Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday...

Why not?

I felt the need to write something much lighter than my last post, and after reading Micah's What I'm Loving Wednesday, I thought I'd write one of my own!

This Wednesday I'm loving...

...the Olympics!
I'm super into the Olympics this year.  Perhaps, it's just from being laid up from my surgery and that it's always on, BUT I especially enjoy watching swimming and gymnastics.

These girls were freaking AWESOME!!  (via)
Have you SEEN these two swim???  (via)
...my husband.
Sure, I always love him, but he's been so awesome this week taking care of me, doing things I usually do (i.e. dishes), and making sure I have food and things I want/need.

...reading.
I am currently reading Written in my Heart's Own Blood by Diana Gabaldon.  From what I understand, it's the last book in the Outlander series.  I actually have a very hard time putting it down. Up next on my reading list: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (because, of course) and Adnon's Story by Rabia Chaudry.



...McDonald's Sweet Tea.
I had to get some blood work today to confirm things are going well post-surgery.  There's a McDonald's right by the lab I went to, and Scott got me a a sweet tea.  I drink water pretty much all the time.  Sometimes, it's so nice to have something different!

...rain!
It's hardly rained here at all since May.  Right now, the heavens have finally opened up, and we're actually getting some much needed rainfall.

What are you loving this Wednesday?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Let's Get Real....

In a couple more weeks, I expected to be writing a completely different version of this post.

But, alas, life doesn't always go as we plan.

On July 1st, I took a positive pregnancy test.


It was insanely exciting.  Since I took this test around 5:30 AM before Scott left for work, I forced myself to wait for a decent hour to start texting some close friends and family with our exciting news.

I called my doctor and found out that she no longer delivers, so I needed to find a new doctor for my pregnancy.  I did this, and my first appointment was scheduled for August 2nd.  Meanwhile, I began going through some normal pregnancy symptoms: tender breasts, fatigue, some food aversions, but thankfully, no morning sickness!  I downloaded a couple of pregnancy apps and started snapping pics to document that I wasn't yet LOOKING pregnant!


Scott and I went to my first appointment on the 2nd (at 9 weeks, 4 days) and all things went well.  They have a hand-held Sonogram device and the PA was having a hard time finding anything.  She said my uterus was tilted and that the device is not really reliable in those instances, and I was set up for an internal ultrasound the next day.

On Wednesday, August 3rd, following the internal sonogram, we were told that my pregnancy was ectopic.  I had to go right away to have blood work done to check my pregnancy levels.  This would determine if I could take a medication to dissolve the pregnancy or if I would need to have surgery to remove it.  The cut off for taking the medication is a level of 5,000.  I was at 12,000.  So yesterday, August 4th, I had a laparoscopic procedure to remove my pregnancy.  As I write this post to go live.  I am sitting in bed, sore and still a little shocked.  I mean, yesterday, I was pregnant.  Today, I'm  not.

Part of me is angry because I don't think that my pregnancy actually progressed much past the first couple of weeks.  I experienced NO pain or spotting that is normally associated with an ectopic pregnancy.  I had no idea that anything was or could be wrong!  If I had already had a "history" or maybe if I hadn't had to change doctors, I could have had an earlier appointment to confirm my pregnancy, and I could have possibly avoided surgery altogether!

The good news is that things are hopeful for when we are able to try again.  The doctor said that most women have a correct implantation (i.e. in their uterus) following an ectopic pregnancy.  I've heard already of two people who had ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages who had twins in their next pregnancy.  Fertility is increased after a pregnancy, and in truth, we only began trying in March, so we are already in good shape there.

I was pretty devastated on Wednesday and most of Thursday.  I had never had any type of surgical procedure before yesterday, and I don't think that really helped my state of mind either.  But today, I am at peace.

From my Pinterest board: "Great Quotes"
Why am I sharing this?  I actually considered not.  I never made an official Facebook announcement so that acquaintances or others outside of our nearest and dearest would know.  But it's been on my mind today, and I wanted to have a place where I documented this "bump in the road" (as Scott calls it).  I think it's important to keep things real here, too.  Not everything is sunshine and roses, but I am hopeful for the future.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Books


Here we are, another month has flown by.  My summer is slowly fading away, and I'm both excited and dreading it at once.  I actually thought I would only get in two books this month because they were both very LONG (but wonderful!) books!  I managed to squeeze in one more, though.

Here's what I read this month:

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander, #6)A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Another great installment in the Outlander series! (Seriously, I know that's not deep, but I just loved reading another book in this series.  I don't want to ramble about all of the things I love about these books....)



An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I am so sad that this series is drawing to a close!

As with the other Outlander books, "An Echo in the Bone" has many ups and downs in the lives of Jamie, Claire, Brianna, and Roger! The one thing I didn't enjoy as much is that in this book, Gabaldon includes many chapters about William. So as not to give anything away, William is a character that has been mentioned in or even part of other books, but I was annoyed that it took away from parts of the story about the other characters.

However, after finishing the book, William truly becomes an integral part of the plot.

I think I might take a break and put off reading the next (and final) book, as I am not sure I can bear to say goodbye to these amazing characters!


Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a surprisingly quick (and good!) read. I was a little unsure if I would actually enjoy this book, since it's out of my typical genre choices. But I actually really enjoyed it! As a science fiction book, there were some parts of the book that were a little confusing. When the author was talking a lot about certain aspects of physics, I was lost. There were also parts that were hard to wrap my head around, but Jason (the main character) was struggling, as well, which made me feel like I was supposed to be confused! Ultimately, I couldn't put this book down. I really wanted to know what would happen with Jason, Daniela, and their son, Charlie. Even if "science fiction" isn't your "thing," I would definitely recommend this book. There are a lot of twists and turns with an amazing, exciting plot!

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.com in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.



View all my reviews


I am currently "on track" with my Goodreads challenge to read 40 books this year.  My plan for August is to try to get ahead since things will inevitably slow once school begins.  (Also, I suspend my Audible account in the summer since I spend way less time in the car and don't need to have an audio book on hand.  But it will activate again near the end of August, so that will help, too!)

What have you been reading lately??


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Currently...

I'm shamelessly stealing this from Kristin today because I've been wanting to blog, but not really inspired with anything to write about.  

Currently...

Watching: Literally, I am not watching anything at this exact moment.  However, I have been rewatching Mad Men on Netflix.  We had temporarily gotten rid of our DirecTV last year, and I missed the final season.  It had been so long since I'd seen it, I figured that I would start from the beginning.  

via

Trying: Not to stay up insanely late and to eat decent meals/snacks throughout the day.

Doesn't always work.

Reading: An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon  This is the second to last book in the Outlander series.  I may put off reading the last one for awhile just because I don't know if I'm ready to say good-bye to Jamie and Claire!

via

Listening: The Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast thanks to Kristin.  It's hilarious!


Finishing: Umm...I can't say that there's really anything that I'm finishing right now.  It would probably helped if I started something.... ;-p
Buying: I've really reigned in my spending because I went a little haywire for a few months.  BUT I am waiting on a shipment of new classroom decor to arrive.  I haven't been up to school at all yet this summer, and it's probably time that I get up there and start getting my classroom back in order.

via
This is called Chalkboard Brights.  I got quite a few of these pieces to change things up in my room!
Dreading: Having to go outside to help Scott work on the house.  It's H.O.T. and humid.  Gross.

Liking:  Pilates.  I really love trying to get in at least a 10 minute work out each day.  I've slacked lately, but I still love it.

Making: I'm about to make some cheesy broccoli to go with the chicken quarters that I cooked in our smoker yesterday.  

What's up with you today?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Influenster #GoddessVoxBox

I love when I get a VoxBox from Influenster!  The Goddess VoxBox is the best one I've ever received!  There are a lot of great products, and many of them are full size products and not sample sizes!

You can also watch my "unboxing" video here.
Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover Pads
This is actually the first product I tried.  I've had glitter nail polish on my toenails for a couple of months.  I was too lazy to take it off, and while school was in session, I actually just kept throwing on another coat to avoid the hassle of removing it.  As soon as I completed my unboxing video, I ripped one of these open, and I'm amazed by how well they worked!  It took a bit of elbow grease, but it was nothing like the painstaking task that removing glitter nail polish normally is.  If glitter nail polish is a favorite of yours, I highly recommend these!

Sinful Colors Nail Polish
I was fortunate enough to get to try this brand in my last VoxBox when Sinful colors was just coming out, and I loved it!  This new polish was no exception.  It's a satin matte version (available at WalMart), and the color is called "Glazy Sunday."  (The product information card also states that the velvet matte version is available at Walgreens.)  It's very pretty, and it dries quickly.  I do like the matte look, but it does bother me a little that I can't use top coat if I want to keep the matte look.  Do they make matte top coat??


Pantene Expert Intense Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner
My favorite thing about this shampoo and conditioner is that they smell amazing!  Both of them seem to work very well.  My hair feels clean, soft, and smooth.  The amazing smell makes for a great shower experience, and leaves my hair smelling wonderful.


Dickinson's Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner
In a previous VoxBox, I tried Dickinson's Witch Hazel facial cleansing cloths, and I loved them.  So I was excited to try this toner!  It's wonderful.  I really like the scent, and it's a gentle toner.  It doesn't burn or sting, nor does it dry out my face.  I use this at night after using my cleansing cloths.  It dries in a matter of minutes, and leaves my face feeling refreshed.


Downy Fresh Protect Beads
I actually don't have a picture to go with these because I loved them so much, I used them up already!  I love that these beads leave a long lasting scent on my laundry.  I actually went out and purchased full size versions in other scents to try, as well!  I particularly like the idea of using them on items that do not get laundered regularly: throw blankets, comforters, etc.  I feel that these leave a lasting, fresh scent for the next time that I use them!

Ebates.com
If you haven't heard of Ebates.com, basically, it is a site that allows you to earn cashback on items you purchase online.  There are specific stores that you need to use, and then you receive a credit back into your account after you make a purchase.  If you'd like to try it out, please use my referral link,  I have been using MyPoints.com for several years.  It is a similar program.  I can't get cash back, but I can get generalized gift cards (i.e. a Visa gift card) or cards for specific stores as a reward.  I don't like that Ebates has very limited stores to choose from.  I will probably use it from time to time, but MyPoints has more stores, and more of the stores that I use all of the time.

Always pads
Not to throw out TMI, but I will not be able to try and review these in the amount of time I have to complete my VoxBox activities.  I only get a period 4 times a year, and now is just not that time.  I can say that that pads are individually packaged in a really bright and fun packaging, and I liked that.
As always, I received these products to test for FREE from Influenster.com.  I tested the products I could on my own time, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  


Friday, July 1, 2016

June Books


Have I mentioned how much I love summer vacation?

I'm sure I have.

I get so much more accomplished during summer vacation than I do while school is in session.  My house starts to come to order, and I actually have time to curl up with a good book, and read.  I need to make up for some lost time in order to meet my 40 book Goodreads Reading Challenge goal!  The good news is that after this month, I am back to being ahead of schedule, and I've hit the 50% mark!

Here's what I read in June:

In a Different Key: The Story of AutismIn a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book took me forever to read.  You can see my full review in my special Blogging for Books post.



The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I listened to this book on Audible, and at first, I thought I was going to be returning it and getting my credit back for another book. BUT I stuck with it, as I usually do, and I actually really ended up enjoying this book.

It's definitely great WWII historical fiction, and it's worth a read (or listen) if you like both historical fiction OR stories about WWII. The Nightingale shares some of the awful aspects of living in France during the Nazi occupation. The characters are well developed, and I found myself wanting to know how everything worked out in the end.


Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


After reading my last book (The Story of Autism), which was incredibly tedious, it was wonderful to read the conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles!

Melissa Meyer wraps up the series with an exciting and satisfying conclusion. I loved it!


Fairest: Levana’s Story (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As a good prequel should, Fairest certainly makes clearer the story of Levana, Queen of Luna.

It wraps the entire Lunar Chronicles series up by providing more background on the Queen and how she became the villain of the series.


How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for SuccessHow to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had SO many thoughts on this book, that I reviewed it in a separate post, which you can see here.



Dropped Third Strike: A Portland Pioneers Novel (#1)Dropped Third Strike: A Portland Pioneers Novel by Micah K. Chaplin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I also wrote a separate review of this book and included an interview with the author herself!  Be sure to check it out!




View all my reviews




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: Dropped Third Strike (+ Interview with the author!)

So you may recall that recently, I've participated in some reveal activities for my blog friend Micah's book Dropped Third Strike:

Hey!  I Know a Real Author! (Cover reveal)
New Book Release (On the day the book released)

I got an Amazon gift card as an end of the year school gift from a student, so I put that baby right to work to order my copy of Dropped Third Strike.  I read through it pretty quickly, and really enjoyed it.  I gave it 4 Stars on Goodreads.com, and I left out a review there so I could include it here first.


I really enjoyed Dropped Third Strike!  Even though I really hate don't like baseball (Sorry, Micah!), I still really enjoyed the plot of the story and Micah's characters.  I really liked both her male and female main characters.  Reid and Kate were definitely intriguing characters, and I wanted to keep reading to find out how things worked out for each of them in the end.  Kate irritated me sometimes because I felt like she was often being highly irrational, but later in the book she reveals something that made me think maybe she wasn't so irrational after all!

While the book has a lot of baseball information in it, (it takes place in a baseball setting, after all), I didn't find it to be distracting, and I don't think it took away anything from the story line.  The story really revolves around baseball as well as romance and relationships.  If you're looking for an enjoyable summer read, I highly recommend this one!

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When I ordered my copy of the book, I emailed Micah to ask if she'd be interested in answering some interview questions for my blog post.  Here's our exchange:

Becky: What made you want to become a writer?
Micah: I don't know if there was a set moment when I decided to become a writer. I've always just enjoyed writing and telling stories. My mom tells me that even before I could write, I would tell her stories. In middle school and high school, I mostly wrote poems. I ventured into some fan fiction in late high school and throughout college. Eventually, I began writing romance fiction.

Becky: I have read two of your books.  How many books have you written so far?  Do you have a favorite?
Micah: I have written a total of five books. Four have been self-published -- You'll Never KnowA Promise Worth Breaking,Riffs of Regret, & Dropped Third Strike.  The fifth one, Behind in the Count, is part of the same series as Dropped Third Strike. It wouldn't be fair of me to pick a favorite, and I love each of them for different reasons. I have to say, however, that I'm very fond of Derek, my main character in Behind in the Count. It's very unfair to my other characters how much I adore him.
Becky: After reading, Dropped Third Strike, I can definitely say that I'm excited to learn more about Derek in Behind the Count.  I really liked what we got of his character in the first book!

Becky: How do you get your inspiration for writing?
Micah: Sometimes the stories have been swimming in my head -- Dropped third Strike is a good example of this. I thought about that story and what I wanted from it for a long time. Other times, they just evolve as I go -- Riffs of Regretcomes to mind here. I opened the document with only the idea of four people road tripping to a music festival. From there, it took on a life of its own.

Becky: Can you describe your writing process?
Micah: I'm a sequential writing. I start at the beginning and write straight through to the end. I don't diagram the story at all or plot it out ahead of time. I typically need music on in the background. Music-related shows and movies work as well. I've found word sprints really help me. I set a timer for 30 or 45 minutes at a time and just write write write until the time ends. I take a five to 10 minute break and then do it over again. The key to first drafts is just getting the words on the screen. I can go back and make it better during the re-write and editing process.

Becky: What do you enjoy most about writing?
Micah: I enjoy getting to know my characters. I try to make them as realistic as possible with strengths and flaws. Some of them are based on real people I know. And I think it's safe to say there's a little of me in every character.
Becky: I agree with that!  While I only "know" you via blogging, what I do know about you really comes across in your main characters.

 
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