Friday, January 29, 2016

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

If there was a "most used" verb over the last few months, 
it would be "purging." 
Perhaps its hormonal crazy nesting kicking into insane overdrive. 
Or perhaps it's due to one damn book. 




I gushed about this book when recapping books
But I can't really put into words how much this book has changed our household
Maybe you've seen the pattern in my "Mama's Day Off" posts, 
where I'm dedicating massive chunks of my time to purging our house. 

All the moms on snapchat are all about the netflix, 
and I'm over here celebrating about the number of trash bags I've created. 
#loser


Whatever. 
Here I am to spout off some of my favorite things I've learned. 

***


"If it doesn't speak joy, get rid of it. 
If you struggle with an item, 
ask why you got it and what you wanted it to mean. 
If it has lived it's purpose, 
acknowledge its contribution and then discard.

This is my way of summarizing the whole book. 
And it REALLY hit home with me. 
I see so many clutter "rules" like "have you worn it in the past year?" etc. 
and I can justify myself through many of those. 
But when I grab a shirt and ask: 
"am I EXCITED to wear this?" 
It's an eye-opener. 

Also, the concept of an item's PURPOSE means a lot to me. 
I bought many shoes as a bridesmaid in weddings. 
I have held on to them, because MAYBE I will wear them again 
but their true purpose was to serve in a wedding. 
Their purpose is complete. 
Donate. 

***

"Tidy a little at a time and you'll tidy forever. 
Tidying is a special event, not a daily chore."

When I first read this, 
I thought : "This women CLEARLY doesn't have children." 
Because children = tidying forever. 
But that's not actually true. 
The less shit out, the less to tidy. 
As I've purged and tossed so much in our house, 
I find that I DO spend less time picking up, 
if only because there is less. 
Also, toy rotation = clutch. 



***



"Storage is not a solution." 

The author dedicated an entire chapter to this concept, 
and OMG THIS DEFIES EVERYTHING I EVER KNEW. 
I am a sucker for a cool storage solution. 
The Container Store is my dream. 
One of the things I love about our tiny town house is that it has ample hidden storage
 (under stairs, dozens of closets, etc) 
but the truth is that storage is still clutter 
and clutter causes stress. 
I open our storage areas and I don't feel joy. 
I feel oppressed by the amount of crap we have. 
Under the basement stairs are boxes upon boxes of "memories," 
things that I'll never see and touch and appreciate 
because they have been stored away in a heap. 
During my last Mama's Day Off, I went through those memories. 
It was tough, 
but I feel so much better having one single box filled with nothing but smiles. 



***



"Sort by category, not location. 
Excess is caused by ignorance of how much we have. 
Clothes especially. 
Empty every closet and every drawer and evaluate it all together." 

I had no idea how true this was until I did it. 
We don't see how much "stuff" we have because it's dispersed. 
But when I pile it all together, it's a revelation. 
Example: office supplies! 
Do we need 10,000 pens scattered across the house? 
Same for clothes. 
When everything is pulled out, even out-of-season and wrong sizes, 
it's just astounding the piles. 

 ***

"Gifts : purpose is to be received, not hoarded

I particularly struggle with this. 
I HATE discarding gift. 
Hell, I don't like to throw out cards!
But if the item serves no purpose 
and brings me no day-to-day happiness, 
then it needs to go. 
It's purpose to be received has been fulfilled. 



***

Practice Advice:

On top of these great concepts, 
I also loved the practical advice from the author. 
Concrete steps are hard to come by in these type of books. 

She lists the order of cleansing. 
As I mentioned above, she suggests it be all at once 
but short of taking a week off work and sending Aaron to the grandparents, 
that wasn't happening. 
Instead, I tackled category-by-category. 

1. Clothes

2. Books (including cookbooks)

3. Papers
(I filled THREE trash bags of shredded papers from our filing cabinet. 
Including bank statements from accounts I closed a decade ago
I have paper hoarding problems.)

4. Miscellaneous
a) CDs & DVDs - who still owns these?   
b) Skin care products   
c) Makeup   
d) Accessories   
e) Valuables   
f) Electrical equipment  
g) Household equipment   
h) Household supplies  
i) Kitchen goods   
j) Other   

5. and then Mementos

***


You may be asking, 
"Ok, how has this actually changed your life?" 

(Or you may be thinking: "Crazy psycho
but let's pretend it's the first). 


A few ways this has changed my daily life: 

1. Less time spent cleaning up. 
The more I've gotten rid of, 
the less stuff is out-of-place. 

2. Rediscovered happy things, 
and incorporated into our daily lifestyle. 
Example: when going through memory boxes, 
I found tons of pictures being stored in the bulky frame. 
So I removed the picture, sealed it in an airtight bag, 
and suddenly I have a ton of new frames to use. 
I filled them with my favorite pictures (mostly of Aaron) that make me smile, 
and have added to our fireplace mantle and our window sills. 
I love the additional photos that always make me smile. 

3. Relief from clutter. 
I'm not saying the clutter is completely gone, 
but I feel better seeing open closets 
and sparse shelves, 
containing only things we need

4. Easier access to things I use constantly. 
My travel makeup bags are a great example of this. 
I used to have a huge rubbermaid tote filled with all sorts of travel necessities, 
anything from hanging clothing bags 
to European adapters. 
I eliminated over half the box 
(we aren't going to Europe anytime soon) 
and paired down my travel makeup bags to one small box. 
Now when I go to grab one, 
I'm not sorting through piles and piles of stuff to find the perfect one. 


***

Overall, my parting thoughts on this topic: 
to some, a minimalist lifestyle comes easy. 
My mother-in-law for example, has zero problems maintaining this lifestyle. 
But other people - myself included - struggle with it. 
We are prone to hoarding for a number of reasons, 
sentimental reasons, 
future use reasons, 
etc. 
So to some, this post is silly and the book is common sense. 
To me, it was pretty damn cool. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

29 Weeks

29 Weeks. 
This week was a tough one. 
Lots of bad sleeping, 
aches and pains, 
and general discomfort. 
But hard to tell how much of that is my poor diet 
and sedentary lifestyle, 
versus the same old 
WELCOME TO THE THIRD TRIMESTER. 


Baby Size
Acorn squash. 
I've cooked a lot of squash, but never acorn. 


Total Weight Gain
16 lbs 
1.5 lbs gain week-over-week. 
To prepare for the blizzard, we ordered Papa John's
and subsided off of greasy pizza 
and carby pasta all weekend. 
It's really a wonder I didn't gain 5 lbs. 

(- 7 lbs versus with Aaron)


Sleep
Not great. 
Early in the week wasn't too bad, 
but once the blizzard hit, 
I started getting pretty bad insomnia. 
'm chalking it up to diet and lack of exercise. 
I'm periodically waking up with really bad leg cramps. 
I haven't been to yoga in 2 weeks (thanks, blizzard) 
and I need to go back before they get worse. 

That said, all of this could just be foreshadowing the inevitable 
Third Trimester Insomnia
which I dread with every part of my fat preggo being. 


Cravings
Nothing in particular.


Symptoms of the Week
Middle-of-the-night leg cramps. 
Restless sleep. 
Bigness. 


What I miss
BLIZZARD DAY DRINKING. 
I know I said on instagram that being pregnant during a blizzard is awesome, 
because it relieves me of shoveling duties. 
BUT. 
BUT BUT BUT 
what I didn't factor in was being cooped up with a toddler for 4 days straight. 
Cabin fever sober? 
BRUTAL. 


Still Running
Very early in the week, I did about 1.8 and 2.2 miles. 
It was blistering cold, 
like "real feel of 3 degrees" cold. 
I can only take one kind of discomfort at a time while running. 
Non-preggo Emily could run in absolute bitter cold, 
because my only discomfort was cold. 
But now that I have this ginormous belly hanging out, 
that in itself provides its own discomfort. 
And then add in icy cold winds... 
#nope. 
And now with snow piles turning our neighborhood into 
sidewalk-less, 
one-lane roads, 
I'm not sure HOW to go running these next few days, 
without serious risk of being hit by a car
or slipping on ice. 
Can I find a gym that will offer me a one-week membership?
Good news is that it's supposed to get near 50s next week, 
so let's hope for some very serious melting. 
  

Excited for
Is it too early to wish my pregnancy over? 


General Mood
Physically, I'm over it
I hate the sleep discomfort. 
I hate the running discomfort. 
And I hate most of all, 
that it's going to get SO MUCH WORSE in the next 2.5 months. 
2.5 months left to go. 
That is an absolute eternity. 
Some people think the third trimester flies by, 
but with Aaron it draggggged. 
I dread the third trimester discomfort, 
more than I dread giving birth.


Many many weeks has this pink shirt made the post? 
Has to be like 5 or something by now. 

29 Weeks with Aaron here


Monday, January 25, 2016

The Blizzard of January 2016

The blizzard of January 2016! 

I always love a good blizzard, 
particularly a weekend one where I don't have to worry about working. 
Our 5pm reading (with it still snowing): 
21" 


Final official record: 26.1".
Center city Philadelphia "only" got 22", 
which based on this pre-storm graphic, 
puts it at the 4th biggest snowstorm ever!




The February 2010 blizzard is especially memorable for Adam and I, 
as we went to the bar that night with three of our friends, 
and ended up playing in the abandoned streets of the Main Line 
until who-knows-when in the morning. 
Same blizzard where I lost my keys. 
Good times. 


Back to the present. 

On Wednesday, I succumbed to the greatest stereotype ever:
the bread, milk, and eggs run 
(sans eggs). 
As a mom, this now makes sense. 
Milk is for cereal. 
Bread is for sandwiches. 
So if the power goes out, you can still have meals without cooking. 
Eggs... well, that I don't get, because if the power goes out, you can't cook eggs. 

I also stopped at the beer store to pick up a case of Blue Moon for Adam. 
And Aaron got a lollipop, 
because our beer store is the smartest ever. 


Saturday morning we woke up to the winter wonderland. 
Aaron was INDESCRIBABLY ECSTATIC. 
Remember when I did this graphic? 



So true. 


With only a foot on the ground, 
Adam attempted to clear off the cars while Aaron played in the street. 



Aaron wiped himself out and rewarded up with a 2.5 hour nap. 

Adam went out again later to clear the next foot off, 
but Aaron opted to stay in because "snow hurt my face."

Sunday was bright, sunny, and beautiful. 
More snow play! 


Overall, a good blizzard. 
Two thumbs up by us!



Friday, January 22, 2016

I Won Another Giveaway!

Remember how I said I never win giveaways, 
then I won the Little Gadgets giveaway
Well, perhaps my luck is changing, 
because I won AGAIN. 

I should just pack up and go to Vegas huh? 


I won the Cute Little Babes 
giveaway from Pardon my French.  

And just recently my purchases arrived! 

(To interject, in case you are silly enough to this I'd ever have sponsored posts, 
HELL TO THE NOPE, 
this is not sponsored.) 



So what's my evaluation? 

1. Omg, softness. 
The material is outstanding. 
I want them to make leggings in my size!


2. The patterns are adorable. 


3. The price is insane. 
$22/pair. 

Yes, I know I spend triple that (or more) for me, 
but I wear mine forever
How long is a baby in one size of baby clothes? 
A month, max? 


Aaron was dressed in mostly Carter's his first year, 
because of (a) free gifts, 
and (b) it's just dirt cheap. 
Of course, the quality is farrrrrrrrrrrr less, 
like falling-off-a-cliff difference, 
but again, the kid is wearing them for a MONTH. 

I didn't start buying Aaron GAP until he was in a size 18-24 because 
(a) that's when the free clothing gifts ran out and 
(b) it was the first size he stayed in for months!

I'm all on board for mom-entrepreneur boutiques, 
and I ABSOLUTELY realize this is an appropriate price for handmade clothing 
(I'm no idiot; I know the cost advantage of a mass-produced factory in China), 
but I just can't bring myself to spend that much on baby clothes. 

So yes, I absolutely love these leggings. 
I cannot wait to put them on Baby Brother. 
And if you don't blink about spending $$$ on baby clothes, 
PLEASE go check them out. 
I'm happy with my freebies.  




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

28 Weeks - Third Trimester!

28 Weeks: Third Trimester, Baby! 


Baby Size
Eggplant. 
The vegetable I try to like but never stop hating. 


Total Weight Gain
14.5 lbs 
(-7.5 lbs from Aaron)


Sleep
I average one insomniac night a week. 
This week was Monday night, 
where I woke up at 2am and never went back to sleep. 
The worst.


Cravings
Nothing in particular


Symptoms of the Week
TMI time. 
Let's talk about constipation. 
It was super bad with Aaron, 
and I was managing it really well with this pregnancy. 
Simple things like eating really healthy 
and exercising definitely help. 
But every now and then... those cheat days. 
Man, those cheat days are absolute killer. 


What I miss
Mobility


Still Running?
Yes! 
Two 3.2 mile runs this week, 
both with a 5 minute walk in the middle 
(so probably about 3 miles flat, with the walk factored in). 
It really sucks to have to walk in the middle of a run, 
but better to walk a little than not run at all. 



Excited for
SNOWSTORM 2016! 
I am always skeptical of snow reports. 
"We're gonna get 3 feet!" turns into a 1.5 inch dusting. 
Pfft. 
But every now and then
the snow reports do materialize and we get hit with a foot or two 
(again, laughable for Upstate NY, 
but hey, we'll take what we can get in PA!). 
Right now, they are predicting snow to start Friday night and continue all day Saturday. 
Some reports say up to 1.5 feet. 
I still won't be surprised if it's a total bust, 
but hey, it'll be fun to have one storm.


General Mood
Good. 
Still feeling good, 
still have energy. 
Still have that crazy urge to purge and clean out my house. 
Nesting in overdrive!

You can see my belly button starting to stick out, 
although it's less belly button and more of the minor hernia the doc identified. 


28 Weeks with Aaron here

Monday, January 18, 2016

Aaron's Sayings

This age right here is one of my FAVORITE ages. 
The sentences this kid makes up. 
Just kills me. 
Absolutely kills me. 



At least once a day, he says something that makes me laugh out loud. 
I fail completely at writing anything down, 
but I do text as much as I can to Adam, 
thus maintaining SOME sort of verbal record. 


A few of my favorites: 

 ************

While driving home from daycare... 

Me: "Uh oh.  A car accident over there." 
Aaron:  "What happened?" 
Me: "One car hit another car." 
Aaron: "That car should get a time out!" 


*************

Aaron isn't watching where he's going, 
and walks into a wall.
Me: **Laughs**

Aaron: "Not funny, Mommy, not funny!" 

*************

Aaron loves Star Wars, 
Despite never seeing the movie, 
Or reading any books. 

But he can tell us about the characters, 
And their colored light sabers. 
He pronounced most quite well, 
But my favorite: 
"Obi Wan Kenobi" 
Pronounced: 
"Obi kabobi" 


*************

We were at a restaurant ordering food, 
when it was finally his turn, 
Aaron looked the waitress in the eye and stated: 

"I want chicken nuggets 
and french fries. 
Please. 
And... 
I want it RIGHT NOW." 

He said it very politely and nicely, 
but he made his point clear. 
Right now, lady. 
Ok? 
Got it? 
Good. 
Now go fetch. 







Friday, January 15, 2016

Unexplained Fears


Things my 2.5 year old is NOT afraid of

1. Costumed characters, 
including, but not limited to: 
Elmo and the Chick-Fil-A cow 
(daycare said he was the ONLY kid not terrified when the cow came to visit). 


2. Santa 


3. Dogs.  Even giant scary-looking dogs. 


4. Strangers


Things my 2.5 year old IS afraid of: 


1. The tractors in Pixar's Cars movies


2. Finding Nemo movie and Minion movie 
(no explanation gives for either; 
he has simply deemed them "scary" and refuses to watch them) 


3. Technology beeping. 
When I use the "Find my Phone" beep from the iPad, 
he runs to me in fear of the beeping. 



Someone please psycho-analyze my child and explain this!!!! 

Because I would run SCREAMING from this freaky thing... 



But can't find anything scary here... 






Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Week 30: Daily Routine

Week 30 in the 30 Week Writing Challenge

Before we get into the subject of this week, 
I have to give myself a big fat gold star for completing this challenge. 
I started it when I was struggling with writer's block, 
but getting pregnant quickly fixed that issue. 
Regardless, I've had a lot of fun babbling about these little topics. 
And may be some day when I'm not gestating a human 
or on 24/7 breastfeeding call, 
I'll do another. 


Back to the final topic...

Daily Routine

I've already documented this previously 
with a day-in-the-life post 
and our life hasn't changed much since. 

Therefore, I opted to take a different route: 
My Beauty Routine


As anyone can tell with one glance at my preggo pictures, 
I am no beauty blogger. 
Obviously
So please bear with me as a shuffle through this, 
in the most messy way possible. 

It may shock you to learn that I am NOT a clinique rep. 
Perhaps I should be?

*****

Morning


In the shower: 


Shampoo / Conditioner - any drug store brand. 
I switch up my brands every bottle, 
and am absolutely 100% NOT loyal to any one brand. 


Soap - same as above.  Zero loyalty. 


Wash face - Clinique Redness Relief Soothing Cleanser 
(because of my rosacea) 


Wash "ahem" down there - Summer's Eve Unscented 


After shower, I wrap my hair in a towel, 
wrap my body in a robe, 
and get Aaron up and dressed. 
By the time that process is done, 
my face is sufficiently dry 
and my hair is on the way to being dry. 

Back to the sink... 


Exfoliation - Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion 
(mildest possible, for the rosacea)


Probiotic Calming Cream - Clinique Redness Relief Daily Cream 
(again, the rosacea)


Lotion - Either 
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel 
or (in super dry winter time) 
Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief


Primer - Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base 
(all hail that rosacea!)


Foundation - Clinique Even Better 
I'm not crazy about this foundation, 
but I've stuck with it out of laziness.  
I am keeping my eyes open for something better. 
I am HORRIBLE at matching foundation to my skin, 
and thus any new foundation requires a trip to the department store beauty counter 
to beg the experts to determine the shade.  
Any recommendations? 
Particularly for someone with redness and sensitive skin? 


Concealer - Clinique Advanced Concealer 
Just like my foundation, I'm keeping my eye open for new options. 
I read a rave review on Cupcakes and Cashmere about 
BareMinerals Complete Coverage Serum Concealer 
which I'll try when my concealer is out. 


Setting Powder - Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder 
This is my first try with this powder and so far it's decent
but I am open to options. 
In her 2015 Beauty Favorites
Estee Lalonde talks about Hourglass' Ambient Lighting Powder
I like that the shade "Diffused Light" has a yellow tint to offset redness, 
but I am struggling with using a presser powder versus a loose powder to set. 
Any input here?


Bronzer and/or Blush
Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzing Powder in Aruba
and/or 
Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color in Rose Petal


Brow Liner - Clinique SuperFine Brow Liner 
I have insanely thin brows, 
thus filling in my brows is my #1 concern every day. 
Even if I skimp on other steps, this always gets done. 


Optional - Eyes 
I LOVE eye makeup 
and I used to be quite adventurous with different color pallets, 
BUT 
I learned the hard way that I am prone to clogged eye ducts. 
Once, I had to have my under-eye sliced-open to drain a duct that had backed up into a ball (the size of a pea) under my eye. 
Since then, I very rarely do eye makeup unless it's a special event 
(aka: something besides work 5 days a week). 

Eye Liner - Clinique Quickliner in Really Black 

Eye Shadow Base - NYX HD Eye Shadow Base 

Eye Shadow: 
Since I so rarely do eye shadow now, 
I am not very adventurous. 
I've stuck with the same combo for a few months now, 
and really love it. 
Lids in Laura Mercier 'Caviar' Eye Stick in Rosegold 
(easily the most beautiful shade I've EVER seen)
and 
Crease in Clinique Chubby Shadow Tint in Lots o' Latte

Eye Highlighter: 
MAC Eye Shadow in Nylon 
One of the first makeup tips I saw on pinterest was that this is the perfect highlighter. 
It is.  

Mascara (only after Setting Spray below): 
Because of the infrequency with which I use mascara, 
and how quickly it expires (3 months!), 
I stick with only the free samples. 
I have no preferences at this point. 



As long as I have even a shred of makeup on, 
I ALWAYS ALWAYS finish off with...

Setting Spray - Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray 
THIS STUFF IS AMAZING. 
I'd read about it from multiple sources and finally gave it a shot. 
OMG, it has definitely changed my makeup routine. 
I used to do my makeup immediately before an event, 
because it would slide/flake off shortly thereafter. 
But NOW I can do it hours in advance and it will hold. 
I bought my sister the oil-control one since she has that oily teen face, 
and she raves about it too. 
Seriously, changing lives!
Ok, done raving. 



Looking at this list, 
you'd think my routine takes me forever. 
As long as I'm not doing my eyes, 
it takes me about 5-10 minutes. 
Eyes adds another 5 minutes to let the eye shadow base dry. 

*****

Evening

Makeup remover: Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser


Eye makeup remover 
(hardly ever used, since I so rarely do my eyes)
Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover


Cleanser: Liquid Facial Soap 
although I'm thinking to switch to exclusively the Redness soap above

(all below is same as morning)

Exfoliation Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion 


Probiotic Calming Cream - Clinique Redness Relief Daily Cream 


Lotion - Either 
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel 
or
Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief


***** 

Masks

This is a new category I'm just starting to explore. 
Having rosacea is super tough. 
My skin can simultaneously flake off in dryness 
while my nose/chin are covered in blackheads. 
It's infuriating. 

One of my BFF gave me a paper-mask for Christmas
(paper mask = totally makes anyone look like a KKK member)
For the life of me, I cannot find it ANYWHERE online. 
But I love the burst of hydration I get the day after using it. 



I just placed an order for two masks: 

1. Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask 
- recommended by Pardon my French 
and it's under $10
This is supposed to be amazing for blackheads, skin-clearing, 
so I'm hoping for T-zone improvement! 


2. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask 
- recommended by Este Lalonde
Hoping this will add a burst of hydration. 


***** 

And that's that! 
Whew, that was long.