Monday, November 29, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021 in Pictures

We spent Thanksgiving with my family - our first holiday with family in 2 years. I thought I'd let the pictures do the talking!

Will had a fever on Thursday and was all about snuggling. We took him to the doctor to make sure it wasn't another ear infection and for a covid test. His ears looked good and the test was negative. So just another stupid virus.

Paul discovered how delicious chocolate pie is! He especially enjoyed eating it with an construction equipment fork.

The high of our time at my parents was seeing Paul interact with his cousins. They did a great job including him, even though he's much younger (the 3 in this photo are 7 and 10). I especially loved seeing them working on puzzles together - while singing jingle bells!

Will sort of rallied for his early birthday celebration on Friday night - but wanted nothing to do with the homemade GF chocolate cupcakes my mom made. Womp womp. In his photo he is clapping, his favorite trick.

But Paul thoroughly enjoyed the cupcake and had chocolate frosting all over his face afterwards.

The big kids were great about reading to Paul.

A flashback photo on Facebook reminded me that I had a picture of Anna reading to Paul at Thanksgiving 2 years ago. My how they have both changed!

So that was Thanksgiving. Phil and I came back feeling pretty bleery-eyed since Will's sleep was epically bad - like up 4+ times/night. I got a cold the day before Thanksgiving and it hit Phil on Saturday morning. We'll be well-rested and healthy some day?

How was your Thanksgiving/last weekend in November?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Giving Thanks

'Tis the season for giving thanks, at least here in the US since Thanksgiving is later this week. Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. I love all the food and I love that it's all about getting together and eating good food - and that's it! No presents! No decorations (at least not in our case - we are such minimalists and only decorate for Christmas). And this year, we will get to celebrate with my family for the first time in 2 years. I'll get to see my parents, 7 of my 8 nieces and nephews, and 3 of my 4 siblings! It's rare for so many of us to be together so I am really looking forward to it! 

But I have to also admit that being thankful is not coming super easy right now. This stage of life is just really HARD right now. Little kids take a lot of time and energy, and so much of it falls on the mom. So if I am being honest - which I always strive to do in life and on this blog - I'm feeling pretty depleted. Kind of like the sad little Christmas tree on Charlie Brown Christmas if you need a visual. Will's recovery from his ear infection has been rough and his sleep has been pretty awful. On Sunday night I didn't quite get 5 hours of sleep - I need 7 or 7.5 so I was on the struggle bus on Monday. 

And yet - I know I'm incredibly lucky to be in the position to have child that is waking during the night and only wants his mom. Is it hard in the moment? Absolutely. Parenthood is a constant lesson that two conflicting things can both be true. You can be exhausted and grateful at the same time, although the strength of the opposing emotions really ebbs and flows. 

You know what helps spur feelings of gratitude, besides the upcoming holiday? Looking at family pictures. We recently had family photos taken for the first time since April 2019! That obviously pre-dates Will as it was around Paul's first birthday. I didn't feel comfortable having newborn photos taken last December and technically having a photographer in our home would have broken the lockdown rules - which I clearly followed. But I knew I wanted professional family photos done this fall as we only had 2 photos of the 4 of us and both were, well, not great. 

So on a cold morning in October, my cousin's talented wife took our photos by our favorite area of the creek by our house. Getting to the meeting spot at 8:30 on a Saturday morning when it was 40 degrees outside was NOT FUN. Phil said he would never look at family photos the same again because he now understands what it takes to get a family together, looking nice, and smiling for the camera. 

We had to cut our photo session short because the outfits I had for the boys were not great for 40 degree temps. Our kids don't own "cute" outer wear because it seems unnecessary. But in a span of 30 minutes, she managed to capture our family pretty darn perfectly. 

So yes, there are incredibly trying moments and times when I feel so. dang. tired. 

But I can look at these photos and think - "gosh, we're beautiful and so very lucky to have each other." 

So yes, in this season of life, I might need to remind myself to be thankful. And that's ok. I tell myself it won't always be this tiring. But in the mean time, I'm glad I have photographic evidence of how very lucky we are. 

Happy early Thanksgiving to those who will celebrate this week! Tell me one (or more!) thing you are grateful for! In addition to my family, I'm thankful for coffee, my health, sunshine, living in a walkable neighborhood, the library, my kindle, being able to run again, and many other things!

Friday, November 19, 2021


Happy Friday! We made it through another week and next week is a short one for us Americans thanks to Thanksgiving! Yay! Here's a TGIF-style recap of our week. 

The book I'm reading is Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (physical book) and The Final Revival of Opal and Nev (ebook). I'm only reading 2 chapters/day of Caste as it is a heavy topic and I need to slowly digest it. It's my book club's December read and will make for a great discussion. Opal and Nev is from the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. I should love it but I feel kind of meh? Maybe right book, wrong time? It's an oral history of a fictional band and they cover topics of racism so there is some overlap between the 2 books I'm reading which should make me appreciate it more but again, I don't feel super connected or compelled to read it? But I like it enough to keep reading it so it will probably end up being around 3 stars.

The high of my week was getting a massage on Tuesday. I was glad I was able to reschedule the massage I had to cancel when Will was home sick. I went to a place a couple of blocks away for a deep tissue massage. It did not have the ambiance of the usual place I go, but the massage was great and the convenience of walking there was amazing! It was my first massage in about 2 years (thanks, pandemic!). 

The low of my week was just a general sense of feeling tired. We've had lots of early mornings and Will's been awake more than usual during the night, probably because of his ears. Things seem to be getting better and I think the kids have maybe finally adjusted to the end of daylight savings?

A recipe I made was Cauliflower Chicken Tikka Masala. This is a recipe that I tend to make once a month. The leftovers are even better as the flavors really meld together! I fed Will some peas from it which he seemed to like. It's pretty spicy so that is the extent of what I shared (Paul won't touch it, of course). 

A show we are watching is Dopesick on Hulu. It's a dramatized documentary based on the book, Dopesick, which is about the opioid crisis. It's very well done. Michael Keaton plays a doctor in West Virginia who prescribes OxyContin for patience with moderate pain because the drug label says less than 1% get addicted. He then takes them when he gets in a car accident and becomes addicted. It does a good job of looking at the Sackler family who owns Purdue Pharma, the company behind the drug OxyContin and the false claims that it wasn't habit-forming. After each episode I usually vent to Phil about how so many people have no conscience! It makes me want to read the book, "The Empire of Pain" which is a deep dive into the Sackler family and how they profited off of Oxy. But I need to be in the right mind set to read that...

For workouts I went for a  run on Monday, did beach body workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, and ran yesterday. I'll do another beach body workout today and maybe on Saturday and then will run on Sunday hopefully.

The best money spent was a contribution to my local United Way and to the library. It was "give to the max" day yesterday which is a day of giving for non-profits in Minnesota. There tend to be matches from large donors if non-profits raise $X that day, so it's a good day to give! I also bought some lipstick and facial cleanser from Beauty Counter and ordered Christmas cards. So it was an expensive week!

My plans this weekend include laying low tonight, like usual. Tomorrow morning Phil has his physical and then I am going to a wreath-making party. On Sunday we are putting up our Christmas tree! I used to be firmly on team decorate after Thanksgiving, but the pandemic changed me. Now I like it up a little earlier so I can enjoy the warm glow as long as possible! 

Bonus Will and Paul photos:

He loves to play at the train table with Paul!

Bath time shenanigans!

Cuddled up with dad. Paul is sharing cheerios from a snack cup. Will has learned to put out his palm when he wants some!

Bit of a blurry action shot, but Will's new thing is pulling books off our bookshelves. I worry that he doesn't love books as much as Paul because I haven't read to him quite as much as we read to Paul (although we still read at least 4-5 books/day to him). But he knows how to turn pages in a book while you read to him and loves to pull books off the shelf and look at them so he probably likes books as much or more than the average baby?

What was the high of your week? What recipe did you make this week?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

So Much for that Vacation

I think I must have cursed myself by posting about my vacation days and how relaxing they would be. I'm sure we all have heard the phrase, "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Will ended up home with me on Wednesday and Thursday, so I had to cancel my massage on Thursday. Instead I spent the early part of the day at the clinic with him, which ended up being THE MOST FRUSTRATING experience. I had called to get him an appointment to have his ears checked but when I got to the clinic, they said he only had an appointment for a covid test. I mean, I was planning to get him tested for covid since he had a fever but I had a hunch he had an ear infection. After our covid test, I went to the reception area for the pediatrics unit and luckily they were able to fit us in. And sure enough - Will had a double ear infection. No one wants their kid to be sick, but I was sort of glad there was an explanation for his fever and sad state. 

I got 2 doses of meds into him that day and he was fever free all day so was able to go back to school on Friday. So I salvaged one day of PTO. Which is better than nothing but not what I had expected my 3 "days off" to look like. Add in the fact that one or both kids were up at 5:30 for 8 days in a row and it just makes for a tired and overwhelmed mom. 

But it wasn't all bad. I set aside Friday morning as my "shouldless halfday." I did a workout, read by the gas fireplace in our bedroom, and then laid in bed and tried to nap - but my body wouldn't let me fall asleep of course. 

The afternoon was productive. We met with the fireplace conversion consultant and I ran some errands before picking up the boys. I was happy to hear that Will had a great day and was back to his happy self. 

The final stretch of the year is going to be busy as we have a new product launch that started yesterday so I need to be available for client calls (all virtually of course). So maybe in late January I can try to do a shouldless day or 2? The first 3 weeks of January are always busy since I'm dealing with quarter end but hopefully I can tag a day onto MLK weekend. 

This post is not positive so I'll close with 3 positive things!

1. Phil agreed to get our living room fireplace converted to gas. Hurray! Longtime readers of the blog will know that Phil is incredibly frugal so getting him to spend money can be a challenge. But he saw the benefit of the conversion, especially since he's seen how much I use the fireplace in our bedroom!

2. Last night we were talking about Will's upcoming birthday on 12/3. I asked Paul what we should get for Taco (family nickname for Will) and he said cupcakes (which I'm on board with - we are not planning to get him anything for his birthday because he will surely get many gifts from family and truly doesn't need anything). I asked what flavor and he said, "hmmm, banana because Taco loves bananas!" I am pretty impressed that he took Will's favorite food into consideration when suggesting a cupcake flavor. So now the search begins for a GF banana cupcake recipe! I could make banana muffins but this is the dessert we'll serve to Phil's family when they come over for the small party and I'd like a real treat and not a muffin if that makes sense?

3. I was able to reschedule my massage for this afternoon. I've very much looking forward to it! It's my first massage in about 2 years!

How are you doing? Tell me some positive things happening in your life! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Days off + Shouldless Days

I wrote this post mid-day on Tuesday and then got a call from daycare at 3 saying Will had a fever. Ugh. I did a rapid antigen Covid test at home and it was negative so hopefully he’s only home today so I can still have 2 relaxing/productive days off! Really tired of someone always being sick in our house!! 

I am very excited to have the rest of this week off from work, starting today! I was feeling a little worn out back in October so I decided to take 3 days off in November. My company moved to "manage your time" in 2020 or maybe earlier? I used to get a generous 6 weeks off before the change in our PTO policy. I am sure the company changed it knowing that people tend to not use their time off but my goal has been to take around 6 weeks off/year. It was easier to track pre-kids because I mostly took time off for vacations. Now a lot of my days off are due to being sick or a kid being sick. 

But even without tracking, I know I haven't taken/scheduled 6 weeks of vacation days! I did use PTO to add 4 weeks to my 16 weeks of maternity leave but my boss told me to view it as me taking 2 weeks at the end of 2020 and 2 weeks in 2021 instead of 4 weeks of my 2021 leave since I barely took any days off last year thanks to the pandemic (I have a very kind, thoughtful boss). 

Looking back at the days I have taken off for reasons besides illness, they are for daycare closures, kid doctor appointments, and trips to the lake. Daycare closures and kid doctor appointments are not exactly "fun." The lake trips were fun, but they are not exactly relaxing since Will sleeps more poorly when away from home. They are certainly worth it and I look forward to our time at the lake over Thanksgiving, but I don't exactly come back "refreshed."

Thus, my reason for taking 3 days off this week! I wanted to make one day a "shouldless day." I used to take those quarterly pre-kids. Now I think twice a year is a more reasonable goal. Shouldless days are as they sound - I don't do anything I feel I "should" do. So no house work, organization projects, errand-running. I just give myself time to "be." I have a deep tissue massage booked for Thursday but no other plans besides that. I'm sure I will exercise, read, cook dinner, take a nap, etc - which are all things that I enjoy, especially when I am on my own and not juggling watching kids. 

I also have some 'to do' items so there will be a productivity component to my days off. Paul has his preschool screening on Wednesday, I plan to sell my remaining maternity clothes to a consignment shop (will not get much but I just want them out of the house and not in a landfill! I'm selling them at a place where I've bought most of my maternity clothes), we have the fireplace wood burning to gas conversion consultation on Friday, and I'm sure I'll identify other tasks to do on a quiet weekend instead of while juggling watching the kids on a weekend day. 

I'm hoping my 2022 PTO will include more adventures, though. 2020-2021 were just not the year for adventures, pandemic aside, as I was pregnant for a good chunk of 2020 and then 2021 was all about having a baby/adjusting to life as a family of 4. So it actually wasn't the worst time for a pandemic? Obviously there is never a good time for a pandemic and I hope I don't live through another one. But it didn't cancel any trips for me. So far for 2022, we are planning to go to Tucson, AZ for about 5 days in February to visit my sister/take a break from the cold and we are hoping to go somewhere, kid-free, for our 5-year anniversary in May. 

All this is to say - don't let the lack of plans or adventures keep you from using your vacation time!! It's easy to kind of muddle through the days and forget to plan days off, especially if it's not tracked by your company's HR. I harp on my husband to follow my lead but he is TERRIBLE about taking time off! He did seem a bit envious of my days off this week so we'll see if that pushes him to schedule at least a day off!

Do you have any time off planned for the remainder of the year? Are you good about using your PTO? 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Last Nice Weekend?

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous here. Temps were in the 60s which is pretty much unheard of for early November in Minnesota! We made the most of it and spent as much time outdoors as possible. It seems likely that it was our last nice weekend - we have snow flurries in the forecast for later this week and highs in the 30-40s. 

On Friday I picked the kids up a little earlier than usual so Paul would have time to play outside. Phil had long days at work last week since it's his busiest week of the month so the kids basically got home and had to sit down to dinner with no time to play outside so it was nice to get home a little earlier on Friday. I was going to take Paul scooting but we ended up hanging out in a yard a couple of houses down from us. The kids were doing skits that involved jumping into leaves at the end of the skit. They asked Paul to join them but he is still getting to know the kids on our block and was too intimidated. So he would watch the skits with me and then jump in the leaves between skits. I am so very impressed by the older kids on our block. They are SO kind to the littles and will involve them in their games and play. I think some of these kids are probably tweens so could certainly avoid playing with the little ones, but they are so inclusive and sweet. Hopefully with time, Paul will open up a bit and be willing to participate more.

Saturday got off to a rough start as Paul was up at 5:20 and refused to go back to bed and then Will was up at 5:30. That is just entirely too early to start the day. Phil had slept in the basement since I was still fighting my cold so at least one of us got a good night of sleep I guess. 

We Facetimed with my parents in the morning which is our Saturday morning ritual. We are very excited to see them in a couple of weeks when we head up there for Thanksgiving weekend. 

We spent more time outside that day before naptime and then after naps, we headed out to Phil's high school friend's house. We got together with the families of 3 of Phil's HS friends. Everyone has kids now, including the couple that hosted us so the gatherings have really changed over the years! The kids had fun playing with different toys and the weather was so beautiful so we ate outside. The kids had a blast running around in the yard. 

Sunday morning started bright and early, too, thanks to the end of daylight savings. I used to love "falling back." Now I hate it because it doesn't mean an extra hour of sleep. It means an extra hour of parenting! Paul was up at 5:15 (which felt like 6:15 but still... too early of a start to the day). Phil got up with him since I had been up with him the day before. I had fed Will at 2:30 since he woke up SCREAMING so he actually slept until 6. I was very happy to get a little extra sleep after the long day on Saturday. 

We played in the basement in the morning. A lot of our toys are down there so that is where the kids are happiest. You can see how much Will adores Paul in this photo. Paul adores him, too, but is prone to taking toys away from him. Will handles it ok but I know that won't always be the case!!

Phil used the lawn mower to collect all the leaves in our yard during Will's morning nap. After Will's nap, we headed outside to play for a bit. 

After lunch we headed to the park. We've figured out that post-lunch is the best time to go to the park. The last 2 weekends we've had the whole park to ourselves, I think because we eat early (around 11) and families are probably putting kids down for naps after lunch. Paul is pretty much done napping now (sob!) but we have him do quiet time for 90 minutes during Will's nap. So it works well to go to the park after lunch since Will doesn't go down for his nap until 1-2ish. 

Loving the swing!
Paul actually ended up falling asleep during his nap on Sunday - I guess the early mornings caught up to him. 

We were supposed to have another family over for playtime and pizza, but they had a positive antigen covid test so had to cancel. Paul was bummed but we still got pizza for dinner so he was excited about that. Both boys LOVE pizza. After dinner it was brother bathtime which has gotten pretty loud and boisterous. Will can really move around the tub and loves to splash. He's always game for Paul's shenanigans. Last night that involved putting things on his head and seeing how long they'd stay on. 

But hearing the giggles and shrieks is really the best sound!

We put the boys down at their normal times and they slept better last night. Will was up at 5:30 but fell back to sleep and Paul got up at 6. So overall, not bad. I was glad I went to bed at 9pm! 

How was your weekend? Do you love or loathe the end of daylight savings? Or are you lucky to live in an area that doesn't do daylight savings? I'm dreading how early it's going to be dark tonight!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Halloween + a Covid Scare

Happy November! 2 months left in what has been a full year! As the saying goes, the days are long but the years are short. This one is flying by! 

I know we've all moved on from Halloween but I can't let the holiday go by undocumented! The past weekend was a good one for us. I feel like Paul is hitting the peak age for holidays. He was SO excited to trick or treat and kept asking if it was time to go yet (he started to ask LAST Sunday!). On Saturday morning, I started off the weekend with a beautiful run with my neighbor. It was chilly out so there was fog coming off the lake which make it look spooktacularly beautiful!

Saturday was a nice day so we got outside as much as possible. It was chilly so mittens were necessary. These paw mittens were not cheap - around $40 - but they are the best mittens for little kids. They cinch around the wrist and you can also tighten them at the top to keep snow out. And bonus - they match Paul's fall coat. 

After nap/quiet time on Saturday, our friends came over for pumpkin carving. It was nice enough for us to do it outside. We had one other couple and their 2 kids over. Their youngest is in Paul's room at school so we consider them "in our bubble." The kids mostly played while the adults got to work.

I made a Lentil Soup in the Instant Pot, our friends bought a salad, and we had Halloween candy for dessert. Pretty easy peasy. 

The kids and our pumpkins (minus Will - he was tired and ready for bed at this point!)

On Sunday we did more scooting. We made sure to go around the neighborhood both days to take in the fall leaves and Halloween decorations! 

Finally, it was time to put on costumes and head out to the block photo! I was glad both boys' costumes were warm and snuggly. It was chilly out there - in the 40s probably? So Paul wore mittens and a hat. 

Can you tell how much Will adores Paul?

Will only went to the block costume photo. After that Will and Phil headed home to hand out candy and I took Paul trick or treating. I didn't think Paul would last very long as he is a very shy kid. But he totally surprised me and did great with trick or treating! I thought we'd go with other kids on our block but it was too tough to keep up with others so we did our own thing. We hit up all the houses on our block and some on the block perpendicular to our house. He did so great - said "Trick or Treat" and then "Thank you and Happy Halloween" after he got candy. We were out for about an hour and probably would have stayed out longer but I needed to get home to nurse Will and put him to bed. 

We counted his candy and he got 60 pieces! Some houses gave out full-sized candy bars! That never happened when I was a kid!

Now for the Covid scare. On Sunday I laid down at naptime feeling fine and an hour later I was super congested. I figured it was just another common cold. I didn't feel too bad on Sunday but on Monday I felt so tired and dizzy so I took the day off. I ended up napping for 3 hours total which seems excessive so I decided to get one of those at home rapid antigen covid tests. I was sure it would be negative so was shocked when it was positive. Cue the panic. It was 6pm at this point so I couldn't schedule our covid tests until the morning (when you get a positive rapid antigen test, the next step is a PCR test as false positives are possible w/ these at-home tests). So Phil and the kids stayed home. We were able to all get tested yesterday morning. I was so sure that my test would be positive since I wasn't feeling great. But around 9:30 our results came in and covid was not detected for any of us. Phew! I can't tell you how relieved I was. Yesterday was honestly rough. The first 4 business days of the month are the busiest for Phil, plus he's extra busy right now as he's covering some work for a coworker who is out on maternity leave. So he tried to help as much as he could, but I ended up managing the kids for quite a bit while not feeling great. I still don't feel "great" but it's good to know it's just a common cold! How many more covid scares will be have?? This is the 2nd one in about a month!!

How was your Halloween?