Monday, August 31, 2020

Books I Read (August)

Book I Read: August 

Total Books: 4

Open Book 
By Jessica Simpson 

I usually love memoirs so this is not surprising. 
I have limited knowledge of Jessica Simpson 
(I never watched The Newly Weds 
and I know maybe 2 of her songs?), 
so some things I had to google 
(like the chile cookoff thing). 
It was sweet and honest 
and I really connected to her discussions on body positivity 
especially through the horrible lens of society's expectations. 

A word of caution, 
the Evangelical youth group scene is strong 
and if you don't have a background in it like I do, 
it may come off as cult-like similar to "Educated." 
I had a little PTSD reading it lol. 

Into Thin Air 
By Jon Krakauer 

So. Many. People. told me to read this. 
I learned even Adam read it 
(years and years ago). 

It's an incredible book 
and I really want to read his other famous book 
"Into the Wild" 
which Adam also highly recommends. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 
By Rebecca Skloot

A solidly good book. 
Well-written, interesting, and overall just excellent. 
A trigger warning, there is a sprinkling of child abuse, 
which I found hard to stomach 
(worse even because it really happened!), 
but I would still highly recommend the book. 

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird 
By Josie Silver 

This was kind of the "it book" of the summer, 
as multiple people recommended it to me. 
Overall, decent. 
I found some of it cliche and predictable 
(my normal complaint with romantic books) 
and some of it was downright depressing, 
but the supporting characters were really good 
and helped to carry the book. 
Allena mentioned that she really didn't like the character Freddie 
but I can't say I disliked him anymore than other characters recently. 
Perhaps it was because I was prepared in advance to not like him 
and thus was less put off by him? Possibly. 

I can say for sure that this book 
is much better than her other book 
"One Day in December" (reviewed here)
which was terrible. 

Also, "The Two Lives" was very similar to Taylor Jenkins Reid's 
"Maybe in Another Life" (reviewed here)
which I think I liked a little better than "Two Lives." 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Three on Thursday

"Three on Thursday" 
No this is not a new series. 
Just three things I want to talk about. 

1. Folklore. 

Here I am joining every basic white chick in America. 

This is my first ever download of an artist's album. 
Prior to this, I only downloaded musicals 
(Rent, Greatest Showman, etc) 
and songs I liked from the radio. 
But I decided to take the plunge with this record. 

It's beautiful. 
My favorite songs are "exile" and "epiphany." 
My least favorite songs are "cardigan" and "seven." 

I may be a music snob convert. 
The kind that actually downloads a whole album, 
rather than listening to the radio selection!  
Everyone keeps recommending The Chicks Gaslighter 
so maybe that's next?

2. Love & Lemons Cookbook 

Do you ever come across something that is so not you 
 but you desperately want to be that kind of person? 

That's this cookbook. 
It is filled with the most gorgeous vegetarian recipes. 
It is the epitome of how I want to eat
But the recipes either source unique ingredients 
or take a long time to make, 
and I don't think it's feasible for our life right now. 

I thought of buying the cookbook to keep on my shelf. 
Maybe as an inspiration 
or a goal to work towards. 
But then I decided it would just taunt me. 
Maybe when the kids are out of the house? 

3. Insight Timer 

I want to learn to meditate. 

The closest I've come to meditation is Shavasana in yoga. 
A few of my yoga instructors have used shavasana 
as a guided meditation, 
rather than just a quiet rest time. 
I've thoroughly enjoyed it, but not enough to do it myself. 

I always turned up my nose at meditations, 
scoffing at those silly hippies sitting silently 
or imaging something really intense like in Eat Pray Love
But the more I work on making myself healthier, 
the more I hear about the power of meditation. 
Needless to say, I'm still quite skeptical. 
But, I decided to give it a try. 

After downloading a few apps 
and balking at the ridiculous yearly prices ($99??? wtf?), 
I found this app where most of the items are free 
and if you want to pay for upgrades, it's only $19/year. 

I've been doing a one-week intro to Meditation 
and I've really enjoyed it so far. 
It's a very relaxing way to wind down at the end of the day. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Unbelievable Privilege

Last week, our school board changed from our original hybrid reopening plan 
to an all-virtual school opening until November 27th. 

I was not surprised at this at all. 
If anything, I was shocked they decided so soon. 
Every other school district around us has been slowly moving to this plan. 

The Board meeting was held Thursday night. 
There was nearly 4 hours of public comment. 
There was a lot of anger and frustration.  
There was also a lot of heart-breaking comments. 
Single mothers who are essential workers, 
crying that they work all day long, 
while the kids stay with aging grandparents 
who can't manage zoom or online learning applications, 
and then those moms are up to 1am trying to teach their kids. 

At one point, I was moved to tears 
as a mom was explaining her predicament, 
begging the school board to allow her child to go back to school. 

It brought me back to the overpowering feeling 
that I am saturated in unbelievable privilege. 

I grumbled in previous posts 
about online attendance requirements 
because it would affect our ability to get out of the house. 
How shallow is my complaint! 

If I have to sit next to my kid on the laptop 
6.5 hours a day, I can do it.

Allena had this pinwheel on her blog. 
It's fuzzy but I cannot find the original. 
It's what I thought about all meeting long. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Oh look, another survey I can do!
Thanks, Natasha!

1. How many states have you been to?

I sat down with my kids' placemat to figure this out 
so this is in geographical order starting Northeast. 
I know this is obnoxious 
but I listed out the reason 
in case I ever question why the heck I was there. 

Maine (vacation), 
Vermont (visit family), 
Massachusetts (visit friend), 
Connecticut (work), 
New Jersey (the shore), 
Delaware (vacation/work),
New York (lived here), 
Pennsylvania (live here),  
Maryland (visit friends/family), 
West Virginia (visit friend), 
Virginia (visit friend), 
North Carolina (vacation/work), 
Florida (vacation), 
Ohio (visit family), 
Illinois (youth group trip), 
Mississippi (wedding), 
Arkansas (youth group trip), 
Texas (visit family as a child), 
Kansas (work), 
Missouri (work), 
Wyoming (vacation), 
Colorado (vacation), 
Nevada (vacation), 
Washington (visit family as a child), 
Oregon (visit family as a child), 
and California (vacation).

2. What was the name of your first pet?

a miniature Yorkshire terrier. 
She loved me and slept under my covers every night. 

3. What is the longest flight you've ever taken?

Longest on one plane
Dulles to Hong Kong for spring break in college. 

March 2007: on the beach in Hong Kong

Longest travel day
18 hours on 3 planes from Kenya to Philadelphia 
while I was 8 weeks pregnant with Aaron. 

4. What is your favorite family tradition?

Daily: Family Game Night.
Annually: Teresa's Next Door on New Year's Eve.

2018 NYE

5. What is the longest distance you ever walked/ran?

16 miles. 
I was training for a marathon 
and my knee gave out the next day. 

6. What is the best trip you ever took and why?

With my family: Yellowstone
This was the best family trip because my mom wasn't there. 
My mom is not a fun person to travel with*. 
She is very anxious and has to control everything. 
But this trip was 16-year-old me, my 9-year-old sister, and my dad. 
It was full of spontaneity and hilarious memories 
and it will always hold a special place in my heart. 
I wrote all about it here

As an adult: Italy
I've loved all my European travels 
but Italy was my favorite country by far. 
The food cannot be beat
I went with my ex boyfriend after college 
so I need to go back with Adam. 

7. What was the first record you ever bought?

Eve6 Horroscope.

8. What color was your childhood bedroom?

Beige, but I wanted blue. 
My parents painted it blue after I moved out. 
I'm still bitter. 

9. What is the scariest ride you've ever been on?

I am terrified of heights, 
so ferris wheels are just as terrifying as rollercoasters. 

10. Who was your role model as a kid and why?

I think my Aunt Jeanne. 
She had 5 kids and yet was so relaxed and cool 
(in comparison to my mom with chronic anxiety*). 
This is where my dream of 5 kids came from, 
emulating her life. 

11. When did you first feel like an adult?

Between junior and senior year of college, 
I interned at a Big 4 accounting firm (Deloitte). 
One day it was a beautiful summer day 
and I worked inside on an audit from 8am to 7pm. 
I drove home crying that I hated adult life 
and wanted to go back to being a kid 
and enjoying summer. 

Now, after that summer internship, 
I still had a year of college left to go 
but I knew what was looming ahead. 

12. What was the last natural body of water you swam in?

August 2019 when a friend and I took the kids on a day trip 
to Atlantic City to watch the Atlantic City Airshow 
(which was AMAZING)

13. What was the hardest class you ever took?

College level statistics. 
I loveeee stats but somehow I could not grasp this class. 
The basic mathematics eluded me. 
That said, I still got an A in the class 
but I remember being baffled by the work. 

14. What is a fact about you that nobody would guess?

For a couple years of my highschool life, 
I was a hardcore goth 
with black makeup and punk rock clothes 
and went to heavy metal concerts. 

15. What's the worst misspelling of your name you've ever seen?

It's pretty hard to mess up Emily. 
But my maiden name was Loomis 
and sometimes people would write "Lumos" 
(like in Harry Potter). 

16. What was the first concert you went to?

Amy Grant with my mom as a child. 

17. What was the last concert you went to?

Over a decade ago... 
Kenny Chesney in 2010. 

18. Where is the strangest place you've ever fallen asleep?

20 years ago, in a bus aisle.
I was on a youth group mission trip coming back from Mexico. 
I don't know if it was planned or not, 
but we drove through the night 
and everyone on the bus took turns 
sleeping in the aisle so we could stretch out. 
When you had to pee, 
you had to walk on all the arm rests to avoid stepping on anyone. 

19. Do you have any strange 
or regional names for things where you come from?

Growing up in Central NY with a hybrid Buffalo "accent," 
I would say no. 
When I came to Philly, the school cafeteria had "hoagie day" 
and I could not for the life of me figure out what a hoagie was. 
It sounded like a boogie from your nose. 
Turns out it's a sub. 
18 years later in this area 
and I still call it a SUB not a HOAGIE. 

Fall 2010: Penn State Tailgate (not a hoagie, but it's a sandwich!)

Adding one because I need to stop at an even number... 

20. What is your favorite song of all time? 

Black Balloon by Goo Goo Dolls. 

*Generally I refrain from disparaging remarks 
about specific people in my blog
but you see an exception here. 
My mom doesn't read my blog or I wouldn't say it. 
Anyone else, family or friend, who does read it 
already knows these things. 
As a child, I did not understand that my mom had chronic anxiety, 
only that she was no fun to travel with 
and other moms (like my Aunt Jeanne) were so much more chill. 
As an adult I understand now what the issue was. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


As schools continue to publish their reopening plans
(ours here), 
more and more parents are choosing to homeschool. 
As someone homeschooled from 4th-9th grade, 
I have mixed feelings. 

Pre-COVID, there were already a lot of reasons to homeschool. 
You could generally call them social, religious, etc 
but I think a more accurate list would be: 
Fear-based reasons,
 distrust reasons, 
control reasons, 
and physical limitations. 

Homeschooling itself can take many different forms, 
from close-knit homeschool groups to independent study. 
5 years ago I wrote about my experience here
and I encourage you to read my cousin Hannah's comment 
because she was far better with words in her comment 
than I was in my entire blogpost. 

The one and only positive I give homeschooling 
is that it taught me how to teach myself, 
a valuable skill that I talked about in the spring. 

One of Adam's and my first parenting decisions, 
long before I was even pregnant with Aaron, 
was that we would never ever homeschool, 
except under life-threatening circumstances (e.g.: drug addiction). 

Now: Enter COVID. 

I have viewed other parents' homeschool declarations 
with a snobby chuckle. 
Like I know something they don't. 
That is, until I read Jessica Garvin's blog post here
It gave me pause. 

In short, her district's plan, both virtual and hybrid, 
would require 390 minutes of learning on days home. 
That's 6.5 hours a day. 

There is no universe where I want Aaron on a screen for 6.5 hours a day. 
(She also talks briefly about screen intentions, 
which I agree with 100%). 

I did appreciate our online learning in the spring
because it allowed Aaron to go at his own pace. 
There was no time requirement. 
Aaron jumped on the computer at 7:30am, 
finished by 9am, 
and we were out hiking by 10am. 
I talked about both those things in this post here
I don't want to relinquish that life 
to have Aaron chained to a computer all day. 
It's not healthy for us as a family 
and it's not healthy for Aaron.  

As of yet, our district has not made any time requirements 
during the at-home learning, either virtual or hybrid. 
If they did require a 390-minute daily attendance, 
I might, just maybe, give homeschooling the tiniest bit of thought. 
That's a tiny maybe. 

Family hike on a our camping trip last week