Here we are at the end of July, and I feel like I’m still waiting for summer to start. It’s been hot here for a month or so now, and we’ve had more than our share of summer storms. The problem isn’t the weather: it’s me.
Partly because I work a regular 9-5 schedule, even in the summers, and partly because I’m a homebody introvert who hates the heat, much of our summer has looked like regular life. We haven’t visited the splash pad yet, even though it’s less than a mile from our house. We’ve only been up to the lake a handful of times and climbed aboard the boat twice. We haven’t eaten on the patio as much as I’d like, and there have been no late-night ice-cream runs.
I always imagine that summer will be carefree and fun, that I’ll set my personality aside for a while and forget about plans and discipline and healthy eating. On some level, I always think that this summer—no wait, this summer, for sure—will be the summer of yes. And then somewhere around mid-July I realize it’s going to be autumn soon and I’ve only worn my swimsuit once.
Fortunately for me, we’re going on vacation at the end of this week, and I plan to fill it with some very Midwestern summery things: boating and beach days at the lake, grilling chicken and roasting marshmallows, sipping coffee outside before all the kids wake up. Maybe—ideally—summer shouldn’t be relegated to one week out of the year, dependent on travel. But while this season of life is sweet, parts of it are not ideal, and living the fullness of summer does require extra effort, such as requesting vacation days and driving a few hundred miles away from my everyday life.
Come at me, summer. I’ll bring the s’mores and sunscreen.
Here’s more about what I’m learned, loved, and read in July. (I skipped June’s Armchair Chat post for no reason except that I was really tired. So I’ll throw a few June favorites in here too.)
What I Learned
- I’m not the only Christian who has some big questions about the Bible. The Bible for Normal People (podcast) is giving voice to many of my questions and raising possibilities I’d never considered. I don’t necessarily I agree with everything that every guest has said, but each guest has made me think more critically about what I believe, has illuminated my blindspots, and has sparked great conversation between me and Dan.
- Dan and I are better parents when we get away together. Well this is obvious, right? But as Dan and I have gotten into the routine of going out for regular date nights, I’ve noticed a shift in us that is different from when we were getting out just every few months. Conversation is easier as we slip into our non-parenting selves, and we talk about Selah way less when we’re out than we used to. Maybe going on vacation without her later this year won’t be so bad! (Who am I kidding? I can’t wait.)
What I Loved
(None of these are affiliate links. I’m just a really happy customer.)
- The Handmaid’s Tale: I was on the fence about reading the book because I tend to get disturbed very easily, so I thought I’d try to show to see how I did with it. (For some reason shows don’t impact me the way books do.) I got so totally sucked into the show that I didn’t stop to read the book! It was so dark but SO good. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next season.
- The Garden Preset Collection from Clickin Moms: You guys, I’m a preset hoarder. This is the first collection I’ve bought from Clickin Moms and I am blown away. These are by far the most well-crafted, creative, and easy-to-use presets I’ve ever worked with. If you’ve never used presets before, here’s the idea: it’s a set of editing actions in Lightroom (adjusting exposure, contrast, even down to details like the hue of shadows) that you can apply to any photo with a single click. I will definitely be using these as my new go-to set. Here are some before and afters (I did make individual tweaks too):
- The Nos of Weddings: These are by far the two funniest episodes of The Popcast ever. And that’s saying a lot, because Knox and Jamie frequently make me laugh out loud. Don’t listen to this one with a full bladder.
- Grapefruit LaCroix and Toasted Coconut Cold Brew: Because summer.
- Piper & Scoot: I’ve been living in this top and this dress. So comfy, pretty, and flowy!
What I Read
- This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel: I’m going to tell you the same thing about this one that Modern Mrs. Darcy shared on her summer reading guide: don’t read the cover flap! This is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story about a family who has a big secret and the parents’ efforts to do right by their children. The storytelling is charming and the family is quirky and I loved every minute of this book. 5 stars.
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Dimple and Rishi are two Indian teenagers about to head off to college. Their parents want to arrange a marriage, and Rishi is on board, but Dimple, who wants nothing to do with marriage or family, knows nothing about it until they end up at the same web coding conference. It sounds like adorable YA, yeah? Nope. I love well-written and diverse YA, but this book reads like a first draft. I’ve heard it said that the downfall of any story is the creator telling it through the phrase “And then…and then…and then…” Well-developed characters and their desires should move the action forward, and that’s what this book was lacking. 1 star.
- Almost There by Bekah DiFelice: In this thoughtful memoir, Bekah reflects on the meaning of home while moving constantly for her husband’s job in the military. I moved around a lot as a kid, and I deeply connected with so much of what she said. She’s a gifted writer, and throughout the whole thing I found myself highlighting everything and wondering how she puts such beautiful sentences together. I’ll be rereading this one many times! 5 stars.
- My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout: Lucy Barton is in the hospital struggling to recover from a simple surgery. Her estranged mother comes to stay with her for a few days, and through her mother’s stories, Lucy revisits raw, tender moments from the past. I can see why so many people liked this one, but it was not the book for me. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, didn’t love the stream-of-consciousness writing style, and couldn’t get into the disjointed nature of the story. 2 stars.
What I Clicked
- I resonated so deeply with Ashlee’s thoughts on why she creates even when it feels like it doesn’t matter, even when she has to fight through insecurity.
- Emily’s thoughts about being a work-at-home mom were spot-on. I appreciated the practicality of her advice too!
- This is exactly what it felt like to try to get Selah to latch on in our first few days of breastfeeding. Who knew it was so complicated?
What I Wrote
- I’m on Your Side
- Always a Battle
- A Full Lap
- What I Couldn’t Have Known
- On Taffeta Gowns and Turning 30
- The Path of Most Beauty