Friday, July 12, 2024

TGIF

Hey hey - it’s Friday! This week flew by since I was traveling for part of it. Here is how the week shaped up!

A book I am reading this week is ‘Wavewalker’ by Suzanne Heywood. It’s my book club’s July read. It’s a memoir about a family’s around-the-world sailing adventure in the 1970s. I’m only a couple of chapters in and it’s clear there is some willful neglect of their children, plus the author’s note at the beginning made it clear that this is not a happy story, so it should be an interesting book.

The high of my week was feeling good about how my work trip went. I hadn’t traveled with this sales rep before and he has a reputation for being very good at his job. He was one of my former’s colleague’s favorite people to travel with so I had a feeling he’d be fun to spend time with. He asked me to come back in October so I must have done ok!

The low of my week was: continuing to deal with this stupid RA flare. My doctor reviewed the MRI and said it appears to be a flare. She doesn’t know why it’s not responding to the injections and oral steroids so the next course of action is to see a radiologist who can do an imaging-guided injection so they can more precisely target the impacted area of the joint. But the earliest I could get an appointment is August 1st!! I plan to call every couple of days to see if they have any cancellations. Hopefully they don’t get sick of hearing from me. I am so tired of dealing with this flare. I really hope my infusions prevent flares like this from happening again. Theoretically the infusions should help with this flare but I think the flare is so acute that even the infusions can’t remedy the flare.

A show I am watching is the latest season of The Bear. The ratings of this season aren’t as high as the other seasons but I am really enjoying it! Interestingly, the show is too intense for Phil. I’m usually the one bowing out in a show due to intensity but I guess I am a bit more immune to the intensity after years of waiting tables in college. 

For workouts I ran 3 miles on Monday morning before work and did a strength training workout in my hotel on Wednesday after a full day of 7 (!!!) client meetings. I really did not feel like working out after being ‘on’ from 7:40-5 that day but I told myself that if I packed workout clothes, I was going to use them! I will run again this morning. My plan is to run 7 miles on Saturday or Sunday.

The best money spent was on our 2023 family photo book! This is the latest I have completely a family photo book but at least it got done! Paul and I have been looking through old photo books (I started doing them in 2018 - the year Paul was born) so I am excited for our new one to arrive! 

My plans this weekend include not much! It’s going to be in the 90s here and humid so we will do something by the water each day. I will take the boys to the pool one afternoon and we will probably go to the beach with Phil when he swims on Sunday morning. But other than that, we don’t have any specific plans. 

Bonus photo:

The boys played My First Orchard Game (the best pre-K game ever!) pretty much independently!

How was your week? 

Monday, July 8, 2024

4th of July Recap

We had a nice 4th of July weekend up at my parents. The drive on Thursday was NOT good, though. Taco asked if we were almost there 5 minutes into a 2.75 hour drive… He was entertained by his iPad for about 30 minutes and then alternated between yelling very loudly and asking if we were there yet. Listening to Taylor Swift helped at times but it was not a great drive. We were all happy when we arrived at my parents. Had it not been 11:15 am, I would have otherwise helped myself to a glass of sav blanc but that seemed a bit aggressive. 

Taco was happy to dig into the toys of my childhood

It rained each day but we had dry periods each day. Phil helped Paul, Taco and my cousin’s son fish off the dock on Thursday. 



Friday was a nice for most of the day so the boys played in the sand and water quite a bit and my dad took us out on a pontoon ride. 

Paul and his namesake, Papa Paul 


This bucket is meant for washing off feet but Taco decided to make it his own little bathtub

My parents hosted a very large family party on Saturday with 50+ people. There is a big bean bag tournament which I passed on this year since my hand still hurts quite a bit. It was a gorgeous afternoon until the wind picked up and a big thunderstorm moved in. Everyone moved into the garage so it didn’t hamper things too much. 


Most of the kids at the party were much older than my boys. But Paul was happy to follow his cousin Matt around like a little puppy dog. He is so obsessed with Matt and has been for a very long time. 

How it started..

Matt was 10 and Paul was around 4 months old


How it’s going… 

Now Matt is 16 and has his license but he still has a special connection with Paul! 

We drove home on Sunday morning so we could get groceries, do laundry and prep for the week. 

I fly to Michigan this afternoon for a 2-night trip. July will be a bit of a whirlwind as I travel 3 weeks in a row. So much for a quiet July! Next week’s trip is just one night so at least that is a short one. The results of my MRI came back on Wednesday so I am hoping to hear from my doctor about next steps today. 

How was your weekend? 

Monday, July 1, 2024

What We Read in June

First off, Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends! 

Now onto the topic at hand - reading! I lucked out and had an incredible month of reading. There was only one sort of disappointing read. Most of what I read I rated 4 or even 5 stars! I read 9 books in June, bringing my 2024 total to 52. I don’t set a goal for number of books read as I don’t want to ever focus on quantity over quality. Last year I read just below 100, the previous years I read over 100. We will see where this year shakes out! I have included children’s books that I read out loud to Paul in the total but I spend hours reading them so figure they should count, too. 

Best of the best:


After Annie is Anna Quindlen’s latest character-driven novel. It’s about a family grieving the sudden loss of their young matriarch. I didn’t love this as much as Every Last One but it was still a very good 4-star book. The Wives was raved about on Sarah’s Bookshelves Live and lived up to the hype (I gave it 5 stars). It’s a memoir written by the wife of a man who enlists in a special ops unit of the army. I gifted this to my sister as part of a gift to acknowledge her family’s cross country move. I can’t wait for her to read it so we can discuss it, hopefully in person! It gave me better insight into what her life has been like (her husband is in the military.) I gave it 5 stars. Real Americans was also raved about by Sarah but her co-hosts did not care for it. This was another 5-star read for me. It’s a multi-generational novel about a family that flees from China. I thought it was so well done. This is another character-driven novel. The last 2 books, Yours Truly and Just For the Summer were my first foray into local author Abby Jimenez’s catalog of work. Both books are set in the Minneapolis area which made them extra delightful for me to read. I really enjoyed both and they filled my need for something lighter with a happy ending. I think I preferred Yours Truly but both were great.

Other mostly great reads:


Colton Gentry’s Third Act is a romance novel about a country music star that speaks out about gun control after losing his best friend to a mass shooting at a musical festival, putting an end to his career as a country musician due to the backlash. I really liked this but not as much as Jimenez’s. The People We Keep was an excellent book about a young teen in a situation of neglect that goes out on her own after a conflict with her father. It’s a found family kind of novel. The Secret Book of Flora Lea is a historical novel about the children that were sent into the countryside of England during WWII. A child goes missing and this book is about the sibling’s search for the missing child as an adult. I liked it but historical fiction hasn’t worked as well for me lately. River East, River West was my least favorite read of the month. It was another rec from Sarah’s Bookshelves Live so not all of her picks work for me. It’s set in Shanghai and is told by dual narrators. It’s sort of a coming-of-age story which are hit or miss for me. I didn’t like the mother or daughter in this story so that made it harder for me to enjoy this book. 

The boys’ reads:

Paul and I have not been reading together as much lately because he would rather read graphic novels on his own. Below he is reading a Geronimo Stilton book at the library. It’s fun to see his love of reading take off but I would like to get back to reading some chapter books together! 


We did finish the 3rd Paddington novel that we were gifted at my baby shower. These were very delightful reads! 


Taco is mostly into picture books but will still pick out board books at bedtime occasionally. Board books are far shorter so it’s not the worst thing when that happens. Ha. So we will keep his board books out for now but I think I will winnow down the collection to our favorites and find a new home for the ones he isn’t drawn to. The picture book we read the most in June was The Gruffalo which is a favorite of mine, too!

Did you read anything great in June? 

Friday, June 28, 2024

5 things Friday + mid-year thoughts

Happy Friday and happy almost end of the first half of the year! I had a really great trip to the DC area for work this week. We did 10 meetings in 2 days which is quite a lot. I haven't mentioned this but my little sister and her family are moving to the DC area (in the coming days!!) and this trip made me extra excited that she is moving here because a) there is so much to do and b) it's only a 2-hour flight from Minneapolis!

Here are 5 things on my mind this week: 

1. Let’s start with that, ‘wow the year is going so fast’ cliche convo that we all tend to have. Phil absolutely loathes those kind of conversations because he is extremely practical and will challenge comments about time going faster because the passage of time does not change. And yet our perception of how fast time goes does seem to change as we get older. Remember how loooonnnnggggg it took for Christmas to arrive when you were a kid, if you celebrated that holiday? Now Christmas comes far too fast and I’d like December to have 6 weeks (but then I want Feb or Mar to have 2 fewer weeks because I hate the final months of winter). 

2. Since it’s mid-year, many of us assess how the first half of the year went which might involve looking back at goals. I had honestly forgotten what I decided to do about goals (I had set 2 quarterly goals for Q1 and then never looked at them again. Whoops.) This is not surprising because I have a tenuous relationship with goals. I feel like I don’t necessarily need them because I achieve a lot without detailed goals and will be hard on myself if I don’t achieve what I set out to do. I look at what I’ve done in the first half of the year and it’s a lot - some of it was planned, much of it wasn’t. 10 business trips, 1 family vacation, 200 client meetings, I made some big decisions about how to better manage my RA, we established a quarterly date night routine, we potty trained our toddler, we ordered a big boy mattress for him so we can start that next big transition, and on and on and on. I do see how goals are so very motivating for others but I might be team ‘no goals’ for life? I am required to set them for work so I comply but otherwise I am tempted to take the counter-cultural approach of avoiding them. SHU, can we still be friends?!? All that said, I really do enjoy reading about the progress others have made towards their goals! 

3. I wish I had good news about my flare subsiding but I don’t. It is just as bad as it was before and is especially painful in the am when I have gone almost 24 hours without prednisone. So I will not be tapering off that bastard of a drug anytime soon. Sigh. This time I contacted my doctor through my chart right away when 5 days had passed with no improvement. She was quick to respond and said it’s time for an MRI because the flare should respond to everything we have thrown at it. Luckily I was able to get my MRI scheduled for this coming Tuesday. I really hope there is a clear path forward but I might need to see an ortho and she mentioned a possible biopsy and GAH! Why is this all so hard? 6 months ago, you might not have even known I had RA and now a week can’t seem to pass without some sort of reference to this stupid disease. And to be honest, one of the worst parts of being on prednisone (besides the sleep issues and irritability) is that I have put on weight and I feel like I look a little bit puffy. I know body image is a challenging topic to address but I can’t pretend this hasn’t made this whole situation worse. 

4. I also get my 2nd infusion this coming Monday. I think this is the last 2-hour infusion and then they will speed it up to an hour if I continue to tolerate it well. I must say the set up in the infusion center is quite nice. I sit in a comfy recliner and there is a lap shelf thing they can lower so I can work on my laptop. The chair also has a massage feature so it’s not the worst 2 hours. Last time I worked with my feet up at a very minor recline while getting a chair massage. The kind nurses also brought me a warm blanket since I am always cold, especially in air conditioned buildings. If I ever had a desire for a side hustle I might create something similar for tired moms - come sit in our comfy, massaging chairs, take a load off for a bit, and feel free to doze off. We can even pretend it’s a medically-necessary appointment to assuage any guilt about taking time for yourself. 

5. Next week is the 4th of July which my brain thinks of as the mid-point of summer since I was on a mid-August to Friday-before Memorial Day schedule when I was in school. But it is decidedly NOT the mid-point of summer as an adult with a child who has only been out of school for 2 weeks. It’s the beginning. Which is good because it feels like summer weather has finally arrived what with all the rain we have had. Our family will be going to my parents for the 4th of July weekend which I am so looking forward to. Only one other sibling will be there but I will see a bunch of extended family and Phil can actually come with us for a change. He is busiest in the first 4 biz days of the month but will cram 4 days of work into 3 days so he can come to the lake with us. We haven’t been up there since February so are very overdue. The boys love sand and water so it’s the best place to be with them on a hot summer day. A change of scenery is a thing of wonder when you have small children and it’s extra wonderful when that change of scenery is the house of grandparents on a lake who are happy to help out as much as they can. 

How was your week? Did you set any goals for 2024?

Monday, June 24, 2024

It finally stopped raining

Friday and Saturday were rainy days but things finally improved on Sunday thank goodness. This is how the weekend shaped up. The subtitle to this post could be: we did all the things.

Friday afternoon/evening: I got an injection into my tendon which made my pointer finger/palm numb for the next several hours. It hurt like heck getting this tendon injected - way worse than a joint injection so it better work. It could take 3-5 days to notice a difference so now I wait. If it improves, I can reduce my prednisone by 2.5 mg every 10 days. It’s a gradual taper since I’ve been on a higher dose for nearly 3 months. But that means it will take almost 2 months to get fully off it. Hopefully once I am below 10mg I will feel less jittery and will sleep better. 

Post-injection comparison. The right pointer finger/joint area was extra swollen and red.

Saturday am: I was up at 5:30, but not by choice - steroids continue to mess with my sleep. Paul was up shortly after me and Taco was up just after 6 so the day started early for most of us. We had a break in the rain so I ran 6.25 miles and then we hit up the library where we were surprised to find llamas! Llamas visit the different library branches and this was our library’s weekend. That meant the library was extra busy. Paul enjoyed meeting the llamas; Taco was terrified. We ran into lots of different friends from our neighborhood and former daycare which gave the event a ‘small town’ feel which was nice for a change. It made me think of NGS’s recent Mooseum event! The llama we met had as much interest in getting his photo taken as Phil does. Lol. The real high was seeing Paul curled up with a book (a Geronimo Stilton book). 




Sunday afternoon: I was wiped by the time we got home from the library to have lunch so I tapped Phil in and laid in bed with ear plugs for 75 minutes while Phil managed the boys. I planned to take them to a splash pad/wading pool/park so had them change into their suits and then Phil checked the weather and said - um another thunderstorm is moving in. WOMP WOMP. So we pivoted and I took them to an indoor playground. We are dropping Taco’s nap this weekend so we needed to get out of the house for everyone’s sanity. 

This building area was a hit

They also loved this trampoline type of thing. Taco stuck to the edges bit Paul is really getting some air in the background.

Sunday am: I woke at 5 and could not fall back asleep for read for a bit before starting the day. Paul was up at 5:30 and Taco was up just before 6. The boys are such early risers! Phil does a swim club course at a local lake on Sunday mornings so the boys and I joined him since it was finally not raining!! It was a beautiful morning.




Sunday afternoon: I once again tapped out to lay in bed for an hour to recharge my batteries. The boys and I headed to a local splash pad/wading pool park at 1:30. It’s kind of a haul to get to this place (20-25 min) but it’s a zero entry set-up which is what Taco prefers. Plus it has a really nice park adjacent to it. We were there for about 2 hours and then got ice cream on the way home since it was the first weekend of summer. 





So that was the kid-centric part of our weekend. We divided and conquered a lot but Phil did stuff around the house like mowing, laundry, and getting groceries. Plus I wanted to give him some alone time since he solo parents again this week while I am in DC for 2 nights/3 days. 

Llamas, indoor playground, beach, splash pad, and ice cream. These kids sure have it good. Although the only things we paid for were the indoor playground ($12/each and worth every dollar to entertain the boys during a rain storm) and ice cream so it wasn’t a big financial outlay. I do hope someday they look back on their childhoods and think - wow, mom and dad did a lot for us/took us cool places. I had a great childhood but the boys do more things in a weekend than I did all summer. But that’s the difference between being 1 or 5 kids and living in a rural area (population 500) that didn’t even have a library!!

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 21, 2024

TGIF

Hello from rainy Minnesota where we have considered building an ark. We have had well over 4” of rain this week and more is on the way. It’s feast or famine around these parts, it seems. It’s been such a rainy spring but I am hoping it tapers off because we really don’t need more rain! Here is how the week shaped up. 

A book I am reading this week is ‘After Annie’ by Anna Quindlen. The first sentence is ‘Annie died right before dinner.’ That reminds me of the opening lines of Everything I Never Told You (Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.) In this case, Annie dies from an aneurysm, leaving behind a husband and 4 kids, the oldest of which is 13. This is very much a character driven novel so do not read this if you need plot! But I am enjoying it (although enjoying seems like the wrong verb to use given the subject matter).

The high of my week was a fun day at the zoo on Wednesday with Paul! I had the day off for the Juneteenth holiday and it was finally not raining! It was the busiest I had ever seen the zoo so I guess everyone else that was off for the holiday had the same idea. We were there for over 5 hours so we saw a lot including 2 amazing bird shows, one of which featured other animals. I really enjoyed some 1:1 time with Paul. It’s a way more low key experience to take him versus taking both boys.

The wing span of this vulture was incredible!


Enjoying the splash pad! It was only 67F but Paul was still all about the splash pad.


Getting up close and personal with a tarantula.

The lows of my week was: dealing with another ridiculous bill from CVS - $1,900+ this time. That’s an improvement from the $4k bill I got about a month ago but come on! Why is this so difficult? I have insurance! I was told I met my deductible in March when I paid around $1k. This is what it took to take of this: 

1st call: CVS Pharmacy where they tell me the co-pay insurance company denied the claim because I allegedly did not meet my deductible. They can't help me and say I need to call the co-pay company. CVS IS THE WORST but I can only use CVS or it will be out-of-network so my hands are tied here.

2nd call: Co-pay company tells me that all they can determine is that I haven't met my deductible but they have no other info besides that so they said to call my insurance company.

3rd call: The insurance company tells me I have met my deductible but it happened on the same date that this stupid $1,900 bill is associated with so I am incredibly confused because I had paid over $1k in early March to allegedly meet my deductible to pay for this stupid medication. But the guy I talk to said I actually need to talk to the pharmacy - which is the first phone call I placed at the start of this whole maddening process. 

4th call: Back to CVS Pharmacy where they tell me that I still owe $1,900 toward my $3,200 deductible despite the fact that they said my previous $1k+ payment would meet my deductible. I give up and fork over my HSA card. 

All that said - I know the infusions are even more expensive than my injectable drugs were but they are handled by a clinic so I am hoping that the process is more straightforward since the devil that is CVS is not involved. 

A show we are watching is ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ on Hulu. It’s a series about the purchase of a sort of failing football club in Wales by none other than Ryan Reynolds and some Rob guy who wrote for ‘Its always sunny in Philadelphia’ which is a show Phil loved but has assured me is ‘not safe for Lisa’. I’m in it for Ryan Reynolds and the underdog story. 

For workouts I did the first workout of Caroline Girvan’s Fuel series which was very high impact/HIIT-like. That’s not really what I need out of ST workouts right now so I either need to redo the Iron program or find something else. I ran 4 miles on Wednesday morning, will take today off since my first meeting of the day is at 8:30 and I can't run and be presentable that quickly for a zoom. I'm going to see how I feel on Saturday morning and maybe do a strength training workout of some sort if my hand feels ok (I get an injection in the tendon this afternoon), and then will run 6 miles on Sunday.

The best money spent was on happy hour with a good friend that I used to work with, which was another high of my week! I hadn't seen her for over a year which is ridiculous considering we work 1 block apart but work has been busy for both of us and it's hard for me to plan social events when I am gone so much for work travel.

My plans this weekend include not much again. If it isn't raining, one of us will take Paul to an event at the local rec center tonight. It's supposed to be rainy tomorrow morning so I'm hoping to convince the boys to go to the library. We are going to try dropping Taco's nap this weekend to see if that results in better bedtimes/later starts to the day. So if the rain clears out, I will take the boys to a local wading pool/splashpad/park and give Phil some time off to do whatever he pleases since I'm traveling next week. Sunday we are planning to go to the lake where Phil is a member of a swim club after my 6 mile run. They have a swim course set up several times/week, including Sunday mornings. Last year Taco had no interest in the water so we didn't join him but he seems more interested this year so I am hoping this can be a standard Sunday morning activity. Sunday is the nicest day of the weekend so hopefully we will be outside quite a bit!

Bonus photo:

I caught this action shot of Paul rolling a yahtzee on Tuesday afternoon! He was so proud of himself. He has rolled yahtzees the 2 times we've played so he is going to have really unrealistic expectations about how often that happens! Yahtzee is a really great game for his age as it gives him the chance to work on his math skills, which is his favorite subject!



How was your week?

Monday, June 17, 2024

Weekend recap

Happy Monday! We had a very ‘ok’ kind of weekend. Friday was wonderful, Saturday was rainy, Sunday was hot and started with someone getting a goose egg but ended on a good note.

Friday was Paul’s last day of kindergarten! Here is a side-by-side comparison of the first and last day. I can’t believe how much he has grown and changed!


That night we got together with my college friends. It was a gorgeous summer night and they have a great deck/backyard with a beautiful flowering tree. It was so fun to catch up with everyone. I hadn’t seen most of the girls since February and hadn’t seen the husbands since last August. These friends are all a year older than me but in such a different stage of parenting as their kids range in age from 11 to 17! One heartily offered to babysit because she misses toddlers (how???) and I think we will take her up on it as we can walk to restaurants from her house.

The boys slept in until 6:45 on Saturday since we had been out later than usual on Friday (later than usual = home at 8:40. We are party animals clearly.) Saturday was a LONG day because it rained all damn day. I fit my 6 mile run in before the rain started but then we were kind of house bound because I could not talk the boys into going to the library despite my best efforts. They had fun with playdoh for awhile but then it was a lot of screens and fighting. Le sigh. I napped for over an hour during Taco’s nap though. I felt so dang tired. Am I tired from the infusion? Because I have young kids? Because of the rainy weather? Because of sleep interruptions from being on prednisone? All of the above?

So many playdoh toys!!

His little bird creation was quite cute.

Taco was up at 5:30 on Sunday. I think he is ready to drop his nap. Sob. In some ways it makes weekends easier as we can go to the pool and stay long enough to make it worth the cost of admission and can spend more time at the zoo. But I often rest during his naps so I am sad to miss that rest period. We will adjust but gah I am sad to lose that time to rest. 

We went to a baseball diamond that morning for an annual Father’s Day sort of batting derby (the guys all take turns hitting balls and those not hitting field balls). It’s next to a park which is next to a farmer’s market. Within 5 minutes of arriving, Taco fell while running and head planted into the sidewalk and got a big goose egg. This kid is so prone to falling for some reasons. He felt better after having a donut but looks rough.

Ugh that goose egg! 

We ran into a couple of families we knew and then had to abruptly leave when the kids were not listening/cooperating. 

I napped again during Taco’s nap and then my MIL came over in the afternoon. We got takeout from Phil’s favorite place (pork rice bowls from a BBQ place called Brasa) to celebrate Father’s Day. My gift to him is the gift of time to play golf. We played a game of Yahtzee (my MIL’s fave game) after dinner and Paul rolled for my MIL. He was thrilled to roll a Yahtzee!




Paul is home with us for the next couple of days as his summer program starts on Thursday. Phil will WFH today and I will WFH tomorrow and then we both have Juneteenth off so I will do something fun with him that day - maybe the pool if it’s not raining. We have a very rainy week ahead of us! 

How was your weekend? Did you do anything for Father’s Day?