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

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.