Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Currently: September 2021

And just like that, September is almost over. There are less than 100 days left in the year - can you believe it? My husband HATES comments about how fast the month went or year is going but it's really true isn't it? As we get older, our perception of time really seems to change. I remember thinking it took FOREVER for Christmas to arrive. Now it comes shockingly fast!

Here's what is currently going on in our lives!

Reading: The Reading List by Sarah Nisha Adams. I started it last night and got 1/3 of the way through before turning out my light so that tells you how good it is so far. It's partially set in a library and is about this mysterious list of books that different people discover. So it's basically a book about books, which is one of my favorite sub-genres!

Loving: The weather we are having this week. It's in the 70s and sunny during the day but the air is dry and it cools off at night which is the perfect combination! If it could stay like this for months, I'd be so happy but that of course is not how the weather works here in Minnesota.

Feeling: ready for our family to all be back to 100% health. We are mostly better but there is a nagging runny nose that we are all dealing with. I just hope this isn't a bad cold/flu season but I'm not optimistic. I know RSV has been running rampant in the Twin Cities - and more broadly in the US in general - so I am just hoping my boys avoid getting it, or get a mild case. I do wonder if they had it this past week or so, but if so, they didn't get a terrible case of it.

Anticipating: my 10 mile race this weekend - and seeing my parents! They are coming to the Twin Cities to watch my nephew's football game on Friday night and then will come to our house on Saturday and spend the night. I'll be up and gone before they wake up on Sunday (most likely - there's a chance I will see my mom on my way out the door) but I'm sure Phil will appreciate having their help with the boys. I'm feeling very ready for the race. I'm excited to run a race but also excited to have it behind me. This is typically how I feel when preparing for a long distance race. It's been extra challenging to train for it with 2 young kids, but I made it work and am proud of myself for tackling this big goal!

Struggling: with toddler behavior - still. So this is a repeat from last month. Most of the time Paul is a delight to have around, but when he has a tantrum, oof it is bad. Phil and I did an online course on emotional regulation and meltdowns and it has been helpful. 

Grateful: that Will continues to be a very chill and easy-going baby! He is rarely fussy. As long as he can watch what his brother is doing, he's pretty darn happy. 

Working: out very consistently which feels great. I'm averaging about 5 workouts/week (2-3 runs mixed with workouts from the Morning Meltdown Beachbody program). It will be a bit more challenging to fit workouts in when I return to the office in 2022 but hopefully I can still average around 4-5 most weeks.

Listening: to the newest season of The Drop Out which follows the trial of Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos. They do a great job covering the trial. I'm very behind and I just found out about the new season but have been really enjoying it - but feel outraged when I listen. I really hope she is found guilty!

Watching: the new and final season of Goliath on Amazon Prime. We really liked the first season of this show. The 2nd and 3rd seasons were a little meh but still good enough to stick with it. Hopefully the 4th season will be good. On my own, I'm watching the 2nd season of Making the Cut on Amazon Prime and Million Little Things when new episodes become available (the fall season started last week).

for more beautiful fall weather and that the leaves are still on the trees when we take family photos on October 15th! So far it seems like we will still have leaves on the trees as our leaves are JUST starting to change here. We haven't had family photos taken since March of 2019 so are very overdue! 

Bonus Paul and Will Photos:

Will's first pickle! Don't let his facial expression fool you -  he really liked it and kept sucking on the dill pickle slice!

Paul working on his golf swing. He's a tiny bit more coachable than he was last summer, but still not super open to instruction.

The typical scene at dinner in our house. Paul always pulls Will over as close as he can get him. In this pic they are post enjoying a post-dinner graham cracker.

Playing memory with Paul. He's pretty good but is a little prone to cheating (he wants to peek at the card before turning it out!).

Brother bath time! Lots of giggling happens during these baths. I hope these 2 continue to love being together as they get bigger!

What are you reading, watching and anticipating?

Friday, September 24, 2021


Ugh, this week was a no good very bad week in the health department. The boys and I got leveled by a nasty upper respiratory virus. I ended up taking 1.5 days off because I felt so terrible and desperately needed to nap. I napped for 3 hours one day and for 2 hours the other day. Will was also home with us on Thursday and is home again with us today due to low grade fevers at night. He had the start of this virus at his 9m appointment last week and his doctor assured me it was NOT covid due to how it was presenting (very productive cough, lots of mucus). I took Paul to the doctor on Thursday to rule out an ear infection as he was complaining about his ear hurting (no infection thank goodness - the doctor thinks the pain is from the tube that hasn't quite fallen out the). Both boys were up during the night for several days in a row. Zzzzzzz. I will be well rested again some day?

The book I'm reading is Deacon King Kong which is my book club's September selection. I was the one who picked it so will be the host. I decided to read this book very close to the book club meeting, which is next Wednesday, because I wanted it to be very fresh in my mind! I've heard pretty good things about it but have heard there are a ton of characters to keep track of so I am going to try to use my bullet journal to help me make sense of things!

The high of my week was um.... nothing? Is that bad? Some weeks just don't have a high, especially when 3 of us were sick! Phil has avoided it so far, but he had a week+ long horrible case of pink eye earlier this month so hasn't exactly had the healthiest month either.

The low of my week was all the illness. I think I have used at least 2 boxes of kleenexes this week. I am not exaggerating. This is a nasty virus. Paul is not great about wiping his nose so has this lovely rash on his cheek. Poor kid. We've been putting aquaphor on it, but I doubt it will clear up until his nose stops running.

Post-bath brother photo. They have so much fun taking baths together, especially now that Will doesn't have to sit in the infant tub. 

A recipe I made was corn and potato chowder from the Milk Street Kitchen Instant Pot cook book that I've raved about before. It's great to eat it during prime corn season!

A show we are watching is another 9/11 documentary, this time on Hulu. On my own, I'm watching season 2 of Making the Cut on Amazon Prime. I love Tim Gunn so much so will be sad when I finish this season!

For workouts I did nothing. I didn't even go for walks - that's how horrible I felt. I plan to do a long run on Saturday but may cut it short depending on how I feel. The 10 mile race is a week from Sunday and I know I'm ready. I would like to run at least 6-7 miles to give myself some confidence before the race but I will see how I feel.

The best money spent was on lots of things related to getting Paul a big boy bed! I bought a mattress, a pillow, pillow cases, a mattress protector and an extra set of sheets! My cousin handed down some dinosaur bedding to us but I know we will need an extra set of everything (honestly probably need 2 extra sets of sheets (3 sets total) but will see if we can get by with 2). Paul still wears a pull-up at night and even if we have him go to the bathroom before bed, he still will out-pee the pull-up at times. 

I'm a little nervous about this transition but I know it's time. Especially this past week when he was up 2-3 times and did not want to go back to sleep. I was wishing I could lay down with him to calm him down a bit. But that is not possible in his mini-crib! We are going to start off by having the mattress on the floor until he gets used to that and then we'll order a bed frame. The one we wanted at Ikea is back-ordered so we need to go a different direction so I'm going to give ourselves some time to find the right one.

My plans this weekend include nothing besides the training run on Saturday morning. We are all exhausted so I'm hoping for good naps and better nights of sleep (please, God, please!) for all of us.

Bonus Will photos (Paul refuses to get his picture taken most days)!

Working on his standing skills along the ottoman.

Ready to hit the links in his Masters onesie. His Godfather went to the Masters in April and brought back a onesie for him. 

Enjoying full access to all the toys when he was home with mom and dad this week. Paul is loving all the 'baby' toys we've pulled out for Will and is not the best at sharing.

How was your week? Are you staying healthy? I've heard from friends locally that so many people have this nasty cold virus, and have talked to co-workers in other parts of the country who've been hit hard, too. 

Friday, September 17, 2021


Happy Friday! This week felt kind of long, probably because I had a lot of doctor appointments - 5 for me, 1 for Will. It was all routine stuff but the appointments all ended up happening this week. Not the best planning on my part, but it's the way it worked out. I took 1.5 days off from work since I was going to be gone for a good block of time for 5 of the appointments but that time off wasn't exactly 'relaxing.' I'm definitely due for some real days off - I need to book them soon. Otherwise they won't happen!

The books I'm reading are The Other Black Girl and The Thursday Murder Club. The Other Black girl is a physical book I'm reading from the library. I heard about it through the Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide and am intrigued so far. I read about The Thursday Murder Club in a magazine that is available at my library called "Book Pages" or something like that? It sounded charming so I checked out the eBook. It's about a group of retirees that get together to solve murders. It's set in England and the writing is pretty full of whit so I am enjoying it. 

The high of my week was a couple of things. First on Sunday morning, I thought Paul was tracing letters in his coloring book (something he enjoys and chooses to do) when he came running over and said, "I wrote I love you, mommy." Here is a picture of what he wrote. (It's LUV U with a P behind it). We didn't even know he knew how to write any of his letters so this was quite the surprise for us! I think it's pretty darn good for a 3.5 year old!

My other highs were going to the Van Gogh experience with a girlfriend on Wednesday. The Van Gogh experience has been going around the US and abroad - they project Van Gogh's art work on the walls (see pics below). It was very cool! That was the original reason for my day off and then I ended up booking 2 doctor appointments since I had the day off. I thought it was a really fun exhibit and am glad we went! We grabbed lunch ahead of time. I also saw the 3 moms in my second time mom group - we met for a late dinner on Wednesday night. It was so great to catch up and talk about what the babies and toddlers are all doing. 

The low of my week was some challenging toddler behavior from Paul. Oof 3.5 is turning out to be very challenging. We ended up buying a course about tantrums and emotional regulation from a podcaster I love (Good Inside with Dr. Becky). It's been helpful to watch it together. 

A recipe I made was picadillo with black beans and rice in the instant pot. This is a meal we have nearly monthly. I've mentioned it before - it's from the Milk Street instant pot cook book. 

A show we are watching is LuLaRich on Amazon prime. It's about the rise and fall of the multi-level marketing company LuLaRoe. On my own, I'm watching "Making the Cut" on Amazon Prime, which is kind of like Project Runway. It's filmed in Paris so is giving me a bit of a France fix. I adore Tim Gunn so love this show! 

For workouts I ran on Tuesday and Thursday. I started a new beachbody program called "Morning Meltdown." There are 100 workouts in it and they are meant to be done daily, but I end up doing about 2-3/week on days when I don't run. It's going to take me quite awhile to get through this program but I will do more workouts/week when my running tapers off which will happen after the 10 mile race/when the weather gets colder. I'm really enjoying the program, though! The workouts are 20-35 minutes long and there is so much variety - intervals, strength training, mixed martial arts, stretching/recovery, etc. Shout-out to Kae for introducing me to this program!

The best money spent was on my sushi lunch and dinner out on Wednesday! Yes, I ate out twice that day - on patios for both meals. We met up at 7:45 on Wednesday night so I had already eaten but ended up getting a small side salad to go with my glass of wine as I love the house salad the restaurant (Red Cow) makes.

My plans this weekend include very little. This is a good thing as this week felt pretty over-scheduled and last weekend was pretty busy. I'll run 8-9 miles on Saturday with my neighbor and that is it for actual plans. It's going to be warm and summerlike so I think we might take the boys to the beach at our local lake on Sunday. Paul is very into using his scooter lately so I am sure we'll spend lots of time on our block scooting!

Bonus Paul and Will photos!

Crazy hair, don't care. I think it's time to get his hair professionally trimmed. I've done it a couple of times but I think it's time for a real haircut!

No interest in crawling but loves to stand along furniture!

Working in his toddler coloring book under the supervision of Oscar the cat.

Paul's crazy post-bath hair!

How was your week? Are you reading or watching anything good these days?

Friday, September 10, 2021

Never Forget

Tomorrow marks the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It is really hard to wrap your mind around that. How have 20 years passed since that horrifying day? In some ways, it feels like a lifetime ago because my life looks so different from then. But it still doesn't seem possible that 20 years have passed. 

I'll never forget that day. I was a junior in college and was living in our sorority house. I was downstairs getting breakfast when a friend turned on the NBC morning show and exclaimed that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. It was hard to wrap our minds around what was happening. 

I remember being glued to the news coverage that day. I remember the helpless feeling of wanting to do something but not knowing what to do. A good friend and I ended up going to donate blood because it felt like the only thing that we could do to help. The blood bank had told us they were very busy so others clearly had the same idea. 

In the weeks that followed, what I remember was the sense of a unified country. There were yellow ribbons tied around trees on campus. Perhaps due to my youth, I have a na├»ve interpretation of this time, but it felt like a non-partisan world. We were not democrats or republicans or independents. We were Americans, uniting to console the citizens of a country that was forever changed. 

As we approach the 20-year anniversary, I've felt drawn to consume media related to that day. Phil and I have been watching a 9/11 documentary on Netflix called "Turning Point." I listened to the NPR Politics podcast about Flight 93 called "Sacred Ground." And yesterday I started an Alan Gratz book called "Ground Zero." I don't know if it's masochistic of me to continue to relive that day through different mediums, but it feels like something I need to do to honor those that we lost. 

I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 memorial 4 years ago. You can read about it in my NYC trip recap here. I think it was incredibly well done and very much worth a visit. I did not go into the museum given the long lines that day - that is something I would like to do in the future, though. 

9/11 will be an event that we'll have to teach our kids about at an age-appropriate time. I remember my parents sharing their "where they were" stories from the day of JFK's assassination. Our kids will grow up, remembering our 'where we were" stories from 9/11. I just hope and pray that there isn't another day in my lifetime that leaves such an indelible mark on my life. 

I have a long run of 8 miles on the calendar for tomorrow and will definitely be thinking of the many victims of 9/11 during my run. 

Where were you on 9/11? Do you feel pulled to read books and articles or watch documentaries about that day? 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Paul at 3.5 years

Paul hit 3.5 years this week! Woo hoo! We have found 3 to be much more challenging than 2 so hooray for being a little closer to 4 when things maybe get a little easier in the behavior department? Don't get me wrong, he's a wonderful, bright, sweet little guy. There is just a lot of mood variability and boundary pushing that is challenging at times! Here's what he's like at 3.5! This is a lengthy post but I know I'll love looking back on it when he's older - and it will be helpful to read through when Will approaches this age!

Growth: He's 28.5 pounds and 39". So he has gained about a pound and grown 2.5" in the last 6 months! He is definitely petite and I wonder when he'll weigh 40 pounds! He mostly wears 18 month bottoms and 2T tops. Some 18 month bottoms fall off of him. He will tell you he has a skinny butt, hence his ability to fit in the bumbo!

Words and phrases: He is a very chatty and talkative little guy. We've noticed that he will definitely pick up phrases we say. We always walk by a blue car on our stroller walks that he has claimed as his car. Last weekend he said, "you can ride in my car, but you have to listen!" Ha! I've started to keep track of funny things he says in an iPhone note. 

His imagination has really started to develop over the last 6 months, too. He told us he has a blue cat named Jax that lives in his red house which is far, far away, but close to a lake (sounds suspiciously like my parents red home on a lake but he says it's further away than their house). He said he can take us there in a helicopter. I've asked him who feeds Jax since he's alone there when Paul isn't at his house and he said, "oh he's on mouse patrol up there." Where does he come up with these ideas? It's so cute! 

I hear him making up conversations between his toys, too. He'll say "don't give up, you can do it!" from one car to the other, for example. 


- Being outside! His favorite thing to do is go to the park. I'm glad the temps are cooling off so we can go there more often. It was too hot for a good chunk of the summer to go to the park in the afternoon. We did hit up some wading pools which both boys loved. He has gotten better at hitting a ball off a tee and insists on wearing his baseball cap when playing with his tee-ball set! He doesn't love stroller walks but will tolerate them if the walk includes a stop at the creek to splash around/throw rocks with dad, or a stop at the park.

- He has gotten more and more into board games and puzzles which makes my heart happy! My favorite board game is "My First Orchard Game" which is very short! He also like Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, and The Hungry Caterpillar game. We've also played memory up at my parents and he is very good! He's outgrown wooden puzzles but we have a few puzzles that are at the right level for him. We could probably use more so that will probably be a Christmas gift for him. 

- His favorite shows to watch are Dinosaur Train and Sesame Street through PBS and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Stinky and Dirty on Amazon Prime. He also loves to watch Paw Patrol videos on our phones as a treat at the end of the day. We don't have cable so don't have access to any Paw Patrol shows. I think I'll let him watch the movie when it's released to the general public (it's in theaters now). His favorite Paw Patrol characters are Chase and Marshall. 

- Reading is still one of his favorite things to do which makes me so happy! He's moved on from board books but will occasionally pick one out for a bedtime book. But boy does he get mad if I read a board book to Will - he'll come right over and ask me to start over. But sometimes he still has a hard time letting me read "his" books to Will. We have read nearly every Mo Willem book. We own several but have gotten a lot from the library. He doesn't come to the library with me yet since he is not great at wearing a mask, but he will ask me to get books from the library so he understands the concept of a library. 

- He went fishing for the first time this summer and really enjoyed it! I did not help at all with this, but Phil said he got better and better and was able to reel in fish. You can catch tons of fish off my parents dock so that made it very fun. I think he would have been less interested if there wasn't constant action!


- Swimming lessons. Oof he was NOT cooperative. We finished out the session but it was my least favorite 30 minutes of most weeks. He did well at the pools we went to over the summer so I know he can have fun in the water. We are going to take a little break from swimming lessons and try again when he's a bit older - maybe in 6-12 months. We'll see. Swimming is something he absolutely needs to learn. But he is such a tentative kid that I will never have to worry about him jumping off the dock or going into deeper water (plus we watch him very closely when by water). 

- Transitions. This is so typical for kids but wow it can be frustrating at times. Nearly all of his transitions are discussed ahead of time but he still struggles with them. Mornings can be especially painful! 

Eating: is still a challenge. I feel like it's going to be this way until he's older and more, well, rational? There is no talking this kid into eating things. We keep exposing him to new foods and sometimes he will want to eat something off my plate - like when we got Indian food for Phil's birthday. He gets apple sauce and either yogurt or cottage cheese with every meal. So if he doesn't eat the other thing we serve, we figure he gets enough calories between those sides and his milk. I hope and pray that William is a better eater!

School: He started in a new preschool classroom in August and it has gone fairly well so far. Transitions are always hard, as mentioned above. We continue to be so impressed by what he learns at school. I had no idea he knew how to trace numbers and letters until last weekend. He was playing with his bingo dobbers and then decided he wanted to trace numbers and letters. He was very proud of himself! He understands Spanish and will use phrases here and there. He is getting pretty good at figuring out what letter words start with. He's a bright little guy who is very curious and I hope he keeps that sense of curiosity! Why is a frequent question in our house!!

Potty training: We had success with potty training over Easter weekend. Hooray! He still wears a pull-up during nap on the weekends and then a pull-up at night time. I'm so relieved that potty training was behind us. It was way harder than I thought it would be and I swear boys are harder, despite the book I read saying there is no difference between genders.

Big brother adjustment: Overall he is a very sweet and caring big brother. He loves to give William (who he calls Taco) hugs and kisses. If William is crying, he will say "It's ok Taco, mommy is coming." William adores Paul and gives him the biggest smiles! And Paul gets the biggest laughs out of him! I can't wait to watch their relationship grow and develop. There are definitely still times when Paul is a little rough with Will or gets a little too wild but I know that is typical behavior.

Toddler behavior: As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, he can be difficult at times but that is just this stage of life. I follow several child psychologists on instagram and their content has been super helpful and has given me more perspective about what it going on in their little minds. I try to use humor or offer a hug to try to improve things when he's having a tough time. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. I know this has been a year of big change for him as he's adjusted to being a big brother, though, so we try to be compassionate. But it can be hard in the moment at times!!

Changes ahead: The next big change is ordering a "big boy" bed for his room. He has never tried to crawl out of his crib and doesn't seem to mind it so we haven't felt pressure to make this transition. But it's probably time to get a bed! We will be getting a twin bed for him. I already have dinosaur bedding for him that my cousin handed down to us. I didn't put all that much effort into his nursery so I may try to do a bit more for the big boy transition. At a minimum, I'll get some dinosaur-themed art work and will probably move his current art work into Will's room (which has even less decor!). 

So that's Paul at 3.5! We feel lucky to have such a bright, happy, healthy, sweet kiddo. Yes there are challenging moments but all in all, he's a great kid. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

What We Read in August

Another month, another great set of books! I read 9 books, bringing my 2021 total to 93! I am shocked by this number!! I don't expect to repeat this pace of reading in 2022, but we'll see! I get most of my reading done from 8:30-9:30 at night, and then fit some in during naptime on weekends and when nursing Will, although he is a very fast eater now so that doesn't amount to much anymore.

Mom's books:

This first picture features my favorites. 

Of these 6, my 2 favorites were The Plot and Mother May I, both of which were total page turners that came from the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide (MMD SRG)! The Plot is about an MFA teacher who hears a (very unlikable) student's idea for a plot. A couple of years later, he realizes the student never published a book and discovers the student is dead. So he writes the book which ends up being a best-seller. Then he starts to receive emails - someone knows he stole the plot. There is a book within a book element to this, too. It got off to a somewhat slow start but quickly picked up. Mother May I is about the kidnapping of an infant. I knew this going into the book but I wrongly assumed it would be resolved early on. Wrong! So as the mother of a baby, this was a stressful read and I did something I never do - I read ahead to find out what happens as I needed to mentally prepare myself. So I would NOT recommend this to a parent of a young child, unless you really think you can handle it. But even with the difficult plot, I flew through this book and really enjoyed it. 

This pictures includes "just ok" to "meh." 

Brood was my least favorite by far - I gave it 2 stars! This book came highly recommended by one of my favorite book podcasters. But it missed the mark for me. I know there was a connection between the protagonist’s devastating miscarriage and caring for her chickens but the connection was a bit elusive for me and I found myself continuing to read to just get to the end - a sure sign I should have abandoned. It was written by a local author so I appreciated all the references to places I knew of. But all in all, not the right book for me. The other 2 books also came from the MMD SRG - so not everything is a fit for me, but more often than not, I love what she recommends. 

The boys' reading:

We ran out of Mo Willem books and I don't know that anything can compete with those books! I have terrible luck with randomly picking books from the kids picture book section so I need to do some more research and find a good author or series for us to check out next. I look forward to a time when Paul is interested in chapter books as I know of so many that I want to read to him but that is still a ways away so I need to improve my picture book selection skills!

Will is interested in whatever Paul is reading! Which is good because most of his reading is "second hand" reading. I change up his bedtime/naptime books every month. This month we are reading "Dinosaur Dance" and he gets the biggest smile on one page with a tyrannosaurus rex stomping. 

We are entering fall/Halloween season so I'm looking forward to pulling out all the fall books today! I'm most excited to read "Room on the Broom." Best fall/Halloween book ever!

What have you been reading lately? Anything you would recommend?