Mortified Monday #1

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Yes, I know it’s Sunday. You wanna see what my Monday mornings look like?

Election season has been bad for me, friends. Especially combined with quarantine and three tiny kids who never give me a break. I work out every single day and spend all day counting calories, but my only relief at the end of the day is a glass of wine, and that wine convinces me to eat a bajillion snacks, and that 10 pounds I lost this year has snuck back with a vengeance, or at least 60% of it has.

Soooooo here we go! I have roughly 15 weeks until I turn 40, and I’d love to be in the 140’s by then. I just need some accountability, even if it’s posting to literally no one on my long-dead blog. You ready?

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Day 5

Spent Days 3 and 4 working on my assignments (and working, working, working, even though it was the weekend) but I’m back. It’s Monday. I’m considering doing Mortified Mondays again, where I post my weight and my weekly progress.

This month has been killing me. Between Murray’s kindergarten, the election, crazy work (usually clients run out of money by now, but my brand keeps getting more?) and a morning schedule that we just can’t seem to coordinate, I just keep panic eating. I spent all of lockdown maintaining and even losing a little more, but within just a few weeks, I’ve ballooned back up to where I originally started.

Mortified Mondays were in the weeks leading up to my wedding, and that was the last time I was in the 140’s, or even the 150’s, before I had kids. I liked the accountability, even if I hated the accountability. I’d really like to feel in control of this body before my 40’s, especially since I don’t have control over anything else.

It will *also* be nice because I don’t have any readers anymore, I think? I just pretend I do, which is nice? So what do you think, should I do it?

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Day 2

Well, the first voice I heard this morning was my kids’, when they woke up at 5. It’s going to be an insanely stressful weekend, but I think I can handle it.

This is so cheesy, but setting intentions for the day right when I wake up has helped me so much with my insane life: I’m writing today, just for me, and who would have ever thought I’d have time for that? If I squeeze in a walk, work on projects x y and z, and work on my big surprise for Justin, then I’ll consider today a success.

I’m going to say right now that I don’t have time to scroll through my phone in horror all day. I use an app called Focus for that and it helps so much. I really need to install one on my phone. I started the year reading “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” but I needed that little buddy during a pandemic!

Next month will be for eating healthy. This is the season for Count Chocula and red wine. We’ll see how the election goes.

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Day 1

Whelp, I wasn’t supposed to doom scroll right when I woke up, but what else can I do when a fly lands on the Vice President’s infected head on live television? My god. At least I’m here.

Being a working mom of 3 tiny kids during pandemic means that I’ll never be a great mom, wife, worker, friend or person on the same day. My number one aim is to be at least a mediocre mom and worker every day. Yesterday I was an amazing wife (I can’t WAIT to tell you what I’m up to!) and a decent self. Today I need to be an amazing coworker. It’s hard to maintain a balance. I don’t like doing things just enough vs. doing things consistently well. There is just so much to do, in so many areas, and right now it’s all so exhausting and hard.

But writing a couple paragraphs for myself vs. work, fitting in a daily workout, and remembering to take my Lexapro means I did something nice for myself today. I did just enough. I’m learning to be kind to myself and forgiving for not being able to do it all, all at once. And I can dive into work or parenting or whatever else I need to do feeling proud of that.

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What on Earth?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here… and holy shit, it looks different! I hope no one is expecting pictures in my new posts because I , uh, no longer know how to do that.

In addition to being on lockdown with three kids under 6, watching the fall of democracy, co-managing virtual Kindergarten, and working remotely full time at a job that just keeps getting busier, I decided to be an idiot and take a writing class with one of my favorite writers. One of the assignments is to write every morning! So I’m dusting off the old Shortcake and will attempt to post here. I doubt anyone still reads this, which will probably make me a little more fearless than I should be.

If you used to read this blog regularly, you know that I like to set dumb goals for myself. I decided at the beginning of 2020 to work out every day, and aside from two days in early January, I’ve been doing it! And damn, was this the year to jack up my endorphins and immune system, or what?

Because that’s my main priority, and the class is more to tap into what I love about writing when my job feels so hard on lockdown, I’ll probably write when i’m done with my workout and not right when I wake up. But I love the advice the instructor gave, which I want to remember: that instead of immediately picking up my phone and doom scrolling each morning, I should start the day with my voice. I definitely need to do that.

First endorphins. Then coffee. A shower. Then, if the kids haven’t woken up already, my voice.

Welcome to 2020, my old friends. It’s so fucked up. Did you ever think it would be this fucked up? Maybe you can help me get through this. I’ve missed you, so very much.

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Simon Says: Hello!

My third and last* baby is here! Simon!

Simon would have been Matilda’s name if she had been a boy. Once I pick a name, I’m attached and in love. There were a lot of reasons I was apprehensive to have a girl right after the 2016 election, but saying goodbye to my Simon was one of them.

But I knew there was a Simon. My Simon. And now he’s here. He’s as sweet as I imagined. All he does is sleep and eat. The 4-year-old and 2-year-old are the challenging ones these days. I have the easy job of staying awake and snuggling him.

He was 10 pounds at birth! I knew he would be. I’ve never felt that physically impaired in my life.

On Sunday he had a 102.5 fever, which is terrifying for a baby under 3 weeks old. He and I went to the ER and then spent the night in the hospital. With my first, this would have been a huge ordeal and I would have cried the whole time. (I remember Murray spent one night in the NICU after I went home, and it’s true; I cried the whole time.) But this time it was all automatic and going through the motions. Doing what we need to do. Counting our blessings instantly. Knowing he’s tough enough to handle it and we’ll be fine. I’m proud of us.

I have a lot of grand plans for maternity leave, including terrible braindead blog entries! (*waves*).

I haven’t blogged in a long time but holy cow, it’s hard to not use emojis when I’m talking about my cute-ass baby! Hahaha.

 

*Unless Pence makes me a handmaid. That birth certificate questionnaire (Are you married to the father? Have you ever done drugs?) makes me think it’s coming.

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Five Things 7.25.19

1. I’m about to have another baby—basically the only time I write here anymore, right? I keep wanting to be someone who writes, outside of my 9-5 that is, but with two toddlers and a soon-to-be newborn, I don’t have a lot of brainpower these days. (Or is it because of the smartphones? It’s probably because of the smartphones.) Maybe I’ll try to write more on maternity leave, if Moose (what I call this giant baby) is as nice to me as Matilda was (and still is). Anyway, I’ve been talking about my blog a lot this week and I missed you! Yes you, the literal one person who maybe got a notification for this? Don’t tell me if you did. It’s kind of liberating to think that no one is reading this.

2. I just watched the trailer for The Goldfinch and I basically came here because I’m trying to not cry at my desk? I really can’t handle stories about mothers and sons! It’s weird how my heart swells and breaks in completely different ways for my kids. Murray is SO much like me, so stubborn and rebellious and loud and stressed out by the world, but at night he snuggles with me and kisses my belly and talks to me in this sweet, soft voice and I have to go cry in the bathroom because I love him so much. Okay, now I’m almost crying again. It looks like a great movie but I don’t know when I’ll feel strong enough for it.

3. Today is the 10 year anniversary of my first date with Justin. Still amazed that I got so lucky. Okay, crying again.

4. My baby is scheduled to arrive in 25 days, but my mom (the only babysitter my kids have allowed) is going to be visiting my brother in Italy for 18 of those days. AAAAAAND Justin is going to be on a shoot for 2 of those days, in 2 different states! It has made the last month of my pregnancy very stressful, especially when one of your kids was a month premature. However, the amount of friends who have immediately piped up with, “You can absolutely call me at 3 in the morning!” has been overwhelming. I hope I don’t have to call a friend or two at 3 in the morning, but I’m lucky that I can.

5. Speaking of babies and birth and family, I can’t fucking believe that I haven’t jumped over here in the last two years to tell you that I found my birth family. I fucking found my birth family! Both sides! I’ll tell you more about it someday!

 

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Meet Matilda

The last time I was packing up to leave this hospital and introduce a new baby to this world, the Supreme Court had just ruled in favor of marriage equality. It was so uplifting to see all of the celebrations, to know that so many people I love had won a right they had fought so hard for, and to know that I was bringing my kid into a better world than expected.

Obviously, it feels like a different world today.

But you know what? I love that in this world, our heroes are scientists, journalists, and civil rights lawyers. I love that, more than ever, people are standing up for others and refusing to accept bigotry and hate. I love that we’re having tough conversations, confronting lies, and fighting for the truth.

I want everything in the world for my daughter, but most of all I want her to be good. She is, after all, here because of me. I want her to understand that most of the advantages she’s been given so far are pure luck, and they don’t make her better than anyone else. I want her to use what she has to fight for the people who don’t have the same. I want her to care. And I want her to be kind.

So you know what? I’m glad that Matilda is coming into an uncomfortable world. I’m glad she gets to see both the best and worst showing their truest colors right now. I hope it will help me teach her to be compassionate, empathetic and generous. I hope it will help her look below the surface, appreciate differences, and surround herself with good people. And, I’d like to think it will make her a little smarter, cooler, and funnier, too.

So buckle up, world. Matilda Tolliver is on the loose today. And she’s here to make this place better than she found it.

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I’m With Us

The thing about women is: we are resilient. We know what it’s like to be the most qualified person in the room, and still have to prove that we are as good as the worst. We know what it’s like to bite our tongue and choose our battles. We know how to duck into a stall, have a good cry, process that pain, and move the hell on with our day. And while some peg us as weak because of our emotions, we know how to hold it together to care for the vulnerable ones around us, to summon strength we didn’t know we had so that others can pull from it.

After all, we are built to have another life depend on ours. Some of us have literally been cut open and ripped apart for someone we love. Some of us have hearts deep and open enough to accept another without question, immediately taking that cub as their own. And the rest of us somehow care for others automatically, even on our worst day, as a reflex. Motherhood is not what makes you a woman; we’re women because we have the strength that makes the impossible possible, including motherhood. We all have that same power, and we are all selfless in how we wield that sword.

Like it or not, this is the same country that we have always lived in. Women, especially women of color and LGBT women, know this better than the rest. Even if she had won, if we had won, those threats are still real. Those ceilings and hurdles are still there. We’re still going to have to work twice, or three times, or four times as hard.

But you know what? Nasty women still vote. Bitches still get stuff done. We can lift a car with one hand when the ones we love are in danger. We can certainly lift a country if we all work together.

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Five Things – 1.9.16

  1. I guess I should introduce you to my son. The idea of writing a post like I used to, summing up everything I’ve been through and everything I feel now, is impossible. I could write forever about him. I probably will write forever about him. But for now, I’ll just tell you his name: Murray. Every day he does something brand new, something hilarious, something frustrating, and something so beautiful that it makes every day perfect, no matter how bad that day was. I’ve never been more tired and dumb and bored and lonely and exhausted and ugly, but I’ve also never felt happier.
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  2. There isn’t a lot I can say about my job without getting fired, but I’ll just say that this morning I bought $30 in lottery tickets.
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  3. My New Year’s Resolutions were going okay, but then the unmentionable work problems got in the way and I had to eat, like, Cheez-Its for lunch and skip my workouts to put out fires. I’m not having a week like that again. From now on, my health is a priority.
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  4. Sometimes you read something that completely stops your heart, then kicks open a floodgate of realizations and emotions that you weren’t prepared for at all.
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  5. I’m aware that I’m a terrible writer right now. That’s what this is for!

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Monster Nursery

Well, I’m almost there.

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I’ve been astonishingly lucky with this pregnancy so far… no morning sickness, no heartburn, no gestational diabetes, no complications, no acne, a normal weight gain, etc. But now comes all the stuff I can’t avoid: bending over. Sitting down. Standing up. Getting out of bed. Putting on pants. Tying shoes. Moving. Breathing. Living. 8 weeks to go and I finally feel pregnant.

I haven’t written much because (a) you probably follow me somewhere else and (b) I think we all had those friends in our early twenties who documented every damn day of their pregnancy online. It was all the same and all insufferable. I don’t want to do that! So unless it’s hilarious or terrifying or hilariously terrifying, I don’t think you’ll care. Food Pregnancy and more food work stuff are the only things on my mind these days, so this blog would get rill old rill quick. Also (c) as we’ve established, no one blogs anymore. BUT I wanted to show you our monster nursery! I’m so proud of it!

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Everything is from Target, IKEA or The Land of Nod. We’re sensible about most of our purchases but we always splurge on the perfect rugs; this Jellybean Rug was no exception. They really do tie a room together! Chauncey has been making out with it nonstop:

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We’ve had those polka dot IKEA pillows on our couch forever; I brought one into the room on a whim and gasped. Then I hunted down a few more on a site that sells discontinued patterns. My friend Kim made me that baby blanket for Christmas and I love it! And of course, UglyDolls:

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When we first started dating, Justin would give me an UglyDoll every time I watched Chauncey while he was out of town. I love bringing in something from our early relationship. And I love how the UglyBuddies are holding baby monsters, too.

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It should surprise no one that Justin built another insane IKEA wall. My dream has come true; I finally married Dean from Overboard.

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Also, there’s 2 more rows of cabinets up there. 11-foot walls full of storage space? Come to momma.

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The window seat is the best part; if you take away the pad and the bins, it can be a tiny desk! Also, Justin told me he’s going to build a gate in front of the window when the baby’s old enough to climb up and open it, which was pretty hot. Safety precautions are like foreplay to an expectant mother. The mobile was our other splurge; it’s by Felt N Joy on Etsy. She’s incredible! It’s everyone’s favorite part.

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And finally, we found the perfect art during our second trip to Snoqualmie/Twin Peaks/Seattle—adorable monsters by Seattle artist Justin Hillgrove. Another nod to our early relationship and super cute!

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A special shout out to my favorite person Jen, who discovered her inner Pinterest mom and threw me the most perfect shower, complete with tons of paper monsters.

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Now we just need one more little monster, and it’ll be done!

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Five Things – 1/30/15

1. This is my first Five Things! A few writers that I admire have done this for a while, and it seemed like a great way to keep up with my blog without, you know, actively blogging. I finally worked up the courage to ask if it was something I could do, too, and they were really encouraging! (People—friends!—used to yoink ideas from my blog all the time and, even though it shouldn’t, it really bothered me. I just wanted to be respectful, I think. Or realize my own dumb unwritten PMS rules apply to me, too.) I don’t know how often I will do this, but it’s a nice format for whenever the mood strikes.
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2. Justin and I threw our third Grilled Cheese Party for my birthday. This was the biggest party yet—about 35 people. People get so excited about these parties and look forward to them all year, so I try to go all out. Most people might think it’s weird to drop an insane amount of money for my own birthday party, but the best gift is making people I love happy—and the bonus is seeing them all in the same room. Justin set up his GoPro in the middle of the spread, so we wound up with this:
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3. Yesterday was my birthday. Is it weird that I enjoy getting older? When I was younger, I had so many questions and worries; I was so unsure about how life worked. The older I get, the more I know and the more I relax. So fuck my twenties! I am balls-deep into my thirties and loving it.
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4. I usually go to my shrink, Dave, whenever things are stressful or insane—mainly once or twice a year. But recently I’ve started going just to be proactive—I tell him about things I want to work on (confidence, motivation, etc.)—and he gives me techniques and ways to cope. I’ve always believed that cognitive behavioral therapy can help you conquer anything. Now I’m just putting it to practice.

5. I’m 16 weeks pregnant. According to all these dumb apps, my kid is the size of an avocado. I don’t feel pregnant at all – no nausea, no fatigue, no weight gain (though, I am eating like an absolute monster). If it wasn’t for the sonogram, I wouldn’t believe it. I actually bought a fetal Doppler and use it at least once a week, like, “Are you there? Are you sure?”

Growing up in a disabled family and watching so many people I love go through so many horrible things placed me in a different mindset for good news, or even general good health. The more wonderful life is, the more anxious I get and the more I brace myself, preparing for the worst. I grew up accepting and expecting that I couldn’t have the same things that other people would have, that things would naturally be harder and sadder for me. So honestly, the hardest thing about this pregnancy is accepting that I might actually have a normal, healthy baby—and shaking the fear that the second I drop my guard, something will go wrong.

That being said, despite my best efforts I am pretty fucking excited about this.

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Five by Five

Ten years! Oh my god, you guys.

Honestly, the 5-year mark felt much bigger. That was probably when this thing peaked. (It’s also back when people were still blogging.) 5 years ago, I really lived in this thing because I didn’t have much else.

I mean, I had—and have— amazing friends, but they were all in relationships, planning weddings, going on double dates, etc. The more I surrounded myself with them, the more I felt alone. I was always dating someone, or at least flirting, but they always let me down in the end.

I had a job, but aside from friendships, it was the worst and I hated it. The management was pretty abusive and it drove me to therapy, repeatedly. One by one, all of my friends quit, so I was miserable and lonely there. (My old job is where I ended up doing the most of my blogging, just to give me one part of the day I could look forward to.)

I didn’t sleep. At all. And I didn’t know why. I took drugs that were not meant for me (at a dosage that the FDA has finally realized was too much) for a very long time and they made me depressed and insane.

 

Just after the 5-year mark, I was so incredibly lonely and miserable that I made a vow to go out and meet new people. And almost immediately, though we unknowingly circled each other for 10 years, I met Justin. I knew my love of TV would get me somewhere.

I finally decided to take a stand and find a job that made me happy and fulfilled (or at least didn’t make me cry on a daily basis). And I didn’t just find a new job—I found my dream job. I’m still a little in shock.

Someone finally figured out what was wrong with me, and now I can sleep! There are still restless nights every now and then, but for the most part I get the sleep I need. Sleeping on Justin’s shoulder helps immensely. And I haven’t taken Ambien in 4 years!

I got a niece, who made my heart grow in a way I didn’t know it could. By Halloween, I’ll have 4 nieces and nephews total. And in 5 years, maybe I’ll have a kid of my own, and my heart can grow in an even weirder, more wonderful way.

All of those friends I made, plus the old ones that I love more than anything? They all came together to help me through the scariest, most painful time of my life. That concert was one of the few bright spots that year for my entire family, and we’ll be forever grateful to all of you.

I moved four times in the last 5 years! But nothing was harder than packing up the house where I grew up, where my dad died, on Father’s Day. I drove by there the other day, just to see what it looks like, and it still hurts. Even though taking care of my dad was so hard and heartbreaking, I’m forever thankful that I got to move back home and see him every day, and to appreciate my childhood home with adult eyes.

I lost some things, too … my dad most of all. And my very best friend, my Grandma. I think about them every single day and I don’t think that will ever change. But I think it’s just one of those pains you get used to, like a bad back or a sore knee. It’s just a part of getting older.

But again, the biggest thing I’ve gained in the last 5 years—what made these years so different, and so much better, than the last 5—is Justin. From all of our weird adventures and roadtrips to our wedding to Iceland and beyond, I can’t imagine my life without him and I’m so lucky that I get to wake up next to him every day.

I came across this post on Humans of New York the other day and immediately fell in love:

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This, I think, is the biggest difference between the way I am now and the way I was when I started this blog. Back then, I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to get writing gigs. I wanted the cool people on the internet as friends. I wanted my ex to want me back. I wanted to be special. I wanted to be extraordinary. And you know what? In the first 5 years, back when this was called Shortcake, all of that happened!

But these days, that isn’t important to me. In fact, these days the internet is such a nightmare that the last thing in the world that I want is tons of attention online. More importantly, I don’t want to hang out there. I just want to hang out with my friends in person, travel places, do things, make things, write things that matter.

I mean, I get to go to my dream job every day, come home to my dream loft and spend time with my dream man, or some of the coolest friends (with the biggest hearts) in the world. Once again, I’ve hit my goal. And for now, it’s perfect. I don’t need to be extraordinary to other people. I’m content. I’m amazed by my life every single day. And that’s enough for me.

Thanks for being a part of it.

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Catching Up With My Frans

We’re getting veeeeerrry close to the 10 year anniversary of this blog, and I’ve been veeeeerrry bad about writing in here, so before I do some big-ass retrospective (or realistically, a lazy “woooo!”) I should tell you what I’ve been up to for the last few months.

Traveling

First up, Seattle, which was amazing! I definitely want to go back. The best part was hanging out with Erin and seeing old friends like Courtney, Graham, Mike, Dan, Carrie and CHARLIE!

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We also spent a weekend in Snoqualmie, aka Twin Peaks. Highly recommended! We took a self-guided tour with maps that we found online. A lot of the back roads were closed due to flooding, so we had to follow a moving GPS dot through the woods and hope for the best. This was the most fun we’ve had in a while.

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Also: we stayed at The Great Northern! Hi!

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Seattle is a sister city to Reykjavik (where we spent our honeymoon) and Twin Peaks is how we met, so it felt like an early anniversary trip.

I also went to Milwaukee and Minneapolis for work. Both were a great time, with cool projects. Downtown Minneapolis is almost identical to St. Louis, and Milwaukee = cheese.

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Finally, a long weekend in Hamilton, Indiana. Doesn’t sound glamorous, I know, but Justin’s mom, grandma and aunts all live lakeside.

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Speaking of glamor, Justin’s aunt Penny told us that since we’re the only people who appreciate her painting, we’re inheriting this someday.

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Up next? We’re going to Washington, D.C.! My brother got promoted and they’re having a big ceremony at his work (a little place called The Pentagon). I’m really excited, especially because I get to meet my nephew!

What’s That? A Nephew?

That’s right! It’s okay to be confused. Technically he is still 2 months away from his due date. But he’s already here.  He’s been here for a while.

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Meet my nephew Will, born over 3 months early at 24 weeks. 22 weeks is the youngest you can be born and live. He had a 50% chance of survival, and a 50% chance of everything, but so far he is kicking serious ass. He is such a strong boy, and he will need that tenacity to deal with his tough-as-nails, adrenaline-junkie sister.

Losing Weight

I’ve lost about 10 pounds so far–not enough to notice, but enough to motivate me to keep going. This is mostly from running on a big incline, crazy interval training, not eating crap, and …

Wheat-Free

It’s getting hotter again, which means I need to avoid wheat again. I’m trying to say “wheat” instead of “gluten” because of that study that said gluten-intolerant people may actually be affected by a different protein–giving half my Facebook feed the freedom to call people like me “retarded” because they can’t read one article past the headline.

I read the book Wheat Belly and it was pretty life-changing. I don’t like that it’s so focused on weight, but I have the feeling that’s what sells. Anyway, it’s been about 2 weeks and I feel awesome. I don’t miss any of the food at all. Honestly, the biggest challenges are feeling like a bad guest when people cook me things, and people talking to me like a fucking idiot.

Writing

I wrote Act 1 of my movie for my screenwriting class and … I got an A! It was so addicting. I definitely want to keep it up, and then workshop a full script once I have something I love.

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Honestly, the best part of the class was walking down the hall and visiting Justin at his job. We both went to that college but didn’t meet until 10 years later. Walking down the halls together, kissing in the parking lot, and cramming for finals felt so right … like we were making up for lost time or just erasing 10 years that we wasted looking for each other.

Married Life

Speaking of us, we celebrated our anniversary! I surprised him with an Icelandic continental breakfast and he designed some cool art for me. We ate the top tier of our wedding cake and watched Eurovision (a honeymoon highlight).

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We’ve also been trying to do more stuff together despite our schedules. The cheesier, the better!

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And finally …

Renovating

Not exactly by choice, but the building I live in recently gave us all new cabinets, counters, appliances, bathroom vanities, a new rooftop patio, etc. We had workmen wandering in and out of our place for months, which led to some very awkward moments. However, the place looks great!

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In addition to building renovations, Justin rebuilt our giant bookshelf and built a crazy IKEA workstation with a floating ceiling. (His computer is in the ceiling, so he can plug in a monitor and work on the island without worrying about cords.) Add in the views of North City, the City Museum, Windows on Washington and holy shit.

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After we finished, a friend asked if I ever stand in my apartment, look around, and marvel that I live there. I said, “Every day. Every single day.” And it’s true.

 

 

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Where Have I Been?

I’m doing well on all of my New Year’s Resolutions, surprisingly, except for one: writing here once a week. Additionally, a few friends have recently asked me why I don’t write here as often. I used to be obsessed with this blog and it led to a lot of amazing things in my life, so I gave this question a lot of thought and here’s what I’ve come up with.

(I want to be clear that this isn’t a criticism of anyone else who still writes all the time. These are just my own experiences and feelings. If I read your blog, it means you’re doing something right (or I’m hate-reading you, in which case PLEASE CONTINUE). Again, my own reasons.)

It’s Been (Almost) 10 Years

After a decade of shameless oversharing, you tend to cover everything. Favorite travels? Bad break-ups? Ambien Adventures? Check, check and check. If there’s a great story to be told, I’ve told it–probably more than once. I could think of something new to share with you every day, but that’s for micro-blogging. The guts, they have been spilled.

Happiness is Boring

By boring, I don’t mean bad at all. I love my life right now. I’m lucky as hell. But I’m not going on dates. I’m not breaking up with people. I’m not stirring up shit. I don’t hate my job. I don’t have a hit tracker anymore, but I’m willing to bet that any stalkers or ex-boyfriends that used to read this are long gone. My friends and I play with babies more than we party. I’m not going to bars that often–and when I do, it’s with old friends and consists of nothing but inside jokes.

Aside from my constant workout goals and/or weight struggles (which no one cares about), I’m simply content. I’ve hate-read enough Christian mommy blogs to know that reading about someone’s happiness and gratitude is at best boring and at worst insufferable and annoying. But on the same note…

Negativity is Contagious

Things bother me. People piss me off. Life is unfair. Check out this idiot. I could write about this stuff all day, every day, but all that does is pass the negativity on to you. Some people can write this stuff and be funny, and some people can read that stuff and not be affected, but I don’t want to contribute to it unless I feel my complaint is worthwhile. (Example: I’ve been contemplating writing about the crazy religion I was raised in and how it’s gotten even crazier, which is much more valid than writing about how I got cut off in traffic.)

I recently held someone’s hand while they died and watched them use all of their strength for each breath–literally holding on for dear life–and it made me realize how important those breaths are. Every second of my life matters. Every second of your life matters, too, including the ones you spend interacting with me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to use them wisely. Focusing on negativity and spreading negativity is a waste of life, at least to me.

I Am Wrong About Everything 

If there’s one thing Facebook and comment sections have taught me, it’s that people will bitch about anything. But if they’ve taught me anything else, it’s that there is always another side to the story. If I’m angry about something and bitch about it, there’s a 90% chance that I simply don’t see the big picture. So when things bother me, these days I go looking for the other side. In most cases, it just takes a little empathy. (There are some clear black and white issues, like of course we should have marriage equality, but mostly it’s a little gray.) Even this entry, even with my disclaimer, it will piss off somebody and they will need to tell me why they write all of the time. It’s just inevitable. I certainly have an opinion about everything, but I rarely pick a side anymore.

Parroting

This is more of a Facebook complaint, but it has happened on blogs and Twitter, too. Memes are one thing. And writing is fluid; you pick up little phrases and you use them, and then you drop them when you get sick of it. But sometimes I will want to use a cute phrase because it makes me laugh, and within a day another friend will use it, too. I get that I don’t own the English language, but when I throw something like that into a sentence and it makes me laugh, I’m proud of myself. When other people do it right after I do, it depresses me. It’s not plagiarism and it’s not something you can generally complain about, so it just festers in me. Yuck. I know I do it, too, but I’ve also caught myself and deleted it. Nowadays, I collect the nuggets and save them for something bigger, rather than spending them on a throwaway joke that other people claim as their own.

I Write For A Living

Copywriting and ghostwriting. And now: school, too. I think about words all day, when I get home the last thing I want to do is write. Also: I have a career that I value now, and there’s no such thing as anonymity on the internet anymore. Someday a client is going to find the entry where I list all of the things I have missed about all of my ex-boyfriends. I just have to accept that, since I like that entry too much to delete it. But it makes me very hesitant to put any more of that stuff out there. And I sure as shit won’t link to this blog on Facebook anymore, since all of my co-workers are my Facebook friends.

I’m Married

For all the railing I used to do about independence and co-dependancy , I have to admit that it’s different now. I share 100% of my life with another person. We have our own interests and do our own thing, but he’s always present and we have no real secrets. So the more I share about me, the more I have to share about him. Justin is pretty amazing in that he doesn’t read this blog at all (on our first date, he said he never would because he wanted to learn about me through actual interactions), and he seems okay with all the stuff I put out there on other networks. He has never drawn a line regarding his privacy or what I can and can’t share. But one just naturally appeared for me.

When I blogged about dating or break-ups, it was really about how I was feeling, what I was learning, etc. But now that I’m married, it feels like these are our feelings, our fights, our struggles, our happy moments and our victories. It feels intrusive to share some of those things with you because they are not simply mine to share. The feminist in me is totally gagging over this paragraph, but that’s how it is. (P.S. I have friends in long-term relationships who either can’t or don’t want to get married–I’m sure they have reached this point, too. Marriage was just the defining point for me.)

—-

I think that’s it. Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr (all @SecretlyStephie) are a better fit these days. But I do miss this blog, and I really am trying to figure out how to keep this in my life. Either way, thanks for sticking around.

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Iceland, Day 7

Last day! So sad. 969720_10200706584163488_1046122564_n
So when I last left you, we were at Lebowski Bar. Mood Music!

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We weren’t in Reykjavík on the weekend, but apparently the entire city turns into a rave and goes insane. We partied in Reykjavík on a Monday, and holy shit. The bar was packed and people were still tanked at midnight. Every time someone walked into the bar, the whole place would cheer and everyone would hug. “It’s a Viking thing,” some guy from New York told us, “It comes from centuries of drinking together in huts or something.”

This was midnight. The sidewalks were packed with smokers from the bars.

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The inside of Lebowski Bar was obviously bowling themed. For 5 króna, the bartender would spin that wheel and you’d get either a ton of shots or nothing.

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There was a great stage area in the back that looked like a 50’s diner, but the highlight was the bathrooms:

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These were the stall doors:

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This is the entrance to the men’s room:

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We finally stumbled home–still in the daylight–and fell asleep. In the morning, our driver from the first day drove us to The Blue Lagoon!

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa. The bright blue water is HOT and it feels incredible. There are boxes with silicone masks around the edge that you can slather all over yourself. There are places for massages, plus a water massage that feels phenomenal.

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(Click to enlarge!)

Aaaand they let you drink champagne in the water!

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This is literally the first time I’ve gone swimming in over a decade. The deepest water came up to my chin, but I could still float around. I forgot how much I like the water.

The Blue Lagoon is pretty touristy, but worth it. A popular thing to do is go there directly from the airport to ease in the jet lag, but we arrived in Iceland too early on the first day. However, the driver told us that we were lucky to be there when it wasn’t crowded.

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Usually a flight home from Europe totally sucks, but our flight was almost entirely empty! Justin and I each got our own row. I settled in and watched like 3 movies that I’ve been wanting to rent forever. Honeymoon!

FEATURED FOOD: Happy Marriage Cake! I didn’t eat it, but this was offered on the plane.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 6

Today could best be described as The Day We Ate Iceland. Mood Music!

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(The “blurred lines” are our stomach linings. In hindsight, I have no idea how we did this.)

First, I’ve mentioned the superiority of Iceland’s continental breakfasts many times, but this one was the best that we had.

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We left Rangá and headed back to Rekjavík. On the way, we stopped in a teeny, tiny town for some of their famous lobster. 300 grams of lobster, to be exact:

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We wanted to go to the haunted house next door, but they were closed. So instead, we stopped by a craft collective. I browsed through tons of wool sweaters, lava jewelry, gnome ornaments, gnome everything, but nothing spoke to me.

Then I spotted a small room in the back with a stack of afghans in the corner. I picked one up and immediately fell in love. I was in the middle of talking myself out of it based on the price, but then Justin appeared next to me, glanced down and said, “That looks like you.” That settled it.

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At the register, the woman told me that it was knitted by a 90 year-old lady in a nursing home! I told her to tell the lady that a couple on their honeymoon bought it, and they would treasure it for the rest of their lives together. Okay, I wasn’t that cheesy, but that’s how I felt. My Icelandic blanky is my favorite thing in the world.

(I did not eat it, but I love it so much that I could.)

When we got back to Reykjavík, Justin made us walk to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, aka “The Best Hot Dog in Town.” That’s right, the most famous restaurant in Iceland is a hot dog stand. Bill Clinton has been here!

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On our journey, I noticed blue footprints painted on the sidewalk and followed them to this:

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It looks cute, but we accidentally stumbled into the Portlandia of Iceland. The woman looked straight out of Reality Bites, nose-ring and all, and the dude had long blond dreadlocks and a resting bitchy face. They were not happy to see us, or anyone I think. This was a vegan cookie shop, which I didn’t realize until after I bought the cookie. Vegan food can be delicious, but this tasted like dirt. I threw it away after one bite.

For dinner, we went to a famous tapas restaurant! It was underground and so cozy!

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We could have eaten a ton of weird stuff, including whale, elk and puffin, but I mostly stuck with lamb and some bacon-wrapped dates.

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Final stop: oh my god.

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I knew I would love this place right away:

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We ended up staying here past midnight, so I’ll talk about it next time!

FEATURED FOOD: baked goat cheese with honey. Don’t tell Justin but this was maybe the best orgasm of my honeymoon. (At the very least, it was a tie.)

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 5: Part 2

I’ve never been a big moody music fan (I like it, I just won’t pick it over fun stuff) but I recently started playing Sigur Rós while I write. The first time I gave them a serious listen, I started crying. It’s exactly what Iceland feels like. Exactly.
Mood Music!

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After our adventures at Skógar, we headed to Vík, a black sand beach!

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We pulled into a pretty remote parking lot to park, and guess who was right behind us?

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Needless to say, we fled soon after. Even though Reynisfjara Beach is just on the other side of that cliff in the first picture, we had to drive about 10 minutes to get there. Instead of black sand, we were greeted with smooth rocks!

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The closer you got to the water, the smaller the rocks became. I could make a million dollars selling bags of this at Pier One:

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The rocks were so weird to walk on! It was incredibly zen. The coolest part was when the tide came in. Instead of retreating back out to sea, the water would roll in and then immediately sink into the rocks, leaving a little foam outline as it vanished. I could have watched it forever.

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Reynisfjara is also home to a huge, gorgeous cave called Halsanefshellir and the famous Basalt columns.

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Here’s Justin standing in the cave for scale:

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Our stalker pulled up just as we were leaving. I think we lost him here, unless he’s hiding in my treehouse as I type this.

Our first stop of the day was supposed to be another waterfall, but it was raining very hard when we arrived. Justin was incredibly sad about it, so I said, “When we pass it on the way back, the sun will be out and there will be a rainbow.” AND GUESS WHAT.

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YAAAY!

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Seljalandsfoss is one of the most well-known waterfalls in Iceland because you can walk behind it!

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More magic moss!

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Here’s another rainbow. You had to climb up this insane pile of wet rocks to get back to the path. I was so relieved when I reached the top of this that I started laughing like Sloth from Goonies.

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Finally, we went to our hotel… but the adventures were not over! Hotel Rangá is awesome! It’s the only 4-star resort in Southern Iceland.

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The hotel felt like the Great Northern from Twin Peaks, which was appropriate considering how we met. There was even a backwards “Laura” on the rug in our room. Creepy!

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We think that the tour company told Rangá that we were on our honeymoon, because we were surprised with an upgraded suite!

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This was the view from our balcony. Every room has a balcony or a patio because when the Northern Lights happen, the hotel will give you a wake-up call.

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The game room was also stellar:

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We loved this puzzle so much that we bought a poster version of it in Rekjavík.

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FEATURED FOOD: We ate a 4-course dinner, sitting right next to the window, but the restaurant was really fancy and I didn’t want to be tacky by taking pictures. (This was like the only time I didn’t wear my awesome hat on the trip.) However, I am 99% positive that lamb was involved. I ate lamb almost every day. So here’s a picture of a dope lamb kabob that I ate a few days earlier.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 5: Part 1

Mood Music! Justin put this on a mixtape when we first started dating, and that’s how we discovered we both loved Iceland:

Today was so full of stuff that I’m splitting it in two.

We started the day at Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that blew up in 2010 and stranded a million people in Europe, including my ex-roomate Dan. This volcano is literally someone’s backyard.

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The people who live there did what anyone would do in that situation: they built a shack across the street and made a museum! There were tons of crafts made out of volcanic ash and lava, like candle holders and soap. This is where I got my second-favorite souvenir (it means “I don’t speak Icelandic”):

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This is also where we encountered our stalker for the first time. At first I was like, “Oh, that is the cutest van!!” but then we saw it everywhere and it was like a Japanese horror movie where the adorable child is actually a demon who swallows people whole:

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Up next, Skógar Folk Museum and the Communications Museum! We made friends:

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Skógar Folk Museum is full of amazing Icelandic art:

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There was also a taxidermy room, where we discovered us in a past life (the mouse in the background is Chauncey).

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The Communications Museum was incredible: old rescue vehicles, exhibition gear, and literally every piece of technology that has landed on that island. My AV Club President husband was in heaven:

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Next: TURF HOUSES! TURF HOUSES! HOBBIT HOUSES! OMG!

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Found my birth parents.

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Sure, these homes are covered in dirt, but they are fancy as hell on the inside!

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These homes were exactly my size. We came across one room with cots lining the walls. Your arm span is equal to your height, so here is proof that I fit in hobbit beds:

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Look at me. Just tickled to death.

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Justin was waaay out of his element, but my people and I did not run him out of town with pitchforks:

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There were at least 10 structures, and I fawned over every inch of them.

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There were even a couple two-story turf homes! Justin is literally 2/3 down the staircase here:

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On the same property was Skógafoss! Pictures never do these things justice, but just look at this son of a bitch:

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That guy in the red jacket on the bottom left? That is our Happy Camper Stalker, in the second of many sightings. At one point, only the three of us were left and when he walked past Justin, I thought my husband was going to get stabbed. Did I mention he looked exactly like Jen’s uncle Bob?

He stood in the same pose for a long time. No, like: a loooooong time.

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Anyway, this is the day we really got to experience all the green magic moss. Justin took about 6,000 pictures of it. I felt like I was in New Zealand or on another planet.

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Justin bought us rain jackets and rain pants for the trip, so we could go right up to the bottom of the waterfalls and stuff. Plus, it was a little drizzly all day, but with our outfits it didn’t matter.

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I mean, really: Spirit Animals? Past Lives? Twinsies?

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FEATURED FOOD: Cool American Doritos.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE (HALF) DAY:

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Iceland, Day 4

We could only pick up Top 40 radio stations in the car, so we heard the same 10 songs over and over. Fortunately, this was the week that “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” dropped. Mood Music!

On day 4,we headed back south. The fog was crazy! This is what a typical town in Iceland looks like:

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And a typical rest stop? Look at this shit. We were walking to get lunch (and free wi-fi!) and I turned around and just started laughing.

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Even the tiniest things are cute. It’s hard to tell in the picture below, but that green traffic light has a happy face on it. Justin told me that while I was sleeping, he drove through a speed radar and it displayed his over-the-limit speed along with a frowny-face.

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This was a fun adventure day! All three stops were within an hour of our hotel, so we just did a nice little circle around the area. First stop, Kerið. This was a giant volcanic crater. Not much to do besides walk around it, but for Missouri and Indiana kids, it’s kinda neat.

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Up next? Motherfucking Gullfoss:

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In pictures, it’s not as pretty as it is in the spring or winter, but in person it’s completely overwhelming. Above is the top of the waterfall. Here is how far down it goes:

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The craziest part is that they let you walk on the slick, flat rocks at the very top. This is where I would’ve died if I had worn my adorable yellow boots.

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Our last stop was the Great Geysir, Strokkur. Not really picture-worthy, until the BOOM:

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Strokkur was home to a great lodge that looked like a 60’s Howard Johnson’s, btw. Finally, we headed back to our hotel, Grimsborgir. Look who we found along the way!

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Grimsborgir was an absolute delight. This guy had a towel draped over his forearm almost every time we saw him. He was so nice! (That’s an autographed picture of Bill Cosby behind him.)

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We didn’t just have our own room this night–we had our own little house!

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With Stephie-sized showers! Yay! There was a hot tub outside, but it was right in front of someone else’s window.

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This night was unforgettable because: Eurovision.

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Eurovision is like American Idol except it’s the Olympics. Each European country picks one singer to compete, and then the entire continent votes. We were eating dinner in the hotel’s restaurant when the Icelandic artist sang. The whole room dropped everything they were doing to watch. “It’s Iceland!”, our host said, so proud and happy.

Every song in the competition had been playing on Top 40 radio for a while. We had no idea what was going on at first, so this one was extra confusing. Make sure you wait for the dubstep to kick in:

(If you’ve never been to Europe, the way you felt watching that clip is basically how Europe feels.)

The voting phase was really fun because each country’s version of Ryan Seacrest took turns reading their country’s polling results in broken English. After so many adventures, it was nice to relax and watch some monumental TV. But don’t worry, we did it the American way–by building our own couch:

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FEATURED FOOD OF THE DAY: I didn’t eat anything that unique today, so here’s the paper I read while drinking some afternoon espressso:

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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