Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday Wishlist 2018

A Month of Faves 

Fri, Dec 14th: 

On Your Holiday Wishlist 
What are you asking Santa Hanukkah Harry for? 
I learned from Natasha that Hanukkah Harry came from SNL, 
and I just DIED watching the skit (here)

We all know I would have published this regardless of the prompt. 
I love posting it because multiple years I've gotten ideas from other people. 
e.g. one year Amanda suggested this One-A-Day-Question book 
that I have loved over the years. 

Tell me what you'd add?


Every year I request a new bag. 
2 years ago it was the Lily Jade Diaper bag 
and last year it was the Rebecca Minkoff backpack, 
both of which I rotate daily.

Meet [what I hope will be] the combined winner: 
MinaKay backpack. 
Beautiful leather-look with tons of room (like the Lily Jade) 
but also a BACKPACK (like the Rebecca Minkoff) 
because hands-free is essential now. 

Godiva Dark Chocolate Assorted Truffles 

After gaining 20 lbs this fall, 
I most certainly do not need more sugar. 
That said, these are my favorite sweets of all times 
(well, you know, next to a package of oreos). 

Spektrum Blue Light Blocking Glasses 

We should all know by now that looking at screens at night is bad. 
Laptop or iPhone, it's all bad. 
Bad bad bad. 
But sometimes, I just want to. 
I've heard great things about these glasses, 
and hope it helps. 

BaByless 2" Nano Titanium Curling Iron 

I've had the same Conair curling iron for 14 years, 
with a brief pause in the middle when flat irons were cool. 
I love big bouncy curls 
(which dissolve into waves with my virgin hair) 
and this I found through Kate 
when she did her "budget-to-splurge" curling iron showdown

Poppin 10-Piece Blush Set 

Our home office is pretty stark, 
but I spend a lot of time in here 
(disproportionately so, given that I don't work 
but my love of spreadsheets and finance tracking sucks me in) 
I hope this will liven it up? 

Bite Beauty Agave Treat Trio

I have the Agave lip mask and scrub, 
and while I originally posted that it seemed redundant, 
the truth is I've become addicted. 

It's halfway on the way to clean beauty too. 
It's formulated without parabens and sulfates, 
but not all the way to organic hippy shit. 

Sephora has SO MANY good little holiday gift sets. 
Kate had shared a ton 
(can't find on her blog, so she must've shared on IG)

Catch Phrase 

My favorite party game 
(aside from, you know, actual drinking games). 
This is so fun with a crowd, 
and I find it especially fun with a girls-vs-boys team. 
It's like Taboo, 
except I despise Taboo, 
because once I see the list of forbidden words, 
that's all I can think about. 


Just me? 
I played this game for hours in junior high with my best friend. 
I'm always looking for games that work for 2-people, 
as Adam and I turn New Year's Eve into 
champagne + game night. 

Scanwood Olive Wood Cooking Spoon 

It took me decades to learn it's better to cook with a wooden spoon. 
And now that I've learned this, my wooden spoons need replacement. 
This one comes highly rated. 
It may be considered expensive for a spoon, 
but that's what holidays gifts are for. 
A cheaper one, also well-rated, is Oxo


And that's a wrap for my list. 
Aaron's list : LEGOs (City) 
Oliver's list : Construction Vehicles 
And Adam, like usual, is a giant question mark of golf/tech/wtf.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Routines Habits and Changes

December Writing Prompt: 
A Month of Faves

Wed, Dec 12th: 
Routines, Habits, and Changes 
What worked this year 
and/or what didn't

Man, lots of changes this year. 
All of them driven by the big K 

What's Worked: The Kids Morning Routine

The kids morning routine has gone great. 
I wrote about it here

Overall, super pleased. 
*pats self on back*

What's Not Working: My Morning Workout 

I haven't run on a weekday morning for weeks
I run on Saturday or Sunday morning, 
and then once on a weeknight with my friend. 
But that great 6am morning run? 

It's just too damn dark. 
I hate the dark. 
I hate carrying a flashlight to see what I'm tripping over. 

I'll get back into it... eventually. 
I have to. 
I just need this darkness to fade a little.

What's Sort-of Working: After-school Routine

I wrote about that here
It's getting better and better. 

A lot of it is just tweaking. 
For example, I learned that on Tuesday Swim Lesson day, 
I either need to do a prepare-ahead crockpot dinner, 
or plan on eating leftovers. 
With traffic, we don't get home in enough time to cook dinner, 
without someone [me] getting frazzled and freaking out. 

Some weeks I feel like "I GOT IT" 
and some weeks The Great Void swallows us whole 
and spits us out as in an after-school apocalypse special. 

What Hasn't Worked: TV 

Oliver has a TV addiction. 
I'm just coming to terms with this. 

Oliver had been getting a 20 minute show between 
bus-drop-off and preschool 
and then two 20-minute shows while I make dinner, 
for a total of one hour of screentime a day.
This is appropriate per the American Academy of Pediatrics (here). 
So we are all good, right? 

Oliver asks for TV ALL. THE. TIME. 
And when his show ends (usually Daniel Tiger),
 he throws a FIT. 
Crying and wailing like we just dismembered his teddy bear. 

Currently we are suffering through a TV detox. 
No shows in the morning. 
No shows in the evening. 
No shows on the weekends. 

On one hand, it sucks for me as a parent. 
On the other hand, it's forced me to become more creative 
and find healthier alternatives. 
Instead of a morning show before preschool, we go for a walk. 
Instead of an afternoon show, we read through the entire bookcase. 

I hate to use those vomit words like
 "being present" 
"being engaged" 
but that's what it is. 
(excuse me while I go rinse out my mouth) 

Reading: among the best non-TV activities, aided significantly by libraries full of truck books

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Day in the Life

December Writing Prompt: 
A Month of Faves

Mon, Dec 10th: 
A Day (or a Weekend) in the Life 
What did you do on Sat, Dec 8th 
and/or what were the weekend highlights? 

Let me brush off my "Recap" writing hat. 
Haven't done one of these in a while. 

Saturday, December 8th


Saturday morning we kicked off with buttermilk biscuits & bacon. 
A typical weekend breakfast for us would be pancakes or waffles, 
but I needed to use up both some buttermilk and bacon thus... here we are. 

Morris Arboretum Trains

Oliver LOVES LOVES LOVES LOVES this setup. 
Actually everyone does. 
Adam, Aaron, even me. 
Outdoors in the arboretum, 
16 trains & tracks 
(including Thomas & Percy) 
plus lights 
and beautifully made miniature wooden buildings. 

We've been here half a dozen times already 
and we'll be back another dozen before the end of the month. 


Helped my SIL make latkes for the Hanukkah party in the evening. 
Latkes may be delicious, 
but they are labor intensive. 

I came home absolutely reeking of fried oil. 
Aaron exclaims: "Mommy you smell good!" 
while Adam is holding his nose. 
Into the shower I go with a double-dose of shampoo. 

Hanukkah Party

Hanukkah with the cousins. 
Kids range in age from 2.5 year "twin" cousins
to 12 year old real twins. 
It's very noisy with a lot of food. 

The best part is the lighting of the menorah 
where each cousin gets to light one candle. 

Best picture this holiday season goes to Oliver here, 
totally losing his shit because he wanted to blow out the candles for "Happy Birthday" 

Dropped Kids Off at My Parents:

Yay for Grandparent Sleepover! 

Adults Christmas Party:

Oh hello Christmas booze. 
I was *maybe* a *little* drunk in this photo. 
And by "maybe" and "little" I mean like... 

We stayed up until midnight which for those with children, 
is equivalent to a raging all-nighter in college. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Blogger Love

Fri, Dec 7th:
The Blogger Love Edition
Recommend some bloggers for us to check out 
and tell us what you like about each blog

I follow too many blogs. 
It's a problem I'm trying to cut back on. 
I don't have enough time to read them all, 
and many times end up farrrr behind. 

In the meantime, 
here's my attempt at classifying my current blogs. 

And wow, this is a long post. 

Mega Blogs/Sites with Multi-Content 

This blog has been around forever 
and has transformed into a booming empire 
with clothing line sold at Nordstrom. 
I don't have a lot in common with the primary writer, 
Emily Schuman, 
except a shared first name
 and us both being mothers, 
but I truly love to read what she has to say. 
She's a delight on IG 
and I find her voice soothing 
which sounds incredibly creepy 
but oh well. 

I can't pinpoint why
since much of it doesn't relate to me
but I really love the content of this blog, 
either written by Emily or others on her staff. 

The ultimate fashion / shopping blog, 
with a side of well-being, 
current affairs, 
and a whole host of other content. 
I skim over a lot of the fashion posts
 (the majority of the posts) , 
but LOVE LOVE LOVE the deeper content this blog puts out. 
I have linked to many of their articles 
because they are just so well done. 
So well researched. 
Informational and insightful. 
Love them. 

Also the main editor/founder Shana lives in Philadelphia. 
And since no one important lives in Philadelphia ever
it's super fun to see someone blogging from my home. 

Beauty with a side of Lifestyle 

My all-time favorite IG personality. 
She is fucking hilarious. 
I have cried laughing 
and nearly peed my pants. 

A married mom of 4, 
I started following her years ago when they lived in Alaska 
(omg, those posts were breath-takingly beautiful
then followed her family's journey down to Georgia, 
and then the BIG ONE: 
Finding out your favorite blogger has breast cancer: wow. 
And she's so open about it. 
About every little tiny detail that you may not want to know. 
She doesn't know the meaning of "TMI" or "privacy" 
and I fucking love that. 
She does a podcast (the only one I listen to) 
and I have learned so much about cancer, 
it's side-effects (both physical and mental), 
and what cancer patients need.
And through it all, her humor has stayed strong. 

Also with this cancer diagnosis, 
she dove headfirst into CLEAN BEAUTY 
and she has been my literal guide, 
every step of the way, 
from where to shop

I lovvveeeeeee Kate. 
She is delightful. 
She's my second favorite IG personality. 
I love how she talks to the camera. 
Her blog is the ultimate on beauty and skin care information, 
and not just products but how
I have learned SO SO SO SO MUCH from watching her. 
Little things like brushing my hair before I shower 
to letting my primer dry before applying foundation. 

If I had one complaint, 
it's that I wished she would dive into cleaner products. 
She did one single post and it was "meh." 
But I can forgive that because she named her daughter after me.

For Fun/ Lifestyle 

Generally, I just enjoy reading them. 

Bridget lives up near Boston 
and has older kids from her husband
 (his first wife died of cancer)
as well as two new little ones. 
Her love story with her husband is PERFECTION. 
Please go read it (Ch 1, 2, and 3)

While most of her blog is about travel and sponsorships 
(not my thing) 
she has a deep caring heart for the world 
and it's inhabitants who struggle
and I have learned so much from her. 

While I may not read every post of her blog, 
I make sure I hit up her weekly links post, 
because it's the best of any blog. 

Sadly, this blog is on sabbatical 
but I can't ignore it because I really truly loved reading it. 

Brittany lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean with her handsome husband, 
and three girls, 
including toddler twins. 

To tell you how good this writing is, 
I introduced my coworker to this blog, 
and my coworker read the entire 8+ years of this blog from start to finish 
in about a month. 

I've followed Jessica Garvin since the beginning. 
Her posts were honest and hilarious
 (incld my fav parent story ever). 
She's long since morphed into my curated / sponsored content, 
which I tend to skim, 
but overall I still find her an enjoyable read. 

Mother of six-soon-to-be-seven children. 
Her writing is infrequent, 
but hilarious. 
I appreciate she doesn't clog up my feed with sponsored posts, 
but just writes the occasional "here's life" blurb 
that somehow is incredibly amusing. 

She's a huge Bachelor fan, 
which I consider a negative but most consider a positive. 

Mom of four-soon-to-be-five. 
Similar to Jessica Garvin, 
I've followed her from the beginning 
(and loved some of her early posts 
about baby & toddler meal planning
but she's since morphed into a curated blog, 
which I like much less 
but I still follow her because old habits die hard. 

Real People 

People I actually interact with. 
And some of their blogs may be near death 
(side-eye... Amanda) 
but I have enjoyed getting to know them through it!

Amanda documented her infertility journey 
and one quiet afternoon at work, 
I read through every single post. 
It may be 5+ years old now 
(her twins are 2 weeks younger than Aaron) 
but it's still great if you ever want to learn more. 

She lives in Texas, 
doesn't blog anymore, 
but is still super awesome anyway
She's the first holiday card I receive every year, 
and I love a person who is consistently prompt. 

The most exciting thing is that I MET AMANDA IN PERSON this spring. 
Which was super super super cool. 
I gushed about her in that post so I'll refrain from further detail here. 

I met Natasha through Amanda's blog. 
Natasha lives in Canada 
(which I'm super jealous of)
and is a veteran mom 
(meaning her kids are older than mine) 
and the perfect example for my #parentinggoals. 

Natasha reads allll the books allll the time 
and even in my best life, 
I could never keep up with her. 
Her book recs are on point!

Natasha was the one who tagged me in this monthly favorites, 
which also means she knows me pretty darn well. 

I met Alena through a combo of Natasha/Amanda's blog. 
(Which came first?)

She lives in Texas 
and shares my super nerdy love of stats. 
Alena also completed this crazy challenge of book prompts
reading 50 books in half a year, 
which I am totally impressed / intimidated by! 
And obviously, Alena is spot on with book recs. 


Whew, there we have it! 
All my blogger love! 
Clearly too much love because I'm so behind on reading blogs!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Popular Books Worth the Hype (or not)

Wed, Dec 5th: 
Popular Books Worth the Hype 
(and/or not worth the hype)

The trickiest part of this prompt, 
is defining "hyped." 
I don't follow any NY Times or Oprah book lists, 
so my version of "hyped" 
is seeing two or more people recommend it. 
Which probably doesn't qualify as "true hype." 

Let's dive in shall we? 
"Hyped up" books I read in 2018 
(in chronological order): 

Big Little Lies 
by Liane Moriarty 

Reviewed here
Not worth the hype. 
An old "it" book, 
I found this to be... decent. 
It was slowwwwww 
but I loved the ending. 

That said, the TV show on this was equally hyped, 
and I thought it was TERRIBLE. 

Dan Brown 

Reviewed here.
Not worth the hype. 
It was... ok. 
Dan Brown has clearly ridden the coat-tails of The DaVinci Code a bit too long. 

The Kitchen House 
by Kathleen Grissom 

Reviewed here.
Worth the hype. 
Very good. 
A little too brutal for me, 
but overall a solid book. 

The Wife Between Us 
By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Reviewed here.
Hated it. 
The Last Mrs Parish is soooo much better, 
but this book gets more hype. 

All We Ever Wanted 
By Emily Giffin 

Reviewed here.
A solidly good book. 
Worth the hype. 

By Tara Westover

Review coming at the end of this month! 
Definitely worth the hype.