State of the Blog: February 2017

Welcome to our State of the Blog report for February 2017, the month we more or less took off to go fishing. 

Okay, so I didn’t so much go fishing as hibernate for a while. I’ve been struggling for a while with stress, maybe even depression. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I did know that I needed a little break. So I took one. I split my time between work and Little Bit, who was on her three-week winter break. And mostly I was feeling back to normal again, right up until the moment I backed into some poor little old lady’s car yesterday.

No excuses. I just wasn’t paying enough attention. Fortunately, no one was injured.

In one moment, all the stress came flooding back in, as well as a fair amount of guilt. Now it’s just a matter of paying for the damage. I need a new tail light assembly, which I was able to order from Amazon for a reasonable cost, but I’m still waiting on an estimate for the other car.

Oops.

Blog Stuff

We took almost a month off, and people still came and looked at our site, at least a little bit. We put the posts and the newsletter on pause, but we should be back to normal this week.,

I’m thinking about shaking our posting schedule up a bit., While I’ll keep to my Monday/Thursday this week, I’m moving my new post days to Tuesday/Friday going forward. I’m hoping that by moving my deadline away from the weekend, I can decompress a little better on Sundays.

February’s Reading List

So while I wasn’t blogging, what was I doing?

I read a bunch. Mostly good books, but looking back the books may have been reinforcing problems rather than providing a break from them.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Because dystopian feminist novels seem way too relevant.

The Girl with All the Gifts: See above, only R.E. zombie apocalypse novels.

Station Eleven: More dystopia.

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Interesting historical and historiographical perspectives. The idea that we teach American history as a series of hero stories (where Americans are always heroes, as is America and the American government) to our middle school and high school seems to explain a lot about why people think the things they think. Do other countries teach their histories like that? Or do they confront their ugly (or even just realpolitik) truths a little more clearly?

In Farleigh Field: Because I have a World War II obsession and Home Fires doesn’t come back to PBS til next month. Also, because it was part of the Kindle First program, and I like Rhys Bowen’s other books.

The Hanging Tree: What could be better than this series that combines police procedurals and wizards? Not much.

I’m also rereading Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone to Little Bit each night.

The Broken Band

You know those exercise and movement goals that were going gangbusters in January?

As so often happens, I let a little thing derail me from my exercise goals and didn’t readjust. This time, it was a wristband.

I’ve had my Fitbit Charge for 13 months, and over the last 5 or so months, the band has been peeling off the Fitbit. In October, I picked up a band guard to help keep the wristband intact. Because evidently, you can’t just replace a band for a Fitbit Charge.

In February, about a month after the warranty expired, the band came off completely in spite of the band guard. No more alarms to prompt me to stand up during the day. No more step tracking or any of the other things that were helping me stay focused on exercise.

So I stopped exercising for a couple of weeks.

Why that setback kicked me off the elliptical machine, I don’t know. I suspect it had to do with the same state of mind that decided to just give the blog a three-week break. At any rate, I did go for a walk this week and jumped on the stationary bike once. Not my 4-daya-week goal, but I feel like I at least am trying to rebound.

The Rest of the To-Do List

As for the rest of the to-do list, I still largely gave up sweets during the week (except when someone put a piece of cake in front of me, or pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.) So that’s at least a little bit of Live Healthier. 

To improve financial health, I completed our partnership returns if not our personal returns.

But there was little in the way of blogging and blog improvement last month, and there wasn’t much doing good things other than attending a couple of meetings at church.

For March, I’m trying to get back to the exercise goals (4 times a week), continue with the sweet limitations, take a dang blog class, and do at least one volunteer thing that’s not just teaching Sunday School.

That leaves financial health, and mostly I need to make a decision about how to handle a couple of IRAs. Or rather, I need to act on the decision I’ve already made to move them into Vanguard with most of the rest of my accounts.

 

State of the Blog: February 2017

Winter Break

Little Bit goes to a year-round school, and she just finished up her winter break.

For the first time in a year, we spent all break in Raleigh. Fortunately, so did a bunch of her friends. She got to enjoy a friend’s birthday party, playdates, theater class, Girl Scouts, and a tour of a bunch of the local parks with her dad during a surprisingly mild February.

Also, she went to the library, a trip to the art museum, and Lego Batman. (She and Jon both said Lego Batman was fun. They’ve also found a new favorite movie theater that sounds a little nicer than the one we usually visit.)

She even got me playing Minecraft, her latest video game obsession. All in all, this was probably our cheapest track-out yet, since almost all of the activities (except Lego Batman and a carousel ride at Pullen Park) cost nothing.

A Shopping Trip

Little Bit and I even took a quick shopping trip after we realized that she had outgrown about half her summer clothes.

For several years, I’ve happily bought Little Bit most of her clothes at Kohl’s. But now both her body and her tastes are phasing out of the brand I’ve purchased since she was a toddler, and I need a new reliable source of age-appropriate clothes.

I hadn’t been to the Children’s Place before, but I subscribed to their emails a while ago. And since they seemed to have a really good deal this past weekend, we decided to give them a try. Their clothes seemed a bit less dominated by the pink and princessy than what we’d been buying. And we were really happy with the selection, the prices, and the fact that we got $20 bucks in Place Cash to spend next month while only spending $50 on 5 tees, a dress, and some sparkly silver shoes with little heels.

She’s incredibly happy (if noisy) clomping down the hall wearing those new shoes.

Wrapping Up February 2017

Again, glad the month is over. I have less reason for stress now than at the beginning of the month, and I’m sure I will eventually shake off the fender bender. (which is really a March problem) And I actually do have a couple of articles in the pipeline, even if I haven’t started them yet.

Thanks for coming by. You can follow us on  TwitterFacebook. Pinterest,  Google+ and StumbleUpon. Also feel free to let us know if you have a topic you’d like us to cover. or just want to say hi!

So how did February go for you? Or any good reading suggestions? (Just downloaded A People’s History of the United States)

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Super Saving Tips*

 

28 thoughts on “State of the Blog: February 2017

  1. I’ll have to check out “Lies My Teachers Told Me”! That one sounds fascinating! I’m always looking for good books as well.

    Currently, I’m reading “The 5 Love Languages”, by Gary Chapman. It’s a great read – I recommend it. I also read “The Slight Edge” – it’s about how if you are consistent with your efforts over time, you will achieve any goal you set your mind to.

    Thanks for sharing, have a good one 🙂
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…The Mastermind Within Goals Check-in – February 2017My Profile

    • I’ll have to check those out. Our church is doing a Lent study of one of Chapman’s books, so it’s on my mind. I admit, I’m really bad about reading mainly fiction, other than blog posts and news.

  2. I hope you feel better. I completely understand needing to step back when stress gets overwhelming. I can also say that as a Tuesday/Thursday poster, my Sundays don’t feel pressured (although my Wednesdays generally do), so that may be a helpful change.

    I enjoyed Station Eleven. Girl with All the Gifts is on my list, but I haven’t gotten around to it. How did you like it?
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Want to Get More Done? Go Back to Sleep.My Profile

    • Yeah, I’m hoping Tuesday/Friday will work a bit better for me, but I don’t want to set a schedule with only 1 day between posts.

      I loved Girl with All the Gifts. It was probably the book I zoomed through the fastest, and the ending was really well done. Not your average zombie book, and I really want to see the movie (but who knows if I will any time soon? We don’t watch a lot of NSFK movies in our household.)

  3. Welcome back, Emily! I anxiously awaited your return. Wow, I’m sorry to hear about your accident but fortunately no one was hurt. Too bad about the fit-bit. Doesn’t it seem like most things go haywire right after the warranty expires? However, you did some walking and eliminated most sweets so you made gains in the health area. Have you decided on which blog class to take?
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…A Groovy Book Review: High School Money HacksMy Profile

    • I should have done a bit more research when the band started coming off in October….I probably could have gotten a new unit. But it’s a rotten design flaw. Jon has promised to try to epoxy the band back on to the FitBit, and I guess it’s worth a shot, but it hasn’t been a priority.

      I haven’t decided what to take, I still have a bunch of content to go through from the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit. it will likely be Pinterest or design/graphics oriented.

  4. Glad to see you back, Emily! Sorry about the fender bender – it’s good it was minor, but I know it’s a total disruption too. It sounds like a great break for Little Bit!

    Thanks for sharing what you’re reading. I’ve been on a self-improvement book binge lately. I read “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” (Izzo), “10% Happier” (Harris) and am currently reading “Essentialism” (McKeown). All great, in my opinion.
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…When you’re impatient with your financial goalsMy Profile

    • Thanks Amanda. I’ll have to look into those. I am not such a big self-improvement book reader, though Jon reads them a lot.

      And yes, was a very nice break for the kiddo. When she went off to school today, I thought about how quiet the house is. I think we all agree that it was probably just the amount of time off.

  5. Good to see you back, Emily! Glad that no one was hurt – I know a fender bender can be annoying. Children’s place has great deals for kids – we shop there for our kiddos. I am going to add “Lies My Teacher Told Me” to my reading queue.

    I wouldn’t have known if my teacher lied because I was never paying any attention 🙂
    Michael recently posted…Kickfurther ReviewMy Profile

    • Yeah, I really liked the clothes we got at Children’s Place.

      Lies My Teacher Told Me was very good. It’s more comparing the textbooks than actual teachers, but it certainly brings up the point that even the best high school history teachers often end up skipping or ignoring history and historical trends that might be controversial. Even now, most K-12 textbooks say the Civil War was about state’s rights, without adding that it was about their rights to uphold laws on slavery rather than just generic rights to make laws.

  6. Looking at the photos I was going to comment little bit, isn’t looking so little anymore. 🙂 Than I read the part about her outgrowing clothes. They do grow fast. We have soon to be eighteen year olds in our house.

    Lies My Teacher Told Me – sound great. History has been one of our kids favorite subjects, not sure if it’s been the content or just really great teachers. But this book sound like a fun read.

    Well I hope March and maybe some more daylight is just what you need to shake off the blahs you’ve been feeling.
    Brian recently posted…Net Worth Update: February 2017My Profile

    • She is not so little anymore. We’ve definitely moved into a lot of new territory this year as far as clothes, activities, concerns, and conversations. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when she’s getting ready to fly the nest like your twins, Brian.

      Lies my Teacher Told Me was really good, and I think it really speaks to current events and why so many people don’t seem to understand US history very well. US History is fascinating, but we can’t do a very good job of teaching it if we only venerate the past instead of learning from it.

  7. I really stressed myself out before Christmas, putting pressure on myself to publish 2 posts per week. I’ve dropped down to one now and feel like my posts are better and I enjoy blogging again. My views have increased since, although they still aren’t very high so maybe it doesn’t say a lot.

    Depression is an ugly monster; make sure you reach out to people in the real world as well as the online world if you need help. People think admitting they have depression or are suffering from stress is a sign of weakness, when in fact it is completely the opposite.

    I’ve been much better at exercising recently and one of the triggers for it was your post (get up offa that thing, I think it was called). Maybe read it back to yourself and see if it helps.

    • Yeah, I can’t imagine going back to 3 posts a week again anytime soon. It’s way too much pressure, though I respect those who can do it.

      I certainly need to do a better job of following my own advice, Sarah. I’ll try to make sure to fit a walk in today.

  8. Sorry about all the stress and depression, it is hard to live with it on a day to day basis. All our stress since January 27 has been about our nephew Matt, who has incurable brain cancer. When I look at what he is facing at age 55, I realize how fortunate I am at (almost) age 71. I contacted many sites for Matt and actually got money from his church (he is a former ordained minister), still jumping through hoops with the VA (retired Naval Commander), and Health and Human Services in Texas. I am thinking of writing to Apple, as he worked for them 2.5 years and quit only because of his failing speech and memory, caused by the (not yet diagnosed) brain tumor. He was able to get Cobra insurance and a few charities helped with the surgery bill, but he is still has a negative cash flow. I post his fundraiser on my Facebook page about once a week.
    As if this were not enough to keep me running to the medicine cabinet for a Xanax, today we took our very much loved kitty, to the Vet. She “regurgitated” huge masses of food yesterday and then we discovered blood in her urine. The Vet took her this morning and we know she has kidney and tooth problems. If her blood work is OK, tomorrow she will have a tooth pulled and the rest cleaned. This little stay with the Vet is estimated to be $600-$650. No idea if it is wise to invest that much money in a 17 year old cat, but she is our baby. There goes all the money we were planning on using to redo the little garden near the front door. We had already picked some lovely low growing palms and perennials. Looks like a few of the tall $9 long leaf plants at Walmart will be it. No Nursery in the future. Feel better and don’t work so hard. When you retire and look back, you will realize so many “big deals” were not really so big after all. Love to the family.

    • Thanks Jayne. We’ve all been worried about Matt, as well as several things going on on my side of the family. I’m sure that’s not helping matters either.

  9. Welcome back, Emily! Sorry to hear about the accident, but don’t let that derail your feeling of being back to normal. Stress and depression are tough to beat, but ironically exercise is one of the things that helps, at least that’s what my wife keeps telling me. I’m glad you got to spend some family time and some reading time while you were off. As a history major, that Lies My Teacher Told Me sounds really interesting.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…Avoid Financial Disaster by Paying Off Your High-Interest DebtMy Profile

    • Thanks Gary. Yeah, I know the exercise should help, it can just be difficult to get over that hump when you’re in the midst of it all. Of course, that’s still a poor excuse. And the weather should have helped…sunny and warm here most of the month.

  10. Welcome back Emily! Reading is the cure for everything, even if it is dystopian. I LOVED Station Eleven. And I loved Handmaids Tale in high school. I went to an ultra feminist catholic high school — if that’s not an oxymoron for you! All the nuns complained that women should be priests… lol. But I would love to revisit it now – and watch the new series on Hulu. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, Emily. I stressed about posting to my blog and then I kind of let that go a little. Yes, posting more often will help you keep your traffic up, but sometimes at the expense of your sanity. If you’re putting something good out there, which you are, we readers are going to keep coming back, even if you don’t post twice a week. There’s a case to be made for quality and rarity in these loud, troubling times. xo
    Linda at Brooklyn Bread recently posted…Investors Fighting Back as a New Era of Unregulated Greed UnfoldsMy Profile

    • Thanks Linda. I’m not surprised that there are some feminist catholic schools, at least in parts of the country. (I’m Episcopalian, our female priests are awesome.) I don’t know if I can watch the Hulu series, although I thought the Handmaid’s Tale was very interesting, especially the afterward where they shed a little more light on the backstory.

  11. Welcome back! I hope that you’re truly feeling ready to get back up and the rest was good, but if you’re still feeling any anxiety or depression, please don’t ignore it. I know at least the depression from personal experience can creep up on you, and it can really suck the life out of you.

    I’ll be rooting for you on the fitness goals, that seems to be one of the consistently helpful things to do for getting mental health or stability back on an even keel.

    I’m glad no one was hurt in the fender bender.

    It’d be great if you went to a Tuesday / Friday schedule from my reading perspective. Too many blogs (me included) publish on Mondays and it’s hard to comment on more than a few on Mondays. I’m not sure why it matters that I comment on the day of publication, I just like to! 😁
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Net Worth & Life Report: February 2017My Profile

    • Yeah, I’m slightly better today after talking to the lady whose car I hit again. Fortunately, she has been super nice so far. It’s helping me move past it, even if it’s an unexpected expense.

      I guess a lot of people write over the weekend, so publishing on Monday is common? I realized the other day in replying to something Rob at Mustard Seed Money said that I NEVER get much done over the weekend because Little Bit is under foot and weekends are frankly busy. I’m fairly productive on Mondays, so I think the switch will be a relief.

  12. Hi there Emily! Glad everyone is OK too. Fender benders happen – I hope you are able to move forward. I think your weekends focused on your little one is so important. I post on Tues or Wed and then again on Saturday most weeks. I am not that concerned about when I get the posts out. No need to stress yourself out on the weekends. She’ll grow up fast – believe me. Cherish those weekend days with her 🙂
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…There’s Gold In Them…Drawers!My Profile

    • Yeah, there’s that. My daughter’s growing quickly, and at least for now she wants to spend a lot of her time with her folks. Pretty soon that probably won’t be the case.

  13. Oh, I’m excited about Hulu putting out The Handmaid’s Tale soon. It looks crazy and interesting. I can’t wait to hear about your blog class choice. I signed up for Pro-Blogging Secrets and I’m not totally sure it was the best choice yet.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #185My Profile

    • We don’t have Hulu, but I’m interested to see how the series does. It seems like kind of a hard thing to watch.

  14. I’ve been missing you but I thought somehow it was my fault. I read a lot of blogs and thought I was just not catching you. I’m so glad you back and sorry about that fender bender. Sometimes things happen and I’m so glad everyone is okay. I know how these things can sometimes replay in your mind though. I have had a few fender benders before. I drove a big school bus -yes things happened. Made me very alert though! Have a good week.
    Vickie@Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden recently posted…Book Review: A Mother’s Love by Charlotte HubbardMy Profile

    • The accident is taken care of, thanks to our emergency fund and a very nice victim who made things as easy as possible while still getting her car fixed.

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