Monday, October 30, 2017

Books I read (Sept-Oct)

Being Mortal 
By Atul Gawande 

Natasha said everyone should read this book 
And I agree. 
If you have parents or in-laws 
or (in a very fortunate case) grandparents, 
you absolutely 100% must read this. 

Dr Gawande tackles the rarely-discussed situations of the elderly and dying, 
talking both about faults and successes in our society, 
and overall break down the process in a way I never thought. 
This book is heavy. 
This book is sad. 
This book is soooooooooooo important. 
I want to copy out pages of this book for 20-30 years, 
when I need to have this discussion with my parents and in-laws. 

The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo 
By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Ok, so you know I already love Taylor Jenkins Reid, 
BUT let's say you don't love this author, 
I'd still give this book a shot. 
This book has sex, glamour, and scandal, 
all wrapped up into very important lessons. 
It's a absolutely delicious read. 
I'd call it a "beach read" but the summer is closed. 
So maybe a blizzard read? 

The Light We Lost 
By Jill Santopolo

I'm conflicted about this book. 
It is captivating and totally sucked me in. 
I started it over nap and finished it that night in bed. 

But I also hated it. 
It's a love story of two loves 
But I was VERY biased towards one love story, 
And I hated that the protagonist didn't share my bias. 
The book still irritates me now. 

So yes, it's a well-written captivating book. 
But it also pissed me off. 

I Liked My Life 
By Abby Fabiaschi 

It’s the first fiction book I’ve ever considered buying. 
I love how it’s written. 
I love that it vacillates viewpoints from the dead mother, 
the teenage daughter, 
and the dad. 
For being a fiction book, 
It also holds incredible amounts of truth 
And wisdom 
And insight into life. 

I loved it. 

Abandoned 1/3 Way Through It

Last Hope Island 
by Lynne Olson 

I got this book hoping I could emerge 
as an intellectual person who appreciates historical nonfiction. 


Historical nonfiction is not for me, 
or at least not this book. 
I tried, 
I really did, 
but a few chapters in 
and it felt more like a chore than pleasure, 
so I finally gave up. 

To be fair, I did learn a little, 
especially about Britain's total failure at the start of the wayr 
But overall, not a genre for me. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It's Too Quiet

I arrived 10 minutes to my 5:45am Hot Power Yoga class. 
Despite the obscenely early time, it's always a packed class,
and you need to get there early to get a good spot. 
As I lie there on my yoga mat using a block as a pillow, 
taking a little snooze before the most intense class of my life, 
I was also eavesdropping on the two middle-aged women beside me. 
Their convo went something like this. 

Woman A: "Hey good to see you!  
You dropped your last kid off a college right?  
I remember we were both on the same empty nest schedule. 
How are you doing?" 

Woman B: "I really enjoy it! 
I really do, but... it is very quiet." 

A: "I know right? So quiet." 

B: "Sometimes it's too quiet. 
Like I miss the music and the yelling and stuff." 

A: "But I do love the lack of cooking! 
We went out to eat twice last week
 and I subsided on leftovers the rest of the week. 
It was great!  
I'm never cooking again!" 

B: "Yes, it's quite a change. 
I made a crockpot meal on Sunday 
and we lived on that all week! 
But it is hard when you WANT to cook though, 
I can't figure out how to make the recipes." 

A: "Agreed.  I either make too much or too little. 
I haven't figured out cooking for two." 

B: "I'm thinking of trying Blue Apron." 

A: "That's a good idea!" 

And then class started. 

This whole conversation stuck with me through the rest of the day. 
It was like a secret glimpse into a life very very very far away from me. 

On top of that, Adam and I had our getaway weekend at Penn State two weekends ago, 
coincidentally planning it over Parents Weekend. 
As we marveled at all the parents with their college kids, 
we kept imaging what it would be like to visit OUR boys at school. 

Where would they go? 
Would at least one go to Penn State?  (cheap tuition!) 
Oliver will be 15 when Aaron goes to college. 
Baby #3 would be like 10 (jk we have no idea

My attempt at an artsy photo at Penn State Campus

It seems like a world so far away. 
But as every seasoned mother reminds us, 
it comes quicker than we think. 

So when this kid is driving me batshit crazy ...

... vacilitating between his Attached-At-The-Hip 
and his Destroy-Everything-In-His-Path status, 
I often think of the line a neighbor gave me: 

"The days are long but the years are short." 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Halloween Kids Books

I love borrowing holiday-themed kids books from the library! 
I usually google "top [holiday] kids books" 
and then borrow them all until I decide what I like and don't. 
I want to start documenting my finds, 
both to see what others suggest, 
and to reference back next year!


First up: 

Favorite Kids Halloween Books

10 Busy Brooms 
by Carole Gerber

Definitely my favorite, 
it's short (counts from 10 to 1) 
and has a lovely rhythm 
so I don't mind reading this day after day after day. 

Halloween Hustle 
by Charlotte Gunnufson 

I love the catchy rhythmic verse of this book, 
so much that, 
just like 10 Busy Brooms, 
I'm ok with reading it day after day after day. 

Humbug Witch 
by Lorna Balian

An adorable book about a witch who isn't a very good witch. 
And in the end you realize its just a little girl, 
dressed up 
and trying to be a witch. 
It's cute and endearing. 

Room on the Broom 
by Julia Donaldson 
and Axel Scheffner

This was the top of every Halloween book list, 
and while I agree it's a good read, 
I preferred the three above over this. 
Not sure why, 
but I didn't fall in love with it like everyone else has. 

Celebrate Halloween 
(Holidays Around the World Series) 
by Deborah Heiligman 

Definitely for older kids
 (Amazon lists it 6-9 years), 
but Aaron (age 4.5) still appreciated this factual overview of Halloween. 
It also has a bit in the back about Dia de los Muertos, 
which I appreciated as well. 

Little Blue Truck Halloween 
By Alice Schertle

I shy away from lift-the-flap books, 
because I can't leave them lying around 
or else they become rip-the-flap books. 
And any book that has to be stored out of reach is less appealing. 
BUT I love the Little Blue Truck series 
and this was adorable 
so I made an exception to my lift-the-flat ban. 

Creepy Carrots 
by Aaron Reynolds 

I like this story 
 (and you'll laugh) 
I was highly annoyed that the book was too tall to fit properly on the bookshelf. 
So I don't know if I'll borrow this one again next year, 
because it's tall-ness really bothered me. 

Anyway, it's the creepiest Halloween book we embarked on. 
Amazon lists it age 4-8 years. 
I think you could go younger if your kid doesn't scare easily. 
For Aaron, who scares easily, 4 was a good start. 

*** Addendum Books *** 

Bonaparte Falls Apart 
By Margery Cuyler 

This is such a cute book. 
It's about a little skeleton who can't stay together, 
so his friends ("Frankystein" "Blacky Widow" etc) 
try to help him out. 

There's no rhyming, 
but it's short, cute, and simple. 
Definitely a good Halloween book!


What are your favorite Halloween books? 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

100 Wants

100 Wants 

Back in April, I wrote a post about the book "168 Hours" 
which included a clear step-by-step guide to making the most of your time. 

To recap, the steps were:

1. Log your time 
and then categorize your time to see where you spend it every week 
(which I did in my time studies here, here, and here)

2. Make a list of 100 things you want to do with your time/life 

3. Identify what you are good at (and enjoy) and what you hate/bad at 

4. Start with a blank slate. 

5. Start by filling your time back up with your 100 dreams 

6. Ignore, minimize, or outsource that you hate or are bad at 

7. Fill bits of time (10-30 min increments) with bits of joy,
or stepping stones to your 100 dreams.

8. Tune up as necessary


I started a list of my 100 wants/dreams. 
Except I only got to 35.  
But still, I thought 35 was a good number! 

I'm sharing them here both to document somewhere other than my phone, 
but also track how my list changes over time. 
I wrote them down as they came to me, 
no particular order or priority. 


Run a marathon. 
 Be a size 4. 
Learn to bartend. 
Read to my children every day.*
Make Sunday night Board Game night.
Find a great shrimp recipe.*
Find a great scallops recipe. 
Monthly Girls (Moms) Night Out. 
Read every day. 
Visit Upstate NY once a year.*
Read Harry Potter to my kids. 
Read a chapter book every night to kids. 
Take a wine class series. 
Go to culinary school. 
Take children to Disney World. 
Go to Italy with Adam. 
Hike the Grand Canyon. 
Attend the Kentucky Derby. 
Renovate Kitchen & Master Bath. 
Learn photography with a fancy camera. 
Attend church regularly. 
Make kids lunch every day.*
Make Adam's lunch every day.*
Write a letter to grandparents once a month.*
Cook healthy dinners at least 5 nights a week.*
Eat salad for lunch 5 times a week.*
Yearly getaway with Adam.*
Take golf lessons. 
Take a walk after dinner every night. 
Fill the house with music. 
Take a horseback riding class. 
Star Wars marathon with kids 
Yearly Friends Vacation at the beach*
Annual girls getaway
Take flying lessons

The * are the ones I have either accomplished or been doing regularly. 
Some of these are lifestyle things I want to incorporate, 
like walking after dinner or attending church. 

If I could categorize the 35, I'd put them as such: 


Run a marathon. 
Find a great shrimp recipe.
Find a great scallops recipe. 
Renovate Kitchen & Master Bat 

This category I can work towards now, 
but I don't see the first happening until I'm done having kids. 
We continue to save for the renovations but they are far off. 


(Note: none of these are to pursue a career, 
just simply for the fun of learning) 

Take a wine class series. 
Go to culinary school.
Learn to bartend.
Learn photography with a fancy camera. 
Take golf lessons. 
Take horseback riding lessons. 
Take flying lessons.

Most of these are not feasible with Adam's job, 
nor small children at home. 
Someday when Adam is no longer at Big Law Firm, 
I'll start pursuing night or weekend classes. 
The flying lessons will be the most tricky since they are a massive time 
and money investment, 
but I think learning to fly would help overcome my irrational fear of flying, 
because I would understand / have control. 


 Be a size 4. 
Make Sunday night Board Game night.
Monthly Girls (Moms) Night Out (at this point I'm bi-monthly at best)
Read every day. 
Read to my children every day.
Read Harry Potter to my kids. 
Read a chapter book every night to kids (one chapter per night). 
Attend church regularly. 
Write a letter to grandparents once a month.
Take a walk after dinner every night.
Make kids lunch every day.
Make Adam's lunch every day.
Cook healthy dinners at least 5 nights a week.
Eat salad for lunch 5 times a week.
Fill the house with music. 
Star Wars marathon with kids. 

While some of these (Harry Potter, chapter books, board game night) 
are for when the kids are older, 
most of these can be done now.  
It's just a matter of incorporating them AND sticking to them!


Visit Upstate NY [great-grandparents] once a year.
Yearly getaway with Adam. 
Yearly friends vacation at the beach. 
Annual girls getaway
Take children to Disney World. 
Go to Italy with Adam. 
Hike the Grand Canyon. 
Attend the Kentucky Derby. 

The first three are in the works. 
We had our yearly NY trip last month,
and then our Penn State getaway last weekend. 
The yearly friends vacation was going great until this year 
when we couldn't coordinate our vacation schedules (boo!), 
but I'd like to resume for next year. 
The remaining 5 require both $$$$-saving 
and/or older children who can be left with grandparents for days on end. 

10 years ago in Venice.  I met Adam 2 months later. 


So anyway, that's my list. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017


I hate spiders.  

I'm fine with snakes.
I'm fine with mice. 
I'm fine with clowns. 
I'm fine with bees. 
I'm fine with normal house bugs*

*they startle me and I scream but only because I think it's a spider

I don't do spiders.

The photo is 6 years old, but the message is still current. 

Texas is on my "banned" list of places to move to 
(sorry, Amanda and Allena) 
solely because I will not live in a state that also contains tarantulas in the wild. 

See this guy here? 
He might as well be a tarantula by my standards. 
There were one or two of these that lived outside our house. 
I didn't like it, 
but I could manage. 

Oh but then things changed. 

We have had an unseasonably warm, muggy October. 
The humidity feels like early August 
and it's absolutely stifling. 
Apparently these spiders like this weather, 
because they are growing bigger and bigger
 and appearing more and more. 
Adam killed 7 of those spiders outside on the patio, 
last weekend while I was in DC. 
He was sending me photos (like the one above) 
and I was responding with: 
"So I'm never coming home?" 
Hahaha cute.  

In the last 2 days, 
I have had FIVE of these spiders in my house. 
This is the smallest one, by far. 

Remember when I posted our house tour
Well if you're looking to buy it, 
I'm about to put our house on the market. 
And move to Alaska. 
Or better yet, 
I'll just burn it down to the ground, 
and THEN move to Alaska. 

I've never been one to wish for snow, 
but I am begging for the coldest winter ever. 
I want multiple days of negative degrees, 
to really kill every last remnant of these spiders. 
Otherwise, Alaska, here I come! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

3 Races

One of my New Year Resolutions was to run 3 races this year. 
And as of last weekend, I can check-mark that goal!

Working backward...

Army Ten Miler 
Location: DC, starts and ends at the Pentagon 
Distance: 10 miles 
When: October, usually Sunday before Columbus Day

10 miles winding its way through the coolest parts of DC. 
It was an awesome race. 
Blackhawks were circling over our heads most of the race. 
And all of the water volunteers were soldiers, 
who, given the humidity of the day, 
were more than happy to douse runners in pitchers of water. 

It was a great time 
and I hope to do it again next year, 
perhaps not in 95% humidity though. 

Broad Street Run 
Location: Philadelphia, starting in North Philly
 And ending in the Naval Yards
Distance: 10 miles 
When: 1st Sunday in May

This was my 6th year running Broad Street, 
and I will never tire of the race. 
it is truly a fun fun fun race
The whole city comes out to cheer for it, 
and as a runner you'll see everything from 
church choirs, 
to highschool/college marching band, 
to live band performances, 
to DJs mixing on the sidewalk. 

Plus you get a really cool tour of Philly from the "not-so-nice" North Philly, 
through Temple's campus, 
then the business district, 
down to South Philly (nice but boring), 
and finally the stadiums. 

It's also the 6th largest race (regardless of distance) in the US, 
with about 35,000 runners annually. 

Hot Chocolate 5K/15K 
Location: Philadelphia, starts and ends at the Art Museum 
Distance: 15K, approx 9.3 miles 
When: 1st Saturday in April

The best parts about this race are the 
GEAR and the FOOD.

Rather than just a standard race t-shirt, 
ever runner gets a sweatshirt, 
which is the comfiest, coziest ever. 
Meghan has run it for years 
and I've always ooh-ed and ahhh-ed over her sweatshirts.

The food afterwards is AWESOME: 
Super thick hot chocolate for sipping, 
a little vat of melted chocolate for dipping, 
and an assortment of items to dip. 
And it's GOOD chocolate. 

All that said...

The worst part of this race is the route
With the exception of Broad Street Run, 
all Philly races start at the Art Museum 
and go up/back on the Schuylkill River 
which is the most boring route ever
It is mind-numbing boring. 
I made the mistake of running this as a 15K, 
and was bored out of my mind for 9.3 miles. 

Next year I'll run it as a 5K, 
just to get the gear, 
and then minimize my boredom. 

And yes, that's a trash bag I'm wearing. 
Meghan wore the sweatshirt they gave, 
but for me it would be too hot for the whole course. 
My go-to for chilly races is to wear a trashbag to the start, 
and then throw it away once we start running. 
I also keep a folded up one in my pocket in case it's still cold afterwards. 
Plastic is both lightweight and an amazing insulator. 
And I get a lot of "oh that's a great idea" comments from other runners.