Monday, July 29, 2013

book reviews

So for starters, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite reviewing novels on my blog, having just released my own novel. I'm shaking in my boots a little in anticipation of the first negative review. So I sort of understand how other authors must feel when reviewers nitpick their stories. But, the main difference between them and me is that I am ranked something like 115,987th on Amazon, and books like the one I'm currently reading -- Brilliance -- is ranked No. 30. I think the author can handle the critique!

Also, I keep avoiding reading baby books, which I really need to do. Although you'll see below I did read one quasi-baby book and reviewed it. I swear I'm going to start reading more of these. Yup. Gonna get right on it.

I liked The Silver Star quite a bit. I think it kind of wanted to be To Kill a Mockingbird, but probably it's best if I just look at it as paying homage to the classic. The story is about two girls who are being raised by their slacker mom in California in 1970. One day mom disappears and they decide to go find a long lost uncle in Virginia. Once they get there and start acquainting themselves with the locals, shenanigans both bad and good ensue. I gave it four out of five stars.

I had to read this because it was being touted as the next The Hunger Games. Well, it definitely wishes it was as good as The Hunger Games but it doesn't quite cut the mustard. That said, it is a dystopian futuristic novel, which is right up my alley, and they are making the series into movies. (Also people who are from Chicago or really familiar with Chicago would probably get extra enjoyment out of this series since that's where it's set) The first movie is due out next March. The third book in the series hasn't been published yet. I guess my main gripe with the novel is that I never really came to like the main character/protagonist, and I think that's partly because I didn't find the premise to be believable enough. Therefore her motivations weren't believable enough to me. Still, it's an entertaining and fast read and good for those of us who enjoy reading the book before seeing the movie. 

Second verse, same as the first -- this is the second book in the Divergent series. I liked Insurgent slightly less than Divergent. It really took a Twilight turn in the romance department, a la New Moon, and New Moon was totally the suckiest book in that series (although yes, the whole series sucked balls).

I really enjoyed Snapper. It's about a guy who spent a bunch of time studying birds in the forests of Virginia. He spends much time agonizing over a woman he's in love with, but apparently everyone else is in love with her, too, and she's pretty free with her affections. He speaks of his friends and their adventures/misadventures. The book sort of trails off at the end so you're not really sure how to feel, but overall I thought it was a really entertaining read.

God bless Denise and Alan Fields for writing this book and putting out new editions every year. This is what every person who's expecting a baby and has no idea what they need should read. It contains an exhaustive amount of research on all the important stuff -- cribs, baby monitors, diapers, etc etc etc. There's stuff in here I never would have thought of, like what the crib is made of and why that's important. They've done all the homework for us and I'm so glad because I don't have it in me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

I mean, don't worry, I am going to spam the hell out of this place with my book. Repeatedly. But there's also other stuff going on right now, like being 22 weeks pregnant.

And, by the way, MAJOR thank yous to everyone who's bought a book or gotten their free Prime copy. I expected to sell approximately three, and as of this moment I've sold 29! So I pretty much win at life.

Also, for those who've reviewed on Amazon or Goodreads, HUGE thanks! That sort of stuff is invaluable and it feels great to have your support.

But anyway. Yes. Pregnancy. It's still something else! I'm definitely in the "sweet spot" of pregnancy at the moment, even though I have heartburn and cankles and walking from the car to the grocery store makes me out of breath. At least I don't feel like barfing and I am sleeping a little better. Of course now that I've said that I fully expect to be awake all night tonight, staring at the ceiling.

I'm hyper-aware of all kids at the moment, particularly little boys. I saw the cutest little boy in Target the other day and had to stop myself from squishing his little face until it popped. And today a Cheerios commercial with a little boy made me cry. Not surprising AT ALL since I will cry over anything right now.

Anyway, while at Target I wandered into the infant clothing and pretty much rolled around like a pig in shit. Which is so different from how I used to feel in this section. This is a far cry from major heartache.

And then I bought several little outfits, even though everyone says not to, especially not the ones with SNAPS, for godssakes, get the ones with ZIPPERS, but there are so few cute zipper ones.

 Man, the photo quality here sucks. Those are dinosaurs. So cute. 
And yeah, they're all wrinkled. 

 Little cars! I die. 

I mean.

Just had to. 

And btw I am not one of those moms who's going to be buying gender neutral stuff. I get why people do that, but I can't stop myself from buying stuff with dinosaurs and cars on it. 

I should be posting photos of my baby bump, which is considerable, but I don't know ... I just feel weird about it. I don't really feel cute and it feels VERY strange that all of a sudden it's OK to have a really big stomach, after years of sucking it in and cutting out carbs and all that. Also, my stomach seems so big already, I'm a little terrified of how much bigger it's going to get. 

I'll get over it, probably. I posted one bump pic on Instagram and will probably post more there for the time being (there's a link in the sidebar if you want to follow me).

Next up in the preggo timeline is the glucose screening (please oh please do not let me have gestational diabetes), and I suppose at some point I will register for stuff and have a baby shower. Is this real life?

Friday, July 19, 2013

I think I just published a book

I mean, for reals.

Earlier today I pressed the "publish" button on Amazon, and now it appears that the book I wrote is actually available for purchase.

This is an exciting and terrifying moment. I know it's been a while since I first mentioned writing a book, and I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking I'd abandoned the project altogether.

The fact is that writing a novel turns out to be more difficult than you might expect. Or at least, more difficult than I expected (which is my life story, by the way). Because I decided to self-publish, I had to find people who could edit for me (I took full advantage of my free resources: journalism friends). I had to accept that, even after several rounds of editing, the book would retain some flaws. It's my first attempt at writing fiction and while I'll always be my harshest critic, I will say I believe this book is a quick and humorous read, good for a beach vacation. My audience is going to be mainly female, and I hope that if and when they read it, they feel affirmed.

For now, I've published only on Amazon. I'm trying out a program for authors that requires me to publish only on Amazon for 90 days. The upside is that Amazon Prime customers can get the book for free as part of Amazon's check-out-one-free-book-a-month thingy. Otherwise, the book will obviously be available on all Kindles, plus ipads and iphones for $2.99. After the 90 day period, I'll be uploading elsewhere, so the book will be available on a variety of devices. What are your favorite e-readers?

Meanwhile, the sequel to Bigger is in the works, as is another book (but it's science fiction) that I started last November. Now that Bigger is out, I definitely feel the incentive to get the next one done. Of course, there's that other baby I'm cooking right now, due out this November, so we'll just see how that goes.

Thanks so much to everyone who's followed along. All of your encouragement has been very uplifting! I've never felt deserving, but I gobble it up greedily. If you're interested in the book, please take a look and if you don't mind, leave a review on Amazon. I'm a complete newby at this marketing thing, but I'm working on it. Also, if you notice any mistakes, please let me know since I can fix them fairly easily!

Monday, July 15, 2013

I already know everything I need to know about 'Sharknado'

I mean, really. A tornado of sharks. I think Tara Reid is in it. That is all I need to know. Which is to say: I do not need to watch that movie. I have about an hour's worth of brain power dedicated to that sort of drivel per week, and I've already dedicated that time to The Real Housewives of Orange County.

But I have been watching all sorts of other stuff. So let's talk about those things.

  • Hemlock Grove. This is the werewolf show on Netflix. So I broke down and watched this in a moment of there's-nothing-on despair. It has some of the worst writing and acting I've seen in a while. The storyline and dialog are nearly nonsensical in stretches. And yet I watched the entire thing, and the dumb show has been renewed. And I will probably watch the next season. Because I am dumb. 
  • Orange Is The New Black. Another Netflix show that came out recently -- this one's about a privileged white woman who goes to prison for something dumb she did 10 years prior. At first I didn't love it, but it's grown on me, particularly since I discovered that it's based on a true story. Nothing in the world will ever make me love Jason Biggs, but his on-screen time is minimal, so. 
  • Siberia. I watched the first episode of this show without knowing anything about it. So I don't really want to say anything about it to you. I will say I am sorrrrt of still liking it, but nothing can top the surprise of the first episode for me. Is anybody watching this? Bueller? 
  • Whodunnit. This is like the reality show version of the game Clue. I am enjoying it because I'm a nerd, but my husband hates it. I think the women who cry when it comes time to see who's "scared" and who's "spared" are majorly stupid. I'd like the show more if the clues were more readily apparent to the viewing audience.
  • The Bridge. This is a murder mystery show on FX. We've only seen the pilot of this and I think it's going to be pretty good. The detective with Asperger's is a little irritating but I'm hoping her character develops a bit more throughout. 

Now, movie time!

  • This Is The End.  This is the movie with a whole bunch of famous comedians, plus James Franco. The Apocalypse begins during a party at Franco's house. The movie had the potential to be funny, but it was 1) boring 2) major boy humor, and not the funny kind 3) just seemed very poorly written/developed, as though these dumbasses had gotten together and written it while they were smoking dope, which they probably did. It was only marginally better than Grown Ups, and that movie was frigging awful. What I cannot understand is all the good ratings. It has an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, which I shall never trust again. 
  • The Watch. We caught this on Netflix. It has Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill and is about a neighborhood watch group that sprouts up as a result of an alien invasion. It's stupid, but nowhere near as stupid as This Is The End. The Watch may be earning extra points since I didn't pay $12 to see it, but seriously, it is way better than TITE
I hear The Heat is really funny and I'd like to see that. Although I dread disappointment, a la Bridesmaids, which I'm afraid I didn't love the way your average gal does. However, I do love a movie with funny female leads for a change, and Bridesmaids was asstons better than horrifically awful Bachelorette, with Kirsten Dunst as the hugest bitch ever. (And BTW we got about a third of the way into The Hangover Part II before we turned it off, and we really only turn off the really, really bad movies. Will not be trying out The Hangover Part III, but congrats to that group for milking that crap for every cent.)

What are you watching? Nothing? You don't own a TV? Ok then, shhhhh.

Friday, July 12, 2013

circus tents ftw

Oh. So it turns out there is something worse than shopping for plus sized clothes.

Shopping for maternity clothes! Unless you're REALLY into horizontal stripes! In which case, holy fuck this is really your time, my friend.

After several failed attempts to find just regular, normal-looking clothes that don't say "baby bump!" or "boy on board" and aren't littered with weird designs and the aforementioned horrific number of horizontal stripes -- I went shopping! To the mall. Me and my cankles are mighty swollen and angry now.

So listen. A store dedicated strictly to maternity clothing ought to carry normal clothes that are just larger in the belly area. I'll even allow the side-ruching. Ruche away!

But unfortunately, the store I went to today 1) was really small,  2) had mostly shirts with horizontal stripes 3) the remainder of the shirts had those horrible string-ties you're supposed to tie above your belly but I hate them because, hello, they're frigging ugly 4) seemed to believe that being pregnant meant suddenly you have an intense desire to travel back in time to 1983 and wear crocheted stuff, lace, and copious amounts of polyester 5) employed a sales person who tried to convince me to buy a hideous crocheted tunic and a nightgown, which she then explained would be for the hospital after my son tears out of my vagazzle and I need to be wearing diapers or something. According to this 20-year-old, who has a kid, and made sure I knew it.

(It's never going to be OK for strangers to approach me in public and discuss my vagina with me, especially when it comes to the havoc that shall be wreaked upon said vagina when all is said and done. I know it. I don't need a reminder. THANKS.)

(And actually, the sales chick asked me if she could help me find something, so I said I was looking for "a nice shirt." She didn't even pretend there was such a thing as a nice shirt in that store, and instead pointed me toward the aforementioned crocheted nightmare.)

It was a disappointing experience, after striking out at a few other department stores with "maternity sections" that consist of two racks of shitty clothes immediately adjacent to the 3X clothes. I don't want to wear a tent, dudes. I want to wear something cute that's meant for pregnant ladies.

So yeah. The workaround is, as my twitter friends advise: bang your head on the nearest wall; buy basics and wear the shit out of them; wear regular maxi dresses; deal with it.  

I'mma deal with it. I have my handful of basics and a couple maxi dresses, and that's pretty much how it's going to be for the next several months.

*cankles out*

P.S. I didn't even get into A Pea in the Pod, which ... I mean. $200 for a maxi dress I'll wear for a few months? No.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Until just, well, yesterday actually, I'd been avoiding facing the fact that in a little over four months there will be a tiny human living with me, and he will need stuff.

I've actually done very well at avoiding fully accepting my pregnancy altogether. I don't receive emails from babycenter or whoever it is, telling me what size fruit my baby is that week (that's what I have Christina for). I haven't downloaded any apps chronicling my slow and plodding journey toward the delivery room, although my mom and sister have. We don't have a name chosen and probably won't until a hospital official forces us to. I haven't read a single pregnancy book, although there's a formidable stack of them on my nightstand, all loaned by friends and family. And I'm 21 weeks tomorrow (he's the length of a carrot, I guess), and basically sucking at nesting, preparation, being pregnant, and possibly being female.

I know why I'm this way -- my brain broke after all that crap we dealt with over the last few years -- but it's not doing me any favors. I mean, the junk room is still the junk room and purportedly that is where my child is going to sleep.

So yesterday I decided to start a list of everything I will need for this kid. And, oh yes, I know mommies out there often say all you need is your boobs and a pillow. Or your boobs and diapers. Or your boobs and knife to stab yourself in the face. But let's be real, mkay? I done babysat before and I know there are a few basics that can't be done without. Although mommies will also say every baby is different and that is true -- my niece mostly hated her swing but liked the chair that vibrated. (BTW there's got to be a chair that can do both?)

Anyway, I started the list yesterday and "finished" it today (Ha. Ha!) and there are 74 things on it, and lots of them cost a pretty penny. Thankfully I've amassed a collection of hand-me-downs, but there are still many items I think we'll need. I won't bore you by listing them. But I'm getting a little heartburn staring at that list (although that could be my prenatal) and thinking, ok, I need that, but do I need the top-of-the-line thing? The organic thing? The no-baby-cheetas-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-product thing? No idea.

And then? There are all these mommies out there talking about all the baby books I need to read. Secrets of a Baby Whisperer. The Happiest Baby on the Block. The Contented Baby. Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. Wild Things; The Art of Nurturing Boys. And then for every person who says I should read one of these books, there's another person who says the author of that book is full of crap. Ha!

So basically, I just don't know. I may register for everything under the sun. I may order every book and read it. And I guess I'll start reading What To Expect When You're Expecting and work my way down the pile.

But yeah, I could use some pointers. Boppy or My Breastfriend (dear god how I hate the names of all baby-related products)? Moby or Ergo? Both? Read the baby books or ditch them and wing it? Tequila or vodka in the bag that's coming to the hospital?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Chipotle chicken and rice

Another Martha Stewart recipe that blew me away the other day -- chipotle chicken and rice. My husband loved it. It's a bit spicy, with a chipotle bite, but comforting and casseroley. It's also a one-pot meal, which I love, and it's pretty cheap to make since it's mostly chicken thighs and rice!

Sauce stewing in the pot. This has a wonderful smell. And I know it's summer and we're supposed to be eating grilled everything and salads, but this was easy to make and had a Mexican flavor, which makes it sort of summery, right?

The finished product. I didn't get any pics of it on my plate because I ate it too fast. You can garnish with cilantro and squeeze a little lime over the top ... yummmm.

Recipe here.

Friday, July 05, 2013

closer every day


Now that the whole pregnancy announcement thing is out of the way, I plan to carry on blogging about whatever strikes my fancy. Which is probably going to be about more pregnancy stuff, truth be told. Because growing a person in your body is super weird and all-consuming. Today I'm 20 weeks along and my son is said to be the size of a banana. I just don't know. All these fruit comparisons creep me out a little bit.

By the way, thanks to everyone who left a comment or sent a message. It feels great to finally be here, and I loved seeing people come out of the woodwork to say "Woohoo!"

So, pregnancy. A gift, yes? A life-altering experience. We all have different, unique experiences with it. My neighbor, for example, is two months ahead of me and never had a lick of morning sickness. I know, guys. And then she's also kept her figure really well. I watch her walk her dog in the evenings -- she strolls past briskly while I'm experimenting to see how much cheese will fit in my mouth.

I had morning sickness 'round the clock up until almost four months. As soon as I thought it was gone, it would rear its ugly head again. There was no real getting rid of the nausea, only small moments of "I feel less terrible than usual!" It was a delicate balance of sleep, small/frequent meals, the right amount of protein, and the right amount of water. Any wavering in any one of those areas equaled instant misery. That's not to say I ever barfed, because I never did. Vurped for sure, and gagged many a time while brushing my teeth, but never barfed. So I'm super lucky because I know it could have been loads worse. One friend had to be on three anti-nausea meds for her entire pregnancy! Some people get hit really hard.

Other delightful side-effects: insomnia and migraines. Still dealing with those. Leg cramps are a new one. I've had crazy dreams the entire time. I had great eyelashes for the first couple months but now they're stubby again. My hair seems the same as it's always been, other than that it grows really fast ... everywhere. Same for my nails. There've been a few acne flare-ups and Oh! Constipation. That's a fun one.

This all reminds me of the few months when I was not pregnant and Christina was and she'd call me and say: I'm not complaining but .... As people who've struggled with infertility we're supposed to cherish every symptom. But that's easier said than done when you're forced to curl up on a park bench for a nap during your lunch hour because you're so nauseated and exhausted, as she once did. Frankly, I have no idea how any woman gets through the first trimester while holding down a full time job. I was unconscious for most of mine.

So now I'm in what's considered the "honeymoon period" of pregnancy, which is funny. But I do believe this will probably be the least physically uncomfortable period of time for me. I still get around pretty well although I get out of breath pretty easily. I'm showing a little but not a lot (and not in that adorable tiny bump way -- mine is more like a trapezoid) so people are still afraid to ask if I'm pregnant (but I must say it's fun to watch people steal glances at my stomach when they don't know I'm looking. Pretty sure they all think the aforementioned cheese has really done its damage.). I've begun to feel the baby kick, which takes this craziness to a whole other level. He seems most active after I eat. 

Mainly what I appreciate about the second trimester is that I really feel pregnant now. In the first trimester I just felt ill, and terrified. Early blood tests had me on edge and I was so traumatized by everything I'd been through in the last three years that I had a complete meltdown in my acupuncturist's lobby when I was about 4 weeks. It's way out of character for me to cry in front of strangers, but I started crying and couldn't stop for about an hour. I'm so glad the early worrying is behind me now. I won't feel completely comfortable until the baby is out, but each week gets me closer to that.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Not much, what's new with you?

I cannot figure out how to write this.

I guess I will just do it chronologically.

There was Christina, standing in my living room, looking a little worried and telling me she had news. So I uncharitably guessed that an unmarried friend of ours was pregnant, and she said, No, I am. Which was a major things-you've-given-up-hoping-for-coming-true moment. And, oh, she'd been a little worried about how I would take it, but I was elated. Floated around for about a week with a smile on my face, my faith in the universe restored.

Until I remembered it wasn't over. I still had to somehow make the same happen for myself. Do what I'd been trying to do for years. Number one goal, unmet. Worse, really -- met, and snatched away, twice.

So I saw a new doctor, who scheduled a test, and almost all these tests involve me on my back, legs spread, and a couple strangers poking around in my lady bits. No exception here, where iodine was injected into my womb. The test said: normal.

I saw my cardiologist, who didn't have anything new to say other than to continue to be an annoying prick who I need to fire.

I started sleeping better after my husband, who should be sainted, resolved a snoring issue. Sleep is the great equalizer, no matter what anyone says.

I tried the Paleo diet and juiced vegetables and quit caffeine and started a baby aspirin regimen. I walked a lot. I half-heartedly attended cardio-kickboxing classes. I lost almost 20 pounds. 

I went to a dentist, which I'd been putting off for years. Two cavities, but other than that, nobody said The disease in your mouth has been affecting your fertility. Which I'd kind of hoped for, just so I'd have an answer.

I asked for progesterone. Doctors nowadays often won't say I think you should take this. They say We can try this if you want. So basically your health is in your hands, and this is the biggest lesson of the last three years. I asked for it and started taking it.

I started acupuncture and herbs, which I didn't know if I believed in. The effect I know it did most certainly have was to make me feel relaxed and positive -- I felt like I was doing something good for myself every week, working toward a goal. And as crazy as it sounds, there was the vision I had on my third visit in which I was standing in the sand, holding a male baby.

And what I didn't know at the time was that I was pregnant.

I always test too soon. I tested on Day 20, and nothing showed up in the first few minutes, so I threw it out. I tested on Day 21 and forgot about it for an hour or two, left it on the bathroom counter. I came back to find a faint, faint positive line. Burst into tears, started shaking. Dug through the trash for the Day 20 test. Even fainter positive line. Googled "false positive pregnancy tests" and "evap lines" with inconclusive results. For those wondering, I don't believe in false positives or evap lines. I've been testing for years, and the only positives I've ever gotten, no matter how long the stick sits there, have actually been positive.

 Days 20-26

And by the way, sorry for the fertility lingo if you're reading this and wondering about Day 20 and evap lines and all that. This has been my world for a while.

That was in March. Today is July 1 and I am 19 weeks pregnant with a boy and this whole thing feels very unreal, like I'm watching it happen to someone else. I mean, yes, that's me in the maternity pants, buying all the peanut butter chocolate ice cream while the clerk eyes my belly with an "is it burritos or a baby" expression, but I scarcely believe it.

It's thrilling and frightening and yes, I'm going to be someone's mother, and no, nobody made me prove I could do it first. It's terrifying but such a relief at the same time.

I'm posting this on both my personal blog and the Tired & Stuck blog, but I plan to update with baby-related stuff only on my personal blog. For those ladies out there who've followed along and been through similar struggles, thank you so much for every kind word. I wish the same miracle on you.