Monday, December 4, 2023

Taco’s Birthday Weekend + Virus Part 2

Our baby turned 3 on Sunday! 

How it started
How it’s going!

The weekend was mostly all about celebrating his golden birthday on Sunday - plus dealing with another sick kid. I swear our kids don’t like lick everything they come into contact with but it might seem that way. 

But back to the birthday fun! We have an arbitrary rule of no kid parties until you turn 5 so we just had a family celebration on Saturday night. We took the easy way out and ordered pizza since that is Taco’s favorite food.

I made a GF cookie cake on Saturday morning. This is the birthday dessert of choice in our house!

We let Taco open a gift on Saturday morning because he wanted to wear a Mickey shirt and he didn’t have one clean. He was thrilled to get 3 Mickey shirts! He is so obsessed with Mickey.

My parents arrived in the early afternoon and my mom decorated the cake! It was easy to come up with a decorating theme!

The decorated cake. I over-baked the cookie. It was still good, though. Just crisper than I prefer.

Paul enjoyed playing garbage with my parents but then he wanted to quit because he was tired. Which is odd as this kid loves games - and he was winning. Sure enough, he was running a fever within an hour. Le sigh. 

So he went upstairs and stayed in his room so as not to infect his grandparents with whatever he has (probably the Adenovirus Taco had?). 

Reading with his grandparents!

Taco soaked up the attention. We were so happy to see our spunky Taco return after a week of illness! 

He got A LOT of trucks!

The black food coloring really left its mark…

Sunday was a more low key day. We laid low since Paul wasn’t feeling well although the virus seems much more mild for him. When he woke up in the morning he said ‘my brain hurts.’ But his fever was pretty short-lived and limited to the evenings. So far.

Taco opened the presents from us after lunch. We got him a Mickey safari truck, a Mickey camping LEGO set (that he’s a bit young for but Paul can help him), and Paul picked out a semi-truck for his cars. 

Opening his present from Paul

This was the first time we had Paul pick out a present for him. I took him to Target on Friday and gave him a budget. It was really sweet to see him pick something out! 

We ended the day by changing him into Grinch jammies he received from my parents and looking at photos on my phone from the day he was born. What a world we live in - being able to search my google photos for a particular date is pretty amazing.

These young kid birthdays feel like as much (or more!) of a celebration for the parents as it is for the kid. There’s a ‘wow we made it through another year!’

I’m not shy about the fact that the toddler stage challenges me and pushes me to my limits, but I know I’ll look back at aspects of this stage of parenting and miss the cute mispronunciations, singing you are my sunshine while rocking my kiddos before bedtime, and the way our boys melt into our bodies when giving hugs! 

Friday, December 1, 2023

What We Read in November

Yay! It's December! I read a lot during November but I was home bound with sick family members for quite a bit and had flights to and from NYC earlier in the month. I finished 9 books! 


These are my favorites of the month and I'd recommend them pretty broadly. It was an Ugly Couch Anyway is a collection of essays with a through line so it reads like a memoir. There are themes of faith in it. It is not preachy, but I mention that for those who don't want any mention of Christianity in their reading. Faking Christmas is a light, easy-breezy romantic comedy that helped put me in the Christmas spirit. Kill Show is a fictional oral history (similar to Daisy Jones and the Six) about a couple whose daughter goes missing. They agree to let a producer make a reality TV show about the search process (which is absolutely BANANAS and something I think most sane people would not agree to). The Many Lives of Mama Love is a memoir about a women who steals/commits identity theft to fund her drug habit. The Museum of Failures is the latest by a favorite author of mine (Thrity Umrigar). I didn't love it as much as her past novels as it ended a bit to tidily for my liking, but it was still a great read.

Pretty good:

I didn't think I was going to read Yellowface but I got sucked in by all the buzz. It didn't really live up to the buzz for me, though. The main character was just SO INCREDIBLY UNLIKEABLE. Everything's Fine was an uncomfortable read about a mixed-race/mixed-politics relationship - a Black liberal woman and a white guy who voted for Trump. It's another one I read out of curiosity. How to Stay Married is a memoir about a marriage in crisis. The wife cheats on the husband - this is not a spoiler, we find out right away - and he divulges all the gory details of their marital conflict, but with a very HEAVY dose of humor. Too much humor, IMO. This one also has major major themes of Christianity and is very anti-divorce. I mean no one is pro-divorce but there are marriages that should end in my opinion... so don't read this if you've gotten divorced or are strongly contemplating it. To be clear, my marriage is as healthy as a marriage can be when you have young children who have been sick for months at a time... I did not read this for marital advice. I read it because I am nosey and kind of like to be the fly on the wall in other people's lives at times. Lastly, Now is Not the Time to Panic is my selection for my book club. I didn't like it as much as I thought I might/hoped I would. It was fine. 

The boys' reads:

Paul had some really successful reads in November!

First, The Mysteries of the Universe which, as the cover and title suggests, is a book about outer space. It has beautiful 2-page spreads with photos and a paragraph about the concept such as supernovas, black holes, the planets, solar eclipses, etc. I actually learned a lot reading this. My earth science education in high school was a bit lacking.

We also finished reading Kate DiCamillo’s first children’s novel, Because of Winn Dixie. It is a HEAVY novel but I think a lot of it went over Paul’s head. It’s a heart warming found family - including a dog - kind of story. We liked it so much that are are currently reading The Tale of Desperaux. I do the chapter book reading and Phil often listens in the background. I've gotten some raised eyebrows and "what are you guys reading?" comments over the content of both books (the mom abandons the daughter in the first book; there are lots of detailed discussions of a dungeon in Despereaux). There are big words and heavy themes. But Disney movies kill a parent in nearly every movie it seems... so I think Paul will be fine with this heavier content, all in all. TL;DR - your mileage may vary with these books. 

How was your reading month? 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Three Things Thursday

It's the last day of November. I am not sad. It's been A MONTH. Here are 3 things on my mind, mostly related to illnesses. 

1. We have had A WEEK. The virus that hit on Thanksgiving was the virus that would not quit. I think this is the worst virus we have encountered. I had taken Taco to urgent care on Saturday and strep was ruled out. But the fevers would not quit so I called the nurse's line on Tuesday morning and talked through his symptoms with a very kind nurse. She was quite concerned that he was on day 6 of having a fever so we were able to snag an afternoon appointment with a pediatrician. The pediatrician we saw was so amazing and thorough. She ordered a chest x-ray. Between that and her clinic examination she determined he had the early stages of pneumonia. So we walked out with some antibiotics and instructions to give him Motrin every 6 hours including overnight for the next 36 hours. Oddly specific but I am a rule follower so you can bet I followed it to the T. I don't know how we got up 3-5 times/night when our boys had repeat ear infections. Setting an alarm for 3:30 am to dose him with Motrin was painful and I kept waking up and checking to see how close it was to 3:30 so I slept like crap. But guys, antibiotics are amazing. 

Taco went from looking like this on Tuesday afternoon:

 To looking like this on Wednesday morning:

Wearing the new Mickey sweatshirt I bought him on Tuesday. I usually do not buy things for the boys randomly but I felt SO TERRIBLE for him and I knew a Mickey shirt would cheer him up (he's obsessed with Mickey).

2. Taco is the actually second person in our family to get pneumonia this fall. Phil was diagnosed with it earlier in November and also has a suspected fractured rib from all of his coughing. It has been an epically bad fall. I have oddly been the healthiest adult in our house which is very unusual. Phil likely got pneumonia from influenza A, although he was sick with a cough before he got the flu. 

3. The Grinch has been playing in our house year-round since it's one of Taco's favorite movies. We watch the animated version with Benjamin Cumberbatch voicing the Grinch. There have been a number of times recently (mostly at work) where I want to say "I'm sorry, I don't speak ridiculous" a la The Grinch (see this very brief clip). It's a good thing I like this movie as much as I do because I have seen it no fewer than 30 times in 2023 and that is probably a huge understatement. Sometimes The Grinch is my spirit animal as awful as that might be to admit, well my spirit animal if I was able to say what was on my mind at times. 

What's on your mind today?

Monday, November 27, 2023

Thanksgiving Recap + Another Freaking Virus

I won’t bury the lead here. All of our best laid plans were blown up when Taco got sick on Thanksgiving. Le sigh. Here’s a recap of our derailed weekend. 

I ran a chilly 5k on Thanksgiving morning. I think the ‘feels like’ temp was 20F. I was really glad to be done after 3.1 miles! 

We headed to my brother’s in the metro area. The boys had so much fun with their cousins - and this huge bin of legos. 

Lego jackpot!!!

Then shortly before dinner, Taco got really clingy. And I thought - is he warm? No, he can’t be warm, we’ve had every virus known to man this fall. 

Reader, he indeed had a fever. 

Our sad, sick baby. 

We ate dinner and skedaddled thereafter and apologized for exposing people to some unknown virus. Everyone understood as he was completely healthy when we arrived. 

My parents had planned to stay with us that night so Paul stayed at my brother’s with them so he could get more cousin time in and Phil and I headed home with our sick boy. I feared it was Covid but his test was negative. My parents weren’t concerned about getting his virus so stayed with us as planned. 

Playing ‘our first orchard’ game when Taco was fever free on Friday morning. This is the best game for toddlers and early preschoolers IMO.

We were supposed to go to my MIL’s house on Saturday and I was supposed to host my annual cookie decorating party with college friends on Sunday. Phil and Paul went without us on Saturday and I canceled the cookie decorating party which made me so sad. Rescheduling isn’t possible as there are 5 birthdays in the first half of December in this group of friends/kids plus all the other holiday hustle and bustle. Maybe I will reschedule for January and make it a winter cookie decorating party or something.

Taco observed very early bedtimes - at his request. After he was in bed we kept Paul busy by playing games (we taught ourselves how to play garbage), setting up ‘mountains’ with their beloved nugget which Santa brought them last Christmas, and reading books.

Taco and I played memory when he was fever-free. He is quite good at it. We only play with 6 matches. 

But mostly it was a lot of these kind of moments. Messy mom hair and a sad, sick baby. We were at urgent care when I took this pic as I wanted to rule out strep. That test was negative so it's some other virus - my guess is RSV.

I don’t know how we are getting all of these viruses. I actually don’t think it’s daycare necessarily as there haven’t been illness postings. I guess it’s from things like going to birthday parties (we went to one the previous weekend) and the library and just being out and about in general? But I can’t keep us cooped up inside to avoid viruses. So I guess this is the awful price we pay for being out and about. 

How was your weekend? Surely it had to be better than mine! 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Anatomy of a Shouldless Day

On Friday I used PTO to have what I call a ‘shouldless day.’ I learned about this concept on the podcast Death, Sex and Money. It’s a day where you only do things you want to do and nothing you should do. So much of our lives are ruled by things we should do. So specifying that I won’t do any shoulds allows me to use the day as I would like with no guilt. So here’s how I spent it!

- I got the kids up and helped get Taco out the door with dad for daycare and Paul on the bus. 

- I messaged my colleagues to tell them I am actually going to try to take the day off and not read/respond to emails. I haven’t had a real day off like this in a very very long time. Even in Canada I checked email at the end of the day. I needed a FULL break from work on this day off. 

- I did a full body Caroline Girvan Epic Heat workout. I haven’t done one of her workouts in over a month thanks to the awful cough/viral illness I was fighting for most of October. It feels so good to be back to working out! 

- I also set up our fake tree. It’s tree decorating day and I promised Paul I would wait until he is home from school to put the ornaments on. Yes it is early to put our tree up but we started doing it in 2020 when we needed some extra light in our lives. I host my college girlfriends and their kids for a cookie decorating party the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend each year so it’s nice to have the tree up well ahead of that. 

- I got a deep tissue massage and think of Jenny since she is a massage therapist. As the masseuse works out the ridiculous number of knots in my upper back, I think of how stressful this year has been at work. I carry my stress in my upper back/shoulder so it’s not wonder she’s working out lots of knots. 

- After the massage, I treated myself to lunch at a Mexican place next to the spa. Tacos, chips, salsa and a sav blanc! And I sit in silence and eat which is golden after a week of So. Much. Talking.

- I relax for a bit before Paul gets off the bus around 2:45. He put all the kid-friendly ornaments on the tree. 

And that brought my shouldless day to a close. It turns out Fridays aren’t the best day for this kind of thing since Paul doesn’t have after care on Friday. But I still had about 6.5 hours to do as I pleased. It just went way too fast! But I planned 2 days off in mid-December so have more me time to look forward to. Those days will also be used for final holiday prep but at least I have a couple of days where I won’t be juggling work and holiday prep.

Have you taken days off that are to be spent as you please? 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

How I Pack for a Work Trip

I'm back from what was a very busy work trip to New York City. The days were long as I had happy hours and dinners each night so there wasn't any sight seeing, but that's typical for a work trip, especially when I'm in the city where we have a large office, as we do in NYC. There are so many people to see so I end up having 12+ hour days. I did a lot of client meetings including on really really big one on Monday afternoon and got to see a lot of colleagues so it was a successful trip. 

But as promised, here is a breakdown of how I pack for work trips. I have it down to quite a science since I travel fairly often (I will do 14 business trips this year). 

Tip #1: Apple Notes (or something similar) is your friend.

I am a heavy user of the apple notes app on the iPhone. I have packing lists for work trips and trips with the kids. Basically I do not trust my brain to remember much so I make a checklist so I don't forget something. My packing list for work trips never changes. If I don't need something, like a work badge (which I only need if I will be in one of my company's offices during the trip), I just keep it on the list but keep it checked rather than deleting it. 

Tip #2: Do not pack much.

Novel tip, right? This is not going to work for some people but I pack as little as possible. I do not need clothes for after work. I do not need several clothing options for each day. I have a "uniform" when I travel which is typically a black dress, black tights, my Rothy's flats (I only wear flats because then I know I can walk 10k+ steps and not be in pain), and a necklace. I love my work dresses and find them incredibly comfortable so I do not need an outfit to change into after work. So for this trip, I was there for 3 days so I brought 3 black dresses. If I wasn't seeing the same people day after day, I could get away with wearing 2 dresses. 

I like to workout while traveling but I usually give myself one rest day since my days can be very long. So on this trip, I planned to work out on Monday and Wednesday mornings. For my workout top, I bring a tank top with a built in sports bra (which I can get away with because I am, um, small chested - I realize this is not an option for everyone). That means I have 2 less things to pack. 

All the clothes I wore on this trip. 3 dresses, 2 pairs of pajamas (I rewore one pair), and 2 sets of workout clothes.
Tip # 3: Do. Not. Check. A. Bag. 

Again, this is not going to work for some/many. I am NOT high maintenance. At all. So it's very possible for me to pack all of my things into a teeny tiny carry on bag. I actually got this suitcase as part of my high school graduation gift in 1999. It is cute? No. Do I care? No. What I love about it is that it fits on every single plane, even the tiny regional jets I sometimes take between Minneapolis and Chicago. I do not even like gate checking my bag because you still have to wait around for said bag in the jetway and I do not like waiting around. I value efficiency above all else when it comes to packing/traveling! But I think if you travel as much as I do, you want as little friction in your schedule as possible!

So there you have it! How a very low maintenance person packs! 

I've got a really fun day ahead of me. I work this morning and then I pick Paul up at 2pm and we are going to Wild Kratts Live this afternoon. Sine the show is downtown, we are going to swing by my workplace so he can see where mommy works and meeti my fun coworkers who are nearly all older than me and completely enamored with young kids. And then tomorrow I have a day off which I am treating as a "shouldless day" meaning I am only doing things I WANT to do and nothing I feel I SHOULD do. I badly need a day like this after the string of busy weeks I've had at work!

What is your packing style? Are you super minimalistic like me or do you like to have allll the options? 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Good Things and Annoying Things

I flew out yesterday afternoon for NYC so we had a short weekend. But we still packed a lot in. Here were some good things and some annoying things. The good things list is longer but the annoying things were more impactful so it felt more balanced than the list would suggest. 

Good things:

- The boys and I went to the movie night at Paul’s school and had a great time! The boys both sat quietly for the entire show. That’s pretty impressive for Taco at just shy of 3. 

- I managed to go for a 2 3-mile runs and barely cough. Woo hoo! There is no way I can run 6 miles in 2 weeks for the Thanksgiving drumstick dash, though. It’s not worth it to try. I know some would push through but the risk of injury or feeling awful on one of my favorite holidays of the year isn’t worth it! I will drop down to the 5k and call it good enough.  

- The library was closed for Veteran’s Day on Saturday so the boys got donuts and I enjoyed a drink from Starbucks. 

- After quiet time we raked up the rest of our leaves and the boys jumped in the piles before we put them in yard bags.

This picture gives you an idea of how big of a hill we live on.

- On Sunday morning the boys and I went to Target so Paul could pick out a present for a birthday party we will attend next week. We wandered the toy aisles and I took pictures of things they wanted for Christmas. We talked A LOT before this trip about how we were only buying a present for a friend and they would not be buying anything and it actually went well. I texted the grandparents all of the pictures of things they wanted. 

Example 1 of something Taco wanted. I would like this in my size, too. 
Example 2 of something Taco wanted. Which truck? Any and all of them. He loves anything with wheels.

Example 1 of something Paul wanted (plus allll the Lego sets)

Example 2 of something Paul wanted.

Annoying things:

- Shortly before we left for the movie on Friday night, I realized I did not have my work cell phone in my purse. Uggggh. Managing 2 phones is the bain of my existence (I’m required to have a work cell due to a SEC message retention policy). I knew I had it out at my desk at work in the afternoon so after dropping the boys at home after the movie, I had to drive back downtown and get my phone which was in my cube at work. Phew. I can’t do anything without my work cell as I need it to log into the VPN and I knew I would sleep well that night if I didn’t go and get it.

- The boys both had their moments. Phil was making scrambled eggs on Saturday and Taco somehow pulled down the bowl of just-cracked eggs - food waste and an awful mess to clean up. Paul can go from being so pleasant to being just awful at bedtime. It’s a terrible time to push my buttons because I am so worn out by the end of the day. I guess they sense our weakness and pounce. I say this to show that it’s really not all sunshine and roses around here, even during a fun weekend. There are lots of mountains and valleys during a weekend of parenting young kids. 

What good moments and annoying moments did you have this weekend?