Friday, August 30, 2019


TGIF! Whew, these 5-day work weeks can feel long! I had a string of shorter work weeks in July/August due to vacations and sick days so I'm not quite used to being in the office 5 days in a row! I better get used to it because I have very few vacation days planned this fall! Luckily Monday is Labor Day so we get a 3-day weekend.

The book I'm reading is Waiting for Tom Hanks. This is a light romance about a woman who id obsessed with rom-coms and dreams of meeting her own Tom Hank. She references a lot of Nora Ephron films (which I loved!!) so it's been a fun read so far.

The high of my week was getting together for dinner with a group I now think of as "The Gustavus Wives." 2 of the women went to Gustavus Adolphus College (one married a Gustie) and 2 of us are married to Gustavus grads (Phil and one of his best men, Luke). I really hit the jackpot of female friendship by meeting Phil as I really love all the wives/girlfriends in his group of friends, and many of them live close by. We are as apt to get together as the boys are. Actually, we get together more often than the guys because the guys suck at planning!

The low of my week was continuing to feel more tired than usual. I saw my rheumatologist this week and my blood work showed that I am slightly anemic, so I am guessing that partly explains why I feel so tired. 

A recipe I made was 3 bean turkey chili in the instant pot. This is something that regularly hits our meal plan as it's easy to make and delicious!

The best money spent was on a special cot blanket/pillow combination for Paul. He fully transitions to the toddler room next week and will nap on a cot instead of in a crib. Another friend recommended this blanket/pillow/cot cover. Hopefully it works out well for him and makes him feel cozy. 

My plans this weekend include very little!  Phil and Paul are going out to Phil's mom's for an afternoon but I am going to stay behind for some me time, which I'm really looking forward to! If it's warm enough (it's been unseasonably cooler!) I want to take Paul to the wading pool at our local park. Other than that, I'm sure we'll take lots of long walks! 

Bonus Paul Pic:

I didn't take many pictures of Paul this week, but I snapped this photo of him on Tuesday morning before he left for daycare. I can't believe how much he's grown and changed this summer - he really looks like a little boy these days! He's really into anything with wheels and especially loves these trucks from Grandma Joan. 

What are you reading these days? Do you have any plans for the long weekend?

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Mostly Unplanned Weekend

It's hard to believe next weekend is Labor Day weekend, which feels like the unofficial end to summer! I'm hoping we still have lots of nice summer weather ahead of us. Here's how we filled this past weekend, which was mostly unplanned!

On Friday, I went for a quick walk with Paul to run errands (library, liquor store, grocery store). I love that I can run so many errands on foot in our neighborhood. He must have been hungry at the grocery store as he started to eat his eat. Ha.

When we got home, he played while I worked in the kitchen. At one point he brought his little cat toy over to Oscar. She was not impressed, though! When we read a book about animals, when we get to the cat page he always wants to show Oscar the cat picture. I really hope Oscar loves him back some day. It's a one-sided relationship right now.

After Paul went to bed, I made a new gnocchi dish that we felt kind of meh about. I failed to take any pictures of the recipes I made this weekend so have nothing to show for my effort!

Saturday morning started bright and early, as they always do. After breakfast, we did some reading before heading out on our play date.

We headed out around 8:30 for our play date with my friend and her son who is 3 days older than Paul. We met up at a cafe called Rose Street Patisserie. It was a beautiful morning so we enjoyed our coffee and treats on their patio. Even though Paul had 2 scrambled eggs and a banana muffin for breakfast, he ate about half of a giant piece of banana chocolate chip bread. I enjoyed a latte and a GF fudge cookie. Not exactly a breakfast food but it was that or macarons and I wasn't in the mood for macarons at 9 am!

When the boys started to get squirmy, we headed to a park that is a couple of blocks away. The boys ended up playing here for 1.5 hours! Paul's favorite thing was going down the slides. He goes down slides on his stomach.

It was getting close to lunch time so we headed out and made a pit stop at Wild Rumpus as my friend wanted to get some books for her little guy. Paul enjoyed carrying around this basket of books! We managed to get out of the store without buying anything, but I bought 5 books the last time we were there so figured I have spent enough money there recently!

Paul napped when we got home and I worked on meal prep tasks as Phil had grocery shopped during the play date. We took a family walk later in the day and then I made Stuffed Eggplant for dinner. We liked this WAY MORE than the eggplant parmesan I made recently so I think this is how we will primary eat the eggplant from the garden.

Sunday was unplanned but the day went by pretty fast! There was lots of playing, reading and time spent outdoors.

This xylophone is out of tune (it actually is - I hate that the upper notes are off key!)

He loves this lift-the-flap book. We read it multiple times/day.

My ray of sunshine!

Working on some puzzles

He takes biking very seriously
I hope the warm weather sticks around for several more months so we can fill our fall weekends with lots of time outdoors!

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Currently: August

August has been a pretty great month so far! It's usually one of my favorite months of the year as summer is in its prime! Here's what's currently going on in my world!

Reading: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. This is a memoir by a therapist about - you guessed it - therapy. She shares stories about the progress her patience have made (with their consent and detailed changed to protect the patient) as well as her experience going to therapy after dealing with a difficult break-up. It's been a really fascinating read!

Loving: the cooler nights we've had recently. I love warm, sunny days but I also love it when it cools off at night so we can sleep with the windows open!

Feeling: extra tired (I'm not pregnant). I was on a low dose of steroids for 6+ months to manage a low-grade RA flare that wouldn't go away. In July my rheumatologist told me to taper off as it's not good to be on steroids long term for multiple reasons. I've been off for a couple of weeks but now my body is adjusting to not being on steroids. When you are on steroids for a long time, your adrenal system kind of goes into remission since the steroids sort of do what your adrenal system does (this is not the best explanation as this isn't my area of expertise). So basically my adrenal system has to kick back in and do it's job which results in feeling extra tired. I'm hoping this goes away soon as I want my energy back!

Anticipating: a quiet stretch ahead of us. We don't really have much on the calendar in the coming months which I am ok with. It's easy to fill our weekends during this time of year since we can go for long walks, go to the park or pool or play with the water table in the back yard. I'll need more concrete plans when we move into the colder winter months!

Grateful: that Paul is handling the transition to the toddler room at daycare, which started on Monday, fairly well so far. We've been told that he cries initially but recovers pretty quickly and has enjoyed playing with the kids and exploring new toys. He spends 3 hours in the toddler room for 2 weeks and will fully transition after Labor Day. I'll be sad to say goodbye to his infant teachers. One of his infant teachers moved to a new location last week and it was hard to say goodbye as we loved her so much! But I'm very grateful for the excellent care he received in the infant room.

Working: on coming up with ideas of things to do when the winter weather hits. I hope that winter is far, far away but I know how fast time flies so before we know it, we'll be knocking on the door of December. Rainy summer weekend days with a toddler have shown me how important it will be to find things to do when it's not nice enough to be outside. So I'm working on coming up with a list of things for a young toddler to do in the winter, like the children's museum, indoor playgrounds, etc.

Listening: to a couple of new podcasts, such as "How to Money" (excellent finance podcast I'd recommend to anybody!) and "The Readerly Report" (recommended for fellow book lovers!).

Watching: a show called Goliath on Amazon Prime. Phil and I both really liked season 1 and felt like season 2 was 'just ok.' Next we'll watch the new season of Mindhunters which is a show about how the FBI started to use psychological profiling to catch serial killers. Season 1 was really good so hopefully season 2 is good as well! I've also slowly been making my way through "This is Us" on Hulu when Phil isn't around. It's just not a Phil show. When he sees I'm watching it, he said, "tonight on a very special episode of This is Us" in a very dramatic voice. The show is meant to evoke a lot of emotions for the viewer so that is why he mocks it!

(Still) Wishing: for the right house to come around for us. The house we looked at earlier this month with our contractor friend had more issues that we hadn't noticed the first time we saw it. We'd have to put more money into the house to make it work for us than we thought so we decided to pass on it. So the search continues.

Bonus Paul pics!

Read to me mama! I can't get over how much this kid loves reading. It makes my heart happy!

Riding his scooter at Grandma Joan's

What are you currently loving, anticipating, and watching?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Our Lake Vacation

We got back from our lake vacation on Saturday. It was a wonderful 5-day break from the daily grind! What I want/need out of a vacation has really changed since becoming a mom. While I still appreciate new experiences and adventures, it's really nice to go somewhere and just relax - well, as much as you can relax with a toddler! It was a quiet week as it was just our little family plus my mom at the lake until Friday afternoon when my sister and her family came.  It was fun to see my sister, BIL and their kids for a bit!

Here are some of the highlights of our time at my parents lake home.

- Sunrises - I saw several beautiful sunrises thanks to Paul's early wake-up time!

- Enjoyable meals out - Paul is still at a good age for eating out. He loves people watching and charming the waitresses! We ate out twice on this vacation - one time it was just us 3, the other time my mom joined us. We didn't fit a date night in while we were at the lake but eating out with Paul is so enjoyable that we didn't feel like we needed a night away.

- Couple time on the water - I don't have pictures of this, but Phil swam across the lake one afternoon and I kayaked along side of him. He got in the kayak for the way back. It's about 1.5 miles across the lake so it was a long swim! My mom watched Paul during this time, but he ended up napping for 3 hours (that never happens at home!) so he was just waking up when we got back. We also went out for another kayak ride during his nap another day since my mom was around. I would consider this time on the lake sort of a 'date' as we got away and enjoyed time together + the outdoors.

- Sharing crackers with the fish - we spent a lot of time at the end of the dock sharing crackers with the fish. They would swim to the top and fight over the cracker crumbs. Paul was very entertained by this!

- Quality time with Nana - my mom was able to sneak away from work for most of our trip so Paul got lots of quality time with her. They spent a lot of time reading books!

 - Swimming! We only took Paul swimming once but he enjoyed the water. Because he's so susceptible to ear infection, we had to keep his ears dry. I used moldable ear plugs to plug his ears and put a neoprene headband over his ears so he wouldn't pull the plugs out. It was quite the ordeal to put all of that on, hence the reason we only swam once!

- New toys! My mom and I took him to a big toy store about 30 minutes from their lake home. He loved played with the train table at the store so I might try to get one second-hand for Christmas or his birthday. My mom treated him to a new toy - he picked out a little farm set . The brand is "Green Toys" and I was very impressed with it! It's made out of recycled plastic and had minimal packaging. The clerked who checked us out said it's virtually indestructible. The farm set came with some animals, a little hog barn, some fence sections, and a little pick-up truck. Everything can be stored in the barn which I love. I'll definitely be checking out this brand for future gifts! We waited until we were home to play with it and boy did he love it! He loves loading up the bed of the pick-up truck with as much stuff as he can pile in.

All in all it was a wonderful trip and something I hope we can do annually!

Friday, August 9, 2019


Happy, happy Friday! 

The book I'm reading is Cribsheet by Emily Oster. I loved Oster's other book, "Expecting Better," so I knew I'd love this one as well. She's an economist that works at Brown University but since getting pregnant/becoming a mother, she has applied her skills as an economist to all the decisions you make as a parent. I really love the non-judgmental tone of her books. She digs into things like whether kids are better off having a SAHM or a mom that works outside the home (turns out it doesn't really impact the child) or the benefits of breastfeeding (there are definitely positive effects but in the long run it doesn't make a huge difference). In a world that judges moms so much, it's really nice to read a book with an 'everything is going to be ok' kind of message that is supported by data! I highly recommend both of her books!

The high of my week was spending time with family on Wednesday. My SIL and niece from Chicago were in town this week so I took the day off and kept Paul home from daycare so we could spend time with them. We had a super fun day. We went to Wild Rumpus which is an amazing kid's bookstore and was on my 19 in 2019 list! I did not take any pictures there as I was busy corralling Paul/picking out books (I bought 5!!). Then we went to a park and out for lunch. We went home after lunch so Paul could nap but they came back over in the evening for dinner. Paul enjoyed all the attention, especially from his cousin Anna. 

Playing peek-a-boo with cousin Anna. He still prefers to play it with one eye uncovered. Ha!

Reading one of our new books. We love Todd Parr books.

Looking at a chatbook of pictures of him. He finally let Grandma hold him!

The low of my week was coming down with a cold - I'm guessing I caught it from Paul. Paul is also still struggling with his ear infection. The drainage went away for a couple of days and then came back so we got it cultured yesterday so they can figure out how to treat it. I was hoping he'd be over this infection before our lake trip so I wouldn't have to plug his ear when we go swimming. :/ Hopefully we get the results soon so we can get a better medication and get him over this infection for good!

A recipe I made was chicken and vegetable skewers. I made these for the family dinner on Wednesday night but forgot to take a picture. I went the easy route and marinaded them in store-bought Italian dressing. I used red peppers, red onions, zucchini and chicken. Everyone enjoyed them!

The best money spent was on books at Wild Rumpus. I'm pretty frugal but I'm always willing to spend money on books for kids. I know we'll read these books countless times!

My plans this weekend include staying in tonight. Tomorrow morning we are going to look at a house with a friend who flips houses to get his input on how we could improve the house. It's been on the market for 4 months as they had 2 offers fall through. As a result, the price has been dropped drastically. I always said I wanted something turnkey but the house doesn't need anything too major. I'd like to improve the kitchen and maybe do a few other things, but it's nothing too major. I went into house hunting hoping to find our forever home, but there is so little inventory on the market in our area so I think we might need to find an intermediate solution for the next 5-7 years and then eventually we'll end up in a "forever" home kind of house. The house is in an amazing location and when we were checking out the block recently, we met another young couple with a toddler. They said there are other families with kids so it seems like a block we'd love. We'll see what we think after seeing it with our contractor friend on Saturday. On Sunday, we have no plans. I'm hoping to hit up a farmer’s market but that’s it for plans!

What was the high of your week? What are your plans this weekend?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Our Weekend

Our weekend didn't get off to the greatest start. Paul came down with yet another ear infection on Thursday morning. He didn't have a fever so we sent him to daycare but he came down with a fever late in the day so got sent home. He got tubes around 9 months and they definitely help as we can treat the infections with ear drops instead of oral antibiotics (which are so hard on his tummy). But I wish he had fewer infections!

Cuddling with my sick babe on Thursday afternoon. 
He had a fever on Friday morning so I stayed home with him. The first 4 business days are the busiest time of the month at work for Phil so it wasn't possible for him to stay home. I had work that needed to get done, though, so I got as much work done as I could. Paul wasn't a huge fan of me working, though. As you can see in the photos below, he thought my laptop was a fun place for his dinosaurs to hang out.

Paul typically doesn't watch tv, but when he is sick we let him watch Little Baby Bum on Netflix. It is an educational show so I figure it's ok that he watches it from time to time.

Cuddling on the couch while watching Little Baby Bum
By Friday afternoon he was feeling better. I'm glad this infection isn't as bad as the one he had in June. That one lasted 2 weeks!

On Saturday morning we went to brunch at Tilia. We were supposed to meet another couple and their 11-month old but they thought we were meeting on Sunday. It was nice to get out of the house for a yummy meal, plus we had a gift card from my wedding so it was a free brunch for us. :) Paul looks very serious in the photo below but he totally charmed out waiter!

After Paul's nap, Phil and Paul headed to his mom's for the afternoon. I usually go with but this time I opted to stay home. I had a lot of one-on-one time with Paul on Thursday/Friday so kind of needed some "me time." I spent 3 hours in the kitchen doing meal prep, assembling an Eggplant Parmesan for dinner on Sunday night and making chicken soup for a friend who had surgery on Friday. It was very nice to get all that meal prep done without a toddler pulling on my legs!

Paul had a fun day with Grandma and was very happy to see me when they got home!

On Sunday morning we read some books...

... and then headed to a local lake. Phil swims across the lake 2 times a week. We've been meaning to join him on his Sunday swim all summer and the weather finally cooperated this past weekend. One of my mom group friends lives close to this lake so her and her daughter joined us for a little play date. Paul can't get his ears wet we are treating an infection so we had to stay out of the water. He enjoyed playing in the sand, though!

Later that day, after a crappy/short nap, we headed outside to play with his water table. I didn't bring my phone outside with me so I don't have any pictures of him playing with the water table, but he had a great time! I snapped this photo before we headed outside!

He was tired earlier than usual since he had napped so poorly and had spent a lot of time outside during the day, so he went to bed right after our family meal of Eggplant Parmesan (which he was not a fan of - womp womp). I forgot to take a picture of the Eggplant Parmesan. It tasted good but was a little bit soup and had to be eaten in a bowl. I have more eggplant growing so will need to find some other eggplant recipes!

How was your weekend? 

Friday, August 2, 2019

5 Things Friday

It's been awhile since I did a 5 things Friday kind of post! Here are 5 things on my mind these days!

1. I took Paul on his first outing to the zoo last weekend.  I figured we'd try a free zoo before spending money on the larger Minnesota Zoo that's in a SE suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. We went with another friend and her 2 boys. He really enjoyed it! It was quite crowded even though we went at opening time (10am - wish it opened earlier!) but we still had a great time. His favorite exhibits were the fish and the primate building. Now that I know he enjoyed the zoo, I think we'll ask for a zoo pass for his birthday or Christmas if any family members ask us for ideas - or even for my birthday! I'm all about experience gifts!

2. I had to get 2 steroid injections on Monday. I've had a flare that's been bothering me for a long time - like since February or maybe before that. I've been taking oral steroids to manage the pain and swelling but my rheumatologist said it's time to stop using oral steroids as they aren't great for long-term use. As soon as I started to taper off them, the flare got worse, necessitating injections. I thought I'd need just one in my pointer finger but the PA suggested I treat the flares in my pointer finger and thumb. I ended up taking the day off as my hand was pretty useless. The upside was getting to do some extra reading.

3. I've been in a purging mood again and have sold quite a few things on Facebook marketplace, like my pumping purse (stopped using it when I bought a 2nd pump for work), some baby stuff we didn't use, wine glasses, and my wedding veil. It feels good to sell things and it's nice the generate some extra cash in the process.

4. The next thing I am going to get rid of is... my wedding dress. I know this may be a controversial decision to some but it's been hanging in my closet (unwashed) since I got married. I absolutely adored my dress but I do not feel like I need to hold onto it as I have the pictures and memories from our wedding day. I could get it preserved but then down the road, someone else - like Paul - will have to decide what to do with it. So I figured it's best to make the decision myself. My mom preserved her wedding dress but it never crossed my mind to use it for my wedding (it was beautiful, but she was much smaller than me and had a winter wedding). So even if I have a daughter some day, I really doubt she would want to wear my dress. After researching my options, I have decided to donate it to the Sewn With Love Project. They turn donated wedding dresses (and other formal gowns) into burial garments for infant deaths. That way the family does not need to deal with finding a burial gown - so it's one less thing for them to have to deal with. Sadly, I've gone to 3 infant funerals so I have watched families go through the loss of a child, and this feels like the right thing to do with my dress.  I'll be dropping it off next week. One silver lining to donating it to a non-profit is that we'll get a tax deduction. Bottom line, I guess I am just not super sentimental about things and don't feel the need to hold onto this dress, even though it's from one of the most beautiful days of my life!

5. Whew, after that more serious update, we need something lighter! Here's a picture of our proud little walker. He has gotten steadier and steadier on his feet since taking those first steps 2 weeks ago. He's so proud of himself and he really loves being able to carry things around, like books he wants us to read to him! And yes, he is pants-free much of the time when we are home. Ha!

What's on your mind today? Do you think I am crazy to be getting rid of my wedding dress? I polled a group of friends and it turned out almost all of them were trying to decide what to do with theirs so I wasn't an outlier in wanting to find a new home for it.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

What We Read in July

I had another strong month of reading - I finished 11 books, although one of those books was read in less than an hour. My favorites are in italics!


Small Animals was a really interesting examination of how the fear of things like abduction/kidnapping has impacted the way we parent and how much freedom was allow our kids to have. It made me think about how to balance the need to keep children safe with giving them some freedom/autonomy.

Present over Perfect was a collection of personal essays about trying to live more in the moment and reject the need to always be busy. This resonated with me as I used to pack my schedule FULL OF ALL THE THINGS. I'm finding that I enjoy a quieter, less-scheduled pace of life now that I'm a mom.

My Own Devices is another essay collection by a local musician, Dessa. I am not familiar with her music but she spoke at podcast event I went to a couple of years ago. She's incredibly intelligent and an excellent writer. This is our August book club book. I think it will make for an excellent discussion!

Summer Reading Guide Books (from Modern Mrs. Darcy):

Searching for Sylvie Lee was the 3rd book I read this summer by this author. In this book, the daughter of Chinese immigrants living in NYC travels to The Netherlands where she lived for the first 7 years of her life. Then she goes missing so her younger sister travels to The Netherlands to try to find her/figure out what happened. It was a good page turner.

Ayesha at Last is a modern-day Pride and Prejudice set in a Muslim community in Toronto. It was a very sweet book. I personally did not like Pride and Prejudice (not an Austen fan) but I love the modern-day retellings!

Ask Again, Yes was my favorite read of July and will make my best books of 2019 list. It's very much a character-driven novel, but there is enough of a plot to push the book along. It's about 2 families who live next door. Their lives are altered by a tragic event that has life-long ramifications.

Other Fiction Reads:

The Flatshare is set in London and is about a male over-night hospice nurse who decides to rent out his flat. A young woman who works in the publishing industry stays there (and sleeps in his bed) at night and on weekends and he has the flat during the day. You can tell by the cover design that it's a light, breezy read - perfect for summer.

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok was the 2nd book by this author that I read this summer. Similar to her other books, it features a Chinese immigrant family, living in NYC. In this book, the oldest daughter secretly finds work at a ballroom dancing studio which is a job her father would not approve of. The author worked as a ballroom dancer between getting her undergrad at Harvard and her MFA at Columbia, so she draws from personal experience!

One True Loves was a light, enjoyable read and probably my favorite book that I've read by this author so far. In this novel, a woman's husband goes missing after a plane crash in Alaska. After several years, she moves back home to the Boston area and falls in love with someone she knew in high school. Then her husband is found and she has to decide who she is truly meant to be with.

Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama about a fire/explosion at a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that was used to treat special needs children, such as those with autism and cerebral palsy. 2 people are killed in the explosion. The cause of the fire appears to be arson, but who set the fire? This novel covers a lot of topics such as parenting special needs children and the immigrant experience. It was very well-crafted - I was not surprised to learn that the author was a lawyer.


Principles of Uncertainty was, in a word, strange. I guess I was not the target audience for this book. It's a collection of photos and drawings along with short bits of text. It's a very short read - I read it in less than an hour but it honestly left me scratching my head a bit. I guess it was just too "out there" for me to appreciate it?

Paul's books:

Paul's favorite "books" to look at are the chatbooks I have made with pictures of him. We have a little narcissist on our hands. Ha! We try to include as many pictures of him with family members as we can so these books are good for working on words like Nana and Papa and identifying his cousins, aunts and uncles!

He's back into his Little Blue Truck books, especially Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

He still likes the Usbourne Fingertrail/Lift-the-Flap Books!

He's also been interested in this touch and feel book that my mom got him last fall. He especially like that 'tap the drum' page!

What have you read lately?