Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Roundup

And just like that, it's the last day of May ~ I can hardly believe it! For me, the first half of May consisted of taking finals, packing and storing my stuff, and staying at school for an extra week to do the labs for my summer science class. The second half of May has consisted of chilling out at home and doing, frankly, almost nothing. And it’s been pretty nice and relaxing, I must say!

I’ve decided to start doing a roundup post at the end of each month to share some of my favorite links from around the web from the month, as well as all of my own posts from the month. I always enjoy these type of posts, so I figured I might as well start doing them myself!

So without further ado, here is my May roundup.



My favorite links from this month:

This post on Unfancy about Caroline's hair, makeup, and well-being routine is excellent. I admire how much she respects and takes care of her body, not to mention I love her style!

Erica's post about when to throw away your makeup products is so helpful! I'm always wondering when you're supposed to get rid of mascara, eyeliner, etc., so her post (and the infrographic she included) is great!

This Verily article is all about how for one woman, her husband is not at all the ideal guy she thought she wanted ~ he's so much better than that.

On a similar note, this article about why you will marry the wrong person is incredible.

This post and this post on The Tea Drinking English Rose are so lovely and make you feel happy and peaceful just reading them! Charlotte's posts are always full of wonderful tidbits about England and tea and her adorable baby.

Leas' post, which is written like a letter to her baby daughter, spoke to me so much. Especially the part about how finding a husband isn't a reward for having a perfect prayer life. And so many other words of wisdom that are important for all of us women to hear.

Mariah's post on beauty and blogging is so beautiful. She talks about how when we feel drawn to beauty, really what we're attracted to is Beauty Himself. And that is what we reflect when we create, write, or capture beautiful things.


My posts from this month:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Exploring South Florida, Part II: Boating + Fishing + Beaching

(Beaching is definitely a word.)

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent an extra week at school to complete the labs for my summer Environmental Science class. After adventuring in the Everglades, which was a total blast, we made another fun outing to the Rookery Bay National Estuary. There, we went boating on the beautiful water, trolled for critters ~ and definitely caught some cool ones ~ and walked across an island to the beach.

Keep reading for stories and pictures from the expedition!

On the Water
As you can see, the water was absolutely beautiful ~ and it was a perfect day for boating too! We saw dolphins and manatees (two of my favorite animals) swimming in the water, which was amazing!

Catching Critters
We fished with a net that came off the back of the boat and dragged across the bottom of the water (I think the technical term for this was trolling? I don't know these things, haha.) After dragging the net underwater for about five minutes, we brought it in, sorted our catches into bins and jars, and looked at what we'd caught.

As you can see in the top photo, we caught a baby seahorse! Oh my gosh, it was so cute. We actually caught quite a few baby fish (like, baby fish) ~ and they were all so unbelievably cute.

As you can see in the second photo, we caught some sea stars, which was cool! Also featured in the second photo, as well as the bottom two photos, is a polka dot batfish. This fish was so weird, but also pretty cool. I even mustered up the courage to hold him!

Beach Time
After trolling, we parked our boat alongside an island in the middle of the estuary, and waded our way across it through water that ran through the mangrove trees. We were met by a beautiful beach on the other side! There we hunted for seashells, got our feet wet in the amazing blue water, and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Then it was time to head back in and call it a day.

Do you enjoy boating or fishing? Have you ever been to an estuary?

Sincerely,
~Stephanie

Monday, May 23, 2016

Exploring South Florida, Part I: The Everglades

After finals, I stayed at school for an extra week to complete the labs for my online summer class, Environmental Science. We spent the week exploring and adventuring in southern Florida, doing all kinds of exciting things ~ like taking nature walks, going on an airboat tour and a swamp buggy ride in the Everglades, and boating and fishing for critters in an estuary. We also got up close and personal with some alligators ~ I even held one!

Even though I've gone to school in Florida for two years, I haven't done much exploring down there. So it was really exciting and fascinating to see and experience some of Florida's awesome wildlife, unique environment, and sheer beauty. 

Today, allow me to share with you my adventures in the Everglades! (A heads-up: these adventures include bears and alligators.)

Airboat Tour
We went on an airboat tour with Wooten's Everglades Airboat Tours, and it was such a blast! Our captain, JR, shared lots of interesting facts about the Everglades, and he enjoyed driving the boat really fast and taking sharp curves ~ causing us to get sprayed with water, of course. It was so fun though ~ and so beautiful, as you can see!

Swamp Buggy Ride
Next we went across the street for a swamp buggy tour, for which we drove through the swamp as well as on land through the woods (as you can see). It was beautiful, and we saw all kinds of wildlife, including deer (lots of babies), squirrels, and even a black bear! (bottom photo) He was a 3-4 year-old bear who has lots more growing yet to do, and who was contentedly munching away on some corn when we pulled up near him. He was so cute! 

Alligator Time
This same place had lots of animals in enclosures, like crocodiles, otters, panthers, and of course alligators. One employee demonstrated, with the alligator in the top picture, how the Native Americans used to capture and tie up alligators, and he also gave lots of interesting facts about gators. Then he showed us a smaller type of alligator, which we got to hold! So there's me, holding a little alligator ~ he was so cute! It alllllllmost made me want a pet alligator ;)

Stay tuned for another post or two about my lab adventures ~ I have more exciting stories and pictures for you!

Have you ever been to the Everglades or to Florida?

Sincerely,
~Stephanie

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

5 Guidelines to Help You Decide Whether to Transfer Schools

Choosing the right college is an important decision in a young person’s life, and it’s one you want to make sure you get right. So what happens if you get it wrong?

That's what happened to me. Long story short, after high school, I went to what I thought was my "dream school." But throughout my entire freshman year, I experienced second thoughts. Had I made the right decision? Was this really the school for me?

Despite my honest efforts to give this school my best shot, my doubts lingered all year, and only worsened. By the end of the year, there was no doubt in my mind that this place was absolutely not where I was meant to be.

My parents took some convincing, but thankfully, the summer after that freshman year, I arranged to transfer schools. And here I am at my current school – and let me tell you, transferring there was the best decision I’ve ever made. My college is absolutely the right place for me, and I am so happy, peaceful, and alive here. It was a hard decision in some ways, and it took a lot of thought and prayer  but it was without a doubt the right decision for me.

Allow me to offer some guidelines to go by, if you are considering transferring schools. It's a big decision that you must take seriously and give careful thought to. But who knows, it could turn out to be the best decision you make, just like it did for me.


1 . Examine your motives.
Why do you want to transfer? Honestly ask yourself this question. Does another school have a particular program that is unavailable at your current school? Are you unhappy at your current school? If so, why?

Back when I was a freshman, my then-boyfriend already attended the school I wanted to (and did ultimately) transfer to. So of course when I expressed my desire to transfer there, many people, especially my parents, thought I only wanted to transfer so I could be with him. While I knew that wasn’t the case, I still took time to carefully examine my heart and determine if this was actually my motive, deep down inside.

And I can honestly say, to this day, that that truly was not why I wanted to transfer. In a nutshell, my real, honest-to-goodness reason for transferring schools was that, for academic, personal, and spiritual reasons, I wanted to go to a Catholic college (which my former school was not). And for me, those were legitimate and excellent reasons.

Take time to closely and carefully examine your motives for wanting to transfer schools, and make sure they are serious and legitimate. Changing schools is a big decision that will impact the rest of your life, so it's certainly not one to make for superficial or  let's be real here  stupid reasons. 

2. Explore your options thoroughly.
When I was considering transferring, I scoured the websites of my prospective schools and read every piece of important information I could find. I also looked on sites such as Rate My Professor and other school review websites to get inside perspectives on what the schools were really like. I made phone calls to the admissions offices to get answers to any questions I had, as well as to find out exactly what was required of transfer applicants. 

Do some honest, thorough research on the schools you're looking into, so you can make a well-informed decision. My mentality during this process was, "whichever school I transfer to, that's where I'm going to stay." College-hopping was not going to be an option  I was going to transfer schools once, and that would be final. I recommend having this same mentality. Do your research, and make absolutely sure that another school is really, actually going to be more what you want than your current school is. Weigh the pros and cons of staying at your current school versus transferring to a different school, financially, academically, etc.

3. Talk to people who can offer helpful, unbiased insight.
When making a decision, it always helps me to talk through things with other people, particularly trusted friends or family. When I was considering transferring, since my family was not initially in support of me, I knew I needed to seek out people who could provide me with honest, unbiased, and informative insight. 

So I talked to a high school / college friend who was in my exact situation (we went to the same college freshman year and she was also considering a transfer), so she totally understood where I was coming from. I called the admissions offices of the schools I was looking into and asked them any questions I had, so I could collect as many facts as possible. I talked things out with my best friend, who is always honest and real with me, so I trusted her opinion.

Talking to other people will, I'm sure, help you immensely in examining your motives and exploring your options. Be sure to talk to a few trusted people who can and will provide their insight or opinion from an unbiased standpoint.

4. Take it to prayer.

During my decision-making process, I prayed about it every single day. My prayer was always, "God, I know I want to do. But if it's not what you want me to do, please stop me dead in my tracks. But if it is what you want me to do, please make it happen and make it all work out."

And make it work out He did. Seriously, everything just fell into place, from the big things to little details. I could go on and on about it, but suffice it to say that God made it abundantly clear that transferring to my current school was the path He wanted me to take. 

Be prayerful about deciding whether or not to transfer schools, because it's a big decision and you want to make sure you're following God's will. Ask God to direct your steps and point you in the right direction and lead you down the path He has laid out for you. Tell Him what your desires are, and ask Him to simply either work things out, or to not work things out, to indicate to you whether or not He wants this for you.

Either way, always make following God's will your #1 goal, and remember that God knows exactly what is best for you.

5. Make the decision that is best for you.
Ultimately, this is your decision. It's your education and your life, so therefore it's your decision. Make it for yourself and for no one else. 

I knew how opposed my parents were to my transferring, but I also knew in my heart and my gut that transferring was the right decision to make. So even though it was going to kill me to displease them so much, I was ready to do it anyways ~ because I knew that this was the right thing and that this was what I wanted. Thankfully, my parents had a change of heart and ended up being in full support of my transfer (one example of how God worked everything out for me). But even still, my decision was mine and was only for me, because I knew it was best for me.

Keep in mind that you're an adult and that this is about your college education, and go from there. Some people in your life won't understand your decision, or will disapprove of it, or will think all the wrong things because of it. But don't let that get to you. You are responsible for your own happiness, and you know what you want. So make the decision that is best for you, and make it for yourself.


Are you considering transferring schools? Did you transfer schools? Why?

Sincerely,
~Stephanie

Friday, May 13, 2016

April Recap and May Goals

Guys, I'm so excited that it's May! May is one of my favorite months, because it's my middle name (so I call it my lucky month), and because it means the end of school and the beginning of summer! It also just feels like such a happy, flowery, warm month. I just love May.

As always, with a new month comes a new set of monthly goals. As I mentioned in this post and in this post, 2016 is all about focus for me, and about delighting in being a student. To help myself grow in these ways, I'm setting concrete, baby-steps goals for myself in some key areas of my life. This includes monthly goals, which I share here on the blog, partially to hold myself accountable and also in hopes that it will encourage you in your goals too!

So here are my goals for May, as well as a recap on how I did on my April goals.


A P R I L  R E C A P

Academic Goal: Catch up - and stay caught up - on readings.
I did alright on this one. As papers and exams came up though, it was hard to catch up completely and stay completely caught up. (Prioritization, ya know?) But I still managed to stay reasonably on top of my readings, with a few exceptions.

Personal Goal: Get a summer job lined up. 
Well, I thought I had this one taken care of... until the other day when I found out my Christmastime job isn't going to take me back after all. So that's annoying. I'm not sure what I'll do for a summer job now, but I'm hoping to do babysitting or housecleaning or some such job.

Spiritual Goal: Read at least one book for spiritual reading.
Unfortunately, this one was a total flop. I blame papers and finals. (Again, prioritization, ya know?) I aimed to read "Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves," by Jason Evert. While I did read a bit of it, I didn't come anywhere near finishing it. I'll have to tack it on to May's goals. 


M A Y  G O A L S

During the summer months, I'm going to set down my monthly goals in list form, instead of breaking them up into academic, personal, and spiritual goals. So here you go:
  • Do well in my environmental science class
  • Begin studying for the college algebra CLEP Exam
  • Find a way to work, and work as much as I can
  • Practice French often
  • Read "Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves"
  • Start reading the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
  • Get rid of some clothes
  • Knit something
  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Do a dietary detox
What are your goals for the month of May?

Sincerely,
~Stephanie

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Currently: May

Hey everyone, and happy May! (Which my middle name ~ so it's my lucky month!)

I'm back from my unexpected 3-week blogging hiatus! My temporary absence from the blogosphere happened because as my semester came to a close, papers piled up and, of course, final exams came. So first things had to come first, which sadly meant neglecting my little corner of the internet for a while.

But I'm back now, and am officially on summer vacation and a senior in college. What?!? I can hardly believe it, guys. I have one more year of college left! As I attended my school's graduation ceremony last weekend, all I could think was, "This is going to be me next year." It's so freakin' crazy!

Anyway. I'm going to get back into the swing of blogging by publishing all the posts I would normally have published at the beginning of the month (currently, monthly goals, etc). So let's just pretend it's still the first week of May, k?

Even though I'm a little late to this link-up, I'm going to do it anyway. I give you my "currently," May edition.


C E L E B R A T I N G  the end of the school year!!! As I mentioned, I'm now officially on summer vacation, done with my junior year, and a college senior (so much crazy). I survived papers, final exams, and packing up and moving out of my dorm room ~ so there's much to celebrate! (And by celebrate I mean sleeping and doing absolutely nothing. It's the greatest.)

R E A D I N G  "Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves" by Jason Evert. I was supposed to read this book during the month of April, but alas, I'm still working on it (thank you, papers and finals). It's an excellent read!

P O N D E R I N G  life decisions. Since I'm going to be a senior in the fall, it's time to legitly start thinking about what I want to do after college. Teaching? Grad school? If grad school, where? Gap year first? These are pretty much the options that I'm considering. I'll be putting a lot of thought and prayer into them in the coming months.

S I P P I N G  Trop-A-Rocka Diet Snapple. It's made from green and black tea, and is a blend of pear, peach, and pomegranate flavors. It's pretty yummy!

G O I N G  home on Saturday! I'm currently staying at my school for an extra week as part of a summer class, but I get to go home to Michigan first thing Saturday morning. Yay!

What have you been up to lately? What are you celebrating, reading, pondering, sipping, and going?

Sincerely,
~Stephanie
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