Thursday, May 23, 2024

Three Things Thursday

We are approaching a long weekend here in the U.S. I have mixed feelings about long weekends in this stage of life. On one hand, the extra day off work can be nice. On the other hand, long weekends can feel LONG when you have young children... but a long weekend during the spring/summer season is about 1,000 times better than a long weekend in the winter! Taco is off today so Phil and I will divide and conquer. It should be a very quiet day for me (fingers crossed!) since people check out ahead of the holiday weekend and the bond market closes at 1CST. 

Here are 3 things on my mind today.

1. First a Taco story for you. When I put Taco to bed, we read 2 books and then I sing 2 songs to him while I rock him in the rocking chair. Oddly, I have sang "Frosty the Snowman" for every bedtime for the last 6+ months. Will he ever not request that song? He really loves Christmas, though (Jenny, you two would get along given your intense love for the Christmas season). I mean he watches The Grinch year round and for the last week we've read "Good Night North Pole." Besides Frosty, his options for the other songs are "You are my sunshine," "Twinkle, Twinkle," and "Rock-a-bye Baby." He's been picking Rock-a-bye Baby lately but when I start singing it, he snickers with laughter because he thinks it is SO FUNNY that the baby is falling out of the tree. Most nights I explain that maybe the baby is scared about falling out of the tree and we shouldn't laugh? But then again, who thought up this song as a lullaby in the first place? It's so macabre!

2. My new hire (who isn't so new considering he started in early September - I need a new nickname for him) was here for 3 days this week and he was such a breath of fresh air! It makes me wish we sat side-by-side more often (he's located in Chicago). But he's willing to come here as much as I'd like/our corp travel policy will allow and I usually find myself in Chicago a couple times/year, plus we have a 1:1 weekly since he's still learning the ropes and it's helpful to have something on the calendar each week. Now if only I could clone him because he's been a dream hire. 

3. We are officially becoming groupies at the Goose house in our neighborhood (which is what we call the house that has the geese that wear ever-changing costumes). The owners put out toys each summer and we spent over an hour on their sidewalk playing with the toys on Saturday AND Sunday of last weekend. I now know the mom's name (Amanda). She seems to love that our boys love their toys so much (I think her kids are in their teens) but I do feel a little sheepish about spending an hour+ on their stretch of sidewalk. But they do have a little bench so it seems like they want people to linger? The boys play SO WELL with these toys because they are new/novel for them and it's so refreshing to see them playing together well because there can be a lot of, um, conflict at our house. But they've been told that we will leave immediately if they fight at all and that threat is working so I am not antsy to leave when they are happily playing and using their imaginations. 

Taco brought his stuffed monkey with and gave him a ride on a dinosaur

Bonus photo:

Paul brought home his art portfolio from kindergarten and it is so amazing! He has such a great art teacher and seems to really enjoy it! My favorite was his self portrait!I love the big smile and rosy cheeks - and he nailed his eye color!

Your turn! What 3 things would you tell me today? 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Currently: May

I used to post ‘currently’ kind of posts about monthly but it turns out I haven’t done one since January 2023! It’s a good way to give a snapshot of what is going on in my life so here goes! 

Reading: Trust by Hernan Diaz. It was recommended by a colleague and was also loved by one of the co-hosts of Sarah’s Bookshelves Live (Susie) but I almost didn’t read it when I saw it won the Pulitzer. Big awards tend to be a kiss of death for me for some reason. I feel kind of, well, unintelligent admitting that but oh well. The book is broken out into 4 parts and I will say the first part had a very ‘high brow’ pretentious feel to it but then the tone really shifts with part 2. Part 1 is a fictional account of a financier’s life who is blamed/lambasted for profiting from the stock market crash of 1929; part 2 is a draft of his autobiography; part 3 is told from the POV of the ghost writer of his autobiography; and part 4 can’t be revealed or it will be a spoiler.

I also started the book below (Competing Devotions) which I heard about in the Ezra Klein podcast about working parents. It’s focused on my industry (financial services) so I was especially interested in reading it. I had to request it through an interlibrary loan which is something I have never done but was quite easy to do! It’s kind of weird to think of myself as an ‘executive’ but I guess since I am a managing director I could be considered an executive of sorts. 

that we are back to having regularly scheduled date nights! We went out on Saturday night to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary which was yesterday. We went to our favorite local restaurant (112 Eatery) and stopped by a party a friend hosted on the way home - it was a family party but we were glad to be kid-free so we could really focus on talking with others. But look at those 2 young, well-rested kids on our wedding day! 

Just married, standing in front of the church where the ceremony took place (it is an adorable French Catholic Church so perfect for a Francophile like me).

Feeling: relieved that I have about a month off from travel as my next trip isn’t until June 10th. I’ve kept my limit of 2 trips/month for the first half of the year but some of those trips were way too clumped together in April/May so I need to work on keeping them a bit more spaced out and ideally I shouldn’t travel back-to-back weeks if it can be avoided.

Anticipating: the long weekend although we don’t have much planned. Taco doesn’t have school on Friday since it’s a teacher in service day so it’s an extra long weekend for him. We will stay close to home and hopefully spend lots of time outdoors! Plus it is my MIL’s birthday so we will celebrate her over the weekend.

Struggling: with my RA right now. The stupid flare I’ve had since the beginning of April just won’t quit even though I am taking a decent amount of prednisone (20-25mg/day) and had an injection in the joint. I had changed injectable meds in February in the hopes that a different formulary might help but it hasn’t… when I last saw my doctor she said the next option would be once/month in-clinic infusions which take about 4 hours. I don’t really want to do that but I also don’t want to be in pain. To add insult to injury, on Friday I got a bill from CVS saying I owe $3,480 for my injectable meds. I thought I had resolved this with a phone call last week but I guess I didn’t? So today’s to do list includes calling to find out WTF (excuse my crassness) is going on. 

This is what a flare looks like - the impacted joint is the knuckle joint in the pointer finger of my right hand. It’s swollen and very painful. This is a problem joint that always seems to flare when my disease is not well-managed. I wish it was a less crucial finger - it makes it painful to grasp things, eat, do my hair/make-up, cut things up for meal prep, etc. It even hurts when the boys hold that hand. And shaking hands is awful, especially when the person has a very firm handshake. 

Grateful: that our summer childcare plans are so easy and straight forward. Hearing about spreadsheets to keep track of camps and such stresses me out! Paul will go to the same program that provides before/after care during the school year which he went to last summer and LOVED. It’s at his school so doesn’t feel much different from the school year in terms of pick up and drop off. The theme this summer is the Olympics!!! They have water Wednesday and field trips on Friday and just do an all-around amazing job! We will have to pack a lunch but overall it’s so easy peasy and very cost effective. Pauls last day of school is June 14th so we’ve got almost a month before he starts the summer program. 

Working: on building my mileage so I can run a 10k at some point this fall. I am only running twice/week right now and can maybe fit a 3rd run in if the stars align so I am very gradually increasing my mileage. I bumped up to 5 from 4.25 this past weekend and it went well. I almost feel silly mentioning this mileage increase considering the distances SHU and Jenny are covering! 

New shoes! Aren’t they pretty? It felt like I was running on clouds!

Thinking: about my Grandma who would have celebrated her 101st birthday this past weekend. I like to think she spent the day working on crossword puzzles and memorizing poetry with my Grandpa as those are 2 things they loved to do together!

Watching: John Mulaney’s live show on Netflix. It is very quirky but we like it! There are 6 lives shows and it takes us about 2 nights to get through one so it’s giving us plenty to watch for the time being.

Wishing: that I was sleeping better but steroids wreak havoc on my sleep so I am during the night reading almost every night due to insomnia. Bleh.

What are you anticipating, struggling with, and grateful for?

Monday, May 13, 2024

Weekend Highlights + Misinterpreted Song Lyrics

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all who celebrate. I have mixed feelings about this holiday as my heart goes out to those who have lost a mom or long to be one. It’s a fine day but not something I have any expectations around which is good because I was woken at 5:30 by Paul and the boys were crabby and fought for the first part of the day… But there was some good stuff to offset that crappy start and Phil got me some hanging baskets for our front porch plus chocolate. 

- Paul came home from school with some Mother’s Day projects. I love these fill-in-the-blank forms. He did a great job although I have not done yoga for quite some time! I think he must think I am doing yoga in the basement when I do strength training or something! I am surprised he didn’t mention reading since we go to the library nearly every weekend and read so many books together!

I like to sleep… that is the truth, kid, so don’t wake me at 5:25 am

Smart as a cat - I like it!

- Now a random story for you: on Friday night, Phil and I watched an episode of John Mulaney’s new live show on Netflix which is quirky but something we both enjoy. The musical guest on the episode was Warren G which got us on the topic of concerts Phil had seen which got us on the topic of Naughty By Nature (one of the concerts he went to) and their songs, which got us to the song OPP. I was like - so that stands for ‘open private parts’ right? Phil was like WHAT IN THE WORLD! It stands for other peoples’ property! So we had a good laugh over that. 

- I ran around our local lake on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a pic on the far end where there is a little sailboat marina and a band shell for live performances. Living walking/running distance from this area is such a delight, especially in the summer! I’ve been pleased to see my pace dip a bit now that the weather is warming up. I am always slower in the winter when I’m contending with stability on patches of snow and ice. I’m not targeting a certain pace but it’s nice to see my pace below 10 min/mile.

- Saturday was gorgeous so we went to the zoo with the other half of the population of the twin cities. Ha. We were there from 9:30-1 which is the longest we’ve stayed at the zoo! Friends came around 11 so we overlapped with them for a bit before grabbing some lunch and heading home. As much as I like the break that Taco’s nap gives us, I also look forward to a time when we don’t have to plan around it! The boys were especially excited about the baby farm animal exhibit and Paul loved the carousel. 

Checking out a cute baby goat

- On Sunday morning after my run I went to Target ALONE which is really the best gift. Paul needed some summer clothes as 5T pjs, shorts and shirts seem to be the gap in our extensive collection of hand-me-downs. So I bought him some Cat and Jack stuff which was pretty cheap. We have lots of C&J hand-me-downs that have been worn by 3-4 kids at this point and have held up remarkably well. 

- Phil took Paul to his mom’s for the afternoon on Sunday to help with some yard work so I stayed back with Taco. We went to the park after his nap and got ice cream. He loved playing in the sand. It was a hot afternoon - in the 80s! 

Today I have a 7am flight (uuuggghhh) to Dallas where I will stay until Wednesday. I’m hoping to take an earlier flight home so I can be home to watch Taco while Paul has T-ball. Tonight is his first night so Phil will have to make do without me. After this trip I am done traveling until mid-June. Hurrah!

How was your weekend? Are there song lyrics you’ve misunderstood/misinterpreted? Another song lyric I got was from Taylor Swift’s song Blank Space - I thought she was saying ‘got a lovely Starbucks lover’ but she is actually saying ‘got a long list of ex-lovers’ which I guess makes a bit more sense… 

Friday, May 10, 2024

DITL: Shouldless Day

Hey hey! I’m coming at you fresh off the tail of a delightful shouldless day! I thought I’d do a DITL style post because how we relax and refill our cups can vastly vary from person to person. My day was basically full on introverting with the exception of a hair cut but you might fill your day getting coffee or lunches with friends or meeting up with others for a walk or glass of wine, etc. All that said, here is how it played out. 

6 am - I wake up on my own feeling rested and lay in bed for 10 minutes before starting my day! Hurray! 

6:15 - Paul is already awake so I get his breakfast (cheerios - this child is a creature of habit like his mom). I try to get Taco up and he is NOT PLEASED. This is a standard part of our day. Taco is NOT a morning person. He decides he wants dad to get him up today so I happily wash my hands of this tasks. I  make my breakfast (2 scrambled eggs + splash of egg whites made in the microwave with salsa + GF toast), Phil comes down with Taco who is magically in a good mood and not screaming! It’s a miracle!

7 am - everyone is fed, dressed and has their teeth brushed. Phil leaves for work with Taco as he will drop him at daycare on his way to his downtown office. I drive Paul to school which is less than 5 minutes away. 

7:15 am - I am back home in a quiet home! My instinct is to rush to the do the next thing because that is how I am programmed in this young kid stage of life. Every day is a productivity puzzle to solve with the solution being - how much can I get done today? So I have to tell myself - calm down, today is a gentle day so take your time and enjoy your coffee. So I sipped my coffee while doing all my NYT games (spelling bee, wordle, connections, and letter boxed) and read a few blogs. 

8:15 am - I head out for a 4 mile run around the local lake in sunshine while listening to the latest episodes of the Popcast (this podcast makes me laugh out loud which is saying a lot as LOL is not my general vibe) and Animal Spirits (finance/investing podcast hosted by 2 financial advisors - work related but a super entertaining podcast that makes me think). 

Post run with our house in the background - not the best pic but I was a little self conscious about taking a selfie in my neighborhood with people coming and going

9 am - I head out with the plan to buy new Hokas at the running store by our house but they are out of the model I run in (Machs). I decided to go to the coffee shop that is across the street since I know they have GF baked goods - except they are closed today due to construction… so I google around to try to find a coffee shop that has something I can eat and eventually I give up and go to a Caribou close to my haircut/color appointment where I know I can get a GF soufflé (yes more eggs but so it goes). My hair appointment is at 11 which is when I usually eat lunch so I need a little something to tie me over. I score a cozy leather chair, buy some Hoka Mach 6s online and read my book (Fat Talk) while sipping my vanilla latte/eating my soufflé. It’s perfection as I love the background buzz of conversations around me but am happy that I can sit silently and read.

11 am - This is the only social part of my day which is a haircut, which I would more so describe as catching up with a good friend who also happens to cut and color my hair and has for the last 15+ years. 

Fresh hair! No make up because I only wear make up if I am working. Ignore the discoloration around the hairline from the dye! Always seems to take a day for that to fully wash out!

1:15 pm - I’m home! I make a taco salad with leftovers from our Cinco de Mayo taco meal and then crawl into bed to continue reading my book. I also read some of the assigned chapters for May from my ‘Lonesome Dove’ buddy read with a Patreon group.

4 pm - Time to head to pick up Paul from school so I can get home and make dinner (chili) for Phil and I (the boys had leftover tacos). 

After dinner the fun continued with a family walk + scoot to the creek and a stop by to see the geese’s latest costumes (a fixture in our neighborhood)! Paul was not up for photos but Taco was all about it! This is the highest our creek has been in several years! The last 2 summers it has basically gone dry during the summer due to droughts. I hope the water levels stay up this year. 

It was a wonderful day and I could use like a week of these! But I’m glad I had today to spend how I pleased. With how rushed and chaotic life often feels, it’s nice to have a day that can be more slow paced and spent exactly how I’d like with no internal judgment about what I “should” be doing! 

If you had a shouldless day, how would you spend it?

Monday, May 6, 2024

May Coffee Date

It’s been a while since I’ve done a coffee date style of post, so grab your warm beverage of choice (brewed coffee with Aldi’s SF vanilla creamer or a triple venti skinny vanilla latte with no foam for me if I am splurging) and settle in…

If we were having coffee today… 

- I’d ask if you perhaps clicked over here from SHU’s newsletter which highlighted my usage of shouldless days to stay sane in this busy season of life. If you are confused about what that means, I’d refer you to this post which details a shouldless day from November! And then I’d tell you that I have one on Thursday that I am so looking forward to. I have a haircut and color scheduled but besides that I will probably go for a run, read and maybe treat myself to lunch. 

- I’d tell you how frustrated I am with my RA right now. I’d probably show you the stupid flare in the knuckle of my right pointer finger that won’t go away. And then I’d tell you how in the span of a day I was told by the pharmacy that I needed to pay $1,067 before they could fill my injection Rx but then later that day the drug company called to tell me I had exhausted my copay assistance so had an outstanding balance of $3k plus. I have yet to fully deal with this and get to the bottom of it because work has been busy and the one time I tried to fix it, I was transferred twice but had to hang up while on hold since I had a call starting at work. This is one challenge of being on weekly injections that cost about $1k week. It will all get worked out and I should not owe $3k+ but wow it is a pain dealing with all the various parties from drug companies to copay assistance to insurance companies and so on. 

- I’d tell you how happy I am to be home this week after 4 weeks straight of travel. The ping ponging from one time zone to the next really wears on me. I go to Dallas next week Mon-Wed and then I only travel once/month in June or July (I thought I might not travel in June but have a NYC trip now which shouldn’t be too bad). Travel is part of my job so I try not to complain but it does put a strain on other areas of my life. 

- I’d tell you how much I enjoyed seeing ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’ at our children’s theater on Saturday. The boys liked it, too - especially Paul. We had to skip nap to attend and wow Taco is not ready to drop his nap.

The best photo I could get of the 2 of them. The cookie story is one of my faves!

So. Tired.

- I’d tell you how happy I am that nicer weather is finally arriving! I ran in shorts and a t-shirt yesterday for the first time and the lake I run around was like glass. All the heart eyes from me! 

My favorite kind of running weather! Sunshine and no wind. This is the lake I run around.

- I’d talk to you about the hills and valleys of being a mom and how I lost my cool a few times over the past weekend which made me feel bad but also human at the same time because I don’t have a ton of what I refer to as ‘margin’ these days between work being intense, travel, RA wearing me down, sleep not being the best thanks to taking steroids day and night to control my flare (and steroids don’t help with patience either…), and the day to day stress of adulting. 

- We’d close by talking about something more fun - books! I’d share what I am reading lately and would want to hear what you’re reading or what you are looking forward to reading. 

Your turn! If we were having coffee today, what would you share? 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

What We Read in April

After some lackluster months of reading, April was really great! Finally! I read 10 books but 2 were chapter books I read with Paul and 1 was a middle grade novel I read to see if it would be appropriate for Paul. I am still counting them because the read-alouds took a good number of nights to get through - probably 1 week each as we read about 1 chapter each night since the chapters were long - and the other middle grade was 300 pages or something like that, although I read it in probably 3 hours. More about those childrens'/middle grade books below, though! 

Best books:

I had far more hits than misses this month. Berry Pickers is a debut novel I learned about from Sarah’s Bookshelves Live. It’s about a Canadian Native American family that travels down to Maine each summer for berry picking season. Their daughter goes missing and the story is told in a dual narrative format. It was an excellent 5-star read. Come and Get It has very mixed reviews but it ultimately worked for me. It’s set on a college campus and it about relationships between students and teachers, power dynamics, and so much more. While You Were Out is a very sad memoir about a family’s history of mental illness. Research triggers on this if you are a sensitive reader. The River We Remember is a literary mystery about a deeply disliked man that is found dead. It manages to pull together a lot of themes like the impact of war and the poor treatment of Native Americans - but it pulls it off and the writing is beautiful. Amazing Grace Adams takes place in one day and features a post-menopausal woman at her wit’s end who is trying to get to her teen daughter with whom she has a strained relationship (for reasons that are revealed through the novel) so she can deliver a birthday cake. It sounds like an odd premise but it somehow works.

Less successful:

There were some misses. Day by Michael Cunningham is a novel that looks at a family on a single day in April in 2019, 2020, and 2021 so it’s obviously a pandemic novel. It’s another marriage in crisis type of novel and while the prose was beautiful at times, it didn't completely work for me. I felt like I was held at arm's length and didn't "feel" the pain expressed in the pages if that makes sense. Frozen River is the latest historical fiction novel about a female heroine by Ariel Lawhon. I liked it but I didn’t love it and felt like it dragged a bit. It’s about a female midwife in the 1780s. It’s Goodreads average rating is around 4.5 so I am the outlier in not loving this book (I gave it 3 stars) - but historical fiction is not my jam these days.

Exploratory reads:

Lastly, I read a middle grade novel called A Rover's Story to see if it would be something I could read to Paul. He is very into space and this novel is told from the point of a view of a Rover that goes on a mission to Mars. Ultimately I've decided to hold off on reading this as it has a heavier storyline for one of the scientists that works in rover NASA lab. It is totally appropriate for middle grade but I think 6 is too young and it might cause some stress/worry. In a couple of years when he is actually in middle grade I would totally read this with him or have him read it on his own. I can't say what it was that gave me pause because it would be a spoiler but message me if you want to know if you are considering this for your child. It is an excellent book, though! 

The boys’ books:

Paul had gotten REALLY into chapter books lately. In April we read 2 Paddington books that are part of a boxed set I received for my baby shower! He found Paddington’s antics very entertaining and he got to watch the first Paddington movie the weekend I was in ND for the funeral - it sounded like he liked it but not as much as the book (yessssss! Books for the win!!). Next he has decided he wants to try the Harry Potter books so we started the first book at the end of April. I imagine it will take us a month+ to read it. I love picture books but I really love snuggling up and digging into a chapter book! Paul can be a sensitive reader so we will see if he’s ready for the plot line of the HP books which can be intense. I haven’t read HP since my first reading of the series which I started in 2004 so it’s like I’m reading it for the first time! I have never watched the movies but maybe I will finally watch them with Paul as we finish each novel.

Taco’s tastes are really changing, too! He seems to be making the shift to picture books from board books which I AM HERE FOR!! His favorite right now is ‘The Circus Ship’ by Chris Van Dusen which he adorably pronounces ‘the shircus ship’. He is also loving the Bruce books by Ryan T. Higgins which are also a delight! He was slower to warm up to books so it makes me so happy to see his love of reading grow! 

This is my go to book for first birthdays or baby showers when you are asked to give a book instead of a card. I give picture books early because new parents tend to get a ton of board books but I want to contribute to their future library! I love reading picture books we received for the baby shower because there is often a note to "Baby Segner" (we didn't find out Paul's gender).

Did you read anything great in April?

Monday, April 29, 2024

Weekend Highlights

It was a soggy, windy weekend but we made the most of it. Here were our highlights. 

- Saturday was the last day of Target’s car seat drop off program (you drop off an old car seat - they recycle it and give you 20% off a new one. We dropped off an infant car seat and bought a harness to booster car seat for Taco. Win win.) The boys were VERY wild at the store so our visit was very brief.

- We decided to check out a new-to-us library that is across the street from Target. Our library is always super busy - this one was SO QUIET! The boys enjoyed playing with new-to-them toys. 

Taco found a Pokémon book for Paul

- Taco napped and I read/dozed a bit during his nap. Phil took Paul to his golf lessons. Is he not the cutest little golfer? Phil is an excellent golfer and has wonderful memories of golfing with his late father so I am hoping my boys take to golf so they can make those memories with their dad. I’d like to learn to golf alongside the boys but we will see if that happens. I’ve found it to be a hard sport to learn.

- After the golf lesson, Phil took both boys to the park and I worked on meal prep. What does meal prep look like this week in our house? I blitzed carrots, onion, garlic, and celery for the hidden veggie marinara I will make on Tuesday, I chopped the cauliflower and chicken (and stored separately if that isn’t obvious!) for the tikka masala recipe I made last night, I husked corn and prepped the asparagus for our Saturday night meal, and I cut up peppers for snacking. I did this while listening to a fascinating Ezra Klein show about the competing interests of work and parenting. The only way to improve that meal prep hour was if I had some wine. But alas, I didn’t because I have returned to a policy of only drinking outside the home or when hosting guests now that the wine from our last gathering is gone.

- I woke up on my own at 5:45 on Sunday and felt rested so I got up and enjoyed my breakfast (oatmeal + banana) and my coffee in a silent home. This NEVER happens so I soaked it up and worked on spelling bee, wordle, and read blogs. The boys didn’t get up until 6:45! 

- I ran 4 miles both mornings - in tights. Ugh. Spring in Minnesota sucks. 

- Paul had a pretty impromptu playdate with a friend from  school and his brother at an indoor playground that he got passes to for his birthday. It was pouring rain so the perfect afternoon activity but of course sooo busy!

Now this week I go to Napa, but don’t be jealous… I will be gone 36 hours and will spend 8 hours on a plane and 4 hours in a car. I will be in Napa itself for less than 24 hours. I get in Wednesday afternoon, moderate a panel (praying to the travel Gods that nothing goes wrong with my flight), mingle with clients, sleep, hopefully workout, mingle some more at breakfast and then drive back to SFO and fly home. It’s Phil’s busiest week of the month at work so I am trying to minimize my time away, otherwise I would have spent 2 nights in Napa and attended more of this event. But so it goes. Then I get a week off from travel before going to Dallas for 3 days. And then I might get a break until July because my June PDX trip was rebooked for November. Woot woot!

How was your weekend?