It’s my birthday! Today I turned 32.
When I was a child and someone would ask my parents how old they were and they’d have to think about it for a second, that seemed like THE weirdest thing. How could you forget how old you are?
And now I know exactly how they felt because I’m always trying to remember how old I actually am.
I told people for almost a year that I was 31 until Bart was with me during one of these exchanges and kindly reminded me that I was actually only 30.
In honor of being 32, here are the answers to 32 questions I got asked on Instagram this week (a good idea I borrowed from my sister):
32 things on my 32nd birthday
1. Where does the name Janssen come from?
My mom’s best friend’s name was Janet and she wanted something similar, and then she was writing a thank-you letter to the vice-president of Sears and Roebuck (she worked for the alumni office while my dad was in dental school) and his last name was Janssen. (People always ask what my siblings names are too – I have two sisters, Merrick and Landen, and two brothers, Crawford and Shepard).
2. Where have you lived?
I was born in Wisconsin and we moved to Las Vegas when I was in elementary school. I went to Utah to go to school, then Bart and I moved to Austin after we got married and worked and both went to grad school. We moved to Boston for a year and both worked, then we moved back to Austin after Ella was born and lived there for three years. Bart got accepted to Duke’s MBA program, so we moved to North Carolina for two years (with a summer internship in Arizona and a semester abroad in London) and then after he graduated we moved here to Phoenix.
3. Where is your favorite place you’ve lived?
I LOVED Austin – the weather, the culture, the restaurant scene, the mix of big city/small town, and all the things to do inside and out. Also, we just had so many great friends there. And I love those massive Texas roads with four lanes in each direction.
4. What is your favorite color?
Blue. Always and forever. But I like most colors a lot – I love black and white and gray, I love pinks and reds, and I love metallics.
5. What’s your favorite food?
Sushi. And anything with goat cheese. Also sourdough bread. And ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.
6. How did you and Bart meet?
When I came back to college for my sophomore year, my roommate was working as a freshman mentor and her co-mentor was Bart. I met him a few times at various events that they were both at, and we started dating a couple of weeks later.
7. How old were you when you got married?
I was 19 and turned 20 a few weeks after we got married, just before I started my junior year in college.
8. Does Bart read as much as you do?
Bart loves to read (he was a comparative literature major as an undergrad), but he doesn’t read as much as I do. He does love audiobooks and gets through at least one or two a month, and usually reads a dozen or so physical books a year too. We try to read for 20 minutes or so before bed, but that habit kind of comes and goes depending on how busy our lives are.
9. What did you study as an undergrad?
I started as a communications/PR major and a political science minor, but after one political science class that was not that interesting and one history class that was amazing, I changed to a history minor and then I loved all my history classes so much I switched my major to history and graduated in that.
10. What’s your dream library job?
The library job that sounds the most fun to me is collection development. Working for a big library system with a decent budget, reading all the reviews and books, and choosing which ones to buy seems prettttty ideal. Also, since I have children, I’m not dying to work in a job that requires working with a bunch of OTHER children, so working alone in an office or with a few other librarians, sounds really appealing to me.
11. Did you have a specialty in your master’s program?
My focus was youth services and children’s literature. If you think this was the most fun master’s program ever, you aren’t wrong.
12. Do you think you will ever go back to work in a library setting?
Never say never, but probably not. I wrote a long answer about why I don’t plan to go back here, if you’re interested.
13. What’s your all-time favorite book?
I hate to choose one, but when I’m forced to, I usually go with The Wednesday Wars. I’ve read it several times and I think it’s just about perfect (my full gushing review is here).
14. What are your favorite audiobooks?
My Lady Jane is a recent super-fave. I also loved The Wednesday Wars, Outliers, Unbroken, The Amulet of Samarkand, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone on audio. If you want more ideas, I have a list of 25 of my favorite audiobooks here.
15. How do you keep your books organized (and how do you keep your kids from pulling them off the shelves)?
For someone with a professional library degree, I have embarrassingly no real system. We have our adult books scattered through my office, our dining room bookshelf, and our bookshelves in our family room. We have a giant IKEA bookshelf in our play room which houses all the picture books and I have them divided between fiction and non-fiction and then shelves for board books and children and YA novels, but no organization beyond that. And somehow, my children have never been really into pulling books off the shelf, thank goodness.
16. Do you have ambitions to write a book?
I feel like lots of bloggers and readers want to write a book and I’m not saying I wouldn’t consider it someday, but it’s definitely not something I’m dying to do or am really working toward. I’ve heard so many writers talk about how they just have that ITCH to write a book and I don’t feel like I have that at all. I like to read books, not necessarily create them myself.
17. When is your favorite time of the day to fit in your reading?
I don’t necessarily have a time when I really consistently read. I often listen to audiobook while I’m running in the mornings, I like to listen while I’m getting ready for the day, while I do laundry or when I’m editing photos and doing other mindless blog work. I also read a physical or Kindle book while I’m nursing (which is 5-6 times a day), and I often read after the girls are in bed. If I’m in the middle of a book I’m really liking, it’s amazing how much extra time to read or listen I can squeeze in. In fact, my biggest tip to find more time for reading is to read books you REALLY like. No one every says, “When do you fit in time to watch a Netflix show?” because if you like a show, you FIND time to watch. Same with reading, I think.
18. Being the devoted Gretchen Ruben fan that you are, which tendency are you?
I’m an Upholder and I probably lean toward Questioner.
19. You’ve said you’re an introvert but you seem so outgoing and just . . . not introverted! How do you deal with being an introvert but still so involved with blogging, blogging events, social media, etc?
I think sometimes people think introverts don’t really like people or are really awkward in social situations, but I think of myself as an introvert in the sense that I am energized by time by myself and that I’m drained by social situations. And blogging events are fairly stressful for me, but the more I’ve gone to them, the better I’ve gotten, plus I always remind myself at any social situation that I’ve made an effort to get there (whether time, money, babysitting, etc) and that I don’t want to waste it sitting in the corner with my phone or a book. And I also try to remember that most people are nice and want to be friendly. In my regular non-blogging life, I try to create my own social events so that I can be social but in a setting where I’m more comfortable, like hosting parties or having families over for dinner. Also, Bart is an extrovert and thirteen years of being with him has helped me get more comfortable in large group situations and meeting new people. But I’d definitely always choose being with a small group of people I know well or, even better, home on the couch with a book.
20. How do you balance time working versus time with your girls? What is your schedule?
I don’t know that anyone has balance figured out (at least not anyone I’ve ever talked to), but I do the best I can. I have a babysitter that comes a few mornings a week, so I get about 2 hours of work each of those days, and then I work for about two hours during naps and quiet time in the afternoon. I’d also love to not work in the evenings, but right now with getting ready for the launch of London Littles in a few weeks, I usually work quite a bit between the time the girls go to bed and when I go to bed. I try to be mostly off-line in the mornings and then again after school/naps, but I’m very far from perfect.
21. You (and your sisters, for that matter) all just exude confidence! At our time of life a lot of women I know are unhappy with the way they look or their weight or their circumstances and the list goes on and on. How do you maintain your confidence?! Especially in the blogging world where the temptations to compare to others is high?
I think our parents gave us a lot of responsibility from working around the house and at my dad’s dental office to navigating the whole family through the airport when we traveled to mostly being in charge of our own educations – so we all felt pretty able by the time we left home, and I think confidence mostly comes from feeling capable. And the longer I blog, the more I recognize that there are a TON of people out there doing amazing and impressive things and there’s no way to really compete with everyone and there’s plenty of room for everyone. Which is not to say that I don’t look at other people and I wish I had their house or vacation or hair skills or wardrobe. But I just try to get on with my life and focus on the things that I can do well. Also, one of my main goals in life is to be happy and I’m the only person who can do that, so I try to take responsibility for focusing on the things that make me happy instead of what I don’t have or what other people are doing.
22. What are you afraid of?
I do NOT like birds. Their little claws/feet really give me the creeps. A year or so ago we were at a home that had a bird in it and it flew right at me and my girls were DYING laughing because I screamed like a baby.
23. If you had a day with no work or family responsibilities, what would you do?
I’d go get a manicure and pedicure, see a movie by myself, go out to lunch with a good book, go for a long walk with an audiobook or podcast, and take an afternoon nap.
24. You have great eyebrows! What’s your secret?
I’ve always had very dark and thick eyebrows, so it’s very nice of those to be in style right now. When I was a teenager, people asked if I dyed my hair because I was pretty blonde (I still think of myself as blonde, actually) and my eyebrows were so much darker. A couple of years ago, my sister recommended I let the tops grow in for a better shape and then I use this powder to touch up the edges every day.
26. Which kid was the easiest transition/postpartum time for you?
Star was absolutely my easiest transition. I haven’t had any particularly rocky ones, but a first baby is always a learning curve, and going from one baby to juggling two children is an adjustment. Star was born during a not super busy period of my life, the other girls got along well and were old enough to entertain each other, Bart had a pretty relaxed schedule during his last quarter, and we had a house with plenty of space that I loved. She was also my easiest baby – she slept like a dream, ate really well, and was just happy and content almost all the time. That whole first six months with her felt magical.
27. What do you do every single day?
I ALWAYS make the bed. I’ve probably missed making my bed less than five times in the past 15 years.
28. What do you do as a mom/adult that you said you’d never do?
I HATE being late, and I promised myself I’d never be late when I was the one driving. And. . . now of course I’m always struggling to be on time. I read an article a while ago about why people are late and one reason is that they always try to fit one more thing in. THAT’s why I’m late – I’m always trying to finish up one extra task (empty the dishwasher! Switch the laundry! Make my bed!) before I walk out the door.
29. What kind of car do you drive?
I drove a Ford Escape until last year (we had three car seats lined up on the bench seat) but a few weeks before Tally was born, we got a Toyota Sienna. I’m so not a car person, so it doesn’t bother me to drive a minivan, although I do miss being able to reach all my girls from the front seat.
30. You once said you didn’t see yourself ever being a fashion blogger. What changed that for you? Do you think fashion posts are just par for the course for blogging these days?
I don’t think of myself as a fashion blogger – I just like sharing things I like, and clothing happens to be one of those things (and it wasn’t something that I cared very much about a decade ago). I definitely don’t think every blog needs fashion posts, but it’s a fun thing for me to share.
31. What’s something random about you?
I can ride a unicycle! My dad had one when he was growing up, so one year my mom bought him a new one and a smaller one so he could teach us to ride too. I haven’t done it in years, but I assume it’s like riding a bike. . .
32. What’s your ideal vacation?
My favorite travel is to a big city with a lot of time to site see, try new restaurants, wander through the downtown and neighborhoods, and visit a bookstore or library. I’m kind of bad at relaxing vacations like sitting by the pool at a resort for a week.
If you have other questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer!
Photos by Christie Knight