Finding Another Normal

In the last two years people started talking about finding a “new normal” after the pandemic. We wondered what that would look like… Would we have new priorities? New goals? Would we come out of this more intentional? Compassionate? Loving?

After a few months of lockdown/masks/isolation, I think we were all convinced the answers would be a resounding YES… But now that we’re over two years into this sh*tshow, I’m not so sure that’s where we’re heading.

This is not a piece on human psychology. I am not a people expert. I actually try to avoid them at all cost.

This is a self-reflection. Because a lot has changed in the past two years.

I can’t say if it was parenthood or the pandemic (or a combination), but I am an entirely different human than I was in 2019. Things that mattered so much to me no longer do, and things I took for granted are now on my daily thankful list.

The shift could be the effects of depression and burnout. Lord knows we’re all feeling that. Why don’t I care about hosting parties anymore? Where’s my old desire to travel to every European country? Why do I feel less defined by my job when, prior to all this craziness, I was in love with what I did and what that said about me? It’s likely depression and burnout fueling an overall change that might eventually be for the better. I don’t know. I think we’re kind of in the thick of it right now so it’s hard to be objective.

Getting in the camper and soaking in hours and miles with K, M, Bristol, and Enzo sounds so good to me. Working half days and silencing my email are what I’d call “living the dream.” I want to read more books. I haven’t posted on my IG feed since Dec. 31st and that’s intentional. I don’t care about your political beliefs- if you’re not kind, you’re wrong. You don’t get to stand on the necks of others to exalt yourself.

More slow living. More loving like Jesus. More focusing on what makes me happy and celebrating others for what makes them happy. More grace in the workplace (& less stress). More letting my marriage be a priority. More letting my two year old ACT like a two year old. More dirty paws and evening snuggles.

The pandemic was not a blessing, but it has shifted our lives dramatically and brought us the time and perspective we did not know we were missing. In the beginning we soaked up days with our infant. Now we work to ration our time as a family and show up for the people we love, even when it’s tough.

It’s been a weird few years but this “other normal” is starting to feel good. I’m starting to understand the algorithm and filter to our “other” life. I can’t wait for the day we go back to not knowing what the CDC stands for, but until then I hope you’re able to piece together another normal that serves you and brings you peace and joy you might not have otherwise known.


On a totally different note, how about that halftime show?? Eminem was looking 🔥. And did you guys get yesterday’s Wordle? Danggg, NYT.

-Aud

What I Read…

Linking up with Jana & Steph for Show Us Your Books!

Happy Tuesday. I hope you read something wonderful lately.

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer | Christian | ★★★★★/5
I don’t usually read self-help books OR Christian books, but I think this fell on my radar thanks to Lauren Akins’ Live in Love podcast. Either way, I had it on my Amazon wishlist and my m.i.l. bought it for me.
The book’s focuses are a) slowing down so you can b) be a better apprentice to Jesus. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but for a Christian gal who tries to resist the hustle culture, it was a fantastic read. I thought I was doing a decent job of living slowly. I intentionally never say the words “hurry up” to M and I try to plan ahead so I don’t feel rushed. Turns out, there are many habits I could add, change, or eliminate to foster a little more joy and a little more room for Jesus.

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins | Thriller | ★★★★/5
This was a bookclub pick. My favorite mysteries/thrillers are the ones where the people are trapped and cut off from civilization. This one checked that box. It was… interesting, though. The beginning felt forced, the characters hid their crazy a little too well, and the were some plot-holes. But it kept me reading and gave us something to talk about in the zoom call. More likely a 3.5 star rating, but I’m glad I read it.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood | Romance | ★★★★★/5
I’d call this one a slow burn, but I never got bored. SO many people raved about this book & I see why. Olive was cute, Adam was sultry, and their chemistry was 🔥 (pun intended). I prefer my female protagonists a little more confident than Olive, but I know she was a product of a life that kept dealing her blows. Some people complained that Adam was bOrInG, but I like the strong & silent type. And women in STEM are always welcomed.

ERIN’S BOOK CHALLENGE 16.0

| 5 points | Freebie: The Love Hypothesis (Hazelwood)
| 10 points | Title starts with the letter C: Carnegie’s Maid (Benedict)
| 10 points | Published in 2020 or 2021: The Wedding Game (Quinn)
| 15 points | One of the following in the title: you/your/etc.: Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First. (Tremaine)
| 20 points | Set on an island: Reckless Girls (Hawkins)
| 20 points | From an indigenous or First Nations author: There There (Orange)
| 25 points | A memoir/biography/autobiography: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman(Massie)
| 30 point | One of these in the title: Ace/King/Queen/Jack/Joker: Queen of the Tearling(Johansen)
| 30 points | Poetry or a book written in verse: The Poet X (Acevedo)
| 35 points | By or inspired by Jane Austen: The Jane Austen Book Club (Fowler)

25 points right now.

What did you read this month?

-Aud

A Shift in Goals

In August 2020 I made a 101 in 1001 list. I actually worked pretty hard on it and put a lot of thought into it. But life has been unpredictable for the past 18 months and my priorities have shifted. Many of the goals aren’t as important or achievable as they once were… So I’m going to press pause on the 101-in-1001 and shift to a 35×35 schedule.

I’m planning to reuse some of my unachieved goals because there are quite a few I’d like to see through… just not all 101. So here is my revised list for my 35×35. I have a few years to accomplish these; I’m currently 31. I think.

  1. Re-read HP 4, 5, 6, & 7 illustrated versions; as available
  2. Stop biting my nails FOR GOOD
  3. Stop scrolling in bed
  4. Create a home master list
  5. Build shade/covering for back deck
  6. Landscape backyard
  7. Change out kitchen dishes & glassware
  8. Finish paying off credit cards
  9. One month shopping ban
  10. Open and contribute to retirement
  11. Perfect the art of pie making
  12. Scrapbook marriage years (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
  13. Celebrate our 10 year anniversary with a fun trip
  14. Find a church home
  15. Adopt a family for Christmas
  16. Visit Disney World with K&M
  17. 4 new NASCAR tracks
  18. See the West Coast
  19. Travel to an all-inclusive again
  20. Take M to Williamsburg
  21. Go on a girls’ trip
  22. Visit Nantucket with M
  23. Stick to a gratitude journal every day for a month
  24. Leave 5 inspirational notes for strangers to find
  25. Write a letter to 40-year-old-me
  26. Go white water rafting
  27. Visit a National Park
  28. Meet a blog friend in person
  29. Leave a 100% tip for good service
  30. Finish our wedding book
  31. Invite neighbors for dinner
  32. Plan/host a block party
  33. Paint a picture
  34. Take photos of the same location through all 4 seasons
  35. Spot a shooting star

Some of these are big, some are not. Even with the ‘demic going on, I think I can achieve many of these. You can find this list under the tab at the top of the page (35 x 35).

Any big goals you’re working on this year (or in the next 4)?

-Aud

What I Read…

It’s the first Show Us Your Books link-up in the new year! (Lots of love & appreciation to our hosts, Jana and Steph!) I’m currently in the middle of four books right now, but I have two ready to go for today.

I started/finished one last year, then finished the second one in 2022.

The title sends you to GoodReads, the “buy it” goes to an affiliated link on on BookShop!

Off Season by Jennifer Weiner | Horror/Suspense | ★★★/5
This was a strange one… It’s a short story and one that almost reminds you of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. It was quick and definitely creepy, but it felt like it was missing something. I’m not sure what I was wanting, but it didn’t fully deliver.
highlight for trigger warning: animal violence

A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss | Romance | ★★★★★/5
What a way to kick off the year, right?? There wasn’t anything mind-blowing in this cute little novel, but I didn’t have a single complaint. It was slow and cozy, not too much spicy in the bedroom department (which never bothers me but I know some people dislike that), and the characters were lovely. Honestly, it’s a perfect fall-to-winter read. Apparently I’m a Jenny Bayliss fan!
Buy it!

Moo Reads

The child is o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with reading. And no one is mad about it 😊
*titles go to an affiliated link on BookShop!

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle
M has the first page memorized. We love the lights on the last page the most, though!

Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
Again, M has certain parts memorized. We love all the construction sounds in this one.

Home for the Holidays by Sesame Workshop
I wasn’t going to give M this one until next Christmas, but she saw Elmo on it and we’ve read it every single night since. It’s a beautiful book with a bunch of different winter celebrations in it!

I didn’t tackle any books for Erin’s Challenge so I’m not including that this month. I created an account on The Story Graph, though. You can follow me or be my friend here.

What did you read?

-Aud

Amazoning in the New Year

Hello all. I love shopping small & local, but the convenience of Amazon wins out pretty often in my life. And I’ve finally stopped being lazy and registered for an affiliated link (woo!), so I will earn a penny or two for M’s piggy bank*.

*her piggy bank is actually a fox

Most of these items are Christmas gifts, but some after post-holiday purchases and some are things I ordered for myself. As I mentioned, I make a tiny profit from sales through these links 🖤

New Books for M

Olya shared a bunch of marked down books on her IG last week. So naturally I stocked up for trips, holidays, birthdays, and just-becauses.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas | Home for the Holidays | Decorate A Christmas Tree | The Monster at the End of This Book | The Nutcracker

Gifts for the Critters

We like to spoil our pets and other people’s pets during the holidays. The vegetable squeaky toys were a big hit with our neighbors’ 6 month old puppy!

Automatic feeder | Doorbuddy | Buddy Biscuits | Chew Toys

Stuff for M

Both M’s big birthday gift and big Christmas gift came from Amazon. She got these awesome stepping stones for her b-day and this kitchen for Christmas. Both have provided hours of entertainment!

Stepping Stones | Step2 Kitchen | Sesame Street buddies

Stuff for Me

I decided to stop scrolling in bed and the easiest way to do that was to charge my phone across the room at night. But my phone was my alarm clock… so I needed a new one. I opted for this sunrise-simulating one. Way less $$ than a Hatch, but it’s actually been really nice.

The blue light glasses & cheetah flats were practical and beneficial purchases. The bag was purchased as a snack/toy travel bag for M. I actually keep it in my car right now, but it’s a great bag! Big, sturdy, tons of pockets!

Alarm clock | blue light glasses | cheetah flats | travel bag

We still have one more Christmas to go to, so I didn’t want to share ALL the things I’ve purchased. I’m linking up with Tanya for Prime Purchases.

What did you buy this month from Amazon? (Or Etsy! Or your local store!)

-Aud