Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Between the Lines

Jane Charles' new book, Between the Lines, was just released. The book centers around Gabe and Ellen,  and the Baxter School of the Arts.  It's told from both Gabe and Ellen's first person perspectives, which is great because the reader is able to see both sides of the story as it develops. 

Gabe is a teacher at the Baxter School of the Arts. Ellen is a reporter who feels that there is a story that needs to be told about Baxter. Both of them are dead set with keeping their secrets to themselves, but as their relationship grows, it becomes harder for them to not trust each other.

I really liked this book, even though it's not what I normally read. Ellen is trying to keep her past a secret, but as she falls for Gabe, she begins to trust him and share her secrets. Gabe continues to protect the school and it's secrets, but not because they are bad. It's his job to protect the students he cares about. As Ellen gets closer to the truth, she begins to understand the Baxter story. I really enjoyed the scene where she met with some of the students and heard their perspectives and stories. Without going into detail to ruin the story, the stories are what truly convinces Ellen that there is nothing shady going on at Baxter.

The ending wraps up the story nicely. I hope there are more books in this series as I'd enjoy reading about some of the other characters. 

**I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Sinning

Mark your calendar - tomorrow is the release of the newest Sabrina Jeffries' book! The Art of Sinning is the delightful first novel in her new series, called the Sinful Suitors. This book does not disappoint!  

Jeremy Keane, an artist not wanting to be tied down to his father's business back in America, meets Lady Yvette Barlow, a woman who has taken it upon herself to solve a family mystery.  Jeremy wants to use Yvette as his muse, but she won't agree unless he helps her. Yvette's brother won't agree to the arrangement, so the two of them concoct a plan to work together - she will be his muse, and he will help her find the woman she is looking for.

As a reader, I am never bored with a Sabrina Jeffries' story. The two main characters are great together - lots of chemistry in both conversation and in the bedroom. They are very witty, which makes them more likeable characters, in my own opinion. The secondary characters are great too, and you want to read more about them as well. 

Check out her book tomorrow - available in paper and e-reader! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: A Body to Spare

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Sue Ann Jaffarian's new book, A Body to Spare.

I have to say, this was my favorite Odelia Grey book yet! The twists and turns were great! The story begins with a body found in Odelia's trunk at the car wash.  Again, Odelia's luck as the corpse magnet has not run out.  As the mystery begins to unfold, Odelia gets help from old and new friends. Out of the blue, she receives a surprise phone call, and that was one of my favorite parts! I can't say anymore about it because it would spoil the surprise for you, but I was so excited when the caller announced their name.  

As usual, there was a lot of action, with poor Odelia trying to clear her name, deal with a friend moving away, and bodies piling up. Ms. Jaffarian does a fantastic job, keeping the story funny and action-packed at the same time. You don't want to put this one down.

The book will be released in November, so I highly recommend you put it on your to be read list!
***I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer Fun, Part 2

I was able to take a few days off work - one of those days being the twins' 7th birthday!  
So far, we are making great progress on our summer bucket list!

On the twins' birthday, after we opened presents and went to swim lessons, 
we headed out to the lake with my parents, my uncle, my sister, and her two kids 
for some fishing, picnicking, and s'mores!

Here is Keira, sitting nicely and fishing.

Here is Keira, 10 minutes later, after she fell off the dock and almost drowned.
Seriously, we have no idea how she fell in. 
I heard her scream, and then saw her falling into the water.  
She went under because it was too deep to stand, 
but my dad was right there and jumped in after her. (The water came to his chest.)  
There is never a dull moment around these parts.

Later that day, we went to dinner at IHOP (the twins' choice) 
and back to our house for cake (which they didn't eat) 
and ice cream (which they did) and presents. 
They wanted to stay up late to catch fireflies,
 but I had had enough excitement for one day. ;)

The weekend was busy too - Connor had a double-header, 
and we visited the splash pad and had ice cream.

On Wednesday night, we packed up the van with blankets and popcorn and headed to the drive-in movie theater. It was the first time for the kids... we saw Inside Out.  We all had a great time!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Fun

So we are working our way through our Summer Bucket List! Besides what has been crossed off, we did some things not on the list as well!

We went to the zoo! Sat in the splash zone for the dolphin show and got soaked! We also rode the carousel, ate bison burgers, saw the penguins, and shopped for a special toy.

Last week was Connor's last night game for baseball.  My mom and dad had promised a cool ice cream treat to celebrate, so after the team won (yay!), we headed for ice cream!  They have these cool tables where you can play chess while you wait.

We went to the Farmer's Market and had lemon shake-ups! It was pretty hot yesterday, so then we headed to my uncle's for some swimming.  My parents also found a nifty wagon at an estate sale, so they bought it and hooked it up to my uncle's riding lawn mower. Instant tractor ride!

Of course, it was Father's day too. The kids saw some fun stuff at the dollar store earlier in the week, so after Connor's baseball game, we went shopping!  Fireworks and silly spray were at the top of the list. (Keith was thrilled ;) )

This week, the twins turn.... SEVEN! I cannot believe it. I am off work for a couple of days, and we've got a couple of adventures planned.  Daddy started a new job, so he can't play with us during the day, but we've got evening fun too. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Are you there, God? It's me, Sarah...


a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Last week, I called my mom with a medical question. I had kneeled down on Colin's bed as I was tucking him in and was met with a sharp pain in my knee.  I looked down and my knee had begun to turn purple and swell.  We decided it was just a broken blood vessel (a really big one apparently). I said "What are the odds of me getting a broken blood vessel from just kneeling down?" She replied, "What are the odds of you getting kidney failure?"  

Haha, good point. I laughed at her comment.  Because it's true - I don't seem to have good odds. I've always said that weird things happen to me. I can't help it, I attract weirdness.  And I am ok with it. Sometimes I enjoy it, other times, I wonder why me? 

The 2nd opinion doctor told me I had bad luck.  Not only do I have a normally benign hereditary disease that only progresses to kidney failure in 5% of the patients, I am also in the extremely small percentage of people that it happens to in a short amount of time. I went from being fine in November to kidney failure in February.  A big name doc at a big name Chicago hospital had never seen a case like mine progress like this. 

After my diagnosis, as I was trying to sort things out and figure out how to start the transplant process, there were times I asked God, "WHY ME?"  I was angry with Him. I was upset. I wondered if He could hear me. I asked to be cured so I didn't have to deal with this. Because dealing with this is pretty stressful.  Especially when people around me are more concerned with how this affects them. I get a lot of that. I'm tired and cranky and hopped up on steroids that make me fat in my stomach and face (I am totally obsessed with this, I can't help it. I'm vain.)  I wondered if God could hear me since obviously he wasn't curing me. Many people (including me) believe that everything happens for a reason. Although this time I was stumped. Why me? Why now? 

But over time, I began to put things in perspective. It's not cancer, I tell myself. There is a cure.... a new kidney. Will I have to do this again in my lifetime? Hopefully in 20 years. Which means I will live a long and (mostly) healthy life with the first new kidney I receive. I'm not the typical kidney failure poster adult.  Google it and you see images of unhealthy old people, lying in a hospital bed. That's not me. 

This is me. Me and my boy at the zoo on Saturday.

I parent full time. I work full time. I go on with my life as though I am totally healthy, but I'm not. And thankfully I have the option at this point.

I found out today a friend had cancerous tumors removed.  I could be living his life, but I'm not. I have a friend who could be miscarrying. I could be living her life, but I am not. On Sunday, I watched a man beg for change on a street corner. I could be living his life, but I'm not. Minutes later, I watched an ambulance fly through the intersection, sirens blazing.  A car drove quickly behind them, flashers on. Thank goodness I wasn't living that life, watching a loved one pass possibly pass away while on the way to the hospital.

Instead I'm living MY life. And it's a pretty good life, kidney transplant pending.  

Why did this happen to me? I honestly don't know. But my perspective on it is this: maybe this is all happening to me because I can deal with it and someone else can't.  

And I think I am okay with that answer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Vacation? Not for Me

It's started.  The Instagram pictures from the moms doing all the fun summer-y things with their kids. Or the Facebook posts stating that vacation just started, and they are already ready for kids to be back in school. The check-ins from the pool. The fun with squirt guns.

I don't know what that's like. You see, I don't get to be a stay-at-home mom. I have to work. And by have to, it's not so I can live in a big ole' nice house. It's so I can pay a mortgage on a house that's actually more than the house is currently worth thanks to the recession and the neighborhood in which we live in.

My kids are spending their summer vacation with grandparents, not parents. We will try to cram in our loads of summer fun on the two short weekend days we have off, in between baseball games and grocery shopping and laundry. This summer will be different as well, since I don't really have much time to take off.  I am trying to save my vacation time for whenever I have surgery, so that I will have at least a couple of weeks of paid time off.  In fact, since I have no idea when I am having surgery, I am trying to cram in a whole summer's worth of fun into the next three weekends.... just in case.

I'm sure it's tough to be home with the kids in the hot weather, day in and day out, without much of a break from them.  But it's also hard to leave every morning, knowing that your kids are out having great experiences without you. All those experiences that you really wish they were having with you.

So be grateful for the summer vacations. And I'll be grateful for the weekend.