Monday, October 31, 2022

A Spooktacular Weekend

We had a nice, albeit very full, pre-Halloween weekend! On Friday night, Phil had a guys night so I was on my own with the boys. I was glad that he had a guys night for a change. I tend to have more social plans in the evenings than he does since I'm a planner and my friends are planners! But it sounds like they are going to establish a recurring guys night. You all know my struggles with wanting things to be "equal/even" - which I know isn't possible - but I am happy to hear he'll hopefully have a recurrent guys night to look forward to. The boys and I had a quiet night at home. 

Paul showing Will how to draw a cat!

Saturday was our usual combo of getting to the library when it opened and then going to gymnastics. The library had 10 pictures of animals skeletons to find in the children's area of the library so Paul had a blast doing that! 

After quiet time on Saturday, we went over to a friend's house for a pumpkin carving party. There were a bunch of families from daycare there. I brought this sweet and smoky chili and the host made vegetarian chili. I handled the pumpkin carving while Phil corralled Will. Phil usually carves our pumpkins and he does a much better job than I did! 

Ours is the cat on the far left. The cat is kind of plump, just like our Oscar!

Our friends have 2 cats that are indoor/outdoor cats. Will was obsessed with them and really tried to coax this cat out from under the deck, to no avail!

On Sunday morning I ran 4 miles with my neighbor and then the boys and I went to the Farmer's Market while Phil golfed 9 holes with some friends. It was an unseasonably warm weekend so he wanted to take advantage of the nice weather! 

The boys tried on their costumes after lunch in preparation for the Halloween party we had that afternoon and it turned out Will had outgrown the puppy costume I thought he was going to wear. It fit when he tried it on in August but now he's too tall for it! I guess he went through a growth spurt! Luckily he can fit into the dino costume that Paul wore the last 2 years!

When Phil got home from golfing, Paul and I went over to the party around 1 and Phil stayed back w/ napping Will. I brought a Greek-layered dip which did not go over very well for some reason! I guess I know what I'll be having with lunch today! My neighbor had some fun crafts set up for the kids and a Halloween egg hunt. 

Decorating a Rice Krispy treat

When we got home, Phil raked and the boys played in the leaves while I made a turkey breast in the instant pot plus mashed potatoes and gravy. So kind of Thanksgiving in October, I guess! We mostly made this turkey breast to have leftover turkey to use in a Wild Rice soup later this week (the recipe doesn't call for a protein but we always add chicken or turkey - but leave out the mushrooms since Phil doesn't like them!).

After dinner, the boys opened their Halloween gift from my parents (any holiday is a reason for sending something in the mail!). We kept Will up 10 minutes later than his usual bedtime, which we'll do each night this week in preparation for daylight savings time ending next weekend. Hopefully gradually pushing his bedtime out by an hour over the week means he will sleep a little later next Sunday and we'll avoid an extra hour of parenting? We'll see. This is the first time we've attempted to adjust bedtime in preparation for the time change. I will personally be VERY glad when DST comes to an end in 2023! It's fine as an adult but a total pain with young kids. 

Playing with this Frozen-themed magic ink activity pad.

Then Phil and I watched the final episode of The Patient. I'm sad that it's over but have mixed feelings about the ending. If you've watched it, email me to discuss!!

How was your weekend? Did you have any Halloween-themed activities to attend? Have you ever tried adjusting your kids' bedtimes in preparation for the time change? Tell me it works!!! Ha.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Five Things Friday

Happy Friday! We have a jam-packed fun weekend ahead of us since it's a holiday weekend! Instead of my usual TGIF-style post, I'm talking about 5 things that are on my mind this week.

1. Halloween is finally here! Woo hoo! Paul has been talking about Halloween since August. Tomorrow we are going a friend's house for a pumpkin carving party and then on Sunday we are going to our neighbor's Halloween party in the afternoon. So it's going to be a very fun, full weekend! And then Monday is trick-or-treating, of course. I think we'll take Will to a couple of houses on our block and then one parent will head home with him and the other will stay out with Paul. It will be interesting to see how long Paul lasts! Last year he was still going strong after an hour and would have kept going if I didn't have to go home to nurse Will before his bedtime. I know Phil is looking forward to enjoying some Halloween candy as his "dad tax." 

2. I honestly don't look forward to having a ton of candy in the house as I am an abstainer, not a moderator. I'm a wanna be moderator but I am really good at talking myself into eating "one more piece" or telling myself that I deserve 1-2 peanut butter cups because I had a long day of parenting or a hard day at work. Phil is a very, very good moderator. He could sit down with a half gallon of ice cream and eat less from the carton than I would if I dished up a bowl for myself. I so wish I was like that, but I'm not! But I'm grateful to Gretchen Rubin for introducing me to the concept of moderator/abstainer. 

3. I had to get a dedicated work iPhone recently. The reason for this is too boring to explain but it has to do with the fact that I work in an industry that is regulated by the SEC and my company needs to be able to limit how we communicate with colleagues/retain the communications we are sending. But I can I just say how much of a pain in the butt it is to have 2 iPhones to keep track of/keep charged/etc. One morning, it took me 3 attempts to get out of the house. I got out to the car and Phil said, 'do you have both of your phones.' Nope, I didn't, so I went back in the house. I got back to the car and he said, 'are you sure you have everything' and then I realized I had forgotten my air pods. I like to take a skyway walk mid-day to stretch my legs, so I had to go back in for them. So basically I was like a forgetful preschooler that morning, but I'm not in the habit of remembering what all I need to bring with me to the office. I will get better at this since it's my reality going forward! 

4. Christmas is less than 2 months away! The grandparents have asked for wish lists for the boys so I scrambled to come up with some gift ideas. Phil and I are minimalists so the holidays are a little hard for us because the boys get waaaaaaay too many gifts in our opinion. But it's just a stage of life and I remind myself it won't always be like this. But we've decided our gift to them will be something called a "nugget" which is a fort-building couch - it will go in our basement. I've been assured by multiple mom friends that our boys will love it. So we'll just buy that and some stocking stuffers/a smaller gift from Santa. How long will we be able to get away with giving so few gifts? We'll see! But I think Paul got something like 13 different gifts from Phil's mom last year so my kids will still have a lot of presents to open. In fact, we spread the gift opening over 3 days last year since he had sooo many gifts! But lest you think I am a total Grinch, yesterday I bought 10 books to give the boys during the season of Advent! We have a really cute Advent calendar and each day they open a drawer that contains some m&m's and then every couple of days there is a piece of paper that says "pick a present." The presents are Christmas-themed books! 

5. I'll close by sharing my high of the week which was a fun book club meeting on Wednesday night. I didn't get home until 9:30 which is sooo late for me! But we had the best time. 8 of us were able to attend. We had a great discussion about the October book, "Between Two Kingdoms." Great food, great friends, great discussion! 

What's on your mind today? Are you an abstainer or a moderator?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Traveling While Ill

Having to cancel my trip to NYC last week has really made me think about how one positive outcome from the pandemic is that we typically do not travel or (if possible) go into the office when we were sick. Prior to covid, I would have had to be REALLY sick, like have a high fever, to not go into work. Working from home was not widely accepted back then so you came to work, even if that meant spreading germs to your co-workers. These days, I stay home if I am sick because what is the benefit of being in the office if I am going to risk spreading my germs?

It made me think of a series of conferences that I spoke at in the fall of 2012. I had to present at 3 different bank conferences in the state of Pennsylvania. I think I was healthy for the first one, but had gotten sick by the time the 2nd one rolled around. But I still went because what else was I going to do? I remember I was absolutely miserable. To prepare for the conference and create my presentation, I had to read long and detailed laws on how banks had to change the way they funded themselves. That is not a typical thing that I present on in my job, but it's what they wanted us to talk about. So that meant that it was not easy to transfer that knowledge to someone else. 

So I slogged through a 1.5 hour presentation (which is also longer than typical for me - usually I present for a max of 50 minutes!). After the conference, I remember that one of the conference organizers reached out a couple of days later to see if I was doing ok because it was clear I was not well. I was losing my voice and coughing a ton. I was supposed to present at one more conference, and my health had declined further in the days leading up to the conference. I had a fever and just felt like death. I remember talking to my mom on the phone about how ill I was and she flat out told me I could not do this business trip. I tried to argue and say I could. But sometimes, even when you are 31 years old, you need your mom to tell you what to do. So I contacted my boss, told him I could not do this final conference, and wrote up detailed notes for a colleague so he could present my section. 

I went back and read some post from that time period. Like this post titled, I Survived. You guys, I was on 18 flights in 7 weeks! Back then I was traveling a ton for work. Besides all that work travel, I was in a wedding in St. Louis and ran a marathon in Des Moines. What in the actual world! It's kind of eerie to read that "I survived" post because I mention that I was asked to move to Charlotte on a trip that month for the 3rd time that year. Little did I know I'd find out 3 months later that I would have to move to Charlotte to keep my job... (It's also funny to read this post about getting back to dating - which I posted the week I went on my first (blind) date with Phil! Sometimes I wonder why I keep blogging when so many of my former blogging friends have stopped, but when I read old posts like these, it reminds me that my older self will appreciate all the things my current self is capturing on my blog.)

It's also worth noting that I can vividly recall getting what I now know was my first RA flare in November - so a month after I was super sick, traveling all over the place, and running a ton in preparation for a marathon. I know the flare happened in November because I traveled the day of the 2012 election. I remember voting that morning, getting on a flight, talking to Phil (who I had been dating for about a month at that point) about the election results that night in my hotel and then waking up the following morning with a hand that was so swollen and painful. I wouldn't find out I had rheumatoid arthritis until the following summer when I kept getting all these flares and was in so much pain that I felt like a decrepit octogenarian when I got out of bed each morning, couldn't get my suitcase in/out of over head bins, couldn't carry my suitcase upstairs at my parents, etc. Is it a coincidence that I started to see signs of RA shortly after putting my body through so much in a short period of time? Stress and autoimmune disorders are very closely linked. No one knows for sure why autoimmune diseases can lurk in your body and then rear their ugly head all of a sudden, but my rheumatologist thinks being under major stress is a significant factor in when your disease presents itself. 

But I'm getting off track here! I would not want to go through another pandemic like we experienced, but at least it taught adults that you DON'T GO TO WORK OR TRAVEL WHEN ILL. I got zero push-back when I canceled my trip. People pretty much said - thank you for not coming, please take care of yourself, we will see you next month. 

But why did it take a pandemic for our thoughts about working and traveling while ill to change? It's common sense. Why, as adults, were we going about our days even when we are very ill - particularly those of us who can do our jobs from home? Perhaps this is not the case in every workplace, but it was certainly the case in my industry where people are high strung performers and the expectations placed on you are high. It was almost a badge of honor to come to work when you felt awful. Like, 'look at me and how hard I am working and how dedicated I am since I am coming in even though I look like death warmed over!' 

What do you think? Has your perspective on working or traveling while ill changed? 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Long Weekend Recap

We had a nice long weekend! I mean by Sunday night Phil and I both felt and looked exhausted to be honest. But it was a pretty great weekend overall and I was feeling much better by Friday. I'm still blowing my nose a lot and I feel really fatigued - but is that after effects of RSV, having a chronic illness, having young kids, or all of the above? Who knows.

On Friday, I took multiple walks with Will because it is a sure-fire way to entertain him. The view of the lake on Friday morning was stunning! I logged about 20k steps that day from the multiple long walks we took!

We had the boys' conferences at the end of the day and both got glowing reports. Apparently Will is the best napper in the room. WHAT? This kid is NOT a great napper at home so I don't get it. And it's not like we don't tire him out with lots of outdoor time and such on the weekends. Paul was characterized as the very best listener and they said he is a model student. He is a good kid at home but wow we do not see those listening skills. ;) 

Playing t-ball on Friday evening. Will has an interesting batting technique!

On Saturday I ran for the first time in 4 weeks. It felt good to be back out there! Then I took the boys to the library. The toy area is camping-themed right now. The boys had a great time playing with the camping toys!

After quiet time on Saturday, Phil, Paul and Oscar headed out to Phil's moms. Here is Will "helping" kitty to come out from under the chair so Phil could put her in the carrier. 

Will and I took a long walk and went to our neighborhood park that afternoon. 

And then we cuddled up and read books after dinner and bath. He is finally showing more interest in books!

Sunday was my morning to get up with the boys. I prepped the shrimp for the shrimp skewers we'd serve at dinner that night while Paul watched Wild Kratts and Will played with kitchen toys. 

Our serious little baker.
Then the boys and I headed to the farmer's market and park. They played really well together at the park! I'm getting peaks of what life will be like when Will is over and they can be playmates.

Then after quiet time, we went to another park (the 3rd park of the weekend!) for a playdate with another family from school. The weather was beautiful but it was so windy and since we are experiencing a historical drought, dirt and leaves and such were in the air. So we stayed for less time than I thought we would since our eyes were all itchy and red from all the debris in the air. 

Being pushed by daddy on the merry-go-round

And then we capped off the day by having a friend over for dinner. We served pineapple and shrimp skewers, Asian-style rice and grilled asparagus. The boys were pretty wild since we don't have a lot of dinner guests! 

And that was a wrap! I stayed up until almost 10 (I usually turn my kindle off at 9:30) so I could finish my latest read, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, which was an amazing 5-star book that left me nostalgic for my youth. 

How was your weekend? 

Friday, October 21, 2022


Happy Friday! Daycare is closed today for teacher training/conferences, so I'll be juggling childcare with Phil while trying to keep up with work email... fun! Our conference slots are at the end of the day. We have conferences twice/year. I really enjoy connecting with the boys' teachers to hear how they are doing. We don't see our kids' teachers at drop-off since we drop-off on the earlier side and the teachers are so busy at pick-up so our conversations are limited to me saying something like "buen dia?" to Will's teachers. 

I did put my out of office on for today so people won't schedule client meetings so that should help! It has not been the best week with me feeling so under the weather. Here's how the week shaped up!

The book I read this week was All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir. This is classified as YA but don't let that classification deter you if you typically don't read YA. While the book is about 2 seniors in high school, it covers intense topics such as drug/substance abuse, racism, and other intense topics I can't reveal because they would be spoilers. So trigger warnings abound! It's about 2 Indian-American teens who are living on the margins in California. One lost both parents in an earthquake in Pakistan when she was a child and was rescued by her uncle. The other teen loses his mom early in the book and his father is an low-functioning alcoholic. I don't think I'd want a young teen reading this unless they were really mature and ready for hard topics... But it is very well-written 5-star book and I thought about the characters when I turned off my kindle every night. 

The high of my week was nothing really? Is that bad to say? Some weeks just aren't great and this was one of them. 

The low of my week was being sick and having to cancel my NYC trip. Besides my office visit in NYC, I was also going to attend a conference put on by my company for women in finance. So there were a lot of coworkers from all over the US in NYC this week. I rescheduled my trip to NYC for early November and it will still be a great trip but I'm sad I couldn't go this week.

A recipe I made was 3-bean turkey chili in the instant pot. This is another go-to recipe for us. The boys won't eat it, but Will did eat beans from it so that's something. Since our kids go to Spanish Immersion daycare, they eat a lot of beans and like them as a result. 

A show we are watching is the same as usual - The Patient and Only Murders in the Building. We finished Only Murders this week and I think I liked season 2 better than season 1. I just love Steve Martin. I've also watched 2 episodes of the new season of The Great British Baking Show which I just adore! 

For workouts insert crickets... I know some people work out when they are sick but that doesn't work for me. So I have been taking it very easy. I'm hoping to go for a run this weekend, though, but I know I will have to bring lots of kleenex with! October is shaping up to be an awful month for workouts, but such is life when you and your child are sick!

The best money spent was on tickets to the winter light show at our local arboretum. Paul and I went last year (flashback photo below) and he loved it so much and still talks about it! Last year it was extremely cold but he was such a trooper and had nothing but good things to say about the experience. We will go in early December so maybe/hopefully the weather will still be mildish then!

My plans this weekend include nothing tonight which is good as I know I'll be tired from a day of juggling work and kids. Gymnastics is canceled on Saturday morning as it's MEA weekend here so many families are out of town. We'll still do the library and then maybe go to the park that morning. Phil and Paul will go out to his mom's in the afternoon after quiet time to bring our cat back to her. Oscar has been with us for about 2 weeks as she had a routine vet appointment. I am sure she will be thrilled to go back to my MIL's quiet house where there isn't a toddler screaming "kitty!!!" over and over (which to be honest sounds like "titty." LOL!). Oscar is just not into kids so she mostly lives with my MIL - plus my MIL really loves her companionship. But it was nice to have her for a couple of weeks. On Sunday we'll go to the farmer's market and then in the afternoon we are meeting up with a daycare families whose kids are in the same room as our boys. And then that evening a friend is coming over for dinner. The weather is going to be gorgeous this weekend so I want to take advantage of it and spend as much time outside as possible! 

Bonus picture:

Paul is still thoroughly enjoying the leaves! Will is less into them but I'm sure that will change next fall.

Cat boy to the rescue!!

How was your week? Has the weather been weird where you live? It looks like much of the US had a weird cold snap this week!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Fall Weekend + RSV

Well, my week is not starting off on the best note. I came down with Will's bug. I took him in on Friday and he tested positive for RSV. The doctor told me adults can get it, too, but that it's not as severe - just a really bad cold with ridiculous amounts of mucus. The crappy thing is that I was supposed to go to NYC tomorrow for work. But I cancelled the trip so I can keep my germs to myself. Will is feeling better so went back to school today. We kept him home this weekend so he missed out on the fall fun. But Paul and I had a blast at the fall activities on Saturday. Here's what we got up to this weekend!

On Saturday morning Phil got up with Will and let me sleep in. After several rough nights of sleep it was so nice to sleep in a bit. After I was up, the boys and I all bundled up and walked/scooted up to the library to return books and pick up holds. The weather changed so quickly here. It was 80F on Tuesday and then we woke to a dusting of snow on Friday! It melted right away but it was depressing to see white stuff. It was in the low 40s on Saturday morning so not terrible but it was also windy all weekend so felt cooler. After our walk, Paul and I headed to gymnastics and Phil stayed home with Will. After gymnastics, we went to our daycare's fall festival.

Paul had a blast getting his face painted by one of his teachers, painting pumpkins, and jumping on the 4 bouncy houses they had set up. He used to be terrified of bouncy houses but in the last year he has gotten into them so he had the time of his life! 

We got home around 1, had nap/quiet time. Then I took the boys for a walk in the neighborhood to look at Halloween decorations. This is our go-to way to entertain the boys these days! While we went for a walk Phil grocery shopped.

Then after dinner that night, Paul and I headed to the zoo for the pumpkin event. It was AMAZING! 10/10 would recommend to anyone local although it might be hard to get tickets. We bought ours back in early September. 
Howling like a wolf!

The carvings were out-of-this-world amazing. Some were basic faces but many were so intricate. 

The theme was "A Night at the Library" so they had different sections like classic novels, fairy tales, romance, science fiction, etc. 

This is definitely something we'll do every year. We were both wiped when we got home. I had logged 24k steps that day, so Paul probably walked a similar amount!

On Sunday morning I got up with Paul - he was up at 5:45 despite his later bedtime. Usually we go to the farmer's market on Sunday morning but it was too cold and windy. After Phil was up, I went for a short run with my neighbor. The morning felt sooooo long to be honest. We are going to have to come up with a solid game plan for the winter when it's too cold to be outside for hours... But we had limited options to entertain the boys as I didn't want Will out in the cold too much and I didn't want to take him to something like an indoor playground.

A brief moment of calmness when both were looking at books.

After lunch and quiet/nap time we headed outside since it wasn't as cold as it had been. The boys played in the leaves while Phil and I raked up a couple of yard bags of leaves. 

Then Phil grilled steaks and asparagus for dinner and the boys had some leftover pasta for dinner followed by baths. After the boys were in bed, Phil and I watched an episode of Only Murders in the Building and then I headed to bed. Around 1:30 I was starting to feel awful so moved to the downstairs guestroom so Phil wouldn't have to hear me blow my noise, etc. 

When I woke this morning, it was obvious I needed to cancel my trip. I am so bummed because I was going to be traveling with a coworker which is something that rarely happens! She knows everyone in the NYC office so was going to walk me around and introduce me to everyone. That is something I am NOT great at as an introvert... But it's irresponsible to travel when you are under the weather. My NYC colleagues will be glad I didn't bring my germs to them. Plus I would have had to be up at 4:30 tomorrow to catch my 7am flight and an early morning plus a long day of travel socializing is exhausting when I am in tip top health so doing that while under the weather would be rough. I'll rebook my trip for November. Hopefully this bug doesn't last too long, but my immune system is suppressed to treat my RA so chances are it's going to linger for a while. Such is life with a chronic illness!

How was your weekend? Are you and your family staying healthy? The doctor we saw said Will was his 6th case of RSV in 2 weeks so he said it appears to be a nasty season for that virus and others. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

TGIF - already mid-October??

It's mid-October. Can you believe it? Is there a more cliched comment to make than how fast time is going? Probably not but that is how I am feeling as I look at the calendar!

The book I'm reading is The Roughest Draft by wife/husband writers Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. This is a romance with an enemies-to-lovers trope about co-authors who had a falling out but need to write another book to fulfill their writing contract. I like that it's set in the publishing world and it's unique to see a husband/wife writing team! I'm enjoying it enough to keep reading it, but there's one plot point that is kind of annoying me so that might keep it in the 3-star range for me. But I needed something light/fun after the last heavy book I read and this is fitting the bill.

The high of my week was having dinner with 3 college friends at a newer restaurant I've been wanting to check out since it opened (Macanda in Wayzata for any local readers). The food was good but not as good as the owner's other restaurant (Colita) that is walking distance from our house. But it was fun to try a new spot and the setting it gorgeous as it's on a lake and has a 4-seasons patio. But the best part was catching up with my friends. They have kids in the elementary/middle school/high school range so it's hard to find time to get together with everyone's busy schedules. We talked non-stop for 2.5 hours! I'll see them again in November when I host my annual cookie decorating party. I'm glad we have another gathering on the horizon but that one will be different since kids are included. Still fun, but I'll have less time to really focus on talking with them!

The view from the booth where we sat. It was an unseasonably warm fall day (80F!). The patio will be enclosed during the cold months but I'm glad we got to experience it before it gets enclosed as the breezes off the lake felt great!

The low of my week was Will getting sick. He came down with a fever after school on Wednesday so was home Thursday and will be home again today. He hadn't slept well the night before but I was thinking it was just his teeth. He has a pesky cough, on and off fevers, and soooo much snot! But it's not covid, so maybe RSV or some other random virus? Hopefully he starts to feel better today. 

Snuggles with my sick baby. 

A recipe I made was seared ahi tuna made on the grill - again! This is the recipe I mentioned in my last TGIF post 2 weeks ago. This time we had it with corn on the cob. Grilling season will come to an end soon so we are trying to make the most of the waning season (some Minnesotans grill year-round but we don't). 

A show we are watching is season 2 of Only Murders in the Building while we wait for new episodes of The Patient to drop weekly. I think I like this season more than the first. And I really like that the episodes are around 30 minutes. That's how long The Patient episodes are, too. That's my sweet spot since I like to go up to bed around 8:30-8:45.

For workouts I again did not fit in much. I ran on Sunday and did a strength training workout on Monday. Then I was in the office Tues/Wed and balanced work/caring for a sick kiddo on Thursday. I'm planning to run on Saturday and hopefully can do a strength training workout on Sunday if I'm not feeling too worn out. 

The best money spent was getting our toilet fixed on our main level. Thrilling right? Phil was going to try to fix it himself but then the shut-off valve for turning off the water in the bathroom wasn't working so we called a plumber. We weren't able to use that bathroom for about 1.5 days and that was a pain! When we were house hunting, we would only consider home with a main-floor bathroom. Turns out that is not a given in our neighborhood with home built in the early- to mid-1900s! Now I can see that holding out for a house with a main floor bathroom was the right decision, especially when you have young kids. Another "fun" purchase was getting our tire patched as it had a nail in it. That's our 2nd patch in a couple of months. Being an adult is so much fun, isn't it?

My plans this weekend include kind of a lot, but such is life lately! Saturday will be a full day as we have gymnastics and then we'll go to our daycare's Fall Festival. Although that assumes Will feels up to all that. We went to the fall festival last year and Paul had a blast as they have bouncy houses and lots of other activities for the kids. Plus tacos and ice cream! Then on Saturday night Paul and I are going to a Halloween event at the zoo. I've never been but apparently there are tons of lit-up Pumpkins. It's an annual event and this year is library themed! Paul is excited for a mom/Paul outing. On Sunday we'll go to the Farmer's Market and then the boys have haircuts mid-day. 

Bonus pics:

When I was at my girls dinner, the boys had fun playing in the leaves with daddy! Phil isn't much of a picture taker but I am glad he snapped a few as that was probably the last really nice day we'll have for leaf playing.

When you like the spaghetti sauce so much that you eat it directly out of the bowl.

How was your week? Are fall/winter germs rearing its head in your house yet? I'm hearing it will be bad cold/flu season so am bracing myself for a rough fall/winter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Halloween Then and Now

Halloween season is definitely upon us. We are seeing more and more decorations in our neighborhood which makes our family walks even more entertaining. Here is one of Paul's favorites - the eye moves back and forth! We're anxiously waiting for the inflatable pumpkin-holding dinosaur to get put up. That is his absolute favorite!

At the beginning of September he told us "it's almost Halloween because next month is October." We had to explain that it was 50+ days away, so a lifetime away in the mind of a 4yo! It probably didn't help that I got his Halloween costume so early but with all the supply chain disruptions, I wanted to make sure we got his costume since he felt strongly about being Chase from Paw Patrol. 

Admittedly, before having kids, I was kind of totally a Halloween grinch. I handed out candy when I lived with Phil but I didn't love the holiday as an adult as costumes aren't my thing. But I'm all in on the holiday now that I have young kids who are excited about the holiday. Last week The Mom Hour had a special episode about celebrating Halloween as a parent. I enjoyed the conversation and it made me think about my Halloweens as a child and how I approach the holiday as a parent. So here is a reflection of Halloweens past, present, and future!

What do you remember from Halloweens as a child

- I have great memories of carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds. This was before the days of stencils for pumpkin carving so we did very primitive carvings - picture triangles for the nose, jagged-tooth grins, circlish eyes, etc. 

- My mom had a collection of costumes to choose from and many were sewed by her. I remember having colored stuff to spray in our hair and face paint - which are 2 things I am pretty sure I'm a hard no on as an admittedly not-very-fun parent. Ha. One thing that really limited the coolness of our costumes was the weather! I remember many Halloweens where we had to trick or treat in winter jackets so our costumes were hard to see!

- I grew up in a tiny town of 500 people so I was able to trick or treat with friends at a younger age, but I don't know what age that started. The street I lived on was a good one to trick or treat on, but I do not recall getting an entire candy bar at a house. That is something that happened at multiple houses where we trick or treated last year! In my hometown and in Minneapolis, trick or treating happens on the 31st. I know in some areas it's done on the Saturday before Halloween or something like that, but it's always on the 31st in this region of the country it seems. One of my favorite parts of Halloween night was sorting by candy by type and trading with my older sister. And off-loading all the coconut candy on my coconut-loving mom. We still keep the almond joys and mounds that the boys receive for her!

What has your adjustment to Halloween as a parent been like?

- I've been pretty low key about Halloween since becoming a parent. I bought a cheap $10 costume for Paul's first Halloween which Will wore last year. And then I bought a dino costume in 2020 that Paul opted to wear 2 years in a row, and wore a ton of other times. Paul wore a hand-me-down duck costume in 2019 and Will is going to wear a hand-me-down dog costume this year. So we've used a mix of hand-me-downs and new costumes. Hopefully Will is interested in wearing the dino costume next year. I'm happy to buy second-hand costumes and have sold costumes on Facebook. 

Hedgehog Will and Dino Paul, 2021
Dino Paul 2020
Duck Paul, 2019

Hedgehog Paul, 2018
- We've had a tradition of hosting a pumpkin carving party that pre-dates becoming parents. We hosted our first party in October of 2014. We had something like 5 couples/families at the first party but now it's just our family and another family. We were able to maintain this tradition through the pandemic as the other family goes to the same daycare so we were in the same immunity bubble. We only carve one pumpkin as a family. I scrape out the guts, which I find oddly satisfying, and Phil usually does the carving. We almost always have a cat-themed pumpkin. I usually made a soup or chili and I used to make a fall-themed dessert but now we just enjoy candy for dessert to keep things simple.

I think ours was the ghost. We must not have had a cat stencil that year!

Paul and our amigos!
- My decorating game is non-existent. I got away with that until this year when Paul said, "when are we taking out our Halloween decorations?" I had to explain that we don't have any decorations but that I would start to build an inventory of Halloween decorations. We started small/easy with some spider lights for our fireplace mantel. They do provide a nice, warm glow!

- What I love most is - unsurprisingly to people who know me well - our Halloween/fall book collection! These books are only out during the month of October! My favorites are Pumpkin Soup (this stays out through November since it's more of a fall book), Room on the Broom, and Little Blue Truck Halloween. We have about 8 books total and I'd like to add to this collection! 

What are your Halloween traditions
- I've mentioned pumpkin carving and bringing out our Halloween books already. One new thing we are trying this year is a evening pumpkin event at the zoo. They have lots of lit up pumpkins along the walking paths. I'm taking Paul on Saturday. It starts at 7pm which is Will's bedtime so it's a mom/Paul special outing!

- We've started to really focus on looking for cool decorations on our walks. Some houses REALLY go all out! So instead of scooting/walking to the depressingly dry creek in our neighborhood, we wind through the streets of our neighborhood, looking for the best decorations.

- One other tradition is meeting up with all the kids/families on the block for a block photo. There are tons of kids on our block so there are quite a few kids (and adults) in the picture! When my kids are older, I envision them trick or treating with kids from the block. 

- Last year I took Paul trick or treating but I think it's something we'll probably trade off. I was impressed with his stamina last year. We were out for an hour and only went home because I had to nurse Will so he could go to bed. We'll see how long he lasts this year. He was super excited and outgoing. He used to be a super shy child but seems to be outgrowing that? 

- I think Will is only going to go to a couple of houses but we'll see how into it he is. We were in the process of moving when Paul was around Will's age so we just went to a few houses to say goodbye/let them know we were moving. Will might want to keep up with big brother but he certainly won't stay out as long as Paul. Plus someone needs to be home to hand out candy. 


Who knew I had so much to say about a holiday that I used to, um, hate. Ha! 

Your turn! Tell me about your Halloween memories and traditions, past and present!

Monday, October 10, 2022

Chicago Trip + Weekend Recap

I'm back from my work trip to Chicago. It was a fast and furious trip. I landed around 8:30 am on Thursday, was in the office by 9:45, and had a presentation to our sales group at 10:15. That was a speedy turnaround for me but the presentation went well. I'm glad it was an informal, conversational update. I had 2 more breakout sessions with sales that day, and started to lose my voice during the 1st breakout. Luckily I brought cough drops. I have a pesky head cold/allergies (not Covid - I've tested myself 4 times in the last week) and with all the client calls I did last week and how much I had to project my voice during my sales presentation, my voice was not happy! After work, I had a happy hour with my boss and some colleagues and then a dinner with 3 other coworkers in the Buck Town area. My boss told me not to take the L to Buck Town, but when I tried to get an uber, it was going to be $70!! And I think Buck town is probably 2-3 miles at most from the loop area of Chicago. Isn't that insane? It was raining but come on! So I paid $3 for a ride on the L which felt very safe. The dinner with colleagues was fine but when they ordered another round of drinks at 9, I bowed out since I had been up since 4:30. Plus my voice was so hoarse so talking was not fun. They all understood that I needed sleep! I really wanted to run along the river/lake on Friday morning but it was 40 and pouring rain. And I could not motivate myself to do a strength training workout as I was just so dang tired from the previous day.

My outfit for Thursday. I got this dress at a local consignment shop for $9!! I like that it has some details along the neckline so I didn't have to wear a necklace.

Friday was another busy day in the office with more client meetings over zoom. The market volatility has made me extra extra busy at work. The reason I came to Chicago was for an in-person client meeting. It was supposed to start at 4, but one person was running behind so we didn't get started until 5! I had to leave at 5:45 to get to the airport but another person was presenting so she took over when I left. There was also a dinner at 7 that I bowed out of as I try not to be gone over the weekend. The clients understood why I couldn't stay when I mentioned I have young kids. My trip home went really smoothly thank goodness. It was the last flight to Minneapolis so I was relieved when we left on time. We actually landed early and I was home by 10:15! 

The weekend was a busy one. My parents were in town for my nephew's football game and a family get together with my mom's siblings, so they stuck around and came over for brunch on Saturday morning. My mom is very crafty so I tasked her with making pillows for our window seat to make it more cozy. She did an awesome job. I gave her total leeway in picking out fabric, etc, as that is not my forte as a left-brained finance person!

We went out to brunch at a restaurant 2 blocks away. The boys did really well - you never know how a meal out with a 4.5 and almost 2 year old will go. Some of my mom's siblings were getting together for lunch at my cousin's house so after breakfast we headed to her house. The boys got to see their older cousin, Matt, and they played with my cousin's kids who are each 6 months older than my boys. They really loved playing with new-to-them toys! I barely got to talk to my aunts and uncles since I was keeping an eye on the kids but it was nice to say hi, give everyone hugs, and introduce them to Will. 

Phil got groceries while we were at my cousin's and then after naptime, he met up with some friends to golf 18 holes. For Father's Day and his birthday, I gave him the gift of time and told him to golf on a weekend so he finally cashed one of those "gifts of time" in. 

After quiet time on Saturday, the boys and I walked/scooted up to the library. They changed our their featured toy area - it's camping themed. Both boys had fun playing with the toys and Paul made a little friend. 

On Sunday morning I ran with my neighbor and then the boys and I headed to the farmer's market and park while Phil worked on some house projects. 

Their weekly donut fix!

Playing on the train. Will looks like a fisherman with his bucket hat and rain jacket.

That afternoon, Phil took Paul out to his mom's as they needed to bring our cat back for a routine vet appointment today (she mostly lives with my MIL these days as my MIL loves her company and Oscar doesn't love kids). Will and I stayed home. After his (short) nap, we went for a walk around the local lake. I ran around the lake that morning, so that means I logged 8 miles of running and walking... my total steps for the day were 27k! But when it's so nice out, I felt I had to take advantage of the weather! 

Beautiful views along the lake which was like glass!

After our long walk, Will and I hung out on the block. He played with his strider bike for a bit and then my neighbor brought over a stroller for him to play with that her kids have outgrown. 

Then it was dinner, bath, and bedtime and I caught half of the first episode of the Great British Baking Show before Phil and Paul got home around 7:30. I did Paul's bedtime and Phil and I watched an episode of season 2 of Only Murders in the Building.

And that was a wrap. It was a BUSY weekend on the tails of a BUSY week. I am hoping work slows down a bit this week, but clients/financial advisors are getting their 3rd quarter statements and nothing did well in the third quarter so I doubt the client calls will slow down... 

How was your weekend?