Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I got to read it before you so HAHA IN YOUR FACE.

Or a title that's something somewhat politer. (IT MIGHT BE A WORD, YOU DON'T KNOW FOR SURE)
If I don't start actively blogging again, this is going to become strictly a review blog!
Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially when it means FREE BOOKS FOR ME and also ADVANCE COPIES which make me special. Shut it.

**Disclaimery thing: YES I was given *my precious* ARC for no charge. NO I was not given any suggestions or instructions on what to write or even to give a review at all. I VOLUNTEERED AS TRIBUTE. #TrueStory.
Also if you're new to Me then you need to know this: I WRITE WHAT I WANT and I SAY WHAT I SAY.






A reminder: I review what I thought of the book as a whole. This ain't a book report - if you want the deets then may I suggest YOU GO BUY IT AND READ IT YOURSELF.
No, really. I mean it. You can thank me later - - and you will.

I like my good guys a little dirty, my bad guys a little redeemable, and homespun justice served up one way or another to the Really Evil.

This novel does not disappoint.

Tear It Down is the 4th in a series of  Peter Ash novels - and I must say it's my FAVORITE TO DATE.
Two strong story arcs converge with Peter at the crux, keeping things exciting and action packed.
I think Peter has to be one of my top favorite characters because he's interesting, bedeviled, troubled, quirky... he has issues, he's a little mean and a lot clever, and he's a total badass and will MESS YOU UP.
In other words, I can relate.  Except I'm a lot mean and a little clever but that's a whole other blog post.

Typically I don't like character comparisons - I read blurbs on books from unknown (to me) authors like, "THE NEXT MITCH RAPP!" or "WANT MORE KAY SCARPETTA? You'll love SusieSchmoosie!"
JUST NO. (Unless of course *I* am the one making the comparison because I KNOW WHAT I KNOW)

Invariably I am disappointed because I decide to give one of those a try and then I'm halfway through and getting pissed and yelling at my kindle OMG IT IS NOTHING LIKE JACK RYAN/EVE DALLAS/LUCAS DAVENPORT! SHUT UP! YOU'RE STUPID! and then I'm disappointed and also mad that I spent $1.99 on Amazon because the book wasn't at my online library.
But even Lee Child himself has compared Peter Ash to his own (and my beloved) Jack Reacher.
And I would agree - a little. In the timeless words of Mr. Miyagi:

They're both pretty freaking awesome, I'll say that. Jack and Peter, I mean.
Also the authors Lee and Nick. Pretty freaking awesome.

The supporting characters here are strong and also relatable - I love the recurring ones because I want to be BFFs with them too. There is no lack of personality in any of the characters, and one of my favorite things about author Nick Petrie's writing is his ability to describe the people- and more importantly, the action - so well that I can see a scene playing out in my mind effortlessly.  He's able to do it simply, without becoming overly-adjectived and wordy, which is good because that sort of thing ends up being a distraction for me rather than encouraging a smooth flow.
There's a long car chase that was as real in my head as if I were watching it happen on The TeeVee but I don't want to say too much. #NoSpoilers

I like that Nick adds the barest flavor of romance without hearts and flowers but still conveys the feelings and commitment.
I like that the writing and plotlines are engaging and make me want to read JUST. ONE. MORE. CHAPTER and I don't care that it's 3am and I have to get up in two hours.
I especially like that Nick Petrie is accessible to his fans - that always wins so many bonus points with me.

One of my favorite quotes from this book: "The sun never shone so brightly as when somebody was trying to kill you."
I would agree with that. Theoretically.

IN SUMMARY: I highly recommend that you go PRE-ORDER your copy of TEAR IT DOWN now. It will be released January 15th, which gives you plenty of time to read the other three in the series, starting with The Drifter.
Get one for yourself and one for a friend. Don't be so selfish.


(OH and PS: Do yourself a favor and look up ankylosaurus before you start reading, otherwise you will be holding your finger down on the word trying to bring up the definition because you forgot you're reading an actual book instead of kindle and it doesn't work that way. Plus also when you get to *ankylosaurus* you'll be all I'M SO SMART I KNOW WHAT THAT IS.
YOU ARE WELCOME.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WOO! BOOK REVIEW!

Y'all know how much I love getting ARCs (that's Advance Review Copy for those not in the know) because it makes me feel all special and superior to those of you who just don't have what it takes.
Okay, that last part may be a bit of an exaggeration...but I do loves me some book galleys.

THE DREAM DAUGHTER.

This author, Diane Chamberlain, was new to me so I had no expectations going in.
(OH I FORGOT: This book was given to me free by SheSpeaks to review - and if you know me even a little bit I don't have to remind you that MY WORDS ARE MY OWN and I SAY WHAT I WANT)

 The Dream Daughter: A Novel by [Chamberlain, Diane]

This isn't a book report and I don't want to accidentally post any spoilers, but I want to say this:

1. I recommend this book so so so much. It'll be out in October but I would encourage you to pre-order a copy.

2. A lot of you know my kids' story, born at 24 weeks and the issues and health problems and hospital stays and near death days and nights...this book wasn't exactly that but I will say that a LOT of my emotional triggers were touched and I actually read through tears several times and I was completely emotionally invested in the characters.

3. It's not what you think it's going to be when you pick it up to start reading.

4. It reminded me of the feeling I had so many times, that I would do absolutely ANYTHING to save my children, to make them better, to spare them what they had to endure.

5. The penultimate chapter was a bit abrupt for me, but the ending was definitely satisfactory (for those of you - I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I SEE YOU - who skip to the end first and PS I WILL CUT YOU FOR THAT SOMEDAY BECAUSE NO.).

Go order yours. Or head over to SheSpeaks and enter the giveaway contest! #WINNING!
When it comes to books, you know I'd never steer you wrong.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The straight dope on seizures and...dope.

Like me, I know a lot of you have kids (or other family members) suffering from seizure disorders of one type or another.  Like me, I know you've most likely been prescribed a number of different treatments over the years - switching from tegretol to phenobarb to lamictal and back again, changing doses, checking blood levels. 
Like me, you've still been subjected to seizures either frequent or occasional, whether your patient has been medicated or not.
Some meds work great for epilepsy but not so much for non-specific seizure disorders.  And sometimes the type and symptoms and strength of the seizures changes over the years.

My boy has had seizures all his life - thankfully not TOO frequent - but he always had just as many ON the meds as he did OFF...so we made a decision several years ago to stop medicating him since it didn't make any difference to the frequency or severity.

The last maybe 3 or 4 years Josh's have been getting a little more frequent but still irregular...sometimes once or twice per month, sometimes once every two months.  It's very unpredictable.  They have gotten more severe though, his body stiffens and locks down and as you know back in June he actually gave himself a compound fracture during a seizure.
Granted, it was a weak spot where it had been cracked in the NICU by a nurse changing his shirt, and it was his "bad" arm (due to the cerebral palsy his right side is weaker and smaller and he doesn't really have any real control).
BUT STILL
VERY SCARY.
Plus it's healed all crooked and weird because they feared his bones too brittle to put any plates or screws in. So there's that.

ANYWAY.

I'm guessing most of you who have to deal with seizures have seen all the 'miracles' happening with Some Kind Of Oil Made From Weed, or Cannabidiol oil.
Like me, if you've heard of it or seen the videos crossing your facebook newsfeed, you've checked it out.
Like me, maybe you were totally confused by all the information.  Hemp oil, CBD oil, with THC, without TCH, what kind of dosage, pills/liquid/vape oil...DOES IT WORK? Which works best? Dosage for an 85lb manbaby? Will I overdose him? Is the OTC kind safe?

There have been a few small studies so far that indicate that while the CBD doesn't completely eliminate seizures in all patients, it does appear to lessen the frequency up to about 40%.
If your kid is one of the kind that has several seizures per day/week/month, 40% is a SIGNIFICANT number.
My expectations and hopes were lower - basically I was just hoping and praying that best case scenario would be to lessen the severity so they weren't as hard on his little body.

So I read and researched and asked & consulted & had friends in MJ-Friendly states ask around at their favorite dispensaries in case YOU are as skeptical about trusting random testimonials as I am.
I will tell you my personal story, since you already know me.


We're using the over-the-counter CBD oil in a suspension of grapeseed oil.  There is NO THC in it.
It is NOT Hemp oil.  You canNOT overdose on it.  Side effects are minimal and reported mostly a little drowsiness, dry mouth and in a few cases, diarrhea. 
Joshua has not had a seizure since he's been taking it...
...for 10 and a half weeks now.
No discernable side effects.
I give him half the recommended dosage, which is one dropperful per day.
Maybe it's still to early to tell whether it's just coincidence or the oil that is helping. I'm open minded.
But he does have "tells" and signs that typically start a day or two before a seizure.
He's had those signs a few times over the past 2 months...but no seizure following.
YES I KNOW I'VE JINXED IT NOW and he'll probably have one today.
If he does, I am hoping it's less severe.

NOW YOU HAVE A TRUSTWORTHY (hahahaha! well, you know I wouldn't mess with you about something as serious as this) TESTIMONIAL.
And I will keep you updated.
I'm thinking of taking this for myself eventually, as it is said to be good for chronic pain, but it is a little pricey at about $36 for a small bottle.

The place we get the oil is The Health Patch  - formerly Nana's Pawpaw Patch - in Midwest City. They have a couple people who've trained in holistic & naturopathic treatments and I can tell you they are VERY patient and thorough in answering questions and printing out info. Super nice, super helpful. (No, this is not an advertisement for them - but I do highly recommend)



Friday, June 30, 2017

Chicken Finger THUNDERDOME: 2 Fingers Enter - Only One Survives

Well, technically none survived.

So yesterday was a tough day on my little family - Joshua had an appointment with the orthopedic dr for his broken arm.
Okay, I know it's JUST a broken arm but for a multiple-disabled, non-communicative kid who is like a 6-9 month old, nothing is ever "just" anything.
Of course it was a little strain on Becca and me (he weighs about 85 lbs) moving him around all day but the worst part was knowing I was hurting him.
Joshua doesn't cry. He fusses, he whines, he hollers, he makes this moaning sound that I DETEST and he knows it, but he hasn't actually cried in about 10-15 years.  Yesterday though, getting him in and out of bed, wheelchairs, and the van...I hurt him a lot moving him.
When I put him in bed last night, he had tears in the corners of his eyes and I wanted to just die.

ANYWAY THAT IS NOT WHERE I WAS GOING WITH THIS WHOLE THING.

After the doctor and the tag agency (time to get new tags! Also wtf, THEY charge ME $1.50 to look at my insurance form I had to bring in? WHAT IS THAT ABOUT??)...Becca and I were not ready to go home and begin the unloading process - we were hungry and wanted some comfort food and decided to splurge and eat out.

So there's a Raising Cane's not too far away and then a Zaxby's on the way home, so we thought we'd just do a little Chicken Finger comparison for fun and share our results.
We got the same meal from both places: 4 chicken fingers, texas toast, coleslaw, fries, & each place has their own "secret dipping sauce." OH, and it came with a drink.
Price difference: Zaxby's was 20 cents more on the menu.


As you can see, Zaxby's has the bigger drink but Cane's has a bigger box. (*teehee!*)  Raising Cane's had asked if we wanted ketchup and I said yes, so we got....ONE KETCHUP.  And one napkin. NO.


So here's what we got  - and man, is that a LOT OF FREAKING FOOD.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: The Zaxby's fries were bigger cut (and a bit more generous), but taste-wise the Raising Cane's were much better and cooked more to my liking.  Zaxby's were a little overdone.
SECOND: We both preferred Raising Cane's Texas Toast, athough I have to say that Zaxby's seemed extra buttery as compared to usual.
THIRD: Look at that enormous container of coleslaw from Zaxby's!
But it is an optical illusion, because it is a very shallow bowl and only LOOKS so  much bigger than the smaller-around but deeper container from Cane's.  Cane's was pretty good coleslaw - they claim it's made fresh every day and we saw no reason to doubt that...but flavor-wise the Zaxby's was tastier for both of us.  It reminded me of when KFC used to have that really good, finely chopped coleslaw a long time ago.



Look at that sauce. It almost looks the same and guess what? It almost tastes the same.  Zaxby's (right) seems to be a tiny bit spicier and tomato-ier (or tangier, Becca said).  Basically though, I could barely tell them apart. I call it a saucy draw.


And now the main event - The Chicken Fingers.
Awww, they look sort of like a little chicken yin/yang!
Maybe this is why Zaxby's was 20 cents more, because clearly their chickens have bigger fingers. Also crispier, flavorful crust.  I like the crust a little more well done and dark and crunchy like that.
The lighter crusted, less well-done Raising Cane's fingers were actually pretty flavorless when sans sauce.  They were just meh. Juicy enough but nothing special, basically bland.  Without the sauce, they're no more impressive than frozen chicken fingers you can pop in the microwave.



THE AFTERMATH.
Although the fries & bread were better at Raising Cane's, the overall taste & size was worth the extra 20 cents at Zaxby's.
OH, and the service was friendly and fine at both, although I feel sorry for the Cane's person having to say HEY HEY HEY IT'S A GREAT DAY to every customer all day long because EW.

As you can see, we wanted to be completely thorough so as to give YOU the best possible answers to help with any dining dilemma you might ever have.
YOU ARE WELCOME.

THUNDERDOME WINNER: ZAXBY'S

This has been a public service.




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dinky Ink

I might be having a mid-life crisis but I can't afford a sports car (or any kind of new car, come to think of it) so I think I am about to get
MY FIRST TATTOO.

I've always *sort of* thought I might get one someday, but it just hasn't been important enough for me to really think about.  I love looking at other people's tats ( NO REGERTS!) and I've seen some gorgeous work.

I think I'm going to start small though.
Fairly tiny.
Because really I do not like pain and also I have to be able to cover it up so that my mother doesn't see it and call me a slut like she did my sister that time my sister got her tongue pierced when she was 18.
#TrueStory.
#FamilyDysfunction

ANYWAY - I have picked out two, and this is going to be my first Tiny Tat (coin not included):


And then depending on how much I cry and/or scream and/or overdramatize the pain, maybe something similar to this in the future, only not on the shoulder (also coin not included):


That one might be too ambitious though. Maybe on my 50th birthday.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's not paranoia if they ARE watching you. And not even through the microwave.

My work station is in the corner of what used to be called "The Dining Room" - which is funny because we usually ate in the living room - and I have this nice sunny 3-pane bay window next to me. I keep the shades up to get the natural light, and my view is basically my van, some trees, a bit of the driveway, and a corner of my mom's house next door.

Also I'm like That Old Lady Neighbor who sits by the window and peeks out through lace curtains to see what you might be doing and keep track of your comings and goings.

Not really.
Well, kind of.
Accidentally.

Because I look up every time I hear a car in the driveway past my house (it's a horseshoe drive in our little 'compound') because what if it is the UPS or FedEX man and they need a signature and I have to put pants or a shirt on really quickly??
Also I can see part of 15th street outside and I know when the mailman comes.  Since a large part of my business involves the USPS, this is important information to have.

ANYWAY.

I have mentioned before that I can tell when I've been reading too many detective/espionage books in a row because I start checking for tails every time I leave the house.
I get suspicious if I see the 'same' vehicle too many times making the same turns & lane changes that I do.
SHUT UP I KNOW.
But hey, I've been trolling the "president's" twitter feed so YOU DON'T KNOW. IT COULD HAPPEN.

Anyway ANYWAY.

So I'm sitting in my little corner nook, working away, and the back of my neck was prickling.
Usually I put this down to peri-menopausal hot flashes but my head wasn't drenched in sweat so I knew that wasn't it.
I turned my head to the right and glanced over my shoulder...




AND HE WAS STARING RIGHT AT ME.
I mean I'd seen a hawk sitting on my mom's back fence a couple of times so I guess he lives in the area - which, I might add, is ripe with big fat squirrels for the pickin', surrounded as we are by trees and trees and trees.

I slooooowly turned my chair and tried to zoom in a little...


OMG YES I KNOW MY WINDOWS & SCREENS ARE FILTHY SHUT YOUR TALK HOLE.

I thought I'd creep over to the window that has no screen and get a better shot...


Y'all this guy is YUUUGE - I must've spooked him because right after I snapped this he flew toward my backyard and I swear his wingspan is as big as mine.  He landed on my patio rail so I was sneaking into my room because I'd have had a straight on clear shot out of my bedroom window but as soon as I brought the camera up he flew off again.

#PeepingTomhawk

I'm onto you now, mister.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy 22nd birthday! The age of no particular significance.



Every year before I revise and repost, I remember. I relive. And even if it's just for one shining day, these memories make everything else fall away: all the petty irritations and frustrations, the dislikes and grudgy feelings...all of the things that, in the long run of life, aren't worth the importance we place on them. 

It's been a long tough journey that has passed in the blink of an eye.


DUN DUN DUNNNNN! THE ANNUAL BIRTHDAY POST IS HERE. YOU WILL READ IT.



Seriously, 22? How is that even possible? Just yesterday they were like...13 -- and some days they still act like they are.

My teeny-weenie micro-preemie 1 lb babies. ONE. POUND. I know, right??






twins



THE DUE DATE: June 4th
THE BIRTH DATE: February 13th. Preemies for pre-valentine's day.
These children clearly get their lack of patience from me.  They were born at 24 weeks, or about 3 and 1/2 months early. They weighed just over 1 lb. each, and were about a foot long. I'm talkin' teeeeeny tiny. Micro-preemie, I think is what they are called now.

Anyway, this is my boy, at about a month old:



I woke up the morning of February 12th, headed for the bathroom, and after about 5 minutes I called out to the baby daddy, "Either I've lost all control of my body functions or my water broke".
I'll give you a hint - my functions were still under my control.
So natch we rushed to the hospital, where the stupid ass snot face condescending nurse (actually I love nurses in general, but this one? NOT SO MUCH) had me lay on a gurney for an hour and then said that I was fine, no fluid was "leaking" (I know, gross), and the pains in my back and belly were just muscles stretching, NOT CONTRACTIONS...and then she tried to send us home. 
Me being me, I caused a scene.
Hey, guess who ended up being right about me being in labor?

Here is my little girl, at about a month old:



The doctors tried to stop my labor for 24 hours, but apparently my kids were having none of that. On the 13th of February, my boy arrived in the usual way - of course, I was knocked out for the entire thing. My daughter was still safe and secure in her bedwomb -- the idea was to let her 'cook' a little longer (which would have been weird to have twins with different birthdays, right?).  So they were wheeling me into recovery when Miss Contrary's heart rate dropped to zero, and they did a SUPERFAST emergency C-Section to get her out. Evidently she didn't like being alone.
So it was like Twins Two Ways, with extra Mommy Staples.
This is also where I discovered my love of morphine. MMMMMMORPHINE.

Their ears were still folded down (WEIRD! I didn't even know ears did that until my kids were born. It was like puppy ears or something), and their lungs were not completely developed, and their little hearts were working overtime/doubletime.

They struggled for every single breath. They fought to live.

And so they did. And so they have.
Thank you, God.

Thank you for this little miracle....(my girl at about 2 months)

and this little miracle...(my boy at about 3 1/2 months)



The doctors gave them less than a 50% chance of survival.
Fortunately they got my stubborn genes as well as my temperamental ones, because my kids wouldn't listen to percentages; they went all HAN SOLO and were like NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!

Their hearts were overworked, their lungs were and are covered in scar tissue, they are cursed with keloid scars as well as scars from perc lines and picc lines and a million little junkie scars on arms and feet from being pricked with lancets every hour. They have scarred veins, they had damaging bleeding in their brains, preventing brain growth. And yet...    

Becca's first day home from the hospital! Nearly 4 months old and not even 5 lbs. I still have this amazingly tiny dress - I swear it's barely bigger than Barbie size. Those booties she has on? The foot part is less than 2 inches long. Each twin came home attached to oxygen and an apnea monitor - whenever we all went anywhere together it looked as though we were leaving home for a month, so laden were we with electronic equipment, oxygen tanks, diaper bags, strollers...which is partly why I became the hermit I am today. #Lazy


Here they're about 7 or 8 months old, I think (did I ever mention that I am TERRIBLE about labeling pictures? Because I am). Clearly Becca was already trying to wear some sort of tiara:



One morning I discovered that my daughter knew how to climb into her brother's crib.



When Becca was about two, this is what "Go get ready for bed" meant:



Josh had the softest, wispiest hair so I let it grow and grow... until that time I gave him a buzz-cut and he's been sporting a Greg Brady WhiteBoy 'Fro ever since. Unless I cut it myself, in which case he looks sort of like he's got the mange. #TrueStory






Josh 2007

Becca 2007






There were middle-of-the-night phone calls with doctors on the other end of the line telling me that they didn't think THIS twin or THAT twin would make it through the night- so we'd rush to the hospital to sit and put our hands in the "baby terrarium", as I thought of them, and listen to the beeps and the whooshing of the ventilator and wait for the inevitable.
There were six months in the NICU and 3 or 4 Thanksgivings and Christmases spent in the hospital. For awhile I thought they were going to name a wing of the children's ward after us, or at least keep "our" room in reserve.

There was RSV and BPD and ROP and a bunch of other things with initials that I barely understood.
There was double hernia surgery and laser eye surgery and surgery to correct crossed eyes. 
There were staph infections and even a broken arm that was caused by changing my son's shirt whilst in the NICU - he of the tiny little brittle bones. There were breathing treatments and nebulizers and oxygen tanks and albuteral and lasix and digoxin and tegretol and synthroid and constantly changing medications and frequent seizures and paralyzing fear (well, that last thing was *me*).


I remember a tiny Becca setting her pacifier down in something that had spilled...she picked it up, took a suck, and said, "What the hell is all over this?!" It made me laugh so much that I couldn't even correct her.


I remember one single sentence of absolutely clear speech from Joshua in 21 years...he was sick and angry and yelled, "I WANT MY BOTTLE!"  It was astounding and amazing and thank goodness my mother witnessed it or I would have thought my ears were playing tricks on me.


TWENTY ONE
(or The One Where Joshua Gives Duckface)


This milestone is especially important for Joshua, as he has already outlived all early predictions of life-span. Though it's a little like living under the Sword of Damocles, we do not give in or give up. And despite the fact that they were and are so fragile health-wise, for the last 10-12 years I can count on one hand the number of times they've had to go to the doctor or hospital. 

And now HAPPY 22nd BIRTHDAY!
(YES, Winnie The Pooh is still on the walls. Joshua loves Pooh bear)


How could I not believe in miracles? When I look upon those miracles every day of my life.
I love you, my babies. I have been and will always be thankful for every breath that you take, every blink of your eyes, every morning that you wake. I love you with everything inside me.

You still make me laugh, you still make me cry, you still make me want to smack you upside your silly little heads.

If all the world was a beach, I would love you more than all the grains of sand added together. Times infinity.