Random Ramblings and Motherhood

Well, hello there!

*stretches fingers and warms them up over the keyboard*

Oh, where to start? Really I’m not quite sure, but I have so many thoughts floating through my head. I’m here and it’s been a long while and I’m sorry about that. Let’s see if I can rewind to kind of explain what was going on in my life to catch you up.

In 2015 I found out I was expecting my second baby. That was such a thrill and a joy — for those of you who’ve been around awhile, you know that me getting pregnant isn’t easy so there were lots of doctors appointments and fertility and shots involved. It all gets a little bit overwhelming and maybe that’s where it started. So much pent up frustration that my body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. For some time, though, I was slipping with my reading. I just couldn’t catch up or read as much as I wanted to, nor was I connecting to what I was reading.

I felt like I was reading a lot of lemons.

And maybe that’s a reflection of me? I got very caught up in the world of blogging and reviewing and I’m a people-pleaser to my core so when I accepted a book for review, I wanted to make sure I was going to follow through and get it done. If I reflect back on who I was as a reader when Rather be Reading first began, though, I was never a list reader. I never knew what was coming next. I chose by feeling and what I wanted to read at the time. Over the course of so many years that had changed and inevitably, so did my feelings about reading. It became a chore.

So with my pregnancy and being tired and having to take progesterone that just made me want to vomit, the disconnect between reading and me grew to the size of the Grand Canyon. I tried to read friends’ absolute favorite reads. I tried re-reading Harry Potter. I tried switching to adult books instead of YA. Nothing worked. I found myself not even wanting to talk to my best friend about books because I just felt lost in my reading life.

Everett with her newborn baby sister, Gentry

Life continued to happen. We stepped in when our former foster daughter’s family became homeless. I found myself in my third trimester of pregnancy taking care of our biological daughter, E, and two little girls through the Safe Families Program. We had a 3-year-old, 2-year-old, and 1-year-old in our house and exhaustion was etched into every crevice of my being. It’s not the mere fact that we were chasing three active children — this story runs much deeper and for their privacy as well as my own, I’ll just simply say that I’ve never shed more tears or felt like I’d been called to this great task to do something I felt so ill-prepared for. (And thank goodness we had an army of people around us who would literally let me cry out all my frustrations and offered so much help.)

We transitioned very quickly from being parents to three girls to back to only Everett with a few remaining weeks before our second baby was due. It felt like such a whirlwind experience and I really needed to soak up as much of my baby as I could because she handled our October to January transition very, very well, but I knew bringing a baby home from the hospital might not be easy on her, especially after all of that.

We tried taking photos in a field of bluebonnets. It wasn’t a very successful trip, but oh, I love this photo!

Gentry arrived at the end of January and … I don’t know how far to really go into all of this. I’m sure I’ll save some details for later, but have you ever lived through something and thought that things were going okay, only to look back and think, “Holy crap! That was so much harder than I realized!” That’s precisely how I feel about our last year. (Gentry just turned one a few weeks ago.) Motherhood is just hella hard. I don’t know if we’ll have any more biological babies, but breastfeeding and recovery and this feeling of losing myself a little bit to a human who so depends on my livelihood is really difficult. I’ve never thought, in the midst of things, that I suffered from post-partum depression, but with both of my babies, there’s been this moment of feeling like I’m coming up for a breath of fresh air after spending a really long time underwater, fighting for my life.

Working on raising some little readers!

Maybe there’s more going on than I’ve ever realized, but I’m finally at that refreshed and renewed part of my life. I feel like I’m taking care of myself and liking who I see in the mirror. I don’t feel like I’m floundering and that quite so much is out of control anymore. I’m happy with work (forgot to mention that I also started a new job last year as a children’s book consultant, but am still doing photography, too) and am working out, reading when I can, prioritizing family time, and just really, really happy.

I feel like I’m finally in this good place to come back here this little piece of the internet to embrace all of my bookish friends. I’m so sorry it’s been a while. I hope you’ve looked at our absence as a “See you later” instead of a “Goodbye.” I don’t think Estelle or I have it in us to completely cut off all writing, sharing, and reading, and I’m ever so thankful that despite the silence on the blog, I’ve had my friend to help me through lots of life chaos.

So…hello! Hi! How are you?

The Blasig Family (L to R): me, Gentry (1), Everett (3), and Dustyn

The Beginning of Our Attachment

Estelle and I met at a wedding in Texas. We had this brief serendipitous moment where we connected over books, but that was short lived as we went home at the end of the night. Estelle returned home to New York, married James, and somewhere along the way we connected on Twitter (and then Facebook, I think). That turned into emailing and lots of g-chatting back and forth.

Recently I read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and I couldn’t stop thinking about how similar Estelle and I were to Beth and Jennifer, and I tossed out the idea to Estelle that we should really dig deep into the beginning of our friendship to see what we could find. Inspired by Beth and Jennifer’s conversations, we’re sharing some of our personal gems from the very first times we chatted and tweeted.

July 11, 2011: (five months after we met) reading goals.

Reading Goals and Motivation

August 24, 2011: book splurges.

book buying tweets

August 30, 2011: the very first mention of starting a blog together and considering a partnership. Our blog launched on 11/1/2011 so the idea festered for a little while before we decided to move forward and then we spent a solid month planning and writing before going live.

the first mention of rather be reading

September 16, 2011: on what we like to read + the library.

<Magan to Estelle> Oh yea, which book blogs do you follow?
I like reading new releases so I can be on the forefront of what’s good. Usually I’m so far out of the loop.
The library is harder to use when you want to read brand new books.
I’m trying to get good at reserving them online and being patient. I’m not a patient person though.

<Estelle to Magan> Ah, I’ve been good with that so far.
We borrow from all the libraries in our county so I haven’t had much trouble.

<M to E> Before we left [on vacation], I had 10 books checked out of the library and I read 7 of them. The other three I didn’t want to read anymore. I read what I’m in the mood for. I can’t just pick up anything at any given moment.

<E to M> I feel the same way.

September 21, 2011: Dustyn, my husband, turns 30, and James hasn’t started law school yet.

<Magan to Estelle> I’m having a bunch of people over tomorrow for a pizza party for him. Haha!
It’s kind of like he’s a little kid.
I’m trying not to make his birthday too big of a deal.

<Estelle to Magan> I like it!
It sounds like something we would do.

<M to E> 🙂 And we could do it together if James gets into law school here!
(Oh, here i go.)
I could talk to you forever.

<E to M> Hahaha 🙂
I’m glad!!
I hope the movie is good.

<M to E> Talk to you tomorrowwww!

September 22, 2011: the first idea for our blog name.

<Magan to Estelle> I wish I were reading right now. Ha!
I went to the library and got 6 new books, so I’m excited to sit down and start something new.

<Estelle to Magan> I wish I were reading now.
That should be our title.

<M to E> YES!
That would be so appropriate.

<E to M> Or like “I wish I were reading now” with a little ^ in between the last two words and it says “right.” Haha!

<M to E> Oh yeah! Good thinking!
I have GOT to get better about putting books on reserve at the library so they can pull them from other libraries. I went through my goodreads list alphabetically searching for books and I got to letter N before I even found a single one on my list!

I think you and I are a lot alike in many ways – how busy we are is just another similarity. It wears me down, but I still keep putting things on my schedule.

<E to M> I KNOW. OMG
James wants to shoot me.
I always make plans, but in October I made none.
I’m just bummed because I have 2 friends I’ve been trying to see and I haven’t seen them since my wedding.

<M to E> It’s so hard to stay on top of everything, especially relationships and friendships.

<E to M> And I feel like I’m the one who plans all of these things.
And I’m kind of tired of it, ya know?

<M to E> Yes, I know exactly how you feel. I have a lot of friends who wouldn’t be proactive at scheduling together time if I didn’t do it. I know they love me and care about me, but they just aren’t good at it. Sometime last year, I got so tired of trying all the time. I just pulled back. Ironically enough, things finally leveled out a bit with them. With one person in particular that finally did the trick. She finally started saying, “I miss you. I haven’t seen you in forever. We should do xyz.”

I think who we ARE influences WHAT we read.

September 26, 2011: Snippets of our frequent book recommendations on Twitter (back when I didn’t use my @magansays account as much, but also another validation that my work is what brought us together.) 🙂

twitter screencap about books

…later that day: 

<Magan to Estelle> What’s the hardest part about reading a book for you?

<Estelle to Magan> Starting? When I’m super tired. Haha

<M to E> It’s always starting for me too.
Or ending sometimes if I don’t want the series to be over.
I stretched Harry Potter out for as long as I could.
Like right now, I want to read, but I actually don’t want to start another book. I want to get to the meat of it right away.

<E to M> Yea that happens.

September 30, 2011: stuck on a train + book recommendations.

<Magan to Estelle> Hiya!

<Estelle to Magan> I read another book you should.
Not That Kind of Girl
And I started Lola [and the Boy Next Door] today.

<M to E> Hahaha
I finished The Piper’s Son last night.
Also think you should read that one. It’s by an author I really like – I’ve read 3 of her books recently.
She’s from Australia.
You’re on a ROLL lady!

<E to M> Well I got stuck on the train for 2 plus hours yesterday.
So I finished an entire book.
Oh I’ll add it. What’s the authors name?

<M to E> Woah!
Melina Marchetta
I recommended Jellicoe Road by her to you.
And I read Saving Francesca, but liked Fixing Delilah better – same kind of subject matter.

<E to M> I’ll have to look into them!

<M to E> Yeah, I like her a lot. 🙂
Why were you stuck on the train for 2 hours?!

<E to M> There was a huge problem after lightning struck a generator.

<M to E> Wooow.

 


Never in a million years did I think that I’d meet one of my best friends while photographing a wedding. What are the odds? (Truthfully, most wedding parties sort of loathe the photo-taking portion of the day so I kind of expect them to not remember me.) Before we began Rather Be Reading, Estelle and I had both gone through this whole “I love books again” phase after being burned out in college and we were devouring absolutely everything in our paths. It’s pretty amazing to see and feel that spark and to read about how excited we were, and to know that we’re really proud of that little book addiction becoming this little blog.

I’m really grateful that Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments led us to wade through the past to find these snippets of the beginning of our relationship. (Confession: I used to wonder if Estelle just thought I was so silly; I was, and still continue to be, so impressed by her ability to thoughtfully break a book down into such a meaningful review.)

All that being said, if you haven’t read Attachments, do so now (Goodreads • Barnes & Noble • Amazon) because it’s lovely and inspiring and some of Rainbow’s best work. I’m positive I’ve had a book hangover for weeks after finishing it.

When You Relate to a Character You Don’t Like

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda KenneallyWe all occasionally read books with main characters that we just don’t connect with. Right? Maybe it’s that they’re really judgmental or they’ve done incomprehensible things that we would never do. But…what about those times we don’t particularly like the main character, but meanwhile we’re internally cringing because that person is just like me?

I vowed to get caught up on Miranda Kinneally’s work in my 2014 End of Year Book Survey. It’s something Estelle’s been asking me to do (and that I also really want to do). I picked up Things I Can’t Forget, the third book in the Hundred Oaks series, to begin where I left off after reading Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker. Kate is a good girl; she’s obedient, respectful, goes to church regularly (and enjoys it), and the majority of things are very black and white for her. They’re either right or they’re wrong.

When a situation arises with her best friend, Emily, Kate’s world is turned upside down. She believes she’s committed a great sin and doesn’t know how to reconcile what she’s done. Emily has made a 180 degree turn and doesn’t share the same beliefs as Kate anymore, causing them to drift miles apart because they can’t agree.

But then Kate meets Matt, a co-counselor at the summer camp where she’s working. And Matt is wonderful — he’s a Christian and very kind, nice, respectable. As they begin dating, all of these barriers and walls Kate had up about what was right and wrong and her shoulds and should-nots for dating fly out the window. There’s so much she wants to do and experience with Matt, but the guilt is such a burden. Where does she draw the line with her relationship? Where do they stop? Should she just back away entirely?

And is she a hypocrite because of the things she’s told Emily not to do? Suddenly her black and white is overtaken by a lot of gray area.

Phew. Writing that all out kind of feels like I’ve shared a little piece of senior year in high school me. I began dating Dustyn during my Sophomore year. I’d kissed guys and had major crushes, but I didn’t have a relationship that escalated quite as quickly as mine did with him. I was just beginning to grasp Christianity and trying to balance this new relationship. I won’t get into the explicit details of our relationship, but I went through a huge ordeal with my best friend about boundaries. She warned me that things were moving too fast. I felt judged and criticized.

I felt the need to step back from her, from Dustyn, from everything. I didn’t know how to figure out what was acceptable. Like Matt, Dustyn shared my same beliefs, but we were so caught up in each other that it became really hard to know where to draw the line.

578191_10101980956464240_646536798_n

Dustyn + Me, circa 2012

Confession: as we packed up our house and moved this past summer, I ran across a handwritten letter I wrote to Dustyn during calculus class one day my senior year. (Oh, the days of physical love notes.) I wrote about my fears and how quickly we were becoming attached to each other. How I didn’t want to have any regrets. How I thought we were moving too fast. It was so incredibly embarrassing to read all these years later and I so, so much wanted to toss it into the trash. But I kept it. And I’m well aware that one day, Everett, my daughter, might stumble across it.

But you see — Kate was a character who had a lot of life lessons to learn. She needed to see that sometimes things aren’t as black and white as we want them to be. She had to learn about physical relationships, her friendships, accepting gay people, and understanding her faith better. Kate started in a place where there were a bunch of rules and yeses and nos. She grew to understand that sometimes things don’t fit inside the boxes we create for them, and at the root of it, everything comes back to love. Maybe, just maybe, someone is doing something we’re not okay with and wouldn’t personally do (until we are exactly there in that same position ourselves), but each person is responsible for his or her own actions and it’s not up to us to change them. It’s not up to us to make them see things our way.

It’s up to us to be their friend, their listening ear.

So even if my daughter finds my embarrassing, cheesy love note, my hope is that she’ll see that I struggled. My sincere hope is that she’ll have someone to talk to about all of these things, and that maybe she’ll find comfort in discussing them with me. At the root of it all, I want to continue to grow and mold and shape my beliefs. I think that’s a big part of what life’s about: challenging what we know, fleshing it all out, and not remaining stagnant.

While it was really difficult to come face-to-face with teenage Magan while reading Things I Can’t Forget, it made me realize just how far I’ve come. And maybe I sucked a little bit back then — was too quick to judge, blurred the lines when it came to me overstepping boundaries, and had difficulty accepting things I really didn’t know much about — but hopefully I’ll continue to mature and be proud of where I’m headed.

•••

Which books have you read that felt like they were telling your story?

Quotables

In my reading, I’ve tried to be a lot more intentional about highlighting passages that speak to me. I’ve been terrible about this in the past. It’s been on a few of my lists over our three years that it’s something I wanted to get better about doing. So here I am. Sharing things I’ve loved in this quotables post. I hope you’ll pick up one of these books, love a passage, or just enjoy this slight change of pace.

Please note that if there are any grammatical or spelling errors that they are mine alone. I tried to make the quotes fancy and pretty. 🙂

jenny han quotes

To All the Boys is just really, really something special. I can’t wait for Estelle to read it so we can chat about it. Could anything be more true than this quote? I think it is scary how love changes. Especially being a woman who has been married for 10 years and hearing about how all these couples just decide their marriages aren’t working after 30+. I know, I know it’s all about continuing to change and evolve together. I get that, but it’s still frightening, right?

Add To All the Boys to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

– –

liz czukas quote

Add Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I’ve talked to my husband about this so much: why are we sent directly to college? I have a huge, huge amount of debt for a degree I’m not using. That I barely used. Why? Because I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I hope that if our children don’t have a clear path, we can really figure out how to steer them in the right directly without pushing them into something they’ll hate. Does anyone else wish they’d had more time to make a decision?

– –

quote by claudia gray

Add A Thousand Pieces of You to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | My Review

I know, I’m talking about my daughter a lot here, but wow this was so true. IS so true. I think I’ve realized how thick my skin is because I have someone that needs my protection.

– –

chelsey philpot quote

Add Even in Paradise to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | My Review

This was just a favorite moment of Even in Paradise. Such a huge, revelatory moment. I mean, how beautiful is this? Especially in this day and age where we’re SO about the documentation and social media…*so guilty*…I want to live soaking it all in. Like no camera could ever possibly capture the greatness of it all.

– –

Talking Friendships with Magan

On a Personal Note: Un-boxing Friendship

Well, hello! It’s been a while since I wrote something just to write. I read a book, Even in Paradise, several weeks ago and there’s a quote that’s been running through my mind. I’ve been trying to find the words to write this post; hopefully I’ve finally figured out what I want to say and don’t ramble. Bear with me if I do. Let’s start with the quote:

“I knew what I was doing. I was becoming that girl,

the one who drops all her old friends when a new,

exciting one comes around. I knew what I was doing

and I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t want to.”

— Even in Paradise

♥

My childhood friend, Sarah, and her daughter, Arla, meeting Everett for the first time a few weeks ago. Friends' babies becoming friends! SO SWEET!

My childhood friend, Sarah, and her daughter, Arla, meeting Everett for the first time a few weeks ago. Friends’ babies becoming friends! SO SWEET!

What I take from that quote (and from what was happening with Charlie at that time in the book) is that our friendships are categorized. That we can’t be friends with someone who likes art, studying, and focusing on school AND be friends with someone who is unfocused, a little wild, and doesn’t follow the beaten path. Charlie was so instantly attracted to Julia’s free-spirit, but she felt so nervous about what her other friends would think that she didn’t even attempt to get everyone together to see how well they meshed.

And maybe it’s because I hang out in the pages of young adult books that I find this pops up a lot in my reading, but do you believe this to be true — that we have to be either/or about who we hang out with?

I don’t.

I remember there being times in my life where I begged and prayed for friends who really clicked with me. I needed a core group that just got me. But as I’ve gotten older (ha, wow, does that feel terrible to write), I realize that’s such a narrow-minded attitude I had. There were my sports friends, my book friends, my church friends, etc. I didn’t allow them to intermingle and overlap. Even in college, my architecture friends didn’t really know my married friends. I was the odd girl who got married at 18, but also the girl who was still experiencing college. Balancing it all felt like such a chore. One that I definitely didn’t succeed at very well.

But there doesn’t have to be a THIS or THAT when it comes to friends. It’s so much more freeing to have adapted an all-inclusive attitude. I recently called up two friends — one I have known for a few weeks, another I’ve known for nearly a year — that had only momentarily met before to go shopping with me. It was spontaneous and spur of the moment, but why the heck not? I adore both girls and I knew they both needed time out, so why not do it together?

I’ve spent so, so much time in my life making sure everyone feels loved and happy. Ever the people-pleaser. I think that when I label my friends as being into books or fashion or DIY projects, it prevents me from getting to know more of them. I’m into all of those things and more — nail polish, makeup, hate cooking, love Target, Toms shoes-aholic, a wife, a church-goer, currently addicted to working out, a photographer, a good listener, a sympathizer. Why can’t my friends be more too? And why can’t a group of people hang out who don’t have absolutely every single thing in common? Won’t that push us to grow and mature?

Estelle and Magan

So thankful for Estelle who understands my crazy, spastic interests. Who oogles over shoes with me, listens when I’m having a bad day, and gives me her honest opinion, always. (PS: I swear one day soon we’re going to reunite and surprise y’all with a new photo of us!)

I certainly hope so.

Let it be clear that I agree some friendships have an expiration date. There are times when we have to “break-up” with a friend because we’ve grown apart. (Rachel wrote a great post about this!) Maybe, just maybe, our friendships could continue to morph and grown and change if we were a little more forgiving and less static about how we approached them. It’s okay to mix things up and pull together a group of girlfriends who represent different aspects of our lives. What a slap in the face it was several years ago when a best friend of mine kicked me to the curb when her childhood best friend was visiting town. I wanted to learn about both of them, their history, and to see this new three-way friendship blossom into something brand new. That took many, many years to develop, but FINALLY it has.

Charlie eventually figures it out, too. It takes a long time for her to realize the mistakes she’s made and the ways she’s secluded herself, but she gets there. That’s quite possibly the highlight of Even in Paradise for me. It felt like such a revolutionary moment for me to read about something I’ve experienced so personally. But that leaves me curious…

How do you approach your friendships? Do you agree that we shouldn’t put them in a box? 

ETA: I think many times I segregated my friendships because I was afraid of how people would accept other pieces of me than what they originally liked me for. What if my friend found out I went to church? Would that change the dynamic of our friendship? What if she thinks spending time on hair and makeup is stupid? What if she gives me a hard time about buying a pair of shoes when a few days ago I complained about being on a budget? I realize that those are things I find fascinating about my friends — their little intricacies and the details of their lives are what make them so rich and intriguing. I think many times I’ve “boxed” my friendships because I was afraid there were parts of me that wouldn’t be accepted. But maybe that’s a whole other can of worms… because then that boils down to whether or not that person is a friend at all, right?