Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Week of Heaviness and Frustation

This week was kind of the equivalent of the book "Alexander's No Good Very Bad Day." I mean, there were some good things - gardening, tidying up the yard (I really enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor!), grilled meals, hugs from Paul, etc. But there was sort of a cloud of frustration/sadness that started on Tuesday. Here are some of things bringing us down this week.

- On Tuesday morning I got a text from a former coworker letting me know that a guy I used to work really closely with at a former job passed away suddenly over Memorial Day weekend. From what we know, it sounds like he was mowing his lawn and collapsed and died immediately - likely from a heart attack or aneurysm. He was one of the kindest people I ever worked with and is someone I would describe as a total teddy bear. I hadn't seen him in well over a year, but we were always planning to meet for lunch sometime. I think he was probably in his 50s and has a daughter who will be a senior this year. I'm just so sad for his family and wish I had a chance to see him one last time. He shares a birthday with our son Paul, so I will always think of him when we celebrate Paul's birthday on March 1st.

- Unless you are completely avoiding the news and social media, you have heard about the horrible excessive use of force which resulted in the death of yet another black man. It is very hard to watch that video and see how they treated him. There is no reason to kneel on someone's neck like that and to ignore his comments about his inability to breath. Police in other cities have spoken out and said that there is no reason to use excessive force like that and that it's not compliant with police training. When will things change? I'm so tired of seeing this news story over and over again. As a result of this death, there have been protests and there was looting and fires. I hate to see that kind of behavior because it doesn't really advance their cause and does more harm than good. Plus the area of the city where the fires/looting take place is an area with primarily immigrant- and minority-owned businesses. I just felt a huge sense heaviness and sadness as I watched the news coverage.

- We found out there were 2 cases of COVID among 2 teachers in another room at Paul's daycare. I hesitate to even share this for fear of comments someone might make about how they can't believe we are still sending Paul to daycare... But the fact of the matter is that it was always a matter of when daycare would have it's first case - not if (officials estimate that as many as 70% of us will get COVID eventually). I trust our daycare and feel they are making the right decisions. They are consulting with the Minnesota Department of Health and seeking their guidance on what steps to follow. We are continuing to send Paul to daycare because we honestly can not do our jobs with Paul at home. Our work is just too demanding and I need to be able to take conference calls throughout the day. I can't take calls with a 2yo by my side. And while our house is bigger, it is not set up for us to hire a nanny and have one or both of us work from home. There is not enough separation and Paul would insist on being by my side. So he will keep going to school and we will hope and pray that the cases do not spread among the kids.

- This last complaint is really petty, but our fridge/freezer has not been working properly for a good 2 months. We have been working with a service company and they sent technicians out 3 different times. The freezer would get super cold and then the fridge temp would rise. This past week has been the worst as our fridge temp has been around 50 most days, so we have to put all the perishable food in a cooler. We had spent $600 on repairs (the fridge is about 8 years old so should have more life in it) so it hasn't been a cheap endeavor. Phil had already had many calls with the company and when the technician was here on Wednesday, he said his manager said they had to wait to hear back from the manufacturer before they could discuss giving us a credit towards a new fridge. Phil demanded to talk to his supervisor (he was kind to the technician - we know he's just the messenger and has no authority) and luckily he got his manager to agree to give us $300 toward a new fridge. This has been going on for nearly 2 months now so I am so glad this fiasco is coming to an end. I really need a cold, reliable fridge/freezer. This whole fridge fiasco has not helped with Phil's frustration level with all the things that have gone wrong with our house since we closed last November... Good times. The new fridge comes tonight at 5:30. I. Can't. Wait.

So there you have it. It was not a great week. But one great things is that Paul's appetite/palette is gradually expanding! He's slowly eating more and more. This week, he discovered salsa! He's seen me eat it many times but this time, he decided to give it a try. He basically used the chip as a vessel for the salsa and licked it off. It was medium salsa so I am kind of impressed he liked it because it does a bit of a kick to it! BTW, that pile of boards in the background is the remnants of our deck. We (Phil and his cousin) are almost done taking the floor boards down and will start assembling the new deck in the new week or so. It's been a big project.

Tell me something happy or good that happened in your world this week! Or if you had a crappy week like me, you can vent!

Friday, May 22, 2020


Happy Long weekend to those in the US! We usually don't go up to the lake for Memorial Day weekend as my MIL's birthday usually falls over the weekend. So this weekend won't look all that different than usual for us. Here's how my week shaped up!

The book I'm reading is This Tender land by William Kent Krueger. I am loving this book! The author is from Minnesota and the book is set in Minnesota so that is kind of fun for me. The topic is heavy as it's about 4 orphans who escape an orphanage and float down the river together. The writing is beautiful and there's a good mix of plot and character development. I think it will be a 5-star read. 

The high of my week was celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary on Tuesday! I took the day off and Phil worked until 10:30. It was my first true day off since February so it was much-needed. We went to a local state park and did a hike that was a little over 5 miles. I use the word "hike" loosely because we do not have true hiking trails here in Minnesota since we don't have mountains in Minnesota. There were lots of rolling hills, though, so it was still a challenging "hike" at times. Everything was really green and beautiful and it felt so good to be out in the woods. There were very few people on the trails so it was the perfect social distancing activity! Phil and I both love being active and being outdoors so this was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.

The low of my week was getting 2 flares - first in the middle finger of my left hand, then the middle finger of my right hand. I'm trying to avoid going into clinics unless absolutely necessary so I've been treating this flare with an anti-inflammatory cream instead of getting a steroid injection like I normally would. The cream fixed the flare in the left hand so hopefully it does the trick on the right soon. I'm pretty much giving RA the middle finger this week! I've been stressed about work stuff and laying awake at night thinking about work so I am sure that was a contributing factor to getting this flare. Why is it so hard to shut your brain off in the middle of the night???

A recipe I made was Asian Shrimp Noodle Bowls. I add a colored pepper when making this to get some extra veggies in. We also use a pound of shrimp instead of 1/2 pound and I cut back on the tamari as a 1/2 c. is so much! It's a really good meal!

A show I watched was Top Chef. My friend Alli generously gave me her cable login so I could watch it online. Top Chef is probably one of my all-time favorite shows so it's been nice to watch it instead of having to wait over a year for episodes to post on Hulu. I haven't had cable since 2016 and the only time I miss having it is when Top Chef is on so it's nice to have this workaround!

The best money spent was on a latte at Starbucks. I had a painful project to work on Wednesday morning so decided to treat myself to a latte that morning so I could sip it while working on something I knew I wasn't going to enjoy!

My plans this weekend include buying plants/seeds for my garden and hanging pots for our front steps and then planting my garden. I could have done it sooner as it's been pretty warm lately but I wanted to wait until I was absolutely sure we were done with freezing overnight temps. I am planting less this year as keeping up with a garden, work and a toddler is a lot! But I'm going to plant some lettuce, tomatillos, lots of pepper plants, and some green beans. We are also going out to my MIL's on Saturday after Paul's nap to celebrate her birthday, assuming the weather forecast looks ok. We will mostly stay outside and keep apart from each other. We'll get take out for dinner and I think I will bring some sort of sweet treat out. 

Bonus Paul photos!
During bath time, he loves to line up his toys and brush their teeth while singing part of the song I sing to him when I brush his teeth. It's pretty darn cute!

We got this hand-me-down chair from friends of our and he loves sitting in it and rocking! He's also wearing a hand-me-down shirt from these same friends. We've been on the receiving end of lots of hand-me-downs from this family as Paul is 5 weeks younger than their youngest son, and is smaller, so he's never in the same size as their youngest. It's worked out really well!
How was your week? What was your high of the week? 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Filling My Cup

Saturday morning was one of the best mornings I've had since we started social distancing on March 13th. Why? Paul and I had social plans. Phil and I talked it over and now that Paul is back in daycare, we have decided to expand our 'circle' to include 2 families whose kids go to the same daycare as Paul. We figure they are all exposed to the same things, so we aren't really increasing our risk of getting/giving COVID-19. These decisions are not easy to make and we don't take them lightly, but we have to balance risk and reward. The risk of one of us giving or getting COVID to/from these families is small, but the benefit of some social time is honestly huge. Even though I am an introvert, I have struggled with the lack of contact with others. Yes, Zoom and FaceTime helps, but it's just not the same.

So on Saturday morning, Paul and I went over to our friends' house for a play date. On Friday night, I told Paul we were going to see his buddies, Gus and Leo, on Saturday morning. From the moment he woke up on Saturday, he asked to go over there over and over so clearly we were both excited! We got to our friend's house around 9 and I donned a mask to get coffee and treats for my friend and me. The coffee shop had a great set up with lots of markings for where to stand. They had the chip reader on a table 6'+ from the counter so everyone was keeping a safe distance away.

For our play date, we decided to stay outside/not enter the house. The boys played out front for awhile and then we went to the backyard of a family 2 houses down (who also go to our daycare) so the kids could play on their swing set. Paul was in HEAVEN. He loves swinging so much! Their swing set also had a ladder on either end. I never thought Paul would be able to or be brave enough to climb the ladder, but he figured it out! He could get to the top, I'd help him down, and he'd repeat the process!

The kids had a blast and us adults had a great time catching up, too - from a distance, of course. We were there for 2.5 hours and the time just flew by! It clearly wore Paul out because he napped for 2 hours and 15 minutes that afternoon which is the longest nap he has taken since December!!

And I felt lighter and happier than I have in 2 months. This COVID stuff has been so hard. I barely leave the house besides going for walks and that really starts to wear on a person after awhile. I fully believe in social distancing and doing our part to flatten the curve. And I think our family has done our best to hold up our end of the deal. But we can't live like this forever and need to find ways to take appropriate and measured risks.

Minnesota is starting phase 1 of our reopening today. In general, this won't change much for us. We'll still social distance, work from home, avoid groups of people, and stick to take-out even when restaurants re-open on June 1st. But I plan to continue to have these outdoor play dates with these 2 families from Paul's daycare since it fills my and Paul's cup tremendously!

How was your weekend? Is your state starting to re-open/relax the rules? How do you feel about it?

Friday, May 15, 2020


Happy Friday, everyone! The sun is shining and it will be in the low 70s today, so we are ending this week on a high note, weather-wise! Here's what's going on in our world!

The book I'm reading is The Other's Gold by Elizabeth Ames. This is a campus novel that I heard about on a podcast hosted by a bookstore owner in Georgia. We have really similar tastes so I usually try to read the books she really likes. It's pretty good so far but some of the bad decisions the characters are making make me squirm a bit!

The high of my week was having a call at work go really well. I was part of a team that pitched a huge proposal. We had very little time to pull a group together but we were told that we "killed it" so that was great to hear. I work in financial services and COVID has definitely hit us as the values of stocks and bonds have declined and some people have freaked out and moved to cash, so we really need to bring in some new accounts! 

The low of my week was also work stuff. My company announced last Friday that they were offering a "Voluntary Separation Agreement" which is basically a much more generous severance package than usual. I guess due to discrimination/HR reasons, they had to offer it to 75% of the company. The had told us they needed to cut $700 million in costs so I guess they want to see who will opt out of their job so they won't have to do layoffs or will do less layoffs? None of this is confidential as it hit the industry news providers. I'm not taking it because I'm too young to retire (ha - I'm 39!), I like my job, I like my team, and I would NOT want to look for a job in this economy... But I know people are considering it so I've worried about what would happen if people on my team took the package. We are already so thinly staffed (we've been through 2 rounds of cost cuts in the last several years and our business has grown - so less people doing more work). It's out of my control, but it's been weighing on me.

A recipe I made was one of our favorites - pasta with sausage and peppers. We make a couple of modifications - I use chicken sausage that is already fully cooked - I slice it and just brown it for a bit. And we skip the step of adding the provolone on top at the end because it is sooo hard to clean the pan afterwards. Instead we just put some parm on when dishing it up. Paul likes this, except he won't eat the sausage and peppers... go figure. I try to sneak some small peppers into his plate but he detects them and spits them out. 

A show we watched was Brooklyn 9-9. We are still really enjoying this show. It's light and funny which is exactly what I need right now! We had tried to watch a documentary on Waco but I just couldn't handle a heavy/dark topic like that. 

The best money spent was on a splash pad toy for our backyard. It's not warm enough to use this year, but I wanted to buy it before it went out of stock because I think everyone and their mom is going to be buying things like this since pools, parks, etc, are closed for the summer (at least they are here in Minnesota). I think/hope Paul will like it as he loves the water!

My plans this weekend include getting together for an outdoor play date with my friend Courtney. Our kids go to the same daycare so we figure they are exposed to the same stuff. Courtney and I will social distance so I feel like this is a safe gathering. I know some might disagree, but I just really need some social plans for Paul on the weekend... without the option of going to the park, weekends can get a little bit long! Phil's cousin (he's a handyman) came over recently and looked at our deck and determined that we need to replace all the floorboards/railings. We thought we could pressure wash it and replace the problematic boards, but too much of it is rotted. I don't know what the previous owners did - I think a deck should last longer than this one has (our house was renovated in 2005). So Phil and his cousin are going to get started on that project on Saturday. It's been one thing after another since we bought this house so Phil is not loving our house... So yah. Good times. Hopefully things slow down after we get through this latest project. 

Bonus photos!

I only took one photo of Paul this week. I've barely been taking any photos of him lately so I need to work on that... But I snapped this picture to send to the grandmas when he was fresh out of the bath. You can see how long his hair is getting!

How was your week? Did you cook anything delicious?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mother's Day Weekend 2020

How are you all doing? Everyone staying sane and healthy? I'm staying healthy and mostly sane. I won't lie - all this social distancing/isolation is definitely getting to me, even as a hard core introvert. But I keep telling myself that eventually, this will pass. Will life ever go back to "normal"? Who knows. I don't think it will be normalish in large cities until we have a vaccination, honestly, and that could be a long ways off! Time will tell!

But back to Mother's Day weekend. Here's a photo of Pablito on Friday morning before he headed to daycare. After a bit of a tough adjustment period, he is back to enjoying daycare. On Saturday and Sunday he asked if he was going to school. He now runs into school instead of crying at drop-off, so that's a relief. They have a big park/playground structure at school so I am sure that is the #1 thing he enjoys about being back at school! I am so glad he was back in daycare last week because I was so slammed with work. I don't know how I would have kept up with work and watching Paul, especially on the days when Phil was in the office (3 days last week). So it's definitely better for everyone for Paul to be back at school.

Ignore the paint swatches in the background. I thought we'd be getting our interior walls painted this spring. But then COVID happened. 
One other highlight of the weekend was getting an actual workstation set up for myself. When Paul was home with me, I would sit on the couch with my laptop so I could keep a close eye on him. A friend gave me an extra monitor he had laying around and I ordered a monitor stand last week. This set up is so much better, especially since I do a lot of heavy excel work. I'm waiting for the OK from upper management to go into my office to grab my keyboard and docking station. I have a special keyboard at work since I use something called "Bloomberg." Hopefully I get the Ok this week to grab those items. Then I will really be set!

We had some cool days last weekend, but Saturday was nicer so I went for a long hour walk with Paul. I really love seeing all the flowering bushes and trees! We walked to the lake and then back along a creek. That walk took us past the playground we used to go to all the time. Paul was sad that we could not go there. He asks to go to the park on nearly every walk. :(

On Sunday, Paul gave us the best gift and slept in until 7:30! We facetimed with Phil's mom that morning and later that morning I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks (they have curbside pick up) and then had a Zoom call with my parents and 4 siblings at 10:30. After that, Phil went to get take out from my favorite place and I talked on the phone with my grandma, who is almost 97, during that time. I didn't take a picture, but we both enjoyed arepas (corn-based biscuit type of bread) with roasted pork with yucca fries on the side. It was soooo good! I took Paul for a shorter walk but it wasn't super pleasant as it was pretty windy and cold. He took a pretty good nap and I read in bed/dozed off during his nap.

That evening, I made Spanish Tortilla for dinner with the rest of our leftover ham from Easter. Phil's mom makes this - she learned how to make it after visiting Phil in Spain when he was studying abroad in college. It's a dish made of potatoes, eggs, and ham. I took a picture after we had flipped it once. The finish product did not look so great, though. We couldn't get it to stay together when we slid it out of the pan onto a plate. I guess my egg to potato ratio was off, but oh well. It tasted good which is all that matters!

And that was Mother's Day weekend! I wish we could have seen our moms, but such is life right now. I'm glad we have things like Zoom and FaceTime to get us through this period of isolation!

How was your Mother's Day Weekend?

Monday, May 4, 2020

What We Read in April

April felt like a better month of reading following the lackluster month of March. I finished 7 books. I'm back into my routine of going upstairs at 8:30 to read for an hour before bed. I've also had more access to books as my library is allowing contact-free curbside pick-up of books. They aren't allowing returns yet, so the inventory for buzzy new books is limited but I was able to get "Such a Fun Age" (very popular new release) which was a nice surprise!


- Mrs. Kennedy and Me was a wonderful but heartbreaking read. I think you need some interest in the Kennedys to enjoy it, but I have always been fascinated by that family. I remember checking books out of library about JFK when I was in middle school and I've read a couple other Kennedy memoirs during my adult years.

- Such a Fun Age lived up to all of the hype. It's about the relationship between a family and their nanny, who is a person of color. At the start of the book, something has happened at the house that requires them to call the police so they call their nanny and ask her to take their preschool aged daughter out of the house. They got to a grocery store and attract the attention of security given the mixed race of the child/nanny. The story unfolds from there. It's about race, class, and the relationship between a parent and caregiver. I can see why this book has gotten so much attention.

- The Stationery Shop was another page turner. The book opens in 1950s Iran when the country is in the midst of a revolution. 2 young teens meet and fall in love. They decide to meet and get married secretly, but one of them doesn't show up at the meeting spot. 60 years later, they cross paths in Boston and learn what really happened that day. This is my book club's May book - I'm looking forward to discussing it with them (we are still meeting over Zoom).


- Three Women was our April book club book. This book made for a really great book club discussion. Our April meeting will stand out as a meeting where we talked more about the book than we did about what is going on in our lives. But it was a pretty depressing read for me. It's about 3 women and their relationships. None of them are "happy" stories. It made me sad that women don't ask for more from relationships. I know these stories aren't indicative of all relationships but there was just a sense of desperation in the stories that made me uncomfortable and sad.

- American Spy was a book I was really looking forward to reading. The protagonist is an African American. She works for the FBI but gets recruited to be a spy in the late 1980s. I just felt like some of the decisions she made didn't make sense for a highly educated woman who worked for the FBI... I only stuck with it because it's a book club book for later this year. I'm trying to get better about abandoning books but I try not to abandon book club books unless I really hate it!

Paul's Reads:

Paul is still an avid little reader. He really liked the Llama Llama book and the Farm Block book he got in his Easter basket. He's been less interested in Little Owl's Day but maybe he will become interested in this later. He is still obsessed with the Little Pookie books and has some parts memorized which is really cute. Any book about farms or tractors is a hit with him. A friend of mine hosted an Usbourne book party recently so I ordered some new books for him. He has loved the other Usbourne books I bought for him in the past so hopefully this new batch is a hit!

What are you reading these days?

Friday, May 1, 2020


Happy Friday! Happy May! Here's what is happening in our world!

The book I'm reading is Mrs. Kennedy and Me. This is a memoir written by Jackie Kennedy's secret service detail, who happens to be from my home state of ND! I am LOVING this book. I just love the Kennedy's and have such a fascination with that family. That family has dealt with so much sadness, though. I did not realize that John and Jackie Kennedy had a baby who died shortly after birth in August of the year JFK was assassinated. I just can not imagine dealing with that much loss in that short of a time. Highly recommend this book for others who love Jackie Kennedy.

The high of my week was same as previous weeks - getting outside for walks in gorgeous weather!

The low of my week was feeling impatient and overwhelmed at times. Caring for Paul and working full time has been HARD. There are times when he tries to shut my laptop and yells "all done." He just really does not understand that mom needs to work. After being home with him for 7 weeks and not getting much of a break, my patience is just depleted and I feel very on edge/tense at times. For this reason, and other reasons, we have decided to send him back to daycare. If you disagree, please don't comment about our decision... It was not an easy decision. But I can't keep him home forever and keep up with the demands of my job. And my mental health has taken a serious hit. I love and adore my son but working full time in a demanding industry with a toddler by my side is just not sustainable, especially on the days when Phil has to go into the office and I'm on my own. I know this means we are increasing our risk of getting COVID-19 but something had to give. This decision has weighed on me, but I think we made the right choice for our family.

A recipe I made was 3-bean turkey chili in the instant pot. We tend to have this about once a month as it's easy and so good. I mixed some turkey with rice for Paul in the hopes he would eat it. Nope. He wouldn't even taste it!

For workouts I went for walks every day and that is it. I would like to do some strength training but haven't found the motivation lately... hopefully with Paul being back in daycare, I can fit 2-3 workouts in a week. I will be weeding my garden plot and putting in my fence this weekend so that will be quite the workout!

The best money spent was on Chipotle. I had a doctor's appointment so treated myself to Chipotle afterwards. I was able to order through the ap and they brought it outside to me so it was very convenient with minimal contact.

My plans this weekend include cleaning out my garden plot and putting the fence in, as I mentioned above. That is always quite the job! I will probably plant our garden in a couple of weeks. I'm not confident that we won't have frost overnight so I tend to wait until Mother's Day has passed to plant our garden. That is it for plans because who has plans these days? It's supposed to be nice outside so I am sure we will spend lots of time outside!

Bonus photos!

I made spaghetti on Monday and it was a hit with Paul. Little did he know I had chopped up carrots, celery and onions in the food processor to make the sauce extra healthy! 

I had the cushions in our window seat between the kitchen and dining room reupholstered. We got them back this week and I am so happy with the finished product. Here is a side-by-side before and after (after is navy). This was not a cheap project, but it looks so much better. Besides reupholstering, they revitalized the cushions so they are thicker and more comfortable to sit on. Next I need to have some pillows made.

How are you doing? What was the high of your week? What was the low?