Show Us Your Books Link-Up: May 2017

Y'all. It's almost May. Whew. I'm excited about this.

Anyway. You know the drill by now. Here are all the books I've read since last month's link-up. Feel free to comment and/or link-up yourself :)

It was a little odd in the beginning because it felt like it was going in two different directions- one part seemed to focus on the hen weekend and personal relationships, and the other part focused on the mystery. Then at some point there were two mysteries- the accident and then the Claire-Le/o/nora relationship. So it was fine, good for it's genre. Definitely worth reading if you like that style, although personally I may be a little over the unreliable narrator thing (and I didn't even read Gone Girl). 

This book was really good. Each chapter is a person from a different generation of the same family. Some of the family splits and one part ends up staying in Africa while another part is taken to America as slaves. It was really intriguing but a little confusing. Not only with the generational skips (there was family tree in the beginning of the book that helped with that) but with the different tribes in Africa and how they kept coming back together, splitting, coming back together. I do love that it tackled race and sex in so many different ways- there were arranged marriages, marriages for love, cheaters, mixed raced children, someone who passed (meaning a light-skinned black person who "passes" themselves off as white), a gay man who couldn't come was a good variety of the human condition. If I could have sat down and read it through instead of reading sporadically (which is how I have to do it now) it probably would have gotten the 5 stars everyone else gave it instead of 4.

You may have heard about the incident that sparked this book- Lenora Skenazy let her 9 year old ride the New York subway by himself and was dubbed "America's worst mom." Basically, "free-range" is the opposite of helicopter parenting. She argues that kids are actually safer today than generations ago, even though parents worry way more, and encourages fostering independence for the sake of both parents and children. I really enjoyed this book a LOT and will be writing a separate post for it soon.

Eh. I liked parts of this story, but it was kind of weird. It's just one of those books where there isn't a specific point- there are big events and small ones and it's basically just the story of a man's life. It's good...but I kind of wish I had known the rhythm going in.

I feel like I've been reading a lot more than normal...but two of these were audiobooks from the library. And I've been reading Bringing Up Bebe for weeks now (spot reading, remember?) which I enjoy a lot also. The review for that one will be doubled-up with the Free Range book since they share some similar points.

What are you reading? Link-up & let us know!
Life According to Steph

How To Be a Girl's Girl?

I've been listening to the Girl's Girl podcast for a few weeks now (found through the Add It To My List Link-Up). The title comes from the idea that women need to build each other up- a rising tide raises all boats, right?

A bunch of other things (including the show 13 Reasons Why from Netflix) got me thinking about this idea- what exactly does it mean to be a girl's girl?

Growing up, I was not a girl's girl...or a girly girl, which seemed to be the same thing. 

I mean, until about 5-6 I was into frilly dresses and stuff. But then I went through a bit of a tomboy phase. I don't find that title offensive...although I think you're not supposed to use it today. Who knows. By my teenage years, I was just plain awkward.

Most of the girls I was friends with ended up moving away...I just never really found a clique. Or even one good friend where we committed to maintaining the friendship.

So truthfully...I don't know how to be that great of a friend. And I don't know how to be a girl's girl, it seems.

But the really sad part is, most of the women I know don't seem to be one either. 

I know so many women who accept the worst of gender stereotypes about themselves. They accept the guilt, the gossiping tendencies, the cat-fighting...

Maybe because of this, no one seems to want to be my friend, either. At least not as much as they want to be other things- mothers, wives, daughters, sisters...I'm not saying these things aren't important. They are vital. But I don't understand why friendship isn't a priority to the women I know.

I don't want to do this...I want to learn to be a good friend. I want to set a positive example for my daughter, and I want her to grow up with a supportive tribe.

So how do you be a Girl's Girl when the girls you are around don't seem to care? 

I know in my own life, I wish people tried harder. So I want to just keep swimming and supporting.

I want to believe that I am making a positive little difference for others even when they don't show it.

But I wish I knew how to do more than retweet and buy fem-positive clothes.

I wish I knew how to truly get the women in my life to love and support each other.

How are you a Girl's Girl?

Erin's Challenge 6.0 Wrap-Up

So the only one I didn't complete was Read a book by your favorite author. Overall, not bad for my first challenge. Especially since I don't necessarily have a favorite author.

I started reading Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams by Sylvia Plath, because The Bell Jar is one of my favorite books. But I just read the "short stories" part of the description, not the "diary excerpts" part. And it was a bit of a struggle to get through the diary excerpts...because they weren't meant to be read. So both mentally and emotionally I was struggling- it made me think of the same issues that came up when I read Go Set a Watchman. There is very questionable morality involved in posthumously printing things, or waiting until someone is mentally weak to "encourage" it. So it got put on pause.

Overall this was an interesting experience. I'm not sure I will repeat it, but I'm not saying I won't either. We'll see what the next categories are and how I feel about them.

Salvation Sunday: Why I Love My Church

On Easter Sunday, my family went back to our hometown and attended church at my grandma's church.

This is the church I grew up in, a Free Will Baptist church. I appreciate the Biblical base of knowledge that was provided there. But I'm glad I don't attend it regularly anymore.

The congregation (or...audience, I guess, if you aren't used to Christian-ese) hasn't really grown since I was there as a kid. In fact, I think it may have decreased. The people who attend are mostly older people- my grandparents age. My two cousins in their twenties go, with their kids. There is one teenager who attends regularly, and one more who may attend sporadically. So the under twenty members are less than ten.

Maybe because of this, the sermon was a little...patchy. Random bits of random topics. And the Biblical topics talked about were a little doom & gloom. Some stereotypical end of the world stuff.

Let's be clear...I don't disagree with it. It's kind of a central core of my faith that Christ is how you obtain salvation and get into heaven.

But this is what I disagree with- I don't think that hell is a selling point of Christianity. 

Not that I think Christianity is something to be sold...but the great commission is to share the love of Christ and get more people to become Christians.

And I don't think saying "Hey you're going to hell" is the way to do that. I sound like a crazy asshole. And for someone who has lived their whole life without Christ anyway, why do they want to join a group of mean people who only want them if they're willing to act a specific way?

So attending that church highlighted why I love the church I go to now. It doesn't disagree with anything said at the older church.

But the focus is about how to live with Christ today- here, on earth. 

It's about how to talk to people about Jesus in a way that demonstrates what is great about Him, and shows why He is the right choice. It's not about alienating other people- it's about being a light and helping.

So I'm glad I found a place that fits where my life is right now. I hope you do too.

The Best Parenting Advice I've Gotten

 It came from the last place I would have guessed. Literally. I would have rolled my eyes at you if you had told me the person and place, and basically blew it off. But it was what I needed to hear, more than anything else.

"Don't teach that baby to worry."

Did ya read my post about being on the struggle bus? Um, worrying is about all I do sometimes.

So this slapped me. Really, really hard. 

It's so true.

I don't want my little girl to grow up thinking that it's unavoidable to be ridden with anxiety all the time. 

We all feel it- and I'm sure she will. She already does! When she is hungry, she thinks she will be hungry forever. She doesn't care if I'm literally cutting up her food right now- she's screaming to make sure I know.

Part of my job as a mother should be to teach her to manage life and the inevitable stress it brings.

Not to complain, not to feel hopeless, not to take it out on those around me. I am supposed to help her- I am supposed to be a model.

This is one of the only pieces of advice that has felt true, and right, and actually lined up with my own values

I think my issues stem from the fact that people are telling me to act like them...because that's how they made it through this thing called parenting.

And I get that. It's natural to say "Well this is how I did it."

But y'all, I'm a weirdo.

I stupidly have these values where I want to be calm- steady- quiet. I want to endure.

I want to be a lighthouse- steady, shining brightly, built precisely for the storm rather than being tossed around by it. 

That's what I actually want to be as a mother. Not a drill Sargent, not a soft fluffy pillow or bubble wrap...I want to be a lighthouse.

I've been putting so much stress on myself to be a good mother. Really, I just need to be a good person.

I need to do the right thing. Not "the right thing" as a mom, a wife, whatever...just a good damn person.

It's just living out my values, in every relationship, consistently. When I think of it like's not pressure from other people. It's me, doing what I want. 

And that fills me with hope.

Add It To My List: April 2017

 Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?

 Y'all, this month has completely snuck up on me (apparently Blogger doesn't recognize snuck as a word...should it be sneaked? That sounds wrong...). Usually I have a draft going all month long that I add things too...guess I didn't do that this month.

  • Up First 
    • This is an NPR podcast (dear God, how I love NPR) that gives you daily news in a 10-20 minute burst. It seems fairly unbiased (ok, NPR may lean a little left but it at least mentions both sides of an issue or just sticks to facts of what is happening). It also doesn't drag on so long that I lose hope for all that is good in the world. 

  • 13 Reasons Why 
    • This is a Netflix show based on Jay Asher's book. It's controversial- deals with rape, suicide, and general morality. Some argue that it glorifies suicide, rather than presenting it as a tragedy...I don't know about that. It's a difficult show to watch, and may be a trigger for some...but it's definitely worth discussing and thinking about. If nothing else, it shows the way we all affect each other, for better or worse, and we need to take more responsibility for our actions. That's not being sensitive, it's just not being a dick.

  • Lularoe Perfect-T 
    •  I finally jumped on the damn LLR bandwagon. Feelings so far: Probably priced too high, leggings are cool but you can find cheaper, pencil skirt (Cassie?) is cute and comfy...maybe could find cheaper, but depends on if you like patterns...but this Perfect-T. I freakin' love it. Can wear with leggins, can belt it with's super cute and fits my hip-y self perfectly (not free love hippie....just short girl with curves hip-y). 

  • The idea of Free Range Parenting 
    •   I vaguely remember this being a big thing a few years as a parent it seems I am way more into this idea than the current wave of helicopter parenting. Basically- give your kids some independence. They'll survive. Statistically speaking, they'll almost certainly be fine. 

  • Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil
    • This was our dinner last night and it was soooo yummy! Although next time we will probably add more shrimp and/or sausage- I was full but we didn't have enough to have leftovers, which is big in our family.

Seems like as good a place as any to ask- I am looking for frugal/budget blogs and also minimalist/simple living blogs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

What have you been loving this month? 
Link-up & share!

Please, Don't Smile at Me

There is this thing that people say, especially to women:

Smile, it's not that bad! Smile, you're so much prettier that way!

This is super annoying.

So I'm here to say, please don't smile at me.

Not unless you really want to.

Look, I live in the South and we're supposed to be all about hospitality. Which is cool. But...I'm not a natural smile-er.

I try it, at work. And I feel like a super lame phony.


Because I barely laugh when I hear a joke, okay. I don't want to be a performing monkey.

And really, that's what what people want. They don't want to have to admit that life isn't perfect. They don't want to hear an honest answer to "How are you?" They just want to mosey along and pretend everything is fine, so they don't have to deal with your problems.

Well, I just want to say- you don't owe these people anything. 

You don't owe anyone your happiness, except yourself. And if you are happier planning a blog post or outfit in your head then in making pointless chitchat about the weather with a smile on your face- fantastic. DO THAT.

I'm not saying be rude.

And if you notice you are aiming your RBF in a particular person's direction, maybe move that angry-appearing gaze to the floor or ceiling so they don't think you're going to attack them.

But you don't have to smile, and it's BS that anyone believes you owe them one.

You don't owe me anything. But things are that bad, I'm offering to listen. And probably try to give you a glass of wine to help. You're welcome, friend.