Monday, November 30, 2015

Books I Read (Oct-Nov)

Once again, a series of uneducated book reviews. 

 The Knockoff 
by Lucy Sykes

I started it right after the "Royal We
and even though the "Royal We" seems to be more popular this summer, 
I loved this book so much more

This is the first book in a long, long, long time 
that I stayed up to all hours of the night reading. 
(It was a rough day at work the next day)
The book flows beautifully, 
and I rushed through it without feeling like I was rushing. 
It's also incredibly relevant to today's culture, 
and I found the main character to be among the most likeable 
of all main characters I've read recently 
(in comparison, I found the main character of the "Royal We" to be a quite "damsel in distress"-y at times, and I'm not a fan of that type of personality)

Eat, Shoots, and Leaves 
by Lynne Truss

This was recommended to me by Amanda
And it definitely taught me that I'm NOT as smart as I think I am. 
Halfway through the first chapter, 
I began to question all sorts of "rules" I thought I knew. 
It's definitely a funny book 
in terms of a 
"fed up with society's stupidity" sort of way.  

The Woman I Wanted to Be 
by Diane von Furstenberg

I liked this book more than I expected to! 
I sped-read the first half of the book all in one evening. 
Her parents' story, her childhood, and her loves are just captivating. 

The second half, about her career, 
was less interesting but still a good read. 
This book has a lot of name-dropping, 
and definitely comes off a bit brag-ish, 
but I don't mind bragging when it is earned. 

Generally, I am a stickler for chronological order. 
This book is not so
and I didn't mind it one single bit. 

Overall, I really loved this book 
and highly recommend it, if only for the first half. 

 How to Look Hot in a Minivan
By Janice Min

This was a cute book, 
but definitely dated. 
While I love specific clothing and makeup advice, 
it's hard to take seriously when it's several years old. 
If you have any sort of celebrity fascination, 
I would definitely recommend it. 
Overall, it's a great pep talk for a mom who gave up 
(or is worried about giving up), 
but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. 

Primates of Park Avenue 
by Wednesday Martin phD

I LOVED this book. 
I read it a little every day for a week. 
Normally I go on power reading sessions, 
then put down the book for weeks.  

Not to reiterate the book summary, 
but it's an anthropologist's insight into the Upper East Side. 
Or in short, it's the Mommy Guide for Gossip Girl junkies. 
If you like learning about the top 0.01% wealthy, 
from the perspective of an anthropologist, 
it's fascinating

And not to give anything away, 
but her conclusions weren't exactly what I expected either. 
Very interesting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Week 23: Most Memorable Vacation

Week 23 of the 30 Week Writing Challenge

Most Memorable Vacation

Between my sophomore and junior year of highschool,
my dad took me and my little sister Melissa 
on a multi-week tour through the western National Parks. 

We flew into Denver. 
Drove to Colorado Springs to visit his college friends. 
Then drove back north to hit up the Grand Teton National Park,
Yellowstone National Park, 
and more that I can't remember. 

While a little bit of me was missing my new boyfriend back home
(cue sappy tween music), 
it really was the best vacation ever. 

And while the parks were cool, 
and camping was cool, 
it was actually the little things that I remember and love. 


I remember driving for hours and hours in the car, 
my dad reading aloud every. single. sign that we passed. 
"Joe's Trading Post: 40 miles ahead!" 


It was the days pre-GPS, 
and I was trying to navigate, 
in an area where half the dirt roads were on the map, 
and the other half weren't, 
and it was always a guessing game 
whether we were on the correct un-named dirt road. 


One night we ordered two stuffed-crust pizzas from Pizza Hut, 
and I ate ENTIRE PIZZA by myself, 
and was so so so so sick. 
When we got back to the hotel 
and my sister was hungry, 
I made her eat her leftover slice in the bathroom so I wouldn't have to smell it. 


I locked the car keys in the rental car, 
and we had to call AAA. 
And I don't remember my dad being mad, 
just amused. 


Without a boyfriend to impress, I hadn't packed shaving cream. 
I gave in at Yellowstone and bought a small bit at the local campground store. 
And sat outside our cabin, with a bucket of water, 
my razor and shaving cream, 
shaving for all to see. 
No worries. 

Perhaps its a little mean to say it was the best vacation, 
since my mom and baby sister Rebecca were back in NY, 
but it really was AWESOME.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

20 Weeks - Halfway There!

 "Whoaaa, we're halfway there! 
Whoaaa, livin' on a Prayer!"

Actually this is a lie, 
because I came 6 days late with Aaron, 
so I expect that 20.5 weeks is halfway there!

The anatomy scan was today and everything was good. 
These big scans always make me nervous. 
We wouldn't terminate the pregnancy no matter what, 
but it's still unnerving to be going to an appointment designed to diagnose abnormalities. 

Of course, halfway through the scan, 
we got a call from the daycare that Aaron has PINK EYE. 
Can't all be perfect at once! 
Baby Size

Total Weight Gain
7.5 lbs 
(-2.5) less than with Aaron
Of course this week is Thanksgiving. 

Eh, nothing in particular

Symptoms of the Week
Nothing really to speak of. 
Coasting through this 2nd trimester. 

What I miss
I had a girlfriend lunch on Saturday and 
oh my, how I wanted a lovely cocktail.

Still Running?

Last week was the first in a while that the work/weather stars aligned, 
and I was able to run 3 times. 
I didn't want to do two 3.5 miles back-to-back days, 
so I ended up with: 
3.5 miles, 2.3 miles, and 3.0 miles. 
Still proud. 

Excited for
Thanksgiving break! 
I still call major holidays "breaks" 
even though I've been out of college almost a decade. 
4 days off sounds like the ultimate luxury, 
even if it includes a child with pink eye! 

Thanksgiving day will be spent at my parents house, 
which doubles as Christmas for my mom's extended family. 
I'm particularly psyched for my dad's legendary gravy, 
which guarantees a +3 weight gain next week. 
Friday will be Black Friday shopping ONLINE 
(aka: Adam's least favorite day ever). 
I'm so excited to have Aaron "help" this year. 

General Mood
 Feelin' good overall. 
I always get a little more excited about the holidays. 

20 Weeks with Aaron here

Monday, November 23, 2015

WIDN - November

Because if my weekly pregnancy updates aren't enough 
excitement about our mundane daily life, 
why not also pump out a WIDN post? 

Excellent idea. 

Holiday Sugar Cookies. 
I love love LOVE sugar cookies 
and decorating them. 
I don't settle for the plain old icing + sprinkles. 
No, no, no, no. 
That's for amateurs. 
I go the distance with a
Wilton cake decorating set.  
Overachiever much?

Because we celebrated Hanukkah early, 
these were the first cookies to be made. 
Christmas follows after Thanksgiving!

A boat ton of water, 
with a little side splashes of gatorade. 
I've never liked gatorade, 
but when a fellow preggo mom in my prenatal yoga class suggested it to help with morning headaches, 
I gave it a shot and sure, enough, it's pretty awesome! 
Of course, coconut water is the natural, healthier equivalent of gatorade. 
But coconut water tastes like sour water. 

Park Avenue Primates
Omg, so hooked on this damn book.

My Nine West Tiberia OTK boots to ship already!!!!
I have been craving these suckers ever since
 The Mom Edit did a post on OTK boots. 

As soon as Adam and I got our Hanukkah gift money, 
I put these boots on IMMEDIATE order from Nordstrom. 
Didn't even wait to cash the check. 

Adam and I were are recent converts to HGTV's Rehab Addict, 
described to me as
"This Olde House before homeowners started writing checks 
rather than doing it themselves." 

I never watched This Olde House to compare, 
but I love the interesting tidbits I learn from this show. 
Not that I will ever repair one damn thing in my own house. 
But... knowledge is cool. 

I also really like the "compartmentalized" rooms of old homes, 
much better than the open floor plan of the modern. 

Listening To
Classic rock. 
I go through music "phases," 
and after a solid 8 years of pop/country, 
I've lapsed back into our rock roots. 
Guns N Roses "Paradise City" has been my starting song 
for all my runs recently. 

My packed lunch/snacks have looked identical for like 3 weeks straight. 
It's alarming. 
- Clementine 
- Apple 
- Wegman's Mountain Trail Mix 
- one piece of "taxed" Halloween candy
- Baby carrots with 2 Tbs of bleu cheese dip

I cannot think of the last time I've been so predictable.

Is there such a smell as "outdoor fall"?
I know there are baking smells 
and over-scented candle smells, 
but I think nature has its own smell too. 
And it makes my runs so so so so so much nicer.

Someone could design me a fabulous morning hair routine, 
that does NOT involve blow-drying or actual styling. 
I want to shower, 
wrap my hair in a towel while I get Aaron dressed, 
brush it out, 
add product, 
and go to work. 
Everyone's all : "hey, 5 minute styling!" 
Yeah, 5 minutes AFTER you blow-dry your hair. 
No thanks. 

My time with Aaron in the evenings. 
After writing this post
it seems like we're on an upswing again. 
He's been so pleasant in the evenings after daycare. 
We've wandered Target together. 
Made cookies. 
Read books. 
And he's been so damn cute. 
I am overdue for another post on his cute sayings.

Our annual family photo session in Valley Forge park. 
Can't wait to get my hands on the digitals to start out Christmas cards!

I HOPE I'm starting to reel in my pregnancy weight gain. 
I wrote before here about my goal to gain less weight, 
in hopes of a VBAC. 
Up until recently, I was gaining pound-for-pound with Aaron. 
This week (19 Weeks) was the first time I was actually down!
Even with that small victory, 
I still feel deflated about my pregnant appearance. 
I have no defined bump.
I'm surrounded by skinny girlfriends and one sister-in-law 
who have this adorable tiny bump 
and then I look like I ate two Thanksgiving meals. 
It's probably fair to stay that I carry pregnancy weight differently, 
and it's frustrating. 
The kind of frustrating when I see that my Size 0 friend 
eats carbs by the plateful and never works out. 

To win the lottery. 
Or not. 

The same damn maternity top every day. 
Just different colors. 
I don't know what possessed Past Tense Emily 
to buy the same damn maternity top in 9 colors, 
but I swear over half of my wardrobe is one top. 
I need to buy cuter clothes; 
clothes that I can look forward to wearing!

Christmas Running Songs
I love Christmas music, 
and shamelessly listen to it all year long. 
My favorite Christmas songs of all time are by Celine Dion. 
I don't listen to ANY of her other music
but I LOVE her Christmas songs.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Toddler Room Transition

Let me regal you with the story of our toddler room transformation. 
Costing us a measly $35 
...and a hole in the wall. 


We knew we would keep the nursery the same for the second baby. 
Boy or girl, I had already designed a gender-neutral Winnie the Pooh nursery
and there was no way I was going to redo it. 
We intended to move Aaron early enough
that he wouldn't feel "kicked out" of his room for the new baby. 
However, that first meant transforming our 3rd bedroom 
from the guest room 
into a toddler room. 

 We had planned to embark on this "transformation" over Thanksgiving, 
but when my coworker dropped off the toddler bed this past weekend, 
we decided to go for it. 
And by we, 
I mean Adam. 

Step 1. Move the guest bed to store in the basement. 

Adam insisted on completing this task himself, 
because I'm pregnant and therefore an invalid. 

As I read my book on the couch during Aaron's naptime 
(er, quiet time, because he doesn't nap at home), 
 I watched Adam struggle with the queen-sized mattress
down our tiny townhome stairs, 
around the corner, 
and down the tiny basement stairs. 
He succeeded. 
Then came the box spring. 
Now, remember, a box spring is incredibly lightweight, just bulky. 
As I watched this enormous box spring descend down the stairs, 
I casually inquired: "Do you need help?" 
Response: "No, I got this." 


The box spring slid down the steps and SMASHED into the wall. 
Now, thanks to the angle of descent, only the corner lodged into the wall. 
But it's a hefty size hole. 
Bigger than the college-toothpaste-patchwork work Adam is accustomed to.  

As I type this,
the hole is still there. 
I predict it will be fixed around Christmas. 

Step 2: Swap Closets. 

The guest room closet previously housed my gift wrapping collection, 
and since we expect to upgrade our house before Baby #2 becomes mobile, 
we simply swapped closets. 
It also gave me the opportunity to organize and purge, 
which is one of my favorite activities in the entire world. 

Step 3: Clean and vacuum. 
Step 4: Setup new room. 
Inventory of new room: 
- Toddler bed (free from coworker) 
- "Dresser" aka: converted nightstand from Adam's college days
- Closet toy bins (part of the closet swap) 
- Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair (not pictured - gift from grandparents)
- Crib mattress (stolen from crib, will procure new one for Baby #2)
I searched high and low for toddler-sized Thomas sheets. 
There are dozens of twin Thomas sheets, 
but the toddler (crib) size is lacking. 
I found two sets on Amazon and opted for the less busy one. 
I had low expectations 
and sure enough, 
these sheets are CARDBOARD. 
I washed and washed them but to no avail. 
They are the ultimate worst quality possible, 
and I'll be shocked if they last 6 months. 
But do you know who cares? 
 Pure joy. 
So much joy. 
In summary, yes we totally half-assed Aaron's room. 
You'll notice we didn't even update the "artwork" on the wall, 
from when I hung pictures for the guest room. 
We did remove the pictures over his bed 
because you know, 
we're prone to earthquakes up here in PA (snort). 

Aaron's thoughts? 
On Sunday, he even STAYED IN BED during naptime (a shocker)
because he was so excited to be in his "Thomas bed." 
As he was falling asleep, 
he stroked the [cardboard] bedding 
and whispered: 
"Thomas bed.  Thomas bed.  Thomas bed..."

 Yup, we brought over the monitor from the nursery. 
The question is whether we buy a second for Baby #2. 
Or take a HUGE LEAP OF FAITH and eliminate the toddler room monitor. 
Are we that brave? 
I mean, how have toddlers survived thousands of years without video monitors???


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 22: One Thing You've Never Done

Week 22 in the 30 Week Writing Challenge:

 One Thing You've Never Done That Most People Have 

Essentially, "never-have-I-ever." 

I've never eaten a omelet. 
Or quiche. 
Or frittata. 
 Or a hard-boiled egg. 
Or a soft-boiled egg. 
Or eggs sunny-side-up. 
Or poached eggs. 
Or deviled eggs.  

My aversion to eggs kicked in around age 8-9. 
My dad claims that prior to that, 
I would eat scrambled eggs and french toast. 
so I guess I can't put those on the list, 
but the more "sophisticated" forms of egg for sure I've never touched. 

I can't stand the smell, 

I find avocado texture to be "egg-like" which is the reason I also despise avocados. 
 I won't eat potato salads or macaroni salad because I can taste the egg. 
And I will avoid most homemade mayos because of the egg. 

There are other foods I dislike, 
I don't like mint 
or black beans 
or olives
or the taste of coffee (although I love the smell)
but my hatred of eggs trumps them all. 

When Adam and I used to go to IHOP for breakfast 
(usually hungover from a late night drinking), 
I always insisted that my eggs came on a "separate plate" 
so Adam could eat them without risk of them touching my food.
Egg-contamination is real, my friends. 

Ironically, the eggs in hibachi and fried rice don't bother me. 
Dunno why. 

One time, to show my ultimate form of love
I made Adam breakfast in bed. 
Complete with scrambled eggs. 
I didn't know anything about scrambled eggs besides what google told me, 
so they ended up like "confetti" and Adam didn't like them. 

"confetti eggs"

I infrequently make scrambled eggs for Aaron, 
when there is nothing else in the house, 
but I've never tasted them 
so I have no idea if they are over-salted, over-done, or whatever. 
He eats them, so I'm happy. 

And there you have it. 
One thing I've never done. 
Eat an omelet. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

19 Weeks

19 Weeks! 
Almost halfway there!

I eliminated redundant categories. 
Like "things that make me ill
and "embarrassing cry
because they are neither not applicable 
or the same thing over 
and over. 
As in, I still get headaches from the the bright lights at work.

Baby Size

Total Weight Gain
7 lbs
(-1.5) lbs with Aaron 
Of course, this morning Adam made the comment: 
"I think your belly shrank" 
which strikes fear into every pregnant mother's heart. 
What could be wrong?!
Is the baby disappearing?!
Then I got out of bed, showered,
and got the nice little belly bloat back. 
I feel a bit better. 
Some kicks would be even nicer, 
but this Baby Boy is a night owl 
and usually doesn't make his presence known until after dinner.

Much better again this week. 
What did I do differently? 
No freaking idea.

Nothing in particular.

Symptoms of the Week
I don't know why this pregnancy took so long for the instant-peeing to set in. 
It was near immediate with Aaron. 

What I miss
Regular shirts. 
It's too soon to be sick of maternity shirts! 
I just pulled them out LAST WEEK!
On the other hand, I LOVE my maternity jeans (Joe's Jeans.

Still Running?
3.5 miles twice a week! 

Excited for
20 Week anatomy scan! 
We already know it's a boy, 
but I like doctor visits 
because I'm weird like that. 
This will be the first time Adam has seen an ultrasound for this baby. 
He has felt the baby kick, 
and seen ultrasound pictures, 
but not in real time. 

General Mood
Pretty positive this week. 
We somehow packed a TON into this weekend. 
Originally it was just supposed to be dinner at my parents on Saturday, 
then Hanukkah on Sunday. 
But we ended up with a playdate Saturday morning, 
and then decided to create Aaron's new toddler room on Sunday 
rather than wait until Thanksgiving break. 
I'll write a post on that shortly. 

Sorry for the crappy lighting. 
Forgot to take this during the day with natural light!

19 Weeks with Aaron here

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review of Parent Initiated Milestones

There are many big milestones in baby to toddler to youth, 
but only a few that I as the parent can initiate. 
Off the top of my head, 
I can think of three specifically. 

Bottle to sippy cup.
Potty training.
Crib to bed. 

(What other parent-initiated milestones am I missing?)

At this point, we've passed all three 
so it's a good time for me to review the transition 
and evaluate our timing. 

Bottle to sippy cup
8 months old 

Recommended by Lucie's List 

The transition was smooth sailing with no objections. 

It also freed up more bottles for me to pump with at work. 
Going forward, I don't plan on buying 8oz bottles this time, 
because we moved from 4 oz right to sippy cups. 

Potty training
almost exactly at 2 years old 
I was sick of diapers 
and we had a RARE unscheduled 3-day weekend to blow through the 3-day method.
Overall very glad. 
Yes it was tough and we had lots of accidents, 
and still battle pooping on the potty 
(he will at daycare, but not for us at home????). 
Now, would it have been easier if we waited much longer? 
My sister-in-law waited till her son was 3 with far less accidents. 
 My waxer trained her kids at 3.5 and it was literally a breeze. 

BUT I offset that with the peace of mind that IT IS DONE. 
I don't have that looming over my head and 
I was able to do it with one child and not a baby on my hips. 
If I had to do it again, I would. 

Crib to Bed
2 years, 5 months old

He was actively climbing out of the crib. 

I did not really understood the value of containment, 
until he was no longer contained. 
We put a kids-lock on his door knob, 
so he can't get out, 
but that didn't fix the problem like I expected. 

First of all, he NEVER naps. 
I thought if we left him in there, 
he'd just play until he passes out. 
The second we leave the room, 
he hops out of bed like an escaping prisoner 
and sets to town readings, playing, and never once gets sleepy. 
Unless we sit in there
making sure he NEVER gets out of bed, 
he won't nap. 
And sometimes I even give up after an hour, 
and leave, 
and then he doesn't nap at all. 

Ironically, this is not a problem at night. 
He never gets out of his bed at night, 
and is either fast asleep in 10 minutes, 
or plays quietly with his animals in bed. 

Aside from the no-napping, 
there is also the case of mass destruction. 
We moved anything really dangerous/permanent from his room. 
Medicines, ointments, and any art supplies are long gone. 
Generally he empties all his toys and clothes, 
from every possible drawer.  
Additionally, we still use the diaper genie
 (since he has a diaper at night),
and one day I had put in a fresh cartridge with no diapers, 
and he unraveled the ENTIRE THING around his room. 

So would I do it again? 
He was actively crawling out of his crib, 
even with the sleepsack on backwards (wtf). 
So on one hand, perhaps yes? 
But if we hadn't, would he be more likely to stay? 
I really don't know. 
But to those mamas who haven't done the crib to bed yet...