Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Books I Read (January)

At the risk of having this be too big of a post, 
I opted to publish January's readings rather than waiting to add February. 
Now that the holidays have passed, 
I've set aside more time to read
In fact, there was one week where I read every single day at naptime. 

Forever, Interrupted
by Taylor Reid Jenkins

Really loving this author and her writing style!
This book was a bit more depressing than "Maybe in Another Life"
but overall still a great book! 
And, as usual it seems with her books, I just love the ending!

Life after Life
by Jill McCooke

I tried twice to get into this book, 
and twice I failed. 
It's slow. 
It's boring. 
There's no interconnected-ness between the chapters 
(maybe there is later on, but I didn't get to it). 
So I gave up about 1/3 of the way through. 

It Ends with Us 
By Colleen Hoover

This book. 
I struggled at the start of this book, 
even letting it slip to it's due date, 
return it,
 wait for it on hold, 
check it out, 
and start where I left off. 
But once I got 1/4 through, 
I read the remaining 3/4 in one night. 
It's a very powerful book. 

I suspected the ending but I was still left in awe. 
I highly highly recommend this book. 

After I Do 
by Taylor Reid Jenkins

This book held me in suspense for the ending. 
I couldn't figure out which way it would go, 
and changed my mind several times while reading. 
I really REALLY liked how she wrote it. 
To rank her books, so far "Maybe in Another Life" is still my favorite, 
followed by this book, 
and then "Forever, Interrupted" is last (but still good!). 

Chasing Harry Winston 
by Lauren Weisberger 

I wasn't crazy about this book. 
I thought it would be about three friends competing to see who would get married first.
Nope, that's not what it's about. 
Maybe it was my disappointment in that the plot wasn't what I hoped, 
but I just couldn't get into it. 
It was sooo slow 
and I felt like the first 3/4 of the book was about nothing
I also REALLY didn't like one of the three main characters, 
and I think having that immense dislike really overshadowed the tone in the book. 

It kind of shocks me that "The Singles Game" and this book were by the same author, 
because I liked "The Singles Game" so much (as evident in my post here), 
and this book just fell so flat compared to it. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

SAHM vs Working Mom: Time to Blog

I'm turning into the "once-a-week" blogger. 
Which is a pretty dramatic turn from my "4-times-a-week" blogger 
back when I pregnant doing weekly updates 
and simuletaneously doing the 30 Day Week Writing Challenge
It's not for lack of interest. 
I have a backlog of topics stored in my phone. 
Instead, it's due to time. 

Which brings me to my current comparison...

SAHM vs Working Mom: 
Time to Blog

I first got into blogging when I was pregnant with Aaron (this blog), 
shortly after I had switched jobs 
and transitioned from a crazy stressful work environment, 
to a calm, "mom friendly" work environment. 

In my "mom job" (as I refer to it), 
I had plenty of time to blog during the workday. 
I am incredibly fast and efficient worker
 (particularly when it comes to spreadsheets), 
and most times I could get everything done within 4-5 hours, 
leaving me 3-4 hours to kill in front of my laptop. 

Of course a good employee would have asked for more work. 
But I wasn't looking to earn any golden stars. 
And I rather liked my downtime. 
I'd socialize with coworkers and walk the halls, 
blog away about whatever, 
pin everything in sight, 
and some days I did truly find the end of the internet. 

Of course, like any job, some weeks were crazy busy. 
Some weeks had a lot of travel. 
But overall, it was pretty calm. 

Contrast that to staying home with these two monsters. 

I've already talked about how staying home gives me more time to do things
Laundry? No problem. 
Cooking dinner every day? On it. 
Keeping a clean house?  Sure
Errands?  Yay!  A distraction! 

But sitting in front of my laptop blogging? 

My evenings are blissfully free now that I'm doing everything during the day, 
but I've never liked being on my laptop in the evenings. 
The glare of the screen is bad for sleep. 
(Of course you could argue the same about TV, 
but I think it's different since the TV is far away.) 
And I'd just plain rather read in the evenings. 

The rare once-a-week blog post is usually thanks to an unexpectedly long naptime, 
where I got everything done and still have time spare! 
It's pretty rare. 
But don't you worry, 
I will keep this blog going, 
populating it with a slew of uninteresting topics that no one cares to read about. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Getting Rid of Stuff can Save Motherhood

It's been a whole year since I blabbed on and on about my quest for minimalism, 
(And yes, I still hold Marie Kondo's book as a second Bible.) 
and since it's a new year 
which means organizational sales are spiking right along with gym memberships, 
I felt it my duty to revisit the subject. 
(Your welcome.)

As you can already guess, 
this post was touched off by an article I read 

My favorite quote of the article: 

I went into the playroom—the room that was the bane of my existence. This was a room full of colorful bins, each bin full of toys. There were toys on the floor, in chests, in boxes, toys everywhere. I would send my kids in here to play and they would come out less than ten minutes later complaining of boredom. 
This room was pointless, and I’d had enough.

Spoiler alert: when she threw everything out, her kids played better! 

Thought #1: 
We are already accumulating too many toys. 

When we were in our townhome, 
I had a very strict toy rotation center that worked great. 
It was small, so it forced me to get rid of toys. 
In turn, the rotation system kept the toy mess at a minimum, 
and forced Aaron to really play with the toys he had out. 

The "problem" with our new home is that we have too much space. 
Too many rooms. 
Too many closets. 
A full finished basement with no purpose except to serve as toy chaos. 

(one-half of our basement, relatively cleaned up) 

I know, I know, #firstworldproblems. 
I see your eye roll. 

The problem is because we have space to store everything, 
 I've relaxed my toy purging. 
The holidays just blew through, 
which means we have an avalanche of new toys. 
I justify (to myself) that I'm letting time tell which toys are the keepers, 
and which ones will be tossed/donated. 

But in the meantime, the toys are everywhere. 
And Aaron doesn't play, so much as he just tornados everything. 
And most days my finished basement looks like this: 

(and this isn't even that bad, not even close to the worst)

My second favorite quote: 

Studies show a direct link between the amount of physical possessions in a house and the stress level of the female homeowner. One study done at UCLA found that the more stuff was in a woman’s house, the higher her level of stress hormones. This same study also found that women subconsciously relate how happy they are with their homelife and family to how they feel about their homes. So the more clutter and chaos in the home, the less happy the woman is with her family and her life.

Thought #2: 
I need to stay vigilant with my own purging. 

Excuse me while I sidetrack here to a Tale of Two Homes

I was at my parent's house and helping with dishes. 
The pile of dirty dishes was huge and as I started washing, 
I started counting. 
5 knives. 
5 knives all roughly the same size that were dirty. 
Why do you need 5 identical knives? 
Well the logic here is that when you are cooking, 
you can reach for another knife without having to clean the first. 
And thus save time cooking. 

EXCEPT what happens at the end of cooking, 
is that you now have not one, but FIVE knives that need to be washed. 
Multiply this across five spatulas, 
five bowls, 
and your "to wash" pile is ENORMOUS. 
And after all that work cooking, who wants to tackle an enormous dishwash pile? 

Of course, my parents' argument is that every knife has a different purpose. 
I counted over 12 knives in their knife block. 
In contrast, my in-laws have 4 knives. 
FOUR total knives, in their whole block. 
And they have gotten by 30+ years of cooking delicious meals with FOUR knives. 
And I began to realize why when I go to my in-laws for dinner, 
the kitchen is relatively clean after a day of cooking. 
While my parents' kitchen looks like a tornado. 

Because if you are forced to clean the bowl and knife to use it again, 
you don't have a huge pile at the end to clean. 

So back to my original thought process. 
I don't want to end up with 5 identical anything. 
I did some pretty awesome purging before we moved, 
so our new house is in decent condition right now
 (except for the toy problem). 

But it will only stay like this if I stay on top of it. 
For example, 
I received two new spatulas for Christmas, 
and so far I only tossed one old one in the donation pile. 
My hoarding habits still run strong. 
But I need to toss the third spatula. 
It's a small act, but it represents a lot. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Introvert Baby

We learned a very important lesson over the holidays. 
Oliver is an introvert baby. 

Aaron, as I've written about before, is an extrovert. 
Like me, he is a strong extrovert, who absolutely thrives on parties and people. 
Adam is an introvert for sure, 
but I'd call him a "light" introvert in that he still likes parties, 
but afterwards he just wants to go home and sleep. 
(Versus Aaron and I, who want to go paint the town after a party.) 

I already predicted Baby #2 would be an introvert (here), 
but what I didn't expect was how early this would appear. 

This holiday season, Oliver was M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. 
Any gathering over 3 people and he lost his mind
Fussing and crying, even with me. 
Present open was basically an anxiety attack for him. 

And sometimes, the best I could do, was stick him on my back, 
like the Velcro baby he is
and just let him hang from there. 

Christmas Eve at Adam's aunt/uncle's house: on my back

I won't lie, it's really frustrating. 
And it definitely put a damper on the holidays. 
Combine that with Aaron's lack of sleep,
 which culminated in some pretty epic tantrums 
(the kind of tantrum with pterodactyl screaming), 
and safe to say I'm glad the holidays are over. 

Which is very sad, because I LOVE the holidays. 
But I don't love the holidays with an overtired 3.5-year-old, 
nor a baby having an anxiety attack every time he's around a group of people. 

How about going forward? 
Oliver's first birthday is coming up in April. 
(Ok so that's 3+ months away but it FEELS soon.) 

And in my current mood, I'm thinking no birthday party. 
He doensn't need toys and he hates people, 
so why throw a party? 

Adam wants to play-it-by-ear, 
and thinks we can get a better sense at Aaron's party in March. 
(Because Aaron is definitely having a party or he would DIE.)

But I assure you, if Oliver loses his shit at Aaron's party 
like he did at Christmas, 

Maybe we'll invite the grandparents over for a cupcake. 
And call it good. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Resolutions

I always thought resolutions were stupid, 
but the older I get, 
the more I like them.  
I love setting goals for myself, 
and - just as important - evaluating them to see how I did! 

So here we begin: 

2017 Resolutions

1. Lose Weight. 

I am not even going to pretend this isn't my top goal. 
I own up to my shallowness! 

I am one of those lucky moms who does not lose weight breastfeeding. 
It's infuriating. 
With Aaron, it took me a full 2 years to get back to a happy weight, 
and I was definitely aided in that journey by two back-to-back stomach bugs. 

I've written before about my weight fluctuations, 
and I have no delusions that I'm ever going to see a size 2 again. 
But right now I'm a size 10 and that needs to change. 
I'd like to see a size 6. 
6 is a healthy weight for me and once there, 
it's realistic for me to maintain. 

2. Run 3 Races. 

To aid in my weight loss goal, 
I want to run 3 races this year. 
I am signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15K in April. 

I hope I make the Broad Street Run lottery, 
which would make this my 6th time running this 10-mile race. 

And my friend just told me about the Army Ten-Miler in DC 
which looks to have the most BEAUTIFUL course ever. 

3. Learn to Cook New Seafood 

2016 was a fantastic year for cooking! 
With the help of Blue Apron, I learned how to confidently cook chicken and fish. 
This year I want to try more foods like shrimp and scallops. 
I just love seafood but until this past year, 
I'd never ever cooked it. 
Now that I can cook catfish and salmon with ease, 
I want to start on other seafood. 

Catfish with lemon, capers, and garlic spinach linguini 
Blue Apron recipe here

4. Take Aaron to church. 

I really want Aaron to grow up with a knowledge of the Bible, 
but also have that community of Sunday school and youth group. 
We've bought all the kid Bibles and I can read them to him all I want, 
but I still feel he will learn so much more in Sunday school. 

I will continue to push Jewish education in our home, 
but I'm not sending him to Hebrew school like all his cousins. 
(Or at least, that's my plan now.) 

Problem is, we moved away from a great church 
and if we try to make the commute, 
I know we won't stick to it. 
So I need to go church shopping which is... ugh. 
And everyone I know around here is Jewish so that's not helping, haha. 

5. Do a Time Study on Myself 

I sense that I've decreased in my productivity as a SAHM. 
There's still so many projects I want to tackle in our new house, 
but I find my days being eaten up by the mundane activities. 

I want to do a time study to see where I'm wasting my time. 
What exactly is pulling me down into the waste of unproductivity. 
Then, use my newfound knowledge to maximize my time, 
so that I can focus on my top priorities.