Katherine Kuzma-Beck

An academic mom.

I think the simplest reason why I put off marriage and even getting engaged until I was almost 30 was that I wanted to keep my 20’s for myself.

At my core, I am very artistic and I am a dreamer. I have so many dreams of what I want to do and where I want to go. I saw my 20’s as a time for me to enact those dreams before I settled down. I have said before how I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother, but I always knew that there would be a time for that and that was sometime after I had done everything I had wanted to do in my 20’s. Now, that’s not the say I didn’t want love in my 20’s, I definitely wanted to have a boyfriend that was my person, but I was nowhere near ready or in the mindset to settle down.

I wanted to travel with or without a boyfriend. I wanted to finish my education and get into a doctoral program. I wanted to live on my own with a couple cats and enjoy living on my own without roommates or a live-in boyfriend. I also wanted to buy my first house by myself. In many ways, I wanted to live my life as my own person before I became someone’s wife and someone’s mom. And your 20’s really is the absolute best time to do that because that decade of your life is such a transition time from being a college kid to a working adult with real-world responsibilities. I also wanted to know that if I had to go through life on my own, that I could do it by myself and that I was a solid, financially secure person outside of any relationship or entanglement.

I also wanted to make sure that I was with the right person when my time did come to marry. Without getting too into it here, I grew up in a marriage that was between two people that were not meant for each other and it was hard growing up in that space. And then when it finally exploded, my brother and I took the brunt of the fallout. In many ways, it was more me than my brother because I was the older one. We both have very different memories from that time in our lives.

What I took from that time in my life is that when I did have children, I wanted to make sure that they had a secure and loving relationship modeled for them so that when it became their turn to get married and start their own families, that they would know what it was supposed to be and look like. I was thankful to have found that love in my mid-20’s and that my husband got to be a part of my travels and my first time being out fully on my own and then joined me when I bought a house and together, we started a life together because, at that point, we were both ready for the next step in our lives.

In keeping my 20’s for myself, I think it made me a better wife and it definitely made me a better mother. It also gave my husband and I time to do so much stuff together. We backpacked through Europe, went to Disney World twice, got our first home together, had a lot of date nights and hangouts– we just enjoyed being together for several years. And now we’re an old married couple with a baby who spends their days watching Simple Songs of YouTube and we wouldn’t change any of it because we love having Logan and are enjoying family life.

I think everyone should wait until their 30’s or even late 20’s before they get married. Your 20’s are the best decade you’re going to have to be young, stupid and on an endless search of finding yourself. You’ll experience love and heartbreak, new jobs and opportunities and hopefully, a lot of adventure. Your 20’s are your time and I think if more people kept it like that, more people wouldn’t be getting divorced within the first few years of marriage because they will know who they truly are and what works and doesn’t work for them. You will become the most honest you have ever been when it comes to relationships and what you’re looking for. And you will be an accomplished person in your own right, outside of your marriage and your family.

And if you’re lucky you’ll meet your person and you’ll get to go home from your crazy days of responsibilities and dance to acoustic songs in your kitchen while your baby is asleep in the other room. I am excited to see where my settled self goes in this latest decade of my life and what I am writing about my 30’s when I hit my 40’s…ahhh!

dancing

From our engagement photos at Asbury Park Convention Hall. November 2016.

Anyone else have a baby that that would live in pajamas if they could? Logan is OBSESSED with comfy clothes and threw a tantrum when I dared put him in dress pants and a bow tie for Easter. The outfit lasted long enough for maybe two pictures before I put him into a cotton t-shirt and pants and the angry dinosaur that my baby had become quickly calmed back down to his super cute self. Goumi Kids is offering 15% off all pajamas right now through my link using code ALLS15. Logan loved their sets when he was younger and the best part? They go down to PREEMIE sizes! You can also snag booties, mittens and sleep sacks for your little love. Snag your coupon and deal below:


15% off Baby Rompers at Goumikids.com. Code AllS15.

dead eyed dollThomas Kingsley Troupe’s The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll is scheduled to be released just in time for my favorite season: FALL!! Troupe’s book is a fictional encounter with one of the creepier things that exist in the world. Have you ever heard of Robert the Doll? He currently lives in a museum in Florida, but legend has it, he haunted the life of his former owner for years…well into the boy’s adulthood, marriage and eventual death.

Robert the Doll

Robert the Doll belonged to Robert Eugene Otto who lived in Key West, Florida. The doll was a gift to Robert from his grandfather for his birthday. As legend has it, the Robert used to blame any childhood mishap on the doll and soon the doll developed his own awareness to the world around him and later would move things around the room and disappear and reappear in different areas of the house. In his later years, Robert would the doll his own room where he would live until Robert and his wife later died. The new owner of their home described many supernatural occurrences involving the doll which would later be blamed for a variety of misfortunes including broken bones, car accidents and divorces. Today, Robert the Doll has a new home in a museum where visitors can see him first hand, but must heed his warnings of asking permission before taking his picture and must mind their manners, if not, Robert will take his revenge on you.

The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll

Troupe’s novel is a short read, about 47 pages. It tells the story of Al, a young boy who takes part in a field trip to the museum to meet Robert the Doll. He and his friend, Selma are skeptical about Robert the Doll, but Selma also is fearful of the doll because as she says, but what if it IS real? She leaves Al alone with the doll and Al takes it upon himself to take a picture of Robert without his permission, completely disregarding the warning signs and the letters from people who have done the exact same thing to Robert in the past and have later had to apologize for their behavior. Al will later come to regret his decision as strange things start happening to Al and to those around him. Al must figure out how to accept that there are certain things in life that are just unexplainable and need to be respected…Robert the Doll is one of them.

The Haunted States of America Series

The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll by Thomas Kingsley Troupe is the latest middle grades horror story in the Haunted States of America Series. This book series showcases a haunted tale from one of the 50 states with easy language and mild illustrations that help bring the creepy story to life. As a kid who grew up on RL Stine, I would definitely invest in this series for my son when he is older and looking for a creepy bedtime story. As a teacher, I would pick these up for early middle-grade readers who need a high-interest story to keep them motivated. Other books in Troupe’s Haunted States of America Series include Beware the Bell Witch, Ghostly Reunion, Spirits of the Storm and Trapped in Room 217

About the Author

Thomas Kingsley Troupe is a native of Minnesota. He has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books with many being geared more towards kids. His series include the Haunted in America Series as well as Hauntiques and Furry & Flo. When he is not writing, he enjoys ghost hunts and campy movies.

Book Information

Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll (Haunted States of America) by Thomas Kingsley Troupe will be released on September 1, 2019 from Jolly Fish Press with ISBN 9781631633485. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

My first Mother’s Day was a little bittersweet. I missed my aunt as this was the first Mother’s Day without her so there was a sadness throughout the day that she wasn’t there. She was so excited to meet Logan and it makes me really sad that she was gone before she had a chance to do so. They would have loved each other.

me and logan

Me and my boy on my first Mother’s Day.

I got to sleep the night before because my husband took teething baby duty and when I woke up there were roses and my favorite ice cream because on Mother’s Day calories don’t count and you can get butter pecan ice cream for breakfast and it is okay. Mother’s Day is a mandatory work day for my husband so it would have been nice to have had him there yesterday, but he had to work. We made up for it later with the AWFUL, DISAPPOINTING (I won’t go further because…spoilers) Game of Thrones episode.

Going to my mom’s puts me back to where I grew up even though she doesn’t live there anymore. I drive through my hometown and through my college town to get there and every time I take that trip it reminds me of so much of my life. It got me thinking about the small identity crisis that I have been going through and the very true fact that I had lost part of myself throughout the years. I started thinking about when I was done with my PhD I would go back to Rutgers and take some graduate classes in art history and just enjoy it. Then, I laughed at myself because can I really stay in school forever? Probably.

to find ourselves

My fortune cookie

After that daydream about Rutgers and art history, I couldn’t help but laugh at my fortune cookie following the annual Mother’s Day Chinese food feast. I’ll take it as a reminder that I as figure out the next phase of my life that I had to escape from who I was to become who I was supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean all of my former self is lost forever. She was just away for awhile while I focused on other things.

sleeping me and logan

And those focusing on other things led me right here to meeting my husband and getting to be a mom to this amazing little boy. His Mother’s Day gift to me? He took his first steps on Friday when his dad and I were sitting in our living room and talking. We both got to see him do it together. It was the best gift he could have given us this weekend. I can’t believe how fast it’s going. I just wish time would slow down a little bit because I can’t imagine having to watch this little boy leave us.

I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love and family.

I began dissertation when I was at the end of my pregnancy and was eagerly awaiting Logan’s arrival. It was an insane time to be that pregnant and trying to write a doctoral dissertation and I struggled during my first couple of terms. Whenever I hit a forward point in my dissertation, my mentor would conclude his comments, advice and/or congratulations with an ONWARD! I found it highly motivating, at first, but now that I am burning out from this 150-page paper…I am looking forward to never having to see ONWARD again.

onward_upward

I lost my mind a little bit yesterday. It was a hard day of testing middle schoolers who are just done and dealing with my university that suddenly decided to stick me with a huge bill because they screwed up and overcalculated my financial aid…from LAST YEAR and are now trying to get me to pay back a loan that they awarded me and has been gathering interest all year. And they want to act like oh well, it happens. That sort of thing happens when someone doesn’t do their job correctly. This is why I hate for-profit universities. The way they mismanage students and their money is disgusting and I am, unfortunately, not the only person they have done this to. They’re actually in the midst of a class action lawsuit because of their business practices and the hefty costs that they push on to doctoral students.

I have valued my time there with their core staff. I learned a lot from really great educational leaders from all over this country and each of them has lent themselves in some way to my research and I am where I am because of their knowledge and support. What I have not loved is the vast level of incompetence that pervades much of their support departments because they hire people for those jobs that have no clue what they are doing and there is often a quick turn over amongst them so it’s often just a continuous cycle of stupidity and insanity that gets pushed onto already highly stressed doctoral students who really just want their degree.

I have reached that point. I just want my degree. I want to move on with my life.

Just as I was at my end yesterday and texting my advisor my options for withdrawing and being “all but dissertation” for the rest of my life because I didn’t have it in me for another fight with this school’s support services (this is the third time they have done something out of left field nuts which impacted my finances or ability to register) my mentor had emailed me that he had approved of my completed dissertation and had forwarded it on to my committee for their review and commentary.

And as always he concluded with his bold, ONWARD!

It calmed me down a bit. I requested for the third time documentation about this financial conundrum that they have put me in. And then I took a deep breath.

I have two weeks before I will hear back and then, I am hopeful that there won’t be any edits and that if there are, they are small. I can do the tweaking quickly and then, it goes to my school for one last back and forth review before it goes for formatting and the dean’s approval. I probably will not get to my dissertation defense during this quarter because everything from here on out is depending on other people to be available to read and edit and approve of my work. I am okay with that though and I will most likely finish over the summer which means I will not get to attend the graduation in Minneapolis, but we will have to go to Orlando which I can already hear my husband screaming with excitement in the background. He would move us to Florida if he could.

ONWARD!

the doctorThis book immediately grips you from the get-go. The Doctor opens on Dr. Amit Burman and his wife Alisha. It is clear from the very beginning that Alisha is terribly sick and Amit has little use or understanding for her. Their relationship is abusive and Alisha remains remote and resigned to the torturous life that is her marriage. It is clear that Amit is not a good man and as the novel progresses, we see just how sinister he really is especially as the abuse that he deals out not only to his wife but his daughter,  unravels as well as his ongoing abuse of animals.

A New Neighbor

Emily and Ben move in next door to the Burmans. They have a young son, Robbie and it isn’t long before Emily becomes intrigued by the goings on at the Burman’s residence. She becomes drawn to Dr. Burman and his wife and is eager to find out more about her strange neighbors. However, they do not feel the same way towards their new neighbors. In fact, Dr. Burman is cold and distant, clearly wanting to keep his family at a safe distance from his new neighbors. This only pushes Emily further to figure out why her neighbors want to be so elusive. Emily just doesn’t realize at the time that her interest in her new neighbors is going to put herself and her family in danger.

Late Nights

Emily soon finds herself watching the doctor at night as he works in his outbuilding. She is not sure what he is doing in there, but she is determined to find out. Without much thought to herself, Emily begins to dive deeper into the doctor’s nocturnal activities which put her right into the doctor’s sight. One day her husband comes home and finds that Emily is gone and it is Ben who must find his wife and uncover what the doctor is truly up to.

Medical Experiments & a Twist

We find out early in the novel that cryogenics is at the heart of the doctor’s research. Chapter 2 opens with the doctor’s frustration over a child getting the rights awarded to him from a judge to have his body frozen upon his death. This sends Amit into a rage because he wants his ill wife to have the same opportunities should her time come. She appears less than interested…at first.

Justice comes to all, for the most part, at the end when we learn of the doctor’s fate as well as Ms. Emily’s. What you will not see coming is the true mastermind before everything that has unfolded since the first page. I have been digesting this book for the last two days and it still sends shivers up my back when I think about the ending because as creepy as it is, it is also so believably real that it has you thinking that somewhere out there in the world that could possibly all be happening right at this very minute.

Book Information

The Doctor by Lisa Stone will be released on July 25, 2019, with ISBN 9780008322939 from Avon Books. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link above.

hatties homeThere are few things in life that can level you emotionally, socially and physically all within a couple moments. Heartbreak has got to be one of the worst, most longest lasting ones that can have that kind of power over you that can level you in every which way. Often when you are made to feel that awful, you seek comfort in what is familiar. For Hattie Rose, her heartbreak leads her home and in coming home, she finds herself in an entirely new set of affairs.

From Paris to Dorset

Hattie Rose was living her life in Paris. She loved her life in the city of lights and is established in her path. However, Hattie soon meets with a heartbreak that devastates her and leads her to make a huge mistake at her job. Ultimately, she is forced to leave her job and with the loss of her employment, she also decides that she has to leave Paris behind her as well. She decides to return to her cliffside hometown in England and takes a job at Sweet Briar Farm, an animal sanctuary for abused goats.

Sweet Briar Farm

When Hattie arrives back in Gillypuddle, she takes a job at an animal sanctuary for abused goats. We meet her boss, Jo, who makes it known early on that she is not too fond of her new employee and prefers her goats to people. It takes some time for us to learn that Jo is harboring a secret life and heartbreak of her own. The farm also brings us, Seth, the handsome veterinarian that catches Hattie’s eye and Owen, an equally as handsome newspaper reporter who helps unravel Jo’s secret past.

Theme of Loss

Throughout Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts, we meet characters that are navigating their lives following a large loss. when Hattie first returns home, she learns that her parents are navigating a tragedy and then we meet Jo who is working through her own as we watch Hattie rebuild her life from the one that she had left behind her in Paris. Throughout the tears and the anxiety of loss and the unknown Tennant also intersperses humor and laugh out loud moments that show us that even in the worst of our grief, we can still find the simple joy that brings us to the new lives that we build after we are leveled by our old ones.

Book Information

Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts: A heartwarming laugh out loud romantic comedy by Tilly Tennant is scheduled for release on July 10, 2019, with ISBN 9781838880019 from Bookouture. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. Pre-order pricing is available through the link provided above.