Thursday, August 31, 2017

Books I Read (July-Aug)

The Nazi Officer's Wife 
by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin

My first clarification before diving into this book was: 
"Will I be traumatized by child brutality of the Nazis?" 
When the answer was no, I decided to read it. 
It always amazes me that no matter how much WWII lit I read, 
I continue to find a storyline that I hadn't heard of before. 
This one, written by a Jewish woman who married a Nazi officer to stay safe, 
is a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 
Not just her secret identity, 
but also the Nazi rise to power in Vienna, 
all very fascinating. 

Number the Stars 
By Lois Lowry 

This was the first WWII/Holocaust lit I ever read. 
In fact, I was so young that when the main character, a 10 year old girl,
 asks her father where they are taking the Jews, 
And her father replied "I don't know but we know it's wrong" 
I went to my dad and asked where they took the Jews! 
My dad tried to explain "work camps" but at my young age, 
I didn't have any concept of what that meant
After reading this, I became intensely curious about what happened to all the Jewish people!

Therefore, this book holds a special place in my heart 
as the spark that set off my passion for WWII history. 

As an adult, you could easily read this in one sitting. 
It's a sweet wonderful glimpse into the good of humanity through a little girl's eyes during one of the worst times in history. 

Additionally, having read "A Year of Living Danishly" (reviewed here
it makes so much more sense how Denmark rallied behind it's Jews, 
and why this is a happy book! 

The Hate U Give 
By Angie Thomas 

This is a powerful book. 
Butttt it does start out slow. 
Like the action happens up front 
But then the "reaction" drags a bit, 
If that makes any sense
 (it doesn't, I know). 
Like usual though, once I hit halfway,
 I couldn't put it down and it turned into a verrrry late night read. 

It's also the kind of book I wish I could give to Teenage Emily or even Early-20s Emily. 
Hell, there's a lot of people in my current life I'd like to anonymously mail this to. 
The kind of book that makes you step back 
And say: "Hmm. I hadn't thought about that." 

So I'll say if this way: 
If there's one book you read this year, 
Make it this. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine 
By Gail Honeyman 

I struggle to explain this book, 
so I'll just say that I really enjoyed it. 
I enjoyed how it unfolded 
and I enjoyed how it ended. 
It was all very good. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How Does She...?

Amber over at PB+J did this questionnaire 
as part of an interview for some fancy site or something, 
but I thought it was a cute glimpse into life so I, 
the ever creative one myself, 
decided to copy it. 

Of course, many of these questions assume I am 
(a) a fashionista 
(b) some trendy mom blogger 
which I am neither 
so you can go ahead and snicker at those ones. 

Tell us about yourself: 
Where do you live, age, marital status, number of kids and business.

I'm Emily, age 32, married to Adam, 
with 2 boys Aaron (4 years old) and Oliver (16 months old). 
We live in a suburb that borders Philadelphia
and I'm a stay-at-home-mom. 

Describe a day in the life of you.

We all are awake by 6:30, 
and either I go for a morning run, 
or (recently) Adam has started walking on the treadmill and lifting weights. 
Adam leaves to catch the train into Philly at 8 
and the kids and I go on a "PJ walk" where we circle on neighborhood in our PJs 
(don't worry, I throw on leggings), 
and after that I get ready (see below) 
then Oliver goes down for his morning nap (which he's starting to wean). 
After that, we are out-and-about until lunchtime, 
whether at playgrounds, indoor kid scapes, or shopping. 
After lunch, both kids go to "nap" (Aaron has "quiet time" in his room). 
After nap, we struggle to fill the Great Void until dinner, 
then dinner, bath, and bed by 7pm for the kiddos! 
Adam usually gets home between 7pm and 9pm so we will hang out together, 
watching tv or chatting it up. 
Aaron also goes to preschool 3 days a week 
so that gets squeezed in between 8am and noon. 

More PJ walk

Do you have help? A nanny or housekeeper? Family?

I have a cleaning lady who comes every other week, 
and she is my saint that I could not live without.
My other two helpers are my in-laws and my sister. 
My in-laws live 15 minutes away 
and are always happy to take one or both kids for a few hours 
for appointments or field trips or whatever
(most recently: for my annual OBGYN appt)
My saintly sister comes once a week for 2 hours to babysit while I regain my sanity. 

How do you manage to have “me” time?

Nap time / Quiet time. 
I'm very strict about enforcing Aaron's 2-hour afternoon quiet time 
while Oliver takes his afternoon nap. 
Sometimes I have to be productive during this time (cooking dinner, etc) 
but sometimes I can veg out and use this for reading or blogging. 

How do you manage to make time to stay in shape? 
Do you workout? Diet?

I count calories and try to balance indulgences with eating healthy 
(sometimes I fail... ok, a lot I fail). 

I also run very consistently which keeps me in the best shape. 
I can usually fit in a 3.5 mile run before Adam leaves for work, 
then on the weekends I do a 6+ mile run. 
Additionally, I have a 6-7am yoga class on Thursdays 
and I recently discovered a midday Barre class with child care! 

Do you get ready every day? 
Makeup, hair and curated outfits?  
If so, how do you do it with children? 

I take 30 minutes every day to shower and put on makeup. 
I don't do my hair (it air dries just fine) 
and my outfits have always been a simple jeans and tee. 

When Oliver was a baby, he would sit in the bouncer. 
As he got older, he moved to the doorway jumper, 
and just recently he outgrew the jumper 
and now sits in his crib "reading" books just as happy as ever. 
At age 4, Aaron can pretty much do whatever he wants during this time. 

Has your style changed after motherhood?

Before kids, I was always dressed to the 9s in tight pencil skirts, 
nice blouses, and high heels. 
After Aaron, I kept the high heels but toned down to trousers and sweaters. 
Then after Oliver, my wardrobe really changed when I became a SAHM 
and suddenly I was wearing jeans and tees all day long. 
I do think that becoming a SAHM has improved my casual wardrobe, 
because I now invest more into it, 
versus when I was only wearing it on weekends. 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate-flavored cereals. 
Yes you read that right. 
For as crazy healthy as we are 
(I wrote about our food habits here and here), 
I have a weak spot for chocolate-flavored cereals. 
I can turn down ice cream and candy and all that, 
but give me a box of chocolate-flavored chex and I'm all over it. 
I refuse to let my kids each this crap for breakfast, 
so I've stooped to buying and hiding them for myself as an afternoon treat. 
Maturity at its best. 

My cereal hiding spot.  Currently hiding chocolate-flavored chex and Reese's Puffs

If you breastfeed, how do you schedule your day around feedings and outings?

Now it's very easy, because Oliver only breastfeeds at wake-up, 
before each nap, and bed. 
And if I skip one, we are both fine. 

When he was little, I always breastfed before I left the house, 
ensuring he had a full belly wherever we went. 
And then I'd try to be home within 2 hours to nurse again. 

How many hours of sleep to you get a night on average?

I learned from my Time Study that I consistently get 8 hours a night. 

What is a priority for you, and what gets sacrificed? 
For example, everyone looks great but the house is a disaster, 
or the house is clean but work deadlines get pushed back.

We trade me working for staying home. 
If I was working, we could have nicer cars, 
our kitchen renovation could be done this year, 
and we could take a trip to Disney world every other year. 
Instead, we don't have the extra income, 
but I get to exercise, 
sleep 8 hours a night, 
make healthy meals, 
and keep a clean house. 
(I wrote a general overview of that here 
and then talked about the money part here)

Do you cook meals every day for your family? If so, how do you plan them?

I meal plan once a week on Sundays, shop on Mondays, 
and then build preparation into my schedule for the week. 
Some meals can be made during naptime. 
Some meals require 2-3 Daniel Tiger episodes to execute. 

Have you ever felt like you are losing yourself to motherhood and or life? 
If so, how did you bounce back?

Truthfully, no. 
I have felt like I was losing myself to my job, 
but never motherhood, no. 

Does hubby help you with anything particular? If so, what and how?

My husband brings home the money, 
mows the lawn, 
and tackles the very infrequent "this broke can you fix it?" request. 
That's it. 
We do not split the household duties 
and we are both ok with that. 
It was one of the driving factors in being a SAHM
 (wrote about that here). 

How do you manage motherhood and marriage?

Adam and I are on the same page for almost every parenting decision 
(as I'm writing this, I can't think of a single parenting topic we disagree on) 
so that aspect has not been hard at all. 

When it comes to making time for "us", 
we have fallen into a habit where when the kids are in bed, 
we hang out together. 
We don't go our separate ways 
(occasionally I have to finish up cleaning the kitchen 
and he'll go putt golf balls in the basement, 
but that's no more than 20 minutes). 
A lot of our hangout is just watching TV together, 
but we'll give commentary to each other 
or pause the TV when we remember to tell each other something. 

We don't do a lot of Date Nights (as in, hardly ever) 
but we do try to plan a getaway weekend once a year. 

Do you work? 
Do you work in an office or at home? 
What does your work consist of and how do you get it done during the week?


Have your circle of friends changed now that you're a mother? 
if so, how do you meet new mommy friends?

My closest friends have remained relatively unchanged, 
although I did add a "mommy friend" from prenatal yoga, 
and we've become extremely close through kid swaps
family bonfire/sleepover nights, 
and the occasional mommy date night out at the bar. 

I'd say I've dropped a lot of my "peripheral friends" if that makes sense. 
The ones where, pre kids, we occasionally got together with but weren't that close overall. 
Now, if you aren't an integral part of my life, I just don't have time, sorry. 

I have struggled with with SAHM-Dating, which I wrote about here
And that situation remains about the same. 

What’s the least favorite household chore you dread doing?

I'd say cleaning the bathrooms or mopping the floor, 
but since my cleaning lady does that, 
I don't think that counts anymore. 

So in terms of actual chore that I still do: 
kitchen clean-up. 

In order, from most-hated to least: 
1. Sweeping the floor. 
2. Emptying the dishwasher 
3. Washing dishes. 
4. Washing counters. Yet I do it every day, sometimes multiple times a day, 
because I can't stand a dirty kitchen so I suck it up. 

As a side note: laundry is my FAVORITE household chore, 
and people give me the weird side eye when I say that. 

Describe a recent experience when you didn’t have it “all together” 
and how you handled it all.

I'm a very level-headed person, 
so when the worst comes to worst, 
I'm pretty good at pulling up my boot straps and just gritting it through. 
So I don't have any crazy funny stories of puke disasters 
or explosion poops. 

My most precarious time is the Great Void, 
between nap and dinner, 
where we can't stray too far from the house, 
but we're all kind of DONE with being home. 
We try to hit up the library or setup sprinklers outside, 
but no matter what I'm counting the minutes until dinner. 
Friday afternoons are the worst, 
and I started a Disney Classics movie tradition that has helped a lot. 

Fill in the blank: As a mother, it's a luxury to __________________

Go out with friends. 
I would do this so much more if I could, 
but it just doesn't happen that much. 
Some of it is my friends, 
most of which are Working Moms who just crash on weekends. 
Some of it is guilt because I want to spend time with Adam in the evenings. 
Either way, it combines to being an infrequent event. 

What is your philosophy on balance and does it exist in your home?

I believe balance is everything
Balancing TV time 
(i.e.: if we have a TV heavy day one day, having none the next) 
Balancing healthy eating with fun treats. 
Balancing productive time with "me" time. 

Sometimes it exists, sometimes it doesn't. 
Sometimes I feel run ragged, 
and sometimes I feel rejuvenated. 

What are your dreams outside of motherhood that you would like to accomplish?

I want to run a marathon some day. 
And then, when that is done, I want to start triathlons 
(except I can't swim so... lol). 

I want to learn a lot of random skills, 
like take wine classes, 
bar-tending classes, 
and horseback riding lessons. 
I want to learn how to golf, 
so that when the kids are gone, 
Adam and I can golf together. 

(And I need professional lessons because if Adam tries to teach me, 
he'll end up hospitalized with a concussion when I hit him with my golf club)

What is one thing that keeps you sane?

Every Wednesday my sister comes over after work and watches the boys. 
I get about 1.5 to myself and IT. IS. GOLDEN. 
Sometimes I treat myself to pedicures and manicures. 
Recently I've been using it to do some long 9+ mile runs. 
It is a wonderful time and I can't imagine my week without it. 

My saint of a sister