I'm so...Happy for you [Guest Post]

Megan, or Teh Megan as she is known online, writes at canIdecideanotherday.com.  She thinks that the idea of a good time is eating dessert, riding motorcycles with her boyfriend, and running, sometimes.  She is a mom to 2 fur-babies, which means she always has an excuse to sit on the couch rather than go out.  She spends most of her time worrying about the future and trying to go to Disney World/Land.  Her favorite color is all of them except browns.  She hails from North Carolina, but was displaced by the Navy and ended up in Charleston, SC were she rants about bad drivers and how hot/humid it is.  She's been reading my blog for several years and has said that we should definitely meet in person, if the opportunity ever arises.

Do you remember in school (any level, we're not picky here) when one of your friends would start dating someone and then disappear off the face of the planet or completely change and you were sad because you missed that person after they left you behind?

Yeah that's been one of my paranoia's for my entire life. Ok, that was a little extreme, but hear me out.

I'm 30. I've never been married (thankfully, because those guys before were duds compared to Teh German). I've never had kids, been pregnant. I never really partied hard.

Some might even call me... boring. and I'm ok with that.  It did make my background investigation way easier.

Here's why: It took me a while to get to really know and love myself, but I knew no matter what, I never wanted to have regrets.  I wanted to learn things from my mistakes, rather than wish I could change things that were unchangeable.

But here's the real problem with all of those lack-of-experience things: I haven't experienced a lot of what many other people experienced so sometimes what other people are experiencing makes me uncomfortable.

I went through a phase where I was jealous of people who were engaged/married/had kids.  Like, super jealous.  Embarrassingly jealous.  I think maybe it's a right of passage for most 20-something females, but the wedding fever?  I had it, I had bad.

Why is any of this relevant to you? Because when I am told a friend is getting married or having a baby, I worry that the person that is my friend will disappear.  Selfish?  You betcha.  Applicable to you?  Yep, because you're here reading this blog.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for that person, but I'm hesitant-happy.  "What does this mean for me?  What does this mean for our relationship?  Does this mean we are going to be talking about wedding dresses for the foreseeable future?  Oh Lord, what if Friend is going to be a hippy parent with no chemicals and cloth diapers...  What if I can't handle that level of intensity?  Oh God, what if I am one of those parents?!"

See, things can escalate quickly around here. So when Brit announced she was pregnant, I was worried her blog would become a Mommy Blog.  You know them if you've seen one.  Everything about children/babies, best parenting practices, links to websites with diaper and formula ads.  Nothing about anything other than kids.  It's as if this person may not have ever been anything but a parent.

But, everyone needs an outlet.  If Brit had went full time to Mommy Blogging, I may have strayed, I won't lie.  But she didn't.  She continued on with post-to-post operations as almost-normal.  Yes, there were some references to being pregnant, but when your entire being is changing (literally), it is completely reasonable for that person to talk about it.

Why should I sit back and think about me when my friend's life is actually changing?  Of course the person they were is going to change, they are experiencing a life changing event!  Why would I walk away just because they are experiencing something unfamiliar to me?  I wouldn't do that to a face-to-face friend, so why would I desert my online friend?

So here I am.  Admitting my faults and saying that when Brit announced the pregnancy, I was considering tapping out.  Which is way more selfish that just worrying about if my friend is going to change and leave me behind.  It's my job as a friend to keep up.  My life wasn't changing drastically.  I wasn't creating a spawn or committing my life to a single person for the rest of my entire life...

Online friends, real life friends.. no matter.

A relationship is a two way street and sometimes you will have to put in more effort than the other person because that's life.  Maybe one day you'll be the person pulling less weight because your life is changing and the other person takes on your weight until things eventually equal out again.

A real relationship is when you weather the storm together, even if sometimes the storm drastically alters one person's life and leaves the other life relatively unchanged. I can't say I'm a perfect friend.  One might even say I have room for improvement.  But realizing my fault are the first step to becoming a better friend and also, I'm really looking forward to cute baby photos, if Brit decides to post them.

Congrats Brit and Tank on Baby!!

Aw, Teh Megan! I can 100% relate to this- I've had those exact same fears about friends...and about myself! It can be tough to adapt when relationships change- but thank you for sticking by :)  

And honestly, I'm glad about that hesitation and concern.

 I've spent most of my 20s figuring out who I am and who I want to be...while "Mom" is part of that, I don't want it to overtake my entire personality. So having people in my life (both parents and non-parents)- who remind me that it's not only acceptable but good to retain MY own personality while incorporationg this new one of Mommy is needed and appreciated.  

So yes, Megan, while I plan to cloth diaper...I will try really hard not to be THAT mom ;)

And those last two paragraphs?  
TRUTH. Solid gold truth.

Favorite Books: Elementary School

Thinking about this, it's funny that even back in elementary school I showed a preference for series! My first memories included:

And then there was a fairly big mystery phase- which is still one of my favorite genres actually:

When it comes to single books, I don't have a huge memory. The ones I can remember are:

It was sometime around the end of elementary school/beginning of junior high that I also started Ann of Green Gables and Little Women...I definitely remember rereading Little Women about a million times.

What did you read in elementary school?

The Only Acceptable Thing to Say to a (known) Pregnant Woman

There are so many inappropriate things that have been said to me over the past 9 months. Some from people who are truly clueless, and some from people who are just rude and insensitive.

So I wanted to do a PSA and let you all know the only acceptable thing to say to a pregnant woman. 

Here it goes:

You look great! How are you feeling?

The only acceptable variations on this are to replace the word great with one of the following:

cute, fantastic, wonderful

Seriously. Other than those three, NO DEVIATIONS.

Don't say you look so big- trust me, if she is SHE KNOWS and doesn't need you pointing out the obvious.

If you are trying to go the opposite way and say "You still look so tiny," that's not safe either because she may then worry that her child isn't growing enough.

It's a super fine line- don't make her tightrope it!

Just tell her she looks great, and ASK about her health/feelings (don't say "You look tired," or "You must be so ready to go," or "I bet you wish you were in bed!" - you know what happens you ASSume how someone else is feeling- this does not go away just because someone is pregnant).

Also, not the title specifies KNOWN pregnant woman. Don't assume. I mean, it's annoying when people almost ignore my pregnancy when I'm big as a damn whale- but it is more upsetting to be asked about being pregnant when you aren't. Speaking from experience (this was especially upsetting when it happened after my miscarriage).

Favorite Books: Childhood

So this one is kind of hard, because I don't super remember my childhood books. By childhood, I'm referring to birth- age 5/pre-school.

Mostly I remember watching Disney movies (I have an excellent collection of Disney movies on VHS at my grandparent's house, btw) and reading tons of Bible stories. To be fair...I also read Disney books and watched Bible videos. My childhood was pretty much all Disney & the Holy Bible, y'all. And a time where I danced around to Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus. I'm not even going to bother apologizing.

But I have went through the books I have leftover from my childhood because I put them in Maise's room (obviously). And based on my mom's super emotional reaction to them, these are books I must have loved because she teared up seeing them in the nursery.

Some of the ones causing this reaction were my Little Golden Books. I definitely remember Mr. Bell's Fix It Shop and the Barbie story. 

I also remember I had this big Cinderella book, which apparently I memorized and would read to people while holding it upside down (this is one of my dad's favorites stories about me as a child).

And something cool that I think came from some kind of flea market that I went with my grandparents a lot- I had a book that had my name in it. I believe it was a Barbie theme (I liked Barbie, okay? I know, it seems strange to me too). But basically I put my name, and my parent's names, and my best friend's name, and they inserted it into a set story and it was pretty awesome.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Talking about Miscarriage

Before anyone worries, I have not miscarried Miss Maisie. She's kicking around in there as I type. But I did have one last year, and I've been feeling like I should address that experience again for a while. I felt like I needed to talk about it again, so I could really move on and focus all my energy on the child I am having now.

For anyone who doesn't know the story, you can read about my miscarriage here.

Miscarriage is one of those things that seems really unlikely and should be avoided, until you have one. Then you hear all the stories from all the people who've had one. Then you randomly see articles like this one from Jana on your Feedly and instead of scrolling past them uncomfortably, you force yourself to read them (still uncomfortably). Because that story deserves to be heard.

I've briefly mentioned on here that I don't usually like talking about my miscarriage. Or at least, I don't like talking about it with other women who have had a miscarriage. That sounds like the opposite of what should happen, right? But it's true.

In my particular case, there was no cause. It just happened. 

That's typically the way it goes. For all the rules and regulations imposed on pregnant women nowadays- avoiding lunch meat, queso, etc- the reality is that some babies are born to drug-addicted mothers and other pregnancies never progress past the first trimester. Obviously some miscarriages have causes- but most don't.

The pregnancy only lasted about 6 weeks- barely enough time to even know I was pregnant. There probably wasn't a heartbeat, ever, so it feels wrong to say it was a baby. My husband and I each told one friend- so altogether there were only 4 people who knew about this possibility.

I say possibility, because that is what it felt like to me. It felt like I was standing on the edge of a great adventure.

And when I miscarried, it wasn't like being pushed off a cliff and falling into despair. It was like I was pulled back. I was stuffed back into the same life, doing the same thing, and not sure I could feel the same way. I was in the same place, but I wasn't. And I had to face that reality and decide where to go from there.

I wasn't mad at God for taking my baby- again, I don't feel like I ever had a baby. I was sometimes- not always- sad.

Mostly I was confused. 

I did not like people treating me like I was pitiful or broken, so I probably came off as rude, unemotional, or cold. That's okay. I know my emotions and I know how to handle them- and at that time, I could only handle discussing it with a certain number of close friends.

Some women, and even men, are broken by miscarriage- at least temporarily. And that's okay. I'm not saying it is a sign of weakness to be upset by this- from what I can tell, that's how most people feel.

That miscarriage scar is on me, for sure.

Sometimes, though, I feel like it isn't as deep as it is on others. 

And I wonder if that means something is wrong with me.

But at the same time, I think...it was a logical response. I had never been pregnant before. I hadn't had kids. I didn't know what that pregnancy could have turned into.

And I don't wonder. Because...that miscarriage forced me to really consider what I wanted out of life. It forced hubby and I to decide how seriously we wanted to try and have a child.

I am really lucky, or blessed. I got pregnant again relatively quickly. This pregnancy has been very healthy, totally normal.

And if that one had progressed...I wouldn't have Maisie now. I can't be sad about that when I have her.

Not everyone gets that chance. Some go through the anniversaries of those dates without having a healthy pregnancy, or baby, to focus on. Some deal with multiple losses. I can't say anything to those experiences- be cause I haven't lived it.

But yes, I imagine that's harder than my situation.

I only know how I feel. I only know my particular experience.

And that's okay. It's okay if no one else feels the way I do. It's okay if no one else understands my reaction. I don't even understand it sometimes. I just...know that I'm dealing. And that's okay.

I believe stories deserve to be heard. 

And mine may not be like everyone else's. Mine may make someone mad, or make them think badly of me.

But it's my story. And I needed to tell it.

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: April 2016

Y'all, I slacked off the first half of this month. I'm telling you, I read almost nothing one month and then do really well the next. But seeing as how the little one is due practically any day, I'm not super hopeful for next month...kids stories totally count towards these reads, right?

Anyway, on to the books!

Anyway. While I have never done this because I'm not sure rereads count (read all about that here), I spent most of the month reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

I had planned on going to see the last movie of the Divergent series...but decided I might not be able to comfortably sit in a theater for two hours at this point. Also...I cried like a little bitch at the end and didn't necessarily want to repeat that in public.

I can't remember if I cried this much the first time I read it...Tank doesn't think so (although, I cry at books a LOT so expecting him to keep track is unfair). Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, or the fact that I knew what was going to happen...who knows.

But either way, it still gets me. I fucking love that series...and kind of want to go reread the whole thing now. 

But those books are huge.

I did feel so guilty about not reading anything for half the month, and then spending so much time on a 500+ page reread, that I then read 2 off of my TBR shelf.

I bought this at my used book store because I almost never read biographies or nonfiction, and every so often feel like that's a good change of pace. Reading this reminded me why!

My number 1 pet peeve with most bios? NOT TELLING A STORY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER!!! 

We learn early on that Mia's mom has passed away, but the story of that doesn't come until the very end almost. Also her romantic relationships are so tough to follow- one chapter she has a boyfriend, the next she's married, then has a fiance, then is getting divorced...dude. Life is lived pretty much in a straight line- but it felt like this book was written and then someone took the timeline and purposefully put it out of order. The overall message of the book was good  (self-acceptance, personal strength through trials) but the order made me a little crazy.

You may remember me talking about the first book in this series last month. It was a surprise, and this one was also a surprise. I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than the first one. It delves into ideas about family, faith, and fate in ways I really enjoyed. There was more direct Christianity involved but also more wavering and doubt.

 I've always enjoyed this contrast because I feel it's more authentic to real life- anyone who says a life of faith is easy is lying. 

It's tough, and reading that felt authentic. Apparently there are two more in this series- I don't have them, but may end up searching them out.

So, three books for the month...if you include the reread. Still unsure about this.

Hopefully next month will still be productive. I've started another already, and it's my month for Audible (hubs & I switch off) so that should be at least 2. Plus I already have the first book I'm going to read to Maisie...so excited!!

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Brittany has read 12 books toward her goal of 30 books.

 According to Goodreads, I am 40% done with my yearly reading goal. It has me as 4 books ahead of schedule for the year, which is awesome. Some months I feel like I didn't do enough, but this tracker helps me keep the overall year in perspective.

What have you been reading this month?
Link-Up and Show Us Your Books!

Life According to Steph

Christians V Sinners [From the Archives]

from the archives

Often within the Christian community, you here things about sinners.  Sin is something that is unavoidable as humans.  Yes, as Christians we should strive to not sin.  But…at the end of the day we’re going to fail.  It’s just built in to us.

As a Christian, I try not to sin because a) my life is typically easier and happier when I don’t sin, and b) it makes my Lord Jesus happy when I avoid sins that go against him (those reasons need to be reversed in order…this is why I am still very much growing in my Christianity).

But there is no way that I will ever not be a sinner.  

Because I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth, I am a sinner saved by grace.  

But…I am still a sinner.  I always will be.  

All of us, will always be sinners.

So I get a little…wary when I hear the term sinner in churches/the Christian community.  Mainly because it’s commonly used as an us v. them situation- meaning Christians are in one group and sinners are in another.  And in my mind, that is not a true distinction.  Christians are still sinners…if that was a Venn Diagram, it would just be a circle.

Personally, I look at it more as a “believer and non-believer” situation, “Christian or non-Christian.”  To some this may seem as a nit-picky detail, but I think it reflects a problematic mindset.  It automatically creates a divide where we should be trying to create unity– a unity based on a shared belief of Christ.  It’s hard to show people the love of Jesus when there is an ingrained belief that youare better than them.  None of us are better than others- only the Savior who resides within in usseparates Christians from non-Christians.  He is better than all of humanity, and we are blessed when he comes into our hearts and lives.  To act as though it’s anything other Him that separates us from our fellow mankind is not logical or glorifying- it’s actually really annoying and arrogant. 

Do Rereads Count?

Since pushing my blog towards a more bookish focus, I've been paying more interest to other book bloggers or BookTubers. And one thing I've noticed in a lot of Wrap-Up videos (where people list the books they've read in the past month/week/etc) is that many people count rereads in their count.

I have never counted rereads when counting how many books I've read in a certain amount of time. What I typically do is finish a book, hopefully remember to add it to Goodreads, and then leave it lying around the house. Before I was preggo, I would reread books lots of time in the bathtub. My husband thinks this is super weird, but it was my relaxing time.

And I didn't like to do it with a new book or library book, because then I'd risk getting water spots on it. I know, a good bibliophile wouldn't treat any books like this...but I do.


My point is that I do have a lot of rereads, but I don't typically count them in a wrap-up after the first time. It feels like cheating. 

But...I think I am about to do it for the first time this month. Mainly because I reread Allegiant and that book is over 500 pages, so it did take some time even though it's a relatively easy book. Although I did feel guilty when I thought about doing that, so I managed to read 2 more books based on embarrassment and also the desire to meet my monthly goal (2.5 books a month to meet a yearly goal of 30).

So my question is- do rereads count? 

Am I just being weird and too strict here? Or do you see my point that once a book is read, it isn't new anymore? Still good, still worth rereading, but not adding to a goal.

Maybe it's the goal aspect of my reading that affects this. Maybe others just read without having that definitive idea of "new" (new to me, of course, old books are sometimes the best books).

Help me out here. 
What do you think?

Monthly Favorites: March 2016

Just some random things I think are interesting and/or worth reading from the Internet this past month.

  • The Art Assignment Hotline:
    • John & Sarah Green discuss some art questions, but then answer why "ridiculed" degrees (like mine) are still useful.

This isn't a favorite- but something worth mentioning. This American Life podcast episode is about sexual assault, and the first story is of how a victim ends up on fucking probation after being raped. And the awful consequences of doubt. This is what the fuck is wrong with our society. It makes me sick, literally. And FUCK that one lady who continues to blame the victim for the way she responded. Go ahead and make yourself feel better about being uneducated bitch- you're lucky you can be self-righteous in your ignorance. I bet your supposedly loved daughter wishes she had that fucking privilege.