Monday, April 30, 2018

Books I Read (Mar-Apr)



From Notting Hill with Love Actually 
By Ali McNamaran

This book is for romantics. 
I am not a romantic. 
Thus, I had a lot of gripes about this book. 

First of all, I found the main character highly annoying for the first 1/2 of the book,
 and was siding with virtually everyone but her.
 The book redeemed itself in the middle
 then I felt it took a nose-dive at the end. 
I realize that most literary scenarios are far-fetched 
but this one pushes the boundaries for me, in an eye-rolling way. 

Given the main character’s movie obsession,
 there are a LOT of movie references. 
While I haven’t seen the film Notting Hill,
 I think it would have helped. 
I had seen Pretty Woman and Love Actually, which helped with a lot of the book. 

Was it a good book? 
For a romantic movie lover, absolutely. 
For me? No. 




The Last Mrs Parrish 
by Liv Constantine

Ahhh this book!!!!
This may be one of my new top favorites. 
It sucked me in right from the first page and two nights in a row,
 I stayed up way too late getting through it.
 Caveat, of course, is that it’s disturbing and fucked up 
but no children are hurt so basically I was ok with it.

 Love love love! 



The love story will self destruct 
By Leslie Cohen

This is a love story between a logical, practical engineer 
and a romantic, worrier chick. 
It flips perspective often. 
The dude’s perspective is decent but the chick... 
I wanted to bang my head on a wall. 
Pages and pages and pages of thoughts 
that go on and on and jump all around like ADD. 
I skimmed a LOT, maybe half the book, 
because I just couldn’t sit through the long-winded thought process. 



Fangirl 
By Rainbow Rowell 

My first thoughts on this book: 
“I liked it, but it FELT really long.” 

Pretty much my assessment of the wildly popular “Ever After” book. 
I can’t tell if it felt long because it was, indeed, long 
or if the slow parts just made it feel longer. 
Definitely a lot of slow parts, 
putting down the book for days and forcing myself to pick it back up. 

Ugh, I’m really not selling this book.
 No it’s cool, especially if you are an extreme introvert 
(not me) 
or really into fan fiction
 (like Harry Potter, also not me) 
but it’s still cool without. 



The Address 
By Fiona Davis 

This book sucked me right in 
and I stayed up all night finishing it, 
literally speed-reading to the end. 
It’s great. 
I loved it. 
Read it! 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

With great age comes great responsibility: part 2

Having turned the tremendous age of 5, 
we've introduced two new responsibilities to Aaron. 

The first was a new set of chores, 
which I posted about here

The second feels even bigger: 
Money 


I read a book about kids and money last year, 
and I think it's an outstanding book that every parent needs to read. 
It's called "The Opposite of Spoiled" and I posted about it here

We are trying to follow much of what we learned in the book, 
and will adjust as needed. 

Why start now? 

Per the book's advice, I am VERY open with Aaron about money. 
When he asks to get his face painted at the zoo, 
I say: "No, that's $10. I'm not going to spend $10 on that." 

We talk about how toys cost at Target. 
How much eating at Chick-Fil-A costs. 
How much going to Legoland costs. 
And while he still can't conceptualize this cost 
(he guessed our grocery bill is $20/week... I WISH), 
the fact that he talks about it means he is aware

And I want to start empowering him to do something with that awareness. 
If he wants that facepaint, then save up for it! 


How much

We decided to start with $0.75/week. 

We are dividing allowance into 3 categories
and $0.75 will allow an even split of 3 quarters. 


Categories

Spend  - $0.25/wk
Save - $0.25/wk
Give - $0.25/wk

Spend
Aaron can spend this on anything
I'm guessing we will become quite the frequenters at Target dollar section 
(eye roll). 
We don't have a banned list yet 
but I'm sure once he starts looking up prices of tattoos, 
we'll change that. 

Save
We want this to be short-term enough that he can visualize the prize, 
but long enough wait that it takes a few weeks, 
so basically around $3 = 12 weeks or 3 months.  
Ideas we gave him:
 Ice cream cone, 
Pretzel at the zoo, 
etc. 

And yes, these are all food motivators. 
My kids love food. 


Give
The trickiest part here is finding way to give that he can visualize the gift. 
Our local zoo has a great section where you can "gift" stuff to the animals, 
but putting money into buckets, 
so we are trying that. 


Piggy Banks

Again, at the suggestion of the book, 
I decided to use 3 rubbermaid containers. 
They are easy for Aaron to open, 
but stay closed for transportation. 




Not Tying to Chores

The reason we are not tying to chores is 
because right now money doesn't actually have value to him. 
Losing TV? Yes. 
Losing money? No. 

Adam, who was an avid supporter of tying to chores, 
absolutely agreed with my current assessment. 
He does want to tie money & chores in the future, 
and I'm ok revisiting that topic later on. 


Evaluation

Well so far I can't give any feedback yet. 
As of posting this, he's acquired all of $0.50 which doesn't buy anything these days. 

I wanted to put this post out there, though, 
just to establish what we are doing now
and then can revisit in a year to see what we've changed. 




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Real Life Blog Friend

Remember when the internet was first coming forth, 
and you'd hear all these stories of chat room stalkers 
who pretended to be cute 12 year old girls 
but were really 40 year old men? 
The idea of meeting up in real life with "someone you met online" 
was essentially an invitation to be kidnapped and/or murdered. 

This was Adam's reaction when I told him I was going to
meet a blog friend for brunch. 

He referred to it as my "kidnapped brunch" 
and kept asking: "How do you know this person is real?" 
I reminded him that we have received Christmas cards from said blog friend, 
but he was unconvinced. 
I also pointed out that she has been documenting 11 years of her life on the blog 
(and yes, I just looked that up to verify the number) 
and I feel like 11 years is a long time to commit to a fake life. 
Plus, add in children, and how do you get fake children to grow so precisely? 
We had a lot of dialogue about this. 

Well, I went to brunch and turns out, 
Amanda Joiner is, indeed, a real person. 


I don't remember what trail of clicks lead me to her, 
but I started reading Amanda's blog not long after Aaron was born. 
She had documented her infertility journey in detail, 
and one very quiet afternoon at work, 
I read through the entire thing, 
every single blog post.
It was immensely helpful as I had a friend going through infertility, 
and a huge eye-opener to what a true journey it was! 

I silent-stalked her blog for a while until I gave in and started commenting. 
We were both Working Moms 
in a time where most blogging moms were Stay-at-home-moms, 
so we had that in common. 
On top of that, she was (still is!) funny and sarcastic, 
and I loved her writing style. 
Plus I could smell her Super Type A personality through the internet, 
and I love discovering another Super Type A person. 
Oh look someone as neurotic as I am! 
YAYYYYYY!!!!
(This sounds mean but I truly mean it as a compliment.)


Fast forward a few years, 
and I found out that Amanda would be passing through Philly 
at the end of a girl's weekend. 
Somehow the stars aligned, 
and I met her, her twin, and three friends for brunch in Philly! 


 Poor lighting, but I like this picture of us the best. 

And then I don't know what I'm doing with my arm here? 
Someone give me posing lessons. 


It was very great.
Not just to prove Adam wrong.  
But to actually put a real-life connection 
to someone I've communicated with for so long via internet. 


So thank you, Amanda, for making this happen! 
And thank your sister/friends for taking time out of their trip to do this! 
Now I need to find my way to Houston!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spring survey!

Spring is not here and I’m mad. 
We had a beautiful teaser day two weekends ago: sunshine and high 70s. 
Since then it’s been gray and 50s. 
Natasha post this on a delightful day of rain, wind, and low 40s 
and I appreciated it so much I’m stealing it. 

1. What three colors remind you of spring? 

Green grass. 
Yellow sun. 
Purple flower. 



2. What is the first thing you add to your wardrobe in spring? 

Short-sleeve tops. 
After 5 or 6 months in long sleeve, 
I’m over-joyed to turn to a new section of my closet
 (because, unsurprising, my closet is perfectly coordinated by sleeve-length


3. What is the first wardrobe item you ditch in springtime? 

Jackets and coats. 
So many women love layering but I'm just not one of them. 
I like one single layer. 
Simple, easy. 


4. Who mows the grass where you live? 

Adam. 
There are not many household chores I don’t do 
(I take out the trash more often than he does) 
but I flat out refuse to mow. 
When he had his carpal/cubital tunnel surgery, we paid my sister to mow. 


5. What’s spring like where you live? 

Should be: Warm & sunny
Currently: Cold, rainy, dreary. 
I should be happy i can’t say “cold, SNOWY” 
like many north and west of us, 
but complainers gonna complain. 

6. What’s your favorite thing about spring? 

Opening the windows and letting fresh air fill the house. 
I love love love fresh air
 and after a winter of stagnate recirculated air, 
I want the wind to blow through every corner of our house. 

Of course Adam and his allergies don't jive with this but... hehe. 


7. Are you a spring cleaner? 

No. 
I’m a meticulous cleaner all year 
but I don’t up my game in springtime. 


8. Are you a baseball fan? 

Not a true fan. 
I like going to games to get a hot dog and beer but the actual game? 
Nope. 
It ranks down there with basketball. 
I’ll take pro football, college football, soccer, and even hockey before baseball. 
That said, Adam is a big Phillies fan so I’ve acquired some fandom by osmosis. 

Annually we take the kids to go see the Minor League Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. 
Tickets are cheap, seats are plentiful, and we all have fun


9. Tulips or daffodils? 

Daffodils. 
We don’t get many tulips around here
 (are they even native to southeast PA? No idea) 
but we are flooded with daffodils on every corner. 
I love them as a true sign of spring. 


10. Favorite outdoor spring activity? 

Walks around our neighborhood. 
We do this in summer and fall 
but it feels extra special in spring after being cooped inside all winter. 

Oliver one year ago!

11. Flowers in the ground or pots? 

Mostly ground but we have one pot outside by our front door. 
Adam just made a special trip to Lowe’s to buy this one. 
This makes me smile because all through dating and early marriage,
 Adam gave no indication that he liked flowers or gardening. 
But give that man a house with a yard and he’s become quite the flower lover!



12. Favorite bird? 

SO MANY. 
We have a bird feeder outside our kitchen window 
and all its visitors bring me so much joy. 
My favorite probably being the male and female Cardinals. 
Also the gold finches, chickadees, grosbeaks, 
and a handful of other birds I can’t identify. 
Oh, Natasha, and we get blue jays too! 

Poor quality, but love all the goldfinches


13. Car wash or wash vehicles at home? 

Car wash. 
We park in the garage so God can't wash ours for free. 


14. When do you pull out your sandals? 

Low/Mid-70s. 
Truthfully I’d go barefoot every where if it was socially acceptable. 
Even in the dead of winter I’m barefoot in my house. 
So as soon as I can shed the layers of society’s “shoe” I’m all for it! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Oliver is 2

This kid. 
I could write a book about him. 
He is ALL OVER THE PLACE 
and I love him so dearly. 



***

He's a big kid. 
At around 33 lbs., he's bigger than most 2 years old I know. 
He wears 3T shirts and 2T pants, 
because he's got short little legs and 3T pants look like capris. 

*btw (Allena, haha) I updated Aaron's post with stats here*

He is CHUBBY AND DELICIOUS. 
I get so many comments from moms on how chubby he is 
(in a good way, they all assure me). 
I love chubby babies / toddlers. 
Aaron was equally chubbing until about 3-3.5 
and then he majorly leaned out, 
so I have no fear about Oliver being too big. 

Eating Matzo at Passover

*** 

Oliver is the world's biggest mama's boy. 
From the second he wakes up, 
his first request: "Mama? Mama? Mama?" 

Around 8 months old, I wrote about him being a Velcro Baby.
And while I may not be physically wearing him anymore, 
he still prefers me to anyone in the world, 
including Adam. 
While Aaron was - and still is - a mama's boy, 
Oliver is magnified to the extreme. 
(Probably because I'm home with Oliver all day.)



How do I feel about this? 
About 75/25 love/hate. 
I love his attachment to me and his undying love for me. 
But man, SOMETIMES it would be nice to not be his only world. 

***

Close behind me, however, is my dad and Adam's dad. 
Oliver loves Grandpa and Pop Pop like crazy. 
If he can't have mommy, he'll go to them. 



When we were in Florida, my mother-in-law got to hold Oliver ONCE. 
The other seven days he spent with me or Pop Pop. 



Even funnier, is that Oliver gravitates to any man in the relationship. 
I.e.: in all my friends' relationships, he will go to the boyfriend/husband, 
but not to my girlfriends. 
It's truly the strangest thing. 
Perhaps with mommy being the center of his universe, 
he has no use for any other women? 
Someone suggested maybe he'll be gay, 
and I said:
 "That's fine with me too! I want him to follow his heart.
So, Oliver, remember, 
whoever you are, 
whether you end up with a woman or a man
I will support and love you! 

***

Oliver is snuggler. 
I mean, THE BEST SNUGGLER. 
Every morning Adam gets him out of his crib 
(I hear the "mama? mama?" start the second Adam opens his door) 
and brings him to our bed. 
He snuggles up right next to me and it's just the most perfect thing. 

If I sit on the couch while he is watching TV, 
he will immediately get up and sit with me. 
And he'll lie his head on my arm or chest, 
and it's just heart melting. 

*** 

Now, all that aside. 
This child has major monster tendencies. 
I mean, he has a TEMPER and it is VIOLENT. 
Terrible Twos started long ago for us. 

If he's mad about something, he HITS WITH A VENGEANCE. 
If he's unhappy, anything becomes a projectile. 
Including... dinnerware. 


Some people will say it's because he has an older brother, 
and he has to fight for himself. 
That may be true. 
He has reduced Aaron to tears on multiple occasions

But it's not even that, sometimes Oliver is just  BAD ON PURPOSE. 
Like I tell him NO, 
and he SMILES AT ME AND STILL DOES IT. 
Like point-blank smiles and laughs. 

Evil child. 

Sometimes it's cute, like "don't eat that apple." 



But more often than not, it's actually serious. 
Like "DON'T RUN INTO THE STREET."

Overall, these Terrible 2s/3s are going to be some interesting years. 
And perhaps there will be behavioral issues past that age. 
We will see and address accordingly!

***

But good or bad, I love this child so much. 
He is silly. 
He is independent. 
He is cuddly. 
He is opinionated. 
He hits both sides of the good and bad spectrum, 
and can do so within minutes part. 
And we love every inch of him. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Life Lately

A little babbling post about life lately. 
Where do I start? 
Birthday mania. 
Is everyone born in the spring because it sure feels like it?! 

Aaron turned 5 in March. 
His indoor pool party was a smashing success. 



Oliver is turning 2 next week. 
We did a joint birthday party with his cousin, also turning 2 this month, 
but kept it low-key with only grandparents 
(in this case, 3 sets of grandparents). 



Oh, and then throw in a half dozen friends' birthdays, 
plus Passover and Easter, 
and we are just celebrating 
(read: eating and drinking
our way through spring. 


What else? 
Let's talk about everyone's favorite topic: WEATHER. 
It seems we are FINALLY turning a corner in the weather. 
I don't want to jinx it but... 
WE MAY BE IN SHORTS TOMORROW! 
Seriously, this is long overdue. 

I realize that our friends/relatives up in NY are still in the thick of snow/winter, 
but down here in Pennslyvania, 
spring is SUPPOSED TO come early. 
"Supposed to" being the key words here. 
My friend and I ran the Hot Chocolate 5K in Philly on April 7th 
and there were SNOWFLAKES. 
Not many, but I counted a few.  
Philadelphia should not see snow in April. 


Well, this week seems to be what we have all been waiting for. 
SPRING! 

WOOHOO!  


Another random note for this post: 
Composting

(methane gas is 23x worse than the carbon dioxide emissions) 
I've wanted to try composting for a while, 
but every site made it seem SO DAMN COMPLICATED. 
There's barrels and layers and turning and wtf no. 

Finally, I found this site which really broke it down for me.  

We are doing an outdoor, aerobic, cold, continuous compost. 

This means I don't have to buy a barrel 
or make layers 
or turn anything. 
I just collect kitchen scraps and then go dump it in a corner of my yard. 

What to compost? 
From the same site, I found this great list which is helping. 
Anyone out there tried composting? 







Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Top 5 Kids Clothing

Another post of my "series"
 (can you even call it that if there's only one other post?) 
of top five favorites! 

Top 5 Kids Clothing 


Price: $16-$20 
Available: Amazon, Zappos, etc 



Generally, I don't spend a lot of money on snow gear. 
Being in southeast Pennsylvania, 
I'd say we get 3-5 "real" snowstorms a year. 
And only one or two produce multiple snow play days.  
This means, I buy the cheapest boots, snowpants, and puffy coats. 
(Puffy coats = NOT car seat compatiable coats) 

BUT mittens, I spend a lot of money. 
Mittens are the secret tricky part of snow play. 
The fingers need the most warmth, 
but mittens are usually the first to fall off. 

Enter: Snow Stoppers. 
I read about these on (of course) Lucie's List . 
They extend wayyyy up the arm, 
ensuring they never fall off (plus keep arms extra warm). 
As long as they go on before the coat, 
they will never ever fall off. 


Price: $44 (lots of sales) 
Available: HannaAndersson.com 


These stupid trendy PJs. 
I used to make fun of them 
and even wrote a post about:
 "hey look I'm a cool mom for paying a fortune for these stupid PJs

(the PJs Oliver is wearing in the photo above 
are the first pair I bought Aaron back in December 2014)

Well now, jokes on me because they are the only PJs my kids own. 
They are so so so durable. 
They look like new after 1,000 washings. 
Other PJs we had would pill and fade, 
but these are still brand new. 

I've gotten better at catching their sales, 
and now can usually buy them between $20-$30/apiece. 
Which is still double what I pay for any other type of clothing for my kids, 
but hey, they are worth it.

Also, on a side note, whenever people ask: 
"What do I get a kid who has everything?" 
I tell them these. 
Everyone loves cute PJs 
and especially families "with everything" can appreciate quality. 


Price: $30 
Available: Amazon 



Again, Lucie's List to the rescue. 
(Although I can't find the link so...?) 

I don't like anything on my feet (socks, slippers) 
but Aaron must have inherited Adam's cold toes 
because even if Aaron is STARK NAKED (which happens a lot) 
he still has something on his feet. 

With our hardwood floors (including stairs, and no runner) 
I have banned walking around in socks. 
Socks + wood stairs = broken neck 

But most slippers, even nice ones from LL Bean, got kind of gross. 
And Aaron definitely preferred "sock-like" feel versus slippers. 
Enter, konfetti. 
They have perfect grip on the bottom to avoid wiping out, 
but still feel like warm socks. 

Adam's dad likened them to those grippy socks they give you at hospital... 
and then commented on how he may get an adult pair for himself. 

My only complaint is that a lot of the designs are pretty hideous. 
The ones pictures above are what Oliver wears. 
Aaron's are pretty ugly but he loves them. 

Oliver wearing another pair of Hanna Andersson PJs and his konfetti slippers


4. GAP Jeans 
Price: $15-$40 depending on whatever sale 
Available: GAP 


My boys wear a lot of jeans. 
They are rough-and-tumble kind of boys, 
and jeans are the only thing that stand up to that level of activity. 
Khakis and other "soft pants" don't stand a chance. 
I've tried a lot of jeans, 
but keep coming back to GAP. 

Specifically, my boys tend to be chunky size, 
with shorter legs. 
Aaron less so now, 
but Oliver still is. 

GAP tends to be on the "shorter, chunkier" side. 
Old Navy, for example, runs super tall and thin. 


Price: $10-$20ish 
Available: Primary.com 



I'm pretty particular about my kids outfits "matching" 
and particularly with babies, 
I found a lot of "print" options but not a lot of solid alternates. 
Or at least, not in the solid colors I wanted. 

Enter: primary. 

They ONLY SELL SOLID COLORS. 
(Oh, and a few stripes now.) 

Got some crazy fun leggings but no solid onesies? 
Done. 
Have a thousand print onesies and no solid leggings? 
Done. 

Now that my kids are older, my favorite shop is their SWIM SHOP
I find all these cute swim shorts, 
but no matching long sleeve rashguards. 

See those adorable print shorts? 
Well that solid color orange rashguard matched perfectly