Monday, May 14, 2012

And the winner is...

Marielle! You're getting "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat!" I know you'll love them as much as I do!!

Mommy Diaries: The Case of the Broken Leg...

Let's cut to the chase. As nearly everyone knows- I broke my leg. I broke my fibula in a diagonal fashion, not before snapping all the ligaments in my ankle like a pile of sad rubber bands. This happened at midnight on Sunday, April 22nd- just over 3 weeks ago.

There's not even a good story that goes with it. I rolled my ankle in Danskos on a wet floor. The floor was just wet enough that I couldn't right myself and my ankle and leg were left to bear the fall. I've never broken anything, but when I hit the ground I looked up at my friend and said "my ankle is broken." It was gross.  The ligaments had all snapped so there was nothing holding my foot in place properly and it just kind of flopped from side to side. yuck.  By 8:00am I was in surgery and was gifted with 3 metal plates and 10 or 11 screws that are fashioning my ligaments in place while scar tissue forms.

Going home, however, is where our story begins.  When the PA was giving me my discharge information, my parents (who had only been home in MA from China for a few hours before my husband called them about my injury) were in the room.  This is how the conversation went;

PA: "Do you live by yourself?"
Me: "No with my husband...and my 3 kids."
PA (eyes beginning to widen in concern): "Oh ok," trying to sound cheery, "how old are your kids?"
Me: "I have a four-year-old and 2-and-a-half-year-old twins." (I say it as if she asked what State I reside in, because, well, it IS the State I reside in).
PA (eyes have fallen on the floor and she's trying to pick them up, feeling around the hospital floor): "Oh. WOW.'re going to need some help."
Me: (in my head) "I've been saying this for years." (what I actually said) "Yea, we're working on's ok."

And I wasn't lying, we were working on it and it would likely be ok, so get that look off your face (jk)...but really, get that look off your face. This is one of the few times in the history of my relationship with my husband that his work schedule of 2:30pm-11:00pm has worked in our favor.  This meant that while Quinn was at Head Start from 8:30am to 2:00pm, Scott would be here to help with the kids and with me. I understand that not every husband would be up for sudden mommy work, and I'm very grateful that he didn't try to weasel out of it.

We were in the middle of most parents' worst everyday nightmare- parent down. There are certainly worse things that can happen, but that's why I said "everyday nightmare."  Having a parent that's actively involved in a 2-parent household down and out is devastating to the ecosystem of the household. When that parent is the mom- it's an F5 tornado that's situated itself over the household. For 2 weeks I was instructed to be on my butt with my foot elevated unless I was "crutching" to the bathroom. Nightmare of 1st-world proportions.

As God would have it, my friends, family, and church all stepped in immediately to help. Scott's work (local high school) had a sign up sheet, and we were given enough meals to last more than a month (I assume, since both of our freezers are still full), and my friend Amy coordinated childcare efforts. People either came for the whole time between Scott going to work and the kids going to bed, or they split shifts as they needed. We had help cooking, cleaning, washing kids, bedtimes, and playing with kids.  This was all going very smoothly.

To everyone except for Quinn.

My broken leg is the worst thing that has ever happened to Quinn.

My sweet 4-year-old boy with Sensory Processing Disorder and a desperate need for order was thrown in to a vortex of different people every night (which was fun for a the first few nights but he tired of it quickly), an altered schedule, and a mom that couldn't jump in the van for afternoon playground runs, or even just easily take them outside. All of this was left in the hands of others as I sat on the couch, chair, or in my bed. This was not ok with Quinn. He hates my broken leg and he has made it very clear. He stares at my leg as if it's his arch enemy- the Riddler to his Batman.

He has tried several times to smack my leg, and succeeded on one occasion, but by then I had the big black boot on so my leg did not bear the brunt of his anger. He wanted me to open the bathroom door for him, and my friend was standing right there so she did it for him. This was not OK with Quinn. He threw himself on the floor kicking and screaming "I WANT MOMMY TO DO IT! I WANT MOMMY TO DO IT!" I went over to him, and he stood up and slammed the bathroom door shut so I would have to open it for him. He said he wanted mommy to do it.

He's fallen apart at school, too, but there's nothing I can really do about that right now since I'm dealing with his behavior at home. His life at home is upside down, and he's going to carry that to school.

I was in the tub last week and he came in and saw the large incision line and asked why I had it out of the water. I said "So it doesn't get sick" (not wanting to explain infection at the moment). He said, "So you don't die?"  This statement could mean that he associates sick and die, as he had a peer at school lose their mother this year and they told the kids she "got sick and died." I'm not sure that he knows, really, what die means, but he certainly is associating it with my leg and that pisses him off, makes him uncomfortable, and scares him.

The past week has been slightly better, because we've had our regular high school babysitters over in the afternoon. Finally, on Thursday of last week, Quinn crawled in to Kylee's lap as she was reading Aiden a story. He's accepted her place in our lives right now. But he still hates my broken leg.

Either way, today I went back to my job as an Aide in the preschool I work at. The kids were SO happy to see me and told me they missed me and loved me. They had some questions about the crutches and my boot, but they don't seem to hate my broken leg right now- they're just happy to have me there.

It's going to be a long start to summer. I still can't bear any weight on the leg, and won't be able to attempt such a feat for another 4 weeks. Even then, I'll need crutches probably right through July. Joy.

Moral of the story for moms out there: Don't break your leg......


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: Slammed Series (Colleen Hoover)

Rarely has a series elicited such passion from me on so many levels. Sure, I think lots of people would enjoy "The Twilight Saga," even more would enjoy "The Hunger Games Trilogy," and some sickos like me will LOVE LOVE LOVE the "Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy." However, most people who know me, who are friends with me, and who love reading, NEED to read "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat" by Colleen Hoover. Need. To.

This is not a paranormal love story like "The Twilight Saga" or "The Eden Trilogy." These are real people, real lives, no hope of eternity to linger in the distance- we are left to deal with the here and now.

This 2-book series follows Layken Cohen and William Cooper as they navigate what they hope to be a romance- filled relationship. Layken (Lake) is new to William's neighborhood and their connection is instant. Lake finds out after their first trip to a club night dedicated to Slam Poetry, that their connection is deeper that a skipped heartbeat. Will is a talented and dedicated slam poet, and you learn a lot about him, and yourself, while he's up on stage.

Let me give a huge shout out to the emotionally strong Layken Cohen. She doesn't pine away thinking, "what could Will POSSIBLY see in me, la la la...." She has the mentality, "He's hot, I like him, I know he likes me, what the HELL is the problem?!" She's got tenacity, and that's been so lacking at the core of so many female  characters lately....

Life throws 2 HUGE roadblocks in their way in the first novel- both of them could justifiably keep the lovers apart independently, but the double blow is enough to leave the reader in tears, praying for our fictional star-crossed pair. The physical romance is written tastefully and using the correct words to allow you to feel what Lake is feeling, and what Will is feeling. Each touch leaves you wanting more and each roadblock is so real that you can feel the punch in your gut. Again, we're not dealing with angels, vampires, werewolves- we are dealing with real life and you could be reading this story about a best friend.

The supporting characters are just that, beautifully supportive but they do not overtake the story. We are able to enjoy what they bring out of the main characters, but we're not left spending too much time wondering when they'll show up again. The main characters are that strong and that engrossing.

Poetry is essentially the third main character in this story- and it is done SO. WELL. The author clearly took time to study slam poetry as an art and performance, as her descriptions are dead on. Further, she is also a poet (not many writers are) and the poetry itself is done well, even while written through the characters' perspective. Take a minute to realize how awesome this is. Not only can she write poetry, but she can do it through several different characters that have different make ups, backgrounds, and emotions- that's a big deal. I've written poetry for nearly 20 years and I don't know if I could write it from inside the head of someone else. Even if they're a character I've created.

When Slammed (book 1) ends, we're left with a glimmer of hope, some sadness, and a yearning for more of Will and Lake's story.

"Point of Retreat" (POR) begins beautifully, but more challenges await our lovers. This book is full of emotional climax after climax and you WILL cry along with our characters. It's a true fight for love. The supporting characters have a larger role in POR, but they are still handled with care in the context of Will and Lake. Many times through the book they are ACTUALLY SUPPORTING Will or Lake for different reasons.

In POR we're given a deeper look in to Will's emotional determination and his ability to prove himself, and his love, to Lake. The roadblocks here are even more detrimental than in "Slammed," and I swear you must keep a tissue nearby. It feels so real.

While I generally favor a trilogy, and was nervous about starting a book that was only a 2-part series for fear that I'd be left wanting more, "Point of Retreat" didn't disappoint. Colleen Hoover was able to build the main characters, supporting characters, build several emotional climaxes, and leave us with a satisfactory resolution.

Poetry is prominent and urgent in POR, and is written just as thoughtfully and delivered just as well.

These are two books I feel strongly about being made in to movies. They would do well based on the character development and story lines on their own, but the element of slam poetry would play out beautifully on screen. And, hey, it never hurt to throw more poetry in to the world.

**This is how passionate I am about these 2 books. I own them on my Kindle. However, I'm going to purchase one copy of each book from the authors website and give them away. Leave a relevant comment either here, or on any Facebook link to this blog I have posted. You also must share this link on your Facebook page. On Monday evening (5/14), which is my birthday (!) I will select a name at random from the comments I receive, and mail you a copy of "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat." You must also promise to pass the books along when you're done ;) **


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: The Eden Trilogy (Nicole Williams)

The Broken Leg Reading Express is full steam ahead. In the 3 weeks since I broke my leg I've finished 6 books. "Wintergirls," which I've already reviewed, "The Eden Trilogy," which I'll review tonight, and the "Slammed" series (Colleen Hoover), which I'll review tonight or tomorrow.

The Eden Trilogy is comprised of "Eternal Eden," "Fallen Eden," and "United Eden," and is written by Nicole Williams. It's a paranormal romance following Bryn Dawson, a college student, and her not-so-normal love story with William Hayward.

I will say, it took me a good 30% of the first book to feel like I was on even footing. Part of that was due to things happening in the first book, that don't happen until later in other series (major character changes, definition of good and evil). We're lead to take a lot for granted until we're given background information. This irritated me at first. In fact, I emailed the friend who recommended the book and said, "Does this get better?" She assured me it did- and she was right. In retrospect, when reading the first book, we're just as confused as Bryn was when she was going through everything she goes through, and we learn things as she does. The rest of the series has a much more melodic flow.

While the male and female leads are formulaic (in a good way) regarding paranormal romances, the development of the paranormal "world" was well done. Details were well thought out, believable, but not overwhelming. Secondary characters, which are typically handled with caution in most romantic stories, are handled with authoritative zeal in this trilogy. They don't take over the story, but they are well developed enough to make you care about their own lives, and how there lives intertwine with our lovers. This particular trilogy has a "spin-off" called, "The Patrick Chronicles," the first book is called "Fissure," and it's based on the brother of the male lead, Will. I will be reading "Fissure" asap, and the conclusion of the series is due out shortly.

The trilogy follows the typical arc and, for me, that means that the 2nd book, "Fallen Eden," was my favorite. There is lots of action, lots of drama, and no need to rush to resolution. And, importantly, it leaves you wanting more.

The thing I appreciated most about the third book, "United Eden," is that where the ending would take place in most books, "United Eden," continues on a little more- allowing us to bask in the resolution for a while.

People who enjoyed "The Twilight Saga," will find comfort and familiarity in this series. However, this series takes it a step further. It starts in a place where "Breaking Dawn" ends. This series is about the life in a paranormal world, not trying to break in to it. This is why people who found "The Twilight Saga" slow, would also enjoy this series.

Soooo, check out The Eden Trilogy by Nicole Williams for a beautiful love story that will leave you seeing sapphire :)


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bella vs. Katniss

Let me preface this with a warning: SPOILER'S AHEAD- DO. NOT. READ. UNLESS YOU'VE READ, OR DON'T CARE TO READ, THE ENTIRE TWILIGHT SERIES AND THE ENTIRE HUNGER GAMES SERIES....KTHANKS.  I should also note that I've not read one single internet article comparing Bella Swan (Twilight) to Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games).  This is purely my opinion based on the novels.

I'll start with my conclusion, then try to show why. I like Bella Swan better. I know, I know. Throw feminist stones, if you will- it shocked me, too. How, indeed, could I possibly justify liking our delicate Bella Swan, over our hardcore, bow-slinging sister-friend Katniss Everdeen?

Resolve. That's why. Stay with me...

As I mentioned in my post regarding the Twilight Series, I was merely satisfied with the ending of the series. Bella didn't really have to sacrifice much to get LITERALLY EVERYTHING SHE WANTED. Edward, Jacob, a baby, her Cullen family, and her father, all lived happily ever after- no kidding. Gag me a little. Meanwhile, Katniss sacrificed EVERYTHING and did not end up with EVERYTHING she wanted, though she did get a lot. Maybe even most.

However, Katniss never knew what she wanted- and that's a big problem for me. An even bigger problem is that when she thought she knew what she wanted, she hesitated every damn step of the way. Initially, her goal was survival- she knew she wanted that, and she got it. Had I read ONLY Hunger Games (book 1) and especially Catching Fire (book 2) and ONLY Twilight (book 1), Katniss would be the CLEAR winner. Bottom line. She was strong, no one dictated anything for her. And she threw EVERYTHING on the line for her sister, not a boy..until she threw everything on the line for a boy (which was the major complaint many feminists had with the entire Twilight Series).

 Granted, while the series' have similarities, it can be rather like comparing apples and oranges because one is a paranormal love story dealing with eternity and immortality, while the other is a very realistic portrayal of a not-so-future America and is not, despite some reviews, a love story at all.

Taking both series as a whole, however, Bella comes out on top. Throughout the Twilight series, Bella's resolve for what SHE wanted grew stronger, she grew as a person, dealt with  very real teenage girl emotions, wants, and needs. She knew that her soul and Edward's soul (as she saw it) were destined, and she did all in her human power to cross over.  Not JUST to be with Edward for Eternity, but to be true to her soul and where it belonged.  She raced across the world to face The Volturi head on, which gives me chills every time I see it on screen. She held on to a baby that she wanted, because she knew it would be ok (although I found fault in this while reading it for the first time).

While I have my biggest issues reserved for Breaking Dawn (the final book), Bella dove in to her new role as  vampire and fought through unimaginable personal pain and confusion to save everyone she loved. Yes, yes, it's annoying that EVERYONE she loved came out unscathed, and no one had to sacrifice for HER (would we really have missed Rosalie?), but SHE decided, and SHE did it.  She became what she wanted first, even when others hesitated, including her beloved! She knew it would be best for both of them, he did not decide that for her. She was proud of who she was in the end, and her happily ever after was self-created.

Katniss's resolve, however, faltered greatly (in my eyes), as the series ran on- ESPECIALLY in Mockingjay. For goodness sake, the title of the book excited the hell out of me; by the time we get to Mockingjay we know that Katniss IS the mockingjay. She, however, does not. Or maybe she does. Or maybe not. The whiplash is infuriating. Katniss spent all of her time in Catching Fire being very calculating, cunning, planning, tough, and ready to give the ultimate middle finger to The Capitol.

Mockingjay was lackluster and slow. While it showed the reality of living in a hidden society preparing for a massive takeover- Katniss's resolve was gone. The anger and energy she could have- and maybe should have-gathered by seeing a destroyed District 12, the bones of those she grew up with, should have empowered her and STRENGTHENED her resolve as the mockingjay. But, this role was annoyingly left to Gale, the one we're lead to believe loved her though I don't totally buy it.Gale plotted, planned, acted, fought. I wanted so badly for Katniss to spit profanities and take an active role (despite President Coin) in the uprising, but she just became a drooling pawn for most of the book.

By the time Katniss found her resolve, her sister was blown to bits and she slept for some time, woke up, killed President Coin on her way to kill President Snow, and went back to sleep for a while longer. She was a damn hero and wasn't present. What. The. Hell.

 In the end, however, it did wrap up nicely. And, for the sake of psychology, I'm glad it did. Taking Mockingjay as an isolated book, Katniss's greatest strength comes in the Epilogue, in her ability to move past absolutely everything that happened in the first three novels. But even then, she didn't take an active role in maintaining the peace she had a piece in creating. She still didn't acknowledge the importance of her being the mockingjay, because she knew it wasn't her choice or her resolve. She said that her children would learn that their parents "had a role in it."  And that pisses me off.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Wintergirls" Review

I want to jump ahead and review "Wintergirls" before tackling "Hunger Games" and "Fifty Shades of Grey."  I read "Wintergirls" most recently, so I'd like to get this review out there and get more people to read this- because it's a fantastic, deep read.

"Wintergirls", by Laurie Halse Anderson, follows 18-year-old Lia, and her struggle through the deepest, darkest, pockets of anorexia, and back. She loses her friend Cassie due to side effects of an eating disorder, and this book tracks Lia's grief and attempt at healing.

The title of one review I read said it best, "This book is not about anorexia."  While that is the disease that Lia has, this book is about loss, pain, family strife, divorce, promises, friendship, life, and hope. This book, however, is not for the faint of heart. It's very intense. While the author claims to have done a lot of research for this book, the emotions and actions of Lia are so raw- so real- that it wouldn't surprise me if Laurie herself struggled with disordered eating at some point in her life.  Further, I did a lot of research in high school and college on eating disorders. Even with my knowledge of the disease, I found parts of the book hard to read- because I knew it was real.

 Teenagers struggle daily with so much, and are held captive by new and raging hormones. Anderson captures these struggles with such emotion, it was like I was back in high school, reading a friends journal or something of the like.

Download or buy this book (I have 1 copy to loan!) and you won't be disappointed.