Show Us Your Books Link-Up: August 2019



I've had a pretty great reading month! Hope you have also. Here is what I've gotten through. 

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
I'm giving this book 3 stars...it got a bit repetitive. We get it, it's a book about the South...you don't have to say it every paragraph. Also, it's very clear that Reese is from a upper middle class background- her South is not the only South. However, it's a 5 star coffee table book- if that makes sense.  Beautiful pictures and some yummy sounding recipes.
★★★

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
This was fun, kinda spooky who-dun-it type book. I liked the characters and the plot, and didn't guess who it was until fairly close to the end. Although the one secret, the one Ellery kept, was a bit of a gut-punch.
★★★★

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I was a huge fan of Circe, so I had high hopes for this one...maybe too high. The first half of the book dragged for me- I get it, Achilles was super hot and there's some boy-on-boy torment. This may have been exacerbated because I knew the battle of Troy would come up at some point, so it felt like a lot of waiting around until that. This was a complaint a lot of people had for Circe, but I didn't feel it then- thinking maybe it's because I didn't have any preconceptions of that story. But later on I began connecting with Patroclus (the main character) a lot more. The idea of gods and fate and heroes and all that is always appealing so I appreciated that we got more into that as the book went on.
★★★

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
I enjoyed this story a lot. The "revelation" was pretty obvious to everyone but the main character, but it was fine. I really enjoyed the point of view from someone on the bottom of the financial food chain. It showed the realities of poverty without removing dignity from the characters, which felt unique.
★★★★

I'm Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan
This was a Kindle recommendation. It wasn't the most gripping book I've ever read, but I appreciate that it examined the idea of perfection and what we present to the world via the internet and how healthy that is. Also it dealt with the fact that we never really know people...while this isn't a novel idea, it's one most of us avoid acknowledging in the real world.
★★★

For the first few chapters, I couldn't decide if Eleanor Oliphant was just quirky and socially unaware or a psychopath. And the answer was...a little of both. I am a little over the "recluse/mentally ill person meets a single shining individual and this sparks a turn that ends up with them getting help they've needed for years." But Eleanor did still have some rough turns and there is something nice about the idea that one little thing can spark a change.
★★★★★

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This book was totally worth the hype for me. It was difficult to read at first, because it's a terribly sad situation and just...heavy. I couldn't handle a lot of it at once. And while the characters were all kind of unlikable...they also felt very real and I felt for them, even when I disagreed with their actions. I also like how it showed situations from various perspectives- it showed a lot of depth and how different people can view and feel the same events.
★★★★★

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
This a YA retelling of The Beauty and The Beast...nothing mind-blowing but I did appreciate having a disabled heroine. I don't know anyone with CP myself so I hope it was an accurate portrayal.
★★★





Life According to Steph

Marriage- Why Don't We Talk About It?


 Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash


I've been thinking about weddings and marriage lately. It's a pretty common topic- whether you personally are married or not, whether you personally had a big wedding or not, you almost definitely know someone who is/did.

I got married at 18, and have been married for over a decade. I get that this is kind of unusual. But I love being married, and I wouldn't change anything. I like that my husband and I are solid, I like that I don't have to date and go through any drama meeting new people and figuring things out...and  I genuinely like and love my husband- which might be the most unusual part of it all.


For as much as our culture talks about marriage...we don't really say anything. 

We fight about who should be able to get married, and where, and how easy or hard it should be to end it. But we don't really talk about how to get through it.

My church is kind of big, so we have "small groups." This is kind of like a Bible Study group...but ours has pretty much morphed into a framily. We hang out and talk all throughout the week. There are different groups, some based on age or gender or life status and some open to anyone. Ours started as a group for married couples, and now many of us have kids. We have been talking about the Five Love Languages- an old topic, but one that can really help. We were all talking about how we deal with things in our marriage and talk it through, and it came up that one couple used a saying or strategy that another couple had mentioned previously. I can't remember the details, but it was a short little phrase that easily conveyed how the person was feeling. One of the other women laughed and said "I'm sure anyone who is not in this group and heard that would be very confused."

So it made me think...why don't we talk about marriage more? 

Like really, really talk about the common issues that come up and ways to talk it through. It's no big deal if someone complains about a nagging wife or a lazy husband...but if we say we are having trouble communicating then it's "Oh my gosh how is your marriage in trouble I guess you just don't love each other enough."

I remember hearing when I was younger that "If you need counseling then it's already too late." And while therapy is slowly becoming more normal, apparently that is kind of true. Erin hiley is a therapist and podcaster and she ranted a while back that most people who come into therapy for their marriages are about 7 years too late. She says she would never tell anyone they are really too late for therapy, but on average people have been having problems for 7 years and by the time they finally decide to use therapy as a literal last-ditch effort, the work to undo all those years of bitterness is overwhelming to many.

Why? Why is talking about marriage and discussing ways to make it work so shameful?

What would American marriage look like if we had the message boards and support groups and we talked about marriage as much as we talked about weddings?

What if instead of china patterns and new houses and flower arrangements we talked about communication styles?

What if instead of everyone expecting an invitation to a ceremony, they expected a call about how to hold back your anger when your spouse is pushing all of your buttons as once?

I don't think our culture actually values marriage- I think we value weddings and pretending everything is fine. And that's really, really crappy.

What's New: August 2019



So, I've been really iffy about my future education. Because I like the idea of a grad degree, but kind of hate the process of getting it...at least during the summer classes. Anyway, I dropped my summer class and tried to get a refund for my McGraw Hill Connect access- because apparently physical books are dumb and that's all that matters now (mainly bitter because I get a stipend from work that covers physical books but not e-tools, which is what 90% of my professors use). The initial refund request was denied, but I took a survey and stated why I thought that was a BS decision. Then I got an email stating that my refund would be approved if I provided proof my withdraw- which I did, and then got radio silence for OVER A MONTH, despite emails and opening a brand new ticket. Finally called, was put on hold for 12 minutes, but got my refund.

I am both happy and annoyed- at them and at myself. Annoyed that they took so long, and happy to finally have it taken care of. Happy with myself for calling and not backing down, but frustrated that calling feels like such a big deal. I know it's an anxiety thing and lots of people have it- especially my generation because ew, talking on the phone is so 1995. But it's still frustrating, although that also means it's even more of a reason to be proud...but it's a weird circle of feelings.




We are done with swim lessons, praise! She cried like I was abandoning her to the wolves the first day. Then she liked it for a few days, then she didn't...then the teacher that she loved hurt her leg and couldn't come back and it was a total reset. BUT- she "passed" and it's done and...yep. Happy to be back to schedule. I was considering signing her up for some kind of fall activity but nope. I just want to be home, and I think she does too.


We got a Roomba on Prime Day and oh my gosh, I AM IN LOVE. Apparently Hubs didn't think it would keep up with our dog hair problem, and that it would break it immediately...he only agreed because I kept talking about it (which is way too much money to spend to prove someone wrong, but in marriage you pick your battles and I get that). But he agreed that it was a great idea! It's amazing, our dogs don't chase it, and Babycakes loves it ("That's a good robot, I like that robot, I want the robot to clean my room")- although she does run to the couch or ask us to pick her up so it doesn't run her over. It also makes us keep things more tidy overall because it will get stuck on clothes/etc. if they are left out.



There's been this image floating around Facebook and Pinterest that talks about the different types of hobbies you should have, and how one of them should be your "side hustle" that makes money. I have issues with dependency on this hustle mentality, but for some reason I haven't been able to get this out of my head. Not exactly a hobby, but I'm considering a side hustle. Dunno how profitable it will be yet, but I'm thinking of offering a meal planning service. I do it for myself and my friends have expressed interest. So...I'm trying it with one friend, and then maybe offering it to others. My goal is that it will be cheap enough that if you eat out 2+ times a month due to lack of planning, it will be a cheaper option.







What's New With You

Three Things: July 2019




Three movies I've watched more than 20 times

  1. 10 Things I Hate About You
  2. Boondock Saints
  3. Harry Potter and the Scorer's Stone

Three things I don’t do

  1. Wear high heels
  2. Go on diets (attempt moderation, but...no diets)


Three things I'm always up for doing

  1. Snuggling with Babycakes
  2. Visiting new places
  3. Focusing on fixing the problem rather than complaining about it

Three good things that happened this month

  1. Paid off our debt consolidation loan!
  2. Productive family pictures taken
  3. Roomba arrived and it is amazing!

 

Three things I wish everyone knew so well it was ingrained in their bones

  1. You can change your life, your personality, etc. It won't be easy and it might take a while, but you don't need to complain about things incessantly because you are capable of change.
  2. Everyone truly is fighting a battle you can't see. Pity parties and comparison are pointless because of this.
  3. Failure is fine. It's way better than not trying.

 

Three things I'm tired of

  1. Apathy
  2. Songs about singing/rapping/etc. We get it, you're an artist, now sing about something the rest of the population can relate to.
  3. POP-UPS ON BLOGS. IT IS 2019- STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPP!

 

Three things I'll never tire of

    1. Reading
    2. Learning
    3. Visiting new places

     

    Three things I like to photograph

      1. The trees and sky, when I'm lying down during a workout
      2. Babycakes
      3. Bookcovers

      Three things I can't resist

      1. Food
      2. Coffee
      3. Libraries

      It's the Army in Us...

       Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

       Sometimes I will be having a conversation with friends or family, and they act like I have a weird opinion on something. There's really nothing to do except shrug my shoulders and say "It's the Army in us."

      Example: When my husband gets stuck at work during a hurricane and my parents act like it's unreasonable to leave me and my daughter alone during a natural disaster...I just shrug and go "He's safer there, at least he's guaranteed electricity and we'll be able to text at some point. We are stocked up here at home and can stay safe for a few days if needed. At least he's not in Iraq."

      Example: When our friends have a baby or are just stressed out, and we offer to babysit or bring dinner or basically act like family, it's hard to get them to believe that we mean it and are 100% there. Because...we've been in the situation where there was no one but friends, and we know how to step up. Apparently this is not exactly the same in civilian culture.

      Example: When we are always early for events, and everyone else is late, we say "Well we aren't 15 minutes early so really we're late." Because in the Army, on time is late and early is on time. 

      It feels weird to say because at this point, Hubs has been out longer than he was in. 

      I had the realization the other day that I have driven in Hometown longer than I ever drove in Birthplace*. I left for college at 18 and then moved to Texas when Hubs came home from Iraq so I really only drove there for 2 years, 3 if you count the year I had my permit. We've been in Hometown for over seven years now. We've been in our current home for six years now...we lived in five different houses in the six years before we bought it.

      *decided to call the place we currently live (and have no plans to leave) Hometown, and the place we were born/my family still lives as Birthplace

      Sometimes I wonder if we can blame the age thing- Hubs enlisted at 18, had technically signed his contract before graduating high school I think. So I was 17. We got married at 19 & 18...he was out by 23. Those are very formative years, both as individuals and also as a couple in the early years of our marriage.

      Or maybe it's just that military life is inescapably intense. I'm sure not everyone has this experience, or maybe it just manifests in different ways. But most people I know who were in have some characteristics they just can't let go of.

      Or maybe it's all just a convenient excuse, because civilians can't really tell if it's true.

      But it doesn't feel that way. It feels like no matter what, that is our foundation.

      And I'm saying our, but I wasn't in! I didn't live near a post for half of his service, and we never lived on post. Yet even I still feel the effects.

      It still feels like the foundation that we were built on. And it's still a reminder that we are always just a little bit different. Can't tell if it's easier or harder knowing why...or if it just is.

      A Mental Health Day

      Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

      Every few months, I need a mental health day. Not a weekend, not a holiday, not a day where anything special is happening...I need a nothing day.

      I pick a day when my husband is working, and take my kid to daycare at the normal time. I use sick time instead of vacation at work, because it really does affect my physical body to feel this stressed.*

      *I talk about stress or anxiety a lot...I do think there is depression mixed in there too, but that is a second wave that I usually don't even realize because the anxiety is the problem I feel the most...if that makes sense. 

      I completely get that this is a privilege, to be able to do so. But if you can, in any way, I highly recommend it.

      I don't have to do anything on my mental health days. If I lay in bed all day and watch reruns of Dr. Who, that's okay. It's my day.

      Usually I end up doing something, because just the act of giving myself some freedom from my normal schedule gives me motivation and energy to do more.

      Last night, I also skipped Babycake's swim lessons. Hubs took her solo, and I got more done in that hour than I probably had in two days.

      I don't know why, but I've always felt more productive when I'm left alone. Only child syndrome? Perfectionist tendency (if someone is around, they can judge how I'm doing)? Either way, sometimes I just need a fuckin' break.

      So I'm taking it. Because I have to do what works for me...no one is going to do it for me. And it's hard to convince myself sometimes that it's truly necessary and okay and acceptable because my brain too often wants to make everything in the world my personal responsibility and possible catastrophe.

      But anxiety and depression and stress lie. They tell you that you have to keep going in one specific direction or do one specific thing and that breaking that pattern will be the end of the world (okay, or maybe that's just me). And once you know something that helps, even just a little, you absolutely have the right to do use that knowledge and take care of yourself.

      Show Us Your Books: July 2019



      Hello everyone! So far, July has been pretty busy for us...and swim lessons just started! So, not expecting it to slow down too much for a few weeks. Still, I managed to get some pretty good reading in.



      The Dinner List by Rebecca Serles
      This book was...interesting. Young woman actually has the dinner- you know, the "What five people would you have dinner with if you could choose anyone in the world?" It was good, a bit of suspense and drama regarding the different relationships - familial, friend, romance. Not something worth rushing out to read but not a regret either.
      C+






      This book was really interesting. I honestly didn't remember much about it, I just had it on my TBR- probably from some point of this link-up. It's about two sisters and flashes between the present and the past. I've never seen anorexia portrayed like this, from a familial bystander and over such a long time frame. It was a compelling and worthwhile read. 
      A- 




      The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
      Let me tell you, you get some interesting looks when you carry this book around. It was interesting to read about sociopathy, although how she defined it seems to vary compared to some quick online search. Either way, it was interesting to read about conscience and lack thereof/etc. If you are someone who enjoys psychology/sociology type theories and views then I'd recommend.
      B+





      Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff
      I've heard a lot about this book, so I bought it with a gift card I got for my birthday. It was good...not as good as I wanted it to be, if that makes sense. I think a lot of some self-help/inspirational books should be much shorter than they are...it was good, important, and stirring but got repetitive after a bit.
      B




      Goodreads describes this book as "a fierce, hysterically funny memoir that reminds us that comedy equals tragedy plus time." Don't think I can really do any better. It was a good read, and I'd recommend if you find the general human condition of emotion interesting.
      B+






      This was a random and fun pick. A while back I read Circe and loved it, but wished I could remember more about the various Greek deities mentioned throughout the story. This would have been a perfect companion, and I'm glad to have it in my arsenal for future reference since this pantheon is so often referred to.




      Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor
      I loved this book, I stayed up late to finish it and cried at the end. It was interesting to read about depression and I deeply appreciated that it openly and respectfully discussed the variety of causes and triggers and methods of dealing with depression between people. I liked that people were shown with nuance. This did follow the John Green pattern a bit- meaning, it was slightly unrealistic situations for teenagers but it was so beautiful and the characters were so real that I do not care because I love it. Characters over plot for me, every time, and this did that wonderfully.



      Life According to Steph

      What's New: July 2019


      Hubs & I went beach camping in June and it was amazing! We stayed at the Oregon Inlet Campground with several friends from our church small group. The camp sites were a little closer than expected, but it wasn't too bad. The only awkward part was that to walk either onto the dunes or to the bathrooms/showers you had to basically walk through someone's site. But...totally worth it. The hike through the dunes to get to the beach was more than I expected, but it was gorgeous so I didn't mind at all.



      Babycakes is signed up for swim lessons starting this month. It's just for a few weeks, and it's a really well-loved program in the area. It's her first time, and I'm a little nervous. As a baby she hated any kind of moving water, from the ocean to splash pads and sprinklers. She's getting better- every year there is a little improvement. We've been practicing having her blow bubbles and put her face in the water every night during her bath, because I've heard that's the first thing they work on in the class.




      I'm also thinking of signing her up for a tennis class. One of her little besties does dance and she recently made a comment that she wanted to go to class too. I really don't want to be a dance mom...so I'm looking at other alternatives but she's about a year or two years young for most things. We really want her to do karate or taekwondo, and honestly I think she would like it. But, I can't find anything for her current age range.



      Hubs & I are paid off our debt consolidation loan this month!!! Whooo hoo! We've managed to do it in half the expected time, which is AMAZING. It's not all of our debt- but it's by far the biggest chunk of it. And the fact that we've done it early gives us way more hope and inspiration to keep going. We could realistically pay off all debt except our mortgage within the next 3 years. Which is amazing! I know, getting into debt is bad in the first place, but I'm SUPER proud of us for taking responsibility and correcting this error.


      WTF is with these super long sunny days?! I am SO OLD you guys. It's 8:00 and time for Babycakes to go to bed, and Hubs and I are dragging...and it's still freakin' light outside. It's barely July and I'm ready for dark and cozy winter nights.


      Linking up with See You in a Porridge!

      Random Things from Journey in Motherhood (Part 1)

       
      There's lots of things that Hubs and I have tried to hang on to about ourselves and our lives through out our new (ish) journey through parenthood.

      But there's also some things that happen that remind this is a completely new aspect of life.

      Like, when I'm making us sandwiches and realize I accidentally cut my own sandwich into quarters along with hers.



      Or when I find that annoying ass loud toy that I hid two years later behind the couch.



      And I'm pretty sure I did Plaster of Paris as a child...but you would never know it from the absolutely and complete mess I made of the gifts we tried to do for Mother's Day. Although I had a friend who also said it was a mess...so maybe we can just blame PoP in general.



      Stuff Worth Sharing: June 2019





      I can't decide if hearing what a 77% pro-Trump town did after witnessing an ICE raid makes me hopeful or incredibly frustrated. Listen to the story to understand. Please.


      Netflix show that is dark and mysterious and questioning and I thought it was too depressing but now I'm hooked. Also, love Linda Cardellini. Always.

      Hilarious new podcast, check it out, and you're welcome.


      Palmer's Olive Oil Leave In Conditioner
      This stuff is great for the ends of my hair that are super dry and frizzy. It's works great...when I remember to spray it on before bed. Which I don't always do. It does make my roots a little greasy but overall still good.

      I've Made Too Many Vampire Jokes...

       Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

      and now it's really happening.

      For years I have said I'm part vampire, because I'm always cold and very pale.

      Now I can add a sun allergy to the list.



      Seriously, it's a thing.

      It first happened last year. We went to the beach with some friends; we spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon at the aquarium. On the way to the aquarium I noticed these small hives on my hands and forearms. I started freaking out and as soon as we got the aquarium I asked my friend who is a doctor what it was. She said it just looked like a little allergic reaction, and to just take some antihistamines and it would probably be fine.

      It happened again at the beginning of this summer, when I was working out with FiA. It was mild, probably because I was only outside for about an hour. But it was right around the time change so my body wasn't used to being in direct sunlight. Took some more Benedryl and waited it out. Now I can workout with no problem, because apparently sun allergies just require slow, gradual sun exposure.

      Fast forward to this past weekend, when we went camping at the Outer Banks. We had a great time, and obviously my sun time increased a ton very quickly because...we were camping at the beach.

      Saturday after coming back to camp from a few hours on the beach, I realized I was covered in hives. I felt kind of bad because one of my friends commented about it being on my face- turns out he was very concerned and thought they were going to have to rush me to Urgent Care.

      Thankfully, it is just superficial dermatitis...but holy fuck balls, everything itches.

      Let me be clear, this is not sunburn or sun poison. It's straight up hives from prolonged sun exposure.

      I went to the doctor and the NP student nurse also thinks it could be fungal- not really sure how or why, but she seems to think it's from being humid and sweaty and generally wet. I disagree, because of where it is and how it happens. The regular NP said it could be or it could just be dermatitis. So she prescribed a cream that is a mix of steroid cream and anti-fungal cream so we can cover both bases.

      Here's hoping it works. I can also try taking Benedryl before I spend a lot of time outside to try and prevent this reaction from happening again. 

      Also, I feel very adult because I finally got tired of Googling and saved both my doctor's office and pharmacy's phone numbers in my phone. Probably should have done it before now, but thankfully haven't had to use them too often.

      What fuels you?


      My pastor was telling a story about his kids the other night. His toddlers didn't want to eat their dinner, even though it was different than what the rest of the family was having and was specifically foods they enjoyed.

      His wife was ready to just let them not eat, but he wasn't having it. They needed to it, so he spent his night alternating between putting them in time and out and sitting at the table with them.

      On the way home, I said I would definitely have done the same as his wife and say let it go. Hubby would have done the same as the pastor and made the kids eat.

      While it seems like a control issue, we figured out that it had a lot to do with personality types and how we learn.

      To me, there's a natural consequence to not eating- you get hungry. Hunger is, to me, a punishment. I would rather eat than fight, because eating = beneficial and fighting = unrewarding.

      Hubs doesn't agree though. He can, in his words, "live off of spite for days."

      And that, my friends, is the kind of fundamental differences you don't even think of until you are in a deeply committed relationship and it slaps you in the face.


      Bookish Questionnaire [June 2019]



       I saw this questionnaire last week during the Show Us Your Books Link-up by Rebecca at Knit by God's Hand and had to do it!


       What book has been on your shelf the longest?
      I'm going to go with the one that's been there the longest without being read, which is probably The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz. I bought it in 2016, when I heard of it, because it felt like a "Duh" response to people who voted in 45 on nostalgia for bygone good ole' days that never actually existed. But for this reason it also is sad and frustrating and annoying to read.

      What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?
      Next read: Probably Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz or The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout because those are the ones I'm picking up from the library today.


      What Books Did Everyone Like, but You Hated?
      I didn't hate them, but I did not enjoy Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens or Girl, Wash Your Face nearly as much as everyone else did.

      What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
      Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. It's been on my list since I heard about it while pregnant, but I haven't been able to get my hands on at when I'm in the mood. Honestly, my kid is relatively well-behaved...like, a friend says she will almost wants to send her kid to our house for behavior boot camp. So...I feel like we're doing pretty good. 

      What book are you saving for retirement?
      Life is way too short to save books!

      Last page: read it first or wait ’til the end?
      Wait till the end, obviously...what kind of monster do you think I am?!?!

      Acknowledgment: waste of paper and ink or interesting aside?
      Interesting aside.

      Which book character would you switch places with?
      So cliche but Hermione, obviously.

      Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (place, time, person)?
      People talk a lot of trash about it...but I read the Twilight series during my husband's deployment and it will forever be special to me because it was exactly the type of story I needed at the time.

      Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way
      I've acquired books in so many ways...I don't even know. Found in old houses. Passed down from relatives. Literally any time a family member came across a book they would just throw it at me...

      Have you ever given a book away for a special reason/to a special person?
      No...unfortunately, I don't think that many people in my life would appreciate books the way I do! But I have gotten several special books for Babycakes, and given her some of my old ones from childhood. She is receptive so far :)

      Which book has been with you to the most places?
      My Bible, probably.

      Any ‘required reading’ you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
      I didn't reread most required readings, but the ones I remember enjoying in high school were The Scarlet Letter - Brave New World - The Hobbit - The Chosen - The Poisonwood Bible - The Things They Carried - To Kill a Mockingbird.

      Used or brand new?
      Either! I take books any way I can get them.

      Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
      No.

      Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
      Bridget Jone's Diary. I also think Crazy Rich Asians might fall into this category, but I haven't actually seen the movie yet.

      Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

      Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
      Hmmm I don't think there is anyone. Everyone takes books slightly differently!

      Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g. outside of your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
      I never thought I would love The Lunar Chronicles the way I did. For the longest time I thought I did not like sci-fi or fantasy, but this series solidified that I do! Not all the time, not exclusively, but it's no longer enough to immediately put me off of a story thankfully.

      No One Is Perfect- Stop Expecting It

      I've been seeing to much, for too long now, that deals with people being imperfect.

      No one is perfect.

      It's tempting to demand it. It's tempting to ignore forgiveness.

      Righteous anger feels so good.

      In this age especially, when so much information is available so quickly, it is easy to write people off.

      Humanity is lost without hope. We are lost without redemption. We are lost without the recognition that sometimes there are only poor choices in poor situations.

      No, we shouldn't do wrong knowingly. Yes, we should talk with those around us and do our best.

      But no one is perfect. People are going to screw up. People are going to make massive mistakes. People are going to say ignorant and uneducated and careless things- out of anger, or fear, or frustration, or a dozen other difficult emotions.

      And those people should pay recompense for those mistakes.

      I'm not saying they should be able to restore their lives completely to the way it was before the mistake.

      But we must recognize that relentlessness, that mercilessness, in any direction, is not the way we move forward.

      Let us always remember that mercy and kindness and steadfastness is a better teacher of justice than stubbornness and pride.

      Let us always remember that change is not best achieved by stamping out those who disagree with us, but by convincing those that disagree with us. And you can't do that when you believe they, or those around them, are incapable of change.

      Here are two concrete examples of this:

      Nuance: Natural Gas by Hank Green: video in which Hank discusses how fracking is bad but also useful and maybe something that could get us into something good.

      Snape and Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Yes, this seems dumb. But I keep hearing about it, because over a decade later there is still debate about whether Snape is a 'good' guy or a 'bad' guy. In my humble opinion, Snape is an asshole who didn't want evil to take over the world. No, he's not 'nice.' He's a dick. He's a bully and a coward and a bit stalker-y and pathetic and maybe he has a terrible back story that makes these understandable but doesn't take them away. However- yes, he ultimately helped the side of good more than bad. Voldemort probably wouldn't have been defeated, at least not as quickly, without him. Of course, he allowed and probably even assisted abuse..."for the greater good." Not all good, not all bad- nuanced. Same with Dumbledore. People hate him for leaving Harry at the Dursley's at all...but um, he was literally marked for death by the equivalent of magic Hitler. Would a life on the run, full of assassination attempts- if he managed to live at all- really better?! I'm not saying Dumbledore was perfect either (although I am ignoring the Fantastic Beasts follow-ups because that part of the timeline is not complete yet). I'm saying- nuanced.

      I just want us all to admit that the gray area exists, and it's okay.

      Show Us Your Books: June 2019


      I don't have a lot of witty repartee this month...let's just get to the books!



      This book had been on my TBR for a really long time. It was good, but not as good as I had hoped. Large estranged family forced together to sit shivah for dead patriarch. Focused on romantic relationships and fidelity and family and parenthood and talked a lot about how the main character loved women- the idea of them, and the idea of fucking them. Like, maybe that's how guys think...but it got old to read repeatedly. 




      I was nervous going into this one because I loved You so much. This had a completely different vibe; TBH I was not expecting the supernatural-ish aspect of this story. Sometimes it was boring but sometimes it was super intriguing and moving.







      This book freakin' wrecked. It wrecked me hard. So hard that I was bawling like a baby at 8:00 in the morning, and then went back to bed because I was emotionally drained before my day ever started. It's about love and relationships and family and who we want to be and how to make things work and looking at what we want versus what we think we want.






      Ever want a book to work and it just...doesn't? That's how I was with this. It is sort of like a prequel to Jane Eyre, and gives back story on Rochsester and Bertha. I think the point might have been to make Rochester look bad...but it didn't make me hate him. I just think it was a really shitty, sad situation and kinda makes Jane Eyre that much happier. I may be biased though because Jane Eyre is one of the very few classics I actually enjoy. It's apparently modernist style...so if you like Hemingway, maybe try it?



      This book is hard to talk about because there were things I liked it but it is easier to talk about what I didn't like. The good: female characters who act their age but are still vibrant and interesting; a mother who wasn't overbearing; marriages that worked and marriages that didn't, instead of pretending they are all one way or another. The bad: there was a lot of reliance on dialog and action, without a lot of the internal thoughts/explanations you often get from main characters so it was to tell sometimes what was sarcasm and what wasn't- also I missed several things, apparently, because they were hinted at but not confirmed and then later it was treated like a known fact;  there were so many characters and facets of the story that it felt a little disjointed...things just didn't flow as well as I would have liked. A review on Goodreads stated a similar opinion and said it was a disappointment because McMillan's earlier works were much better, so I would definitely still give this author another shot.










      What have you been reading lately?


      Life According to Steph

      What's New: June 2019



      Well guys, it finally happened- I had a big blow-out with my MIL. I snapped after some things and we had this huge fight/conversation/disagreement/whatever you want to call it. It ended up fine, I think, and was probably good to clear the air. This was literally Hubby's worst nightmare, but now it's happened and no one died and we are all still talking to each other. Not sure anything will actually change, but I feel better that I was finally able to say some thing and make myself heard.


      This Salted Caramel Biscotti is amazing. I'm a sucker for salted caramel, and this is legit salted caramel. Yummy big chunks of sea salt, enough to fully taste but not overwhelming. Highly recommend.


      Since getting an IUD, I rarely have a period. However, sometimes I have the symptoms of a period but it's so rare that I forget until I realize I've been stuffing my face full of ALL THE SALTY AND SWEET THINGS and so tired that I slept over an hour later than normal (on a work day). It's much less drastic than previous (seriously, I know some don't like but I love birth control) but it's a noticeable difference from my day-to-day. It's a gift from God not to have to deal with this every month.


      Hubs and I started watching Game of Thrones when Season 8 was airing, so we managed to binge it and finish like 2 weeks after the season finale. Controversial, but not nearly as bad as I was thinking from all the whining online.  I actually enjoyed the way most of it played out. Yes, one character was dissapointing after so much awesome for most of the series...but that fall was hinted at for a while so it wasn't a surprise. Unfortunate, but not shocking really.


      Alternatively, WHAT THE HELL re: Jane the Virgin S3 finale!?!?  Yes, I  am just getting caught up via Netflix.





      I've spent almost a week working on my front porch. I've sprayed painted so much that my finger feels bruised. Tip: regardless of how trendy it is, don't use chalk paint on outside furniture...then you needs more coating and you have to buy expensive and hard to find sealant.

      11 Random Facts about Me


      Photo by Aricka Lewis on Unsplash
       
      1. I get a lovely happy feeling when using a brand new marker or pen...it just flows so smooth and dark and makes me feel like life is manageable. If you ever want to get me a gift, Papermate Flairs (regular, not fine tipped).

      2. One of the great ironies in life to me is how quickly people will get angry at a God they supposedly don't believe in.


      3. This is ridiculously embarrassing, but a long time ago after hubs came home from R&R during his deployment I had to go to the OBGYN. I don't remember the doctor ever giving me a diagnosis, just saying that it happened after situations like this and giving me antibiotics. Guys...it took me like 10 years to realize it was just a friggin' UTI.

      4. I know it's controversial but I fucking love SeaWorld.

      5. One thing I really wish I could tell middle-school Brittany is to use all that lonely time to LEARN TO STYLE YOUR HAIR. Your patience and time only decreases as you get older.

      6. I recently saw something on Pinterest trashing Man Caves, like “what are you hiding from.” And while I get that, and I think the idea that men need to avoid their families for the sake of being men is dumb, I fully support the idea of EVERYONE having a specific area/time that belongs to them. Not because we should want to run away, but because alone time is a way to stay centered and recharge and shows you value yourself. And that’s hard when you have a family, but it’s necessary.

      7. Hubs and I have been considering for a while now whether or not we want to try and have another baby at some point. We definitely had a plan for this before Babycakes...and then we realized we felt differently afterwards. It's been a long and thoughtful road...but I think we have come to a conclusion. We'll share later...but for now I'm just feeling relieved that the two of us have come to a decision we are both comfortable with.

      8. I often talk about being white. I'm not referring to being Caucasian, or of Anglo-European descent, etc. although I definitely am. I'm talking about being as pale as Casper. So pale that the Jergen's tanning lotion that is supposed to take something like 7 days to show change shows within 24-48 hours on me. 

      9. I like the idea of wine (not sure how it's the classy drinking option when the ABV is 2-3x higher than beer) but I don't actually like most wines. I'm a sweet wine girl, it's muscadine wine for me all the way. Specifically, Duplin's Black River Red

      10. Some friends just moved into what is basically my perfect house. This girl is able to style a house to the point that Joanna Gaines herself would give the seal of approval. It's enough to make me feel inadequate, although I'm trying to channel that into inspiration because I think she felt bad when I told her that! So I'm coming up with ideas of stuff to do around my own home to make it a little bit more intentional. Her style is definitely white-bright-farmhouse which isn't exactly my style*, but I love how intentionally styled her home feels (*after pursuing Pinterest I think I would be more warm and rustic, which overlaps but is different IMO). My first project has been warming up my front porch. I also have ideas for the back porch...not sure why I'm starting with the outside areas.

      11. One of my greatest day dreams is to road trip across the entire United States.

      Job Woes

       Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash


      Y'all ready for some good old-fashioned, stream of concious blogging? Good, because here it comes.



      I work as an entry-level administrative assistant at a state employer.

      And I don't know how I feel about it.

      There are so many perks to my job, honestly.

      • It's super low-stress. I kind of hide out in an office and get to listen to podcasts, etc. all day while just doing paperwork. 
      • Wonderful supervisors. It's a bit up in the air at the moment, because my immediate supervisor just left. But, the head of our department is great. She's very understanding and committed to ensuring her employees are able to maintain a good work/life balance. 
      • Because of the above two things, it's really easy for me to adjust my schedule as needed. Whether it's to pick Babycakes up from daycare if she gets sick, or take time off for exams, I've never been made to feel bad about having to be out.  
      • I have good benefits. My pay is low (see con list below), but that's partly because I have a lot taken out of it, like good insurance, retirement, etc.

      But. I do often feel like I am coasting, and I'm not sure I like that. 

      • The job requirement is only a high school transcript, which makes me feel like I'm not living up to the degree that I did earn...why am I going for a graduate degree when I'm not even using my first one? 
      • I get paid the lowest possible amount allowed by state law- and it was an improvement when our governor defined that amount last year. I want to ask for a raise, but because I work in the education sector...money is limited, and budgets are adjusted based on enrollment and test scores and athletics and etc.
      • There is no clear path for advancement. I know it's possible, and because the organization is so big there are a ton of opportunities somewhere...but I'm not sure how to get a raise/promotion in my department, and I'm nervous to move out of the department because of the above mentioned great supervisors.
       So...I am torn. Do I try to get my grad degree and hope something in my office comes up? Do I try to find another position in a different department that pays more without me having to get another degree? Or do I just enjoy what I have and see what happens?

      The last option is the most appealing, and the most unappealing.

      There is something deep inside me that thinks just enjoying my life, playing with Babycakes, investing in my home, being an active part of my community, and reading for pleasure feels amazing.

      But there's also a sense of wanting to move forward. I am a standard gifted millennial. I'm supposed to be hustling, right? I'm supposed to be changing the world.

      So...settling for a pretty generic job feels like...settling.

       I'm not sure if I'm worried about disappointing myself, or anyone else. 

      Also, I struggle of how to value Hubby's job. The reality is, he makes more money and has a much clearer path to advancement. But, his hours are wonky and for him to succeed, I really need to have the flexibility and understanding that I have in my current job. Correction: for him to succeed, aka for our family to succeed without causing internal family damage, I/we really need the flexibility and understanding that I have in my current job. Looking at it as a family unit, it's much easier emotionally and beneficial financially for his career to be the priority.

      That's logic, but as a somewhat rant-y leftist feminist it's also annoying. 

      It's also annoying on the aspect that I did things one way, he did them another, and his way turned out to be better. Don't we all feel that way when we see someone doing something better than we did? Like, I'm happy for him, but it also highlights my failures a little in my mind (not his, he's great, this is a purely internal struggle). It's basic jealous for his clear path- jealous isn't the right word...it just highlights an insecurity. Jealousy implies I want what he has, in a way, or I think he has something that I want....that's not accurate. I love him, I'm super proud of him, he is great at what he does. It's just that I feel inadequate...because comparison is the thief of joy.

      On the other hand, I've championed the idea many times that feminism means allowing options rather than forcing a specific path. Feeling stuck at a job is not better than feeling stuck at home.

      Also, I do believe that as that gifted millennial type, my generation has become really focused success to the point where I feel like it's more harmful than good.

      So it's hard for me to figure out how to balance between not doing too much and not enough.

      And maybe I can just push for a raise or small promotion with my boss. I don't know. I don't really want to have that conversation, but I also know it's probably useful.

      So...there's my job woes. It's a lot of back and forth. Pros and cons to everything.

      I am trying to wait until August to really decide something regarding if I want to continue school. Right now I am taking a summer class, and doing 14 weeks of work in 5 weeks is rough. Even if I am taking the "easiest" summer classes...it's still work. So maybe after two months off, I will feel ready to go again. I don't know.

      But I also know that I have finally started to find happiness outside of school too. 

      And that's nice but weird...I've been upset over not getting into graduate school and my "dream career" for so long. Now that I have gotten into a program...I am glad I've proved to myself that I can do it, but I am no longer sure I want to do it.

      And if I could be more positive that it would definitely allow me a position that is more financially beneficial and still family-friendly, I would feel more purposeful...but nothing is a guarantee. And I don't like the idea of wasting my time and money (even "just" the cost of books is still a few hundred dollars a year) for something I'm neither passionate about or can truly count on.

      Three Things: May 2019




      Once again, borrowing from Steph. What can I say...she blogs consistently and does it well. #sorrynotsorry 



      Three things I lost my shit over this week
      1. People making shitty comments about poor people (based on literally nothing except one aspect of their financial status)
      2. Expensive ferry prices
      3. Chore discussions


      Three signs I'll never hang in my house
      1. Live laugh love (same, Steph)
      2. Dance Like No One is Watching (in my case, it needs to be "Dance like you just did 3 shots")
      3. Anything with a #hashtag


      Three things I neglected this week
      1. My classwork
      2. My schedule in general
      3. My budget


      Three things I've tried recently
      1. Cleaning up even when I don't feel like it
      2. Spray painting something for Babycakes' room
      3. Watching a new home makeover show


      Three house things I hate doing
      1. Dishes. Forever dishes.
      2. Vacuuming. I still see dog hair literally as soon as I put up the vacuum cleaner...
      3. Washing odd items, like pillows or Babycakes little mini-couch


      Three things I wear all the time
      1. Sleeveless shirts (just add sweaters winter)
      2. Ponytails, since it's already been over 100 in my car in May
      3. Flip flops


      Three things I never wear
      1. Sequins
      2. Heels. Wedges, okay, but fuck feeling like a newborn baby deer.
      3. Animal prints


      Three books on my kindle/nook/shelf waiting to be read
      1. Notorious RBG
      2. The Handmaiden's Tale
      3. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up


      Three things I have to do but don't feel like doing
      1. Homework
      2. Clean out my car
      3. Research a camping trip that's turning out to be way too complicated


      Three things I'm looking forward to
      1. A date night with hubs- way overdue
      2. Finishing my summer classes
      3. Paying off our debt consolidation loan in half the scheduled time!

      Things That Make Me Happy


      Photo by Oliver Pacas on Unsplash



      -Warm Baths
      -Muscadine Wine
      -Getting lost in a good book
      -Naps on rainy days
      -My little one's giggles
      -Summer days spent outside
      -Workouts with my FiA girls
      -seeing Daenerys with her dragons
      -Organizing pretty much anything
      -Feeling Sand in between my toes
      -Swinging on a swing set


      What makes you happy?