Five Podcasts I Can’t Live Without

PodCasts I Can't Live Without

In the past few months, I’ve been listening to podcasts on my commute and I am hooked! I have no doubt I am the last person on Earth to become aware of the wonders of podcasts, but just in case anyone out there is still listening to the radio, I thought I’d take a minute to share some of my favorites.

On any given weekday, I can be found listening to…

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The Sporkful. They had me at the tagline – “It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.” (Foodie, if you recall, is on my list of words that should be abolished from the English language.)

Summary: The Sporkful isn’t for foodies, it’s for eaters. Each week Dan and his guests explore the huge, fun world of food and eating that’s beyond the realm of recipes, chefs, and restaurants. Episodes range from a parody of the hit podcast Serial in which Dan investigates a series of office fridge food thefts to a feature on Asian-Americans in the food world who are defying stereotypes to a debate over the definition of a sandwich to a comedian’s struggle with his autistic son’s eating issues. The Sporkful began as a dream so delicious and vivid that when Dan woke, his pillow was covered in drool. But it’s not just one man’s vision. It’s a gathering place for Eaters from across the globe. So take part and together we will all learn to eat more better!

Episodes I recommend: Jim Gaffigan Lies To His Kids About Food, The REAL Sausage King of Chicago (Live in Chicago Pt. 1)

logest shortest time
The Longest Shortest Time
This is the best parenting podcast I’ve come across. It’s not about parenting tips, really, but it’s stories of people who are in the trenches of parenting. The name pretty much sums up how I feel about this stage of my life, too.

Summary: Hillary Frank created the Longest Shortest Time as a bedside companion for parents who want to hear in the middle of the night (or day—what’s the difference, really?) that they are not alone. And that as never-ending as any parenting stages seem, they don’t last forever.

Episodes I recommend: The Accidental Gay Parents, Sixty-Five Women and a Baby.

death sex and money
Death, Sex & Money As you might have ascertained by reading the title, this podcast gets real. I’m continually impressed by the host, Anna Sale, who never seems to hesitate to ask the hard questions, but she does so in such a compassionate and interested way. Some of the episodes carry the “explicit” warning, just FYI.

Summary: A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Host Anna Sale talks to celebrities and regular people about relationships, money, family, work and making it all count while we’re here.

Episodes I recommend: In Sickness and in Mental Health, Confessions of a Nashville Power Couple. And pretty much all the rest of them, too.

this american life
This American Life They brought us Serial, what more do you want? But there is so much more. I pretty much think this should be required listening for everyone who is alive.

Summary: There’s a theme to each episode of This American Life, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always.

Episodes I recommend: Too Soon? Okay so I must jump in here with a “WTF” moment of the day. This episode mentions OJ Simpson. But before delving into that part of the story, they had to start with a brief recap of OJ’s fame, the white Bronco and the trial. Because there are people listening to NPR who are not old enough to remember OJ’s trial. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait. And I’ll also tell you that what follows that brief description is even more WTF-ier than that. So go listen. And after that, try this one – The Problem We All Live With.

wdwprep
WDW Prep School Now, y’all know that I love me some Disney, and that I am super type-A in my trip planning. But let me tell you – there are 101 podcasts about Disney World, and this is the only one I like. I can’t take the others! The host, Shannon Albert, is always well-prepared and each episode is short, succinct and full of helpful information. It is not a bunch of people sitting around and talking about what they read about Disney on the interwebz this week. Skip the others; listen to this one. (And the same goes for her website as well.)

Summary: If you’re planning a trip to Disney World and want to know all of the tips and tricks to making it a great trip, you’re in the right place. If you want to go to Disney World and have no idea where to start, you’re also in the right place.

Episodes I recommend: My best Disney World planning advice, How to do Disney World with very little planning (although I don’t know why anyone would do that.)

There you have it! My favorite podcasts. What have you been listening to?

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A Beautiful Risk

Two weeks ago, two different families that were “friends of friends” lost children on the same weekend. One a newborn baby who inexplicably never breathed, and one a teen in a freak accident. Since then, I have not been able to stop thinking about this post I wrote back in October 2007 (!!!) about my baby Sophie, for the old online magazine TopBlogMag. I finally searched for it so I could re-publish it here for you guys, because it adequately expresses my thoughts on what I’ve been feeling for these two families, and on the great way we expose our mom hearts when we have kids.

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She’s sleeping soundly, and I pause to observe a rare moment of calm in my wild child, my crazy girl, my daring daughter. Her long, fine hair covers her thick eyelashes and rest on her plump, peaceful cheeks. She is, to me, simply amazing. But I am, of course, her mother.

Eleven months ago, I exhibited the opposite of the serenity she now sleepily displays. I was pregnant with her, and on the cusp of giving birth, rotund, uncomfortable, and scared. I was anxious, apprehensive, and fretful about my baby girl. My fears frustrated and confounded me. I already had a son, and he was healthy and strong. I had done this before, what was wrong with me? I just wanted her out, and as my pregnancy progressed I became more and more convinced she would be safer outside the womb than in.

A few days before my due date, after a doctor’s appointment where once again, everything looked fine, I sat down to try and analyze my fear, to seek to know the enemy that was taking the joy out of this pregnancy. What I came to realize after some careful, quiet thought, was this: because I already had one child, I knew what I had to lose if something went wrong with this pregnancy. I knew what it was like to hold my own child in my arms, to nurse it at my breast, to feel its breath on my cheek, to marvel at its first smile and revel in its first laugh. This baby already had my heart. Giving her life meant risking her life, and I already knew I couldn’t live without her.

A few days later, right on time, my risk, my beautiful risk paid off. My daughter came into my world healthy and strong, just like her brother. The last eleven months she has brought me joy upon joy, and looking at her now I don’t regret the risk for a minute. Still, knowing what I have to lose, I don’t think myself brave enough to take it on again.

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My Nephew Has More Championships Than Your Nephew

FanAunt Drew

Not to brag or anything.

Because I have nothing to do with his genius (clearly!!), but my nephew Drew just one-upped himself, or two-upped himself, and won not one (like last year) but three national championship titles at the Rubik’s Cube 2015 US Nationals last week! He not only won the National Champion title in his specialty, the Pyraminx (the pyramid-shaped one, which you will see below) he also won the top spot for a crazy puzzle called the Skewb, and the BIG one – the 3×3
“regular” Rubik’s Cube! He literally won that one by .01 of a second. It is like the OLYMPICS up in here!

And that’s not ALL! He holds the world record on Pyraminx for an average solve time of 2.56 seconds (that’s an average of 3 solves, dropping the high and low times of 5 solves). But at Nationals, he also set a new North American record for the single-solve of the Pyraminx in 1.68 seconds. Yeah. You’re gonna need to watch this about 1o times to grasp it!

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?? I love the crowd’s reaction on this. These people are USED to this kind of thing and they were still blown away!

Oh, and here’s a Skewb solve, in case you were wondering what that is.

Drew says over and over when people are amazed at his skills, that he practices about 2 hours a day. Also, he started this when he was nine, and he’s almost 16. So, he’s been working on these mad skillz for almost 7 years!

Needless to say, the family is quite proud of this kid! I am super-proud of ALL my nieces and nephews. I am totes biased but I think we have an exceptional family! My brothers and sisters-in-law have set the bar pretty high for kid raising. No pressure…

Way to go Drew! You kinda rule, and I really enjoy being your #FanAunt.

Everyone, do Drew a favor and go like his Facebook page, Drew Brads, Speedcuber! Since I contributed nothing to his genius, I DO like to contribute to getting his name out there. :) You can also subscribe and share his YouTube Channel, XTownCuber.

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What I Read on My Summer Vacation

What I Readon My SummerVacation

So “vacation” might not be the appropriate word for my summer, but during my surgery recovery I read a lot of books. At one point I had read something like 10 books in 12 days. It was glorious! You know, except for the gaping hole in my abdomen.

Anyway.

I’m always looking for book recommendations and I know many of you are too, so I wanted to share some that I’ve enjoyed in the past few months. Here we go, in no particular order:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
I loved, loved, loved this book. I did not want it to end. I’ve read about a zillion books on the second world war, but not many set in France, so I learned a lot, but beyond that, I was captivated by the story. Highly recommend!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
I enjoyed this book, even though it was pretty sad. It made me consider the things our kids may never tell us, and what consequences that may have.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers. This book… it surprised me. I did not see that coming. I’ll leave it at that!

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…
Again with the WWII novels! This one is set in England, which is another facet of the war I had not read much about. Evacuating children? Hard to even comprehend. Susan Meissner is new to me, but I will seek out her other books as well.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.
I will admit, the size of this book nearly scared me off. (Can you see me cringing with embarrassment right now?) It was an investment of time, to be sure, but it was well worth it. It offers a fascinating glimpse into life as an immigrant in America.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny.
I had had this on my “to read” list for quite a while but had not gotten around to reading it. A good friend dropped it off at my house a few days into my recovery, and I am so glad she did! This is another one that I didn’t want to end. I loved it!

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman
A hysterical phone call from Henry Archer’s ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend his well-ordered life and bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago.
I ran across Elinor Lipman’s name on a list of well-written, smart “chick lit,” and now I want to read everything she ever wrote. This book was a funny, easy read, and I found myself quite invested in the characters. It’s a compelling story.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Jenny brought this book to me when I was in the hospital, and even though I had to read each page about three times because I kept falling asleep (yay for pain meds!), I loved it. I had never given much thought to just how amazing their accomplishments were until I read this book; it is astonishing. And to think it all happened in our backyard! Crazy. Most importantly, David McCullough answers the age old question of exactly which state gets to claim “First in Flight.” Spoiler alert: It’s not North Carolina.

That’s a wrap for today! Tell me, though – what book should be next on my list?

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Take Summer Out With a Bang With LivingSocial #Giveaway

living social

I am super-excited to bring you a sponsored giveaway from LivingSocial! All opinions are my own.

You guys KNOW I love a deal, so when LivingSocial debuted a few years ago, I was on it like white on rice. If there is an event or activity my family wants to do nearby, I always hit LivingSocial first to make sure there’s not an awesome deal. We’ve done some really fun family activities on the cheap with LivingSocial including our favorite local waterpark, bowling, and mini-golf! Bobby and I have also had some frugal date nights by purchasing LivingSocial vouchers for some local restaurants. And – beyond local, I’ve gotten some great deals on gifts at LivingSocial, too! I even got my Costco Membership for an awesome price there!

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Another fun way I use LivingSocial is by checking out their local deals when we go on vacation! I’ve added some bang to our vacation budget by finding LivingSocial vouchers for family fun activities and eateries in the town we’re vacationing in! Bonus!

If you haven’t tried LivingSocial yet, you are REALLY missing out! So,  I am going to give you some incentive. To celebrate the end of summer and making the most of what’s left of fun in the sun, I’m giving away $50 in Deal Bucks to LivingSocial!! Whoop whoop! It’s easy to enter: simply leave a comment below telling me the BEST deal you’ve ever gotten on LivingSocial. If you’ve never tried it, go to your local LivingSocial page and tell me which deal you most want to purchase.

One winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, August 6 at 6pm EST. GOOD LUCK!! Don’t forget to share this giveaway – and the LivingSocial love – with all your friends!

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And then yoga made me cry.

Just when I think I’m starting to get a handle on this whole menopause thing, something ridiculous happens to prove me wrong.

Yesterday I went to my first post-surgery yoga class. Up until now, I’ve been making a point to stay active, making sure I’m hitting my goal on my activity tracker each day, but I hadn’t really done anything except walk and play catch with Baseball Sammy. I thought I would ease my way back into it with yoga – something I love and had been fairly accustomed to at one point.

But as soon as I hit the mat, I could tell things weren’t the same. Nothing hurt per se, but everything was just different. As strange as it sounds, I couldn’t inhale the way I used to. I couldn’t get my lower abdomen to expand enough to take a deep yoga breath.

That’s when I started crying.

Even though evidence from the past two months points to the contrary, I am not a crier! That is Jenny’s role in our relationship, and as you know we try maintain our status as polar opposites.

But I sure was one yesterday. I think it was a combination of the realization that my body has actually been through a pretty significant alteration recently and processing some of the emotion I hadn’t really brought to the surface until I was in the quiet, intentional space that is yoga class.

It was so frustrating to me that my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I eventually sorted out, though, how lucky I am that my situation is temporary. I have no reason to believe that it won’t improve with time and practice, and plenty of people don’t have that light at the end of the tunnel.

If nothing else, this entire surgery/recovery experience has been a lesson in compassion and gratefulness that I desperately needed, and that’s something I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of as regular life resumes.

In the meantime, I am just glad people keep their eyes closed in yoga class, so only the teacher will think I’m crazy!

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Oh, Hi, Downtime. I Vaguely Remember You.

My family and I are on vacation at my parents’ house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And it. is. fantastic! See?

porch view

The view from the front porch is pretty bangin’.

This has been a weird summer with me working from home, squeezing in 30 hours of work with just 14 hours of childcare, and still taking the kids to all their camps, summer school, VBS, speech therapy, and other activities that they want to do. I get up at 5:45 so I can get work done before they wander downstairs. I tell them they can’t get out of bed until 8, since they all still don’t know how to sleep in (although that’s not quite fair, Joshua WOULD if Jonah would let him, but alas, they share a room.)

So, basically, I have never needed a vacation SO BAD in my LIFE. And I am super-thankful for this week with my fam to REST and chillax.

I love my job, and I love my family, but I can’t wait to get back to the school schedule so that I feel like LESS of a CRAZY PERSON!

26 more days for the big kids, but I am still not sure how many days ’til Jonah goes back, because it’s always different for the preschool than it is for the elementary. But for this mama, it can’t be soon enough! I am ready for me work-life balance to go from non-existent to at least kind of existent.

In the meantime, I am soaking up this week with my beautiful family in this beautiful place!

 

picnic

 

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Replacing My Hormones

In this week’s installment of Emily’s Adventures Through Menopause…

I’ve started hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

And I will tell you more at some point but right now I’m going to interrupt the regularly scheduled boring post because OMG you guys, in an effort to add some pizzazz to my drivel I just did a google image search for menopause, and I must share the results. Because I am scarred for life and I want you to be too.

Let’s start by looking at the symptoms of menopause, so we know how to interpret the rest of the pictures.

MIU menopause 1

So, to recap, anything you can dream up? Probably a symptom of menopause. (Also, electric shocks? Burning tongue? W. T. F.) (My god, changes in odor?!? This just keeps getting worse.)

Now for the first picture. I’m gonna assume she’s experiencing incontinence, bloating, and/or panic disorder. Probably all three.

MIU menopause 14

Picture two, which I like to call “Watch Out, Menfolk.”

MIU menopause 15

Picture three. I just don’t even have anything to say about this one.

MIU menopause 2

Picture four. “I am devastated. I am experiencing loss of libido and vaginal dryness. But fortunately I have a supportive partner who likes to lounge around in all white clothing to support me.”

MIU menopause 3

“Unstoppable desire to rip off ones clothes” and “Inhuman skin color” must be symptoms 35 and 36.

MIU menopause 4

There’s this.

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And then there’s this.

MIU menopause 13

HILARIOUS. I’m ordering t-shirts with both of those images on them – let me know if you want one as well. (Where is the sarcasm font when I need it?)

Nearly every other picture was of a woman holding her head. I am not even joking. Either debilitating migraines are in my future or the menopause people and the headache people got a two-for-one deal with the stock photo people.

MIU menopause collage 2

MIU menopause collage 1

And I had to save the best for last.

MIU menopause 16

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Inferior Parent Alert!

joshua bobby

Bobby and Joshua are currently on a father-son trip. This is their third year to go to Audiofeed Music Festival, listen to loud music, eat canned beans, and bond. Subsequent children get to join when they are 10, so right now it’s just the two of them. One subsequent child named Jonah is super-pissed that Daddy and Joshua have left him alone with ME (and Sophie).

From last night’s epic “I want Daddy and Joshua to come home” pre-bedtime meltdown:

jonah losing it

THE HORROR!

Jonah LOST HIS MIND. He is very, very attached to Joshua, and he really, really, wants Daddy to put him to bed every night and spend every minute that he’s not at work with him.

Because…DADDY is the FUN parent.

Last weekend I went away to my 15-year college reunion (let’s  NOT talk about the fact that I am old as dirt right now, k?). Let me just say that while I was gone, the kids were with their dad and NO tantrums were thrown by ANYONE about my absence. AND when I got home, Bobby and the kids were out, so I was by myself for a bit. When they got home and we were lovingly reunited after 48 hours apart, the FIRST thing Jonah said to me, the FIRST thing out of his sweet little lips was:
“I want you to go work.”

What the FISHITY FISH!??! Knife. In. Heart.

Clearly Jonah knows that the fun stops when Mommy enters the building.

This week, on Tuesday, we were enjoying a nice family dinner and near the end of it Jonah said: ”Mommy are you going to go to the store?” (I had gone to the grocery the previous night after dinner.)

Me: No

Jonah: I want you to go bye bye and go to the store!

Bobby: Is it because you think Daddy’s going to let you play video games?

Jonah: Yeah.

INGRATE! So carrying you for 9  months, nursing you for two years, and meeting EVERY SINGLE NEED YOU HAVE EVER means nothing apparently. Seriously, the parent who knows his #$%! shoe size, makes all his meals and SLAVES over trying to get him caught up on his language should get SOME points, right?

Nope.

I give.

All hail the fun parent. I’ll just be over here folding the laundry.

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Stay Safe with Kidde

June is home safety month, which is fitting because summer is rife with opportunities for kids to hurt themselves.

Looking back on several of the “exciting” things that have happened to us, it seems to fit:
- Sam stuck a pretzel up his nose, landing himself in the emergency room – August 2010
- Sam busted his head running around with friends, ditto on the emergency room – May 2011
- Sam sprayed himself in the eye with spray paint, called poison control – July 2014

I’m sure there are more examples that I’m forgetting. See also: boys.

Of course, summer is when we tend to spend more time away from home as well. But even when we’re not there, we want to keep an eye on our house, kids and pets – enter the RemoteLync from Kidde.

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The RemoteLync listens for a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm and then uses wifi to alert the homeowner on iOS and Android-compatible devices.

It works with existing alarms, doesn’t require a monthly fee, and is easy to set up. I plugged ours in, downloaded the app, and got connected all within 10 minutes.

When an alarm is detected, the RemoteLync sends an email and/or text message to designated people, who can then directly call 911, temporarily silence the warning, or call a friend or neighbor to check things out.

Here’s the test text message I received.

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A few things I like about the RemoteLync:
- It’s reasonably priced. The RemoteLync can be purchased at Home Depot for $99.
- There are no hidden costs. It doesn’t require a subscription or monthly fee.
- It’s easy to set up. Just plug it in, download the app, and go through a brief set up. Like I said, the whole thing took me less than 10 minutes.
- One device monitors an entire home. It’s designed to cover the average-sized US home, approximately 2200 square feet.
- It provides peace of mind. You’ll be the first to know if something goes wrong at your house.

We all know how important fire safety is in our homes. The RemoteLync from Kidde adds another layer of protection so we can act quickly even when we’re away from home.

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This post was sponsored by Kidde. All opinions are my own.

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