Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Virtual Coffee Date

It's been quite awhile since I've done a virtual coffee date, which is a way for me to share some random things that are on my mind! So settle in, grab a coffee or tea, and pretend we are sitting across from each other at a cozy coffee shop!

If we were having coffee today...

- I'd probably talk about our super frustrating house search. I'm so fatigued by looking at listings. So many people talk about how fun house hunting is or how much they enjoy looking at listings. Let me tell you, it's not as fun when you really want to find something and are striking out. I'd also talk about how surprised we are how little effort some people put into staging their homes. The market is hot for first time home buyer houses, but in our price range, things are not selling super fast unless they are priced right and have a beautiful kitchen. So staging is still super important. In fact, even though our house should sell very fast (it's a first time home buyer kind of house), we will still really focus on staging it to make sure it gets a lot of traffic and sells quickly. We are also surprised how over-priced some houses are. I imagine the owner must insist on a certain price because it does not make sense to us to price something way over what it will sell for. We've really gotten a feel for things should be priced after looking for 2 years, so I imagine their realtor has to know it's over-priced. It seems like it's best to come on the market at the appropriate price... it's not like you are going to trick buyers into thinking it's actually worth what you list it at! Anyways, I'd ask you to send good thoughts and cross your fingers that we find the right house soon!

- I'm sure we'd talk about Paul, too! I'm really loving the toddler stage. It's so fun to watch him explore the world and learn new things. He's still so obsessed with books. I didn't know that a toddler could love books as much as her does! Whenever he encounters a cat in a book, he wants to show Oscar (see pic below). He's handled the transition to the toddler room really well. He naps for 2 hours on a cot, which is amazing. He doesn't nap that long at home! I'm so glad he takes good naps as his teachers deserve a break. His poor infant room teachers rarely got a break from him as he usually napped for about 20 minutes! He's learning new words and concepts, which is cool to see!

He loves playing with this rotary phone. He says 'hello' in the cutest little voice!
 - I'm sure we'd talk about books since that's one of my favorite topics! I'd talk about how surprised I am that I've had my best reading years since becoming a mom. I guess being a mom makes you really, really prioritize your free time. Also, since becoming a mom, I make way fewer plans and have more free nights which gives me more time to read. So in general, I wouldn't say I'm busier as a mom than I was pre-kids - I'm just a different kind of busy if that makes sense? When I didn't have kids, I kind of hated it when people would say things like 'you think you are busy now, just wait until you have kids!' But now I can say you can be busy with kids or without kids. You are probably just busy in a different way.

- On that topic, I'd talk about how much harder it's been for me to fit in exercise since becoming a mom. Working out before work just doesn't work for me since we are all out of the house around 6:50 am. My day would have to start far too early for my liking. And then I'm busy with Paul until around 6:30-7 and am usually famished by the time he goes to bed. The best time for me to workout would be around 8pm and that's just too late for me. So I've had to settle for considering walks exercise (we take family walks on week nights and long walks on the weekend). I'm content with my weight so I guess it's working out ok? I will admit that I'm a bit envious of moms with flexible schedules. My work schedule is pretty inflexible... I'm also envious of Phil for being able to run during lunch. That's just not an option for me as I'd get so sweaty that I'd need a shower and there's no way I'd have time for that... nor would I feel comfortable coming back to my very professional/polished work environment looking like a hot mess (Phil has access to a shower at work)! I'm reminding myself that this is a season of life and right now, walking will need to be good enough! There are probably moms that would workout at 5am or 8pm but I guess I'm prioritizing other things over vigorous exercise right now.

- We'd close by me asking how you are doing and what's on your mind.

So tell me - how are you and what's on your mind?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Paul at 18 months

This is my first Paul post that doesn't use "Baby Paul" in the title! He'll always be my baby but it's time to acknowledge that is no longer a baby! We are loving the toddler phase for the most part. Paul is such a charming little guy who loves to laugh and make us laugh. It's fun to watch him discover the world! There are things I miss about the baby phase, like all the cuddles and holding a sleeping baby, but for the most part I much prefer the toddler stage.


- The biggest milestones between 15 and 18 months was learning to walk! He took his sweet time to practice this skill as he didn't walk until 16.5 months. I was definitely stressed about how long it took him to walk but he's definitely showing me that he does things on his own time frame.

His early walking days!
- Trip to Target! When I posted about his first trip on IG, some were surprised that he didn't go to Target until he was 16+ months. In general, we do not run errands with Paul. I think it's a lot of work to take a toddler in and out of the car seat so we tend to run errands while the other person is watching Paul. Plus there is a Target a block from where I work (dangerous!!) so I usually go to Target during the work week. But I took him to Target shortly after he learned to walk to buy him some shoes. He loved riding in the cart and looking at all the other people!

- We got a water table for him in July and he has loved playing with it! He sees it when we leave the house/come home and always says "agua!" and points to it. This table was an absolute pain to put together but in the end it was worth it!

Words: Paul's language skills really took off in the last 3 months! He says so many words now! His favorite words are 'uh oh' and 'no.' Go figure! It's hard to write down all the words he says as he says so many now! I love hearing him say "kitty" - he says it in this sweet higher pitched voice. He loves her so much but the feeling is NOT mutual. Ha!

Growth: After a huge growth between 12 and 15 months, his growth has leveled out. He weighs 21 pounds and is 31 inches tall. So he did not gain any weight between 12 and 15 months. His doctor said that is common once they start walking and she's not concerned. So he's back down to 10th percentile after his surge to 26th percentile at 15 months! I guess when you look at the stature of Phil and I, it makes sense that he's on the leaner/smaller side as we are both naturally pretty slim, especially Phil (Phil struggles to gain weight  - lucky guy!). Paul also has very tiny feet - he just moved into size 4 shoes which is very small!

He is still mostly in 12m clothes, although I've started to buy 18m shirts since they aren't too big on him. He could probably still wear 9m pants as the 12m ones are pretty lose and plenty long on him.

One thing that has grown in the last 3 months is his hair! It's so white that it's hard to see in pictures, but you can see how much hair he has in the picture below. We joke that he looks like Bernie Sanders or Larry David as he doesn't have much up top but has lots of fluffy hair in the back/on the sides of his head.

School: He started to transition to the toddler room during the last 2 weeks of August. This is his first full week in the toddler room. The transition has gone smoother than I thought it would but I imagine he will continue to adjust to being in a different environment with different kids/teachers. He's been crying at drop-off, though, so I can tell it's still a hard transition for him. Hopefully the crying subsides soon, but at least Phil is the one that deals with it since he does drop off and I do  pick up.

I think his language skills will advance even more now that he's with bigger kids and has a more challenging curriculum. They have a weekly curriculum in the infant room but I don't know how much he got out of it until the last couple of months. I think he'll get more out of the toddler curriculum.


- he still loves reading which makes me soooo happy! He loves books with flaps and touch and feel books. He is very particular about what he wants to read. We have a stack of books next to the rocking chair in our living room. I will show him books from the pile and he will say no and wave his hand until I pick up one he's interested in reading. Ha.

 - he still loves playing peekaboo! This game just never gets old. I think we have a future class clown on our hands as he loves to laugh and make people laugh! Below he is playing peekaboo with cousin Anna and I also included a short video of him playing peekaboo with us as at home.

- He loves spending time with his cousins. He gets so much attention from them. But he definitely has a huge soft spot for cousin Matthew! Matthew is so good with him and the admiration is mutual!

- He loves to look at pictures and watch videos of himself. We spend a lot of time looking at chatbooks, which are filled with pictures of Paul. It's a good way to work on identifying family members. I let him watch videos of himself when we gave him ear drops during his ear infections. I'm trying not to make a habit of letting him use my phone, though!

- He still loves stroller walks. I know he'll eventually reach a stage where he will want to walk on his own so I'm savoring the days of being able to take long walks with him in the stroller!

Eating: Feeding Paul is still a challenge. He eats super well at daycare so I've kind of given myself a pass at home and we tend to feed him the same 3-5 meals over and over. I want to work towards eating family meals and exposing him to more things this fall/winter. Right now it doesn't work to eat together since we take family walks after work which leaves very little time to make his dinner. So meal prep needs to be very quick! But when the weather is colder and we are cooped up indoors, I'll have more time to make dinner when we get home from work and we can eat together more often. One thing I don't love about meal time is his propensity for throwing food. When he throws food, we take his food away but then he asks for more so it's not like he is throwing it because he's not hungry anymore... I hope he grows out of this stage very soon.

Dislikes: getting his diaper changed, getting dressed, taking oral medications, and getting ear drops! I hate it when he has a fever because he absolutely hates children's motrin and tylenol. Most of the time he spits it out. Even if we shoot it into the back of his mouth, he will usually gurgle it and spit it back out. So we usually try to mix it in with something like yogurt. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

What We Read in August

August was another strong reading month as I finished 8 books, bringing my 2019 total to 73! I was surprised to see how many non-fiction books I read. That is a genre I've been more drawn to this year! My favorite reads of the month are in italics.

Non-fiction Reads:

Bringing of Bebe was an interesting examination of the French approach to parenting. There are approaches I'd like to borrow but it's tough to completely mimic what they do since their culture is so different from ours! I was surprised to read that many French parents send their kids to week-long sleepaway camps as early as age 5!

Cribsheet was an excellent book that looks at the decisions parents make from birth to preschool. My takeaway was that, at the end of the day, quality of parenting trumps all of the decisions you make. For example, the decision to stay at home, have a nanny or send your child to daycare doesn't have a super meaningful impact on the child - what matters more is the quality of child care and quality of parenting you provide. The author said it's better to focus on what works best for the parents/family than feeling like a certain decision is best for the child.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone was an interesting look inside the relationship of a therapist and their clients. I kind of love being a voyeur so it was enjoyable to take a peek inside a therapist/client relationship and see how they help people work through the challenges in their life.

The Year of Less was a short memoir about the author's decision to give up shopping for a year (with some exceptions like toiletries, replacing clothing that is damaged/worn out, etc). I'm not much of a shopper so I couldn't really relate to the author's tendency to turn to retail therapy before embarking on her shopping ban, but it was still interesting to read about how she pared down her belongings and broke her addiction to buying things.

Fiction Reads:

Resistance Women is a WWII fiction novel set in Germany. Unlike other WWII books I've read, this book starts in the early 1930s and really focuses on the rise of Hitler. I'd say 75% of the book is set before the start of the war. The novel did drag a bit for me as it was about 600 pages! I think the author could have cut 100 pages and still adequately covered the subject matter. Nonetheless, it was still a good read.

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating was a easy, breezy romance novel. I needed something light to offset the heavy fiction and non-fiction books I read and this novel delivered. The ending is predictable but that's often the case with romance novels.

Waiting for Tom Hanks was another book from Modern Mrs. Darcy's summer reading guide. It was a light, predictable romance. After a string of heavier books, it was a good way to close out the month!

Paul's Reading:

I picked up some new books at a children's book store earlier this month and they've been a hit! I also pulled a truck book off the shelf that we got when he was born and he loves it. There is a flap on each page that plays a different sound like a tractor, ducks, and a horse.

We also checked out "Duck on a Bike" from the library. Ducks are Paul's favorite animal so I've been trying to find duck books. He really loves this book so I think we need to purchase a copy. The illustrations are awesome! In the picture on the right below, he is kissing the illustration of the cat. He does this anytime he comes upon cats in a book! He also kisses other animals but it changes based on the day!

 What have you been reading lately? 

Friday, August 30, 2019


TGIF! Whew, these 5-day work weeks can feel long! I had a string of shorter work weeks in July/August due to vacations and sick days so I'm not quite used to being in the office 5 days in a row! I better get used to it because I have very few vacation days planned this fall! Luckily Monday is Labor Day so we get a 3-day weekend.

The book I'm reading is Waiting for Tom Hanks. This is a light romance about a woman who id obsessed with rom-coms and dreams of meeting her own Tom Hank. She references a lot of Nora Ephron films (which I loved!!) so it's been a fun read so far.

The high of my week was getting together for dinner with a group I now think of as "The Gustavus Wives." 2 of the women went to Gustavus Adolphus College (one married a Gustie) and 2 of us are married to Gustavus grads (Phil and one of his best men, Luke). I really hit the jackpot of female friendship by meeting Phil as I really love all the wives/girlfriends in his group of friends, and many of them live close by. We are as apt to get together as the boys are. Actually, we get together more often than the guys because the guys suck at planning!

The low of my week was continuing to feel more tired than usual. I saw my rheumatologist this week and my blood work showed that I am slightly anemic, so I am guessing that partly explains why I feel so tired. 

A recipe I made was 3 bean turkey chili in the instant pot. This is something that regularly hits our meal plan as it's easy to make and delicious!

The best money spent was on a special cot blanket/pillow combination for Paul. He fully transitions to the toddler room next week and will nap on a cot instead of in a crib. Another friend recommended this blanket/pillow/cot cover. Hopefully it works out well for him and makes him feel cozy. 

My plans this weekend include very little!  Phil and Paul are going out to Phil's mom's for an afternoon but I am going to stay behind for some me time, which I'm really looking forward to! If it's warm enough (it's been unseasonably cooler!) I want to take Paul to the wading pool at our local park. Other than that, I'm sure we'll take lots of long walks! 

Bonus Paul Pic:

I didn't take many pictures of Paul this week, but I snapped this photo of him on Tuesday morning before he left for daycare. I can't believe how much he's grown and changed this summer - he really looks like a little boy these days! He's really into anything with wheels and especially loves these trucks from Grandma Joan. 

What are you reading these days? Do you have any plans for the long weekend?

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Mostly Unplanned Weekend

It's hard to believe next weekend is Labor Day weekend, which feels like the unofficial end to summer! I'm hoping we still have lots of nice summer weather ahead of us. Here's how we filled this past weekend, which was mostly unplanned!

On Friday, I went for a quick walk with Paul to run errands (library, liquor store, grocery store). I love that I can run so many errands on foot in our neighborhood. He must have been hungry at the grocery store as he started to eat his eat. Ha.

When we got home, he played while I worked in the kitchen. At one point he brought his little cat toy over to Oscar. She was not impressed, though! When we read a book about animals, when we get to the cat page he always wants to show Oscar the cat picture. I really hope Oscar loves him back some day. It's a one-sided relationship right now.

After Paul went to bed, I made a new gnocchi dish that we felt kind of meh about. I failed to take any pictures of the recipes I made this weekend so have nothing to show for my effort!

Saturday morning started bright and early, as they always do. After breakfast, we did some reading before heading out on our play date.

We headed out around 8:30 for our play date with my friend and her son who is 3 days older than Paul. We met up at a cafe called Rose Street Patisserie. It was a beautiful morning so we enjoyed our coffee and treats on their patio. Even though Paul had 2 scrambled eggs and a banana muffin for breakfast, he ate about half of a giant piece of banana chocolate chip bread. I enjoyed a latte and a GF fudge cookie. Not exactly a breakfast food but it was that or macarons and I wasn't in the mood for macarons at 9 am!

When the boys started to get squirmy, we headed to a park that is a couple of blocks away. The boys ended up playing here for 1.5 hours! Paul's favorite thing was going down the slides. He goes down slides on his stomach.

It was getting close to lunch time so we headed out and made a pit stop at Wild Rumpus as my friend wanted to get some books for her little guy. Paul enjoyed carrying around this basket of books! We managed to get out of the store without buying anything, but I bought 5 books the last time we were there so figured I have spent enough money there recently!

Paul napped when we got home and I worked on meal prep tasks as Phil had grocery shopped during the play date. We took a family walk later in the day and then I made Stuffed Eggplant for dinner. We liked this WAY MORE than the eggplant parmesan I made recently so I think this is how we will primary eat the eggplant from the garden.

Sunday was unplanned but the day went by pretty fast! There was lots of playing, reading and time spent outdoors.

This xylophone is out of tune (it actually is - I hate that the upper notes are off key!)

He loves this lift-the-flap book. We read it multiple times/day.

My ray of sunshine!

Working on some puzzles

He takes biking very seriously
I hope the warm weather sticks around for several more months so we can fill our fall weekends with lots of time outdoors!

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Currently: August

August has been a pretty great month so far! It's usually one of my favorite months of the year as summer is in its prime! Here's what's currently going on in my world!

Reading: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. This is a memoir by a therapist about - you guessed it - therapy. She shares stories about the progress her patience have made (with their consent and detailed changed to protect the patient) as well as her experience going to therapy after dealing with a difficult break-up. It's been a really fascinating read!

Loving: the cooler nights we've had recently. I love warm, sunny days but I also love it when it cools off at night so we can sleep with the windows open!

Feeling: extra tired (I'm not pregnant). I was on a low dose of steroids for 6+ months to manage a low-grade RA flare that wouldn't go away. In July my rheumatologist told me to taper off as it's not good to be on steroids long term for multiple reasons. I've been off for a couple of weeks but now my body is adjusting to not being on steroids. When you are on steroids for a long time, your adrenal system kind of goes into remission since the steroids sort of do what your adrenal system does (this is not the best explanation as this isn't my area of expertise). So basically my adrenal system has to kick back in and do it's job which results in feeling extra tired. I'm hoping this goes away soon as I want my energy back!

Anticipating: a quiet stretch ahead of us. We don't really have much on the calendar in the coming months which I am ok with. It's easy to fill our weekends during this time of year since we can go for long walks, go to the park or pool or play with the water table in the back yard. I'll need more concrete plans when we move into the colder winter months!

Grateful: that Paul is handling the transition to the toddler room at daycare, which started on Monday, fairly well so far. We've been told that he cries initially but recovers pretty quickly and has enjoyed playing with the kids and exploring new toys. He spends 3 hours in the toddler room for 2 weeks and will fully transition after Labor Day. I'll be sad to say goodbye to his infant teachers. One of his infant teachers moved to a new location last week and it was hard to say goodbye as we loved her so much! But I'm very grateful for the excellent care he received in the infant room.

Working: on coming up with ideas of things to do when the winter weather hits. I hope that winter is far, far away but I know how fast time flies so before we know it, we'll be knocking on the door of December. Rainy summer weekend days with a toddler have shown me how important it will be to find things to do when it's not nice enough to be outside. So I'm working on coming up with a list of things for a young toddler to do in the winter, like the children's museum, indoor playgrounds, etc.

Listening: to a couple of new podcasts, such as "How to Money" (excellent finance podcast I'd recommend to anybody!) and "The Readerly Report" (recommended for fellow book lovers!).

Watching: a show called Goliath on Amazon Prime. Phil and I both really liked season 1 and felt like season 2 was 'just ok.' Next we'll watch the new season of Mindhunters which is a show about how the FBI started to use psychological profiling to catch serial killers. Season 1 was really good so hopefully season 2 is good as well! I've also slowly been making my way through "This is Us" on Hulu when Phil isn't around. It's just not a Phil show. When he sees I'm watching it, he said, "tonight on a very special episode of This is Us" in a very dramatic voice. The show is meant to evoke a lot of emotions for the viewer so that is why he mocks it!

(Still) Wishing: for the right house to come around for us. The house we looked at earlier this month with our contractor friend had more issues that we hadn't noticed the first time we saw it. We'd have to put more money into the house to make it work for us than we thought so we decided to pass on it. So the search continues.

Bonus Paul pics!

Read to me mama! I can't get over how much this kid loves reading. It makes my heart happy!

Riding his scooter at Grandma Joan's

What are you currently loving, anticipating, and watching?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Our Lake Vacation

We got back from our lake vacation on Saturday. It was a wonderful 5-day break from the daily grind! What I want/need out of a vacation has really changed since becoming a mom. While I still appreciate new experiences and adventures, it's really nice to go somewhere and just relax - well, as much as you can relax with a toddler! It was a quiet week as it was just our little family plus my mom at the lake until Friday afternoon when my sister and her family came.  It was fun to see my sister, BIL and their kids for a bit!

Here are some of the highlights of our time at my parents lake home.

- Sunrises - I saw several beautiful sunrises thanks to Paul's early wake-up time!

- Enjoyable meals out - Paul is still at a good age for eating out. He loves people watching and charming the waitresses! We ate out twice on this vacation - one time it was just us 3, the other time my mom joined us. We didn't fit a date night in while we were at the lake but eating out with Paul is so enjoyable that we didn't feel like we needed a night away.

- Couple time on the water - I don't have pictures of this, but Phil swam across the lake one afternoon and I kayaked along side of him. He got in the kayak for the way back. It's about 1.5 miles across the lake so it was a long swim! My mom watched Paul during this time, but he ended up napping for 3 hours (that never happens at home!) so he was just waking up when we got back. We also went out for another kayak ride during his nap another day since my mom was around. I would consider this time on the lake sort of a 'date' as we got away and enjoyed time together + the outdoors.

- Sharing crackers with the fish - we spent a lot of time at the end of the dock sharing crackers with the fish. They would swim to the top and fight over the cracker crumbs. Paul was very entertained by this!

- Quality time with Nana - my mom was able to sneak away from work for most of our trip so Paul got lots of quality time with her. They spent a lot of time reading books!

 - Swimming! We only took Paul swimming once but he enjoyed the water. Because he's so susceptible to ear infection, we had to keep his ears dry. I used moldable ear plugs to plug his ears and put a neoprene headband over his ears so he wouldn't pull the plugs out. It was quite the ordeal to put all of that on, hence the reason we only swam once!

- New toys! My mom and I took him to a big toy store about 30 minutes from their lake home. He loved played with the train table at the store so I might try to get one second-hand for Christmas or his birthday. My mom treated him to a new toy - he picked out a little farm set . The brand is "Green Toys" and I was very impressed with it! It's made out of recycled plastic and had minimal packaging. The clerked who checked us out said it's virtually indestructible. The farm set came with some animals, a little hog barn, some fence sections, and a little pick-up truck. Everything can be stored in the barn which I love. I'll definitely be checking out this brand for future gifts! We waited until we were home to play with it and boy did he love it! He loves loading up the bed of the pick-up truck with as much stuff as he can pile in.

All in all it was a wonderful trip and something I hope we can do annually!