Friday, December 16, 2016

A Novel of Marlene Dietrich

Marlene by C.W. Gortner
: December 16, 2016 by William Morrow (An imprint of Harper Collins)
I remember the first book I read by Gortner (The Last Queen, almost 7 years ago!). From that first book, I've loved everything I've read by him. What stood out to me about that first book was that while it was about a time period I was familiar with, it told the story of a historical character I knew little about. Basically I knew enough about the topic to be excited, but there was still an element of surprise. I'm excited to say, once again, that was the case with Marlene.

Here you get to meet Marlene Dietrich, a German actress who became a Hollywood star in the 1930s and 1940s. If you're more cultured than me, you probably know who she was, but until I picked up the book she was one I hadn't heard of. Although there are a ton of characters mentioned that I was familiar with (John Wayne, Ernest Hemmingway, Bette Davis, and more) and it was fun recognizing all the cameos. With that said, I'm sure there are a ton more I didn't get the significance of.

I've read a lot about WWII, but I can't remember reading anything else with such a take on it. Marlene is German but also American, and it's really interesting seeing her grapple with the Germany she loved growing up and the horrors of what it became.

This is the 5th book I've read by Gortner, and each time I've loved what I've read. There's still a few of his I haven't gotten to, but it's only because there isn't enough time in each day.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

1 Month Update

1 Month
You're 1 month old!
October 27
It's crazy how quickly this month has gone by. I thought time flew by with your big sister, but it's going by so much faster this time. I'm guessing because with her I could basically just sit and stare at her, whereas this time there is so much else going on that you're basically around for the ride.
Going trick-or-treating. #happyhalloween
October 31
But before we get into more detail, here's a few official stats. You weigh 8 lbs 5 ozs (10th%ile). You are 21.26 inches long (28th%ile). Your head circumference is 37 cm (18th%ile).
November 2
You're still wearing newborn clothes, although we moved up to size 1 diapers about 2-ish weeks ago since you were soaking through them. (I've yet to bring out the cloth diapers, but I'm hoping you get to experience them soon.) And while it isn't an official stat, I will say everyone keeps talking about how big your hands and feet are.
We're out of the world. 🌜⭐️💫
November 4
Knowing how well your sister slept I was sure we were in for it with you, but so far, so good. Your bedtime is 7:30 the same as your big sister, so when Daddy puts her to sleep I get to hang out with you. You're waking up 2 times at night, normally around 1 and 4am. Although there were a handful of times you slept through the 1am feeding and it was glorious. I'm hopeful that it will become far more of a regular occurrence soon!
Our votes have officially been cast! #election2016
November 8
You seem to be a big fan of being held upright. You have pretty good control of your head and overall seem pretty strong. You've even managed to roll over from stomach to back once so far.
November 15
As for firsts, well, I guess everything is new for you. You've celebrated your first Halloween (dressing up like an LSU football player) and Thanksgiving. You attended our first birthday party when your cousin turned 7. Sadly you weren't quite big enough to join a laser tag game, but those days are coming. You went out to dinner for the first time at Acme Oyster Houses celebrating your Nana's birthday.
November 17
Being our second time on the journey I know how quickly everything changes, so for now I'm really just trying to savor all of those tiny baby snuggles.
November 20
Birth Story

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Baby Bear's Birth Story

There's so many things I want to catch up on from the past few months. Of course the most important of all is Bear's birth story. It's already been over a month since he was born, and I know I've forgotten details, so I want to make sure to get this written down now before I forget anything else!
28 Weeks
28 Weeks - The Last Bump Photo from Our Old House
With Elley I didn't dilate until I went into labor, which happened on my due date, so I assumed things would be similar this time. At my 39 week appointment, not too surprisingly, I still hadn't dilated at all. They scheduled an induction for when I'd be 41 weeks and 4 days, but I was sure I wouldn't get anywhere near that.

We got to my due date, and I was pretty sure I'd go into labor, but it didn't happen. I'd feel contractions randomly, especially at night, but nothing consistent. Each night I'd feel contractions before bed and think maybe I'll be woken up in the middle of the night. But instead, somewhat depressingly, each morning I'd wake up and realize I was heading into work.

I went to my 41 weeks appointment and again, still no progress. At this point I was still really hoping I'd go into labor over the weekend. I absolutely loved my birth with Elley and was really afraid of what would happen with an induction. I was sure my labor would be long and hard, that I'd need an epidural to cope with the pain, that I wouldn't progress, and I'd wind up needing a c-section. Talk about thinking the worst possible outcome!

Of course my induction date arrived without me going into labor. We called the hospital at 2am to make sure they had room and then left the house to arrive at 3am. (Elley stayed with my mother and father-in-law since we knew we'd be leaving in the middle of the night.)
Last Bump Shot
One Last Bump Shot Before Heading to the Hospital
Funny enough when we got to the hospital the guy at the security check-in desk was one of the boy's former students. Then as we walked back to our room we ran into one of the boy's baseball teammates. We made it to our room and they went through all their questions, started an iv, and of course checked me. I still wasn't dilated at all, so it seemed like we were in for a long day. My doctor was planning on coming by between 7 and 8 to break my water, so we guessed the baby would arrive around early afternoon.

Around 4 or 4:30, the nurse came in to start the pitocin. She also realized that she hadn't positioned my monitor correctly, so the machine wasn't tracking contractions. Once that was repositioned she realized that even without the pitocin in my system I was already contracting fairly regularly. She came back to once or twice more, each time contractions were getting closer together. At one point I remember her saying they were around 5 minutes apart.

Around 6:30 I had two nurses rush in fairly concerned since the baby's heart rate had dropped. They checked me again, and I was already 4 centimeters. Almost halfway there in barely two hours! They asked me how quickly my delivery went with Elley, and hearing that along with how quickly things had already gone they seemed, not quite concerned, but definitely surprised at how quickly things were developing.

Around 20 minutes later, around 6:50, they came in again. They asked me to let them know when I started feeling the urge to push and they'd check me again. I didn't want them to check me and be disappointed by my progress, but before they left again, I thought it might be better if they checked. Good thing too since I was at a 9, with a bulging bag of water.

They called my doctor to let her know she needed to be there know. She was a little confused at first at who they were calling about. After all, I arrived at 3am, not dilated at all, and now not even 4 hours later I was practically ready to go. She told them she was getting dressed and would be there shortly, and the nurses turned the pitocin off since clearly I didn't really need anymore.

You could tell at this point the nurses started getting worried. They started getting everything set up and the baby nurses arrived. At one point the nurse in charge told the other that if the baby started coming to call a certain code and everyone would rush to the room. They told me not too push, which I did my best at, but wasn't the easiest. It was one of those times while trying not to push that I felt my water break. The nurses called my doctor again, who said she'd be there shortly.

Around 7:20 my doctor made it to the room. They already had everything set up and ready to go, so she basically walked over to me and told me to start pushing. Barely 10 minutes later at 7:30, Bear made his way into the world! (Coincidentally Elley was born at 7:42 in the morning, almost the exact same time.)
Everything is little blurry from this point on. I do remember the doctor holding him up asking me to check the gender. While I was holding him I remember asking the doctor if I could see my placenta. I was a little disappointed I never got to see it with Elley, and wanted to be sure that didn't happen this time.

It's funny after Elley's birth, I was sure that another could never be nearly as picture perfect, but once again I had a pretty amazing birth experience, so much so that I can't call one better, they were equally amazing. I managed to deliver without an epidural each time, which I'm really proud about. With Elley I did receive a stadol, a narcotic, so while I didn't have an epidural I felt like I couldn't quite say I delivered naturally as silly as it may sound. But now I can officially say I did deliver naturally, which I think is pretty awesome.

For anyone who did manage to make it through this far, here's your reward with a few more photos from our hospital stay.
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Heading Home From the Hospital

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's a Boy

I'm happy to announce that last month, on October 24, 2016, the boy and I welcomed our son into the world. He weighted 7 lbs and was 20.5 inches long.
Similar to how Elley's blog name is a play on Louisiana, his name comes from the state as well. I'll be calling him, B.R., written as Bear, as an abbreviation on Baton Rouge. I have lots more to update on, so I'll be back soon with more!

Monday, September 5, 2016

After the Storm

I know my blogging has been sporadic at best this past year. Most often it's just been that life has gotten in the way and I haven't taken the time to blog. I wish I could say that was the case once again.

As you may have seen on the news, three weeks ago Louisiana experienced historic flooding. Sadly flooding that impacted us. We left our home Saturday, August 13, when water was starting to enter. There's quite a story there, one I'll have to write down eventually. But the end resort is that we spent one night in a shelter in a middle school gym and since then have been living with my mother-in-law and father-in-law.

By Wednesday, the waters had finally receded enough to where we were able to get back to the house where we discovered our home had taken in a couple of feet of water and both of our cars were flooded. We were lucky in some ways because most of our kitchen supplies and clothes were able to be salvaged. But so much else is gone, almost all of our books (and I'm sure you can imagine how many those were), toys, furniture, pillows, towels, board games, and so on and so on. I'm not sure when I'll be back with more updates since I'm having to type this out on my iPad (since both of our computers were also lost), but hopefully I'll be back soon with better news.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

18 Months Update

18 Months
Once again I'm writing this way later than I intended, although at the time I'm writing it you're still a day away from turning 20 months, so I guess I'm not technically late?
April 24
You had an 18 month doctor visit (which means no doctor visits for half a year until you turn 2!). You weighed 19 lbs (0.55%ile), were 30.71 inches (20%ile), and had a head circumference of 46 cm (33%ile). You're clothing and diaper size are the same as they've been. Although since I don't think I've mentioned it before, you are currently wearing size 4 shoes.
Eating with our new Minnie "poon"
May 4
You're talking up a storm. You know your body parts, even some of the more random ones like elbow, teeth, and hair. You know a ton of animals, either by their name or the noise they make. Or if you not sure what to call it, it's simply "an-mal." As for a few recent words, you've been saying help, trash, and dressed.
Mother's Day
May 8, Mother's Day
You still love books and want to read the same book over and over. Although lately before bed you insist on reading Patrick Eats His Dinner, which was one of my favorites when I was growing up.
May 29
You are obsessed with accessories and can say shoe, sock, bow, belt, and hat. Not shirt or pants, but you have the important ones down. Out of them all though shoes are your favorite. You love putting them on and taking them off, so much so that we've had to start hiding shoes from you.
June 3
You're still eating really well, somewhat surprising still since you're so tiny. You love broccoli and also have become obsessed with french fries. In general you'll eat whatever we give you, although you'll go through phases where certain vegetables, like carrots, you aren't willing to eat.
June 11, With Your godmother
It's crazy to think how you're becoming such a little person. But while I know you're becoming less and less of a baby, you'll still always be my tiny baby.
1 Month Old2 Months OldIMG_3341
1 Month ~ 2 Months~3 Months
4 Months ~ 5 Months ~ 6 Months
7 Months ~ 8 Months ~ 9 Months
IMG_414011 Months12 Months
10 Months ~ 11 Months ~ 12 Months
14 Months16 Months
14 Months ~ 16 Months

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Another Daughter of La Lune {Giveaway}

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose
(historical fiction)
Published: July 19, 2016 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
Series: The Daughters of La Lune #2
ISBN: 978-1-4767-7809-9
320 pages
Author’s page | Goodreads
I was pleasantly surprised when I started this book to realize it was the next in The Daughters of La Lune series. Not that I would have missed out by not reading the first since each one stands on its own as each is about a different member of the family. But still, it was nice to catch up with Sandrine from The Witch of Painted Sorrows and see how her life turned out.

With this book we're in the midst of WWI in Paris. Opaline is Sandrine's daughter and makes jewelry. Except being a Daughter of La Lune, she has a bit of a magical ability that she's not too sure of. What she does know is that she's able to use her power to help others talk to their dead loved ones after creating pieces of jewelry for them.

This book had all I've come to expect with Rose's books. A bit of eerie magical-ness mixed with historical fiction. There's a few passionate love scenes, and of course it ends with a somewhat surprising ending.

Overall I really enjoyed my time in Paris (with a trip to England actually) with Opaline. Except the book read kind of slow to me. I can't quite put my finger on why though. But maybe it was a good thing, since I got to stay wrapped up in the world a little longer. Either way I know I'll be coming back to Rose's work again, and I especially can't wait to read what she writes about Opaline's future daughter (because you know that has to be what's coming!).




Nestled deep within Paris’s historic Palais Royal, safe inside La Fantasie Russie’s once-bustling workshop, young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi spends her days making trench watches for soldiers at the front and mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. Opaline has a rare gift, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones enable her to receive messages from beyond. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her. So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family.

Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).
“Spellbinding.” —Alyson Richman, author of The Lost Wife


M.J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park —and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Please visit her website, her blog: Museum of Mysteries.
Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.
Or send an email to TheFictionofMJRose-subscribe at yahoogroups dot com

To send M.J. a message and/or request a signed bookplate, send an email to mjroseauthor at gmail dot com

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Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million


You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
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Global giveaway open to US residents only:
9 participants will each win a print copy of this book.



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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mailbox Monday (131)

I figured it's about time for me check in with a Mailbox Monday post, right?
Mailbox Monday
Gifted from My Dad
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! by Marilyn Burns
I've actually seen this book on several lists of math books for children. In the story, Mr. and Mrs. Comfort throw a dinner party and have to arrange, rearrange, and rearrange the table and chairs to make room for everybody learning a bit about perimeter on the way.

Little Beaver Builds a Bed by Katie Thompson
This one was actually written by one of my dad's friends. It's about a beaver who builds a bed with his dad for a very special person.

From PJ Library
Tea with Zayde by Barney Saltzberg
This is actually a really cute and relevant for us book. Each day the little girl in the story has tea with her grandfather. Except you realize on the last page that they aren't meeting in person but over the internet. Until a few years ago a book like this never would have existed, but for kids growing up like Elley now, it's hard to imagine life without this type of technology.

Happy, Happy by Bara Bat-Shem
This one is slightly more traditional, but still adorable, as the book goes through the various happy times that occur in a baby's first year. Knowing Elley, I have a feeling this is one I'll be reading, over and over and over again.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Baby #2

In case you missed my hidden announcement last month, I'm pregnant.
5 Weeks
5 Weeks
10 Weeks
10 Weeks
Back when I was pregnant with Elley, I posted about it when I was 13 weeks along. This time, well, I just hit 28 weeks. Last time I took a picture every week and while I may not have posted them each week I was pretty close. It's pretty clear that I'm not posting weekly updates this time around. And while I haven't taken photos every week, these are the few photos I managed. Already this baby is suffering from being the second child. Ha!
11 Weeks
11 Weeks
14 Weeks
14 Weeks
Like last time, overall I'm having a really easy pregnancy. I still gag when I brush my teeth in the morning, (Once again that was one of the first signs I was pregnant.) but overall morning sickness was never that bad. Honestly, the hardest part has been the exhaustion. Being pregnant and dealing with a toddler is no joke, hence the fact that I've been so non-existent lately. Most nights after Elley goes to sleep, all I want to do is lay on the couch and zone out in front of the tv.
15 Weeks
15 Weeks
17 Weeks
17 Weeks
In good news though, I don't have gestational diabetes this time around! I actually had to take my one hour test early due to last pregnancy, but passed it. Even so, I still had to take the one hour test the normal time and failed. At this point I had to take the 3 hour test again and I was sure I was going to fail, but surprised myself. Basically this means desserts are still in!
19 Weeks
19 Weeks
20 Weeks
20 Weeks
We've done basically nothing to get ready for the baby. We had talked about getting a new house before the baby arrived, but since that isn't happening, the plan is to turn the library into a bedroom. Easier sad than done though since that room is packed with books. I've started going through and sorting books to pass on and others to put in storage, but there's still a long way to go.
22 Weeks
22 Weeks
26 Weeks
26 Weeks
As for Elley, she'll be 22 months old when this baby arrives and I have no idea how she's going to react. She will point to my stomach and say baby. But she'll also point to her own stomach and say baby, so I'm not sure she quite gets it. Although come October she'll figure it out and I'm not sure she'll be too happy with the changes.
27 Weeks
27 Weeks
I'd love to promise you I'll be back soon with more pregnancy updates. But with my luck the next time I post about this baby it will be here! Ha! Hopefully that doesn't happen and I manage to check in a time or two before then!