Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Marriage and Negotiations

In my weekend recap last week, a couple of people commented on all the things Phil does around the house - namely the grocery shopping and cleaning. I think we are probably outliers on our division of labor. I don't know of many couples whose husbands clean and grocery shop. So how did we arrive at this division of labor? It was a process! 

Grocery shopping: prior to having children, I did all the meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. I didn't mind this, but I did get fatigued by the meal planning. For awhile I tried some meal delivery services like Hello Fresh but Phil wasn't thrilled with the meals and my gluten intolerance really limited our choices. So the first step in sharing the work of getting food on the table was having Phil help with meal planning. 

Then we had Paul in March of 2018. I kept doing the grocery shopping during my maternity leave, but as I approached my return to work, I knew I'd rather spend the 60-90 minutes I'd spend shopping at home with Paul. So initially, we tried outsourcing grocery shopping to Instacart. I was fine with the service but Phil didn't like it because I think you couldn't use coupons or take advantage of some sale items and sometimes he didn't like the produce they selected. He said he could do the grocery shopping "sometimes." My response was - you either need to do it every week or we use Instacart. He opted to take on grocery shopping. 

So now we come up with meal plans together, we both add items to our shared apple note grocery list, he grocery shops, and I make nearly all of the meals. Given his frugal nature, he's actually better suited to grocery shop as he pays more attention to prices and knows where it's more economical to buy various things. He gets as much as he can at Aldi, then goes to our big box grocery store, Cub, and sometimes stops at Target for a few things.

Flash forward to now and I kind of think he has the better end of the deal now that we have 2 kids. I actually think grocery shopping alone doesn't sound all that bad compared to my Saturday morning which includes taking the kids to the library and gymnastics, especially since gymnastics features manhandling a squirrelly toddler parent involvement. But when Will grows out of the toddler stage, our Saturday mornings might be about even in terms of how challenging/tiring they are. 

Cleaning: prior to having children, I cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen and he vacuumed and dusted. Before I lived with Phil, I had cleaners come every other week but I knew he wasn't on board with that expense when I moved in with him. Then in summer 2019 during our house hunting, we were having a really hard time finding a house he was willing to buy (he was even more picky than I was and we had been house hunting for almost 2 freaking years at that point) and he agreed to hire cleaners to kind of offset some of the tension around house hunting. During covid, as we approached my due date in fall 2020, we put our cleaning service on pause to limit the people coming in and out of our house and Phil and I shared cleaning duties. I figured we'd rehire them when I was vaccinated and returned to work. But Phil really liked not having the house cleaning expense. I felt the expense was worth it especially since they got our house cleaner than either of us could! I explained that I felt my time was worth more than what we paid for house cleaners, and our free time is so limited. I do not want to spend nap time scrubbing toilets or cleaning the stove. So since he felt so strongly about not re-hiring the cleaners, he agreed to take on the cleaning. 

It hasn't been a perfect solution because our house is not as clean as it was. We both tidy up the house and I do sometimes help with things, like cleaning the kitchen. He fits the cleaning in on quiet periods on Fridays when he works from home or while I'm out and about with the boys. It's working fine enough but I keep hoping he'll tire of cleaning and agree to re-hire cleaners. 

***

This negotiation approach might not work for many and it probably comes off as 'cut throat' since I've stood my ground on not being willing to do things we can outsource. And yes, he takes on things many husbands/fathers don't, but I still do plenty of things like scheduling doctor/dentist appointments, taking the kids to those appointments, washing our cloth diapers, keeping track of what clothes the boys have/what they need, and selling/donating things the boys grow out of. I'm also the primary contact for daycare and tend to stay home with the kids when they are sick since I have colleagues at work who can cover for me when I'm out. I think our division of labor is as close to even as we can get, especially now that we are out of the baby stage - close to even wasn't possible when I was pumping or nursing! 

I am fortunate to be married to a person who sees me and treats me as his equal. But that's what I was looking for in a partner. We are also very left-brained, logical, less-emotional people (in the Myers Briggs classification, we are both hard-core "thinkers," not "feelers") so our negotiations about division of labor has never been contentious or emotional. 

But the way to go about these kind of negotiations are so specific to the marriage and the personalities and interests of the couple so it's really a "you do you" kind of situation, but maybe it's helpful/interesting for others to see how we got to where we are at! 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Weekend Redux

The weather this weekend was more of a mixed bag compared to last weekend. We desperately need rain, but I selfishly would prefer it rain during the week. But we still spent a lot of time outside this weekend. 

On Friday night I made blackened Walleye tacos with sauted peppers and onions (skipped the cabbage part of the recipe to keep things easy) and we stayed inside after dinner since it was raining. 

I was up with the boys on Saturday morning. We facetimed with my parents and then I headed out for my last 'longish' run before my 10k next weekend. I usually run with my neighbor and we talk the whole time so it's a conversational (slower) pace. She was out of town so I ran alone and I must have been feeling extra good because this is the fastest I have ran since pre-kids (9:33). I do not expect to maintain that pace during the 10k next week as I'll run with my neighbor and we'll likely chit chat but I'm not in a stage of life where I'm trying to "race." I'm out there to have fun and do something for myself. But it's nice to see that I can run a little faster than I think I can!

After my run we had our usual combo of the library followed by gymnastics followed by lunch and quiet/nap time. Will took a typical 45 minute nap but Phil took him for a walk so I would get a longer break to rest. The way we handle weekends is the person who gets up with the kids gets around 1.5-2 hours of a break during naptime. By the time they got back from their walk, the wind picked up and it was spitting rain. So we were inside for the rest of the night. We had grilled burgers and corn on the cob so Phil had the fun job of grilling in the rain. 

Then we entertained them in the house for the rest of the Saturday night. My sister got Paul a kitchen play set when he was 2, I think, and this play set has gotten so much use! We spent most of the time in our basement, though, and I was happy to see Will more interested in books. They both enjoyed looking at this lift-the-flap dinosaur book.



After Will went to bed around 7, Paul and I finished the 400-piece puzzle we'd been working on all week - but found there was one missing piece!! Doh. I'm debating returning it but kind of feel like we got our money's worth putting 399 pieces together. 

I got to sleep in on Sunday morning. Then the boys and I headed to the farmer's market and adjacent park while Phil did some projects around the house. The boys had apple cider donuts which they really enjoyed. We were at the park for over 2 hours! Some friends from school arrived around 10 so we stayed extra long. 
 

After lunch and nap/quiet time (which I spent doing a lower body workout) on Sunday afternoon , we watched the tail end of the Vikings game and were shocked to see them pull off a win. The Vikings are a total heart-break team. My 99yo grandma is a HUGE Vikings fan and Phil said he wished she could see them have a successful season but this isn't shaping up to be that season. But they did pull off a win in the end which is all that matters. After that, we headed out to one of our favorite local parks, Triangle Park. So all told, we were probably outside for a good 4+ hours on Sunday. 


On Sunday night, I made a bacon and cheese egg bake. Then we hung out in the basement until bedtime. Paul was proud of his magnatile creation. He's getting into an "awkward smiling" stage. Will was interested in reading books again so yay!


And that was a wrap on our weekend. Lots of time outside, a bit more time indoors than I'd like, but overall a good weekend! 

How was your weekend? 

Friday, September 23, 2022

TGIF - Fall is Here!

Fall is in the air here and I am here for it! I love summer, but I also love fall, maybe even more than summer. I just hope that we have a nice, long fall! We had some hot, humid weather earlier this week - like upper 80s. Once the splash pads/local pools are closed, I'm kind of over that kind of weather. So give me all the cool, crisp mornings and warm, sunny afternoons!

The book I'm reading is The Defense by Steve Cavanagh which is the first book in a series. I heard about a later book in the series on a podcast and was really interested in that one, but as they say on this podcast, since I'm not an animal I started with the first book in the series. I am not far into it so can't say if it will be a success yet!

The high of my week was my day off on Tuesday! I had a haircut at noon so took the day off. It was a wonderful day! I started with a run at 5:30 with my neighbor, finished a book, sorted through the boys' clothing/packed up stuff they have outgrown, bought some new clothes for them, and then attended a work happy hour at 4. Yes, that is a lot, but when I am setting the schedule, I don't mind being super busy like that. I typically would not go into work on my day off for a happy hour, but the head of my division was in so I wanted to make an appearance. I saw him last week in Charlotte but knew our interaction would be different in a social setting. I really like the people I work with so I did not mind going into downtown to socialize with them! And missing the dinner hour is not the worst thing. ;) 

That new haircut feeling!

The low of my week was dealing with some crankiness from Will. He's getting his bottom 2-year molars so has been quite cranky. I know the crankiness is from discomfort so I have sympathy for him but will be glad when he has all of his teeth and we can put teething behind us FOREVER!! 

A recipe I made was a corn chowder from a Milk Street Kitchen Instantpot cookbook. I used fresh corn and the recipe has you cut the corn off the cob and then put the cobs in when it's cooking. It is so much better when I do that because the corn flavor is extra strong and delicious! 

A show we are watching is The Patient on Hulu. I mentioned this earlier this week, but it's a show by the creators of "The Americans" which is one of our all-time favorite shows. Steve Carell plays a therapist who has been kidnapped by his patient who is a serial killer. The patient is desperate for his therapist to help him overcome his urge to kill. So clearly this is not a light show! But we are enjoying it but enjoying is a weird word to use to describe a show like this if you know what I mean. The new season of The Great British Bake-Off is on, too, so I will watch then when I have time alone in the house which is very rare!

For workouts I did a strength training workout on Monday and ran 4 miles on Tuesday and Thursday morning. I'll run on Saturday morning and do a strength training workout during nap time on Sunday. So this week I'll fit in 5 workouts, but that's because I was only in the office one day this week! Check out the view from my Thursday morning run. It was a crisp 48 degrees. I am sure that sounds so cold to my friends in the south but it's ideal running temps for me! The leaves are just starting to turn so the views will get better and better this fall!
 


The best money spent was on clothes for the boys. Paul got new shoes and socks from Target and this may make you all cringe, but I bought some outdoor clothes for winter from Once Upon a Child. I stopped there to sell some clothes and they had all their winter stuff out so I figured I'd buy it while I was there. I love buying things at Once Upon a Child, especially winter stuff like boots and snow pants, especially since we ideally need 2 sets of snow pants/winter coats so we can leave one set at daycare. On this trip I got snow pants for both boys, but I need to exchange Will's for a bigger size. Winter clothes are tricky to buy. I thought what I bought for Will might be too big, but he has such a long torso so I need to go up a size. I really really really hope we won't need these clothes for many months but you never know. We got a huge snow storm in mid-October a couple of years ago so it's not out of the question that they may need these clothes in as soon as a month! 

My plans this weekend include very little so far! Our mornings are set - library and gymnastics on Saturday, farmers market and park on Sunday, but we'll need to fill our afternoons. I think we are going to go to one of our favorite parks one afternoon but that's about it for plans! We'll definitely be outside soaking up the beautiful fall weather!

Bonus pics:

Paul had soccer again this week and it went much better. I don't know how Phil did it with both kids last week. I think I would have given up and gone home if I was him. It was tough with 2 parents as Will wanted to be on the field, too. Next week I will take him for a stroller walk in the neighborhood and stay the heck away from where Paul and Phil are!

Paul is very into puzzles these days so I bought a couple new puzzles that have big and small pieces so we can work on a puzzle together!

Visiting the geese at a house in the neighborhood. They change the costumes throughout the year. Last week one was a squirrel and the other was a teacher. Now they are a Vikings player and a ref. Paul LOVES seeing these geese so much!

Throwing leaves into the (nearly dry) creek on a beautiful fall evening.


How was your week? What is the weather like where you live?

Monday, September 19, 2022

Another Fun, Full Weekend + Weekend Planning With Young Kids

We had another fun, full weekend. Friday was a quiet night and our first night back together as a family of 4. I made tacos for dinner since that is a super easy meal to throw together. Everyone except Will - whose nickname is Taco - enjoys that meal. Go figure the kid who goes by Taco doesn't like Tacos! Hopefully this changes with time! Oh and we got the email with the boys' school photos on Friday. We never order pictures since they usually don't turn out well. This year's batch were comically bad. So many tears and Will isn't in the shirt I sent for him. Paul had told us that Will cried the whole time so we figured they wouldn't be great. He was not kidding. But wow they are real life!! Paul's expression cracks me up in his photos! Much to Phil's chagrin, we have family photos on Thursday after work. We can only go up from here! 





But back to our weekend! Saturday morning I ran 4 miles by myself and then we headed out for our usual library + gymnastics routine while Phil grocery shopped. After lunch and quiet time, Phil and Paul headed out to Phil's mom's and I was on Will duty. I took him for a long walk that included a stop at the park. 


He enjoyed having the toys to himself, especially the "drill" toy which is a hand-me-down that both boys love. 


Will is so obsessed with using silverware. He insisted on eating his blueberries with a fork. I guess it's good for his fine motor skills!

It's getting a little easier to have Will on my own for a longer stretch. The afternoon didn't feel too long on Saturday. It helps that he's more interested in puzzles and books. The reason it's easiest to be outside of our house is because of his limited attention span so the better he gets at playing with things like puzzles and sitting with me to read books, the easier it is to be home. 

On Sunday morning we went to the farmer's market and park. We were there for about 2 hours. I was thinking all the fresh air would mean Will would take a good nap that afternoon. But nope - he napped for 45 minutes. I did manage to fit a strength training workout in during his short nap but it was not the "break" I had envisioned!


That afternoon we went to the birthday party for the daughter of one of Phil's high school friends. The boys had fun playing with these push toys. Paul is too big for them but he was a good sport about pushing the toddlers around. 

Then it was home for baths and bedtimes. Phil and I have started to watch a new Hulu show called "The Patient" which is written by the creators of "The Americans" which is one of our favorite shows. The episodes are only 20-30 minutes which is perfect for me! 

So overall, it was a good weekend. I feel like we are in a good place with how we schedule our weekends. We have a few placeholders - library followed by gymnastics on Saturday morning and the farmer's market/park on Sunday morning. Those are both things I tend to do on my own with the boys. Phil grocery shops on Saturday mornings and often does other things around the house on Sunday mornings, like yard work, house projects, cleaning (since he doesn't want to re-hire house cleaners, he does all of the cleaning), etc. This past weekend he didn't have any "chores" so he went to the driving range. I get breaks, too, which I spent running and doing a workout. And I go up to bed at 8:30 so get time to myself then to read. I'm just looking forward to a time when we have more hours to ourselves on the weekend. I did get an hour during Will's nap on Saturday but since his naps are so unpredictable, it's not the most "relaxing" time since I'm just waiting for him to wake up! I think/hope this is something that will get easier as the boys get older and more independent so I probably just need to accept that this is a "high touch" stage of parenting that is just kind of exhausting but short in the grand scheme of things. 

How was your weekend? Do your weekends fill your cup or deplete you? We have a lot of fun with our boys but if I'm honest, I'm usually more tired at the end of the weekend than I was at the start! 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Back From Charlotte

I had a good 3-day work trip to Charlotte. My flights all went smoothly so maybe the staffing challenges are improving in the airline industry? Overall the trip went really well. I spent a lot of time meeting new sales people and meeting portfolio management/research colleagues in person that I had only met over zoom. There were hours-long chunks of time that I was walking around and talking to people. This introvert was very happy to return to my quiet hotel room at the end of the day!

I also fit in a dinner with a friend that I made when I worked in Charlotte in 2013-2014. I was hoping to see another friend but I had an awful headache so needed an early night. And then I had a quick catch up with another friend who works for the same company. It was nice to catch up with some friends during this trip! That doesn't always work out when I am traveling for work so I am glad it did this time! 

I also managed to workout both mornings! I knew it would be dark when I was working out so I opted to bring some strength training workouts with me instead of running. The gym had treadmills, but I hate running on the dreadmill so much! I brought along 2 workouts from programs I did many years ago. I have all the workouts from those programs in a binder organized by the type of workout (HIIT, full body, arms, legs, cardio) so I picked a few strength training workouts, one of which I could do in my hotel room. I have barely done any strength training this summer and that was evident when I did these workouts. I need to get back into a balance of running and strength training. I will look and feel better when I combine strength training and running!

This is the leg workout I did the first morning which had me dripping with sweat! The wall sits were the hardest part of the workout!

I definitely missed Phil and the kids during this trip, though. 3 days is kind of the max I can be away at this stage of life. I know other moms have to travel for longer stretches but I am going to try to cap my trips at 3 days and ideally only once a month although I'm traveling twice in October. Paul had his first night of soccer on Wednesday night and apparently it was a sh*t show because parent involvement was required. Phil obviously had both boys so it was hard to help with the soccer drills and manage a 21-month old... But it's the only soccer class I'll miss and going forward we can divide and conquer - I'll manage Will and Phil can help with the soccer class. 

The upcoming weekend is quiet without much scheduled which is good after a hectic week. We'll have our usual library and gymnastics combo on Saturday and then Phil and Paul will go out to Phil's mom's house. I'm sure we'll visit several parks and I'm hoping to run with my neighbor but she's on call so that might be tricky to do. I also encouraged Phil to go to the driving range or golf 9 holes on Sunday so he can get some time away to recharge his battery.  

How was your week?

Monday, September 12, 2022

Weekend Review

We had another beautiful fall-like weekend. It's technically still summer, but it's feeling more fall-like outside which I love. The days start off cool and crisp and it's warm and sunny in the afternoon. I'm here for this kind of weather! Here's how we filled the time!

On Friday afternoon I met up with a former running club friend who was our realtor that helped during the 2-year process of finding our home. She became a mom last summer and has another one on the way this fall so it was fun to catch up. I do NOT miss the house-hunting process and much prefer talking about day-to-day life with her, although it was interesting to hear how nutty the housing market was recently, like waived inspection, etc. We could not have bought in that market! That night we had take-and-bake pizzas for dinner.

On Saturday morning we FaceTimed with my mom and then had our usual combo of a stop at the library + gymnastics. They changed out the toys at the library. The boys loved playing with cars and such, especially Will as he is obsessed with anything with wheels. Paul was really into little people at this stage, but Will is all about "carros" (Spanish word for cars). 


Saturday afternoon was our annual block party. It was the first "normal" block party since we moved onto the block in Nov 2019. We had block parties that last 2 years but wore masks and didn't share food. Paul was so excited for this all week! They block off the street so the kids are ride bikes and scoot. I brought out our hand-me-down strider balance bike. We introduced this too late with Paul and he did NOT like it. But Kae had mentioned that they introduced it to their boys early on and they learned to ride bike quickly. So we'll see if Will takes to it. He did enjoy walking around on it for 15 minutes which is like 4 hours in toddler time. ;) 


On Sunday morning I took the boys to a local farmer's market that is next to a park. The boys usually share a donut but Will made it clear he wanted his own donut. So I picked my battles and let him have his own to avoid a public meltdown. I know others would make a different decision and hold their ground but I figure a little extra pastry wasn't the end of the world. He ate about 2/3 of it and Paul happily finished it for him. 


The boys had a great time at the park! Paul ended up seeing 3 friends from school! We were at the park/market for over 2 hours since it was such a beautiful morning!


While we were out and about, Phil and his cousin got started on the project of replacing our front door. It took a good 5 hours from start to finish with some breaks for lunch/trips to the hardware store/Home Depot. Our house was build in 1925 so unsurprisingly, the walls are not straight which makes a project like replacing a door extra tricky. I was on kid duty while Phil worked on that project. 

The finished project. I wish we had taken a before picture. We used to have a storm door but it got taken by the wind several times so we decided to just have a front door from now on. Storm doors have been nothing but trouble for us. We had issues with our storm door in our last house, too!

On Sunday afternoon, Paul had a 1.5 hour play date with a little boy on the block. There are a couple of kids around his age on the block and they all get along really great so there will be more playdates in the future! I fit in a strength training workout during Will's nap. I tried a "Lift4" workout from beachbody and really liked it, so I will keep doing that program until I activate a Peloton trial membership later this fall. 

The rest of the afternoon was low key. We sort of watched the Vikings beat the Packers - it was on in the background. Paul worked on puzzles and Phil and I each took Will for a walk. 


I spent most of the afternoon making a bean soup from a Pioneer Woman cookbook. I thought my mom had made it for us once and remembered liking it, but overall it was pretty disappointing. Since our boys go to a Spanish Immersion daycare, they eat a lot of beans and it's something they like, but Paul basically refused to eat the soup. Will liked it the most, though, and asked for more so at least it was a hit with someone. It simmered for several hours but just didn't have a great flavor profile overall. But oh well, not all recipes can be hits and this didn't cost much to make since we had dried beans around. 

Toddler side eye.

We ended the weekend by watching the first half of the season finale of Alone and then it was off to bed! I have a busy week ahead since I fly to Charlotte tomorrow morning at 7:30am. I get back late Thursday night, like after 9pm I think! 

How was your weekend? Are you experiencing gorgeous fall weather, too?

Friday, September 9, 2022

Five Things Friday

The 4-day work week really flew by for me! Here's 5 things on my mind today, many work-related!

1. My company is enforcing the expectation to be in the office 3 days/week. I had slipped down to 2 this summer and was really liking that balance. My boss said he really doesn't care and he won't be tracking how much we are in. But the enforcement is happening because some people were never coming into the office. I could have asked my role classification to change but after talking it over with Phil, I'm going to comply and come in 3 days/week - for now. If you have a doctor appointment or something like that, it's fine to WFH that day and it seems like I have at least one appointment/month so some weeks I will be in 2 days. Pre-covid, I had to be in the office 5 days/week. So 3 is better than 5, but if it was up to me, 2 would be the sweet spot. But in an industry where we always seem to be in cost-cutting mode, it's best to not stick out by asking for an exception. 

2. Being in 3 days a week makes it much more challenging to fit workouts in. Ideally, I'd like to workout 5 days/week. When it cools down, I could leave the office at 3 and run outdoors. It was too hot this week to do that as we had a weird hot/humid spell mid-week. But I could probably run in the afternoon once/week for the next couple of months. It's kind of like mental tetris to figure out how to slot workouts in. Getting to 5 workouts/week is challenging as it requires getting up at 5am (sacrificing sleep) or workout out at 7:30pm (sacrificing time with Phil) on the days I'm in the office since we leave for work/daycare drop-off at 6:45. I vacillate between telling myself this is a season of life and that 3 times/week is fine/good enough. I'm trying to focus on Laura Vanderkam's thought that "3 times a week is a habit." I know I can workout 3 times/week. But then am I cutting myself too much slack? And this mental tetris doesn't consider that I seem to be sick at least one week a month since I have a suppressed immune system thanks to my RA drugs. I wish my sleep needs were lower, but they just aren't, probably, again, because of RA so the early morning workouts aren't enticing. Aren't chronic illnesses fun? Also, I should specify that early morning/evening runs would only happen with my neighbor! The Eliza Fletcher story has horrified me and it’s a reminder that even though my chances of something like that happening to me are low, it’s not worth the risk for me. During the summer I run alone around 7 am but it’s light out then and the running paths around the lake are very busy so it feels very safe, luckily. 

Because I am a numbers/planning dork, I have been tracking the # days of workouts (orange line) and hit 10k steps (blue line). May was the worst month for workouts since I was sick with covid for almost 2 weeks and then had kids home with me for the next 20 days when they had covid. But being in the office has had a positive impact on the # of days I hit/exceed 10k steps. 

3. Speaking of work, I am traveling again next week - this time to my company's office in Charlotte. I haven't been to Charlotte since our babymoon trip in 2017 when we traveled to Asheville. And I've never been to my company's office there. I'm presenting some training to a class of new hires but besides that the trip is all about getting face time with the portfolio managers and sales people I work with. Given how many social plans I have, you might think I'm an extrovert. I'm not. I'm an outgoing introvert and do great when I know people. It is a real struggle for me to visit an office where I don't know many people. But it's good for the people I work with to put a face/personality to my name, besides seeing me on zoom calls. But I'll be totally and completely depleted after this trip! I will get to see a couple of former co-workers while I am there, though! I lived in Charlotte for a year in 2013-2014 and while I loathed my time there, it is nice to come back to visit and see old friends. 

4. Because I'm going to be gone for 3 full days, I reached out to 2 of Phil's cousins to try to plan a round of golf for him as a reward/thing to look forward to as solo parenting is not super fun, especially with a toddler. For Father's Day and his birthday, I told Phil to plan a round of golf. It's his favorite thing to do and we both appreciate the gift of time in this stage of parenting. But Phil is not great at initiating plans. So I guess I am his golf bookie since planning is my forte. I was hoping they could golf in September but it sounds like they aren't all available until October. But at least he can look forward to a round of golf in the near future. I wasn't sure how Phil would feel about me kind of going behind his back and planning this for him but he was really appreciative. This is what I did for his 40th last year - I planned 3 rounds of golf and it was a great gift.

5. It feels summer-like here but fall is on my mind! This week I bought tickets to a pumpkin event at the zoo in mid-October. It's at 7pm so it will just be Paul and me since that is too late for Will. I think Paul is going to love it. He is soooo excited about Halloween. His enthusiasm is contagious. I neglected to plan a mommy/Paul date this summer so my plan is to do that this fall and take him to an apple orchard or something like that. I can see how fun "bigger" kids are since there are more things you can do together. I'm also planning to take him to the Children's Theater to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in November or December. I think we are hitting peak years for holiday excitement so it should be an extra fun final quarter of the year!

What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Long Weekend Recap

Happy Tuesday! We had a really nice long weekend. The weather could not have been more perfect - sunny, not too hot, low humidity, lots of blue skies. It looks like the summer weather is sticking around which I am more than ok with since it cools off at night and the air is dry! We packed a lot into our holiday weekend but as I've mentioned before, the more plans we have, the better the weekends go. 

The holiday weekend didn't get off to the best start, though. Phil was recovering from a stomach bug that took him down for 3 days last week and caused me to miss book club and another friend gathering. Womp womp. Then I got hit with a bad head cold on Thursday night. The bond markets closed mid-day on Friday due to the holiday weekend so I ended up napping for 2 hours and that made a huge difference. I am learning that powering through viruses doesn't work for me and seems to extend how long I feel ill, so going forward I am going to try to rest more when I get hit with a bug of any sort. I have to push back against the expectation that I put on myself that I can fight viruses like other healthy adults... but that's not how it works when you have an autoimmune disease - err, 2 in my case (RA and Hashimotos) - and are on immune suppressant drugs. 

I was feeling better on Saturday morning so I took the boys to the park while Phil went grocery shopping. We had the park to ourselves for most of the time we were there!


In the afternoon, Phil took Paul to a coworker's daughter's first birthday party. I was feeling better but figured I would keep my germs to myself as I wasn't sure if the party was indoors or outdoors. Paul had a blast as they had a ball pit and a bouncy house. Will stayed home with me. 

Real talk: this is what our basement looked like for most of the weekend. I did make both kids help me clean up on Monday night, though, as the chaos was really bothering me!

Sunday was a very full day. We headed out to Phil's mom's in the morning and had lunch with her. Will hadn't been out there in a long time but going forward the 4 of us are going to try to go out there once a month. Typically Phil and Paul go and I stay home with Will. But Will is at a stage where he can stay awake longer and tolerate a crappy nap. I mean he doesn't nap well most of the time, so a short nap at nana's isn't going to throw him off much. 

The boys had a great time playing with nana's toys. Paul especially loves this "talk and play" toy. Phil and his brother had one growing up so his mom scooped one up when she saw one at a garage sale. I am not familiar with this toy, but it basically reads to you and tells you when to turn the pages and it's very interactive. It uses cassette tapes so is quite the blast from the past!

Aspiring GAP model

After Will was up from his (short) nap, we headed to Phil's friend's house for a get together with his HS friends. The couple lives on a lake and are the best hosts. Paul surprised us and wanted to go tubing after he saw the other kids go. He is our cautious kiddo but is really getting more brave!


On Monday morning, we headed to the zoo and I tried out my new approach of not seeing allll the things. We ended up seeing more than I thought we would but I followed Paul's lead on what he wanted to see. He did need a piggy back ride to the car but did well with walking overall. 


The highlight for me was seeing 3 baby tigers that were born earlier this year! The mama tiger walked right in front of us and then sat down and one her babies came over for a little bath. We spent a lot of time at this exhibit watching the mom and babies. 


The rest of the day was pretty low key. Paul's Halloween costume (Chase from Paw Patrol) arrived so he tried it on. He is soooo excited for Halloween. He thinks since it's September that Halloween is very soon... I think he'll be wearing this quite a bit before Halloween but at least we'll get our money's worth! Hopefully we have mild weather for Halloween as this costume is not warm! 


Even though it was around 80 degrees outside, I made 3-bean turkey chili for dinner. We eat chili and soups year-round but I feel especially pulled to make them when we turn the calendar to September!

How was your holiday weekend? 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

What We Read in August

August was another strong reading month for me - I finished 9 books which is about average for me! Yes, that is a lot of books, but I think I may be a faster-than-average reader and I read for at least an hour/day, but sometimes more! It was a excellent month of reading - 8/9 got 4-5 stars, only 1 got 3 stars (Cultish). 

My reads:

These 5 books were my absolute favorites of the month. True Biz (4 stars) is an owned voices book about a school for the deaf. I'd read this one in print because there are drawing of different ASL words/phrases that add to the reading experience. I did not realize that cochlear implants were controversial. This book really educated me on the deaf community while also entertaining me. Because it's focused on a HS, it can have a YA feel although it's not specifically written for a YA audience. Kaleidoscope (5 stars) would be a great companion read to Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance as it's another fiction novel about grief. Book Lovers (5 stars) was a delightful romance. I appreciated that the conflict in the novel was different than other romance novels I've read. The conflict in romance novels can stress me out, even though I know it will be resolved since romance novels end with a happily ever after. The conflict in this novel did not stress me out, though, and felt more relatable and not manufactured. Waiting for Eden (5 stars) was a slim novel that really packed a punch. It's about a soldier who was gravely injured in combat and just barely survives. It's narrated by a fellow soldier thta didn't survive the same battle; he's waiting for Eden to pass over to the afterlife. I don't know what they were thinking when they chose the cover, though. It does not convey the depth and difficultly of this story - it looks like the cover for a romance IMO. Lastly, Where Hope Comes From (5 stars) was a beautiful collection of poetry about loss and resilience. Giving 4 books 5 stars is not typical for me, but I have become more generous with 5-star ratings because why not? It's the best way to convey that I really loved a book. 


This last set of books were 4 stars with the exception of Cultish. Cultish was a little bit meh for me. I think the book could have been a long-form article instead of a book, though. It felt a bit wandering at times, and some of the "cultish" topics were kind of tangential. I guess that is why she chose Cultish for the title. The author does have an interesting backstory as her dad grew up in a cult but escaped as a teen. 



The boys' books:

The best book of August was this delightful book, A Mouthful of Minnow. A turtle goes hunting for some fish, but then a family of minnows, including their nana, swims into his mouth. What is he to do? I think I need to order this book for my parents lake home. My dad is a big fisher so I think he'd appreciate the story and the theme of the book is perfect for a home on a lake. I found out about this book through the Indiebound Kids List. If you have young readers, I HIGHLY recommend using this site. They post kid recs every other month and break them out by age. I always request every picture book from the library. Some are bigger hits than others, but it takes so little time to read a picture book that there isn't really any downside to reading something that we don't end up loving. I never would have found this book otherwise! They also do a monthly post for adults and I get great reading ideas from that, too!


We also really enjoyed this little book about the backstory of how the show "The Wild Kratts" came about. It talks about all the rejection the Kratt brothers faced before they found their home at PBS. And here's a fun fact - my colleague/mentor went to college with Chris Kratt! Paul is such a huge fan, I'd love to take him to a live Wild Kratts show sometime if one ever comes to the Twin Cities.


Last but not least, I am thrilled to say that Will is more into book lately. Phew. Picture me breathing a sigh of relief. I've been getting some board books for him at the library and he was obsessed with Mighty Moms. We read 4 books to him before bed every night and there were many nights when he read this book 4 times. When we finished he'd look at us and say, "mas." Who can say no to that? We also own the author's other book, Mighty Dads, which is very cute.  


Did you read anything great this month? Any