Show Us Your Books: December 2019



Hello, fellow readers! Hope you are having a great month and able to squeeze in some relaxing reading time during this holiday season. Merry Christmas, or Happy Everything, whatever you are celebrating! And if you aren't...I hope you still eat lots of good food and feel some love.

I'm extra thankful that my reading slump from last month is officially over! I've been on a roll with good books and enjoyed all my recent reads. With that, let's get on to the books.



Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
I super enjoyed 95% of this book. It is an honest, snarky, only slightly exaggerated, realistic view that was me the first year after having a baby (minus, I wasn't staying at home). The last 5% of the book was a little cheesy for me, and unnecessary, which makes it 4/5 rather than 5/5. But I'd still overall recommend. 4.5/5







I will always read/watch/listen/intake Caitlin Doughty's work. She is a mortician who advocates for the good death (literally, that's her organization). She is all about being realistic about death and knowing the different ways to handle it. This book is full of questions that she's gotten from children regarding death. They are super interesting and she answers straightforwardly with slight snark. Also, surprisingly adorable death cartoons. 5/5
Small gripe not specific to this book: WHY DO ALL NON-FICTION BOOKS NEEDS SUPER LONG SUBTITLES?!?! Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is a great title. It needs nothing else.





Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead
This is one of those books that didn't super have a point. That's fine, I can enjoy those, but I don't think it was done quite as well as it could have been. Laura is a WASPy New Yorker who gets pregnant off a one-night stand. The book weaves in and out of Laura & her daughter's view year by year. It's an interesting look at a super privileged person who does still have some semblance of concern and awareness, but not a complete awareness. This was also one that I liked until the last chapter...it was just random and ambiguous, and there is one way it could go that I would be fine with and another that I would be very against...anyway. 3.5/5



The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths 
(Ruth Galloway #1-2)
I read The Crossing Places without realizing that it was part of a series. Pretty sure this was on my TBR from this link-up, so thank you to whoever shared it! But it was really enjoyable, so when I logged it via Goodreads and saw that it was a series I decided to read the next one. They follow an archeologist and police detective in the UK who end up working a case together. Seeing as how I love Bones, this isn't a surprise that this made it to my TBR. This was like the Goldilocks of books for me, in lots of ways. There was just enough mystery, just enough history, just enough myth, just enough everything without being too much anything. The relationships got a little weird, and the first book was slightly preferable. But I'll likely continue the series. There's something like 10 books, so not sure I will read them all straight through, but at some point. 4/5 for both


What have you been reading lately? Link-up and let us know!
Life According to Steph

What's New



Like every other parent of a small child I know, we watched Frozen II recently! TBH, I kind of loved it. It's definitely a more complex plot than the first one, which was super simplistic. But my kiddo still liked it, even if she didn't "get" everything. There are lots of good things to say about it, but my favorite is this- along with wonderful, independent "strong female characters" in Anna & Elsa (who have very different strengths but both valuable and worthy in their own right), there is also a great emotionally mature male character. I'm all for strong women, although I am super annoyed that "strong female character" is so unusual it has to be specified. But I dislike that those women are so often portrayed against men. Kristoff is a wonderful character because he respects these awesome women and truly views them as equals while knowing his own worth...it's just a great relationship and character and I'm so glad all of them shine. Also, sorry not sorry, that soundtrack is kind of amazing. It's been consistently playing in our house and no one is mad about it.

I was going to buy some locally made stocking holders that someone posted on Facebook, but backed out. I apologized, but didn't feel too bad because they were offered as customizable and I was only getting plain. So I figured NBD, she could just personalize them for the next order. She came back a little tartly and said she hoped I wouldn't waste other artisan's time in the future. Which like, I get but really? Had they actually been custom I would have went through with it, but there is literally no reason these can't be used on the very next customer...I didn't waste your time, you're just ready for the next order even faster. So...idk. Felt very weird, and it's crap like this why people order from Amazon because it's just damn easier.

I was invited to a mom's group on FB by a friend. I usually don't belong to these, because...drama and annoyance. However, I liked this mom so I decided to join. I answered literally one question, against the grain because I'm the only mom who believes in LISTENING TO DOCTORS AND EXPERTS and got some backlash (apparently yearly check-ups are a scam, and unnecessary, and some other crap). Immediately left the group...I am not interested in being a stranger's "yes mom."

I've mentioned my husband basically made this huge life change regarding his health/diet/exercise. He hit his one-year goal in less than 6 months; it's ridiculous. Anyway, it's making me feel like I need to do more because I do not want to be the one who let myself go while he's super buff over there. I think I offended him by saying he was going to be the prettiest one in the relationship and to please not leave me. I don't think I'm the prettiest, guys, I just thought we were fairly on the same level...apparently this was rude! Bahaha. Anyway...we'll see how it goes. Today was day one and it actually worked out really well, time wise. I've had awful headaches on and off the past few weeks, so I didn't even really miss any sleep time because I've been sleeping like crap anyway.  
To be clear, because...this is the internet, my husband is not insulting me or telling me to do this or in any way making me feel bad. It's more of a begrudging inspiration that I'm moderately annoyed at but also know I probably need. And it's 100% my decision.

My workout group, FiA, needed a new website. Previously we went through the national site, which used Wordpress. But they canceled that and encouraged each region to make their own. I did ours almost entirely myself, and through Blogger. I was going to stick with WP but we couldn't get a custom domain name without paying 40$+ dollars a year which seemed excessive. I talked them into Blogger instead and everyone is LOVING it. They say it's so much easier and they are much more likely to use it. So, wooo hoo, happy dance, go me!

I'm not making any specific donations for Giving Tuesday...but I'm not letting myself feel guilty. I do payroll deductions at work for a variety of charities, I donate to my church (specifically a program that directly feeds children in need via relationships with public schools, so doesn't only benefit church members), and I have my Amazon Smiles charity set to a local organization with employees I know work very hard and do a lot for the community. So, I'm telling myself that these consistent donations are better than one bigger one.

I recently purchased a new devotional. I have been having...not a crisis of faith, not a lack of faith...but a lack of connection, I guess? I may come back and talk about this more in-depth...but for now, I am just going to say that I really like that this devotional comes with a journal (rather than me writing in a different notebook like usual)- plus it has really good quality paper. I think the holiday season is a perfect time to remember the importance of resting, and being still, and listening for Him.
100 Days of Less Hustle More Jesus - Devotional Journal by Shanna Noel

What's new with you?

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

 We decorated for Christmas this weekend! It was a fun family time...even if Hubs did have the Panther game on and was half distracted. He did mute it to play carols, haha. 

A few weeks ago I painted my living room- I used to have a blue wall. Which meant I had to have blue Christmas decor, because red and green wouldn't have looked right with the traditional red and green. Thankfully, now I can go old-school.

And I do mean, old-school. I remember as a kid arguing with my mom about lights. She wanted white lights, which I thought were sooooo boring. Obviously colored lights were so much cooler. Now though, I am all about what my husband refers to as "boring white people" style. Aka, white lights and green wreaths and red bows and candles in the windows of white clapboard houses. 

I'm going more simplistic this year. We have an artificial tree (between the baby years and the dogs, a real tree created too much stress for me to enjoy), so I don't have tree trimmings to decorate my mantle anymore. But I found this ribbon garland at Michael's on a black Friday sale, and loved it's slightly rustic touch with plaid and burlap. The nativity scene sign is from Walmart, and the two smaller signs are from Target's dollar section (that is not really a dollar section anymore, but I digress). Obviously, Babycake's stocking is the big one in the middle, haha! I didn't realize it was so much bigger when I bought it, but oh well. The pine cones I have had for years...probably from Michael's or Dollar General. They used to smell like cinnamon but that's worn off. I've also sprayed painted some of them with gold or white paint to glint or look like snow. 

 

The small manger in the middle is our Giving Manger. Each day, you are encouraged to do something kind for others. For every kind thing you do for someone, you put a piece of "hay" in the manger. The goal is to have the manger full of hay and ready to place Baby Jesus in on Christmas day. It's part of my goal to have a more Christian Christmas. It's fun, and kind, and Babycakes and I really enjoy it.

When we had a real tree, I used a stainless steel bucket rather than a tree skirt...which I loved. But, the artificial tree holder won't fit so again, going old school with a Santa-ish tree skirt. Thankfully, Babycakes loves it, she pronounced it "So cute."
   

Now I just have to pack up all the boxes and put the storage containers back into the garage until after the holidays, haha. How are you preparing for the holiday?

Three Things: November 2019



As always, thanks Steph.

Things I'm looking forward to before the end of the month

-family pictures
-pineapple casserole
-The lack of "but it's not even Thanksgiving" argument about when it's acceptable to decorate for Christmas 

Things I’m happy with

-my latest reads
-our anniversary plans
-my pre-December Christmas prep

Things I don’t understand

-why people need to complain instead of letting others live
-why every time I start trying to track calories I immediately get sick
-why my phone had to wack out just before Christmas, aka when budget is tighter than normal


Things I love to eat at Thanksgiving

-broccoli & cheese casserole
-mashed potatoes
-macaroni & tomatoes

Things I need from the store

-paper towels
-Babycake's outfit for family pics
-something else I can't remember

Things I don't like to do

-dishes
-washing my dogs
-call in sick

Things I've said out loud to strangers this week

...I don't talk to strangers

Things that smell good in this season

-the apple spice soap I got from B&BW
-the kitchen on Thanksgiving
-chilly after rain

Weekend Update

This weekend Babycakes went to stay with her grandparents. Apparently a lot of people think it's weird that I ship my kid off for days at a time to a location several hours away...but there's really point in driving that far for just a few hours or night. Also, I was super close with my grandparents as a kid, and that is the only reason I feel at all guilty for moving away from my hometown. So I try to make it a point to support her relationship with her grandparents and make that a priority for her.

Anyway, I got so much done around the house. Normally I will push myself too far, but I think I did a good job of being realistic and also forcing myself to enjoy that alone time also (hubs had to work some this weekend so I had the house to myself).

It didn't start off great. I took a short lunch on Friday so I could leave a little early, get some day-to-day chores out of the way, and shower before Hubs got home. That plan epically failed because there was a ridiculous wreck. Due to DST, it was already dark when I left. Plus it was raining. These are my least favorite driving conditions, it super stresses me out. Add in the fact that one of the biggest intersections in my city was blocked by cop cars and ambulances with flashing lights...it was rough. Then the only way to detour was by a school zone, so that made everything even worse. Needless to say, I'm normally home by 5:20 when I don't leave early, and I made it home at 6:00. Thankfully, I had put some food in the slow cooker so dinner was ready, and we just upgraded to the kind with a timer so it wasn't burnt to hades.

So, I ate and drank wine and maybe something else that I don't remember.

Saturday I finally returned to my normal exercise schedule. It was cold and windy and I'm sore and I love it. This past month has been rough, and I know that with the holidays and everything I'm going to need it even more than normal.

I went home and actually managed to do a lot in a quick succession. I cleaned my bathroom mirrors and Babycake's tub before I took a shower, because that always makes me feel gross anyway. Side note: why I ever bother trying traditional cleaners I don't know. Vinegar and baking soda are by far the best for cutting through grime. I go back to it every time.

Next I tackled our spare room. It was both nice and frustrating that half the stuff in there was already bagged up for either a) trash, or b) donation. And it just never made it to those places. It wasn't gross trash, like food or anything, just items that were no longer needed and couldn't/weren't in good enough shape to be donated.

My plan was to have a complete hermit day, including lots of booze and PJs only. But...I didn't want to loose the momentum or have to come back to this room, so I sucked it up and put on regular clothes and took everything to a local charity for donation. Also, I took a detour by the library and picked up some books I had on hold. I think part of the reason I got in such a slump last month is because I picked books randomly on my last visit, so I had about 6 books and just no interest in them at all (might blog more about this later). So I'm going back to requesting books already on my TBR only. It's just more sensible this way, for me, right now.

Once I got back, it was straight back into PJs though.

The only thing left was laundry, which I did while binging the last season of Doctor Who. Jodie Whittaker is truly such a great 13th doctor, I forgot exactly how much I loved her.

I put up my clothes & Babycake's clothes, and then it was all about painting my nails and reading my new book. It's Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and it is definitely breaking me out of my slump. Other than the stay-at-home thing, it's pretty 100% of my mindset after having a baby. It's an awesome slightly snarky, only barely-exaggerated description of new motherhood for those of us who aren't crunchy or serene or total hot messes (just half hot messes).

There were other daily errands I could have done, but I forced myself to chill. And I think it paid off, because I had a great afternoon alone- curled up with a comfy blanket and a good book while the wind howled outside (seriously, it's been ridiculous the past few days). Then it was a chill night with hubs once he got home, and I woke up super perky on Sunday. Like...it was ridiculous. I had the dishes done and all the rooms picked up before I even had coffee. I usually can't even walk without coffee...so this was big.

I had the time for picking up Babycake's mixed up, so I ended up having time to run to Sam's Club for a few things. Overall...I was super productive this weekend but didn't push myself too far. May sound simple, but it's a big deal for me.

How was your weekend?

Rejoining the World

So...my last (very intermittent) post have been kind of downers because, well, last month was hard.

Everyone in the house got sick, there was a ton of parenting stuff (Halloween is a surprisingly big event with a kid), I couldn't work out due to a combo of the aforementioned issues which messes with me,  and daylight savings time happened...I just got in a huge slump.

Anyway. I'm feeling slightly better.

Babycakes is visiting her grandparents, so Hubs & I had a night out together. We had dinner and then went to do some Christmas shopping for Babycakes. It was nice to go somewhere a little more adult, and spend some quiet night. We had a good talk about some family stuff- with the holidays coming up, it's always a bit of an issue. With last month being so crazy, it was good to have some time together and recharge as a couple.

My plan for this child-free weekend is...cleaning. So much fun, right? It will be, because I have wine!

Can you tell I started watching Cougar Town?

We have this room in our house...it used to be the guest room, then it was the foster room, then I have way turned it into an office but not all the way because we weren't sure if we wanted to try and have more kids or not...so it's just become a junk room. Babycake's old clothes that she is outgrown are in there waiting to be put up in the attic, Christmas gifts are hidden in there, think there is some camping gear in there...I really don't know to be honest. But, I have a whole day of no child or husband or errands and I'm going to get it back under control.

Anyway. I hope to be back soon. How are you?

Show Us Your Books: November 2019



This has been a slow reading month. I finished my Harry Potter reread, but I don't count rereads in my yearly goal. Oh, but these two books did make me hit my yearly goal.

I feel like I always hit a little bit of a slump around this of year, so I guess this is to be expected.


Gods of Jade & Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This was an interesting read. I haven't read many fiction books that weren't from an Anglo-Saxon background, so this was a cool change. It's a good coming-of-age story, and I liked the human-god comparison/merge. I'd read more.







This did hurt a little to read. She had some tough times as a teen. It was interesting to hear about Hollywood from the perspective of someone who has had success but isn't exactly a household name. Her frank discussion of new parenthood and the change it can bring on relationships was real, and I love when people express that things can be good but bad. Apparently this is kind of what she is known for re: Instagram Stories, but I don't get on there much. It wasn't as much of a bummer as I am making it sound, haha. And it was a very quick read. 



This was fun fantasy read. Not amazing but passed the time pleasantly.











What have you been reading lately?
Link-up and share!

Life According to Steph

What's New Link-Up: November 2019


There's pretty much only one thing new with me- I've been sick for about 3 weeks now. The first week I thought it was just normal allergies; I have about a week every Spring & Fall during the changing temps that is miserable, but then I'm fine. The second week I got to about 90% better...at which point Hubs and Babycakes got sick (with different issues). Now it's week three and I'm back in the dumps. FML.

Went to the doctor, got some antibiotics finally...and since those kill both good and bad bacteria...also have a lady issue now to deal with on top of regular cold symptoms. Whoo-fuckin-hoo.

Hmmm, let's see though...short versions of other things that have happened since the last link-up.

  • We threw a Harry Potter Halloween party...it was great...some things I tried were totally worth it and some weren't. Glad we only go HAM once a year. 
  • Made a lot of progress on Christmas shopping, which I'm happy about. Just gotta wait till Black Friday for some sales on clothes, because that's really all that's left. I get basically all dudes shirts, because idk what else they want. Other than Hubs, but for other relatives...it's just shirts. And that's a Black Friday special. 
  • 'Member how I said Hubs is on this new healthy eating thing? Well...it's slightly rubbed off, without me trying, and now I can't eat too much ice cream or sweets without feeling sick. Seriously. Had a small Blizzard from DQ and felt terrible after. 
  • I finally started watching Brooklyn 99 and it more than lives up to the hype. 
  • Did a reread of Harry Potter because...I'm in a reading slump, and I reread series when I'm too tired to take in anything new. Felt lots of feels.

Stuff From the Internet: October 2019



Videos

This video from Hank Green at Vlogbrothers, which is peak 2019 yet hopeful and connecting.



Ours Poetica is a YouTube channel collaboration where people read poems- sometimes the authors, sometimes the spouses, sometimes celebrities, sometimes just people who love poems. Highly recommend. I really like it because often the speaker will tell a story- what they were thinking when they wrote it, where they were the first time they read it, who shared it with them, etc. You may not like every poem, but you will almost certainly like some of them.





I'm really torn on this Ellen thing. I don't think that ignoring differences will enact change...but neither will screaming at someone that they are wrong (even if they are absolutely wrong). If I cut every single person in my life who felt differently on immigration than I do, I would have almost no one of any color left. And guess what? No one would feel differently about the issue- just about me. I do fully believe you have to win hearts and minds to truly win a war. And you can't do that with anger...at least, I can't, and maybe that's what Ellen was saying too.




Memes










 

 I want to show this to everyone who complains about having to be politically correct. You don't have to, and intentions matter, but if you are intentionally ignoring the fact that you are hurting people, yes you are an asshole.
(pin links to this video, which I did not watch: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv4-yypZ7srAlzk_MQCRaLQ )

Three Things: October 2019




Places I never want to go

Chinese buffet
the dentist
Haunted Houses

Places I always want to go

-the mountains
-the library
-TJ Maxx

 

Appetizers I will eat at any time

-mozzerella sticks
-fried pickles
-chips & salsa


Wall colors in my house

-Brown
-Green
-Blue

Things I'm looking forward to this month

- Harry Potter Themed Halloween Party
-checking items off my Christmas shopping list
-finally selling odds & ends that we don't need

Places I enjoyed in my youth

-skating rinks
-swing sets
-tree branches

Things 10 year old me never expected to spend so much money on

-batteries
-light bulbs
-bras

How To Take Care of Yourself When Sick

 Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


Thankfully I don't get sick a lot, but I have about a week each spring and fall when my allergies LOSE THEIR MIND and my body freaks out.

I was fine on Saturday- even lead a 45 minute workout- and then woke up on Sunday with my throat hurting. By Monday it was ON FIRE and on Tuesday I called out of work so I could basically sleep all day and not have to talk to anyone.

One of the most adult-y things I've experienced is figuring out how to take care of myself while sick. I know there are all these different recommendations and medicines and home remedies, all with a variety of anecdotal success rates. I really do believe everyone kind of has to figure out what makes them feel better, but here's mine.

  • Get your flu shot! I am being slightly hypocrital, because I don't have mine yet. I missed my company's annual flu clinic, unfortunately. My plan was to get it this week...and then I got sick. But let's all acknowledge- vaccines are the best proven way to help your body stay healthy. Do not fight me on this.
  • USE YOUR SICK DAYS. I know this is hard for some people, but especially if your work gives you sick days...USE THEM. The number one best thing for your body when sick is rest. Even if it's boring or guilt-inducing, DO IT. 
     
  • For stomach bugs:
    • Pepto
    • Gatorade (I prefer blue or clear, my husband likes red)
    • Chicken Soup
    • Saltines
    • Sprite
  • For allergies or colds:
    • These are different, but can have some of the same symptoms, so I'm putting them together.
    • OTC medication that FITS YOUR SYMPTOMS
    • V8 (cold & thick- great for sore throats)
    • Gargle with hot saltwater (I usually do this in the morning)
    • Hot tea or cider with honey (can also add lemon & whiskey)
    • Chicken Noodle Soup
      • Can also try tomato soup with a grilled cheese, if you feel up to it
    • Sit in a bathroom with the shower running full blast on hot (the steam is good for loosening gunk)
    • ALL THE COUGH DROPS IN THE WORLD
What's your go-to remedy when sick?

Home Improvement as Self-Care


 Photo by Cam Morin on Unsplash

Self-care can get a very cheesy rap. And I get it...there are things no bubble bath or glass of wine will fix.

Those things are valuable, IMO, but they aren't the only kind of self-care that people need. Sometimes self-care means doing what needs to be done.

For instance, I've been feeling a little sad about my house. For a variety of reasons that aren't really the point of this post. So...in true Brittany fashion, I made a list of things I wanted to change- room by room.

Last week I accomplished one of my biggest goals for this home improvement plan- I repainted part of my living room. I had an accent wall that just wasn't working and I really wanted it painted to match the rest of the room.

When I went to mark this off my list, I was pleasantly surprised to see that over half the things on the list had been accomplished. It's nice to see forward progress.

Now every time I go in my living room, I think I did it. Something made me feel bad, I changed it, now I feel better. Doing something that has a physical result is so good for my mental health. 

Another, much smaller but probably just was as impactful change...was changing out our toilet paper holder. The couple who built our house was older and had some disabilities, so the toilet paper holdrs were the kind where you just slide the roll on there. Which is fine...for adults. But...I have a child. And our main bathroom, which the child uses, is a fairly tight fit. To brush her teeth, I usually sit on the toilet seat (lid closed, obvs) and at least 70% of the time she sits on my lap. So for over two yeras...every day, twice a day...we do this and she kicks the toilet paper roll off and onto the floor or in the trash can. SO FRIGGIN' annoying. I finally ordered a new, standard roll type and convieniently left it out on the counter and my husband changed it while I was out of the house.

Oh, and another weird thing about our house- all the light bulbs are different. Seriously, I don't get it. We have the boob-looking lights that take one type of bulb, can lights in the living room and kitchen that take another type, the type for our ceiling fans, and then the light over our sink is a flood light even though it's inside...I don't understand. Not to mention our bedside lamps, because I am the last person of our generation who enjoys warm hues and soft lighting.

Anyway- it was Hub's responsibility to handle the light bulbs and he was always frustrated about it because well, it's super frustrating. So I started taking over and then decided to take pictures of the boxes and upload them to our shared iPhotos so it's easy to keep track of. Then I got even smarter and just ordered from Amazon Prime, because it keeps track of what types we need and I don't have to go to the store.

Work smarter, not harder. Because anxiety and stress are hard. You deserve alternatives that don't make your life miserable.

Random Nerdy Hobbies I Could Get Way Too Into







May or may not have mentioned this before, but I have a tendency towards more. I think that is part of the reason I started grad school and why family planning has taken up so much mental space in my head. I like to know my next step and work towards it.

So, I probably need a hobby. I have reading, but I would also enjoy something to physically do with my hands. 

I've been trying to think of things, and this is what I have come up. They are all pretty friggin' nerdy...to no one's surprise.
1. Genealogy
    • Okay, so this isn't really anything to do with my hands. But, I like research and this is a fun, personal way to do that...without being graded.
2. Crocheting
    • I so want to learn to crochet! Every time I think I have a teacher or class, it doesn't work out. And I am not sure it's the kind of thing I can self-teach...but I really want to learn. You'll know if it happens because everything ever will be crocheted.
3. Puzzles
    •  Guys, I really enjoy puzzles. I don't have a dedicated space in my house to do them, without risking extreme breakage...so I'm considering getting a puzzle mat so I can do it.
4. Sewing
    • This is not so much a hobby as just a skill I really need...for some reason I end up with little holes in my clothes all the time! I have a friend who will do it for me, but I feel bad asking so often. 

What are your hobbies?

Show Us Your Books: October 2019




I have been feeling like I'm in a bit of a slump, and looking back over my past few books I can see why. My reads this month were all a little...different. Nothing that really grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Have a big new batch out from the library though so hopefully better reading is in my future.

I'm going to go ahead and give a basic grade of B/3 stars to everything, because they were all okay. Not regrettable, but not something I'd recommend rushing out to get. 


This book sounded like it would be right up my alley.  It's a dysfunctional family drama that takes place mostly on a nearly-deserted island, that is almost set out of time. Also includes flashbacks. But...it just didn't. The mystery of what exactly happened between the main characters was drug on for too long, and the pay off wasn't worth it...plus it just felt icky (highlight for spoiler: after finding out the man she thought semi-abandoned her by divorcing her mom turns out to not be her biological father, Elsa sleeps with his teenage son, who she thought was her half-brother for most of her life. The author does a good job of explaining the completely illogical and mentally unhealthy rational, but the way they interact in the present shows that no one has really dealt with any of this). It just...didn't all the way work for me.



 Pretty sure this was on Kindle Unlimited- it kept being suggested for me, because I read and enjoyed this authors The Paper Magician series. It was good, interesting...but I wanted more. Maybe I was in the trilogy mindset? But definitely recommend if you are into fantasy.


This book was interesting, but a slow burn. I was frustrated by a lot of things...but I think that was meant to happen because...it's kind of a horrible situation.



What have you been reading? 
Link-up & let us know!


Life According to Steph

What's New With You: October 2019


I posted a long time ago, when someone said some sexist shit about women in country music, about making an all-female artist list on Spotify. I'm now at 670ish songs...and the last chunk is Loretta Lynn. This woman is so snarky and I effin' love it. Can I immediately join the fan club? Thanks!



My husband got serious about his diet and exercise recently....like, lost 25 lbs in two months serious. And I'm so proud of him! Seriously, he's amazing. But...he complains that I don't cook anymore...but healthy cooking when you have to be super conscious of everything is really frustrating to me and no, I don't want to do it. So...we are going to have to work on that.



Anyone who talks about "terrible twos" has clearly never dealt with a three year old. Y'all, I rolled my eyes at the term three-nager originally but...omg, it is fact. Babycakes is still wonderful and funny and so dang smart it can be annoying. She's just also quite possibly the most dramatic, and this crying at everything is very hard for me to deal with. Both selfishly because...dude, sometimes you just turn off the damn TV and it's not worth crying over. But also because she already apologizes for things that aren't her fault and gets really scared at things that aren't scary and as a parent all I want is for her to be brave and happy.

Also, we've gotten our first eye-roll! And our first spiteful action- we went to this fall harvest thing and had to force her to climb this big inflatable slide (totally age appropriate, all her friends were doing it). She cried but then definitely smiled and laughed while doing it. Once she got off and Hubs asked if she wanted to go again, she kind of squinted at him and said no...then did it of her own volition maybe 30 minutes later.



I've bought a few Christmas presents already, and a Christmas decoration. I know some people are probably saying it's too early...but it's way less stressful for me to have a plan and just do it piece by piece. My goal is to be 90% done by Black Friday, so I can actually enjoy the month of December.


Don't think I am bypassing holidays though...SUPER pumped for Halloween. My dad is kind of anti-Halloween so it wasn't a super big holiday in my childhood. But it's Hubs favorite, and it's kind of super fun to have a kid at Halloween. Of course...he wants super creepy and she doesn't. So I am kind of trying to balance the two. We're having a Harry Potter themed Halloween party for our friends and I'm SO EXCITED!




What's new with you?

Blooming Where I'm Planted?

Photo by Lee 琴 on Unsplash


Ew, I know...what a cliche title.

 But I think...maybe...that is what I am doing.

I've struggled a lot in my life with finding my purpose.

My life hasn't exactly gone the way I planned it in the past 8 years.

From grad school to family planning, I've had to give up some dreams...or at least shift directions. 

And it's been a big struggle. I have felt like this detour means I'm a failure.

But really, the problem is just that- I'm treating it like a detour. I've been determined to get back to my original destination.

Lately though...I've kind of just stopped on the road I'm currently on. Instead of constantly looking for a sign that I'm heading towards the life I thought I wanted or was supposed to have...I'm taking in the sights of were I am.

And guys...I kind of love it. It's a little alarming to realize that all those things I thought I had to do were really the things I wanted to do. And the things I thought I wanted...were really things I felt like I was supposed to be doing...for some reason...that I can't figure out once I step back and really look.

One thing that has helped me a lot once I started reevaluating my life and trying to figure out what to change/keep was imaging myself as an old lady, and what I would want people to say at my funeral. That's probably super weird, but it's true.  And I don't want people to say "She got a bunch of degrees, she went on mission trips, she worked at XYZ for so many years,  etc."

What I want is for people to tell intimate stories about our personal interactions. I want to be the person who always had an open home and open arms. I want to be up for adventures and consistent in my character.

The alarming part is that I haven't realized how good I have it. The happy part of it is...I am where I need to be. Call it God working despite my mistakes, call it my subconscious, but it's nice to realize that I don't have to do a lot to be happy. I just have to appreciate where I am and what I'm doing.

Literally everything, from what I count as my hobbies to the shows I like to what I tell other people is worthwhile has all been pointing to this viewpoint, and I just...was too busy looking at other things and refusing to give up previous goals to see what I, as a thirty year old woman right now, wants and needs and values.

The final piece of this puzzle clicked for me one Sunday at church. Hubs & I started volunteering in the kids ministry again.

I always tend to gravitate towards the kids that are crying, even before I was a mom. I tend to "pick" a kid and end up with them attached to me for the whole service. Usually I end up in a rocking chair, with a kid or two on my lap, reading book after book after book. I felt bad about this for a long time- other volunteers would be playing with multiple kids at a time and I sometimes felt like I wasn't contributing enough.

But it hit me this past Sunday- I would love for these kids to one day say at my funeral, "She was so sweet, always willing to give us a hug and read a book when we were crying."

I love books. My favorite time of the freakin' day is bed time when I read to Babycakes. If I can stretch that out, if I can comfort kids and let parents have a little break to worship and serve and spend time with the Lord...that's e-freakin'-nough. That is a contribution, both large and small.

That is more than enough. That is enough for God, for people, and for me.

It may be a quiet life, it may be small life...but rivers cut paths no one could see coming. 

Personalities & Acceptance

Since we are talking about getting older and acceptance, I wanted to talk about personality types.

There are so many personality type quizzes/theories out there that it can feel like old news. But today isn't about Myers-Briggs or anything specific. It's just pure anecdotal evidence from my life.

My husband and I are in a "small group" at church. Since our church is bigger, they encourage these smaller groups to ensure a sense of community and fellowship. We do Bible studies and faith-based discussion, but our group has become super tight and basically hang out all the time.

Over the years, it's become super clear that myself and one guy have almost the same personality. We will see a sign and make the exact same comment, we like the same styles, react the same ways, often even eat the same food.

That's not super weird, unless you count the fact that our spouses are also exactly the same. 

In a super freaky way. Listening to their conversations sounds so much like listening to me and my hubby. Same communication issues, all of it.

I take this as a good sign- hopefully it means our personalities are super compatible, since they match up over and over again right? 

Realizing that there are certain types of personalities is helping me let some things go.

Obviously, as a psych major, I've heard lots of these personality types. But these specific, documented, regimented types are not really the things I'm talking about.

One thing my husband and friend have in common? They complain. Just in general. It's natural to them. And this bugs the frick out of me.

I am a fixer. If something doesn't work, you change approaches. If you don't care enough to change approaches, you shut up about it. This has historically been a huge source of frustration and drama.

I don't think it really clicked for any of us until another friend casually stated it to her face. My female friend was complaining, and the other friend laughed and went "Oh man, you love to complain so much. You'll do lots of things, you just have to complain about it."

My friend was SHOCKED. She literally had no idea that she complained so much...until everyone in the room laughed, nodded, and agreed.

My husband knew that I complained about his complaining...but until he realized that it was the same as her, he thought I was exaggerating. It took seeing it IN someone else to really get it.

As a fixer, I always want to offer suggestions- partly to shut them up, true, but mainly because I want to help them and take away the upsetting issue.

This doesn't help them though...it just bugs me when they don't listen. Because they were always going to deal with the thing...or more accurately, forget that they complained in the first place (seriously, as a chronic over thinker I cannot truly grasp it, but they also both have bad memories...or willfully forget stuff, I haven't decided).

Recognizing this, and learning to stop judging it, has helped me so much. I have started automatically rephrasing their complaints...sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud.

For instance, the other day I told my husband I was almost at my reading goal for the year since I just finished my 50th book. His response was "That is ridiculous" with a grimace. My response: "Why thank you love, it is impressive and I'm happy for me too." To which he replied, with sincerity, "Thank you for knowing what I actually think even though I did not express it."

It was only slightly ruined when I told him I didn't know what he meant, I was just trying a new anxiety management technique I saw on Pinterest.*

*It's driving me crazy that I can't find it anymore, but basically it said that when you make a mistake or something goes wrong, to over-exaggerate your thoughts in a positive direction instead of a negative one; for example, if you trip you should come up and say "I am the epitome of grace" instead of "Ugh I'm such a clumsy loser."

Loving My Body





Not too long ago, I turned thirty.

This is one of those "big deal" birthdays for a lot of people. Mainly because...as you get older, birthdays in general get less important. At 16 you can drive; at 18 you can buy tobacco/get married/serve in the military; at 21 you can buy alcohol; at 25...you can rent a car, but really who cares?

So the ones that end in zeros become the only benchmark of your aging, in a lot of ways.

Personally...I'm so glad to be thirty. I feel like my age finally matches my personality. I have noticed that I am feeling very differently about a lot of things since turning thirty though.

Realistically, this is probably due to a happy convergence of several factors.

But, today I want to talk about how...I now really love my body.

That sounds weird, right? Probably either a) egotistical, or b) trite.

But guys...I really do.

And it's not because I lost a ton of weight or learned how to do makeup properly or bought a bunch of new clothes or even dyed my hair. Like, my physical body is such a treasure to me.

For what is really the first time every, I can get out of the shower and see myself in the mirror and smile.

My body is, well, mine.

It's got stretch marks and cellulite and a little tummy pouch. It has thick legs from a million squats with FiA. It has arms that my baby girl wants wrapped around her all the time.

My body is the outside representation of my life, and it finally feels like it belongs to me.

If pushed, I would credit this to two factors (besides just age).

The first is having a baby. I know this is a privilege that not everyone gets, so I don't mean it in a braggy way. And I know not everyone wants to physically carry and birth a biological child, so I also don't mean this in a it's every womans purpose kind of way. I mean, it is an experience that I was able to have and it taught me a lot about my body.

It's by far the most physically demanding thing I've ever done, and it has a massive effect on so many aspects of my life, even a few years later. I used to hear women who gave birth decades ago talk about it like it was yesterday and think they should have gotten over it by now. But here's the thing- when you can pinpoint exactly when and why and how your body changed, it sticks.

After giving birth, I felt disconnected from my body. My body hadn't been solely mine for a while...and for the first year or so there is the ridiculous debate about breastfeeding so your body still isn't yours. This lead to reason number two- I started working out.

I used to hate when people talked about working out...yuck. WHO CARES?!

But, after having pregnancy do stuff to my body, and dealing with near-crippling anxiety...I needed to move my body. I needed to be in charge of something, and that something needed to be myself.

Now after nearly two years of working out semi-consistently, my body has been sculpted by me. Things don't just happen to me, my body is the result of my actions. 

And that feels very cool.

What's New: September 2019


Whoops. Since I was out of work due to Hurricane Dorian on the first Thursday of the month, I forgot to link up with the What's New link-up...but here's my post anyway.

We tried the grocery pickup, and it was kind of cool! It feels a little weird to have other people pick things out for us, but it's also nice to not have to dig through the store and probably helps with last minute purchases.

Babycakes is officially in full-blow drama queen mode. She's still a fun little kid...but the the other morning on the way to daycare, she started crying real tears because the truck we were behind turned on to another road. "But Mommy I miiiiiiiisss the truck."

I'm ready for fall. As I told Teh Megan, I basically feel like a bear ready for hibernation. Bring on cold, rainy weather so I can wear my plaid and cuddle under a blanket and read books while drinking hot toddies.

Hubs has started a lifestyle change/workout+food regimen to achieve some goals...and I'm so proud of him and it's great. But, I am almost to the point where I would kill for some spaghetti #missingmycarbabundance

Listening to videos like this one from The Sensible Mama make me 100% confident in my decision to scale back on blogging (read more) and also makes me feel like my decision to kind of settle at work is the correct one. I don't think I ever want to be a business owner...I really, really dislike owing people things. I have no problem sharing or helping people or meeting clear goals, but I have a huge problem with expectations (especially from strangers) and guilt which seems to be a lot of a business owner's life. Brittany ain't got time for that.

Apparently being off for Labor Day and lounging around in yoga pants (because hot as hades+mom life= yoga pants) means that I dressed extra preppy for work. Cue pearls+dark lipstick.

Babycakes apaprently can't say comfy, or has it confused with another word, because she will tell me how "company" her blanket and stuffed animals are. LOVE IT.

I did my first mud+obstacle run! And I'm super proud of myself. I have a gigantic bruise on my shin, that I swear is pulsating pain all the way up the bone. It sucks. Shockingly, it took 3 days to show up (even though I could feel it) but now it's a lovely shade of yellow and green.

Show Us Your Books: September 2019





Hello, book lovers! Hope you are having a great month. Mine has been pretty good, and all my reads this month have been solid. Well, mostly.



Calypso by David Sedaris

Basics: Short Stories about Sedaris, his family, and/or middle age, all with his classic dry wit and unusual thoughts
Thoughts: If you like Sedaris, read it. Never fails to make me laugh and appreciate his viewpoint.
Rating: A





The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Basics: Family saga told from multiple points of view (aka exactly what I love reading). A couple is jailed and awaiting sentencing, and the entire family (children, siblings, etc) feel the repercussions.
Thoughts: Highly enjoyed it, no surprise. I especially appreciated that we got to see the correspondence from both incarcerated individuals and how that relationship was adapting. My only complaint is I wish the crime was specified...you sort of get the general gist but I'd like to know the details. There was also discussion of bulimia, which was interesting to read. Never seen it portrayed in the first person so clearly. Also it touches on found/pieced together and imperfect families, which I always like.
Rating: A


Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Basics: Copied from Goodreads- "Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years."
Thoughts: Um. This feels like the kind of book where someone had some cool stories so people kept telling them to write a book, so they wrote one even though they're not a writer. Part of it was easy to identify with, part of it was super gross (I never want to eat catered food again), and the part about her marriage was super fucking annoying because...why?! It made literally no sense.
Rating: B-...or C+, I kind of dislike it more as time passes and I think about it



The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Basics: from Goodreads- "A debut novel of family, fame, & religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family's hit reality show, & the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart."
Thoughts: I was really pulled into this book and felt for the characters. I appreciated the way it showed how what we see on TV is rarely the truth, or even part of it...I gave up watching "reality" shows years ago for this reason. And as a Christian, the growing megachurch/televised aspect of Christian culture is something I think of and worry about a lot. My one gripe...I wish there had been literally one good Christian character. Not all, but at least one; it was disappointing to see everyone portrayed as a hypocrite or trapped faker. For a book that was so multifaceted otherwise, it felt intentional.
Rating: A-




What have you been reading lately?
Link up & let us know!
Life According to Steph

Three Things: August




Songs that make me think of high school
The Best of Me by The Foo Fighters
Hey Ya by Outkast
What's Left of a Small Town by Brantley Gilbert


Things I like to give
Possible solutions to problems
Personalized book recommendations
 The price of anything I buy on sale


Things I like to receive
Coffee Mugs
Hugs
Food


Things I hate that many people like
Pumpkin flavored coffee (love them individually, but not together)
Glitter
Being the center of attention


Clothes I find uncomfortable 
Turtle necks- dear God, why?
    Heels
Heavy, dangle-y earrings
 (are my ears just weaker than everyone else's?!)


Things I love seeing other people post
Sunset Pictures
Random nice things that happened that day
I Voted Stickers






per usual, thanks to Stephanie for sharing on her blog and prompting me out of my blogging slump!

Being Quiet

Photo by James Garcia on Unsplash


You may have noticed that it has been kind of quiet around here. And I don't have a super good reason why.

I've written before that it's harder for me when things are going good. For some reason, I can spill out negative emotions without any problem. But it's the calm and/or good times that I apparently want to keep to myself.  

Actually, that's not true. It's not that I want to keep it to myself...it's that I want to be sure I enjoy it. I want to soak it up. I don't want it to pass me by.

 There is nothing major going on in my life...for once. Finally. I've slowed it down. I'm putting a graduate degree on hold, possibly forever. I'm volunteering, but not everywhere all the time. I'm working out, but accepting when life happens and it's not the priority.

There are some things on the horizon, but I have mapped out when I am allowed to worry...and it's not this very moment.  

The world feels very loud. And...some of that noise is good. But I need quiet. And so I'm giving myself that quiet. 

I'm cutting back on what I look at online, and I'm cutting back on what I put online.

I'm living what the world would call a little life, and it is restful and wonderful and magical. 

How are you?

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