Friday, June 9, 2023

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday! Here are 5 things on my mind this week.

1. I had a really great trip to Chicago. I've been there every other month since last October but this was the first time I actually had time to walk the floor and talk to sales people. On past trips, my schedule has been so incredibly packed that I didn't have much time to talk to people - which is too bad as the idea is to see people in the Chicago office when I am there. I also fit in a lunch with a url turned irl friend that lives in Chicago. We met up at a cafe along the river when I landed on Monday. I hadn't seen her since my wedding in 2017. We've Facetimed and caught up on Zoom but there's nothing like seeing someone in person! Lastly, I got a 4 mile river/lakefront run in on Tuesday morning! 

The hazy morning sky. I was told by locals that it wasn't related to wildfire smoke but I feel like it has to be!

2. Now for the bad news about my trip - Paul got a stomach bug while I was away. He came down with it on Tuesday afternoon. I am definitely more suited for caring for sick kids, I think because I learned from the best. My mom was a nurse and is the ultimate caretaker. I had meetings that went until mid-afternoon on Wednesday so I couldn't fly home early. He was doing much better by the time I got home around 7:30 on Wednesday night but wow did I feel guilty that I was away. Here's hoping Phil and Will stay healthy. (Phil did great but it's hard enough to solo parent when everyone is healthy.)

3. In other news, I am in the process of hiring a direct report! This is my first time hiring someone. It is interesting to be on the other side of the selection/interview process. I'm working with an in-house recruiter which helps. We are so understaffed and I have so much on my plate right now so I am glad we are growing our team. I never aspired to be a "people manager" - I have always wanted to be an individual contributor - but I think having one direct report will be nice. 

4. After dinner last night, we went to a stretch of the creek that we used to go to a lot 2 summers ago. It was too depressingly dry and shallow to come here last summer. The boys love throwing rocks! Hopefully our creek doesn’t dry out this summer.

5. We have a fairly quiet weekend on deck. Paul has a park/wading pool birthday party on Saturday afternoon, I think we will go to the zoo on Sunday morning, and Phil and Paul will go to my MIL's on Sunday afternoon. The weather forecast looks great - mostly sunny with highs in the 70s! So I envision lots of time outdoors! We might get some rain on Saturday but we'd welcome that - we've barely had any rain in the last couple of months.

How was your week? Have you ever hired someone and/or had a direct report?

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Hot takes: sense of humor or lack thereof

Happy Tuesday. I have a short post for you today about a very minor thing that happened at the airport that made me wonder - am I the outlier when it comes to having a sense of humor? Or typical? 

Scene: waiting at the gate 

Situation: after getting to my gate, I have to go to the bathroom (not atypical; I always go to the bathroom before boarding a flight, even a short one). Usually I schlepp all of my bags with me to the bathroom. But there was a kind-looking older woman that I had made eye contact with. So I asked if she would watch my bags while I went to the bathroom. (Side note: while I rarely do this, it’s not uncommon. I’ve watched many people’s bags for the same reason). 

What happened: when I got back, I sat down and a younger woman (around my age - the bag watcher was in her upper 70s) said that she had suggested to the bag watcher that they move my bags and then move to a different area as a joke. 

Um I couldn’t even muster up a laugh. I suppose it was supposed to be funny and I should have forced a ‘ha ha.’ Instead I said I would have completely panicked if that happened. (My heart races just thinking about this scenario.) I would never and could never see the humor of that. It didn’t happen so it’s neither here nor there but are there people who think this is funny? 

But here’s the thing - I hate pranks. I loathe April Fool’s day. My husband jokes that if I was a super hero, my super hero name would be ‘literal Lisa’. 

The senior citizen that watched my bags made it clear she would never do that and did not think it was funny. But the girl who joked about doing this prank seemed to think it was very funny. 

And now I will never ask someone to watch my bags again. 

Your turn - would you come up with a prank like this? Would you find this funny? Or, like me, would you be appalled that someone would even consider doing that?

Monday, June 5, 2023

Weekend Highlights + Chicago Bound

Well summer has arrived here in Minnesota! We’ve had lots of 90 degree days which is not typical for us in late May/early June! Here are some weekend highlights!

- I am aunt again!! My sister had her daughter - Amelia Grace - on Friday morning! Mom and baby are both doing great! My sister and her family are planning a visit to the lake in August so I will get to snuggle her in a couple of months! This is my 9th niece/nephew! 

- Paul has been focused on learning to ride his bike after having no interest last summer. His best friend learned to ride without training wheels so now he’s motivated to figure that out, too! Up until now, he’s been all about his scooter. We went for a longer walk/bike ride on Friday and he did pretty well!

- We went to a local park/wading pool to beat the heat on Saturday and ran into our best friends! I had a rookie mom moment and forgot to bring a towel - but Paul’s bestie was happy to share. Paul enjoyed the water but Will refused to get in! He was more into playing in the sand in the park. The boys enjoyed popsicles when we got home!


- The boys and I went for a walk/scoot on Sunday so Phil could mow. We stopped at the goose house for some play time. I avoid this house unless I want to spend 30-45 minutes here as the toys are irresistible for Will. 

- I met up with 2 college friends for lunch on Sunday! 

- We met up with the same friends we saw on Saturday at a different wading pool/splash pad. It was a zero entry pool so Will was more interested! 

Now I’m Chicago bound! I fly out this morning and come back Wednesday night. It’s my only June trip. Chicago is always an easy trip for me since it’s a short flight and I know the city so well. I’m hoping to do a lakefront run tomorrow morning before work! 

How was your weekend? Is it hot where you are?

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Books We Read in May

May was a pretty prolific reading month for me - I read 8 books. It helped that I had no evening commitments during my work trip to Denver so I did lots of reading in the evening during that trip. 

My reads:

These were my favorites! Dinners with Ruth is a memoir about the friendship between NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg and RBG. They were both trailblazers in their respective fields so it was an inspiring read. I've already told you about A Heart That Works - it was a heart-breaking, cry-inducing read. Their son was Will's age when he died so it really hit home for me. Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club is J. Ryan Stradal's latest book. He writes books set in Minnesota as he grew up here. They have a kitschy vibe to them but I like them! Trigger warning for infertility. There are other triggers but it would be a spoiler to share, so if you are a sensitive reader, do some research. If We're Being Honest has been on several summer reading lists. It's a debut novel about a family gathering for the patriarch's funeral. It's a character driven novel about family secrets. Symphony of Secrets is the sophomore novel by Slocumb who is now known for writing "musical thrillers." I don't know that thriller is the right term to use, though, but it is suspenseful. This novel is about scores of music that were stolen from a black composer. I didn't like this as much as his debut but still enjoyed it. Lastly, Romantic Comedy is an excellent romance that will make my best books of the year. It's mostly set on an SNL-type of show. Much of it takes place during the pandemic but I thought that aspect was handled really well. 

These were less successful reads for me. Vita Nostra is a book I never would have read if it wasn't chosen for book club. I struggled through this book and ultimately did not give it a rating on goodreads because I am not the intended audience for this book. I'm looking forward to our book club discussion tonight, though, as some in our group loved it. Happy Place is Emily Henry's latest romance and probably my least favorite of her 4. As an enneagram 1, I found the plot of the book completely unrealistic/unbelievable. I can not imagine breaking off my engagement AND NOT TELLING MY BEST FRIENDS. There were other plot lines that didn't work for me either. I had a great exchange with Stephany, who is an enneagram 9. She liked this much more than me as she could relate to the protagonist.

The boys' reads:

Paul's reads stand out the most this month (Will reads the same books over and over so nothing new/novel there). First off, this was our favorite picture book. It has some Spanish mixed in. We read this so many times and Paul has asked for a copy for Christmas. It's about a handsome cat that is walking around with 9 kittens (gatitos in Spanish). There is some counting in the book and lots of humor. I could read this one over and over again. The cat has such swagger!

Now for the less successful read. We've been slowing working our way through Stuart Little. We both enjoyed it until the final 3rd of the book. This is a spoiler, but the book was published in 1945 and it seems like there should be a statute of limitations on spoilers for books? Skip ahead if you don't want the ending spoiled. In the book, Stuart is looking for his bird friend, Margalo. I assumed, since this was written for children, that she would be found. But she wasn't! It ended so abruptly and was so very dissatisfying. Also the book did not age well as there were references to smoking/cigarettes. Here's Paul's review which he dictated for my goodreads review: "That's it? All that and he doesn't find Margalo? You've got to be kidding me. Fiddlesticks." 

What chapter books have your kids enjoyed? The classics we've read haven't been super successful (Socks, Stuart Little, Mr. Poppers Penguins). What was the best book you read this month?

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Weekend highlights

We had a fun, full weekend! The weather was picture perfect. Here are some highlights! 

- I ran 4 miles by myself on Saturday and Monday mornings. The water of the lake I run around was like glass both days and I saw some baby geese on Monday! Both runs were those ‘pinch me, I can’t believe I live here!’ kind of moments!


- On Saturday morning we walked/scooted to the grocery store/ Starbucks - the boys shared a donut and I had a latte (Phil was grocery shopping). Then we walked 2 blocks to the library, spent some time there, and walked home. Mornings like the one I had on Saturday are why we love living in Minneapolis proper. I love that we can walk to all of these places and I can run on walking/running paths (there is a bike path, too). 

Some of our library haul!

- After quiet time, Will insisted we go to the ‘geese house’ to play with the toys. He chose this over the park! So I hung out at the geese house and Paul and Phil went to the park. I forgot to mention that when I met the geese house people recently, I asked about the costumes - it turns out there is a catalog (!!) that they order costumes from and some are made by the mom of the geese mom. 

A bee and a graduate

- On Sunday we hit up the children’s museum before spending the rest of the day with my MIL. The museum was fun but seems to always involve me carrying a flailing, screaming toddler out at the end. We had a nice day at my MIL’s although our plans to get ice cream at the local spot were foiled by a super long line. :( So we went to DQ instead which was still great. 

The car wash area is his favorite!

- I cleaned most of our fridge on Monday. This is an odd high but it was so satisfying. I still need to clean the fruit and veggie drawer and the door compartments. But it looks 100 times better. 

- We ended our weekend with a delicious (mostly) grilled dinner (I made the corn in the instant pot). The skewers are one of our fave summer meals - shrimp and pineapple skewers (we skip the lime juice and scallions). 

There were some lows, but more highs than lows!

How was your weekend? What were some highlights? 

Friday, May 26, 2023

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday! It's a long weekend for us here in the states since Monday is Memorial Day. Here are 5 things on my mind today. 

1. I don't always love long weekends but I'm welcoming this one with open arms because the weather forecast is EXCELLENT. Parenting is far more enjoyable (for us) if we can be outside with our kids. I envision lots of park time. We'll also be celebrating my MIL's 80th birthday which will feature a stop at a local ice cream place in the city where she lives (White Bear Lake). 

Will was very proud of himself for being able to hang from a bar on the playground last weekend.

2. I'm happy to report that work has finally quieted down! I still have 3-5 client meetings most days but that is nothing compared to the last 2.5 months. On Wednesday, I met my retired colleague for coffee in the morning and then met another former colleague for an early happy hour in the afternoon. There is NO WAY I could have done either and certainly not both in the same day during the last couple of months. 

3. Paul and I have read the most recent Ranger Rick Jr. magazine 4 times this week. He is so obsessed with animals thanks to Wild Kratts (my favorite PBS kids show by far!) so he loves Ranger Rick Jr! The comic in this month's magazine was about the game Simon Says so we taught him how to play that game. Phil, being the genius he is, used it as a strategy to get him to do some tidying. Simon says put the shoes on the mat, simon says put a toy in the toy basket, etc. Paul has since caught onto this and really protests if he has to do any chore type of action as part of the game. But it was nice while it lasted! (Our kids do tidy up but our house is rarely perfectly tidy so there is always some cleaning up to do).  

4. Yesterday we had an open house for kindergarteners at the public school in our neighborhood that Paul will attend this fall. A lot of people have asked me if I am sad about him starting kindergarten and the answer is - no. He is very ready for kindergarten and I know he'll love school and thrive there. I have yet to get sad when my children celebrate another birthday. Perhaps that makes me sound like a monster to some, but I am an ISTJ. This personality type tends to be very practical and pragmatic. I'm sure a day will come when I will feel sad that he is leaving certain stages behind, but I am very glad to have the baby and toddler stage behind him as I think I am best-suited to parent school-aged children! So bring on kindergarten - and declining childcare expenses (Paul will go the school's before/after care but it's much cheaper than full time daycare). 

Enjoying some ice cream at the open house!

5. I'm reading a very sad book right now. It's the memoir, "A Heart That Works" by Rob Delaney - star of the show Catastrophe. We didn't care for that show but I felt drawn to reading his memoir after hearing such good things about the book. It's a memoir about the loss of their 2 year old son to brain cancer. Why do I read such sad books? Am I a glutton for punishment? 

How will you spend your holiday weekend? Do you feel drawn to sad, heart-wrenching books? 

Monday, May 22, 2023

100th Celebration + More About My Grandma

We had a great time celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday! We got to my parents around lunchtime on Friday. It was a cool, windy day so not a good lake day (my parents live on a lake). By the end of the day it had warmed up enough that it was nice out back. Phil and I have an ongoing disagreement about what is considered the front and back of my parents lake home. For me and my family, the ‘front’ of the house is the part that faces the lake; the ‘back’ faces the road. 

Playing with nana’s new bubble toys!

The 6 of us went out for an anniversary dinner at one of our favorite spots in the town my parents live near - Battle Lake. The boys did well all in all. 

Saturday was all about celebrating my grandma! I went to the church where her party was in the morning to help get the space set up/help with food prep. I was glad I could get a photo with my grandma before people arrived! 

My beautiful grandma and me

My grandma and her 3 living children. My dad Paul (my son’s namesake), the eldest, is on the left. She had 4 children but my aunt Betty died from cancer nearly 10 years ago. 

Phil stayed back at the house with the boys and brought them after Will’s nap. They were confused by the ‘party’. Most of the birthdays they’ve attended have been at parks. Luckily there was a ‘wiggle room’ at this church with lots of toys so they hung out there. I am glad I had an hour at the party to mingle before they arrived. 

They did enjoy the birthday desserts - cake and cupcakes!

After the party, my grandma headed back to her home at an assisted living center (she was exhausted!) and we had a little after party at a restaurant. It was nice to get some extra time with extended family. 

We left Sunday morning so we could get home for Will’s nap and to tackle laundry, groceries, etc. It was a very short trip - less than 48 hours - but it was worth it to be there for my grandma’s celebration. 

In my last post, some of you asked some questions about my grandma, so here are the answers, plus a couple I added! 

Have I observed anything that explains her longevity?

I think it mostly comes down to genetics. Although I will say she has always been careful about sun exposure which I think is a large part of why she looks so amazing! It was not ‘in fashion’ to be tan when she was growing up like it was for my generation. She also did a lot of walking for exercise. She would walk every day with a friend. Lastly, she loved puzzles and was an avid scrabble player so she kept her mind active. I’ve only beat her at scrabble once in my life!!

Does she live independently?

She lived independently with my grandfather until he passed away in 2009. The next year she moved into an apartment but was incredibly lonely so she moved into assisted living after a year in that apartment and has been there for the last 10+ years. Initially she said she was not interested in the social events but she quickly became the social butterfly of the community. Her favorite activity is Wii bowling. 

Is she in good health?

Overall I would say she is in good health, all things considered. She has never had a joint replacement and has only started to complain about joint pain in the last several years which is impressive! She has had high cholesterol and blood pressure for most of her life but it’s controlled by medications. 

Her mind is incredibly sharp. Last summer when we visited her, she asked Phil about the recent increase in interest rates and how it was impacting our work. Phil could not believe she still pays attention to things like interest rates! What is most impressive to me is how she has adapted to today’s technology. She’s active on Facebook and I introduced her to wordle last year - she plays every day. She also emails which is the primary way I keep in touch with her. 

Her biggest issue is that she has horrible macular degeneration. She’s nearly blind as a result and can no longer do many of her favorite things like read, crochet or work on crossword puzzles. Even watching tv is hard but that doesn’t prevent her from watching college and professional football. She is a HUGE Vikings fan and follows the team very closely. We kept hoping the Vikings would make it to the superbowl again in her lifetime but it seems unlikely. 

How does she feel about turning 100?

When we saw her around her birthday last year, she told us she did not aspire to turn 100. I think she would be happy to peacefully pass away at this point. My grandpa died 14 years ago and while she has endured that loss with such grace, I know she misses him dearly. They had this magical marriage. I never saw them exchange a cross word and I spent A LOT of time with them. They traveled around the country in their motorhome and would memorize poetry together; then they would recite poems for the family. She said that every time she made a meal for my grandpa he would say, ‘Janet, that was so good!’ He’d say it even if she had prepared something simple and he genuinely meant it. 

Aside from losing her husband, she’s lost all of her and my grandpa’s siblings, lots of extended family and nearly all of her friends have died. She also lost my aunt to cancer 10 years ago. I don’t think any parent would want to outlive their children. I certainly don’t. 

To wish for her to continue to live would be selfish on my part. So my wish for her is that she peacefully passes. I will be sad, of course, but feel incredibly lucky that she got to meet Phil and saw me become a mom/met my boys. I think she’s squeezed everything she could out of life and had a meaningful impact on mine. She knows how much I adore her and how I treasure the memories we made so there’s nothing left unsaid - which is such a gift. 

Wow, what a heavy end to a post - but as I get older, I’m working on increasing my comfort level with the end of life, especially when it’s not untimely.