Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Currently: May 2019 Edition

Reading: The Guineveres by Sarah Domet. I can't remember who told me about this book, but I know I heard about it on a book podcast. It's about 4 teen girls with the name Guinevere that live in a convent. I just started the book but so far it seems engaging!

Loving:  our time outside with Paul. He loves stroller walks/runs and playing on the little scooter my parents got him for his birthday. I just need consistently nice weather. It's been super rainy and unseasonably cool here lately!



Enjoying some snacks on a 5 mile run/walk!
Playing with bubbles in our front yard

Feeling: frustrated by our house hunting process. I'm trying to be patient but there is so little inventory on the market! About once a week I tell Phil that we are never going to find a house. I really hope the market heats up soon!

Anticipating: the long weekend ahead of us! I love my job but I really love long weekends! We are staying in the area since it's my MIL's birthday on Friday. We are going to her house on Saturday afternoon and will spend the night so Phil and I can go on a belated anniversary date after Paul goes to bed. Then we'll take her out to lunch on Sunday to belatedly celebrate her birthday before heading back home. We don't have any plans on Monday but hopefully the weather is nice so we can spend lots of time outdoors!

Grateful: that Paul has a long healthy stretch and hoping it continues! He's been in daycare for 10 months so hopefully his immune system is more developed now and he will get sick less often.

Working: on keeping my calendar commitments at an appropriate level. I have gotten much better at saying no to things but I need to keep focusing on this so I don't over-fill our calendar!

Listening: to Believed which is an NPR podcast about the Larry Nassler case. It's horrifying to listen to but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment or something. I can't believe he got away with abusing girls for so many years. Sooo disgusting.

Watching: This is Us on Hulu. I started watching this show when it came out several years ago but gave up on it. We don't have a DVR and it's very hard to sit down and watch a show when it's on TV. I enjoy the show but it takes me about 3 days to get through an episode so it will take me a long time to get through all the seasons!

Wishing: for warm, sunny weather! We have had way too much rain lately! Bring on the heat, mother nature!

Bonus Paul pics!

Mama and Paul selfie

We love brunch!


He loves this 100 word book we checked out from the library last week!
What's new with you? What are you currently reading, loving and wishing for?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mother's Day Weekend

I had a really nice Mother's Day weekend! After a cold, rainy week it was great to see the sun shine! Here's a photo-heavy recap!

On Friday afternoon when I picked up Paul, his teachers had a Mother's Day gift for me, which was so cute! They also gave me a long-stem red rose! So thoughtful! We just love Paul's daycare so so much!

When we got home, I put Paul in the stroller and went for a quick run. I forgot my Fitbit on my charger at work so it felt a little weird to not be able to track my steps and workouts over the weekend but oh well! Sometimes it's good not be so focused on steps and calorie estimations!

When we got home we played for a bit and then I said, "where's daddy?" and Paul crawled over the front door. He loves to look out the storm door. When Phil gets off the bus he gets so excited. He waves and flaps his arms. It's pretty cute!


As you can see from this photo, he doesn't need much support to stand but he refuses to stand on his own. He try to work with him on standing and taking steps but he just squats down to sit when we try to work on it. But oh well. I guess he has to do it when he's ready. Phil walked at 15 months so I think Paul will probably walk around the same time.

I was up bright and early at 5:30 am on Saturday morning. I laid in bed until 5:50 before giving up on falling back asleep. I hate it when my body does that! I was thinking I would get some time to read and enjoy my coffee, but Paul was up at 6 so we had breakfast together and played.


Reading his "Good Morning Baby" book. I love how much he loves books!
Then it was off to swimming lessons. He took a nice long nap after swimming lessons and we headed out for a walk after lunch with a stop at the park. Phil was out for a run but met us at the park on the way back from his run. He ran with the stroller on the way back and I ran sans stroller. Phil is super fast so running with the stroller sort of handicaps him to my pace. ;)


During Paul's afternoon nap, I went to my garden to install my fence. It's my least favorite garden-related chore but important to do since we have so many rabbits in our neighborhood. I will plant my garden later this week.

I thought I would maybe sleep in on Sunday morning but I was wide awake before Paul was up so I decided to get up with him when he woke up at 6:20. After breakfast, we headed out for a walk.


Always has his ankles crossed
It was a beautiful morning! Paul ditched his mitten pretty quickly as it wasn't quite as cold as I thought it would be. When we got back, Paul took a very short nap and was super crabby when he woke up. The only thing that helped turn his mood around was a snack of crackers.

Ankles crossed, again!
My MIL, Joan, came down for lunch around 11. Phil grilled asparagus and brats and I roasted some potatoes. After lunch we drove to the park so Joan could witness all the giggles from swinging and going down the slide. Then we went for ice cream. I did not bring my phone with so don't have any pictures!

When we got back, Paul went down for a nap and I went upstairs to read and ended up having a nap, too. Paul slept for almost 2 hours which was great! After his nap, we went outside to blow bubbles and play with his little scooter. Several neighbors came over to see him. There aren't any young babies on our block so Paul is quite the hit with the neighbors!

Working on his bike skills
While Phil fed Paul dinner, I made an enchilada skillet for Phil and me. We both thought it was 'just ok' and needed more spices.  It came together very quickly, though, so I think it might be a good fit for us if I tweak the spices a bit and add a jalapeno or something.


We ended the night by watching an episode of Longmire, which is a show we've slowly been working out way through this spring. I headed up to bed around 8:30 to finish the latest Inspector Gamache novel - now I have to wait until August for her new release!

It was a wonderful Mother's Day weekend full of family time, good good, and good weather!

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Thoughts on Motherhood

This weekend, I get to celebrate my 2nd Mother's Day. Last year I was still in the newborn haze so while it was a special day, I was getting up several times a night, worrying about Paul's slow weight gain, and still trying to find my groove as a mother. This year, there will be no middle-of-the-night wake-ups - well, besides getting up to go to the bathroom (side note: I can never make it through the night without getting up to go to the bathroom!). I imagine that Phil will get up with Paul in the morning so I can sleep in. My MIL will come down for lunch and hopefully the weather will cooperate so Phil can grill. Later in the day, we will go on a family walk to the park as that is my favorite thing to do as a family on the weekends. Ideally, I'd like to fit a run in, probably during one of Paul's nap. It should be a simple, but really nice family day.

My breakfast buddy
Since I'm away from Paul so much during the week, I'm not craving alone time these days, aside from going for runs. What I do need more of is simple, family days. I recently stumbled across a post by a pychologist who is also a mom. Her thoughts really resonated with me:

Truth was, I rarely ever engaged in any activity that didn’t involve goals of some kind. I had goals concerning how I wanted to bring up my kids and how I wanted my career to evolve. I had goals relating to mundane tasks, like challenging myself to precisely time my trips to the grocery store to maximize efficiency. Even the seemingly frivolous things I did had goals attached. Like TV watching, for instance, when I endeavored to complete the entire series of 30 Rock before it left Netflix. 

There was always satisfaction after achieving these goals, but there was also fatigue. And more recently, the realization that I was so caught up in meeting my goals, I was not savoring—or even paying attention to—anything I was doing along the way. 

This is my life right now, in a nut shell. I've always been a goal/task-oriented person. I love lists and love the feeling of crossing things off my list. But, more often than not these days, I feel a sense of fatigue. Most of the fatigue relates to trying to achieve maximum efficiency. Our weekday mornings and evenings are so rushed and chaotic. Mornings are rushed because Phil and Paul leave the house at 6:50 and I leave shortly thereafter. So I have to get myself ready and get Paul dressed/fed by 6:45. I've found a pretty good rhythm so our mornings have gotten a bit better but there isn't much wiggle room and I sometimes feel like a drill sergeant who is rushing her son to hurry up and finish his muffin and milk! There isn't a solution to this - Phil and I both need to be at work by 7:30 am (I've been getting to work around 7:15 lately so I can leave at 3:45 on quieter days - more on that below). I am sure with time we'll get more and more used to our morning routine but it's just not "fun."

I love his little 'flyaway' hair that is sticking up in this photo!
Our weekday evenings are a bit less rushed, but still not quite relaxing. I've started to leave work at 3:45 pm on days when it's quiet to give myself an extra 30 minutes with Paul. We get home around 4:30-4:45 instead of 5-5:15 which makes a big difference. That gives us time to go for a walk and not feel super rushed when we get back. Paul goes to bed around 6:30 so getting home 30 minutes early makes our evenings much less rushed and more enjoyable.

Because our mornings/evenings are pretty rushed 5 out of 7 days of the week, a good amount of mental energy is spent trying to streamline our morning/evening routines - especially getting food on the table for Paul, Phil and me. I feel like I'm often multi-tasking or we are dividing and conquering. For example, Phil feeds Paul while I get started on our dinner or make a big batch of oatmeal or muffins for Paul so I have something to eat for breakfast during the week (on Wednesday, I prepped our instant pot dinner, made a batch of oatmeal, and made Paul's muffins while Phil fed Paul). That's why Paul's meals need to be super simple because I just don't have the time to make something complicated for him with the limited time I have on week nights.

He loves to 'cheers.' Clearly setting a good example by cheersing his water with mom's champagne!
I realize this is all a first world problem. I am very fortunate to have this problem to solve because countless women would give anything to have a child. I am super grateful for Paul but I can be grateful and fatigued at the same time. I also realize that we are in a temporary stage of life with Paul. Eventually he will go to bed later and our evening routine will change and be a bit more relaxed.

In the meantime, my solution is to set aside more weekends for simple, family days. Days where the only thing on the 'to do' list is to go for walks to the park and enjoy meals that I'm not rushing to prepare. I've been better about not over-committing and over-planning our weekends and this is something I need to continue to do.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there - especially my mom, Marlys! Whether or not you are a mom, what do you need more of in your life right now?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Female Friendship - Part 1

I recently read "Text Me When You Get Home" which is all about the evolution of female friendships. It looks at the history of female friendships and examines why they weren't an area of focus for older generations. That examination rang true for me as I would say that my mom (hi, mom!) did not focus on female friendships - outside of her sisters. This comment is not a knock against my mom - I think it's common for women of her time. She was married in her early 20s, raised 5 kids, ran/still runs a business with my dad, and was very active in their church and the community. There wasn't a lot of time for her to develop friendships, nor did she really have a big pool of women to choose from since she lives in a rural area. That's not to say she didn't/doesn't have friends. I just wouldn't say they were an area of focus for her. My dad is her best friend. Her siblings and cousins were her best friends when she was growing up, and her siblings, especially her sisters, continue to be her best friends.

For me, female friendships are a very essential and life-giving part of my life. But that hasn't always been the case. Female friendships - or the lack thereof - have the potential bring pain or joy. I've experienced both ends of the spectrum.

In elementary/junior high/high school, I definitely resided on the painful end of the female friendship spectrum. I grew up in a very small community and as a result, the selection of girls to be friends with was very, very small. I mean, my graduating class had 28 people! Reading the "Mean Girls" chapter of "Text Me When You Get Home" brought back a lot of (painful) memories of how out of place I felt during my pre-collegiate school years. I had friends but the quality of the friendships was not great. I have a very vivid memory of playing Upwords with my grandma in her kitchen when I was probably in my tweens, explaining some of the challenges of my friendship with a girl I considered to be my best friend. After explaining what was going on, my grandma told me that it sounded like this girl was a "fair weather" friend and that I was worthy of a much more. The friendships I had in elementary/middle school/high school were all pretty much "fair weather" friends.

During those rough middle/high school years, a friendship with a cousin who is 11 months younger than me was my saving grace, as were friendships I developed through my high school boyfriend. My high school boyfriend lived about an hour away but it was like he lived in a whole other world because things like academic achievement and musical abilities were valued. At my high school, the only things that were truly valued among the student body was your athletic abilities or breaking the rules by smoking/drinking/partying on the weekend. At my boyfriend's school,  it was refreshing to see that you could be valued for being athletic, but also for things like musical talent. In fact, some of their best athletes were also in band and/or show choir. And while I am sure some kids in his school smoke and drank, that was not the case with my boyfriend and his group of friends.

My parents witnessed some of the, well, cruelty, I experienced during my junior and high school years and my mom assured me that once I went to college, I'd meet life-long friends who would love me for who I am. Luckily, she was right (aren't moms always right? I can say that now that I'm a mom - ha!). I really blossomed during my college years and quickly met girls that I am still close to 15-20 years later. It was very reassuring to quickly discover that it was actually kind of "cool" to be smart and like academics. No one cared that I wasn't athletic - it was no longer a point of emphasis.

I think I've covered enough ground for one post - in my next post I'll talk about the importance of friendships and how the way I form friendships has changed with time.

Did you have a best friend(s) when you were young or did it take you awhile to find your tribe?

Friday, May 3, 2019

TGIF - May 3rd Edition

Another week is in the books! It was a cool, rainy, overcast week but hopefully this rainy stretch is behind us soon! Here's how my week shaped up!

The book I'm reading is Where the Crawdads Sing (physical book) and Text Me When You Get Home (eBook). I've gotten into the habit of reading a physical book and eBook at the same time. I never used to read 2 books at the same time, but it's nice to have an eBook going so I can read when I'm waiting in line for something or have downtime at work. Where the Crawdads Sing has gotten quite a bit of buzz and I am really enjoying it! Text Me When You Get Home is a non-fiction book about the evolution of female friendship. I already have lots of thought about the book/topic of female friendships so I might need to do a separate post on that in the near future!

The high of my week was seeing my friend's daughter's spring ice skating program last night! She's only 8 but is quite the little skater! I love watching ice skating. The older skaters were super talented!

The low of my week was the weather. It's been really cool and rainy here. I had to pull Paul's mittens out of storage as he needed them for a walk on Wednesday since it was only in the 40s. I need the warm, sunny weather to return!

A recipe I made was Chipotle Chicken tacos and Turkey Meatloaf. I was hoping Paul would maybe like the meatloaf but he spit it out. Oh well, at least Phil and I liked it! I only make the meat part of the chipotle chicken recipe. I roasted some peppers and onions to put on the tacos and we topped them with salsa verde that I canned last fall. This is a favorite meal of ours!



The best money spent was on the 2 macarons I treated myself to on Wednesday! Sometimes you need a little mid-week treat and French macarons are my FAVORITE treat!

A podcast I listened to was an interview of Dr. Emily Oster on Psychologists Off the Clock. Dr. Oster wrote a book about pregnancy and recently released a book, Cribsheet, about raising kids from birth to preschool. I loved her first book and can't wait to read Cribsheet. She's an economist so she looks at the data/studies behind the recommendations that are made. In this book she covers topics like breast feeding, child care decision, sleep training, etc. The interview was super interesting to listen to!

For workouts I mostly went on walks although I did go for a 3 mile run after Paul went to bed on Tuesday night! I've mostly been doing running intervals while Phil pushes the stroller but on Tuesday I decided to go for a quick 3 mile run. My pace is so slow compared to how fast I used to be, but you have to start somewhere! It felt so good to get out and log some miles!



My plans this weekend include staying in tonight. Saturday will be a busy day as we have swimming lessons in the morning and then Paul and I are going to a college friend's daughter's First Communion open house in the afternoon. Phil is going to his mom's that day to collect Oscar after he month-long stay out there! We missed her! On Sunday night I'm going to a Pink concert with 3 college friends! We bought tickets ages ago - last fall I think? I have heard Pink puts on a great show so I think we'll have a great time. I took Monday off since Sunday will be a much later night than usual!

Bonus Paul Pics

I didn't take many pictures of Paul this week as instead I took a couple of videos of him saying his new words - "uh oh" and no, which sounds more like "nah." It's pretty cute!

Telephone, mama!
He has the best smile!

What was the high of your week? Did you make any new recipes?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What We Read in April

Mom's Reads

I had another strong reading month. I read very little when I was on vacation - typically I would read 2-3 books on a vacation. Turns out traveling with a toddler doesn't leave much time for reading! I made up for it, though, and read 9 books this month! Some of them were fairly short so that is how I read so many books in one month! I italicized the books that were 5-star reads.

Books 12 and 13 in the Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache Series




I'm one book away from being caught up with this series. Part of me wants to hurry up and read it, another part is putting it off as I know the next book won't come out until August. I'll be so sad when this series ends! These books really do keep getting better and better. I enjoyed the early books but have LOVED the last 5-6 in the series.

Non-Fiction Reads



I read 4 non-fiction books which a lot for me! 

Everything is Horrible and Wonderful is a memoir written by a woman whose brother died from a heroin overdose (which started as an addiction to pain pills). Her brother was a successful comedian and senior writer on the show, "Parks and Rec." He had been in rehab three times but after his death, she learns that he started using again within a week of leaving rehab. It made me wonder how a person of average means can overcome an opioid addiction when an affluent person who can afford the best of care succumbed to it. Opioid addiction is such a huge problem in our country; reading this book made me wonder how we are ever going to solve this problem. 

Inheritance is a memoir written by a women who, on a whim, takes an ancestry.com tests and finds out the man she thought was her father wasn't. Her parents have both passed when she learns this so it's up to her to figure out what happened. This is such a relevant topic these days with the advent of inexpensive genetic testing. It made me wonder how many people receive a bombshell like this. But it also made me think about what it means to be a mother and father - how much do genetics really matter in the parent/child relationship? I think the answer is not very much. 

Dear Fahrenheit 451 is written by a librarian in Michigan. In the first part of the book, she writes letters to books that she had strong opinions about, both good and bad. The second part of the book is about a collection of topics such as read-alikes (i.e. if you liked this book, try this book) and other miscellaneous thoughts on reading. It was an entertaining read for a book nerd like me!

Bad Blood is a non-fiction book that reads like fiction. It's about a company called Theranos that was supposed to revolutionize the way blood is collected and tested. It was maddening to read how their unproven, unvalidated device was used to make patient care decisions. The company lied about the accuracy of their device. One of the largest clients of Theranos was Walgreens. You'd think they'd do some due diligence! But the owner and CEO of Theranos was so secretive and her ridiculous level of secrecy made people think she was onto something revolutionary but really she was hiding the fact that the whole operation was bogus. 

Fiction



A Woman is No Man is a debut novel about the terrible way women are typically treated in the Arab culture. It features a dual-narrative structure as we hear from both a mother and daughter who are living in Brooklyn. The story was so well crafted so I was very surprised to learn it was the author's first novel!

The Masterpiece was the 3rd novel I read by Fiona Davis. It was entertaining but I didn't like it as much as her first 2 books. Her books are set in a prominent building in NYC. This book was set in the Grand Central Terminal. It was interesting to read about how the building was almost torn down but was saved by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Less won the Pulitzer last week. I usually avoid award-winning books but I was assured that this was very readable and entertaining. I would say it was 'just ok.' I need to stick to my rule of not reading books that win huge awards I guess!

Paul's Books

Paul is still very into lift the flap books. Dear Zoo is his favorite but he enjoyed a farm book Grandma Joan got him for Easter.


He still loves the Little Blue Truck book. The original one and the spring book are his favorite.

We love Little Blue Truck
He also really likes one of the Easter books I got him. It has a finger puppet and he giggles and giggles when we read that book and move the bunny around.




What have you been reading lately?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Feeding a Child

This post has been brewing in my head for awhile as the experience of getting Paul to eat the foods we want him to eat has been challenging at times. Outside of my gluten intolerance, I'd say I am probably one of the least pickiest eaters you'll encounter.

Enjoy his at home milk and banana muffin breakfast before heading to school at 6:50 am
Lately I've thought a lot about when exactly I became an open-minded eater. Was it when I was 1? 4? 7? I grew up in a big family so it was never a realistic option for my mom to make different meals for each kid. We all ate the same thing and if you didn't like what was served, you could always eat a peanut butter sandwich. Phil is also not a picky eater. There are more foods he doesn't like, such as mushrooms and chunks of tomatoes, but in general he is not picky. We want Paul to be the same way.

Eating his favorite post-meal snack - graham crackers!
But now that I have a very opinionated 14-month old that flat out refuses to eat a lot of things at home, I'm realizing that the road to creating an open-minded eater might require some detours along the way.

For example:  I had visions of us sitting down to dinner as a family to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. But Paul barely sleeps at daycare so he goes to bed around 6:30. That means he eats dinner around 5:45 which is just way too early for Phil and me. We get home around 5-5:15 so I would spend a good chunk of the limited time I get with him preparing dinner. And sometimes I want to work out after Paul goes to bed so eating at 5:45-6 just doesn't work for us.

At this current stage, it works best for us to make something for Paul and for us to eat something different after he is in bed. When prepping Paul's dinner, I make things that I know he will eat. There is not a ton of variety to what he eats - his most common meals are scrambled eggs, protein pancakes, chipotle black bean burgers, or organic mac and cheese and meatballs. He starts every meal with yogurt. We try to get him to eat vegetables at home but have had little success with the exception of cooked carrots which he gobbles up. He will eat any vegetable in puree form but I would rather he feed himself versus us spoon feeding him (he's a long ways off from mastering a spoon).

Jamming as many banana protein pancakes in his mouth as he possibly can!
At school, he is an amazing eater. He will basically eat anything they serve him and the food is very healthy. They eat a lot of beans/lentils, veggies, fruits and whole grain bread or tortillas. Everything is organic and prepared onsite. So I give myself a little bit of a pass on his dinners being heavy on protein/carbs and light on fruits/vegetables since he eats so well at school.

At some point, we'll need to adjust our approach to feeding him. But with a 4th percentile baby who is slow to put on weight, I don't have it in me to take the 'eat what we serve you or go to bed hungry' approach. I feel like that approach is more appropriate (in our opinion) when he's old enough to understand consequences (no judgment toward parents who take this approach from a very young age!). Right now he's still learning to communicate so I don't think he'd understand why he is going to bed hungry. I also have to think about the importance of a good night of sleep for all of us. Sending Paul to bed hungry could result in lots of wake ups and right now I don't have it in me to deal with interrupted sleep.

I look forward to a time when he can stay up later and we can all eat as a family, ideally around 6:15. I'll have to adjust our meals and cut back on the spices (Phil and I love spicy food!) but it will be worth it for all of us to sit down at the table and eat the same meal. In the mean time, I'm telling myself that we are all doing the best we can and his potential to be an open-minded eater is not dependent upon what he eats in the first 12-18 months of his life (other moms, please chime in and tell me this is true!).