What I Read - September/October

It's been a slow fall on the reading front. Our new schedule has my head spinning and leaves me pretty burnt out by the end of the day. Judah still isn't sleeping through the night, so the fog continues. 
Thirty-Two Going On Spinster
I've been trying to remember each month to dig into my never-ending list of books on my Kindle and this looked like a fun fluff read. Julia is in her early thirties, working a boring job, and still living in her parents' basement. She's convinced she's going to become a spinster in a matter of weeks until a cute new guy starts at work. As Jared and Julia's relationship evolves there are some bumps in the road that cause some major changes in both of their lives.

While the book was cute I realized late in the game that I'm not currently in the mood for fluffy books where the girl is rescued by the guy. I don't want to read stories where the girl measures her worth based on her relationship status. I want to read about a woman who has a man or not, but lives her life regardless of whether he fits in or doesn't. This one really wasn't up my alley.
 Lincoln has a night job at a newspaper monitoring emails. He frequently runs across conversations between two reporters, Beth and Jennifer, as they were flagged inappropriate. Despite not ever seeing her face to face and knowing she has a boyfriend, Lincoln starts to fall for Beth. You'll have to read it for yourself to see how it all turns out. 

Rainbow Rowell nailed it again with this book. It was a refreshing look at adulthood that deftly dealt with some deeper life issues but also kept the humor flowing. You end up rooting for each of the characters and wishing you worked at the newspaper as well. Or could join in their weekend Dungeons and Dragons tournaments. I want to be friends with most of Rainbow's characters now that I think about it. I like that in a novel.
The Kitchen House
Young irish immigrant Lavinia finds herself on a Southern plantation with no memory of her life prior to arriving in the US. Her family was indentured to a seafaring plantation owner and she was the sole survivor of the trip across the Atlantic. As a servant she lives in the kitchen house with the other servants, though she is the only one who is white. She grows up in the kitchen house among the slaves and becomes an integral part of their family. When the Master dies life at the plantation takes a turn for the worse.

The writing itself was not the best I've ever read, but the story kept me engaged. While the book is fictional, the landscape of the South at that time was real. It's hard to imagine slavery as the norm in any time or place. The Kitchen House is not an uplifting book, but is a good story of love, loss, and family.

What have you been reading lately? Did you know that John Green is currently filming Paper Towns? Brent got it for me for Christmas last year and I have yet to crack it open. I need to before John's Instagram spoils it for me!

[Disclaimer: If you click on the above Amazon links and purchase anything I receive a small commission from Amazon. Like a few cents, which I appreciate greatly. Buying from Amazon is awesome, but your local library is pretty cool too.]


Story of a Birth

Two days before baby.
 I worked from home on and off during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I had been blessed with many Braxton Hicks and as the time drew nearer I was most comfortable and productive reclining on my couch with my laptop perched precariously on my giant belly. It was a Monday and I could feel that labor was coming on soon. Even with this one being my third I was still not certain just how close it was.

My prior two labors were fairly quick, with the second one being about three hours from when I arrived at the hospital to holding a baby in my arms. Ezra came so quickly I didn't have time for an epidural and I survived with minimal drugs. That led me to want a med free birth the third time around. My doctor convinced me the third would be even faster, so it would be no big deal.

My contractions picked up throughout the day as I was tying up all the loose ends at work. I wrapped up sometime before five o'clock and then the stress started to set in. My mom lives about an hour from us and we live about half an hour from the hospital. I was in enough pain around dinner time to give her a call to come over to watch the boys. I can't tell you how slowly the minutes ticked by until she arrived. It felt like time had all but stopped.

I don't handle pain and vulnerability well. They both tend to make me agitated and short, in other words, a real joy to be around. I decided around ten o'clock that I was done with waiting it out at home. My contractions never reach a regular cadence so I get to choose when to go in to the hospital. My doctor was aware of this and told me to use my best judgement. It hurt, I was tired, I was ready to be done.

We arrived at the hospital without much fanfare and were brought to the triage room. I changed into a gown and after the nurse took my vitals she heckled my cervix. After a very painful minute she uttered the awful words "You haven't progressed since your appointment last week. You're still only at a 2 or 3. Let me call your doctor and see what she thinks."

I immediately broke down into tears. After all that pain, including that cervix check from hell, I hadn't progressed. I had never heard those words before. My body was betraying me. I was already exhausted from all day contractions and I wasn't even close to done yet?! So much for a quick, med free birth. Baby #3 had decided that my last time laboring needed to be memorable. And longer than the prior two.

After a few minutes the nurse came back into the room. "The doctor said you can go home and wait it out or walk around the ward for an hour to see if you make any progress." What she really meant though was "Go home, you're not having this baby any time soon lady." Through my embarrassed tears I chose to walk. How lame am I that after two other labors I can figure out when to come in? I was so down by this point I didn't think I could make it through the hour. From eleven to midnight I walked circles around the maternity ward with Brent holding my elbow. I was gigantic, in a gown, wearing hospital socks, shuffling around, stopping to hold the wall with each contraction, and holding back tears. I felt just awful.

At midnight on the dot we headed back into the triage room for another cervical check. The nurse looked skeptical and I clutched Brent's hand feeling pretty hopeless. "Wow, good work! You're at a five, we can admit you!" Cue the tears of joy. No sleepless night at home, this baby was coming! I was right, dammit! I was wheeled up to labor and delivery and made certain that everyone knew I was waiting for my epidural. Natural birth was out the window by this point. They gave me an IV of fluids prior to the spinal. I was still experiencing intense contractions though they were about 8 minutes apart. The nurses were preparing for a slow to come birth even though I explained my contractions don't get super close together and consistent before the baby comes.

The night staff put me as at ease as they possibly could and the anesthesiologist became my new best friend. I thought I was grateful for the epi the first time around, but the second time was WAY better. They had me lay on my right side for 45 minutes and then switched me to my left as it was taking effect. The pain had eased considerably and I was able to get a little rest. Shortly after I had rolled over to my left side I felt my water break. I pressed the call button and the nurse, again skeptical, came to look. "Well, I've been monitoring your contractions and they are still eight minutes apart. But, you're right! I'll go call the doctor." 

I don't know the exact time sequence but I was very excited when the on call doctor arrived as she was my favorite at the practice. Pushing was a bit awkward for two reasons: one, it was the most lucid I've been with any of my labors, and two, my contractions were still eight minutes apart so there were long pauses between pushes. Like whistle a tune, check Facebook, twiddle your thumbs long. But after only a handful of pushes Judah was out and screaming. The tears started all over again. They laid him on my chest as they cleaned him off and he was just so beautiful. The worst was over. He was here and I was done.

I was inspired to write out at least one of my birth stories by Courtney when she shared Phoebe's birth story while I was pregnant with Judah. Around the blogosphere you read either birth horror stories or "birth is the most amazing and beautiful thing ever" stories and I don't fall into either of those categories. I didn't make a birthing playlist. I told Brent I wanted to hear "Happy" before labor had started but as soon as he turned it on I think my eyes turned red and I breathed fire as I told him to turn it off. I don't feel euphoric or calm or centered, I feel an urgent need to get it over with. After my last two births I felt fantastic and euphoric, but it didn't kick in until the baby was out. I never took a peek at what was happening and I'm totally ok with that. I still birthed three beautiful baby boys. 



My First Book Series

Currently our boys are eight, three, and six months old. It can be tricky trying to find activities they all can participate in or will happily observe. They are all at such different stages in their young lives, so for most activities someone gets the short end of the stick. One activity we can all do together and one of my favorite pastimes is reading. No big secret there. I have been a bookworm since birth, maybe even before that.

As a family we have fallen off the reading wagon in recent months. A spirited two (now three) year old, the third trimester (and now baby), and the eight year old who pretends he hates reading caused us to throw in the towel. Our nightly reading routine became arduous and miserable for everyone involved so we stopped. I didn't realize until I came out of my 6+ month sleepless haze that I miss that time together dearly. It used to be my favorite time with the boys, snuggled in bed, breathing each other in and letting go of the days stresses. It always spurs on interesting conversations that we wouldn't otherwise have had.

When Sophie sent me a copies of her My First Book Series a light bulb went off in my head: even though they are geared towards Judah, we can all enjoy them together. While Noah was at school, the little boys and I sat on the bed and read together. The simple shapes in the book allowed Ezra to read to Judah and even spurred a little "Twinkle, Twinkle" singing by my sweet middle child. Judah loved touching and manipulating the books and was drawn in by the bright colors and stark contrasts. These books are a great teaching tool for both my six month old and my three year old.

Sophie is an inspiring woman and I can't wait to see what else she accomplishes over the next few years. I know I will definitely be picking up any future books she publishes.

Looking for a fun set of books for your little ones or as a gift for a loved one? Sophie is offering my readers a 10% discount if you follow this link! The offer is valid through 10/17, so don't miss out!

Disclaimer: I was given the book series free of charge in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 


In the Fog

It has been over six months since I have gotten a full nights sleep. I am in the throes of not-so-newborn-anymore sleep deprivation. I've recently started to notice it affect my mental functioning, as in I can no longer really multi-task (GASP!) and I constantly forget things (why am I in the bathroom?). Life has been carrying on at a stunning clip as I just stand there, mouth agape, trying to remember why I was standing there in the first place.

Brent started class tonight to become a paid on call firefighter for our town. I am starting a new job on Monday where I'll be back downtown five days a week. Judah has cut two teeth (one last night while I would've liked to be sleeping). Noah is rocking week two at his new school. Ezra is growing in leaps and bounds ("Mom, you're adurable.") Holy crap my head has been spinning for weeks and I just now realized it. Yawn. 

I'm here, in the fog of new parenthood, loving on my kids, rolling with the changes, covering my frequent yawns, downing the caffeine, canning/freezing our harvest, counting my blessings, and thanking the stars that this is my last foray into baby sleep deprivation. Last and longest. Why is it that my biggest baby is taking the longest to sleep through the night? Mysteries of life, man.


What I Read - August Edition

August snuck by me like a thief in the night. I'm still somewhat in shock that we are already in the throes of September, poised on the verge of fall. I'm trying to sneak in as much reading as I can in the next few weeks because life is about to be busier than ever!

I have read :::nearly::: all of Rainbow Rowell's books (Attachments: A Novel is on hold at the library as I type!) and I was so excited to get on the library reserve list early for this one. It was in my hands shortly after it was released and I dove right in. And it was a few pages in that my excitement waned.

Georgie McCool is a comedy TV writer who loves her job and her family. But when the break she has been waiting for her whole life coincides with the family Christmas visit to Omaha Georgie chooses to put work first and miss out on the holiday with her family. Her marriage is already on thin ice and she regrets the decision almost immediately. When she seeks comfort from her childhood home she discovers that her old landline actually calls the past to an earlier Christmas when her relationship with Neal was on equally rocky footing. You'll have to read it to find out what happens to Georgie and Neal.

Sigh. It pains me to say it, but I didn't like it and I knew it from the first few pages. I couldn't relate to Georgie, or Neal, or their relationship. I could roll with the time traveling phone conversations, but some of the other circumstances around it were too out there for me. I honestly almost didn't finish it. I just didn't care about this book. That being said, I'm still really excited to go pick up Attachments later today!
[I am a BookLook Blogger and received this book free for an honest review.]

Nish is a blogger who I've enjoyed following for the past few years. She is a Christian who openly discusses her struggles with the church and her faith. She is a wise woman with a sharp wit who also has no problem with the occasional expletive. Basically, she's the kind of woman you want to go grab a beer with and discuss life in all its messy detail. [If you haven't read her before I HIGHLY recommend taking a peek at her blog

When the book arrived in the mail the paperback was deceptively small in size. What is lacks in physical weight, it more than makes up for in intellectual and spiritual weight. In eight chapters Nish uses her own stories and the stories of others to highlight how seemingly small, unextraordinary personal stories can bring about larger change in our world. She also writes about the importance of listening to the stories of others, how much better we can help each other if we only take the time to really listen.

I really don't think I can do justice in a blog review how much of a gift this book was for me. It was like a kick in the pants, in the best way. I have spent a lot of time talking about talking about my story over the past few years, but little time actually talking about my story. Or even properly writing about it. My heart is literally bursting with things I have not yet fully expressed for reason of feeling overwhelmed at the task. Speak helped me see that sharing in everyday conversation with those in your life or listening to the story of someone you just met are also ways of doing that. You don't need to be a best-selling author for your story to be heard and make a difference in the world. You can just be you. 

This is a Christian book written by a Christian blogger. There is scripture scattered throughout each chapter. Regardless of your faith, this book is a must-read for anyone who questions the importance of their story. Nish is truly an inspiration, whether you are a Christian or not. She not only talks the talk, but she walks the walk. She went to Ferguson, MO with the express mission to listen and tell the stories if asked [see more on her Twitter feed]. 

"We have the power to use our own stories and lives to build bridges across the divisive gaps in our cultures. It just takes a soft, knowing nudge on the arm as we first ask, "What do you think?"" Listen. Speak. Then listen some more. We can make this world a better place, one story at a time.

[Disclaimer: If you click on the above Amazon links and purchase anything I receive a small commission from Amazon. Like a few cents, which I appreciate greatly. Buying from Amazon is awesome, but your local library is pretty cool too.]
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