2.26.2017

89th Academy Awards

The Oscars are tonight! I'm on my way to see an afternoon musical and hope to be home just in time for the show to begin. I'm excited to see Jimmy Kimmel host! Here are my votes and my predictions for some of the major categories.


Red marks who I think will win, Check mark symbol is how I would vote, and * denotes a movie I haven't seen.

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Check mark symbol Moonlight

Best Actor
Check mark symbol Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress
*Isablle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Check mark symbol Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor
Check mark symbol Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress
Check mark symbol Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best Director
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Check mark symbol Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Check mark symbol Manchester by the Sea
*20th Century Women

Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Check mark symbol Moonlight

Best Documentary Feature
*Fire at Sea
*I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
Check mark symbol 13th

Who are you rooting for?

2.14.2017

Book Challenge By Erin 6.0

This is my third time finishing Erin's Book Challenge! It such a fun way to get some of those older books off my to-read list and talk books (via Facebook) with other readers. If you aren't already joining in, consider it this summer!



Here are the categories and what I chose to read for each one, along with a short review.

Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven Quick, easy YA story that annoyed me in some parts, but had great characters, great writing, and great messages. I had never heard of prosopagnosia before! ★★★

Read a book that starts with the letter W
Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner I listened to this audiobook and really liked the alternating POV/narration. I got through it so quickly because I had to know what was going to happen next. I loved the characters and how their story unfolded. I just wish there was more at the end. ★★★★

Read a book with six words in the title
One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper I didn't like this as much as other Tropper books I've read. I didn't care much for any of the characters. I loved the dialogue and the ending though. I found out it will be made into a movie, so maybe it'll translate better for me that way? ★★

Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt Everyone I know who has read this book absolutely loves it. I liked it, but don't think I connected to it the way they all did. I loved Toby and Finn and the story of their relationship, but I didn't really like the rest of the family, including June. It was just an all-around strange book for me. ★★★

Read a book with a homonym in the title (sun)
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon This book is adorable and even though it's a little cheesy and unrealistic, it made me happy. I've always loved books and movies that take place in one day. I love Natasha and Daniel and their complex lives and the quick glimpses into the lives of side characters. The writing is just so good! Plus, it's super relevant. ★★★★

Read a book by your favorite author
Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs I love Burroughs and everything he writes. This was the last book of his I had to read and it's another great set of autobiographical essays, which are always mixture of humor and pain. Some stories weren't as great as others, but it was a solid read. ★★★★

Read a book set where you live (Seattle)
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain, so I was excited to read this, even though it's a totally different kind of story. It was interesting enough, but there were too many things going on (mystery, coming-of-age, environmentalism, ghosts, family scandal), which made the book feel kind of choppy to me. ★★★

Read a book Rory Gilmore read
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson Blah. Each story is fascinating, but I don't know that switching back and forth was the best way to tell them. And then there was so much extra random information and LOTS of foreshadowing, I kept losing interest. I just wasn't a fan of the writing. ★★

Read a book from a genre that you rarely read (self-help)
Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight I wasn't expecting this book to have much substance, but it does! I also thought it would be making fun of Marie Kondo's book, but it doesn't. It expands on her idea of getting rid of things that don't bring you joy, by limiting where and who you spend your time and money on, all without being a jerk about it. Don't read it if you can't get past the f word. It's on each page at least ten times. I'll have more on this in a later post. ★★★★

Read a book with time travel
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Hmmm... I'm not into sci-fi at all, so maybe I just didn't "get" it. It was very strange, I wasn't sure what was true and what wasn’t (though, that's probably the point), and I didn't think it was all that funny. I hope to never read "so it goes" again. ★★


Life According to Steph

2.13.2017

Concert Bucket List

The first concert I was ever supposed to go to was the Red Hot Chili Peppers with my boyfriend in 1996. Unfortunately I got in trouble and that's what my parents took away as my punishment. (Story here.) So my first concert ended up being at Bumbershoot (Seattle's summer music festival) right before my senior year of high school. Back then tickets were $10 a day, or $9 if you picked them up at the drug store. We sort of just wandered around and caught local bands The Presidents of the United States of America, Super Deluxe, and MxPx on small stages before seeing the Sex Pistols in the stadium.

My second concert was Beck at the Paramount Theater. It was a Valentine's Day gift from my boyfriend and even though we sat ten rows from the top, we had a blast. Festival shows are great, but not at all the same as seeing an artist on their own tour. I was officially bitten by the concert bug.

I was only into alternative music back then, so some of my other early concerts were The Offspring, NOFX, Save Ferris, Cake, Garbage, The Specials, Hole, and Zebrahead. I wore my Dr. Martens in (well, along the perimeter of) the mosh pit and wore the bruises that appeared the next day as a badge of honor.

Over the years my tastes changed and I embraced the pop music I made so much fun of as a teen. In the twenty years that I've been going to shows I've seen alternative rock, screamo, country, hair band, pop, folk, hip hop, metal, boy band, classic rock, rap, funk, ska, oldies, and punk concerts. Basically, the only thing I haven't attended is an EDM show.

I kept my first few concert stubs in a box with a bunch of other crap from my high school boyfriend. As I kept going to more and more shows, I decided to save all of them. I even started a list of all the concerts I've ever been to since I didn't always have a ticket stub to match up with all the bands. (You can check out my list right here.) 

I also have a list of bands on my bucket list. Last year I had to remove David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael. David Bowie hadn't been to Seattle since 1996. He only played a theater and it was impossible to get tickets. I honestly never thought I'd see him in my lifetime, but it was always a wish. George Michael came to Seattle in 2008 and I honestly didn't know about it until the next day when my friend raved about how awesome it was. I was eight months pregnant, so I'll just blame it on that. It seemed like Prince toured every single year and had been in Seattle in 2011 (it sold out) and 2013 (it was $300 at a small club) so I thought I'd have the best chance to see him. 2016 really did a number on these icons. 

So now, the only ones left on my bucket list are Adele, Spice Girls, The Killers, The Veronicas, and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Oh, scratch that last one. I just got tickets to see them in August! They usually play the Gorge (see here) and I really feel like I'm too old to go out there, so I was happy to see they'll be at Safeco Field. The Lumineers are opening and they put on an awesome show too! 

I remember watching the music video for Don't Come Around Here No More over and over as a kid. My dad introduced them to me, but don't think I liked them on my own until Mary Jane's Last Dance came out and I bought their greatest hits CD with babysitting money. I've basically wanted to see them in concert since then. So, like, 25 years ago?! I cannot wait! 


2.10.2017

Seven Things I'm Good At

Last year, I wrote a post called seven things I'm bad at. I've honestly been feeling a little down on myself these past few weeks and I'm kind of in a funk, so I decided to give myself a pep talk. Here are seven things I'm pretty damn good at.

Memorizing song lyrics. When I love a song, I listen to it on repeat a few times and get those lyrics down. I'm an auditory learner so something just clicks and I know them faster than my friends. I remember breaking down rap songs or quick verses in pop songs line by line to teach them so we could all sing together. I'm also not one to mumble through the words if I can't understand them. (Jacob and my sister both just make stuff up all the time and it's hysterical.) Ok, except for years when I was little and thought these were the actual words:

(I mean, it could have been his mustached face in the mirror's reflection, right?)

Taking pills. I know grown adults who have to cut the smallest pill in half, place the teeny tiny portion at the back of their throat, and drink about a gallon of water while they gag down each piece. Not me! I take a handful of pills, vitamins and supplements each morning with a swig of water and I'm good to go. And some of them are huge! Have you ever seen an Omega-3 capsule?


Falling asleep and waking up. Ok, that just sounds dumb because every living thing falls asleep and wakes up, but I do it really, really well, you guys. I read in bed for at least a half hour every night then turn off the lamp, roll over, and I'm out in less than five minutes. I fall asleep insanely quickly in cars and and while watching movies too. I'm also a morning person, so as soon as my kids bounce into my room at 6:30 each morning, I'm up and cheery and ready to take on the day. That being said, I definitely don't get enough sleep and I'm almost always sore when I wake up because I don't lie in great positions. 


Planning vacations. There's seriously nothing I like better than having travel plans to look forward to. Every year, Jacob and I take one trip together, one with the kids, and one on our own, with our friends. We usually come up with the destination for our next vacation while we're on the current one. And then I go to town researching things to do, where to stay, and places to eat. I look up cool pictures, read reviews, and see what kind of deals I can get. Some might think I over-plan, but when I'm in a new city I like to cram in as much stuff as I possible because I never know if I'll make it back to the same place twice. 


Being on time. I have never been a late person. I didn't like walking into a class after it had already started, with all eyes on me. I held certain shifts at my earliest jobs and had to "clock" in. And I always thought it was rude to be late to an appointment because one late person ruins the schedule for the entire day! Friends of mine show up late to plans we have together and it drives me insane! One friend was so late to a play we were attending, I went in alone and watch the first 45 minutes by myself. I understand that issues come up (traffic, miscommunication, couldn't find keys), but when it happens with the same people every time, it feels like a lack of respect. I've begun telling some people to meet me a half hour before I intend to be there. And guess what? I'm STILL the early one! 


Reading. I always did well in English and language arts in school without really trying. I was an early reader and comprehension came easily. I remember a boy in my first grade class telling our teacher that I was pretending to read because I was moving my eyes back and forth, and not my mouthing the words or using my finger during SSR. Dude, that's how you read! I'm also a really fast reader. I didn't realize how fast until a few people pointed out how quickly I turn the pages when we're reading next to each other. I also love audiobooks! Like I said above, I'm an auditory learner and definitely absorb information from non-fiction books better if it's being told to me. I just have to be doing something mindless (like driving or cleaning) to really take it all in. 


Being a mom. This is what I'm struggling with at the moment. Nolan has sensory processing disorder and possibly ADHD (he'll be evaluated within the next few months) and I have become completely exhausted by talking with doctors, therapists and teachers about all the things that are "wrong" with him. And now we have to make some decisions about switching schools. I'm constantly questioning myself and criticizing every decision I've ever made, wondering if we're doing the right thing. Jacob tells me we're doing great and to stop worrying, which makes me mad at him for obviously not caring enough. But my kids are clean, eat healthy food, and have warm clothes to wear. They are good students who follow rules and are always polite and friendly. They have big imaginations and are so curious about the world we live in. And they know they are loved beyond measure. Sometimes I have to kick my own ass and remind myself of all this. 

2.07.2017

The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck

“I call it the Not Sorry Method. It has two steps: 1. Deciding what you don’t give a f*ck about 2. Not giving a f*ck about those things.” - Sarah Knight


I wasn't expecting this book to have much substance, but it does! I mean, it's really quick, sometimes silly, and redundant, but it provides an easy plan to help you sort through the things in your life that don't make you happy. I also thought it would be making fun of Marie Kondo's book, but it doesn't. Sarah Knight tells you to sort your f*cks into categories and decide which ones you will stop giving time, energy, and money to. Here are the four.

1. Things. Not just the things you own, but ideas and concepts. If you have annoying feelings about something, stop letting it take up space in your mind. I've recently stopped giving a f*ck about the NFL and having a Pinterest-worthy house. 

2. Work. It talked about conference calls, dress codes, office gossip, team building exercises, buying stuff from co-workers' kids, donating to their fun runs, etc. Knight says that if you don't want to do it and it doesn't impact your performance, just stop.

3. Friends, acquaintances, and strangers. This section had good information about setting boundaries, creating personal policies, and not caring what people think if you say no. It also talked about things like going on group vacations and to kid birthday parties if you honestly don't want to. This is the one I've needed help with lately. I have some people in my life that don't reciprocate the energy I put in to our relationship. I don't think they necessarily want to stop being friends (or maybe they do and I'm not taking the hint?), so I'm done trying so hard. I also don't give a f*ck about weddings (unless it's family; all of my close friends are already married) and flat out refuse to go to anyone's second baby shower. (They just really bother me and feel greedy. I already bought you stuff! Use it again!) I'm not going to feel bad about saying no to things I dread.

4. Family. There was some advice here about creating personal policies and standing by them. Sometimes we bend over backwards for extended family around the holidays when all I really want to do is stay home with my three guys. Jacob and I can decide what's best for us and tell everyone that this is how it's going to be from now on. I like that.

So yeah, it boils down to saying no to things you don't want to do without being an asshole about it. There are great tips on how to prioritize your f*cks so you can use your time and money on things you really care about and start living your best life. 

As I've gotten older, I've definitely stopped giving a f*ck about a lot of things. My priorities have shifted, I don't do things I genuinely don't want to do, and I care less about what people think of me. I'm friendly and polite, I treat my kids and pets well, I recycle. If you don't like me as a person, that's just fine.