Book Over-Review: Red Rising


I just finished the first three books in Red Rising series and I am hooked. They are too good not to share, even though the first book came out back in 2014. They definitely fall under the science fiction category which isn't normally my jam but I loved them. I would say it's a cross between Divergent and The Hunger Games but also very different than either one. I'm going to do my best not to reveal too much because the suspense and mystery of this series is what makes it so intriguing.

The story follows Darrow, a Red, the lowest of all the colors in the society. He is a hell diver and spends his day drilling for helium-3 on the planet Mars. It's an extremely grueling life but the Reds are doing their part to supply the needed materials for the society to prosper. on this uninhabited planet of Mars. Darrow's life is dedicated to this mission until one day when things take a terrible turn and his life is ripped away from him.

Darrow has seen the real society and now understands the deception that is fed to them at birth. The shock and confusion that surrounds Darrow leads him to do the unthinkable, infiltrate the Gold caste in their most distinguished and elite arena, the Institute. How can he penetrate the Institute when he is only a Red? He will undergo a transformation that can only be accomplished by a true love for his people, a willingness to die for his cause,  and the memory of a lost love.

Following Darrow's story, you will see the cracks in this perfect caste and see the horrors of those fighting for power. It will transport you this futuristic world where power and control are the very devices that will be their downfall.  Will Darrow be able to accomplish his mission or will he be destroyed in the process? You will be on the edge of your seat the entire time with lots of twists and turns thrown your way. Sooo good and even better when you can listen to the audiobook version. A must read series!

National Infertility Awareness Week: Our Story

Did you know that 1 out of every 8 couples struggles to get pregnant or sustain pregnancy?? Pretty sad right? I bet that someone you know has gone through infertility struggles, miscarried, etc but it's NOT something that is widely talked about. I have always been very open about our journey but I know that not everyone is comfortable with sharing their story or others aren't comfortable with talking about it with them. I can understand that but I think it's important to share our story so others know that they aren't alone. In true Jessica style, I am going to share a lot with you in this post. So grab a snack, a beverage, and get comfy. This is going to be a long post!

We started trying to conceive almost four years ago. Just typing that makes me so sad. Four years of actively tracking ovulation and every little symptom, scheduling things around when I could conceive, doctors appointments galore, medications, shots, negative pregnancy tests, and the constant rollercoaster of emotions that comes with all that. It's exhausting and sad.

We were trying for about a year and a half before we went to a doctor. I knew that the "average" amount of time to get pregnant is about a year and then you add in my husband's crazy schedule, it makes it a little hard. In hindsight, I should have seen a doctor earlier because I knew that something had to be wrong. The doctor ordered a plethora of tests for me including the lovely HSG and saline sonogram. The tests concluded that I have a bicornuate uterus and PCOS. Now the weight gain, hair loss, and inconsistent cycles were all making sense.

My doctor decided to put me on Letrozole for a few months to see if that helped. Sadly, it didn't and she decided that we needed to see a specialist. Going to see the specialist was the one of the best medical decisions I've ever made. Spoiler alert: I didn't get pregnant while going thru fertility treatments there, but I learned so much from them.

The specialist was kind, explained every little detail to me, gave me a realistic outlook on what we were dealing with, and was no nonsense (in the best kind of way) when it came to putting my health first. He urged me to get another saline sonogram because he truly thought the images that were done before, weren't up to his standards. I fought tooth and nail against it because I had just had one done a few months before and it was so awful for me. Finally, I did what he said and low and behold, I had multiple polyps in my uterus. Polyps can stop you from getting pregnant, so this was a big deal.

A few months later, I had a surgery to remove them and to try and fix the shape of my uterus. It's VERY heart shaped, which can also lead to problems sustaining pregnancy. They ended up finding even more polyps and removed them and then worked to fix the shape of my uterus. It's never going to be 100% when it comes to what they want to see, but it's better.

After that, we did more rounds of Letrozole with ultrasound monitoring, all leading to negative pregnancy tests. They decided we needed to move to IUIs. We did 6 in total, all with trigger shots and  the last one including injectable medication. That one was the worst because we paid a ton of money and I had high hopes, but sadly no pregnancy. They were at a loss for why I wasn't getting pregnant and have now concluded that our infertility struggles were "unexplained."At that point it was time to say goodbye to our doctor and leave for Virginia Beach.

I left SD feeling sad for so many reasons but a BIG one was because I had to start over with another doctor. My previous doctor knew all my history, would call me and check on me on the weekends, and was so compassionate and caring. I became very attached and it was hard for me to imagine connecting with another doctor that way.

When we got to VA Beach, I sought out a primary care doctor so I could get referred to a specialist. Everything with the military takes longer because you need referrals. Finally, I was able to see someone and she agreed that the chances of an IUI working were slim and it was time to move to a more aggressive approach... IVF. To be honest, I was/ am terrified of IVF. The whole idea scares me because of everything involved. I look at others' stories of their successful IVF transfers and I know that in the end it will be worth it. It's the in between that makes me nervous though. I hated giving myself one shot a day, I can't imagine several a day and some of these are intramuscular. :( It's just a lot to take in. But with that being said, I want a baby. I still want a chance for us to try and I know this is the next step, so I completed the immense amount of paperwork and testing to get approved to start through the A.R.T. Institute in Bethesda.

So that's where we are now... waiting to see if we will get the a-okay to begin this summer. We started to get really excited and then I hurt myself and the potential of knee surgery is looming in my future. Everyone keeps saying that IVF can be done later but it works little differently with the military and my husband's schedule. So now we wait....

Some days are full of rays of shiny hope and then others feel so bleak and disappointing. There are moments where I feel strong and confident in the Lord's plan and just as quickly I see someone post about a second or third pregnancy and I feel jealousy rear it's ugly head. I hate comparing myself to others and I especially dislike feeling upset when it should be such a joyful moment. It's an inward battle that never ceases to end.

With all that being said, I am thankful for our story. I have connected with so many women who have had similar struggles and who have reached out wanting to talk or just share their story. These moments remind me that the Lord connects us all and gives us a community in the midst of these tough times. I have also found the most amazing support system. I have friends and family that consistently check in with me about how everything is going. They know when I am going to my appointments and they pray with me every step of the way. I am so grateful to know that these amazing people are invested in me and our potential family. They make this burden easier to carry.

I couldn't write this post without mentioning how amazing my husband has been through this whole process too. He has been my rock ad absolutely steadfast in knowing that we will have a baby one day. His faith has never wavered and he helps keep my eyes on the Lord. I love you Mark!

I hope that collectively, by sharing our stories, and learning to ASK others about their stories, that we will change the stigma that comes from infertility. I hope that this doesn't make you feel bad for me but rather it gives you a little insight into our journey so far. I know our story is far from over and I pray that whatever you are going through that you find solace in prayer and the people around you.

Weekend Recap {Still Hopping Around & Bachelorette Party}

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was great because Mark is home! Yay!! I am normally totally fine being home alone for weeks and months on end but this darn knee issue has been such a pain. If I want to carry anything at all, I have hop around because I can't hold anything in my hands while using my crutches. So annoying! I am hoping that after my MRI this weekend and then my appointment a week later, I will know what the damage is to my knee. Praying it won't be too bad of a recovery!

Taking a break while attempting to lug my laundry upstairs :(

On Friday, I went to dinner with my friend Ashley. We grabbed some Mexican food and had great girl talk. So fun to be able to relax and chat with a girlfriend!

On Saturday, I worked on school ALL morning, trying to get my remediation groups together for testing. It's coming up in just a few shorts weeks. AHHH! Mark came home in the afternoon and I was so glad to squeeze in a little time with him before heading to a friend's bachelorette dinner. We went the the Cavalier and ate at Becca. I was so excited to check out the Cavalier since it just recently reopened. SO pretty and the food was delicious! I want to go back when I'm not on crutches!

Sunday was spent working on school some more... boring lol! Then Mark and I grabbed lunch at Wasserhund. I LOVE their pizza and beer. SO good! We also ran some errands and finally got a new grill. Yay for being able to grill this summer!! It makes clean up so easy and is relatively healthy depending on what you make.

This week is busy busy busy but I'm going to try and post a book over-review soon. I've been a reading machine lately! Have a good week!

My Spring Wish List

Finally, it seems to be warming up here. I am so ready to bust out some spring clothing, although I would be perfectly happy if bathing suit season just passed right on by! I am NOT ready for a bathing suit and this whole not being able to work out thing is killing me!! I can't wait until my knee is better. Anyways, I have had my eye on some spring items. There are so many cute things out right now!

White Jeans

White jeans

I love the loft jeans and I purchased a pair of these last spring. I wore them a ton but unfortunately they don't fit any more. Darn winter weight :( I am loving the fun detail at the bottom hem on the pair!

The Cutest Heels

get it here

I have a pair of heels that are very similar but I love the chunky heel of these. I feel like they will be super easy to walk in and are so cute. I'm pretty boring and I love the nude color but there are so many options!

Madewell Jeans

get it here

My friend was wearing these the other night and they were soooo cute! The picture does not do them justice at all! They have a 70s vibe to them, which is so fun! I love the cropped length and the subtle flair. I can't wait to pick these up!

Asymmetrical Top

get it here

I saw this on another blog the other day and fell in love! I know it's not a typical spring color but I love it anyways! I actually just ordered this and it should be here any day! 

Flutter Top

get it here

I love a good detailed sleeve and this top doesn't disappoint! So cute! I will for sure be picking this up in a couple colors. 

I'm also on the hunt for some cute sandals! I have a few pairs of Sam Edelman's that I pull out every year but I want something a little different. I would love to hear what you are picking up for Spring! 

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!! I hope you all had a great week and have something awesome planned for this weekend. I have book club tonight, which I love, so I am excited! Lets jump in!

Spring is in the Air

Finally, it's starting to feel more like spring around here. Last weekend, we cleaned up our front planters and added some spring blooms. Can't wait to see what it looks like when the perennials come back! 

Fringe Life

Koa Sandals

I have a major thing for fringe. I just think it's adorable :) I recently bought these Sole Society sandals and I can't wait to bust them out. The color is a perfect neural and they are pretty comfy (as far as I can tell). I also love the Vista Blue color but I figured I would get more wear out of the caramel. 

The Coziest Sweatshirt

Check it out here- the pic isn't doing it justice! So cute!

I purchased this swing sweatshirt from Old Navy a few weeks ago and I've worn it so many times already. I LOVE how comfy it is and it's so easy to throw on for a casual day. I actually found it in the athletic section but I think it's cute with jeans too. I actually have the more purpley-gray color but I couldn't find it online. 

New Obsession

Mark has been raving about the Red Rising series for months now but I really thought it wasn't something I would be into. Science Fiction isn't my jam but I finally gave in and WHOA I'm so obsessed with these books. We listened to the first book while on our road trip and then I read the 2nd book. It was actually really nice listening to the first book because I could hear how everything is pronounced lol. There are so many weird words in that book that I would have NO idea how to pronounce otherwise. 

I would say the book is a cross between Hunger Games, Delirium, and the Divergent series. It's pretty violent but doesn't make me cringe like some of the thrillers I usually read :)

Spring Bundle

As most of you know, I have a side gig with Rodan+ Fields. I LOVE sharing about the products and business but don't always share in this space. This is too good of a deal not to tell you about it though. Right now they have released a spring bundle that includes the Intensive Renewing serum, the Lip Renewing Serum, and Multi-function Eye Cream. All three can be added on to any regimen or used on their own. They are in my weekly (some even daily) rotation. Plus they are 25% off when bundled together :) Let me know if you have any questions or want more details!

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Charlottesville Weekend Part 2

If you haven't read about the first part of our weekend in Charlottesville, click here to to read it first.
Sunday morning we ventured out to find a spot for breakfast. We had heard that Bodos Bagels was delicious so we walked over there from out hotel. Unfortunately, it was closed so we had to find anther place. We ended up eating at the Grit Cafe which was pretty good, but nothing to write home about :)

Afterwards, we walked around a little to check out the shops and to find a place for a great Bloody Mary. We ended up at the Commonwealth Skybar which I was excited to see because I had read that the food and drinks are great. We sat outside on the skybar to people dog watch and have a bloody mary. They were delicious!

Our friends had to leave so we headed back to the hotel and Mark and I took a nap. Does anyone else feel guilty if they nap on vacation?? I feel like I am missing out on fun but I was exhausted! A little later we decided to walk around the downtown area and check out some breweries. The first that we went to was Three Notch'd. We had a beer flight and we loved everything we tasted, minus the IPAs because I despise them lol. Mark was into them though!

Next, we went to Champion (on recommendation from someone at Three Notch'd). It was a smaller brewery but nice to sit outside. At this point we were starting to get hungry so we started walking to the Korean place we had seen earlier. My dad always raves about Bibimbap so Mark really wanted to try it. Holy moly it was delicious!! We shared a bowl since we wanted to "food tour" which is basically our way of trying lots of food at different places lol.

Next, we ventured down to the Graduate hotel. We saw their rooftop restaurant, Heirloom, from down the street and wanted to check it out. The views were pretty incredible and the drinks were yummy! We shared a chicken sandwich, which was pretty good.

Afterwards we strolled through the UVA grounds. It was gorgeous!! Mark and I both agree that we would love for our future babies to go to school here just so we can visit :) That's a good reason, right?? We really wanted to make one last stop at an oyster bar, Public Fish & Oyster, that we found down the street from our hotel. We got there right before they closed and they were so cool about still serving oysters. I hate inconveniencing people but they convinced us that it was no problem. Some of the best oysters I've had in a long time, plus a super cool vibe.

The next morning, Mark grabbed us some bagels from Bodos while I got ready. The bagels really did live up to all the hype. So good!! Then we headed out to Monticello. We walked around the property for awhile until it was time for our tour of the house. Mark totally geeks out when it comes to history but I have to say, I was pretty into it also :). There were some awkward interesting questions asked on the tour but other than that it was great.

We ended up being at Monticello for awhile so we didn't have a ton of time in Williamsburg for the last part of our trip. We should have planned this part better since we got there when all the tours were closing down. We tried to go into a couple places in Merchant Square but it was all super touristy and (for the most part) we had terrible service. :(

We stopped by the Williamsburg Winery to do a little tasting and this ended up being a good experience. The ladies working there were super nice and told us about a few spots to go later on. One of the suggestions was The Amber Ox for dinner. The food was soooo good! We had the meatballs as an appetizer and I would highly suggest them. I could have licked the bowl lol. We stayed there to watch the NCAA Tournament Championship game. Sadly, Michigan lost. :(

The next morning we had to pack it up early because Mark had to work. It was a great trip and so fun to explore more of Virginia!

Charlottesville Weekend Recap

Mark's Patagonia sweater will be in pretty much every picture... this is his new fave clothing item lol

Hey everyone! I am back today with a recap of our weekend in Charlottesville, VA. We had a BLAST and it was just what I needed. I only wish the trip was a little longer because there was more that we wanted to do/ see. Good thing we only live a few hours away!

We arrived in Charlottesville on Saturday morning and immediately walked around the little area by our hotel to check it out. We stayed at the Downtown Residence Inn by Marriott and the location was pretty great. We were in walking distance from everything we wanted to do, except the wine tasting.

When our friends, Carly and Joey, got to the hotel we met up with our driver for the day, George. Funny story, Carly actually found George on Craigslist where he advertised that he would drive us around to the wineries for $12 an hour!! We were stoked but also a little skeptical about this Craiglist arrangement. George ended up being a really nice guy and we made it back safely :)

Our first winery stop was King Family Vineyards. This was probably my favorite because of the beautiful views and the wine was super good! This was also the busiest out of the wineries but they had plenty of room for everyone. I will definitely go back here again!

Our next stop was Grace Estate Winery. We liked the wine here a lot and the people were really nice. We brought our own food and made a charcuterie board which we called Car-cuterie lol. I would visit here again for sure!

Our next stop was Stinson Vineyard and this was our least favorite. The person helping with our tasting was really rude and although it was super cute, I won't go back.

Our last stop for the day was Knight's Gambit Winery. The tasting was in what looked like a home and was super cozy and casual. The people working there were really nice and I would love to go back for another tasting. Plus they had the cutest pony on the property that just roamed around. So adorable!

George took us to a "secret" lookout before heading back to the hotel. This detour caused lots of laughs and is a great memory :)

Not the best photo of us lol but the view is pretty!
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to change and then headed to our dinner reservation at Tavern & Grocery. Carly and I both ordered from the tasting menu and holy moly it was sooo good! We also had some sparkly gin drink which has changed my opinion on gin... yum!

Next, we ventured out to a few local bars. We had a great time but were all exhausted from the day's festivities. We walked back to the hotel to call it a night.

Head back one there tomorrow to see part 2 of the trip!