Happy Birthday

12 years ago my first son was born.  It was the end of a very difficult pregnancy, highlighted by 13 weeks of being very ill (Pre-Eclampsia), 13 weeks of bedrest,  40+ pounds of water weight, anxiety, stress, and fear all wrapped up in a tiny bundle of baby.

He came into the world at a  tiny 5lbs 10oz and 19 inches long.  We couldn’t even hold him for much of the first 12 hours of his life because he couldn’t hold his body temp or blood sugar.  I was still bedridden (on Mag Sulfate) so couldn’t even get up to look at him in the nursery.  In comparison, my youngest, who ended up in the NICU immediately after his birth I could go visit and hold him as soon as I was transferred to a room.

I was very young 12 years ago and completely unprepared for what our little one had in store for us.  From multiple medical evaluations to years of therapy, more worry, dread, and trying not to second guess every decision we made for him.

Today, he’s just a few inches shorter than me.  His voice is dropping and while he’s still a skinny guy he’s starting to fill out and getting closer (if not yet passed) that 100lb mark.  He’s an honor roll student and just a nice kid.  12 years ago and 9 years ago it was hard to imagine ever getting to the kid we see today.  He’s put us through the wringer, but it’s been well worth it.  And while we have been through much in the first 12 years (MERLD, CAPD, ADHD, IEP’s, therapies, etc) we have a lot more changes coming up (driving, dating, college ugh!!) and I’m thrilled to get to continue to watch him defy the projections people gave us all those years ago.

Happy Birthday Alex!

New Cross Stitch

Sorry there is no real update on Sabrina.  The beading is driving my crazy and very time-consuming.  So out of utter frustration from stabbing myself with the beading needle I turned to working on completely my 4 part shoe collection.  Except it turns out I don’t like any of the shoe patterns I had.   So, off to design my own.  Alas, I came up with a modern take on Cinderella’s Slipper.  Instead of glass, and thus a mostly white shoe, I chose to give the shoe a more icy look using DMC light effect floss.  This also brought in more blue into the pattern.

The pattern came out great.  The hardest part is working with the light effect floss and keeping the similar shades of blue separate.

 

The pattern is up for sale on my Craftsy account here

Review: The Revenge of Lord Eberlin

The Revenge of Lord Eberlin
The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Returning to Hadley Green after fifteen years, the young Lord Eberlin has but one goal in mind: to avenge the death of his father. But when he is reunited with the beautiful target of his smoldering wrath, his plans take an unexpected turn. . . .

Tobin Scott has not been back to Hadley Green since Lily Boudine’s childhood testimony helped send his father to the gallows for stealing the valuable Ashwood jewels. Now a wealthy man, he intends to exact his revenge by destroying Ashwood and its lady. He offers Lily a choice between her life and the livelihoods of the people who depend on the estate. She chooses the former, certain she can hold his dangerous plans at bay.

Lily and Tobin’s game of one-upmanship quickly becomes a delicate dance of seduction, and she realizes he is not the cold, heartless man he tries to seem. In fact, she is certain he is right—his father was innocent. Together, they set out to find the jewels that will restore his family’s honor, and soon their unbridled passion uncovers a shocking secret that will change their lives forever.

Having read the previous two books in this series, I was excited to return back to Hadley Glenn and the mystery of the missing necklace.

We pick shortly where the last book leaves off and our introduction to Lily Boudine. I was a bit disappointed in Lily. She’s a selfish creature whom steps into the mess she jointly made with her cousin, but unable to understand how her inability to take control over her own life led to this problem. She is a reactionary character who needs someone else to do something to react to, which is why she languishes in regards to her dilemma over Ashwood’s ruination. Lily is a fairly flat heroine who lacks that emotional spark that was present in the women of the first two books in this series. Despite that flaw, she still makes a good counter blanace to the hero.

Lord Eberlin, better known in Hadley Green as Tobin Scott, is the son of the infamous jewel thief hung in Hadley Green some 20 years ago. Due to his family’s dishonor, he is an extremely driven man. By pulling himself out of poverty and into the realm of the rich, he has devised a plan to destroy Ashwood and specifically the girl who’s testimony got his father hung. While Lily is a reactionary character, Tobin is proactive driver of this story. He moves, Lily reacts, which is why the two work well as a couple.

This story is really about the hero and heroine forgiving not only each other for old acts well beyond their control, but forgiving themselves for the parts they played in it. Tobin has a hard time accepting that his father was not the man he wanted him to be, while Lily has to confront the upsetting and confusing memories Ashwood provokes.

I would have liked to see Lily be a bit feistier to match Tobin’s blinded devotion to destroying her. But she comes through at the right moments with a spine of steel without the wilting you might expect of a conservative character.

And the romance is wobbly during the courtship, until Tobin is able to move past the anger driving him and embrace the fact that Lily did not do anything wrong. Once he makes that decision, you see all his passion for destroying her turn to loving her, including an amazing idea to show his love which I would just adore having myself! And no I won’t give it away, but I will say it is mystical, fun and something that will stand for their love for a long time.

My one big complaint is that the plot of the stolen jewels really gets lost in this series. While we do get another new twist at the end (which in my mind answers what happened to the jewels) I would have liked to see this twist developed sooner in the story to at least introduce the new characters for the next book.

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Review: The Demon Hunter

The Demon Hunter
The Demon Hunter by Lori Brighton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ellie has always been different, from playing with fairies as a child to fighting demons as an adult. She grew up wondering why no one else seemed to notice the oddities of the world that she came into contact with on a daily basis. When she is the only witness of a demon attack and the police suspect her, Ellie skips the country heading to England where she plans to keep a low profile. Everything is going fine, until Devon appears, stumbling around her garden like a drunken fool, and completely naked no less.

Six months ago Devon sacrificed himself to bind the soul of a demon and save the world from certain destruction. Thanks to a spell gone awry, Devon is back. But Devon hasn’t come alone. The very demon he tried to destroy has returned and is wreaking havoc on earth. When Devon meets Ellie, he instantly recognizes another supernatural being. Ellie may just be the only person who is strong enough to destroy the demon, if the demon doesn’t destroy her first.

A good follow up to Ms. Brighton’s The Ghost Hunter.

Once again we are taking back into Ms/ Brighton’s Paranormal England to pick up where she left off in The Ghost Hunter.

Devon, is a Victorian raised man brought back to life in the 21st century. Former warrior of god, he sacrificed himself to allow the h/h in the previous book to have their HEA. We finally get to learn what makes Devon tick, more about his family and also his ill-fated first wife. His backstory is important, because it explains how his feelings lead to his protection of Ellie.

Ellie is an American, who like in The Ghost Hunter, has come to England (but unlike the Ghost Hunter she’s avoiding the police). Ellie is a fun character who fights her attraction and eventually her feelings for Devon. Of course, the information she learns about her self at the same time, doesn’t help her confidence in their budding romance.

This book moves beyond the plot to destroy the demon and really focuses on Ellie and Devon finding their inner strength. Devon to not just accept a modern woman, but a meddling do it herself modern woman. And Ellie finding the strength to control her powers and save the day.

There are a few twists in the book including another romance, a death of a character, and betrayal, which keep the plot from slowing down. I was also happy with the final twist at the very end and look forward to more books along this series.

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Review: Haunted Warrior

Haunted Warrior
Haunted Warrior by Allie Mackay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kendra Chase is exhausted from her work as a ghost whisperer, so she’s been looking forward to her vacation in Edinburgh. But work awaits her as the tiny fishing village is being excavated, and supernatural uprisings have been reported.

Graeme MacGrath knows the source of the psychic trouble. The excavation is disrupting the protective veil between this world and darker, more ancient ones. He hates to admit it but he will need the fetching Kendra and her paranormal abilities to save the town he loves from unspeakable evil.

I have read Ms. Mackay’s previous paranormal books (Highlander in My Bed, etc) and really enjoyed them. This is a companion book (which does mention one of the other books characters) and a very similar concept as her previous books.

The heroine Kendra, is essentially a ghost whisperer. She goes into historical areas and crosses/soothes the restless spirits. Usually so that new construction of some sort can go on. Beyond her ghost abilities, I didn’t feel her character was well developed, unlike the heroines in previous novels. She’s pretty plain and forgettable.

Graeme is the more interesting of the two and you see more of his characters depth and strength. Especially in his love for animals, including his dog and the seals native to the area. You also understand how deep his conviction to safeguard his home and community runs.

There was great potential in this book which was undeveloped. The story built up the idea of a strong villain only to have the showdown between him and Graeme be so unremarkable, boring, and anti-climatic it leaves a pallor over the rest of the story.

While the romance is touching with good interaction and flow between the couple, the meandering path the plot takes hurts this book. You think your going to get a nasty villain driving this couple to the brink and all you end up with is an annoying fly to swat.

All in all, not one of the better books in these related series. Her earlier Highlander books are better with stronger plots. I am hoping she will bounce back with the next one.

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Blue Hen Falls

The second part of our trip was to Blue Hen Falls. As I posted before I love waterfalls and we know live within about 7-10 different falls.
We made the mistake of thinking we had to hike to the falls, not realizing that parking was available right near them. So we headed out on the Buckeye Trail. We soon realized that we were in for a true hike.    We started down at the bottom of that hill and wound ourselves around.  We were all pretty tired by the time we got to the parking for Blue Hen Falls.

Looking down from the Buckeye Trail

And then to the falls.  Like Brandywine, you see lots of shale.  Though this fall is much shorter and carries much less water.

Blue Hen Falls

But leave it to my kids to find a way down to the actual falls themselves.

 

Blue Hen Falls

Of course, I am still sore today from walking the Buckeye Trail, but the time out with the kids was well worth it.

 

 

Sunday with the men in my life

or almost all of them, since the hubby had to work.  So the boys and I headed back over to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  This time, we hit Beaver March and then over to Blue Hen Falls.

Beaver Marsh is in the southern portion of the park, near Hale Farm.  It’s name originates from the Beavers, whom in the 1980’s, dammed up part of the area to create the marsh

The east side of the Marsh is covered in lily pads and grass.  It will look gorgeous later in summer and with the fall colors.

The western side has less vegetation, but at this time of year was teaming with wildlife.  From Canadian Geese, to turtles, an American Coot, and lots of song birds flying around in the sky.  The one animal suspiciously missing was the Beaver, much to my youngest son’s disappointment.  Seems we came to early in the day for them.

But we did get to see some beautiful animals like

Canadian Goose on top of Lock 26

Tree Swallow

We also picked up a reptile that if we have identified it correctly is not only endangered, but not usually found in Northeastern Ohio.

Copperbelly Watersnake

We originally thought it might be a Rat snake, but further research on the internet leads us to believe this is a Copperbelly Watersnake.  This snake is endangered and protected by law.  Curiously, it is almost only found in Western Ohio (and states west of Ohio), concentrated almost singularly in a single county.  Being as we are in Northeastern Ohio, if this truly is a Copperbelly, it is a rare find.

We almost missed this guy as he was pointed out by another visitor.  We did miss the Kingfisher in the tree near him but caught in stead this bright and vibrant little guy.

Male Cardinal

Sadly, he wouldn’t hold still to get the perfect shot, but he is in full brilliant color this spring and sets off nicely against the green backdrop.

All in all, our trip to Beaver Marsh resulted in numerous Geese, an American Coot (not pictured though I have them), lots of birds, a snake, and 12 turtles (also not depicted).  The lack of beavers was missed but the abundance of other animals made up for it.