yard games, try a pogo stick. They've actually been fun.

Real quick though: did anyone else have pogo sticks in gym class? Like elementary school? One school I was at had them but you were supposed to pogo from one end of the gym and back and I could not do it. I was a new kid at the school and it was pretty clear these kids had extensive pogo experience and I had none because there was a time EVERYONE was at the end and I had only moved like six feet. At best.

Needless to say, I have very few good memories from gym class.

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