What I Learned This Summer
1. Tieks aren't worth my money.
I'm not saying they're not worth the money; they're just not worth mine.
I love and wear them often, but I don't live a life where I need to be on my feet all day. Correction: I don't live a life where I need to be on my feet all day wearing shoes. If I traveled, was a schoolteacher, or had the desire or restrictions to limit myself to one pair of shoes for all my outfits, I'd feel very differently. Because they're great. They're just not worth my money.
2. I don't understand Pokemon.
Like, AT ALL.
I didn't get it then when my friends traded Pokemon cards, and I don't get it now when my very awesome, very grownup friends chase - do they chase stuff? - chase or hunt Pokemons or whatever. And then they have to get captured? Like, with a net?
3. Babies are boring.
Not by nature. Well, yeah by nature. But not everyone feels the way I do.
I love Annie. She's four months old today, and I'm obsessed with her. But OHMYWORD SHE'S SO BORING. We move from the bouncy chair to her tummy to her back to the mirror to the chair to read and HOW HAS IT ONLY BEEN TEN MINUTES?!
This stage is not my jam. She's awesome, but please, honey, start doing stuff.
4. Sometimes I don't like being an Enneagram One.
The Enneagram is an ancient tool for seeing the world. Like a personality test but way more illuminating. There are nine basic types, and each type has varying degrees of health and disintegration. We all have bad days, right?
I'm a Type One, often called The Perfectionist, The Reformer, The Judge, or The Critic. (I'm so fun at parties.) At my best, I'm empathic and super wise. At my worst, I'm basically a dictator. You guess which one my kids see most often.
Every morning, I get an email with a little reminder about my type or an exercise to encourage personal growth. Ugh, they've been so annoyingly on point. This was yesterday's.
Eye roll. I get it! I'm angry! Leave me alone!
(Can you tell I'm writing this on very little sleep because babies are not only boring but also terrible sleepers?!)
5. Stranger Things lives up to the hype.
Knox McCoy from The Popcast said it best: "It's scary in its context but not in its execution." The story is creepy and would feel comfortable in a horror movie, but it isn't told in a scary way. It's funny. Almost happy... even though people are getting eaten by monsters.
Y'all, IT'S SO. GOOD. I don't throw around "one of the greatest shows ever" very lightly, but hold on because it's coming.
This is one of the greatest shows ever. And you should watch it immediately. Horror has never been so heartwarming. And these kids? I WANT TO ADOPT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
6. The Great British Baking Show is my favorite show ever.
I'm not saying it's the best, but it's my best.
In a world where I have backlogged episodes of the excruciatingly hilarious Veep, all the seasons of Better Call Saul and Bloodline, and y'all I still haven't even dipped my toe in The West Wing or Doctor Who, I would still choose reruns of The Great British Baking Show. Over and over and over again.
I love to bake, I love it when people are nice to each other, and I love British accents. It's my perfect show, and I'm not sure anything - even LOST and The Walking Dead (gasp!) - can beat it.
7. Bizarro meal prep is a huge game-changer.
I wrote about the basic idea in this post, and I share my #lazygeniusprep photos on Instagram. I've heard from so many of you that you've started doing this and it's changed your life. I'm so incredibly glad. I've done it without a lot of regularity for the last couple of years, but this summer it's been part of my weekly routine and I'll never go back.
8. Leonard Nimoy directed Three Men and a Baby.
That just... I don't know, it seems weird, right? I mean, it's Spock.
Also, those Tom Selleck glory days were mighty nice.
9. I can survive without ice cream... but barely.
Dairy makes Annie writhe in pain, so as a good mother, I've given it up. Thankfully Ben & Jerry's came out with a non-dairy frozen dessert option! Yay!
Until we discovered that sugar also makes her writhe in pain. Now the only pain is mine because a life without ice cream is an incredibly sad one. Also cheese. And milk. And Fruit Loops. It's all very depressing.
Real talk, when that baby stops nursing, I am throwing a giant party and only serving cheesy, creamy, and/or sugary foods, complete with Immodium AD party favors.
10. You can reschedule jury duty if you're nursing a baby.
I wish I had known that before I went downtown and sat in the jury room for over an hour, but when I told the lady I was breastfeeding, she kindly rescheduled me for next year. Next year! I can put the date in my planner and just roll with it. No worries. High five, judicial system.
11. Working hard at something you love is worth it.
The Olympics and my beloved Great British Baking Show have shown me that working hard isn't always the worst. It's good to be lazy about a lot of things, but becoming a better baker is worth the work, the butter, and the belt notches.
P.S. In the first week of my baking pilgrimage, I made a bittersweet chocolate tart that was insanely good, two loaves of country bread that were ugly but tasty, and a watermelon cream pie that defied logic. A watermelon cream pie? How drunk was that cookbook writer? But it was actually pretty good.
P.P.S. I know how good these foods are because I take a bite and then spit it out. See no.9... if you can through my tears.
12. I can wear shorts in my 30s.
Before Clinton and Stacy, Lauren Conrad, and Tim Gunn were telling us everything about what not to wear, Trinny and Susannah were killing it on the BBC. They hosted the original What Not to Wear and wrote several books about how to dress for your body shape.
After I saw them on Oprah a dozen years ago, I bought their book. (You can pass. I mean, it's fine, but you know.) They said that no one over 30 should wear shorts. Umm, cool, so what do you wear when you live in the south and might melt from mailbox to porch?
"Just wear a skirt! All ladies look lovely in a skirt." Yeah, not this lady. So for years, I just wore jeans during the summer and hooked myself up to an IV when I went back inside. But this summer, I decided to be a grownup and wear some damn shorts. I realize the rule is stupid, but it's even more stupid that I followed it. Hooray for leg liberation!
13. When it comes to discipline, laughter works better than yelling.
I'm a yeller. I hate that I am, but I default there way too much. The more I yell, the more my kids expect it and the more they yell at each other. I've been stuck on that roller coaster for a few years now.
But this summer, I decided to try something new - humor. When the boys talk back or hit each other, instead of yelling or immediately sending them to timeout, I talk about what happened in a funny voice, talk through a stuffed animal, or make a weird rewind voice. We still talk about what happened, but when they're laughing, it disarms them. And when I think about it, the same is true of me. I'm much more willing to hear something hard if I'm laughing instead of scowling. Go figure.
14a. I hate Hiddleswift more than I hate Kimye.
I'd rather scrape a fork across my teeth for an hour than watch an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. You guys? I'd rather watch an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians than look at one more stupid picture of stupid Taylor Swift with stupid Tom Hiddleston (who didn't used to be stupid). The whole thing just reeks of publicity stunt, and they're already meeting each other's parents?! Stop it. Just STOP IT. Hiddleswift has gots to go.
14b. My phone can spell and naturally capitalizes Hiddleswift and Kimye.
I am both confused and ashamed by this.
15. Mila Kunis dated Macaulay Culkin for eight years.
How did I miss this? It was years ago, but they were together for EIGHT YEARS. Clearly, my pop culture prowess let me down in the mid-90s.
16. I love books again.
I have an English degree, i.e. I stopped reading books right after I graduated. It was all the TV all the time for over a decade. Sure, I'd read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games on occasion, but I more often wasn't reading than was.
Then this April, I discovered Anne Bogel's Modern Mrs. Darcy and got hooked on books again. She, combined with my goal to read 60 books in 1,001 days, quickly made me start devouring books like a crazy person, and that's what I've been doing all summer. I've read more books in the last three months than in the last three years.
P.S. Every month, I send out an email that lists out all the books I've read, shows I've watched, and podcasts I've listened to that month. It's called Lazy Links, and it's one of the most favorite pieces of content I create but only for folks on the list. If you're interested, you can join here!
17. My kids can stay up late without the world falling apart.
My favorite time of day is when all my people are asleep. I like it when they're awake, but I love it when they're asleep. As such, I've protected their bedtimes for the past seven years like a rabid guard dog, so my kids don't stay up late.
Until this summer when my annoyingly nice husband decided that they should do fun stuff sometimes and, like, make memories and junk. Ugh. He's so good. So they've gone to bed hours late to do things like take a train to a nearby city, watch fireworks, and have a sleepover with out-of-town cousins. And to my surprise, they didn't destroy the house or anyone's emotional fragility the next day. It seems my summer parenting was full of "go figure" moments.
18. Some kids' television shows don't make you want to burn down the house.
I'm looking at you, Caillou. (Ugh, that kid is the worst.) But this summer, we discovered Creative Galaxy on Amazon Prime. It's actually super cute with a decent theme song, and it teaches my kids how to do art projects so I don't have to. I mean, I still help them, but they've made all kinds of things after watching this show. Well done, Amazon. Well done.
Honorable mention for Little Einsteins. Love those big-headed little children.
19. Andy Griffith made me laugh my hardest summer laugh.
I'm laughing again. With tears. Why I find this so funny I will never know, but it's perfection. Thank you, Mike Scully, for bringing me so much irrational joy.
20. I'm not alone in my celebrity obsession.
This summer on the blog, we've spent every Friday voting for our favorite celebrities. The first week was our favorite Matt (Damon won), the second was our favorite John (Krasinski won), last week we chose Carell as our favorite Steve, and this week we're voting for our favorite James. We still have A LOT of weeks of voting - Matthews and Hughs and Michaels and Jasons. Oh my word, y'all, the Jason week will destroy you.
I have loved seeing your votes pour in. We're talking hundreds every week, and it makes me exceptionally happy that you guys have the same kind of obsession that I do. So if you're new here, go vote for your favorite James and then check back in on Fridays to cast your vote for all the other names. At the end of the votes, we're going to have a giant throwdown competition with all our favorites, crowning one winner, and I should not be as excited about it as I am.
Thanks for stopping in, guys! Don't forget to check out the hub for all the other summer learnings over at Emily P. Freeman's blog. Have a great Monday!